December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012

2012 officially ends (here in Central Standard Time anyway) in 5 hours and 14 minutes.  It's hell of a year.  The above compilation just came from my phone's camera roll, and is just a small sampling of what this year has held for me. I'm going to see what I can remember based on photos and my own memory...and Facebook's timeline feature (hey! it is good for something!)...but I do love doing these end of the year posts, so just bear with  me.

* Rang in 2012 with my husband and some great friends at a low-key party.  Was probably home by 12:30am. 

* Performed in the ensemble of Kismet in concert with Lyric Stage.

* Saw The Civil Wars and The Staves live in concert at the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas.
* Was honored as a small part of the Denton Women's Collective by the City of Flower Mound for bringing the Finding Kind documentary into the local high school.

* Deactivated my Facebook account for the month, just to take some time away from all the online drama.

* Said goodbye to the "family dog" -- my mom and stepdad's dog, Deogee.  He was a good boy up until the very end.

* Made my Assistant Director (and sound designer) debut with Dog Sees God, and also played the role of Van's sister. A very special show to me, and a moment of great personal pride as an artist.

* Donated my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths

* Welcomed my beautiful and hilarious baby niece into the world.

* Renovated my bathroom.  Well...I supervised and picked out colors. Professionals did the dirty work.

* Discovered Seryn.

* Was honored to edit the first draft of a manuscript by the recently agented and up-and-coming YA author Kelsey.

*  Enjoyed Twilight Tunes with friends and the Andrew Tinker Band -- what is becoming a spring tradition.
* Entered a Jason Robert Brown karaoke competition and was complimented by the composer himself!

* One word: OKLAHOMA.

* Directed one and acted in another staged reading for DCT's Method & Madness Playwriting Festival.

* Was named a Star Performer at my job.

* Found and rescued an abandoned pit bull named Baby with my husband.  Nothing made me happier than the day that the Denton Animal Shelter announced she was adopted!!

* Attended my first SOFAR show.

* Watched a spectacular(ly lousy) fireworks show with my handsome husband.

* Began rehearsals for The Most Happy Fella.

* Celebrated my best friend's 30th birthday by seeing Hairspray (brilliantly music-directed by my talented and dedicated husband).

* Celebrated four years of marriage to my best pal.

* Sent a friend off to Spain -- my carpool buddy for every Lyric show, my favorite gay husband, my friend...Tyler.

* Performed in The Most Happy Fella, made all new friends, met the composer's widow.

* Turned 31! Celebrated at Spiral Diner and the Dallas Arboretum. And got beautiful flowers from my husband.

* Voted early. And for the first time ever.

* Saw Seryn for the first time in concert -- and twice in one weekend. It was life-changing.

* Found out the best news EVER:

November and December

Yes, I'm getting lazy. I've been sitting here for two hours now.  But honestly, November and December have been a lot of family time, holiday fun, preparing myself for this pregnancy, and just reflecting on the past year and getting ready for the next.

2012 has brought MANY friends...changes...loss...heartache...unspeakable joy...and I'm thankful for ALL of it. 

I hope that, no matter how you feel about 2012 -- sad to see it go, or ready to kiss it GOODBYE -- that you have taken something with you from this year that you will carry forever.  Joys and Pains -- they all continue to strengthen and build up our character.

Thank you for being a part of my year.

December 20, 2012

Pregnancy Post -- When does it get fun?

This post may be a little grinchy and whiny...

I've been wanting to post another "hey, here's how things are going!" post after my first one about a month ago, but I've been putting it off for several reasons:
  • I am superstitious and wanted to wait til I had another doctor's appointment and confirmed the baby was still doing well (this is also why I JUST sent out Christmas cards yesterday).
  • I've been busy at work.
  • I don't have a lot to say that's cheerful and excited.
That third bullet up there is what's bothering me the most.

I am officially 14 weeks pregnant today.  I had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday of this week, at which my husband and I heard the baby's heartbeat via Doppler.  I wasn't overcome with joy, though. I was just RELIEVED.  I needed proof and evidence that the baby was still alive and kicking (though I can't feel it yet) inside me. It took the doctor a few seconds to find the baby and the heartbeat, which I'm sure is perfectly normal this early, and my husband said he could tell by my body language that with each passing second I was starting to panic until I finally heard that galloping noise.

We had lunch together yesterday, and we had a lot to say about how we're feeling about this pregnancy.  At one point the question came up, "We are excited about this, aren't we?"  Of course we are! We planned this and prayed about it and cannot wait to be parents.  It's just...well, I'm not going to speak for him on this, but for me it's just that I don't feel emotionally connected to this pregnancy.

Everyone seems more excited about it than we are, which, in turn, makes me feel super guilty and lazy.

I started crying at lunch because I told Michael all I have been truly focusing on have been the more negative things:
  • The fear. 
  • The annoyance when people brush off or invalidate my fear (i.e., "Oh it's fine, stop worrying.").
  • The loss of control over my body and my hormones (i.e., the exhaustion, the gag reflex that seems to sit right behind my teeth and seems to be getting worse rather than better, the little sharp pains here and there, the emotions GOD THE EMOTIONS).
  • The fact that I have to remind myself "Oh right...I'm pregnant" sometimes.
  • The weight gain that isn't quite cute yet.
What's wrong with me??  I prayed fervently yesterday morning when the dog woke me up at 5am and I couldn't fall back asleep...I prayed that I'd feel happier and more excited.  I prayed that I will feel this baby move sooner than "normal" so I can have a daily reminder that it's there.  I prayed that I'd let go of my anxiety and fear and the desperate need for tangible proof that this is actually happening...

(Which of course leads me to thoughts of faith in general.  Why do I need evidence to believe?  Why am I so convinced that something bad is going to happen? I don't generally live my life in fear...that's not who I am.  If anything, I'm usually kind of a "Well, there's nothing I can do about it, so whatever happens happens" type of person.  I do get anxiety, sure, but this is brand new [as it should be...I've never been pregnant before] stuff.)

I also just overall feel really really guilty that I'm not sitting around feeling like Mother Earth here, all peaceful and serene and rubbing my belly happily.  I may be one of those women who just views pregnancy as a means to an end, and all of this will seem silly and crazy and hormonal once I'm holding my baby.  I'm aware of that.

I'm just ready for it to get fun.  To feel as excited as everyone is around me, and not take their excitement for me away with my Charlie Brown attitude about all of this. 

It just still doesn't feel real.  Whine whine whine.  Maybe putting this "out there" will help, and I'll feel stupid for publishing it in a couple of days when I feel completely different.  Here's hoping!

December 17, 2012

Friend-Makin' Mondays -- 12 in 2012

I'm really bad about doing FMM posts, but this is a good one. I like reflecting on the year as it comes to a close, so thanks Kenlie for giving me an early chance to!

Twelve in 2012

1. What was your greatest personal accomplishment in 2012? I grew up a lot. I know that seems...too general, or something, but I really did. I ran smack into a brick wall of realization of just how much my selfishness was hurting my life, my friendships and my marriage, and I stopped being so selfish. I can honestly say that 2012 has been the best year of my life.

2. What’s the best thing your did for your health? I stopped drinking sodas and booze back in May, and started eating much more naturally.  As a result, I lost about 25 lbs and quickly.  My skin and hair look better, even. Just goes to show how much that stuff harms your body.  I'm not saying I'll never have another Dr. Pepper or Shiner, but I will definitely monitor my intake a LOT more now.

3. Share one thing that caused a significant change in your life this year. Well, see #1 first. I had my eyes opened to the importance of what I have in my life right now, and the addition of a few key people and some key choices (see #8 and #2, respectively) have just really improved my quality of life in general.  But I'm going to cheat since those are all other numbers on this survey and pick one more thing: getting pregnant.

4. List a few things that you experienced for the first time at some point over the last twelve months.  
  • I assistant directed and sound-designed my first show.
  • I directed my very first show alone (a staged reading, but still).
  • I got pregnant.
  • I earned a Star Performer award where I work.
  • I finally saw SERYN in concert! THREE TIMES!  And maybe once more on December 30th!

5. What was the coolest place you visited? Sadly, I don't think I traveled at ALL this year! But, my husband and I visited the Dallas Arboretum this past fall and saw a really cool Chihuly glass exhibit.  We don't really get out and take advantage of our local attractions that much, and I hope we'll change that, especially once the BabyMonster arrives.

6. If you could change one thing about the last year what would it be?....I honestly don't think I'd change a thing.

7. What is the best meal you ate this year? I have no idea.  Food doesn't stick out to me really, when I think of the year.  But, seeing as how I'm starving right now and I'm ALWAYS starving, I'm gonna go with "the lunch I'm about to have."

8. Tell us about a new friend you made.  Savannah and Erica, my Oklahomies. Changed my life. Seriously.

9. What did you hope to accomplish this year that you did not? I was hoping to get back into running, and maybe direct one more show.  But I'm not upset that neither of those things happened.

10. Share something you learned in 2012. Putting others before myself truly does make me happier. Especially when those others are my husband, my family, and my close friends.

11. Share an odd and unexpected thing that you experienced this year. I got pregnant.  Is that answer old yet? GET OVER IT. 

12. How do you think 2013 will differ from 2012?  I'm going to have a BABY. A small spawn of me and my husband completely taking over my life.  And I cannot wait.

December 4, 2012

Why I'm Cautiously Excited About the Les Miserables movie

Let me just start out by saying two very important things:

1.) I can be a bit of an asshole about the arts, and most people are going to disagree with this blog.  If that's why you're here, save your breath, because I've heard it before.  I realize that, when it comes to music and acting, I can be a purist to the point of being obnoxious (see also: my recent Facebook rant about Carrie Underwood playing Maria in The Sound of Music).  Usually I just keep quiet and only vent my opinions on to people who tend to agree with me because, otherwise it's just a giant exercise in futility.

2.) Les Miserables is probably #1 on my list of Favorite Musicals. I love it.  Even (maybe even especially) that 10 year anniversary recording with Michael Ball in all of his schmaltzy freakin' glory and Colm Wilkinson's ridiculously thick Scottish accent.

There, now that that's out of the way, and just before we get into the meat & potatoes of this blog, here's the extended international trailer for the Les Mis movie (top), and an inside look, going behind-the-scenes and explaining why this particular movie musical is different from any others before it (bottom):

Still with me?  Okay. 

Let me just start by saying that I flipped my lid (with joy!) when I saw the first teaser trailer for this film.  When I heard Anne Hathaway's heartbreaking rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" in that clip, I was one of the few musical theatre performers/fans who did not get upset about her choice to not belt it to the back wall, as the song is usually performed. There was a general outcry of "NO! THAT SONG SHOULD BE BELTED!" from fans everywhere, but I was intrigued. It made the hair on my arms stand up and brought tears to my eyes.

(See? That right there should tell you that I'm open to new interpretations of my favorite music!)

As longer trailers were released, and the above clip going inside the making of the film made the rounds on the Interwebs, I got more and more excited.  I am especially excited about the way the songs were filmed -- LIVE.  There was no recording that happened months before filming started, to which the actors would lip synch during filming.  Ohhhhh no. They are singing LIVE, y'all.  They wore earpieces on set, through which they heard an accompanist playing live, and there was a direct relationship happening between singer and music. The orchestra was filled in later, during editing and post-production.

This is groundbreaking for a movie musical, and I'm thrilled about it. It's about as close to a stage performance as a movie musical will come, as they still film out of order and do several takes, which never happens in a live stage performance.


At a recent showing of the movie Lincoln (excellent film, by the way), I saw the extended international trailer (the first clip above) and my heart sank a little when I heard clips of Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman singing. Especially Crowe.  Remember Pierce Brosnan in the film version of Mamma Mia? Handsome, renowned actor...had no business being in a musical.  None. That's kind of what I'm worried about with these two men.

Now before you get all defensive...I'm well aware of Hugh Jackman's musical theatre resumé.  I've heard him sing, and he's not bad at all in the things he's done.  But is he Valjean-worthy?  Hmmm.  Time will tell. So, you people who get your undies in a wad and sputter at me that "Hugh Jackman is classically trained, Mandy!" just...calm yourselves.  I want him to do well.  Truly.  But even "classically trained" singers struggle with "Bring Him Home." That sumbitch is high.

As for Crowe, the only thing I've heard is that he has a "musical background."  Sheesh.  That doesn't tell me much.  A quick glance at Wikipedia shows me that he was in The Rocky Horror Show as Eddie/Dr. Scott at some point, and that he's done a lot of recording/performing as a non-classical singer.  Pop, rock, whatever. 

For someone who's used to this performance by Javert, I think I'm justified in being a little worried:

I mean, I didn't even like Norm Lewis as Javert in the 25th Anniversary Concert version of Les Mis, and a LOT of people loved him.  See? I'm an asshole about my singer-actors, especially in Les Mis.  And just don't get me started on Nick Jonas, ok?  Just...don't.

Also...does it not seem a tiny bit fishy to anyone else that with huge names like Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, the marketing campaign for this movie has been centered around Anne Hathaway?  The actress who is already getting Oscar buzz just based on a few clips from trailers and from those lucky enough to have attended pre-screenings?  Just something to think about...

As for the other actors chosen...I am pretty stoked about Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the Thénardiers, and Aaron Tveit as Enjolras (my favorite character!).  I don't know much about Eddie Redmayne (Marius), but he seems like he'll be fine. I liked Samantha Banks (Eponine) in the 25th Anniversary Concert, though she does get a little poppy at times for my personal taste.  Amanda Seyfried and her tinny little voice and fast vibrato will probably annoy me, but Cosettes usually annoy me, and the best one ever was Judy Kuhn anyway.

Here are my final thoughts. I'm not so much of a musical purist that I think opera singers need to play all of the classical-type singing roles in musical theatre (or film adaptations, in this case). Hell, a lot of times the best singers in the world can be some of the worst actors!

There are times when an actor will be so very good that I will forget about the voice, or that I'll even prefer their interpretation of the song.  Again, Anne Hathaway, ladies and gentlemen.  I know the girl can sing.  Do I usually prefer a little more power behind Eponine? Sure.  But she's still making such excellent acting choices and still staying true to the integrity of the song and the character.  And that is the most important thing to me -- not the level of technique in the vocal performance.  But rest assured that the vocal performance is only a very close second.  It's so close it's almost tied.  Why? Because it's a musical. And the music, in musical, should be the first priority.  Crazy talk, I know!  If even the most world-renowned, award-winning actor can't carry a tune, I'm going to hate his or her performance in a musical, most likely.

Also, let me be clear once again that I am very excited for this movie.  I'm going in with moderate expectations, though.  Expect a follow-up post on this blog once I've seen the movie 2-3 times (which is gonna be the bare minimum, methinks).

November 28, 2012

No Shame November -- Theatre

Man, I've been putting this one off.  I have no idea how to talk about theatre without this being an incredibly long and only-interesting-to-other-theatre-people post.  I'll try really really hard to make sense and be fairly succinct.

I will always remember my very first theatre audition (school doesn't count for me, because we just did One Act Play, and we just kinda signed up for it and the teacher put us in the roles she thought we'd be best in...even if that meant you were backstage pressing play on the tape player).  It was for The Sound of Music at Denton Community Theatre, and I was in the 6th grade.  I stood on the stage, squeeeeeeezed my eyes shut, and sang "Edelweiss" with my eyes closed the entire time.

I wasn't cast.  Obviously. 

Quick side note -- I am quite close now with the woman who directed that very production, and I recently reminded her of that story and she laughed and laughed.  I've come a bit more out of my shell since that audition.

Since then, I've been in over 20-something productions, from ensemble chorus member to bit part to leading role and from volunteer community theatre to grassroots, guerilla theatre company to a regional, professional stage (that was not in order of importance, by the way; just in order of when I did them, really). 

Theatre has been the best and worst part of my life since I started.  "Worst" seems a bit dramatic, so let me rephrase and say that it has had the potential (and has sometimes achieved) to bring out the worst parts of me and my character.  My vanity.  My need for validation. My selfishness. Even those of us who do it just for the love of the art and not as a career choice still feel fiercely competitive and want the roles we want.  We also want good reviews.  We're obsessive and one-track-minded.

Here's the part where I'd really like to talk about how theatre can also provide a very false sense of closeness with others (friends and showmances) that can end up really hurting you and your other relationships, but I feel like I've talked about that before and that's not what I want this post to be about.  I want this post to be about the things about theatre I LOVE.

So, starting with the Mandy now, who has worked very hard to try to achieve a balance between her personal/professional life and her theatre life so that the former is never prioritized lower than the latter, and who has gotten much choosier about her projects (and will have to continue to be once the babe is born) is a quick, bulleted list about theatre in my own life:

  • Theatre has given me incredible confidence.
  • I've had some of the most amazing theatre experiences just in the past year, because I've branched out and stepped outside my comfort zone.
  • Café des Artistes, Dog Sees God and The Glass Menagerie did more for me as an actor than anything I did pre-2011. Because of my directors, my fellow actors, and my own willingness to be 100% vulnerable.
  • I don't think I'm a great actor...but I'm a thoughtful actor. I know my backgrounds and my subtexts and I make good decisions.
  • I think I'm very easy to direct.  I don't think this has always been true, but I think I can say, with confidence, that I am now.
  • I LOVE directing, which is a fairly new realization. I think I'm a potentially very good director. I just need more opportunities.
  • I think I'll be a better director than actor.
  • I think I'm a really good singer, but that I relied on that for way too long, when I could've really been working on my acting.
  • I've met a lot of really fun people, but only a handful of truly amazing, lifelong friends.  Finding out the difference between the two was (and is) hard.
  • I've had some amazing teachers/mentors/directors who have taught me so much.
  • I intend to direct a musical in 2014 with my husband as musical director and the Babymonster as the official show cheerleader/groupie.
  • I believe I was created to do create.  I like how that sounds: Created to Create.
  • You can be a Christian, a good wife, and a good person and a good friend and still do theatre. It's hard, but it can be done.
  • I love seeing good theatre.  This doesn't actually happen as often as I'd like.
  • I hope that theatre and performance and art are always a huge part of my life and our family.  I met my husband at an audition, after all, and I think it's been fated all along. 
  • I'm working on writing/developing a script.
  • If you want to create, do it. I'm working with a group of actors to put together a staged reading of a play we all love, but have no current options of auditioning for it locally. Make art happen.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 2010 (Muriel)

Snoopy, the Musical, 2011 (Peppermint Patty)

Dog Sees God, 2012 (Van's Sister)

Café des Artistes, 2011 (Actor/Writer/Collaborator)

Clipped, 2012 (Director)

The Most Happy Fella, 2012 (Ensemble)

Show Boat, 2004 (Ellie May Chipley)

The Producers, 2010 (Ulla)

Oklahoma!, 2012 (Ensemble)

The Glass Menagerie, 2011 (Laura Wingfield)


November 27, 2012

No Shame November -- (Pregnant) Stereotypes

Photo by Lynn Michelle Photography © 2012

 (This photo has nothing to do with this post, really, except that it's our first photo as a family of just can't see the fourth member yet!  I just love the photo.)

Fair warning...this post is probably less about actual stereotypes than it is about my own pregnancy and how I'm feeling about it right now.  I'll probably try to put up a disclaimer about most of my pregnancy posts, just like I do with my #PregnantTweets on Twitter.  I know, it's my baby and I can talk about it when and where I want, but I do also know that it's not everyone's preference to read all about it, so I try to give warnings so that these things can be skipped over by those parties with less interest!

But, as I approach the end of my first trimester (only about a week and a half left...), I wanted to talk about how I personally have felt about this versus some of the stereotypes and "common ideas" about pregnant women and first-time mothers.  Sometimes I fit right in with the stereotypes, and sometimes I feel completely crazy and alone in my thinking (which is probably more normal than I'm giving myself credit for).

Stereotype #1 -- Hormones 

Okay so this part is no. joke. Think PMS almost all of the time. Sometimes I will literally well up and start crying at a Subaru commercial (the dog grows up with the family and he's got gray hairs in his fur and he loves his baby!!! WAHHHHHH!!) and sometimes the lead on my mechanical pencil breaking makes me want to lay down in the highway and sob until I'm put out of my misery.  Okay, maybe that's exaggerating a little...but not much!  The roller coaster of emotions is legit, and it makes me feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes.  I try really hard to keep them in check so that those around me don't get weirded out (or get their very heads ripped off their unsuspecting bodies by me), but sometimes it's easiest to just cry over the Folger's commercial and feel better about it.

Stereotype #2 -- Sickness and Fatigue

Fatigue? Yes. I need naps after every meal. On Thanksgiving Day, I really and truly felt as though I might faceplant into my pumpkin pie. I've got some super weird sleeping patterns happening, and there are times at work when I have to get up and take a walk or else I really will fall asleep at my desk.  I'm doing my best to listen to my body and give it the rest it needs, but make sure I get SOME physical activity in.  I'm not doing so great at that.

Sickiness? Man, have I been lucky. I've only thrown up once and that was when I was brushing my teeth and gagged myself brushing my tongue, but Michael says that one doesn't count since it was "self-induced."  I get nauseous if I don't eat when I'm hungry, and there have definitely been time when I know I need to eat but literally nothing sounds appetizing.  But no foods themselves have made me sick, and I've kept everything down!  Huzzah!

Stereotype #3 -- Anxiety/Nerves

I don't know if this is an actual stereotype or not, but good LORD has it been an issue for me.  Until we had our first ultrasound on November 6th, I was really working myself up into balls of crying anxiety, absolutely filled with fear that something would be wrong.  When we finally had our u/s and I saw that little bean-shaped blob with its heart just beating away, I put my hands over my face and sobbed with relief.

Since then, my anxiety levels have significantly dropped.  I feel a lot of peace about my pregnancy...or at least I have until the last couple of days. Some of the first trimester symptoms (like the ridiculous bloating and other TMI issues) are going away and I feel a lot more "normal," so naturally that worries me.  I'm very anxious for my December 18th appointment to hear the heartbeat again and confirm that the little BabyMonster is still growing and developing away.

I blame the internet for my anxiety.  Seriously.  Friends, if you decide to get pregnant, just stay off the internet.  You won't, but at least I can say I tried to tell you.  Stay away from The Bump message boards (those girls can be mean and VERY misinformed/uninformed and all you will see is be stuff about miscarriages and it WILL freak you out) and don't Google everything.  That's not all that is out there, but it's all that will stick in your brain.  Before the internet, we didn't hear about all this stuff as often and we were blissfully ignorant. Try to stay that way.   

Stereotype #4 -- Pregnancy is Magical and You are a Blessed Vessel

I'll let you know when I start feeling this way. I promise. :)

Stereotype #5 -- You, First Time Mother, are An Adorable Little Moron; Here's Some Free Advice

You can't tell how I feel about this one already, can you?  Seriously. I don't mind tips on how to curb the nausea, or how a body pillow may help me to be comfortable enough to sleep...but some of the more personal choices (such as prenatal testing, breastfeeding, diapering, etc.) are just that -- personal. And individual. And it's really hard to hear other moms get all defensive and judge your choices just because they didn't make the same choice, or a choice didn't work for them. Every woman is different.  Every pregnancy is different.  Every child is different. 

I'd like to try breastfeeding exclusively and cloth diapering.  Both may be abysmal failures; I don't know! But I'm gonna try.

I'm not doing prenatal scanning/testing. It doesn't matter to me because I'm taking the baby God is giving us.  I pray every single day and night that I have a "normal," healthy baby, but I also pray that God will prepare our hearts in case He has something else (and more challenging) in mind for us. It's fine if other mothers just have to know!  But it's also okay if I don't. Everything will be revealed in its own time.

We're not finding out the gender. I don't care if that makes it more difficult for you to buy cute outfits for my baby...there are plenty of gender neutral and ADORABLE clothes out there if you wanna shop for the little Alien! It's also okay if you have to know because you're "too type A" or "too much of a planner" (other moms' words -- not mine)! 

Stereotype #6 -- Pregnant Women Can Only Talk About Their Pregnancy

I'm really trying not to be this person.  It's hard NOT to talk about it all the time when it's all you think about, but I know that it's annoying to hear about it constantly. So, if I get annoying at patient with me and wait for it to subside a little.  But don't TELL me if I'm being annoying.  Because that will hurt my feelings and make me cry.  See Stereotype #1

And, since we're full circle, I'll wrap this up there! 

November 20, 2012

No Shame November -- Friendship

I've been super slacking on these posts...and it's not because I don't think about it. I do...because I check my blog feed/Tumblr every day and I see everyone else's posts and I think, "I should really write something."  But then I am either too lazy or I really do have work to do, or it's just a topic that I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about that I don't know how to properly put them down on to...I was about to say "paper," but that statement is actually archaic (how sad is THAT?).  Too many thoughts to type out.  There.

Ever since I announced my pregnancy to the world, I've been thinking a lot about friendship. I think this post could also be about social media, but I've already written about that in another NSN post, so I'll only touch on the fact that I think that social media has really REALLY messed up what friendship really is. There's a false sense of closeness that we get from Facebook and Twitter relationships, and it can cause some really very unnecessary drama.

Remember back in the days before social media?  No, I know everyone says that, jokingly, but really...remember those days?  Friendships took effort.  Especially once you left high school. You had to actually call someone on the telly-phone (and that usually involved either having an address book or having their phone number memorized...there was no "Siri, call Shelly" back in those days), and arrange plans to hang out.  Then you'd actually spend time together in person and most likely have a great time hanging out! And, if you didn't want to hang out with a person, you just kind of gradually stopped hanging out and making effort to spend time together.

It was a lot simpler.

Now, you become Facebook friends with someone literally within hours of meeting them. If you're cast in a show, and you get a cast list?  Some people will immediately Facebook-stalk (Facebalk) the entire cast and add them as friends, since they're about to spend copious amounts of time in close proximity with each other.  Without giving even the slightest thought regarding whether or not they're actually going to like those people.  THEN, when you realize it's a person who is really annoying or just simply someone with whom you will probably never try to hang out with again, there's the blocking/hiding/eventual unfriending...and the inevitable awkwardness that will surely follow.

IT IS EXHAUSTING. Not to mention completely unnecessary.

I like keeping up with people...even the ones I don't hang out with often.  But it really does take the effort out of friendship and, at least in my opinion, the effort is what makes a relationship thrive.  Both people putting in the time and energy to make sure a friendship is cultivated.

Ok this became a lot more about social media than I intended...but like I said! Too many thoughts!

Anyway, I started this whole thing by saying I've been thinking a lot about my friendships since I announced my pregnancy.  Here's why...

Look, I really really understand that not everyone wants to have babies.  Not everyone even LIKES babies. But, I've been both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised by some people's reactions. Some of my friends who have not-so-jokingly said in the past that they'd probably hide me as soon as I announced I was having a baby have completely surprised me with their genuine happiness and excitement for me.  On the other hand, friends I thought would be more excited have either said nothing, or have given me what is so obviously a knee-jerk "congratulations" that I truly wish they'd said nothing.  Disingenuous comments are really quite obvious (and hurtful), and I can do without them. 

I understand that not everyone will make the same choices I do with regards to life & family. And I also try to remember the times when I literally had no immediate excitement for a pregnancy announcement. I was happy for them, but I wasn't jumping up and down crying. You can't force a reaction; I know this as well as anyone!  But it really is true that "you don't know til it's your turn."  Even if someone's announcement doesn't make my weep like I did when my brother told me they were expecting, I will make sure that my friend, who is now a mother- or father-to-be, feels completely loved and excited by my response.  Because I know it's important.

See? Effort. Friendships take effort, and the reward is usually incredibly....rewarding.  I'm losing steam. I guess that means I should end this. 

November 16, 2012

No Shame November -- Sports

I love sports. You'd think I'd talk about them more, since my blog's title is "Music and Baseball."  But, see, when you're setting up a new blog and you are pressured into coming up with a name for it, it's REALLY OVERWHELMING and I was living in Boston at the time and we watched a LOT MORE baseball then because the Red Sox are like a RELIGION and...and...

The point is, I love sports.

I didn't get to watch as much baseball as I usually like to this past summer because I was super busy with musicals AND because the Red Sox completely sucked this past season (and the one before) and it was just a major bummer to watch. 

My teams that I care the most about are the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Eagles. Before you ask, NO I'm not from either of those places. I was born in the same city I live in now, in north Texas.  And it really really pisses me off when people around here (ahem, my family) get all pissy that I don't pick Dallas teams as my favorites.

HERE'S THE THING.  I have two brothers and an uncle who are obsessed with football. (My father could care less, and he gets really visibly irritated when the "sit around and visit" family time at the holidays is interrupted for a football game someone has to see.) It's not that they refused to teach me about the game...I didn't beg and beg only to be met with NO TIME TO EXPLAIN, PUNY FEMALE!

I was really very ambivalent about it all.  I just remember laughing when my Uncle Tim would act all crazy when the Cowboys did something great (or stupid) (but mostly great, because it was in the Dynasty Days).  I wore the Super Bowl Champions t-shirts my dad bought us from a kiosk on the side of the road after Da Boys beat Da Bills.  Also I was a cheerleader for the Chiefs and then the Broncos (twice!) in a local peewee league.  We were awesome, too...we won championships (the cheerleaders, not the football players)! Then, I sorta just stopped caring.

Fast forward to 2003, when I started dating my husband.  He is a die. hard. Eagles fan.  His whole family is.  So, as an excuse to spend as much time with him as possible, I'd go with him on Sundays to watch football games. It quickly became clear that I had no idea what was happening, other than "end zone = touchdown."  So he painstakingly explained the game to me and, with every subsequent Sunday we spent together, I slowly found that I was becoming obsessed with the game and, by proxy, his team. I'm SUPER competitive,and football just feeds into that. 

I think it probably goes without saying that my family is SICK over my adoption of the Eagles.  Heh. Suck it, Cowboys. I know that Eagles fans as a whole have a reputation for being violent assholes, but I will say one thing about myself as a fan: I'm honest.  The Eagles are terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiibbbbbbbbbbbbllllllllllleeeeeeee this season and some serious change needs to happen and SOON.  My problem with (most. MOST.) Cowboys fans is that they're delusional.  They'll totally cough up a game and play with their helmets in their asses and fans around here are still like SUPER BOWL BABY, COWBOYS ARE GOIN' ALL THE WAY!! Gross. Shut up. Also Jerry Jones is the antichrist.  Seriously LOOK AT HIS FACE.

My love for the Red Sox is much easier to explain: I fully admit to hopping on the 2004 Bandwagon when they completely overtook the Yankees and won the World Series for the first time in 86 years.  But then we moved to Boston for 3 years and seriously fell in love with the team and the history and all that. However, unlike my football relationships, I do NOT hate the Texas Rangers.  I love 'em, actually, and I root for them...until the Red Sox play them. I was devastated with the rest of the area when the Rangers coughed it up to St. Louis in the 2011 World Series.  

Basketball and other sports...I'll root for Dallas teams. Because I'm not invested in them. So, GO MAVS and GO STARS!

I really meant to talk about this article in this post because Tashina posted it the other day on Twitter and it sent me into a blind rage because of how sports are SO IMPORTANT to people that they apparently trump other things like, oh, alcohol-induced car accidents and ASSAULT AND RAPE.  But I would've just gotten ragey and screamed at you all for a whole post.  So this is probably better.

November 14, 2012

Tuesday Tunes -- Foreign Fields

Before you say anything, I KNOW it's Wednesday.  But "Wednesday Tunes" just doesn't sound as fun coming out (yay, alliteration!), and while I'm breaking rules, I may as well write a whole bunch of damn words on Wordless Wednesday.  And this is how I tie in that this can STILL be a "No Shame November" post.  No shame, y'all, I do what I want on my blog.

So, I mentioned in my Visual Art post from Monday that I went to a local venue last week to see repeat performances (though, I hate calling them that because they're different in awesome ways each time) by Julia Sinclair and Seryn.  The middle band on the bill, however, was brand new to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present.....Foreign Fields. (Hint: if you go to that link, you can actually stream their album...but honestly, if you like it, BUY IT.  It's not expensive and it's worth it if you like it. Support the artists, y'all. They'd do it for you!)

I knew within the first 30 seconds of their set that I wanted to buy their album, "Anywhere But Where I Am," as soon as they were done playing.  I rarely buy music at a venue...either because they're cash only (hooray for Brian for having one of those fancy-shmancy squares on his iPhone! TECHNOLOGY!) (was it Brian that I spoke to? The cutie with the beard? I think that's right...) (extra parentheses because I like to be annoying) or because I just don't like the band enough to trust that I'll listen to the album often. 

Honestly, I've done it only two other times in my life -- I bought Julia Sinclair's EP at the Sofar show I went to in October and I also bought a CD at a Tori Amos concert I went to in 1998.  The opening band was an Irish group called The Devlins, and they were ahhhhhhhhhhhhmazing.  Then my car got broken into and that CD got stolen...I wonder if I can still buy it...

ANYWAY.  I knew I wanted to buy the album because it just felt like something I needed to have.  This is not a "rock out in your car" album. As a matter of fact, I'd call it the complete opposite.This is a "totally chill out/make out" album that you could also play while being super productive at work, because the tracks move seamlessly into one another with no jarring tracks that stand out unnecessarily.

Let me go off track slightly for a moment to say that I really hate that my gut reaction is to immediately compare a new group/artist to another group/artist. I mean, it's not like I'm stacking them up against one's more like "oh hey, this reminds me of this album, kind of," or, "They kind of have a _______ vibe."  I hope that no artist is ever offended by that...I'm sure they have their influences and all, and I never mean to say that a group doesn't have its own individuality.  I think, for me, it just ties in why I like them so much, or why they appeal to me.  For example, this Foreign Fields album reminds me a lot of Blind Pilot, Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, and even sometimes a little bit Rufus Wainwright (some awesome piano and melodic lines).

So, what that may mean to YOU, the reader/potential listener, is that they have a mellow feel, intricate and tight harmonies, layered instrumentation, and beautiful melodic lines with a sound that is both classic and also modern/electronic.

Also, I LOVE their "about" section of their Facebook page (emphasis mine):

Foreign Fields is an electronic folk group that hails from the wintry plains of Wisconsin. New Years day of last year they met in their hometown, in an abandoned office building, to begin work on their first full length LP "Anywhere But Where I Am". Having no set plan or guide, the album grew naturally as they left their lives in Chicago for hot summer days, skipping stones in the rivers of Tennessee

I just freakin' love that.  "Hey guys, let's make some music and see what happens."  It totally appeals to my hippie/artist nature.  

I don't have a favorite track (yet), as I'm only on my 3rd full-length listen-through so far, but I'm a big fan of "Taller" and "Perfect Home" just based on my first few listens. 

My only complaint about the performance I saw at Dan's last week is that...well...that's not the venue in which I would've preferred to experience their music. Dan's, to me, a native Denton resident, is more suited to higher energy, more rocking, intense groups.  I'm also a snob and I like my music the way I like it/want to hear it, and I would have loved to see Foreign Fields in a more intimate setting, such as The Kessler Theatre in Dallas. I think their music has the potential to really create intimacy and atmosphere, and that wasn't happening much for me at Dan's.  BUT, take my opinion with a grain of salt! After all, I was standing at the back and I couldn't see very well, and my back was hurting and I was 100% tired pregnant lady by the end of the evening, so.....yeah. 

I think they were programmed perfectly between Julia and Seryn, and I LOVE hearing new groups and meeting new people, so overall it was a major win.  CHECK THESE GUYS OUT.  Sample their album and then buy it!  Have I ever led you astray??

November 12, 2012

No Shame November -- Visual Art

Visual art has always fascinated me...and, to be honest, completely eluded me. 

Sure, I won a blue ribbon a couple of times in elementary school for the Texas Wildflower contests (I remember one of the times I won, I totally threw that crap together at the last minute. It was some daisies on some black paper that I drew with white and yellow chalk, and smeared up "artistically," and I WON.  The bar must have been really low, because I've seen that in recent years and it was total crap, I tell ya.)

Art, just like dancing, playing an instrument or reading/writing/easily understanding poetry, has just always completely fascinated me and made me feel just the tiniest bit frustrated that it didn't come easily to me.  I know I shouldn't complain, because I know I'm good at other things.  I'm a better than average singer, I think I'm a decent actor, and I think I have potential to be a pretty darn good director.  I guess it's just that whole "grass is greener" cliché.  I want to be good at ALL THE THINGS.

The other night, I went to Dan's Silverleaf in Denton, TX to see Julia Sinclair (again), Foreign Fields (more on them tomorrow, probably, for Tuesday Tunes...still processing their album that I bought!), and Seryn (AGAIN!), and watching so many freakishly talented musicians just trade off instruments and be incredible at all of them made my heart ache a little bit. 

You know what...maybe it's not envy, so much as just...a respect that's hard to put into words. I see these incredible artists (musicians, visual artists, dancers, etc.) throwing every ounce of their bodies and souls into what it is that they're doing, and I guess it's kind of like my heart is aching in a non-painful way because it understands.  I know what they're feeling and how it feels to express it in a passionate way through a medium other than just spoken words, and my heart is empathizing. 

But back to visual art for a moment.  A year ago (ho. lee. crap.  it's been a YEAR you guys), when we did Café des Artistes, I was definitely the most envious and the least comfortable with the visual art portion of our exercises we did before constructing the show itself.  My friends/castmates Danielle and Lindsey did an incredible job in the Visual Art portion of the show, both as actors and as artists.

My very favorite piece of art in my house right now actually came from that show.  Danielle and Lindsey would each work on a drawing throughout the performance, and then I guess it would get either kept or tossed out each night so that they could start fresh each new evening.  The piece that Danielle drew during our last performance just really called out to me, and I asked her if I could have it.  She was gracious enough to give it to me. (I just wish I'd gotten her to sign and date it for me! BLAST!)

It's hanging up in my house, framed, and I love it.  And, now that Danielle has moved to Chicago to pursue theatre, it's a wonderful reminder of her that I see every morning while I'm putting on my jewelry:

November 8, 2012

No Shame November -- Technology and Two Other Things

Today's post is about three things.  Because I'm STILL behind, and because it's still my blog and I can do what I want!! (Nobody's questioning that, Mandy, just get over it and write your blog post...)

Today I'm going to write about technology, and sex and genitalia.

Calm down, Tashina, I'm not talking about the Fleshbot. 

I refuse to link to that, by the way. 

(Oh my gosh I hate this post so much already because I really just want to announce this great news, and now I've already yelled at myself and talked about weird sex toys.)



Look, don't let the weird awkwardness of this blog post confuse you...I am absolutely freaking out happy amazed at this!!  My husband and I cannot believe how quickly and easily (so far) this is happening for us. I just...I don't want to be one of those Babydrunk (copyright: Tashina) people who are the reason why sites like STFUParents exist.  I didn't really want to be like "We are so blessed to announce that our lives will now be made PERFECT because...."  That's just not really how we are. 

Do we feel blessed?  Duh.  Are we thrilled?  OF COURSE!!

But am I also kind of being flippant because it's a defense mechanism. I'm still nervous, even though I've seen an actual tiny little growing human inside me thanks to technology (TECHNOLOGY!), and even seen its little heart beating away, and even HEARD IT beating....Yeah, I'm still nervous. 

I'm responsible for this baby! We are going to RAISE A CHILD.  WHAT?!

I don't have a lot more to say, really...I'm still processing that I'm pregnant. I made the Facebook announcement today (TECHNOLOGY!) and was immediately overwhelmed.  I think I'm up to 104 comments and almost 170 "likes." Whoa. Awesome.

Some people are probably judging me for making the announcement before the first trimester is over. NO SHAME.  My husband and I talked about it, and we agreed that it was okay to share our news now that we've seen and heard the heartbeat.  If, Heaven forbid, something bad happens, well....I mean it's in God's hands anyway.  Posting on Facebook won't "jinx" anything, and now we will have a HUGE support system no matter what happens.


I'm gonna have a baby.


Oh and this is also about sex and genitalia because...well....they were involved in the babymaking process.  Sorry folks, that's just science!

November 6, 2012

No Shame November -- Vanity and Social Media

That's right, betches. I'm combining topics! Because I suck at keeping up with these things over the weekend AND because I want to and I can do what I want because it's NO SHAME NOVEMBER!!

But I really do think that these two topics -- Vanity and Social Media -- go hand in hand. Most of us aren't promoting a company or a business or an "identity" on Facebook or Twitter...we're just promoting ourselves. We like the feedback.  We enjoy the interaction and the positive reinforcement we get from our hundreds of friends/follower (and we call social media stupid when the response is negative). 

Look, I'm definitely not judging.  I'm guilty of this 100%.  I've touched on this before and said I'd blog about it someday, so I guess now is as good a time as any. 

I struggle a lot with vanity. 

I always have and it's gotten me into trouble. Luckily, I have friends and a husband who love me regardless.

No, I'm not talking about the GPOYs (Gratuitous Photo of Yourself), even though I recognize how obnoxious those can be.  I'm talking about really getting into a cycle of not only loving the validation, but seeking it out from places I shouldn't. You know what makes that a whole lot easier? Social media.

Social media = vanity = social media.  That's math, fools.  MATH WITH WORDS.

Recently I deleted a Tumblr account and then started up a nice, shiny new one.  Why?  Because I realized at one point that Tumblr was where I went to be "secret." It's a place that most people in my everyday life didn't know I even had. It was the same name as my Twitter handle and Instagram account name, so it's not like it was the Fort Knox of social media sites, but I didn't advertise it.  I said and posted things there that I wouldn't necessarily want my friends, family or husband to see.  Even friends on Facebook or's easy to go private/direct messages and "harmlessly" say things or give compliments. 

And it's a dangerous road.  Trust me.  It felt good to feel validated. But hell, even drugs feel good at first! Then you get to the long-term effects, and it becomes a hot damn mess.

(Did I just compare social media to drugs?  Whatever, I stand by it.)

The point I'm trying to make is that I recognize my vanity.  I recognize my love for social media. I've been honest with myself and with my husband and with some close friends about the struggles I have sometimes.  It's all about finding a balance and controlling it. 

Now I try to live a life -- online and offline -- in which, if at any moment my husband or my Mom or Dad could look in and see what I'm saying/doing/writing/typing/texting, they would think it was fine...even if it was a little "too Mandy" for them.  (This is where I would put a smiley face emoticon.)

Because social media can be awesome for support...

....but it needs to be positive, above-the-line support that is building me up in a good way...not in the self-destructive, vain way that only provides temporary pleasure/contentment. 

November 2, 2012

No Shame November -- Music

Today's No Shame November topic (for me; remember, I'm taking them in any order I please) is going to be music. Because I like the challenge of keeping this short and palatable. 

I talk about music a lot on my blog and, over on the Book of Faces, I tend to post a "Song of the Day" every day, just whatever I've been listening to or something that is amusing (I typed "amusicing" first...) or entertaining me at that particular moment in time, so I really am not going to go into a lot of detail here about my love affair with music or when/how it started or anything.

Suffice it to say, music is very important to me. And how it makes me feel can very from day to day or even hour to hour.  I love the very idea of it being created by a passionate artist (at least in most cases...don't get me started on a lot of the teenybopper shit that's popular these days) who is able to express himself or herself in such a way. 

Music is also a key factor in my memories. For some people it's smells/scents, or even clothing, that stand out in their clearest and strongest memories but, for me, it's music.  What music was I listening to at that time in my life?  What was happening to me at that very moment the song was playing? 

This is awesome, because a flood of senses and imagery can fill my body when I hear particular chords or choruses...but it can also be quite painful.  There are songs and entire albums that I can't listen to ever again because they bring back painful reminders of past relationships, my own awful behavior in situations, or just plain old remind me of someone who is no longer living. 

So now here comes the list portion of the blog.  I like lists.  Multiple lists.  Here we go, in no particular order(s):

Songs I can't get enough of right now
1. "Our Love" - Seryn (This is Where We Are)
2. "Below My Feet" - Mumford and Sons (Babel)
3. "The Story" - Brandi Carlile (The Story)
4. "Iscariot" - Walk the Moon (Walk the Moon)
5. "I Was Broken" - Marcus Foster (Nameless Path)
6. "Ho Hey" - The Lumineers (The Lumineers)
7. "Demons" - Imagine Dragons (Night Visions)
8. "Cutty Love" - Milo Greene (Milo Greene)
9. "Ivory Black" - Seryn (no new album yet)
10. "Some Nights" - Fun. (Some Nights)

Albums I (still) have in constant rotation
1. Barton Hollow - The Civil Wars
2. This is Where We Are - Seryn
3. Babel - Mumford and Sons
4. The Lumineers - The Lumineers
5. Albatross - Big Wreck
6. Give up the Ghost - Brandi Carlile
7. Once - Original Broadway Cast Recording
8. Night Visions - Imagine Dragons
9. Hope and Ruin - The Trews
10. 21 - Adele

Songs I can't help but chair-dance to (aka, "Here's where you judge me")
1. "Every Time we Touch" - Cascada
2. "Call Me Maybe" - Carly Rae Jepsen
3. "It's Oh So Quiet" - Björk
4. "Everybody Talks" - Neon Trees
5. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" - Queen
6. "Say Hey (I Love You)" - Michael Franti & Spearhead
7. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - Stevie Wonder
8. "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
9. "North Side Gal" - J.D. McPherson
10. "Shake it Out" - Florence + the Machine

I'm tired of making lists now.  But that's a lot of music. I wanted to save this post for later (and you'll see why....later) to talk about why Seryn means a lot to me personally right now in my life, but I'll try to find a way to work it back in...later.  I said "later" a lot there.  NO SHAME.


November 1, 2012

No Shame November -- Politics

My friend Tashina has started up a blogging prompt list for the month of November. She's calling it "No Shame November," because, well...let me let HER tell you why:

Why “no shame,” besides the fact that it sounds good with “November”? Because I want everyone to write about each topic (whether it’s general thoughts or a specific story or “I hate [topic]” or any other way you want to write) COMPLETELY HONESTLY. It can be humorous, sincere, psychotic… I don’t care! But there’s no shame. None. If you feel shame, I WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE AND MURDER YOU. 
 So, there you go. She suggested we take the topics in any order we please, so I'm starting with one that's currently on everyone's minds and Facebook timelines: POLITICS.

There's a big day coming up in our country.  Tuesday, November 6th, is Election Day in the United States of America.  

I voted early.  Last week.

Also? It was my very first time to vote.

No, I didn't just turn 18. 

I'm not going to get into reasons why it was my first time to vote because (and pay attention because this is kind of the theme for this post) it's really none of your business.

I remember being a kid and asking my parents who they voted for once, and they both told me it was none of my business.  I remember that very clearly.  My parents didn't ever force their political opinions or beliefs on us, but they certainly held on to their own and felt strongly about them. I don't even think they told each other their preferred candidate.

We live in a technological age that has given every single person who can use a computer or a smart phone a soap box, a megaphone, and the false sense of being an expert about any and everything.  My Facebook feed is CHOKED with political propaganda and rants and opinions, and it's frightening at worst, hilarious at best.

"But Mandy! Voting is IMPORTANT! It's not FUNNY."  I agree with you.  Mostly. It's very important.  But you're wrong about that second part.  The hilarity lies in the belief that posting any of your long-winded rants or cleverly-worded political cartoons or emotionally-charged manifestos on why we should vote for Your Guy (or Gal! You go Jill Stein.) is going to change anyone's mind.

Everyone has issues that are important to them.  Everybody has an opinions on those issues.  Everyone has the right to those opinions.  I have my own opinions (which should come as a shock to absolutely no one) but, for once in my life I'm choosing to keep them off Facebook. 

Any of my deepest thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and passions belong to me.  Not my 691 Facebook friends. 

I've posted very  middle-of-the-road things such as, "You discover a lot about people during an election year," but nothing should've ever given too much of a clue as to how I feel about an issue or a candidate. I've encouraged people to educate themselves and to vote, if they choose to.  Or to not vote, if they don't feel that they're educated.  I just care that people do make a choice.

But there's one thing I shared with Facebook today that I will happily share with all of you because it's a fact and I believe it with my whole heart -- If Obama is elected, Christ will still be King.  If Romney is elected, Christ will still be King.  (I also added a bit about Rick Astley still being amazing no matter what, just to add some whimsy and to avoid a comment war because I'm turning into a bit of a pacifist in my old age. This old heart can't take the drama.)

Whichever candidate is elected next Tuesday, I will support the President of the United States and continue to serve a living God before anything or anyone else. But, I still voted, because I felt led to, and I am proud to have exercised my right and my freedom to do so. 

So, for whom did I vote?

None of your business. 

October 24, 2012

You Know What I HATE About Blogging?

The pressure.

The feeling that I have to follow up a really popular post with something equally popular and interesting and witty and compelling and all that when, sometimes, I just don't have much to say.

Well....that's never true. I always have a lot to say.  I'm just trying to learn when and where it's appropriate to put those things online.  Sometimes they're best left said over a cup of coffee with a trusted friend who will keep her mouth shut and also not judge the things you are sharing with her. 

I feel the same pressure whenever I get a new Facebook friend or Twitter follower. I feel like I suddenly need to prove to that person that they made a good choice in following/adding me.  Sheesh.  So much pressure.

But things are going well in Mandy World.  Very well.  I assume I'm allowed to share these things, so I'm going to...

Since my last post about my amazing music weekend, I've been contacted by the SofarDFW coordinators to be a consistent blogger about their local shows, and I could not be more excited about that.  I've written for them a modified version of my own blog post that will hopefully show up on their official blog some time this week. 

The VERY SAME DAY that happened (last Tuesday, if you were wondering), I met up with a friend at Jupiter House Coffee, where two members of Seryn were sitting and chilling out.  Of course I giggled inside, but I kept my composure. I just smiled and, in my head, thought "My GOODNESS I love Denton...and my life."  I sat there so long with my friend that the band's manager eventually came in and recognized me from the shows, and we spent an absolutely lovely few minutes talking.  She thanked me for my blog post, hugged me...she is charming!  Obviously we became Facebook friends after that.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT PRESSURE?  Now I want to prove to these people that, yes, I'm a huge music fan and all, but that they made good choices in putting me in their own lives.  But the truth is, sometimes I go weeks without posting anything on this blog.  Or I will go off on a Twitter RAMPAGE about a football game or a marathon of slasher-movie-watching. 

(side note: in the time it's taken me to write parts of this, get some work done, check Facebook and Google Reader a couple of times, I read a post by Jen about a blogging conference she went to in Toronto, and now I'm super jealous and wish that I felt led to blog more often.)

You know what I hate slightly less about blogging? Finding a way to wrap them up and conclude.


October 16, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: Music Weekend

(Quick disclaimer! I am not a music-blogger, per se.  I just blog about music from time to time!  This is a personal blog, so there are some personal feelings on here.  For an AWESOME article in a real news source, check out THIS post from the Dallas Observer! Thanks for stopping by here, too, though!) 

Earlier this year, I wrote about a pretty amazing local music experience: my first SOFAR show. It was really incredible, and it introduced me to some great new artists (whom I now follow on their respective Facebook and Twitter pages, hoping to catch another local tour date from any or all of them).

I was incredibly fortunate to be placed on the guest list again when SOFAR came back to Denton this past weekend. But, before I get to the house show portion of my weekend, let me first mention that the previous evening I had been to the Kessler Theater in Dallas to see one of my very favorite bands: Seryn.

Wait, I have to back up one more time.

When my best friend was in town for her birthday in August, I introduced her to Seryn as we were driving around being fabulous.  She immediately bought their CD, and I mentioned how badly I wanted the album on vinyl. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I get a text message from a friend I haven't seen in person in years.

Ann asked me if I could have lunch any time soon, because she had something for me. Now, I knew from her Facebook page that she was best friends with the folks in Seryn.  What I did not know was that she is now working for the band.  She had noticed that my BFF had ordered my birthday gifts from the Seryn website, but, since they were backordered, she wanted to help in any way she could to get them to me in time for my birthday.  The gifts were a Seryn t-shirt (most comfortable t-shirt ever, btw) and....

 Seryn's album on vinyl!  Do you think I was excited? I'm not saying I cried...but I'm not saying I didn't.

As a birthday gift to me, Ann got me a ticket to see Seryn at the Kessler on October 13th.  Did I cry again? Maybe a little.  I'm not was incredibly kind and generous of BOTH my friends, and it made me feel very loved!

So, now we're back to the Kessler show.

Julia Sinclair opened the evening.  Ho. Lee. Crap.  This tiny little thing came out and completely owned all of us with her personality and huge voice. 

I tweeted during the show that she had an amazing quirky quality like Regina Spektor, but amazing pipes a la Brandi Carlile.  Can I just say, I love it when artists read and respond to tweets?  It shows me how much they care about what their fans are saying!  


Definitely check out her stuff. She's amazing. Here's a YouTube video of her singing "Lies."

Next up was Marcus Foster, an incredible performer from London. This guy...I knew he was going to blow my mind within the first 8 bars.  He's got this incredible voice...reminded me of Glen Hansard (not his Swell Season stuff, but more of his solo work) and sometimes Ray LaMontagne (mostly in his favorite of which was "Solid Ground," a track from his "The Last House" EP, which will be released next week!).

Here's a pretty good fan video of Marcus singing "Solid Ground" I found on YouTube.  I was chatting with Marcus at the Sofar show, and was excited to hear that he will be back in the US touring sooner rather than later!

Next up was SERYN. 

The thing about Seryn...for me...they totally ninja-ed their way into my brainA wonderful friend shared them with me months ago, and I incorporated them into my iTunes shuffle.  Then one day, I found myself skipping around to find their songs intentionally.  Then I just sat and listened to the whole thing while working and...well, I wasn't working. I was sitting and staring off into space listening to the intricately layered instrumentation and vocals.

They became my happy-place music.  

Any time I felt any anxiety or stress, or if I couldn't turn my brain off and fall asleep, I put on Seryn.

The show at the was just perfect timing.  There's been a lot going on in my mind and heart lately, as I posted about recently.  I was building up to a desperately-needed catharsis, and was about to just cue up the Betty Spaghetti's husband scene in "A League of Their Own" just so I could get the damn ugly cry out and have done with it.

(Come on, I know you have that ONE THING you watch/listen to when you need a good cry. Right? No? Just me?  Okay.)

The Seryn experience I had on Friday night know, I'm still having trouble finding the right words to accurately describe it.  I've heard that they're so much more live than they are on a recording, and that is a fact. 

During the intro to my favorite song of theirs,  Nathan (the guitarist with the Epic Ginger Beard of Awesome) shared some things about the song with the audience, and mentioned that everyone who was supposed to be there that night was there.  He believed it was all happening just like it should be happening, in that moment in that venue.

The whole set was surreal.  I tweeted at one point, "I think I may actually be in Heaven right now. If I am, please don't send me back yet."

I don't know enough about the band members to speak to their faith or spirituality, but I can tell you that I personally felt the Holy Spirit in the room as I experienced their set.  Not heard, their set....experienced.  Because it was a multi-sensory experience, and I felt emotionally cleansed when it was over.

Exhausted and, yes, shaking in my hands and legs, but cleansed.

I drove home and reflected on the amazing music I'd heard that night, and I slept better than I have in a long time. The next day, I had a meeting up at the theatre, and then, at lunch with my husband, I was reading through my Twitter feed and deduced that I was going to get to see ALL THREE ACTS AGAIN in the intimate, acoustic environment that SOFAR provides.

I arrived at an absolutely beautiful home in Denton, found my friend Melissa, and told her how excited I was for HER to get to experience her first SOFAR show!

The first group up was an adorable husband-and-wife duo called The OnesYou Loved. (Doesn't he kind of remind you of Jim Sturgess??) Unfortunately they couldn't stay long, due to a CD-release party/concert they had to get to, but I really enjoyed hearing them play. 

Next up -- YOU GUESSED IT. I got to see Julia, Marcus, AND Seryn all play again in a completely different environment than the night before, with a beautiful landscape and a blustery October afternoon as the backdrop.

Afterwards I found my friend Ann again to thank her profusely, and she was so excited that I'd gotten to see Seryn twice in one weekend. I'd been posting on Facebook about the SOFAR concert, and she managed to keep quiet about it so that I could be surprised. She introduced me to Nathan, who was a doll, and of course I had to get a picture because...well, gingers have to stick together whenever possible.

I asked Ann, "Does it ever get old, hearing them play? I mean, is it ever NOT completely spellbinding?" I was so pleased to hear her answer "No." I am so grateful to Ann for the opportunity to see Seryn at the Kessler, and to Joanna and Polly and all the rest of the SOFAR crew for putting me on the invite list again.

I'm sad to say that there were many people who apparently just did not show up to this SOFAR performance. I mean, it gave the rest of us an even more intimate environment (not to mention plenty of leg room), but I just wish that more people could've gotten to experience what we did that afternoon.

I spent some time chatting with Julia and Marcus afterwards, too, and they were so incredibly gracious!  Julia had one of those fancy-shmancy iPhone squares so that I could buy her CD, but, since I didn't have any cash, I got Marcus to sign one of his promotional cards for me.  Look! He loves Texas!

It was an amazing 48 hours of music, and I'm so grateful to Ann, the SOFAR crew, the amazing hosts who opened up their beautiful home to us, and of course, especially the musicians.

 It was truly an unforgettable weekend.