Thursday, July 5, 2018

My Halfway Through the Year Resolution

I love New Year's Day, because it's a clean, fresh slate with no mistakes in it and unlimited potential. Through the year I can lose sight of that potential. January is simply a word on a calendar, there's no reason I shouldn't sit down and set goals in July. Recently I've been thinking about what I prioritize in this the latter half of my twenties. And before I buy a ticket for the grand adventure that is starting a family, I really, really, really want to get more theatre in it. A lot of theatre. It's been six months since I was in a show, and at that time I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have because I was also trying to plan a wedding.

I don't plan on making that mistake again. (Not appreciating a show.) (Although I also don't plan on planning any more weddings.)

In preparation for the flurry of July auditions, I printed out new resumes for this stranger who is Rebecca Cook. I have been signing up for auditions left, right, and center, even though I don't dare type the names of the shows I'm auditioning for fear of jinxing it. Theatre gods are capricious creatures. Idk, man. I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stititious.

Auditions make me The Most Anxious™. Or maybe that honor belongs to callbacks. On second thought, it definitely belongs to callbacks. What torment could be sweeter than knowing that you're within spitting distance of getting what you want, but not at all guaranteed of a slot on the cast list? Audra McDonald said that an actor's job isn't to get cast, it's to audition well. Sometimes I don't feel I can do either. But I want to. I want to audition well! And I doubly want to get cast! (Not caring about something may be the key to success, but I've never been good at that.) 

Mood when you realize that the director has no obligation to cast you even though you've dreamt about performing this show since you were seventeen 

Because I care so much about auditions and I despise failing, I've been known to talk myself out of auditions because "it's not like I would make it anyway." No more! Not this year! Not this married lady! I am going to go to every audition I'm even remotely interested in until I get cast. Life belongs to those who show up, after all. And even a "failed" audition can lead to valuable experience, or connections, or maybe they have free cookies there or something.

Rejection, they say, doesn't necessarily mean you aren't talented. It just means you aren't right for this show. My oh my, it feels much more personal than that, and it seems like the people who say stuff like that just happen to always be right for every role.

I feel like I'm a good cast member. I think most of my directors have liked me. But the sucky thing about auditions is that everyone feels that way and everyone thinks it's their turn, and the directors don't ask for essays extrapolating on how much you want this. Quote from my 2017 journal: "I know that casting is subjective, but does it have to be subjective so many times in a row?" 

So, if you know of any auditions, hit me up. Anticipating auditions is a strange high because you never know, you might do FANTASTIC! This could be the show that I'm a perfect fit for! Mayhap they'll even forgive my dancing because the light in my eyes is so bright, or whatever. (#SingerWhoMoves) And if you have any audition tips that have helped you, please share! Rebecca Cook is here and she's only been rejected twice and she's hungry to be onstage.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

An Open Letter to Meghan Markle

Dear Ms Markle,

You are getting married in just three days! That’s pretty awesome! I’m getting married in three days too. (We picked the date first.) Along with much of the United States, I’ve been obsessed with the royal family since William & Kate got married. Having a royal wedding AND a royal baby in one year is almost too much goodness to bear. (Have you met Prince Louis yet?) Sharing an anniversary with the second Royal Wedding is the best present I could ask for.

Are you nervous? Are you excited? Have you had awkward small talk with the Queen while the corgis sat on the couch looking judgmental?

Can I just say that I am dying to see your dress? Kate had a fairytale princess dress, but I have a feeling this one isn’t going to be the miles long train style. Kate is a perfect bride for William, just like he’s the ideal eldest son, heir to the throne. She’s classy, like you, but you’ve got the edge factor. I mean, your engagement photos had one with a sheer top and people wrote articles about its significance. What a world.

I fell in love with my dress the second time I put it on. I wanted to feel like a princess on my wedding day (my originality is truly shocking) but it turns out that basically any wedding dress made me feel like a princess so I had to give my favorites a second go around another day, and that’s when I knew. Your dress won’t be revealed until you walk down the aisle in it. Even the designer is a closely guarded secret. All I can wish for you is that when you put it on you don’t ever want to take it off, because that’s how I feel.

Meghan, are you okay with giving up your career as an actress? It must have been strange to end your most recent show, Suits, with a wedding for your character. It must be surreal to enter a world that your family will never be fully integrated into, especially with all the drama around them lately. Hopefully Kate takes you aside and gives you some pointers on making it was a come lately royal.

Rachel Zane's wedding dress. We can only speculate what Meghan's will be.
(I think this one is five stars and would have stolen it from set.)

Do you compare yourself to other brides? Kate’s wedding was the spectacle of the year, and yours is on track to be the same. There are countdowns on television to the big event (my coworkers tell me the countdowns are for me). People are going to compare the two weddings. And that’s tough. Because you and Kate are different women. I have to tell myself that when I see someone completely gorgeous and poised and who also made two hundred silk flowers by hand for wedding favors. We’re different women. Weddings aren’t a competition.

Do you ever catch your breath at your good fortune? I’ve never been one for gingers (although Justin does have some red in his beard), but does looking at Harry make you feel like the luckiest lady alive? You deserve that feeling. He seems completely smitten and anxious to start a family. (Honestly I’d hope that the kids take after you but again I’m not one for Weasleys.) You must be someone very special to get him straightened out and on his way to Windsor to take his vows. He had some wild years…. And he’s inviting his exes to the wedding… but girl after Saturday he is yours officially so grin and bear it!

I wonder if royal marriage is hard. I mean, I know regular marriage is going to be hard. But do all the public events make it more or less difficult? Does it bring you and Harry closer or farther apart? “Don’t forget to have date night” is a bit useless when it comes to giving advice to someone who is photographed every time she leaves the house (castle).

Anyway I’m nervous and excited and jittery and in love and it makes me feel better to know that there’s another woman out there who is prepping for this life changing ritual, on the world stage, at Windsor Palace with millions watching. I'll take my greenhouse with a gazebo. But come May 19th we’ll both be wives. Justin calls me a princess too. Good luck, and God Save the Queen.

Much love,

Thursday, March 22, 2018

When You're Falling in a Forest....

How do people keep friends? How do adult women make people want to keep talking to them year after year, or even month after month? I am finding that I'm..... not good at it. I'm getting ghosted by people I thought wouldn't ghost me. And I'm kind of dying.

I feel like I'm okay at making friends, especially in the confines of a theatre when we're mingling every day for three months. And then when a show ends I'm lucky if I see anyone from it ever again. I'm used to those mini friendships ending but lately it seems like some major ones are falling by the wayside too. I want to figure out what I'm doing wrong so I can knock it off.

Hopefully I'm not completely unpleasant. I try to be a good friend. Introversion is my natural state, but I thought I did a decent job at maintaining friendships via occasional lunch dates and text messages. Most of my friends are introverts too so this worked well. But now the radio silence is deafening and I'm getting scared that I just don't get to have best friends anymore, and I don't know why.

I have Justin, who is a lifesaver, and truly the love of my life, but but no man could possible be expected to fill the emotional crevices that my girlfriends do. I have cherished friends in faraway states who would be there for movie night if NASA would get around to inventing teleportation, but alas. And there are friends who definitely tolerate me but have a real circle of friends. Best friends. How do people make the jump to the real circle, and stay there?

Dealing with the loss of a best friend is hard because break ups are publicly acknowledged. But saying "Well so and so won't talk to me anymore and I really love her" doesn't seem like something people do... I am at my wit's end and maybe all my friendships are going to end with silence.

The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. In middle school I got the nickname "Shadow" because I followed my friends around, begging for attention. It was humiliating, because if you have to beg for attention, are you actually friends? When I reach out repeatedly only to be ignored I feel like I've been flung back to middle school, which I believe is the literal definition of hell. I'm cringing while typing this because GUESS WHAT it's another attempt at reaching out into the void of human interaction and that's just yikes

I know life isn't a popularity contest. I know that social media is a toxic wasteland that presents a carefully cultivated image of lives that are likely as chaotic and confusing as mine. I know that friendships have an ebb and flow and that getting engaged has taken up a ton of my time. But I would really love to believe I could have a girls' night with better attendance than me and a cardboard cutout of Taylor Swift. I miss venting and laughing hysterically and going out randomly. I miss being around girls who really knew me. I am scared that I'm not enough, and that for the rest of my life I'll have an amorphous circle of 'friends' who I like, and like me, but we aren't all that close. And how am I going to be a soccer mom if I don't know how to make friends with the other moms at PTA???

I am truly grateful to the people who haven't shut me down. Please keep giving me chances. I am extremely sorry if you're reading this and I've done something that made you feel like I didn't want to be friends. Please help me improve so that I don't drive more people away.

How can I be better at making and KEEPING friends? I want to fix the problem!! Ad how do you deal with women you deeply admire, who are so COOL, ignoring you? The anxiety that tells me I am the most irritating person in the world is flaring up pretty on a regular schedule these days-- like, if given the choice between me and being punched in the face, would you hang out with me?

Cuz I'm tap, tap, tapping on the glass.....

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Train in Winter

Yesterday I finished A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead. I haven't been this affected by a book in a while. It tells the story of over a hundred French women who were part of the resistance when the Nazis occupied Paris, and then were sent to Auschwitz. Only forty of them lived, but that even forty did is incredible. They did it by protecting each other, finding humanity in the very depths of hell, and somehow not losing their will to live.

This book really shook me. I've read my share of World War II books, but the relationship of these women with each other, their sisterhood.... it was so strong. They sustained each other. Through the worst, blackest, cruelest events. One woman was an unofficial "nurse" to the victims of the disgusting medical experimentation that went on for the cause of eugenics and racial cleansing. She would swear that the prisoners were going to recover so they wouldn't be sent to the gas chambers, as happened immediately for anyone perceived too weak to go on.

When another woman was transferred to a small farm near the concentration camp to grow vegetables and other food for the SS, she requested five of her friends be transferred with her. This almost certainly saved their lives, as they were spared from the harsh, hours long roll calls where women collapsed and died daily. Another prisoner was beaten to death for offering a drink of water to a woman on her way to the gas chambers. Lulu, one of the forty to survive, said that she and seven of her friends made it their mission to brief every new arrival to the camp. "We told them that they should never say they were tired, and should do everything they could to appear healthy. We told them to never admit to being Jewish. And we told them about the importance of looking after each other, which was the only way they were likely to survive."

Other women passed around stolen medicine and whispered rumors of Allied forces making advances against Hitler's regime. Songs were punished with beatings, as so many acts of defiance were, but the women found small ways to remember where they were from, to cling on to their humanity even as horror became daily ritual. One women held on to a paper drawing of her son for the entirety of her captivity at Auschwitz, and then for the rest of her life.

These incredible Frenchwomen were just regular people before they joined the resistance and were eventually sent to concentration camps. They were from all walks of life, and then when evil found their country they said, "No more." Even though it cost them their lives, and in my cases the lives of their families. Many families were arrested as units, but only one or two members made it out alive.

On the other side of the coin are the regular people who became Nazis, informers to the Nazis, even prisoners who were elevated to quasi guards. The book was full of horrific scenes that made me feel ill. But this picture affected me the most, because I'd never seen it.

I saw it during my lunch hour at work and I just sat at my desk and stared for three or four minutes. They look so, so happy. Completely carefree. And they're so young. The girl doing the little pose captivates me; she's my age (as were many of the women in the camps). She could be my friend. Auschwitz murdered as many as two thousand people in the gas chambers each day. Each day. Prisoners were beaten to death for as not responding to a command in a language they didn't speak. And there were people who could be part of it and still smile brightly while palling around with their friends on picnics.

The message I took from this book was that the bonds we form with others are the most vital thing there is. Each of the women said that if they had been on their own they would have died. Helene, one of the Frenchwoman, broke her leg the month before the survivors of the camps were rescued. This was a death sentence if any of the guards were to find out, especially so close to the end of the war. (When it became clear the Allies were going to win the war; death numbers at Auschwitz went even higher in a sickening attempt to destroy the evidence of mistreatment.) The other Frenchwomen, who had lost so much and so many, rallied around her to hide and protect her, going so far as to put another dead body in her bed so the guards would stop looking for her. She made it out.

We cannot always change our circumstances, but we can change our relationships with those around us. We can resist evil in the best ways we know, and be there to strengthen each other. We must protect others. Jut this week I listened to this episode from one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab. There are good people in this world. Let's all be part of it.

"I know that there are those who say: 'they died for precious little.' To such people, one must reply: 'it's that they were on the side of life.'"  --Jean Paulahn, resistance newspaper editor

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Bernadette Peters Is Everything

New York day was one just insane. Red eye flight, bus tour of the city that I kind of saw and mostly slept through. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis island were surrounded by fog and beautiful. The Tenement Museum was so creative and I really enjoyed it. The singing waitstaff at Ellen's Diner earn every penny of their tips. But mostly this short blog written before leaving to go see Band's Visit and then Come From Away is just-- Bernadette Peters.

I've been obsessed with her since I found Into the Woods in high school and last night I got to see her play Dolly Levi at the Schubert Theatre. She is perfection. She sparkles and completely lights up the stage. She's so talented and gives a hundred percent. Hello, Dolly! was one of the first shows I performed in Utah and it made me so emotional to see it here in New York. There was a standing ovation after the title number because Bernadette is a pillar of musical theatre and I can't believe we all got to see her. Also, Gavin Creel and Kate Baldwin (give the Giant soundtrack a listen) signed my program so that was fun.

The late night paragraph I scribbled last night:

Ugh it was perfect. Hello Dolly was perfect. The ensemble was just so perfect. Not smooth not well rehearsed perfect. And one lady’s hat even fell off in curtain call like mine in Christmas Carol. But Bernadette. I was in the front row of the mezzanine. And when she flipped down the newspaper in the first song and it was her we all just SCREAMED. For like a solid minute. We wouldn’t let her go on. Her eyes have such sparkle! And her voice! She is ICONIC. When she came out for the title song she was a VISION. This bright red dress and she was covered with diamonds and she glittered and just THAT WOMAN. I cried like three times. Also everyone else was the most talented people I’ve ever seen but BERNADETTE.  

 It was a perfect first Broadway show experience and I want to move to Connecticut to be closer.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Books of 2017

Sometimes it's a really good thing I have traditions like publishing my book list at the end of the year, because I haven't posted since May and it's been intimidating to jump back into the blogosphere. Hopefully 2018 will be more productive, writing wise? No promises ;) However, my reading year has been amazing. Last year I read only seventy six books and was pretty disappointed in myself; this year I was able to push to ninety one. I'll take it! I'm always here for both the giving and receiving of book recommendations; nothing flatters me ore than someone asking what I think they'd like or being told, "You should read this." 

Without further ado:

Totals: 91 books, 62 non-fiction and 29 fiction

Page count: 28,189 pages, 17,776 non-fiction and 10,413 fiction

A couple landmarks hit: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin was my 450th book read since moving to Utah in 2011 and Love Wins by Debbie Cenziper was my 500th

Top Ten Books of 2017

1. Wishful Drinking-- Carrie Fisher.   I've never missed a celebrity like I miss Carrie Fisher. I listened to her read this audiobook, and it was the perfect experience. Her writing is sardonic, open, and hilarious. I love you, Carrie.

2.  The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance-- Elna Baker. Second year in a row that a coming of age book about religion and sexuality takes the second place slot. Elna Baker has also done several segments on This American Life, my favorite podcast. This is touching, funny, and relatable.
3. 11/22/63-- Stephen King. I LOVED this book and don't know why. Time travel isn't my thing, JFK conspiracies aren't my thing, but man is this book ever my thing. There are moments of violence, but it's not horror, and the every day detail parts of the story are what makes it unforgettable. I obsessed about it for weeks after finishing it. It's also the longest book I read this year at 1121 pages.
4. A Man Called Ove-- Fredrick Backman. This book made me cry like nine times; I think it should be required reading. Completely beautiful. 
5. Kissing in America-- Margo Rabb. For years my favorite YA book has been The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E Lockhart. I found this book while looking for more of Lockhart's stuff, and it's now my second favorite. I love how it focuses on female friendships while also demonstrating how consuming a first love is. Plus, poetry. Five stars.
6. Hamilton: The Revolution-- Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter. Y'all know I love Hamilton, and this delves into everything about the production. Obsessed
7. Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among the Arctic Wolves-- Farley Mowat. This was written in 1963, and it's one of the best nature books I've read. Unexpectedly touching and laugh out loud funny. Mowat makes the wolves come to life on the page. Julie of the Wolves with humor. Please don't kill wolves.
8. Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough-- Lori Gottlieb. It probably looks bad that this is on my list the same year I got engaged, huh? Justin is so much more than Mr Good Enough. But this book is more than its title as well; it's an examination of the differing dating habits of men and women, and how they change as we age. I found it fascinating. 
9. On the Map: A Mind Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks-- Simon Garfield. I love nonfiction books that are about something that seems so simple, but when you get into it, has a lot to say. This is one of those books. Simon Garfield explores many facets of mapmaking, starting from the earliest and morphing into today's GPS systems, touching on many parts of history that maps have influenced. I look forward to reading his other books.
10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane-- Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman never fails me. Chilling, childlike, this book is strange and lovely.

Honorable Mention (nonfiction): Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, & Abortion-- Karen E Bender, Nina de Gramont

Honorable Mention (fiction):  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd-- Agatha Christie

All books I read this year. Recommendations are bolded, rereads are marked with ***

Nonfiction, alphabetical by author

  • Some Assembly Required: The Not So Secret Life of a Transgender Teen-- Arin Andrews
  • The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance-- Elna Baker
  • Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, & Abortion-- Karen E Bender, Nina de Gramont
  • Superfandom: How Our Obsessions Are Chnaging What We Buy & Who We Are-- Zoe Fraade-Blanar, Aaron M Glazer
  • Romance Is My Day Job: A Memoir of Finding Love at Last-- Patience Bloom
  • Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America-- Walter Borneman
  • Last Chance Mustang: The Story of One Horse, One Horseman, & One Final Shot at Redemption-- Mitchell Bornstein
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir-- Bill Bryson
  • In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox-- Carol Burnett
  • Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space-- Deborah Cadbury
  • Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage-- Vincent Carretta
  • Love Wins: The Lovers & Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality-- Debbie Cenziper
  • Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will Prevail-- Jonathan Chait
  • Strays: A Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America-- Britt Collins
  • Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X-- Deborah Davis
  • Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression-- Morris Dickstein
  • It's All a Game The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan-- Tristan Donovan
  • It's Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After-- Andi Dorfman
  • The Princess Diarist-- Carrie Fisher (so good I read it twice this year!)
  • Wishful Drinking-- Carrie Fisher
  • On the Map: A Mind Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks-- Simon Garfield 
  • My Own Words-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg 
  • Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr Good Enough-- Lori Gottlieb
  • Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (And Everything In Between) -- Lauren Graham
  • Infidel-- Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them-- Donovan Hohn
  • Tradition! The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway to Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World's Most Beloved Musical-- Barbara Isenberg
  • The Story of My Life-- Helen Keller
  • We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy-- Yael Kohen
  • Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America-- Erik Larson
  • H is for Hawk-- Helen Macdonald
  • Margaret Fuller: A New American Life-- Megan Marshall
  • My First Five Husbands.... & the Ones Who Got Away-- Rue McLanahan
  • One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding-- Rebecca Mead
  • Yao: A Life in Two Worlds-- Yao Ming, Ric Bucher
  • Hamilton: The Revolution -- Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter
  • Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves-- Farley Mowat
  • Don't Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething's (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood-- Alida Nugent
  • Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition-- Daniel Okrent
  • Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From an Addiction to Film-- Patton Oswalt
  • Zombie Spaceship Wasteland-- Patton Oswalt
  • Joss Whedon: The Biography-- Amy Pascale
  • A Field Guide to Awkward Silences --Alexandra Petri
  • The Wheel of Fortune-- Edith Piaf
  • Unsinkable: A Memoir-- Debbie Reynolds
  • Mrs Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation-- Brad Ricca
  • Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway-- Michael Riedel
  • Unnaturally Green: A Memoir-- Felicia Ricci
  • Trying to Float: Chronicles of a Girl in the Chelsea Hotel-- Nicolaia Rips
  • Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex-- Mary Roach
  • The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun-- Gretchen Rubin
  • The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family-- Dan Savage
  • I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend-- Martin Short
  • The Civil Wars of Julie Ward Howe-- Elaine Showalter
  • I Invented the Modern Age: The Rise of Henry Ford-- Richard Snow
  • Of Arms & Artists: The American Revolution Through Painters' Eyes-- Paul Staiti
  • The World According to Star Wars-- Cass R Sunstein
  • Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry-- Roger Watson, Helen Rappaport
  • Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War-- Giles Whittell
  • The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper & Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie & Alfred Hitchcock-- Lucy Worsley

Fiction, alphabetical by author

  • A Man Called Ove-- Fredrick Backman
  • The Secret Garden-- Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Fool Moon-- Jim Butcher
  • My Antonia-- Willa Cather
  • ***The ABC Murders-- Agatha Christie
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd-- Agatha Christie
  • Ready Player One-- Ernest Cline
  • ***A Christmas Carol-- Charles Dickens
  • All the Light We Cannot See-- Anthony Doerr
  • ***Neverwhere-- Neil Gaiman
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane-- Neil Gaiman
  • Beethoven Was One Sixteenth Black: And Other Stories-- Nadine Gordimer (some of the stories are quite good, but the whole book wasn't my fave)
  • An Abundance of Katherines-- John Green
  • 11/22/63-- Stephen King
  • Brother Odd-- Dean Koontz
  • ***A Wrinkle in Time-- Madeline L'Engle
  • We Were Liars-- E Lockhart
  • The Last Anniversary-- Lianne Moriarty
  • ***The Color of Magic-- Terry Pratchett
  • ***The Light Fantastic-- Terry Pratchett
  • ***Equal Rites-- Terry Pratchett
  • ***Mort-- Terry Pratchett
  • Kissing in America-- Margo Rabb
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children-- Ransom Riggs
  • Fangirl-- Rainbow Rowell
  • ***Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix -- JK Rowling
  • Whose Body?-- Dorothy L Sayers
  • Be More Chill-- Ned Vizzini
  • The Inimitable Jeeves-- PG Wodehouse

Thursday, May 18, 2017

J + R


Once upon a time I worked in the Student Records office at WGU. There was a new guy named Justin who seemed cool, but had a girlfriend, so I never gave him much thought until several months later when he was assigned to my team (which had previously consisted of only me). To be honest, I told my supervisor that there wasn't enough work for two people on the team, and I didn't think it was a good idea.

Imagine if she had agreed with me.

But Justin did get moved to the Transcripts team and we soon became fast friends. We had the same strange sense of humor and could chat for hours. It was easy to talk to him about deep things like religion, politics, and life in general. We had some **real** discussions pretty quickly into our friendship, and we gave each other advice about tough topics. Justin broke up with his girlfriend and I was going through some weird times personally, so we talked a lot and it was nice to put down the 'funny girl' mask. I introduced him to Hamilton and he sent me new bands to listen to.

 My friend Hannah and I would go on walks around the building twice daily; soon Justin started joining us for them. And at some point it became only Justin and I. But the three of us would do mail runs at the end of the day, and often linger outside on a bench in the spring sunshine. Sometimes I felt like I was going to die if Justin didn't like me, because he'd started growing facial hair and it was ruining my life. I'd never had a really close male friend before and it turns out that it's awesome but also I was hardcore falling for him.

Last spring was exhilarating but also terrifying because I had such an intense crush on Justin, we were spending TONS of time together, he would text me after work and tell me that I was awesome, but I didn't know if he liked me back. I AGONIZED over this: in my journal, to my roommates, basically all the time. The butterflies were out of control. At times I felt that he might have a bit of crush on me back, but then I'd quickly quash that idea because, like, it's me.

It was at a memorable Once Upon a Mattress rehearsal that we both took leaps. We'd been choreographing a dance number called "The Spanish Panic" and I was focused on not dying*(#SingerWhoMoves). Several hours into it we got a break and I checked my phone. Justin had texted me “Soo, you’re pretty fantastic. Seriously. I was thinking about it today and I really hope I get to marry someone like you someday.”

He had never said anything like that to me and I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. But the dancing picked right back up and by the time I was able to sit down again he'd texted, "Sorry if that was weird. I, uhh, didn't mean it to be. I just think you're cool is all." I took a breath and told him that his text could be construed as asking me out, and if he did I would say yes.

We didn't start dating right after that, what with still being on the same team. (This was Justin's decision, but he was probably right.) But he continued to say flirty things, the walks continued, and we started running after work as well. There are so many journal entries I'd like to quote, but suffice it to say there was a lot of "WHAT ARE WE I LIKE HIM SO MUCH" going on.

We kissed for the first time a few weeks after the initial risky texts. We were watching High School Musical 2 and there is no more romantic movie on this planet. But we STILL weren't dating officially! Deathhhhhh.  Three weeks after the HSM2 incident we were driving back from a date in Provo. It was June, the sun was just starting to set, and it was a completely beautiful night. I told Justin that I'd like to save the night in a pensieve. He paused and said, "I think I love you." 

It was honestly the most magical moment. He asked me to be his girlfriend the next day. 

So that was June, this is now. Justin told me that we'd be going out of town after Oliver! closed, but the destination remained secret. We packed up the rental car on Saturday morning and headed north, and then west. Justin told me we were going to Portland!! We went to Portland last fall and fell in love with it. We talk about moving there all the time, so I was very excited for a return visit.

One of my absolute favorite places in the world is Powell's. It's one of the largest bookstores in America, with sprawling rooms over three floors covered floor to ceiling with bookshelves. Any book you could ever want is there. It honestly takes my breath away. So we went to Powell's, and Justin told me that he had a present for me. He took out a book with pictures of us on the cover and that was all it took to start the tears from me. I am such a waterworks factory. 

When I opened the book it was full of my favorite quotes. I've been keeping a Quotations folder since 2010 with quotes from books I've read. I love it because it's not only the quotes that you'd find in an inspirational planner or something, but quotes from books that I care about that I found by reading. My Quotations folder is something that I am very proud of, and Justin put it in a more permanent form: a book that I can review and read (and cry over let's be real).

I was looking over this beautiful book and showing him different favorites and really appreciating the gift when Justin told me that his favorite quote was at the end. I turned to the last page and saw:

Cue more tears. Justin was down on one knee and asking me if I would marry him and I was crying so hard I couldn't even tell what the ring looked like. (Spoiler alert: It's the most gorgeous thing ever created.) Of course I said yes!!!

I always wanted my future fiance to do something special when he proposed, something to show that he truly knew me. But I never dreamed of how perfect it would be, and now Powell's has even more of my heart. I am so excited to marry Justin, and I don't know how I ever landed someone so kind, clever, and talented. I am beyond blessed.