Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dreams Do Come True



I’m not one for love at first sight, but the first time I saw Centerpoint Legacy Theatre I knew I wanted to perform there. It’s a beautiful building, more like a concert hall than a community theatre, and much larger than all of the theatres I had previously auditioned for. I entered through a backdoor, was shocked at how many people were waiting there, and promptly botched my audition. Here’s a piece of obvious advice: don’t use pieces you learned last night for auditions. Somehow I was still surprised that I didn’t get a callback. We always hope, right? The experience of auditioning with no callback was repeated twice before I even entered Centerpoint’s front doors to see a show.

If I thought I’d wanted to perform there before, seeing Guys & Dolls magnified the ache about a thousand times. It was one of the best productions I’d ever seen. The choreography was sharp and polished, the sets moved with uncanny ease, and the cast was simply incredible. Twenty dollars had seemed a lot when purchasing tickets, but now seemed an absolute steal. Greeting my cast-member friend after the performance, he assured me that the backstage culture was as lovely as the theatre. “And they give you waffles!” I had to get in.

I also saw Addams Family and You Can’t Take It With you before auditioning again. The timing with school and work made it difficult to fit shows in, and I was determined to be prepared for my next audition, unlike the “well, I think I have this memorized let’s give it a shot” fiasco. Both shows were as impressive as the first; I couldn’t believe that a theatre this good would ever take me, but I had to keep trying. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I had been missing the stage something fierce, and seeing some of my favorite titles come up for auditions (Sister Act, Noises Off, Beauty & the Beast) made me excited to brush up on my sixteen bars. As per my usual custom when searching for auditions, I checked Centerpoint’s site. They were holding auditions in just a few weeks for Oliver, a musical I’d loved since my first listen.

I used to have a job in a chocolate shop where I could listen to my own music. This gave me ample time to discover new shows, and I still remember sitting at the counter listening to “Reviewing the Situation” and “Be Back Soon” and loving what I heard. “I’d love to be a part of this show someday.” And now Centerpoint was doing it? I scheduled an audition time immediately.

I had five auditions in the weeks before I auditioned for Centerpoint. “Always the callback, never the cast” sometimes feels like my mantra, and that’s what happened here: four call backs and four “please try out in the future”s. I’ll admit I felt a bit of a joke walking down the ramp that led to Centerpoint’s audition room. But my boyfriend had run my audition piece with me so many times, I had the monologue memorized, and there wasn’t anything to be gained by doubting myself now. I stuck the number 39 onto my chest, hoped the production team was a fan of odd numbers, and walked into the room.



To be honest, I left the room feeling like, ‘well umm that was a bust.’ I felt like the pianist and I hadn’t really connected, and I was focusing too much on my presentation as opposed to my singing. But that night as I lay in bed playing Candy Crush my phone pinged to let me know I had an email, and it was from the production team of Centerpoint. I was called back for Matron, Old Sally, and Widow Corney. SAY WHAT NOW?

Callbacks are generally even worse than auditions, if such a thing is possible, because you see your competition in all their glory. But Centerpoint callbacks were almost joyful, mostly because the production team was so incredibly encouraging and positive. Even the choreography, my weakest suit, didn’t feel like a complete nightmare. The two nights I spent at callbacks were so much fun that I knew I would be crushed if it didn’t result in being cast, especially since I’d never gotten this far in the process before.

“You’ll hear from us by Friday night,” we were told on the last night of callbacks. We’d get a call if we made it, and an email if we didn’t. Just a few days before I’d been yearning for a Centerpoint email and now I was dreading one. To hedge against eventualities, I scheduled an audition for Friday night, but I was feeling serious audition fatigue. A cycle of getting your hopes up only to be disappointed will do that to you. Still, you have to keep getting back on the horse, so I put on my audition boots and started the car.

I hadn’t even made it to the freeway when my cell phone rang. My heart stopped. If this was the recorded spam call from Marriott that I’d been getting lately I was going to flip a table. “Hello?” “Hi, this is Carynn from the Oliver! production team…”

I immediately pulled over. I couldn’t take this call while driving and not swerve wildly. “The production team would like to offer you the role of Widow Corney for the Monday, Wednesday, Friday cast.” I don’t know if Carynn was going to ask me to accept or not, but I blurted out, “Oh my gosh, I’d love to!!” It was happening. It was happening. After I hung up I screamed and then turned the car towards home. The sky may have been pouring rain, but my world was full of sunshine.

The months since then have been a happy blur of rehearsal and new friends and a new theatre and an overarching sense of incredulous awe. When I showed up at the initial cast meeting I was sure someone was going to say, “Rebecca Waite? No, we meant to call Rachel White. Terribly sorry for the mix-up!” This feeling lingered for weeks, but once I sent in my bio for the program I told myself that even if it had been a mistake they were stuck with me now. I mean, we took cast pictures last night. We open on Friday. This is real. I think they meant me. And, yes, I also got waffles.


I’m exhausted and excited and anxious to release our show into the wild. Come see Oliver! Both casts are great (I’m in awe of my double, Maegan), but if you want to see me, hit up the MWF cast or the matinee on 4/22. http://www.centerpointtheatre.org/tickets/  :) 




Saturday, January 28, 2017

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor.



Hello, friends.

I didn't want to write this post. I wanted to write a fun one about all the auditions I've been going to and the experiences I've been having there. I wanted to write about nice things, and not ugly ones. But this is the post that I have to write. It's not going to be good writing, it's full of links, I believe it's important.

Yesterday, Donald Trump signed an executive order that suspends the U.S. refugee assistance program for 120 days and bans visa entries from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya unless a case-by-case waiver is granted for 90 days.

(Side note: waiting for my conservative friends who insisted that President Obama governed by executive orders to speak out against the flood of orders from Donald, but that's none of my business.)

My heart is heavy heavier than I thought it could be. Turning away refugees from escaping a war zone is truly despicable. These refugees are already heavily vetted, and it can take up to two years to secure entry to the United States. These people are dying and desperate. The likelihood of a US citizen dying because we let in a terrorist posing as a refugee is far, far, FAR less than US citizens being shot by some white guy in a mass shooting. In fact, none of the 9/11 hijackers were from the seven countries banned; these countries have not been at the root of any fatal terror plots.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/no-terror-attacks-muslim-ban-7-countries-trump_us_588b5a1fe4b0230ce61b4b93

Also, the Middle Eastern countries that Donald does business with miraculously escaped the cut. I wonder why that is? http://fortune.com/2017/01/27/donald-trump-muslim-immigration-ban-conflict/

In a twin set of ironies, this order was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day and while the March for Life was going on in Washington. Does pro-life include foreign refugee lives??? Remains to be seen, I guess. Perhaps we are only pro-life if the lives in question are white. Would Jesus, Mother Teresa, or any person of compassion walk past a drowning refugee and say, "I suppose some other country will have to take them in"?

As to Holocaust Remembrance day: I immediately thought of the grim story of the MS St Louis. This was a ship that sailed to America in 1939, full of Jewish immigrants fleeing Germany and its terrifying discrimination against those it deemed as "other." Unfortunately, US officials denied these refugees entry, and claimed they could be a threat to US security. Most were compelled to return to Europe. Fifty percent of them died in the Nazi death camps. Can you imagine being so close to a safer life and then being turned back? Well, it's happening once again.

Read more about this tragedy at https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005267

Fears about immigration were widespread in 1939, albeit without the aid of social media. Most US citizens did not support Hitler's actions across the sea, but they also did not support taking in large numbers of Jewish immigrants. And we've seen the result.

It is not enough to like a post on facebook. We have to take action. We have to donate, volunteer, and speak out. Please, please reach out to your senators and elected representatives in whatever way you can. We cannot sit quietly while people die.

https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Of course you can say whatever you want; here's one script I found. “I’m your constituent from [City, State], and I support refugee resettlement in the U.S. I am strongly opposed to the announcement from President Trump that would slash refugee admissions, grind all resettlement to a halt, stop resettling refugees from certain countries, and preference religious minorities. This discriminatory announcement flies in the face of core American values and this country’s founding principles. It does not reflect the welcome for refugees I see in my community every day. Please urge President Trump to abandon this plan and do everything in your power to stop this."

This is not the America I love. We welcome refugees of every creed, color, and country. We are not a Christians Only or a Whites Only place. I refuse to believe that. Being pro-life does not end when a child is born. CHILDREN ARE DYING. The least we can do is donate.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syria-donate-how-to-help-charities_us_5852ade3e4b02edd4115f85a

America cannot be the priest who crosses to the other side of the road when we see a beaten, dying man. We cannot count on other countries to be the Good Samaritan. Our country was built by immigrants, and our diversity is what makes us great. We must be the shining city on a hill that we have long claimed to be.



Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: Books Edition



As always, I'm here to present some reads and recommendations at the end of the year. I'm currently pretty laid up with a cough / cold /other accouterments of winter, so I don't have much energy to elaborate, but there are some excellent books on this list. Giving book recommendations is how I show love. ;) And, as always, if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know!

Totals: 76 books, 49 non-fiction and 27 fiction

Page count: 23,347 pages, 14937 non-fiction and 8410 fiction

Favorite dedication: "I would like it to be clearly understood that this book is not wacky. Only dumb redheads in Fifties' sitcoms are wacky. No, it's not zany, either." -Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

The Top Ten Books of 2016

1. Room - Emma Donoghue  Devastating. Terrifying. Emotionally satisfying. It's a brutal and intense one, but I promise you it's worth it.
2. Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin - Nicole Hardy  A memoir about religion, sexuality, and the struggle to reconcile the two. Funny, touching, relatable.
3. Born to Run - Christopher McDougall  I didn't expect to like this nearly as much as I did. Full of trivia, heart, and larger-than-life characters.
4. Hard Choices - Hillary Rodham Clinton  Love her or hate her, few people in this world work as hard as Hillary Clinton.
5. Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz    I didn't know anything about this book going in, and I kind of feel like that's the best way to read it.
6. Fooling Houdini - Alex Stone   Math, magic, and what makes it all work. Highly enjoyable.
7. This Is A Book - Demetri Martin   Possibly the funniest book I've read in years. Laugh out loud hilarious.
8. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons - Sam Kean  Sam Kean is my favorite science writer, and he doesn't disappint when tackling the brain.
9. Tinseltown - William J Mann   The story of a true life crime that reads like a mystery novel. Come for the murder mystery, stay for the subplots that created Hollywood.
10. A Room With a View - EM Forster Full of wonderful quotes like, "This desire to govern a woman -- it lies very deep, and men and women must fight it together." , "Mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes." , and "Life is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along."

Honorable Mention:
Biography: Hyperbole & a Half - Allie Brosh   I laughed, I cried, I laughed again.
Fiction: The Girl With All the Gifts - MR Carey   I don't like zombie books but this one is good.
Non-fiction: Now I See You - Nicole Kear    A tongue-in-cheek memoir about a mom losing her sight.




And now, the complete list of books I read this year. Recommendations are bolded, rereads are marked with ***

Nonfiction, alphabetical by author
  • Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake - Frank W Abagnale
  • It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love & War - Lynsey Addario
  • Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America - Steve Almond
  • If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?: Questions & Thoughts for Loud, Smart Women in Turbulent Times - Gina Barreca
  • I Know I Am, But What Are You? - Samantha Bee
  • Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town, & the Search for What Matters Most - Gwendolyn Bounds
  • Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, & Other Things That Happened - Allie Brosh
  • I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years - Bill Bryson
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything - Bill Bryson
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History - Lewis Buzbee
  • Hard Choices: A Memoir - Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • The Late Bloomer's Revolution: A Memoir - Amy Cohen
  • William Henry Harrison - Gail Collins
  • John Tyler: The Accidental President - Edward Crapol
  • Bossypants - Tina Fey
  • Bad Feminist: Essays - Roxanne Gay
  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern - Stephen Greenblatt
  • My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir - Noelle Hancock
  • You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again: The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny - Suzanne Hansen
  • Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin: A Memoir - Nicole Hardy
  • Act One - Moss Hart
  • Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives & Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams & Her Two Remarkable Sisters - Diane Jacobs
  • The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by the Stories of Trauma, Madness, & Recovery - Sam Kean
  • Now I See You: A Memoir - Nicole Kear
  • The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, & the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus - Joshua Kendall
  • The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II - Denise Kiernan
  • Reel Terror: The Scary, Bloody, Gory, Hundred-Year History of Classic Horror Films - David Konow
  • Drama: An Actor's Education - John Lithgow
  • When Women Win: EMILY's List & the Ries of Women in American Politics - Ellen Malcolm
  • Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, & Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood - William J Mann
  • This Is a Book - Demetri Martin
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, & the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen - Christopher McDougall
  • How To Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books - Azar Nafisi
  • The Art of Asking: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Let People Help - Amanda Palmer
  • Getting Waisted: A Survival Guide to Being Fat in a Society That Loves Thin - Monica Parker
  • Death By Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, & Obsession on the Virtual Frontline - Simon Parkin
  • Yes Please - Amy Poehler
  • Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up - William Poundstone
  • It's Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too): A Memoir - Nora McInerny Purmort
  • Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep - David Randall
  • Angry Optimist: The Life & Times of Jon Stewart - Lisa Rogak
  • Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks & the Hidden Powers of the Mind - Alex Stone
  • Enough Said: What's Gone Wrong With the Language of Politics - Mark Thompson
  • Sex Object: A Memoir - Jessica Valenti
  • Lafayette in the Somewhat United States - Sarah Vowell
  • The Fiddler in the Subway: The True Story of What Happened When a World-Class Violinist Played for Handouts... and Other Virtuoso Performances by America's Foremost Feature Writer - Gene Weingarten
  • How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, & the Patient Zero of Piracy - Stephen Witt
  • A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf


Fiction, alphabetical by author

  • The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
  • The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
  • Storm Front - Jim Butcher
  • The Girl With All the Gifts - MR Carey
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens (Which I cannot recommend because it sucks you in but Charles died before finishing it :( ) 
  • Room - Emma Donoghue
  • As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
  • Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn
  • A Passage to India - EM Forster
  • A Room With a View - EM Forster
  • Stardust - Neil Gaiman
  • The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
  • High Fidelity - Nick Hornby
  • Learning to Swear in America - Katie Kennedy
  • Forever Odd - Dean Koontz
  • Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo- Stieg Larsson
  • Dramarama - E Lockhart
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Anita Loos
  • Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett
  • Mort - Terry Pratchett
  • Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett
  • ***The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
  • ***My Fair Godmother - Janette Rallison
  • Cyrano de Bergerac - Edmond Rostand
  • ***Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
  • Barefoot in the Park - Neil Simon

Friday, November 11, 2016

Still We Rise


What a week, friends. What a year. 2016, you have made your point, okay?

As many of you may know, I was very excited to vote for Hillary Clinton as president. This is not, as some would have you believe, simply because she was a woman, or because I do not like Donald Trump. (Although let the record state that I don't.) Whether you agree with me or not, in my mind (and in the mind of the majority of those who voted) she was the best candidate. I was anxious for the election to start because I felt sure that good things were on the way.

I had class on Tuesday night, so I kept refreshing the results on my phone as the states started reporting their results. I don't think I heard a word of that class. As much as I wanted Hillary's win to be inevitable, it wasn't. THANKS FLORIDA. (I know it wasn't only Florida, but come on. First they gave us Bush, now Donald?) I watched as state after state flooded red and I felt a deep, all-encompassing fear. I had hoped that Utah would at least vote for McMullin, but nope. By nine it was pretty clear that our first black president was going to have to hand over his power to someone endorsed by the KKK. I drove home and sat in my car for twenty minutes in the clutches of a panic attack.

I am not afraid of what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for me as a straight, white woman. I am afraid of what it will mean for my LGBT friends, my immigrant friends, my black, Muslim, and Hispanic friends. The fact that a campaign of hate and fear won at the ballot boxes crushed me; I thought America was better than that. Falling from my raised expectations left me figuratively crumpled on the ground and literally shaking in my car.

Tuesday night was bad. After spending several hours crying, swearing, and trying to figure out how the hell this happened with my boyfriend and my roommate (gotta love losing those elections the Republicans kept saying were rigged), Justin and I decided to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer to calm down. Guess what episode we were on?


Sometimes life has a twisted sense of humor.

Petition to move voting from a Tuesday to a Friday. After the harrowing and exhausting election process, people need time to recover. Especially if you are heartbroken. Wednesday morning came and I could not face the idea of talking to people who didn't understand how vulnerable and disappointed I felt. I used sick time. It was necessary. I still felt like I was living in a version of the world where Marty McFly didn't do his job right. It didn't seem real.

I kept thinking about Susan B Anthony. She spent her adult life campaigning to give women the right to vote, and she never got it. Women didn't have that right until fourteen years after her death. (Watching the live stream of women leaving "I voted" stickers at her grave on Tuesday made me so emotional.) She must have felt like this many times-- that she had lost, that things were never going to change, that it might be easier to stop demanding what she knew was rightfully hers. And yet she always got up and kept going.



In a way I have to thank Donald. Because of his election, I will not be so complacent the next time elections come around. Although I supported Hillary through donations, facebook posts, and a bumper sticker, I did not volunteer for her campaign. That will change. I will be on the front lines for the next challenger. Hillary Clinton gave a beautiful concession speech in which she said, 


I am confident that our first female president was watching. She is watching this spectacle unfold and she is making plans. I'm going to do everything I can to see her in office before I am one of those hundred year old women on the news.

This commitment to act began on Wednesday night, when I checked off the bucket list item of attending a protest. I haven't been this upset about an issue since Ferguson, and although I was unable to attend rallies then, Justin and I took trax downtown to Washington Square last night to meet with hundreds of others who felt the way we do.

Being in that crowd was electrifying. It was very peaceful, but charged with passion. We had speakers from all walks of life: an evangelical pastor, the LGBT community, immigrants and the children of immigrants, even a woman who just finished her run for the Senate. She was the first woman in Utah to run for the Senate, which I find unbelievable. We heard from poets, teachers, and activists. My favorite sign: "Today we mourn. Tomorrow we mobilize."


The main thought exercising my right to assembly left me with was that I refuse to sit down and shut up. This nasty woman isn't going anywhere. It isn't enough to be upset with the election results, we must commit to stay active, and not let this happen again. We will be a thorn in the side of a broken system. Progress has always been a slow road full of discouragement. My favorite quote from last night: "We stand on the shoulders of those who have dreamed before us."

One moment especially won't be forgotten. We listened to a poet recite her version of Maya Angelou's beautiful poem, "Still I Rise."  They can push us down a thousand times and we will rise a thousand and one. We will have justice. We will have equality. We will have love. After listening to this incredible poem we chanted "STILL WE RISE. STILL WE RISE. STILL WE RISE." I felt so empowered and connected. Things are going to be difficult, but they are not all lost.

This theme has been echoed again and again by those I admire, even Leslie Knope! We must not sink into despair. Four years of a Donald presidency doesn't mean four years of sitting around wishing things were different. Here is a list of charities and organizations that you can volunteer or donate to. Find your team, and go to work. 

Friends, I hope we'll be able to come together and heal over the next few months. I am not interested in spreading or engaging with hateful rhetoric. This election had quite enough of that. We are all Americans, and we all have to deal with what comes next. However, being kind does not mean being silent. As Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good (wo)men to do nothing."

I am deeply disappointed, but I am not going away, and there are millions like me. The future is female, the future is progress (as painfully slow as it may be), the future belongs to those who are willing to struggle against what "has always been." Susan B Anthony wasn't willing to settle for people telling her to be quiet and neither will I. If you thought I was an annoying feminist before, I hope you're ready for the next four years.


Monday, October 17, 2016

A Journey to the Pacific Northwest

Justin and I drove to Portland last week, and we fell in love with Oregon. This is my journal entry that I'm too lazy to format into past tense. :) 




October 8, 2016
 Today Justin and I had the perfect day in Portland. We made not plans beforehand, but somehow we pushed the right order of buttons that created a Felix Felicis-like effect where everything was completely lovely. We drove for fifteen hours to get here and it was really tiring but we made it! I’ve never gone somewhere just to go there, and especially not with somebody else. We kept saying, “We’re here!” We decided to pick up and take a trip, and here we are!

Today we woke up and then decided to go on the underground walking tour for Portland. We drove downtown and AHHH. They have so many old buildings and sidewalks and whatnot mixed in with the new. We drove across the Williamette River on this huge bridge, and then parked by the river. We walked several blocks and found the Merchant Hotel where the tour started. Our guide was Jake, who was sassy with pink hair. He enjoyed puns and I loved him. It would take so much energy to be a guide at such a place, where you have to be ready to deal with all the smart alecks. Jake was both peppy and prepared.

I loved the tour! We heard about crimping, the legend of the Shanghai tunnels, “seamstresses,” speak-easies (Portland unofficially introduced Prohibition three years earlier than the rest of the country to frame minorities :o), and other “underground” facts. There are some fascinating stories and characters in that city, which was built by loggers and sailors who kind of wanted to scare/disgust other people away. 

The tour ended with us going downstairs at the Merchant Hotel, where they used to keep people that they’d knocked out in their opium dens before impressing them into naval service. It was so small and crowded and OLD. We also saw where this old opera house used to be and this is so my jam. That was so much fun. I loved walking around the city and hearing the stories. I know that I’ll come back here again.

After the tour Justin said, “How about we go to the coast?” I googled ‘beaches near Portland’ and the first one that came up was the one that got plugged into the GPS, Cannon Beach. The drive was about an hour and half through BEAUTIFUL country. THERE ARE SO MANY TREES HERE. Sometimes we’d be driving along with the tall, thick trees lining both sides of the road and then there would be a break and you would see through to the valley and the trees are mostly green but tinged with yellow and AHHHHH. The rivers are great as well. Forest is my aesthetic; the fog rolling through the trees was out of control. So beautiful.

We got to the city of Cannon Beach and were like “pls help us locate the beach.” When we turned the corner that let us see the ocean I literally YELLED. So excited. The beaches here are not the beaches in California or Florida; they are not warm or welcoming, they are blustery and raw and STUNNING. The power of the ocean is overwhelming. 



It was cold and windy but when Justin and I finally found access to the beach (thanks, yahoo answers) we RAN onto it and towards the waves. I love all the shades of color you get in the ocean. There were birds calling and waves crashing and UGH LOVe. There was a HUGE rock about ten feet out that had to be thirty feet tall, like a small island. There were smaller rocks around it. It made me think of the eastern seaboard, though I’ve never been there. They were so impressive. 

I can’t describe how it felt. It was like a VIVID moment. I felt so carried away in the day—the trip was something I wanted to happen and we just showed up at the ocean and it was EVERYTHING. To be there, running down the beach, laughing with the giddiness of it all—I felt ALIVE. The rawness of the weather made the experience more valuable, somehow. Justin said the same. We would occasionally be hit by bursts of exuberance that caused us to yell or run or skip because we could. 

We trekked all the way down the beach to the great rock, and then turned around to find we had come much further than we realized. (Also we took pictures of the rock and selfies and Justin took pictures of me with my wild wind hair.) We ran slash walked slash struggled back towards our parking lot, stopping to pick up shell fragments and admire a paraglider and dogs and children. It was a long walk back but we made it.




We had parked at the lot of a restaurant named Mo’s. By the time we made it back we were starving and decided to eat there. It was SUCH A GOOD CHOICE. It was a homey place that serves fresh seafood and Justin and I were in love with it. We got shrimp and mashed potatoes and clam chowder and bread and hot chocolate with whipped cream on it. IT WAS ALL SO WONDERFUL. The clam chowder went straight to my soul and I was LIVING. Justin and I were just like AHHHH WHY IS OREGON SO ENCHANTING. We kind of both really want to move here now. The food was SO GOOD YUMMMM. And there was a view straight onto the beach so we could watch the waves turn from black to teal to white, the cashier loved my Drop Beats Not Bombs shirt and I LOVE IT HERE.

I can’t get over it. We just came here. Because we want to. And it was a perfect day. Just perfect. 


October 9, 2016

To finish up the Portland trip Justin insisted I get my trip to Powell’s City of Books. THIS STORE. It takes up a city block and has three levels and SO MANY ROOMS AND UNCOUNTABLE BOOKS. We had two hours and only saw about forty percent of it and that wasn’t thorough at all. I want to go back. I want to work there. I want to make a book list so long it unfurls like a comically long parchment in a cartoon. Powell’s, in other words, is life. Near the end I was freaking about because I had to choose a book and there were so many. I ended up going with The Heart of the Matter because Graham Greene.

After Powell’s (I’ll come back for you, my love) we drove up to Seattle. The drive through Washington was gorgeous with the fall leaves and the sharp mountain outlines. Justin was swayed and started to think he might want to live in Washington. I remained Team Oregon, but I would definitely do some outdoor exploring in Washington.



While the drive to Washington was beautiful, neither of us were as sold on Seattle as we were on Portland. Portland stole our hearts and refused to let go. Seattle’s parking garages were hell and we saw more hipsters in the half day we were there than in Portland total soooo.

We took the underground tour of Seattle, which was an excellent choice. Our tour guide, Keyon, was HYSTERICAL. The kind of person you want to hang out with for hours and just make each other laugh till you’re sick. Justin and I both adored him. “Now we’re standing right here next to this ghost. Seriously, what is that?” “It smelled almost as bad as Tacoma does today.” “I am telling you right now: I am not willing to die for this tour.”

The tour took us actually under the city, which was left after the major fire destroyed early Seattle. So cool to see that side of the city, and the ruins left behind. We were underneath the sidewalks and could hear people walk over us. 

The most #relatable moment with Keyon was when we were climbing the stairs out of one of the basements and congregating as a group in the alley. Keyon leaned his head in to yell, “Is anyone still down there?” and there were people still down there in fact he had yelled directly in their faces. Keyon stepped away from the door and covered his face with his jacket like DON’T LOOK AT ME I mean same bro. Justin and I were dying.

We didn't do much in Seattle as we were TIRED by the end of the day, but it was nice to be in a city I'd never visited before. Watching Criminal Minds in the hotel and eating Jack in the Box was a welcome relaxing end to the day. Although the fifteen hour drive back to Utah the next day was not the most fun in the entire world, we made it without incident. It was a delightful break from the daily routine, and I feel confident in saying that our first real vacation together was a complete success. I can't wait to go back.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Belated Comic Con Post (Plus Leslie Odom Jr!)

Hey friends! I meant to get this posted earlier, but it was not to be. Life has been busy with school starting up!

My friend Melinda had a free Thursday pass, so I brought my boyfriend with me to his first ever Comic Con. We went through all of Artist’s Alley because ORIGINAL ART IS SO COOL. I can't get over all the different styles, topics, and mashups. Mashups are my jam. I got really excited when I saw the Pop Culture Cats booth was back, as Jenny Parks has been absent from the last two cons here and I love her. We excited Artist's Alley with a Bioshock poster for me and  Cat! BB-8 poster for me. :) 

Next we wandered about through the endless rows of merchandise. Nerd bazaar. I’m glad we came on Thursday instead of Saturday when everything is crowded beyond all belief. While we didn't go to any panels on Thursday, we made the rounds through the stuff a couple times, although I never feel confident in saying that I've seen everything. Another walk through of Artist's Alley, hen we took trax back to Murray. Taking trax on the way to the convention was entertaining; it was the first day of Utah football and so everyone was either a mass of red or cosplaying. Truly, the ultimate clash of jocks and nerds. On the way back we finally got to sit (I forget how tiring being on your feet for long periods of time is) and were across from an adorable baby who kept being like :0 everytime the train moved. Then we got delicious Jamba Juice. I consider that a success.




Friday:

I was at the con from ten to six, as I had the day off of work. For the first time possibly ever I didn't have a rehearsal or performance on Friday night, so I was free to stay as late as I wished. The first panel I went to was Arthur Darvill. Rory is my second or third favorite Doctor Who companion, and Arthur was delightful. I love how British people say things like, “tax” instead of “taxes” and “rubbish.” He likes running in Utah because once a tumbleweed blew past him. “In London it’s just crisp wrappers.”


After that panel I had several hours to wander. I debated about getting autographs from some of the attending celebrities, but didn’t feel the same giddiness I’ve received from even the thought of meeting people like Carrie Fisher or Tom Felton. Instead I gave myself permission to spend that money on art. I bought eleven pieces from Ben Byrd, whose style is very cute and whimsical. He does Pokemon, Harry Potter, Disney, and assorted nerdom. I also got a Belle as Jedi one and two postcards that say, “Obi-Done Kenobi” with Obi-Wan sipping a margarita wearing sunglasses. I’m kind of obsessed with them.

After my art excursion, I went in to the last half of Henry Winkler’s panel. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen him in anything except Arrested Development, but he was hilarious. Bubbling with energy. The best was when someone asked about how the Fonz would snap his fingers and women would appear. Henry Winkler said, “I’m going to give you a tip. This is just for the men in the audience.” He paused, and then said, “DO NOT SNAP YOUR FINGERS AT WOMEN. It only works on television! If you dare do it in real life, they will break all of your fingers!” I will admit I was a little nervous when he started that answer, but my applause was real and vigorous. 

The next panel was Evanna Lynch. I’m actually in that minority who’s not hugely into Luna as a character (like she's fine, I just don't love her), but I still wanted to see her. Evanna is very Luna in real life, and obsessed with cats. She said that growing up her family had ten cats, which was her idea of heaven. "I think the acting is just to finance my cat habit." 

Later in the panel the cutest little girl asked Evanna, “My name is Ruby. How much cats do you have?” AHHHHHHH THE CUTENESS ALMOST KILLED ME HOW ARE KIDS SO CUTE. Evanna said, “Not enough, Ruby. Not enough.”

Kids cosplaying absolutely slay me—Justin and I saw an Emperor’s New Groove family on Thursday where the little boy was Kuzco and ahhh. I saw many little Captain Americas and Reys; I can’t wait to dress up my kids.

The family that Pikachus together stays together.

After that was the panel for Millie Bobby Brown. If you haven’t watched Stranger Things yet, stop whatever you're doing and go watch Stranger Things. It’s the kind of show you can’t stop watching; it's exactly the right mix of suspense, humor, and heartwarming. What was rather unusual for me is that I   very much enjoyed the performances of all the child actors. I'm not always a huge fan of child actors. There are four main kids (well, five, but one of them is on camera a lot less than the others), and they’re all very talented. Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven was especially powerful. Without giving any spoilers, her character is very intense and serious and I want her to be happy.

Millie Bobby Brown is a twelve year old girl from the UK who differs from her character by being bubbly and talkative and happy. It’s odd to see someone so young in the spotlight. I’ll be interested to see what projects she does next, and if she continues to have the same open persona she does now. She has the same reaction to adorable children as I do, which is to completely melt. One man told her she was “Meryl Streep good”, and then sat at the end of my row taking notes on everything she said. Facing that level of scrutiny from twelve—I just can't imagine it.


The next panel was my most anticipated of every convention: Twisted Toonz. Iconic voice actors reading a parody movie script as different characters is honestly one of the funniest things I have ever seen. One of the things I love about the Twisted Toonz guys is how much they LOVE Salt Lake City. They consistently tell us that we have the best convention in the world, and that they always look forward to coming to Salt Lake City to party with us. This year they read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Jess Harnell is the rock star of the bunch, and one of these days I am going to go talk to him at his table. Troy Baker was new to the panel this year; he was hilarious. We had a couple guest stars show up, and Troy was passive-aggressively like, “No, take my seat, it’s fine.” Favorite impressions this year: Johnny Depp, Ronald Reagan, Snoop Dog, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.


After I walked out of the ballroom from Twisted Toonz I was in the convention hall for maybe two minutes when I realized I had forgotten my bag of art under my chair in the ballroom. I freaked out and immediately wormed my way back in by pushing my way against the crowd and was gratified to find my bag undisturbed. I picked up one more piece of art before leaving for the day. It was a long, full day and I loved it.
Jon Snow seeks to take his rightful place on the Iron Throne.


Saturday:

I woke up feeling exhausted. Conventions really take it out of me! I didn’t go in till about noon. With all my shopping completed (not for lack of want, but I need some money left over to live life with) I was content to wander around taking in the sights for another year. I saw so many great cosplayers: tumblr, Charizard, missionary Deadpool. (So many different Deadpools-- my favorite was Pirate Deadpool.)

I stopped in at the Hillywood show panel, although I’m more of a fan of their older stuff. The Harry Potter parody is hilarious and I still sing the Hunger Games one. It was fun to see them interact with their fans; they are tiny and good. Also Osric Chan from Supernatural showed up so that was cool.

I went to Ian Somerhalder’s panel mostly to get a rest, but became intrigued when what was scheduled to be a fifty minute panel was half an hour overdue. The host was trying to stall the crowd, and I wondered what the outcome would be. Would it come to the end of the appointed hour and Chris (the host) would just go, “Well, I guess he’s not coming, ummm sorry bye”? The hall was full of thousands of people, and I doubted all of them were as ambivalent to Ian as I was.

Apparently he had been overbooked for photos, and was still taking them with fans, but was on his way. They ended up shuffling the panels around so that he could be there for the full hour. Crisis averted, no mob justice was enacted.

He was an interesting guy; anti-violence to the point he feels slightly guilty for putting Vampire Diaries into the world, as it is extremely violent. A twelve-year-old boy asked him a question about whether he enjoyed playing good guys or bad guys more, and he gesticulated about the morals of today’s society before asking the kid if he was jaded to violence yet. I’m not one of his fans in regards to his film work, but he seems like the kind of person you want to sit down and have a conversation over dinner with.


One last lap around the convention hall, and then it was goodbye to Salt Lake Comic Con for another year. I was sad to miss the cosplay contest that ends off the con every year, but it was for a very worthy cause: LESLIE ODOM JR’S CONCERT IN PROVO



In case you’ve somehow missed my raving about it, I’m obsessed with the musical Hamilton. Leslie played Aaron Burr opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda as the title character. Among the eleven Tonys awarded to Hamilton, one had Leslie’s name on it for Best Actor. He is an incredible talent and I can’t believe that he came to Utah!

Last time I attended a concert at BYU it was 2011 when I came to see Brian Stokes Mitchell at the Marriott Center. The concert was incredible, but it took me two hours to find the right parking lot afterwards. This concert was in the Harris Fine Arts Center, which is much smaller, and spoiler alert: I found my car afterward.

That being said, the concert was INCREDIBLE. Leslie walked out onstage and all of us just lost it. He’s a beautiful human with a voice like melted chocolate over velvet and I never wanted him to stop singing. His band is incredibly talented as well—he sang several songs from his new jazz album and MMMMMMMMMMm. Then he said, “I was in a show called Hamilton” and it was like a wall of sound. We were all screaming. It was exactly like being at Comic Con. Hamil-Con, as my friend who was also there dubbed it. Leslie teased us by singing another jazz song (don’t get me wrong, it was drop dead gorgeous but he knew what we wanted). Then he said, “All right, so Hamilton.”

I never thought I would get to hear Leslie Odom Jr sing “Wait For It” or “Room Where It Happened” live, but I am happily wrong. I honestly wanted to clap until my hands fell off. HE WAS SO GOOD. He was so charming and smooth and TALENTED. While the pianist (who was incredible) was doing his jazz scat intermission things Leslie would turn to watch him and completely give him his attention. I loved him.

He also sang, “Dear Theodosia” and I almost cried. He told us how Lin offered him the part of Aaron Burr in an email with the subject line “Octo-Burr Fest.” Lin no you were supposed to be above these silly puns. After he finished “Wait For It” someone yelled, “Sing it again!” and the pianist started the introduction. Regrettably he didn’t sing it again, but it was such a wonderful, exhilarating experience.

He also said wise things. My favorite Leslie Odom Jr quotes:

“Singing is an oral tradition. It’s passed down from singer to singer.”
“Everything ends. You feel it in you when it’s time to let something go, even if people around you think there’s a little more left in the race.”
“Artists spend their whole lives trying to get back to the feeling of the first show that opened their hearts.”  --- This one is so true. For him it’s Rent, for me it was Into the Woods.
“When I first heard the music of Hamilton, something within me was rearranged.”
“No one likes ‘Cheer Up, Charlie’ because after Charlie leaves the mom just kind of sings it to the laundry. ‘Sit here, I’m going to sing you a song!’” (Okay, maybe that one's not quite as wise, but I love it anyway.) 

He sang, “Without You” from Rent and it was positively exquisite. Then he sang a couple more songs from the album and said goodnight. We gave him a standing ovation even before he finished the show. He was so good, and we needed to show him appreciation. He sang an acapella encore, and then said he would be in the lobby to say hello to people.

There was no way that I wasn’t going to wait in line for as long as they would let me. The line snaked around the lobby and initially moved at a snail’s pace. I was so afraid. The ushers told us the cutoff point was ten thirty, an hour and a half away. What if I didn’t make it? I was determined to wait until ten thirty and hope to goodness I was lucky. Eventually the ushers informed us Leslie would only be signing cds, but still taking pictures with people, and that sped things up considerably.

I couldn’t believe I might have the chance to have my picture taken with TONY AWARD WINNER LESLIE ODOM JR. The original Aaron Burr. A person who used to hang out with Lin-Manuel Miranda eight times a week. What. As I rounded the final corner towards him, there were fifteen minutes left on the countdown. It was going to be close. But as we edged closer, it became clear that I WAS GOING TO MEET HIM.

I shakily handed my phone and purse to an usher, who would take the picture. Leslie GAVE ME A HUG and then put his arm around me for the picture. I thanked him for coming to Utah and he said, “Hey, thanks for coming out.” I love him. There are now three pictures on my phone of me with Leslie Odom Jr, and I shook all the way home I was so excited.



It was the most beautiful way to end a day, a week, or a convention. That concert was honestly transcendent. His riffs speak to my heart. So I guess you could say September started out pretty okay. ;) 

I know that feel, Cinderella.