Wednesday, July 15, 2015

YOT23O (You Only Turn 23 Once)

It's my birthday! 

I love birthdays. I love getting to eat cake just because someone survived another of earth's rotations around the sun. I love spotlighting people and being like, "Hey, you're awesome, and I'm glad you were born." I love birthday songs and surprises and the excuse to celebrate.

I turn 23 today! Prime numbers are the best years, right? 19 treated me well, anyway. It better be good; I don't get another one until 29. (Sometimes it is clear to me that I am a math teacher's daughter.) 

Some stats from the last twelve months (alternately titled: What Rebecca Did While 22):

-Read 73 books
-Performed in five shows (Camelot, First Christmas, Importance of Being Earnest, Mary Poppins, and Rumors)
-Had 113 castmates
-One new jobs
-Two breakups
-Nine roommates
-Six days at fan conventions

Add to this an insane amount of Netflix episodes (I don't want to know the number), a lovely amount of late night conversations, and just the right number of pop-tarts, and you have a snapshot of my year. But more importantly than the numbers, this was a year of growth, particularly the last half. My resolution for 2015 was "Make better bad decisions," and I'm proud to say I've stuck to that. I have not done anything that I look back on with major regret. I have fallen in love, I have cried myself sick and laughed myself sick, I have been who am I am and discovered more about who I want to be.

This has been the year of re-conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My soul has been touched by the Spirit on so many occasions and I now consider this the most important part of my life, which is not something I would have said a year ago. But what I am learning is that God is patient, and merciful, and knows infinitely more than I. I'm still, at times, anxious to see the plan, but I am working on cultivating a faith-filled heart.

I am grateful beyond words for all the wonderful people I am blessed to have in my life. My family never ceases to amaze and inspire me. My coworkers have accepted my quirkiness as just another fact of life. My roommates and ward members are kind. The people that have brushed against my life, for longer or shorter amounts of time, have influenced and helped me more than many of them know. The kindred spirits who have helped me love myself, love God, and love others. And above all, I must thank my theatre peeps. I just adore them. When I moved to Salt Lake City in 2011 my dream was to get one lead role. I've had three! But the other shows have been great experiences as well; it's truly been one of the main sources of happiness for me. Heathcliff said, "I cannot live without my soul!" That's how I feel about theatre. I will never be able to express the joy that has been derived from these rehearsals, these performances, but most of all these PEOPLE. <3  <3 <3 

Lately I've been having a pretty tough time, not gonna lie. There were days I wondered if I would ever get the sparkle back in my eyes, or if life was even worth it. But a few nights ago I was driving home and found myself absentmindedly singing a happy song and was struck by the realization that I'm going to be all right. People have insisted this is true, and I've been chanting it to myself for weeks like a mantra, but suddenly I believed it. It was a beautiful moment in almost a cliche way; I swear the stars were suddenly brighter. 

It was a defining year. I feel good about what I did, and what I will do in the future. It's gonna be a good year. I can feel it.  Bring it on, world. I'm ready for you.  

Also, look what my coworkers did to my cubicle! The pictures don't quite capture it, but there are cat pictures e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e :D  

Friday, July 10, 2015

Opening Night

There are few experiences in this world that I find consistently as wonderful as an opening night. The exhilaration, the anxiety, the expectation, the fear, and the excitement all blend together into one massive rush of FEELING. Being onstage makes me feel alive. I love putting on my costume and getting my hair done (because I am usually luckily enough to enlist the help of more hair-talented friends) and putting out set pieces. Some strange part of me even loves the churning stomach and the shaking hands that accompany the endless pacing backstage. Endless pacing helps nerves, don’tcha know.

I love nervously talking to my castmates and reviewing my lines one last time, even though I know that it is too late to do anything about it. There are many things I love about opening night before ever getting onstage, but mostly I love hearing the audience trickle in. The addition of an audience is crucial to theatre. Without it we are only endlessly rehearsing. The moment that you step out from behind the curtain and there are people watching you and you know what you’re doing and your character slips over you like a glove—it’s magic. That’s the only word I have to describe it. Pure dead magic.

Saying words that you’ve said a hundred times and hearing laughter—actual laughter—from someone who has never read Neil Simon, never met Charley and Claire and Cookie, never anticipated the joke that you just told is such a rush. People are watching you and you are telling them a story. I’ve always jumped at the chance to tell stories. In some ways you are acutely aware of the many eyes upon you, how they are affecting you, and how you are affecting them, but in another way you are only Chris. And Chris just wants to have a cigarette and figure out how the freak she is going to get out of this dinner party.

I am always astonished by the level of talent that I get to work with. My castmates are some of the funniest, kindest, most dedicated people I have ever met. I would consider it a privilege to work with any one of them again. There is a bond that comes during late nights and stressed run-throughs and laughing hysterically because you’ve spent the last five hours together, another sound cue just went wrong, and if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Hell Week is tough, but it’s also a forging fire. The cast comes out stronger than they went in. The Rumors cast only had six rehearsals, so really it was a condensed Hell Week experience, but I wouldn’t give it away for anything. It’s been so much fun, such an escape, what I look forward to throughout the day.

I could honestly sit here and write out a paragraph about each and every member of this cast. Suffice it to say that Jake, Michael, Jennica, Quinn, Becky, Chooky, Sasha, Marie, and JoAnn are absolutely the cat's meow. I used to think that I could never love straight plays as much as musicals, and musicals are still my first love, but first Importance of Being Earnest and now Rumors-- so much adoration. And small casts always end up so TIGHT. For someone who doesn't make friends super easily, it is such a blessing that theatre people exist and accept me and don't mind sitting in a restaurant after opening night laughing at my British accent and taking Polaroid pictures.

Performing makes me happy. Performing a well-written script thrills me. And performing a well-written script with an out-of-my-league cast? It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Running All the Time

And here we are again. I now live in a house in Murray with six other girls (or is it seven?). We’ll see how this goes. I’m sitting amid boxes in an otherwise sparse room, sprawled out on the floor because I haven’t journaled in four days and so much has happened. I moved, for one thing. It was hellish; I have no idea where anything is. Half of my stuff is still sitting outside, including my bed, and my social anxiety is dialed up way too high to go back downstairs and ask someone to help me move my mattress. Sleeping on the floor? I’m exhausted; it doesn’t seem that bad.

This is what happens when you try to move while rehearsing two shows that open in less than a month. We had our first rehearsal for Neil Simon’s Rumors tonight, which opens next Thursday. I might be insane. It’s so much fun, but I’m cramming down this memorization like a college freshman before finals. Lunch break? Studying the script. Before bed? Studying the script. Pretty much any spare second? Studying that freaking script. The cast is dynamite; they crack me up every second and I'm so glad I get to work with them. Oh, theatre people. Much love.

I’m also involved with a Broadway revue called When I Grow Up. This might not have been obvious about me, but I simply adore singing. I get to sing in “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde (a five-star show in my book), which is one of the most empowering anthems I know of. I also sing “Louder Than Words”, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” and “Hard Candy Christmas.” I had never heard the last one, but boy howdy is it perfect or what? (Link at the end of the post.)

If you’ve wondered why I’m running myself ragged (pretty much every second of my life is scheduled until August), it’s simple. I’d rather collapse exhausted into bed each night (or onto the floor, as the case may be) than curl up in a ball and cry for two hours. That's not what I've been doing with all my days off, but I'm taking precautions. When you’re too busy to think you’re too busy to feel. That’s how life works, right? Of course right.

What am I reading? I only read one book last month. That hasn't happened in years. #shameful But I am reading two general conference talks a day, as well as half an hour of scripture study. This is for my soul. Then there is music, which is also for my soul. Fall Out Boy’s latest album, American Beauty / American Psycho has been in my cd player for about a week straight now. (Seriously, “Jet Pack Blues” and “Favorite Record.” And all of the songs.) I hope to eventually put aside the angst and graduate back to other bands, like Passenger and Taylor Swift, but Passenger makes me cry almost with the opening chords, and Taylor Swift? Someday. Someday I’ll get back to her.

Although learning a new process at work is supposed to lighten my work load in the long run, right now I’m doing two people’s jobs and feeling swamped with each. Today I got into the office at 8:30 and went into a four hour training session about ICs, my new process. At the end of that, brain thoroughly mushed, I went back to my desk with the intent of getting some work done. However the phones were off the hook, and a special investigator brought in thirteen verifications (thirteen!) and I got about five ICs processed before realizing that it was 5:15 and time to go to rehearsal.

Because, you know, I just got the script for a show that opens next week.

Everybody has their coping mechanisms. Depression isn’t always shattering plates and weeping in the pouring rain. Sometimes it’s hiding in your room because you’re too scared to say hello to your new roommates, changing the subject every time someone asks how you are, and keeping your schedule so packed you don’t know whether you’re coming or going half the time.
I don’t know, friends. I just don’t know. Like I said, I’m listening to General Conference talks daily, and reading the scriptures is a valued part of my routine. I feel faith, and the peaceful calm that comes with it, in glimpses. Snatches. A few minutes here and there. 

Hold the phone.

You know what I would put almost in the category of miraculous? 

Right as I was typing those last few sentences, which were going to end something along the lines of “But my soul is troubled still” or some such attempt at being poetic, one of my new roommates knocked on the door and asked if I wanted help moving up the mattress. If not a miracle, certainly a tender mercy of the Lord. We chatted about our jobs, and spiders, and the password to the internet, then said good night. It was nothing. A trifle. But my heart is lighter now; the looming darkness has retreated a few paces. It’s funny how God works.

A scripture that’s been on my mind today:

“Be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent may seal you His, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of Him who created all things in heaven and in heart, who is God above all.” -Mosiah 5:15

And in the end/ I'd do it all again/ I think you're my best friend...... 

I clung to you/ Like cat hair clings to a woolen shirt/ You needed me/ Like a wedding dress needs dirt..... 

 I'll be fine and dandy/ It's like a/ Hard candy Christmas/ I'm barely getting through tomorrow/ Still I won't let sorrow bring me way down