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.





Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Taken For Granted

Last Wednesday I lost my voice. Well, not completely, but it was scratchy to speak, painful to swallow, and impossible to sing without wanting to die. It sounded worse than it has in years, worse than I’d ever want anyone to hear me in public. Last Wednesday was also my preview performance for Oliver. What a beautiful overlap, she said sarcastically. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make any decipherable sounds onstage, let alone give a decent performance for Wednesday or Friday, the real opening night.

Wednesday was a struggle, and I faked it for the ensemble songs. Sorry, buddies. But thanks to swigging what felt like gallons of Mucinex, Dayquil, and hot drinks, as well as popping cough drops like candy, my voice returned in increments. By Friday I felt I’d be able to sing the Mrs Corney stuff, helped by the fact that my character is a nasty lady who doesn’t have to sing pretty. (Side note that a nasty lady is a whole ‘nother thing from a Nasty Woman, since Corney probably isn’t that cool.) But my voice still wouldn’t go above about a G.

Yesterday as I drove to Centerpoint for my performance, I was singing Beyonce in the car and hitting all the notes, or, as close as I have ever been able to hit them. Once we started the performance, I sang “Consider Yourself” and “Who Will Buy?” with the gusto I had wanted to last Wednesday. Thank goodness for modern medicine and cough drops. Which are part of modern medicine. But I digress. The point is that things we are temporarily deprived of, things we had been previous certain were ours, become quickly dear to our hearts. (Groundbreaking observation, I know.) 

As I drove to work yesterday I witnessed a violent collision between two cars: an SUV abruptly appearing from the left turn lane and a delivery van that had been cruising on through the green-lit intersection until it hit the SUV dead on. No one was hurt, amazingly.
I was driving the car directly behind the delivery van. Another second and it would’ve been me that had no time to brake before crashing. My car is much smaller than a delivery van or an SUV, and likely wouldn’t have fared so well. My hands shook as I continued my commute. I drive my car miles every day without hardly a thought. When I see the sirens that indicate an accident I think, “Wow, I hope everyone is okay” and then turn the radio back up. I forget that my car can kill me. For at least that day, I didn’t take it for granted.

On a lighter note than death, Netflix pulled Buffy the Vampire Slayer from its instant stream. -_- Not cool, not okay. It’s my all-time favorite show, for sure. If I don’t have instant access to Buffy, Spike, and early-seasons Giles I’m not going to be a happy camper. I bought the complete boxed set, but it won’t be here for at least five more days??? Unacceptable. Hurry up, US Postal Service. Justin has been asking when it’ll arrive too; we all take Joss Whedon for granted until his masterpiece isn’t readily on hand.


We take so much for granted: our families, our health, our homes. This is a reminder to hug the ones you love a little tighter. And don’t forget to binge watch while you still can. ;)  

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.