Saturday, January 30, 2010

The move is on!

The move is finally a "go go go"!

Today I signed the final contract and on the 27th of Feb, the agent gets my money and I get the keys to the new digs!

I won't pretend I havent' had mixed feelings about the whole move thing. Afterall, the Lake House is the first place I really called home in my adult life. However, I always said I never wanted to be a slave to my house, and that's exactly what's been happening. With no cost of living increases at work, and no-semblence of one coming soon, I can only continuing living on my own if I don't want to do anything ever again. No trips, etc. It'll only be a matter of time before I can't afford to drive anywhere either. Afterall, California living isn't inexpensive, and even though I have a good job that pays me well, I can't keep this up on my own.

It's time to move on from solo living and cash on a roomie, insulation, a dishwasher, a gas range, granite counter tops, central heating and air, and extra pocket change. Thankfully, my parents are helping me out with new kitchen and living room stuff as part of a generous birthday gift. I'll admit, starting over is starting to sound good.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Small Escapes

Every so often, I crave the open road.

Today is definitely one of those days.

Work is especially demanding, as it is every last week of the month. Bills need to be addressed at home. And I would LOVE to get out of responsibilities for a little while and just explore someplace I’ve never been before – or explore some of the wonderful places I’ve been a bit deeper.  Like visiting the Queen Mary or going up to LA or San Fransico for a weekend away.

However, the reality is, I can’t just up and disappear (no matter how I’d like to somedays). While here at work, I can use Podcasts and music to keep my severe case of wanderlust in check.

Since I have confidence that I won’t die a spinster, I’m taking a cue from Sistah’Girl and seeking the deep seeded joy in the solace and freedom that comes from (what I call) ‘flying solo’. For example: If I want a movie tonight, I don’t have to consult anyone else as I select a movie from Blockbuster or buy a ticket at the theater.


Sure, it would be GREAT to have someone to help with dishes and curl up with at the end of the day and all that jazz. Don’t get me wrong – I have some great memories from that life. Since the ex and I lead very busy lives, I rarely took those little day-to-day moments for granted.

So tonight, I’m looking forward to all the small escapes I have at my finger tips at home.

Like, some time with the dog, making dinner, working out (yeah P90X!), a cup of tea, a bubble bath and some reading material. Ah- the simple life. ;)  

What are some of your simple escapes?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ah yes... High School Drama - A review and appericiation

Last week, I was treated to a performance at Vista High School. It was a series of student written, student directed, and student acted short plays. It was facinating to sit on the audience side of the stage, and it gave me a newfound sense of gratitude for my high school drama teachers. At the time, they drove me nuts with the constant nit-picking! Now, I'm reminded of how vital those things that seemed so minor at the time, actually ARE when performing on stage.

First off, I have to give kudos to every kid who put their work on stage last night. It takes a certain amount of guts and passion to write and perform something - especially as a high schooler, where peer pressure and the opinions of critics are often taken deeply to heart.

*If any high schooler's read this, I hope they'll take this as nothing more than one audience member's opinion. Some things were great! Some things left me going "huh?". So here's a bit of both!

Overall Review:
This isn't a performaning arts focused school, but overall the kids did alright. (Afterall, I'm sure I wrote similiarly silly things when I was a teen, though some of the skits were surpisingly deep and well done!)Saddly, it's obvious that the arts have suffered at this school. While several of the actors/actresses have a lot of potential, the basics seemed to be lost on a majority of the skits.

This all reminded me of how grateful I am now for the drama instructors I had in high school (whom, at the time, I despised). They drilled the fundamentals into me and they stuck. This largely TV generation seemed to miss lessons like, "Make sure the person in the back of the audience can hear you, no matter the mic situation," and "Cheat out whenever possible."

Blocking issues:
While the kids did a great job of not blocking one another from the audience or needlessly turning their backs to the audience, for the most part, they seemed to miss the Power of the Profile dynamic.

You non-theater folks may be suprised to learn that often characters when speaking aren't quite looking at one another. At least - on stage. (Camera angles allow for more flexibility in this area for film acting.) Using a Profile look can be very intense. Take a love scene for example. The tension built as characters lock eyes and are about to kiss for the first time is almost measurable. A Profile look can also be a very strong expression when two characters are angry at one another and staring each other down, or when one turns and walks away and the other is left staring after them...

However, when characters are always talking to each other and truly facing one another, it gets very boring for an audience to watch. A lot of facial expression is lost because the audience can only see half of the actor's face. While the actors may be using it to connect to one another, the audience is largely left out of that connection. In many of these skits, the actors overused the power of Profile blocking.

Hence the tip to - "Cheat out whenever possible." It brings the audience into the characters and story more than watching half a face does. ;)

Line Delivery -
This is another basic that seemed to be missing from many performances. Delivering lines with confidence and clarity is a great fundemental skill for theater. If the last person in the audience can't make out what the actor is saying (either through volume, enunciation, or lip reading) than the audience can't get into the show. They have to understand what's being expressed, so, as important as it is to express emotion, it's vital to speak the lines at a comprehensible speed, volume, and clarity to the audience.

This is another issue that can stem from troublesome blocking. If an actor is looking upstage (toward the back wall) or standing profile (looking toward the wings), the line often gets lost. The Volume goes whatever direction the actor is facing. It's pretty much impossible to read lips when the actor is facing these directions, so projection is key when blocking calls for those angles. (Also, if the audience is straining to hear what is being said on stage, they can't sit back and enjoy the entertainment/art as it was ment to be enjoyed. They are too busy trying to figure out what's going on.)

All that said - these kids did a great job with "the show must go on". No matter what goes wrong in live theater, ya' just have to 'role' with it. ;) Afterall, that's the thrill of it right there!

Support your local high school kids! Hit up one of their prodcutions! Who knows? You may see the next star in training!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Love Does

While watching Biggest Loser last night, I realized that one of the women is suffering from something I can very much relate to.

She'd get right up to the point of a real breakthrough, start to feel overwhelmed, and quit. This has haunted me all my life (though not to the extreme degree of this woman, causing her to tip the scales at well over 300 lbs). Seeing her struggle with it actually helped me big time. My jaw dropped as I realized I do something similiar. I'm famous for setting goals, and then getting side tracked into something else. While detours are part of the journey of life, I will admit I could benefit from taking a few less of them. I see how they've affected my overall wellness, as well as damaged my motivation for real, lasting change in some areas.

That said, I got to wondering what causes us to do this? I don't buy the "ADD" stuff. 99% of the time it's a lack of discipline.

It got me thinking about the friends that have made a special impact in my life over the past few years.

When I was at my lowest, they all believed in me. Some of them did it in a more silent fashion - and some in a more active fashion, but these people truly believe in me during times in my life when I was constantly questioning my own strength and worth.

If it weren't for the people who believed in my abilities as an athlete (BonBon), as an actress (CandyMan), as a singer (Mud), as a woman strong enough to stare down the barrel of her worst fear and survive to share the tale (Sistah'Girl), I have no idea who I would be today. To be completely honest, I have had some days (especially in 2006) where the only thing that got me out of bed and kept me going was the fact that my dog needed me, or I couldn't let down the cast of the show I was in by not showing up and giving my all (While that sounds funny, saddly, it's very true).

You often find this quality in healthy married couples as well. They are so invested in one another's success in life, that they don't give up on each other. And if they love each other, sometimes that's enough for one partner to pull through the cloud of uncertainty. (Being Carly had a great blog that reminded me of this!)

I wonder if the fine line between that Biggest Loser contestant and me is that I've had people in my life that have loved me enough to believe in me, even when I was my own worst enemy. Instead of kicking me when I'm down, or walking away when I needed to get my act together, these people believed in me and lifted me up - often without even realizing how low I truely felt.

They did it without having to try, because frankly, that's what love does.

Revelation of the week: Sometimes in the unselfish act of following through so we don't let someone down, we find that the person we really didn't want to dissappoint was staring back in the mirror all along.

No more quitting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Of Acting, The Whisper House, and other things....

It's really late, but I have to write this tonight before I forget!

What's in store on this blog?

1) The Answer to the "Why do you Act?" question. I was asked this for the first time today, by someone OUTSIDE of a therapist's role. Crazy huh?

2) A Review of a Brand New Musical, The Whisper House, that I caught at the Old Globe yesterday.

3) Why "You're really in the zone. I have to ask, do you feel victimized after all this?" is a compliment of the heighest degree.
I know. I lead a sometimes interesting life!

So let's dive right in (so I can go to bed), shall we?

1) "Why do you act?"
Most people ask me how I got into acting or theater. That answer is easy. My parents exposed me to theater early on. As a kid, I LOVED fairy tales and stories and telling great stories (and boy - could I tell some WHOPPERS in my day). So as a child, I remember looking at people acting and singing on stage and thinking, "I can do that." So, that's how I got into it. My mom supported me by allowing me to go to camps like Northern Arizona University's master music camp, CYT, and involve myself in school plays in high school. I know many folks stop there, but I kept that ball rolling by doing a few shows with Palomar College, local community theaters, and the like. The gig I just did tonight (excuse me, the REGULAR PAYING GIG I just did tonight - WAHOO!) is something that TheManInBlack turned me on to. More on that in #3, but why did I get into acting?

I think acting stuck somewhere around 2003. I was cast in Book of Days at Palomar College. I remember the role - Sharon, a mid-life woman who married into wealth and was the mother of the main character, a socio-pathic murderer. In case you haven't noticed, it was a real stretch for me, but I wanted to make certain that the audience could see what I saw - how Sharon was a step away from those same socio-pathic tendencies that her son acted on. One night, during curtain call, I felt this rush. I felt as if suddenly ever fiber of my being knew that tiny little insignificant me had contributed something important to the world.

One therapist would probably say that it's some innate need for attention that wasn't fulfilled in childhood. Another might say that I'm uncomfortable in my own skin, so I have to seek out others. Both may be partly true.

But I can only honestly answer with, "It's in my blood." I have a need to express to communicate. It's why I sing. It's why I write. And acting is a beautiful outlet for all those things I can't express any other way.

2) Review of "The Whisper House"

I had little idea of what to expect when I found out that the Old Globe was housing a new musical, but I do know this much - I'm not going to miss a brand new musical just because it's not yet a popular box office buster. So I went for it. Sort of an early birthday present to me.

The story is carried out in a surreal "slice of life" fashion. It's about a boy who's father is killed when the Japanese shoot down his plane during WWII. Unable to care for him, his mother sends him to live with a spinster aunt who happens to live in a lighthouse that the boy believes is haunted.

The musical has a cast of 7 cast members. 2 of them are ghosts that sing. I mean, they ONLY sing. They seem to be not truely "ghosts", but the whispering fears the boy has developed at the traumatic loss of his parents and the frightening world he lives in. There almost seem to be three layers going on during the show. There is the acting, which was EXCELLENTLY executed, in true Old Globe fashion. There is the singing - each song which stands on it's own. And there is a multi-media projection show during many songs (which, due to my seats, I couldn't really partake in too much).

However, working at the lighthouse is a Japanese man working in the lighthouse.

Let me remind you of the time period.

This takes place during WWII.

In America.

For those that don't know their history, the Japanese were treated appaulingly during this time period. One of the beautiful character peices in this play is drawing attention to the unfair treatment of the Japanese Americans back then.

It's well worth seeing, but go into it with an open mind. I found it facinating because it made me think. The music achieved it's haunting goal (and I'm now the proud owner of the soundtrack). And the acting - well, if done with a less committed, less talented cast, this show could be a serious flop. But the skill of this group made a lasting impression on me. The show is done in an original style that manages to engross the audience with simple, useful, meaningful set and characterization. It's middle of the road Avante Gaurd meets Minimalist style.

Facinating, and well worth a second peek to me. (The opening night was frought with usual opening night glitches - like a sound man who didn't have his/her cues down just yet.) I'm excited to see where this show goes! I doubt it'll disappear into the archives of musical theater obscurity.

3) Why on earth is THAT a compliment?
Tonight, I worked my regular gig for the police. It's part of a special training course where cops are taught interview and interrogation techniques. They needed a rape victim, so, for the last couple years, I've been playing the rape victim for them.

Basically, they give me an outline, with a character information and scenerio information. Then I sit down in a room with a Victim Advocate, a trainer, and a small group of cops. One of the cops has to interview me.

The interview techniques they use involve learning get the victim (me) to relive the night of their terror three different ways. First, I relive it from the begining to the end. Then, from the end to the begining. And finally, from a different perspective. Each time I recall more and more detail. (When done correctly, I am able to piece together who the rapist was all together.)

I do that for each of 5 groups that come through my room. My reactions are based on thier use of these techniques.

Well, tonight a lady officer (an observer) came up to me after my last class and asked "How do you feel after this?" I laughed and said something to the effect of, "Exhausted. I worked all day this morning at my day job." She continued, "No, no. I mean, I saw you. You were really in the zone there. Don't you feel victimized?"

Obviously, I did my job right. Most actors will tell you that this kind of one-on-one acting with your audience, with this level of improv is very difficult. Each time I learn something new, have to think on my feet, and yet make it beliable to someone who isn't more than 3 feet away from me. They have see it in my eyes to believe it. And that - as even the most skilled actor will tell you-is the goal.

(Truth be told, my poor co-workers have to put up with an exhausted, emotionally drained, slightly depressed coder the next day. But it's worth every minute. Not only do they pay well, but I really feel like I'm doing some good. Better these cops mess up on me than an ACTUAL rape victim.)

And with that - Goodnight moon!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Spicing up some Disneyworld Reporting

Sistah'Girl bought me a 1/2 shot of tequilla (my first) in the Mexico Pavillion. People make some pretty funny faces drinking that stuff! (In the future, I'll take mine blended in the occasional margarita instead. Ew!)

J's Guide to 2010

1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
3. Get at least 10-30 minutes of excersize in every day.
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more!
7. Expand the narrow view on books and read more.
8. Pick turning on some music over turning on the TV.
9. Sleep for at least 7 hours/night.
10. Trust yourself.
11. Don't compare your life to others. Everyone is on their own unique journey. Respect yours!
12. Reign in that negative thought dog! The dog that succeeds is the one you feed the most, so feed that positive energy instead.
13. Keep your boundaries. Healthy people can not please everyone.
14. Don't take yourself too seriously.
15. Don't waste energy on gossip, either thinking about it or sharing it.
16. Dream more while you are awake and never stop!
17. Accept that you may not be where you want to be, but you're where you're supposed to be.
18. Leave the past where it belongs. Understand what you can. Learn from it, and let it be what it was.
19. Life is too short to waste time. Find meaning in each moment.
20. Count on the fact that you will underestimate yourself - and reach farther.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh whenever possible - especially at yourself.
24. You don't have to win every argument. It's okay to be at an impass.
25. Call friends and family, just to say hi.
26. Each day look for something good to compliment someone on or give thanks for.
27. Do yourself the favor of truly forgiving others.
28. Take the time to smile and listen to your elders - and your youngers!
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. Understand that what other people think of you is none of your business. You can not control their perception. Just be someone YOU can be proud of.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your loved ones will. Forge lasting relationships!
32. Do the right thing when no one is looking.
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. Always be honest, with yourself and others.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change, so keep hope alive.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. Understand that the best is yet to come - and anticpate that it's on it's way!
38. Wake up early enough to ease into the day.
39. Understand your worth.
40. When you feel like wallowing, do something you don't think you can do - and be reminded of your worth!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Did Clydas catch the bunny?

Or did the bunny beat him up?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"I'm having 'a moment'."

I haven't blogged much about the Roasted Bear Tour 2009 (aka Disneyworld w/ Sistah'Girl).

But for anyone who's ever experienced 'happy tears', I think you'll get where I'm coming from with this one.

It's no secret that the trip we'd been planning all year ment a lot to us. Each for our own reasons were conquering the bears that haunt our lives. For reasons I'm not going to explain on this blog, it was important to me that I go back there. And there was no better person to go back with than my best friend.

Our first morning was spent with the Princesses doing the Storybook Breakfast in EPCOT...

And then went on some rides....

And started our tour of the world (World Showcase that is)....

But I don't think we had that overwhelming "Wow" moment, tears and all, until the first look down Main Street later that night...
Now, there are some people out there who 'get it'. They understand what it means to 'have a moment' with someone they care for - to be so disctinctly moved and overwhelmed that it comes out with speechless tears.

For those that don't 'get it', it's simply this:
Memories made with those we love are the greatest gifts we can give one another. Unlike the things we brought home from this trip, they can never be stolen, broken, lost, or replaced. The times we spend with one another, the giving of ourselves, the help we render each other as we each hunt our own bears, the true gifts of a lifetime are the gifts of ourselves.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


All of my fellow bloggers are doing these decade recaps. So much has happened in the past 10 years, I'm not going to attempt a recap. Both significant and insignificant things have blended into who I am now - and I'm okay with that. I'm a work in progress and the future is bringing some great things.

Now, I don't believe in "New Years' Resolutions" as they seem to be pie-crust promises (easily made, easily broken). But I can say I already have a good feeling about 2010. The past few years, I feel, have just been cleaning house and preparing for the future.

If there is one vibe/message I'm getting about this new decade, it is that change is coming - the key is to work hard and remain flexible. Come into things with a more open heart and mind. Don't be afraid to take risks. Don't be afraid to work hard. I know I'm going to be letting go of a lot of stuff (both literal and otherwise) but I feel like I now have the confidence I'd be lacking to move forward. And it's encouraging! It just feels like, no matter what happens these next few years, things are going to turn out okay for me. (Afterall, when I look back at the last decade, I see that most surely.)

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. I'm off to start Triathlon Training!