Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Tony Awards are almost here! While it's always fun to anticipate, exciting to watch, and I'm THRILLED to be going this year, I'm often disappointed with Tony's night. I'm anticipating anger and I've already had to get over disappointment with nominations. (Makes you want to keep reading, right? Nothing hooks a reader like pessimism, except maybe sarcasm. check and check). It's supposed to be a night to celebrate theatre, I know. But they're as political as anything else and I'm too critical and opinionated of a fan to celebrate every winner when I feel another is more deserving. A show with bigger touring potential or a star who's hot at the moment could win while a more artistic, interesting one gets nothing. I get it ($$$), but it still upsets me. I know, I'm so dramatic. Fitting. Time to be more upbeat...

I am not one of those theatre fans who loves everything she sees. Actually, I typically leave disappointed. (Okay, so I lied about being more upbeat. I'll try harder.) So why keep going? Why do I love it? I'm always hoping to have one of those rare, special experiences that creates an emotional memory. I go in wanting to be moved in some way... to laughter, to tears, even discomfort or anger, to feel my heart in my throat, an uncontrollable smile, or to alter my perspective on things. I love the irony that by slipping into someone's pretend life and world, great theatre has the potential to make you feel more alive and connected than actual life. Going in with these grand hopes and expectations means I'm often walking away disappointed. Most shows are just shows, but it's that sliver of hope that maybe the show I'm about to see will have even just one thrilling moment that steals my breath. Theatre is subjective and I'm pretty non-emotive (it takes a lot to make me laugh or really move me), but I often sit there, waiting to be excited by a show. It's so rare that I'm able to just sit back, breathe a sigh of relief and be wholly entertained or involved. I've experienced a small handful of shows, or single moments within shows, that are something truly special and memorable. This season may not have been outstanding for musicals, but it gave me three of these moments where I could sit in the audience and be completely taken in. And only one is likely to be rewarded. I'm fiercely opinionated (or fiercely apathetic) about shows I see, so I'm often disappointed with the Tony outcomes. The lead up and anticipation is almost more fun, as is often the case. So here I am, having fun, making predictions. Enough unnecessary preamble, time to get to it.... musicals only, because that's all I know.

Best Musical:
(Nominees: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Beautiful, Aladdin, After Midnight)



Should Win: Gentleman's Guide
Will Win: Gentleman's Guide
May Steal It: Beautiful

I'll be shocked if it doesn't go to Gentleman's Guide or Beautiful just because it's where all the buzz is. Honestly, I'll be pretty upset if it goes to Beautiful. I saw it and just don't get it. To me the first act was fluff and show and typical jukebox musical and the second act turned it around and was human (but no fun). It felt disjointed and slippery and it never grabbed me. If Beautiful wins it's because it has more mass appeal and has the most money making potential. But Gentleman's Guide blows it out of the water in every way and it will be such a shame if it doesn't win. I'd be satisfied (but really surprised) if it went to After Midnight... it's the only show I've seen where I was so impressed that I jumped to my feet at the start of curtain call. (This coming from someone who detests standing ovations and reluctantly feels compelled to stand when the leads come out). And if Aladdin were to win... well it won't. I'd be beyond stunned.


Best Revival:
(Nominees: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Violet, Les Miserables)



Should Win: Hedwig
Will Win: Hedwig
May Steal It: no one

There's no doubt in my mind that Hedwig is a (stiletto) shoe-in. I enjoyed pieces of Violet but it's predictable and Sutton Foster annoyed me to the point of physical frustration (every time she sang she became Sutton Foster instead of the character, losing any trace of the accent and turning on her typical spunky confidence and pretty voice... and I'm generally a fan). And Les Mis is just been there, seen that for me. Can Broadway handle more than a few years without Les Mis? Hedwig will definitely win.


Leading Actor in a Musical:
(Nominees: Neil Patrick Harris, Ramin Karimloo, Andy Karl, Jefferson Mays, Bryce Pinkham)


 


Should Win: I want to just put Jefferson Mays here. But I think Neil Patrick Harris is also deserving.
Will Win: Neil Patrick Harris
May Steal It: Jefferson Mays

Neil Patrick Harris will take it because of all he's done for the Broadway community and the Tony's in recent years (and because of the type of role it is and his performance, though I honestly think this is secondary). If only because it's so expected I'd love Jefferson Mays to pull an upset, and I think it would be a well deserved one. I can't think of many actors who have the versatility to pull off those 8 roles that well or in such an entertaining way. Sorry Andy, Ramin and Bryce (and probably Jefferson). At least you got nominations. Norbert Leo Butz and Steven Pasquale didn't.


Leading Actress in a Musical:
(Nominees: Mary Bridget Davies, Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, Jessie Mueller, Kelli O'Hara)


 

Should Win: Kelli O'Hara
Will Win: Jessie Mueller
May Steal It: Kelli, Idina or Sutton. Only Mary Bridget Davies would shock me.

I'm really, really, really hoping Kelli O'Hara pulls off this win. I think it's high time she gets a Tony and hope the role wasn't too quiet to get her one. Of course her voice was phenomenal but it was nuances in her performance, effortless delivery of bits of subtle, never contrived humor and commitment to character that won me over. I believed and felt her 100%. I liked Jessie Mueller but didn't walk away raving like so many others. Maybe I just don't know Carole King enough to fully appreciate her performance. Idina wouldn't shock me because it would be a welcome back, and she's hot off Frozen (intended), and broadway loves Sutton. But I'm crossing fingers for Kelli.


Featured Actor in a Musical:
(Nominees: Danny Burstein, Nick Cordero, Joshua Henry, James Monroe Iglehart, Jarrod Spector)



Should Win: I kind of reluctantly say James Monroe Iglehart
Will Win: James Monroe Iglehart
May Steal It: Danny Burstein

Talk on the town is this one's a done deal. If I'm being honest, I found the Genie to be annoying, though it think it's more due to the writing than the actor. I'm probably the only one you'll talk to who was not blown away by Friend Like Me and I really feel like I'm missing out on this phenomenon of entertainment I just didn't see. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood that day? I don't know. But then again the flying carpet completely floored me (unintentional carpet/floor thing). But I still say he's most deserving because it ain't easy to fill Robin Williams' shoes, especially with a role that insane and larger than life. He managed to make it his own, rightfully not trying to imitate, but it's not so far removed that we don't recognize any of the zany charm of the movie Genie we loved so much. The biggest chance of an upset is if the talented Danny Burstein manages to finally get a Tony, but it doesn't seem likely. 


Featured Actress in a Musical:
(Nominees: Linda Emond, Lena Hall, Anika Larsen, Adriane Lenox, Lauren Worsham)


 


Should Win: I don't have a strong opinion in this category
Will Win: Lena Hall
May Steal It: Lauren Worsham or Linda Emond

My guess is Lena Hall because voters love genderbenders. Seriously though, her voice and transformation are impressive. But I still think it's a close call. No one winner would shock me. Lauren Worsham and Anika Larsen share the drama desk. I LOVED Lauren Worsham's voice and enjoyed her performance but was more taken by Lisa O'Hare (while I'm slightly bitter she didn't get a nod I think it improves Lauren Worsham's chances). Anika Larsen I did not think was anything special. I haven't seen Cabaret yet but have heard only good things about Linda Emond. And while Adriane Lenox was wildly entertaining and commanded the stage during her two songs, they were only two songs and I don't think it's enough to have her win.


Book:
(Nominees: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Beautiful, Aladdin, Bullets over Broadway)

Should Win: Gentleman's Guide
Will Win: Gentleman's Guide
May Steal It: I really hope no one

Gentleman's Guide is the most clever, refreshing show Broadway's seen in a while and its book is intelligent and full of wit and charm. I don't even want to talk to the others. Beautiful had one great line that hit me, but one line won't do it. Aladdin was insanely geared for the kiddies and added in silly bits of pop culture that did not work. I haven't seen Bullets but I've heard the book is a weak point in an average show. 


Original Score:
(Nominees: Jason Robert Brown (Bridges of Madison Country), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (If/Then), Steven Lutvak & Robert L. Freedman (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder), Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice & Chad Beguelin (Aladdin))

Should Win: Gentleman's Guide
Will Win: Gentleman's Guide
May Steal It: Bridges of Madison County

The wit and intelligence of Gentleman's Guide's book is just as apparent in its lyrics. The melodies are catchy, varied and fun. It seems every week I'm humming one of the songs from this show and the last time I saw it was in December. I think Bridges has one of the most beautiful ballads I've heard and a couple of inspired lush moments within songs, but otherwise it was the actors voices that impressed me more than the music and lyrics. I saw it twice and I can only really remember the one song. Still, I wouldn't be shocked or disappointed if it won. If Aladdin pulled it off it would be to honor Howard Ashman. If/Then doesn't deserve it. Nowhere remotely close to Next To Normal. My guess is Gentleman's for score, Bridges for orchestrations. 


Scenic Design:
(Nominees: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Rocky, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bullets Over Broadway)


 


Should Win: Rocky
Will Win: Rocky
May Steal It: Gentleman's Guide

Rocky's set and how it moved and was used was one of the more interesting parts of the show. Actually, I think the set got more applause than the actors, between the boxing ring, flying meat, and iconic stairs. It was well thought out and well executed. I also loved Gentleman's Guide and its clever, straight out of a vintage Christmas card (complete with pop-ups) set. However, it has to lose some categories.


Costume Design:
(Nominees: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, After Midnight, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bullets Over Broadway)


 

 


Should Win: Gentleman's Guide
Will Win: None would surprise me but I'm guessing After Midnight
May Steal It: Hedwig

This is a total up in the air for me. I loved the intricate period pieces and quick changes in Gentleman's, wasn't as impressed as I expected with After Midnight (but people love Isabel Toledo) but Hedwig and Bullets both have some crazy costumes too. Anyone's game. 


Lighting Design:
(Nominees: Rocky, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bridges of Madison Country, After Midnight)


 



Should Win: I think they're all deserving, but possibly After Midnight less so than the others 
Will Win: Hedwig
May Steal It: Rocky, but unlikely

Hedwig is a rock musical which equals exciting lighting. Rocky has solid, fun and ambient lighting and Bridges was beautiful and dramatic. I don't remember a thing about After Midnight's lighting which could mean it was effortless or just forgettable. I was too drawn in to the dancers to pay attention to lighting.  


Sound Design:
(Nominees: Beautiful, After Midnight, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Miserables)

Should Win: Hedwig 
Will Win: Hedwig
May Steal It: Beautiful

I don't know much about what goes into sound design but I believe rock musicals typically require a rock solid one which is why my vote is for Hedwig. I won't pretend to know any more on the subject. My "steal vote" is for Beautiful just because it's a jukebox show and that makes me think of sound. Makes no sense but that's okay; I'm no expert. 


Director:
(Nominees: Warren Carlyle (After Midnight), Michael Mayer (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Leigh Silverman (Violet), Darko Tresnjak (Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder))

Should Win: Darko Tresnjak (Gentleman's Guide)
Will Win: Darko Tresnjak (Gentleman's Guide)
May Steal It: Michael Mayer (Hedwig)

I think Gentleman's Guide could have easily been too campy too work. At times it is campy but very purposefully so which makes it brilliant. I think the material needed a really strong eye and vision to have it realize its potential and it got it in Darko Tresnjak. I think he deserves recognition. Hedwig is also a contender but I believe its success is more due to Neil Patrick than Michael Mayer. I appreciated and recognized certain choices of Leigh Silverman in Violet but disagreed with others and while After Midnight was great to watch, I attribute it more to the performers and Warren Carlyle's choreography than his direction. 


Choreography:
(Nominees: Warren Carlyle (After Midnight), Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine (Rocky), Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin), Susan Stroman (Bullets Over Broadway))


 
 


Should Win: Warren Carlyle (After Midnight)
Will Win: Warren Carlyle (After Midnight)
May Steal It:No one

Personally, I think After Midnight has some of the best choreography I've seen in a show. It has every thing I love and look for. It's exciting, beautiful, doesn't take itself too seriously, makes me laugh, is period & pays tribute where it should, modernizes where it should, uses the stage fully, gives the eye plenty to look at without overwhelming, celebrates its dancers, makes me hear intricacies in the music and feel the emotion of the music... I could keep going. It was totally up my alley, incredibly enjoyable, and if it doesn't win I'm not sure what I'll do.


Orchestrations:
(Nominees: Bullets Over Broadway, Bridges of Madison County, Beautiful, Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder)

Should Win: Jason Robert Brown (Bridges)
Will Win: Jason Robert Brown (Bridges)
May Steal It: Steve Sidwell (Beautiful)

I may not remember the melodies or words to 90% of the Bridges of Madison County music but I remember hearing an intricately layered use of instruments that created a gorgeous, lush sound. It made me feel like I was listening to something special and ahead of its time in its virtuosity. I couldn't put my finger on why it was so captivating or even decide if I enjoyed it or just appreciated it. It reminded me of how the music from the Phantom's opera is described: at first haunting, but over time intoxicating and emotional; overall so complex that it's misunderstood in its genius. Anyway, it made an impression on me and I hope it wins for this. 



There's my summary (a long winded one). Let's see if I'm right or if I'm left with any major disappointments. I just have to add, if Audra wins and breaks two records and I'm in the audience to see it happen, my life will be complete. COMPLETE. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Just when you thought I was done for good (all two of you who ever read me)... I'm back(!),  two years later, surprising you with what may be the only post for the next four years! A big life change or two has occurred since I was last here. New city, new job, new New Yorker. That's right, decided to live in New York City for a bit. Not to chase a dream, but just to have the experience of living and working in such an exciting place. I know, I know, super thrilling (insert tired, sarcastic "woooooo"). Just about everyone I grew up with has moved here; I'm not exactly a pioneer. But it's a fun slice of my journey. I've been here about.... uhhh.... 8 months now and I'm past the point of starting to feel like I have the hang of the place. There are some things I love and some things I don't care for, but nothing I hate, which is pretty fantastic. There are some things I expected and some things surprised me. Like, hey, my apartment is actually pretty quiet! And pretty big! And there's no roaches! Or rats! And I can afford it! But I think we just lucked out in the apartment aspect. Moving on...

I decided to create a list of the best and worst things about living in New York City. Contrary to my typical nature, I did not over-analyze, make and remake lists, or research what others think to create this best and worst post. I'm just typing things out as they sporadically come to me... no hierarchy, no deep research. There are probably better and worse things about this city than what I came up with, but these little nuggets are top of mind. I know, the anticipation is nail-bite worthy, admit it... your nails are becoming half-bitten stubs while you wait. As a great author once wrote... it was the best of times, it was the worst of times... so let's start with the best. I know, I make little sense when I'm allowed to type freely.

Best things about living in NYC


1. Musician Street Performers: Sometimes it can be annoying, but more often than not, it's enjoyable, and sometimes even the highlight of my day. Every day I encounter at least one street performer, and usually several. As a result, it's like I have a little mini soundtrack playing as I journey throughout the city (picture a guilty pleasure romantic comedy montage where city girl walks down the street, sunglasses on her face, iced latte in her hand, and fun, sunny song playing). I haven't heard one, single bad musician/vocalist on the street since moving here, and I'm much more likely to encounter someone amazing than someone who's just "fine" to listen to, and that's shocking to me. I know, I'm sure I'll come across a bad one eventually, but I mean, everyone so far is good or great! If they were bad, this would easily belong on the "worst things about living in New York City" list. But I get free mini concerts everyday! It does wonders for my mood. One couple who frequent my subway stop in the morning is incredible. One plays the guitar and the other plays the violin and sings. I spend most mornings hoping it will be the day they show up with CDs to sell. I mean, sometimes it's annoying. Like if you encounter a band of bongo players on your train early in the morning or really late in the evening... who are sitting right next to you... and playing loud enough for three cars down to hear. But 9.5 times out of 10, street musicians and vocalists make me happy.

Notice I say musicians. Other street performers annoy me. Dancers create crowds that make it impossible to maneuver (or end up kicking people on the subway which creates a never fun, sometimes scary, subway argument you can't escape until the next stop). One group of street performers who frequent Central Park spend about 25 minutes collecting money from people (albeit with clever jokes and a scripted interactions with people) and then do one flip and that's the show. Which is just annoying (or clever). But musicians add songs to my day and never create crowds (unless you're that insane one-man band guy with 20 instruments strapped to you... he always attracts a crowd). One of the lovely little bonuses about living in New York.

2. You never know what to expect... the unexpected is expected: I can see so many crazy things in a day that little turns my head anymore. Sometimes it's shocking but mostly it's refreshing; to be somewhere where anything goes. I could walk down the street in the most ridiculous outfit of hot pink tights, a polka dot skirt and sequined and fringed yellow sweatshirt and no one would give me a second glance (if I wanted). People I see on the street intrigue and inspire me. After seeing one person I even felt compelled to write a song, which I've never done before, because I was so struck by her and my imagination of her life intrigued me. Before I knew it words were coming to me, and a melody, without even trying. Probably the only thing I've actually stopped to look at lately was a man who was walking with a cat on his head. Almost nothing stops me in my tracks, but a lot amuses and inspires.

3. Little things are expected and you can rely on them: I just finished saying you never know what to expect here. In a place like that it's oddly comforting to have some things that don't change each day. Despite trains coming every 3 minutes during rush hour in the morning, I always see the same woman waiting at the same point of the platform as me and getting on the same train as me, every morning. Walking to work, I see the same cat lingering outside of a pet shop, watching everyone go by. There's the same guitarist at the same street corner as my walk continues. And that's just my morning. It brings a bit of comfort and predictability to a largely unpredictable city. It makes this giant city feel a little more intimate and connected, like any other neighborhood in any other small town.  

4. There's something for everyone, and everything for someone: Anything you want to do, eat, be, find, see, or hear is here. I don't take advantage of what this city has to offer nearly as much as I should but I don't take it for granted either. The other day I made an Indian dish for dinner and was easily able to buy all of the ingredients at an amazing Indian grocery store. Every week I can take dance classes taught by principal dancers of Alvin Ailey or someone I've seen on stage and in movies. If I wanted to try out archery, I could. If I wanted to take a pottery class while sampling wine, I could. If I wanted to take a Jedi class and wave around a light saber, I could. If I wanted to take a hot air balloon ride over the city, I could. I think you get it. And it's amazing.

5. In a city of skyscrapers and traffic there's still lovely bits of nature: There may be more trees in CT but to find a substantial bit of nature to explore I generally would have to travel a few miles to a park. Here, there are great parks minutes away. There's a beautiful park near our apartment I could explore for hours, with a view of the river and plenty of grass, trails, and gardens. Beyond parks, many areas of the city have lovely little flowerbeds, gardens or trees. It's not nearly as "brick and concrete" as I expected it to be.

6. You can walk anywhere and everywhere: Walks that would have seemed daunting to me before hardly phase me now and I love that I automatically add in a little bit of walking exercise each day. I easily walk 2 miles everyday, just in my day-to-day activities. I remember a time my cousin suggested walking from Grand Central to the Met, swearing it wasn't that bad of a walk. 1 hour later I wanted to die. Now, I'm so used to walking that I'd happily walk from work on 18th st. up to the Met. by 82nd. It's nice to not have to drive or sit in traffic, and pretty cool that I could theoretically walk almost anywhere I want to go. Some weekend day with gorgeous weather I'm determined to walk the length of Manhattan, which shockingly should only take a few hours. 


Moving on....


Worst things about living in NYC

1. People who can't walk: By far, my biggest pet peeve in the city is people who walk 1 mph, stop in the middle of the sidewalk, or walk 3+ people across, making it impossible to pass by them. I hate sauntering. I don't understand sauntering. Just walk a normal speed. Or if you want to saunter, stay by the side of the sidewalk and let people pass by you. I understand why they say tourists flock to Times Square and New Yorkers avoid it. Crowds there are expected and unavoidable, but when I'm in the rest of the city I want to be able to move.

2. People know how to look good: Despite what I said before about the fact that I could wear whatever I wanted and not turn any heads, a lot of people are incredibly put together or at least very purposefully and artistically disheveled. In CT the most expensive store in most malls is like... Express. In New York many wouldn't deign to wear Express, never mind H&M. Especially by where I work on 5th avenue. Truthfully, in a lot of the city if you can afford to live there you can afford luxuries like designer clothes. I mean, it's no Paris, but while there's all sorts of individuality, there's an upper crust here that would make you uncomfortable to walk around in sweatpants with damp hair in their presence. It hasn't made me overly envious or at all embarrassed, but it's made me think more about what I wear everyday. Somedays I wish I could just throw on whatever, with no makeup and a messy ponytail and walk about happily but it's harder to do here than in CT.

3. Every so often there's a crazy: While I love the individuality of people here and how you never know what to expect, there is the fear that it's a city, and it's dangerous and someone could just go crazy on you. Actually, I've encountered far fewer scary moments than I thought I would before moving here. I've never once felt unsafe on the street or had some guy start making comments or following me. But every once in a while there's someone you'd rather avoid. Usually it's on the subway and someone freaks out at someone else for no apparent reason, which can be frightening when you're stuck in the car with nowhere to go until the next stop. Rarely happens, but scary when it does.

Really, that's about all that I don't like about the city. I expected to get sick of constant noise and people and buildings and a rushed feel, but where our apartment is it's quiet, uncrowded and calm. It's a nice haven in a mostly loud, fast paced city. And just like that, this blog is ending. Thanks for sticking it out to the end. If you did. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I'm not going to lie. I was a smart kid. Okay, so that may be venturing into a little blatant bragging, but it's soon to be accompanied by some not-so-proud confessions, so the unashamed and the shameful balance each other out. It's probably no surprise to anyone that I was an exceptionally shy, quiet child. My preschool teacher never even heard my voice until the last month of school, when I responded to her "good morning Trisha" with a quiet "hi". It earned me a sticker and a proud note to my parents (which I still have . . . framed . . . . just kidding. Well, about the framed part). In the world of children, shy and quiet usually goes along with the assumption that they're little angels (or seriously disturbed . . . but typically it's the former). Let's face it, it's rarely the quiet ones who are the bullies or the type who make Jenny cry on the playground by pulling her pigtails or not allowing her into their exclusive club. And if there's an obnoxious/troublemaker type kid you can bet it's not the one who softly whispers "hi" in the morning (on a talkative day). In conclusion of this introductory paragraph, it's not too surprising that quiet kids are often thought of as being sweet, simply because they don't actively cause trouble. I could only wish that the same assumption held true for shy adults. . . too bad that after your childhood years are up being quiet is often taken as stuck up or rude. But that's another blog for another day.

I forgot where I was going with this. . . shy kids are supposedly wonderful little citizens. . . I was painfully shy. . .  and fairly smart. Got it. Back on track. So I was thought of as this "perfect" little kid . . . quiet, never mean, did her schoolwork without being asked, did what she was supposed to, got A's in everything but gym. As such, if I ever DID do something wrong, I was very rarely held accountable for it, because adults always thought "Trisha's so sweet, she would never intentionally do something bad. . . she must not have realized that taking the goldfish out of the bowl in the classroom would kill it". Don't worry, I never did that to a fish. If adults were REALLY smart they would have realized in this hypothetical example that I was intelligent enough to know fish die when taken out of water. The problem was, (well really it was not a problem), they always assumed my sweet nature and moral sensibility outweighed my intelligence . . . because even if I was a smart kid, I was still just a kid. So if I did something wrong they assumed I was just confused or didn't know it was wrong. Totally underestimated my intelligence. Or, totally overestimated my propensity to do the right thing. I remember quite a few times I was proud of myself for outsmarting adults whenever I was in a sticky situation that was completely my fault. And a couple of times I'm not so proud of. Let the storytelling begin. . .

It was 4th grade. We had to present our example of a "simple machine" that we made at home. It was a big project that I put off long enough that I completely forgot it was due that day. Most kids brought in things made with little wooden spokes and wheels purchased at the local craft store or made out of k-nex toys. Some of the less impressive ones were made out of cut up cereal boxes, popsicle sticks, coat hangers and yarn. And, because I lived in semi-rich, middle-upper class Orange, aka town of spoiled children pushed to be overachievers, many were clearly made with the assistance of a parent or a very helpful teenage brother who aced shop class and included welded metal and miniature motors. Seriously, here's the type of thing I had to compete with. . .

NO WAY a 9 year old would have built this
pop-a-balloon machine completely on their own,
unless you let your 9 year old work screw guns
I'm going to be stereotypical...
the only sign that this was made by a
little girl is the choice of pink wheels


I don't buy this one either
Okay, this I'll buy. It's made with a toy
and kids are handy with toys. Still, it's too
impressive when I had literally nothing to show.
This kid is certainly proud of it.


This "make your breakfast" machine could have been thought of by a kid and is visually less appealing than some of the other examples. But it has a number of components and is therefore still impressive. My guess? It was a smart parent making it seem more believable...
This was seriously like the
least ambitious one shown...
though it's impressive that
thread could hold such a heavy
book without much support.
That alone would amaze me.
















So what was I going to do? One after one, these kids were presenting their genius contraptions and I had nothing. I would have never admitted I forgot about it or put it off. I also would have never lied and said I forgot it at home because it still showed too much irresponsibility for my liking. But, in my mind, I was expected to have one of the best ones of the bunch, because I was an overachieving, perfectionist, intelligent child (although prone to occasional laziness and ignoring of projects). So I did what I'm so poor at in the world of acting. . . I improvised. I grabbed a ruler in my desk, and while other kids were presenting I discreetly plucked off a couple pieces of tape, rolled them up to be double-sided and stuck them on the edge of my ruler. When it was my turn I went up to the front of the class, sprinkled some pencil shaving sawdust on a table and proceeded to clean it up with my sticky invention. Since it was so lame I had to really sell it. I may have been shy, but I was still into acting. I pretended to be really proud of my "machine", explaining how I wanted to make something practical (acting as if I had no clue such a thing as a lint-roller existed). The genius of this approach was that it also subtly implied that my classmates' balloon popping machines and mini "elevators" that could lift pencils had no real, important use, but my brilliant sticky stick could work wonders removing cat hair from your couch. When asked what kind of simple machine it was I said it was a pulley because it pulled things off of other things. I knew it was wrong, but I acted like I thought it was right and hoped that it would be interpreted as if I seriously misunderstood the concept of a pulley as a result of insufficient teaching. Some smart aleck kid asked what to do once the tape isn't sticky any more. I said you replace the tape. He gave me a look that clearly said, "Well that's not very practical, is it?". I secretly was mad at him for asking a stupid question. My grade on the project? A solid B. I knew it should have been a D or perhaps a kind "try again after I help you understand the intention of the project better". But my report page just said something generic and polite like "Let's go over how pulleys work. . . nice try! Clever of you to make something handy!" Guarantee you that if it were a slacker kid who presented a ruler with a piece of tape on it they would have just gotten an incomplete . . . the elementary school version of an F. But I was given the benefit of the doubt. I was secretly proud that I outsmarted the teacher and momentarily curious as to how often I could get away with handing in projects in this manner before she started to catch on and stopped being so kind. I'm not going to lie. This one I'm still kind of proud of.

Some of my other stories I'm more ashamed of. I recall one particular quiz where I looked at someone else's answers and we were both confronted about it. It was a really obvious case of cheating. . . a geography quiz where we both said Nebraska was Zimbabwe on a map or something equally as obscure that would be highly coincidental (read impossible) if we both gave the same wrong answer, probably spelled the same incorrect way too. I couldn't have been all that smart if I considered Zimbabwe a possible answer for a U.S. state. Anyways, we both swore we didn't cheat and I was believed because I was the "model student". I still remember the teacher telling both of us how it's wrong to steal someone else's answers, but looking only at the other kid while she said it. I don't think he was punished, because he didn't confess either (he didn't do anything wrong. . .  other than give the wrong answer), but I remember feeling so guilty for lying, and not getting punished for it, that I considered volunteering to clap the erasers. . . everyone's least favorite job. . .  but then reconsidered because I figured that would give away my guilty conscience. (Clearly, clapping the erasers would have completely reconciled my cheating and lying) I decided to trade with the kid instead: my Dunkaroos for his carrot sticks. Relieved my guilt a bit. I assumed the teacher would have figured out my "nice deed due to guilty conscience" bit but that the kid wouldn't. I clearly thought highly of my peers' intelligence. Horrible child, I know. But I did give up my Dunkaroos. Which at the time was a very big deal. And it traumatized me so much that despite temptation, I never copied from someone again. Lesson learned before I hit a double-digit age.

I was quite proud (and about the most rebellious I got as a child) to outsmart my gym teacher a couple of days each month. Although in this case it wasn't really as much outsmarting as it was simply getting my way. We were all instructed to wear sneakers and either pants or shorts twice each week on our gym days. I hated gym. Hated it. Almost as much as I hated recess. (Mandatory social interaction and the freedom to choose an activity was painful for me. I was an odd child). But, as much as I hated my mother regularly dressing me up in dresses, bows and shiny shoes for school, I hated gym more. So on gym days I would always "allow her" to pick out a dress for me. Then, I'd have to sit out of gym class and watch everyone else play. The gym teacher never yelled at me (because I was a sweet, quiet girl), but he would nicely remind me to wear appropriate gym wear. Always hating to take blame as a child, or give the impression I did something wrong, I told him my mom made me wear dresses. I really was an angel, wasn't I? A note was sent to parents to remind them of gym days. My mom started paying attention, dressing me in pants. A minor setback, to which I found a solution. I simply packed dresses in my backpack and got changed into them at school. I was never punished for repeatedly wearing dresses. Just nicely reminded. Come to think of it, this is probably a big reason why gym was the only class I got Bs in.

The whole quiet & smart thing worked to my advantage up through high school. I remember one calculus exam I just didn't study for at all for whatever reason. . . busy with dance, pure laziness, new episode of 7th Heaven. . . I don't remember why. I failed it horribly. . . got like a 30. But because I typically got As my teacher asked me what was up, I said severe stress or something, and he let me re-take it. I figured I'd get a similar exam to the one we took that covered the same topics. But no. I got to re-take the exact same test, after we had already gone over all the answers as a class. I got a 100 to replace my original score. I was older at this point so I did feel some guilt for this, considering I didn't even try the first time around. But then again, it was the teacher's decision to give me the exact same exam. It was a "lucky me" moment and I was thankful for a nice, though perhaps too understanding, teacher.

No clue what made me reflect back on these stories recently. I've realized I was a manipulative little kid who clearly had an issue thinking she was smarter than everyone else and more entitled. Good thing I've grown since then. Mostly.

Monday, March 05, 2012

I've always been a cat person. There are cat stereotypes... that they're independent, unsociable, aloof, only sleep and eat, etc. etc. while dogs are "man's best friend" and infinitely more intelligent and loving. Vastly unfair to the feline population, if I say so myself. Like dogs, cats have very unique personalities, as I've come to learn. Due to the average lifespan of a cat (~ 15 years), my current, relatively short time on Earth (nearly 26 years), and the fact that I only enjoy having one cat at a time, I've had 3 cats in my life. Each completely different in personality. This here post is a little cat story time. I promise I'll try to keep it entertaining... even if you hate cats (shame shame).

First cat I had was Prudy, short for Prudence. My parents had her before I was born and she stuck around until I was 9, at which point my brother and his friend chased her into the woods from which she never returned. I don't remember her much but there are a couple of awesome, somewhat unbelievable stories of hers that certainly help give evidence to the "cats have 9 lives" theory. In fact, when I was in second grade I wrote out 2 of her stories, accompanied them with a lovely little crayon drawing of Prudy, and entered them into an "awesome pet stories" contest my local movie theater was having as a promotion for the 1994 flop "Monkey Trouble". It won me a free sundae at Baskin Robbins (1st place) and a Monkey Trouble T-Shirt (2nd place). I was pleased. I was also probably the only child who entered.


Anyways, first story... I was driving my younger brother to pre-school which was a short 5 or so minute drive from my house. Well, my dad was driving... since I was only 6 or 7 at the time I was merely along for the ride. We get out of the car and hear a cat meowing. Being an avid cat lover, and a curious individual, I proceed to look for the source of the mews. Who do I find? None other than Prudy, sitting on the exhaust pipe of the car. Our conclusion? She hopped on the exhaust pipe at home (she was the only outdoor/indoor cat of the ones I've had), and balanced like only a cat can for the 5 minute drive. Nothing else made sense. Thinking back to it now I think this may be a warped memory of some sort since I don't think there's physically enough room for even a mouse, never mind an adult cat, to fit on top of an exhaust pipe. Maybe she was on the roof or trunk and no one noticed? I'm sure it made an interesting view for any other cars that passed by us on that short drive. But she was not IN the car, unless my memory is seriously warped or my dad was playing a bizarre trick on us... regardless, it's a pretty fun story. Not sure if that one won 1st or 2nd place. haha

2nd Prudy story... she apparently liked to jump up and sit on a particular windowsill at our old old house. One hot summer day we opened the window and when she jumped up she didn't realize the glass was open and she fell right out. To add to the drama, apparently our old pool used to be right outside of said window and she landed in the water. This story took place either before I was born or when I was younger than 4, aka before my memory really kicked in. I'm fairly certain this one was at least exaggerated. She probably jumped up, was confused by the open window, and stumbled a bit, nearly falling out... nevertheless, the falling into the pool bit became cat legend in our house. One of those stories that my parents have told so many times that by now they may even believe it really happened. Children are gullible so I of course, ate it up. But who knows? Maybe she did go swimming that day.

On to 2nd cat, Missy. Missy was my baby. My uncle got her for me as a surprise (even to my mother, who wasn't too pleased),  shortly after my parents separated and I wrote a "Why I Deserve a Cat" essay for my mom. Can you tell I enjoyed writing? Can you tell I was a huge nerd? The commercial below made me laugh when it came out because if I had been born 10 years later this SO would have been me (side note: yes, though I'm "young" the entirety of my elementary school years were pre-internet. Powerpoint was a newfangled program teachers had to learn about, never mind incorporate in the classroom, when I was a child... I used a typewriter when I was young, admittedly though it was an odd childhood obsession with nostalgia thing rather than a necessity... we did have the giant gray Mac computer with the black screen and green font, but I remember the excitement of FINALLY getting dial-up internet at home when I was 14. I look younger than I am. end side note.)


But yes, Missy was my love, and she with me from age 11 to 24... through the divorce, emotions surrounding leaving my father, the ups and downs of relationships & love, depression, college, first "real" job and all those crazy adolescent years of growing up. Pets are lovely companions, and this is especially true for introverted individuals such as myself. She was my confidant and friend. End of sappy cheesy comments. Not many people liked Missy, to be honest, and she didn't care for many people besides me. She hated to be picked up, preferred to be alone (though appreciative of company when it was her who initiated the contact), and regularly took swings at people (and dogs) who invaded her space. Perhaps what's most disturbing about all this is that people often said she was just like me, or that I trained her to be evil. Lovely compliment. However, her overall temperament and typical behavior with others made her affectionate nature with me all the more special. Losing her was the hardest loss I've had to go through yet in my life, which I am somewhat ashamed to admit, but I suppose it makes me very lucky. I still think about her every day and wish she were here.

Cat #3, Luna cat, could not be more different in personality than Missy. Missy rarely exhibited "kitten behavior" while Luna is the most playful, curious cat I've encountered. Missy's favorite word was "hiss" while one of Luna's nicknames is "purrball" because she purrs the minute she sees you. Luna loves to be held and petted, and her curious nature earned her the additional nickname of "disaster cat"... bathroom doors must remain shut if we don't want toilet paper all over the house, bags must be closed tightly if we don't want their contents strewn across the room, and glasses of water must be carefully attended if we don't wish to share our beverage. She manages to find pieces of paper and plastic around our (relatively) clean home and is often spotted trotting around the house with them in her mouth. I've seen her attempt to climb into the trash can multiple times to find something to play with. The other day the kitchen floor became a pond because she decided to go into her water dish, splash around to the extent that, like I said, the entire floor was like a pond and required three bath towels to mop up. Just to top it off she left a trail of wet paw prints around the rest of the house. The other week she jumped onto a counter, knocked over a dish of lollipops and batted them around the house. After cleaning it all up she jumped back up, picked up one in her mouth, jumped down and batted the one around the house as if to say "okay, if I can't have them all I will settle for one". Her other favorite activities include sticking out her tongue and sitting in bags and boxes. The pictures below are only a sample... if I was more crafty and had more time on my hands I could totally turn this into a themed "cat in a bag" scrapbook.


Since Luna is so curious by nature I'm constantly keeping tabs on where she is and what she's doing. The other week I couldn't find her after checking all of her usual hiding places. I resorted to getting ice from the fridge (she loves the sound of the ice machine and usually comes running, hopeful that a piece of ice will fall for her to bat around the floor). When this didn't work either I got nervous. Instinctively, I opened the front door. There she was, sitting on the porch, like she had just rung the doorbell and was waiting for me to let her in. She meowed at the sight of my face and instantly walked right inside when I opened the door. She is an indoor cat. I had definitely seen her since I had gotten home and no one else entered or left the house since so I had no idea how she got outside. After weighing out several impossible scenarios and some investigation I realized she went out the doggie door, onto the back deck. Missy was never strong enough to do this, but Luna has so much energy it wouldn't surprise me if she took a running charge at the thing to get outside. Anyways, she went out the doggie door, onto the back deck, jumped up onto the railing (2 stories up, so if she fell off good luck to her), walked along the railing to where the baby gate was to keep our dog on the deck, jumped over the baby gate onto the stairs below it and thus effectively made her way outside into the real world. Once we discovered her tactics we had to MacGyver this creation out of lattice fence material that made our deck look like a DIY project gone wrong to prevent her from escaping again. Thus far there have been no additional attempted escapes. Thank goodness I had the instinct to open the front door, and that she happened to be right there, and eager to come back inside. Though Luna has only been with us for 5 months she already has created more stories for herself than I have time or desire to share. Thus, this cat inspired blog is ending awkwardly now... well, after this video of the attack cat Luna with our dog Hercules.

video

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I've written many a blog post about my obsessive need to use every coupon I see and my excessive enjoyment of finding good deals. While I'm a far cry from those coupon hunter crazies on TLC or whatever channel it is, it's still an unhealthy habit for my wallet. My latest finds that feed my addiction are Groupon and LivingSocial. Big savings at local places. Well, big mistake. Heed my warning if you are a coupon fiend such as myself.... I avoided joining for many, many weeks, as I feared the inevitable decline of my bank account and increase of purchases. But I am weak. And I gave in.

Day 1 after signing up for their tempting emails I made a purchase. Day 2, I made a purchase. Day 3, I made a purchase. Thankfully, at least, it was only one purchase each day. Thankfully, at least, it was only one purchase from Groupon OR LivingSocial and not both. So anyways, only three days after joining I forced myself to stop opening the emails. It's like a 10-step program. Hopefully... eventually... I will be able to open the emails, look at the plethora of good deals and just say no. But I have to take it in baby steps. Right now the subject line headings with their "deal of the day" mentions are hard enough to handle. I'm proud with each delete I manage. But it's a struggle.... it's difficult to talk about.

This here blog post is a story of one of my Groupon purchases. I bought a facial at over 60% off as a little treat to self. I had never had one before and again, it was a good deal, so I thought why not? Well, I show up yesterday at this "spa" which is really a one-woman show in a tiny space where the lobby-slash-store and one "treatment room" combined are about the size of large closet. The business owner is the only beauty technician, or whatever they're called, and she's also the receptionist, and the seller of beauty items at 20% off. I mean... good for her, owning her own business and running it all. No complaints. Just describing the setting for you here. Recreating. Business must not be doing too poorly, since when I walked in at 6:25 for my 6:30 appointment she asked if I'd mind waiting 5 minutes since she had back-to-back appointments all day and didn't have her lunch yet. Then again, maybe she's so busy from all of her Groupon sales, from which she may actually be losing money (despite the benefit of potentially gaining new clients). When I made this Groupon purchase I was the 250th person to do so... I remember because I was happy that it was a nice, clean number. That's a lot of facials for one woman who works out of a closet.

Anyway, once I'm in the room she's chit-chatting, small talking, asking questions away... way too much energy for a woman who had been working all day through her lunch (maybe her 5 minute lunch was a redbull). I respond with my usual short but polite answers which clearly give off a vibe that says "I'm shy and quiet and prefer not to talk". Vibe is either not recognized or ignored. I feel as though a big part of the job of any beauty technician (still don't know their title), or hairdresser or whatever, should be feeling out how social your clients are and acting accordingly. Nothing's worse than a stylist who relentlessly tries to small talk with someone who's clearly not having it. It's awkward. I generally prefer the awkward silence. But I was perfectly polite and after about 15 minutes fully gave in and catered to her need to talk... asking her questions about the business, appropriate skin care routines and her life. Despite the small space and forced conversation it wasn't completely unrelaxing. There was one of those natural sounds CDs playing in the background so whenever she paused to breathe I got to hear some waves crashing or rainforest bugs chirping. And the chair was heated, which was nice. After a "hot steam rinse" I got about 8 different peels or masks put on my face, all of which she supposedly customized to my skin's needs, accompanied with 8 heated towels and one mediocre arm/hand massage. I had the choice of an extraction or a mini back massage. I chose the extraction since it's more facial-esque. Little did I know choosing between an extraction and a massage is basically choosing between extreme pain or relaxing comfort and of course, I went for the pain. She covered my eyes to protect them from this crazy bright light and then proceeded to injure my face. I have a high pain tolerance but I'm girl enough to admit it hurt. The worst part though, was the bright light. The curse of my blue eyes is how sensitive they are to light. Despite being clenched shut and covered, my eyes were tearing to the point where it looked like I was full-on crying. My self-conscious, prideful self wanted her to know that these were not tears of pain but mentioning that would have been even more lame than if they were tears of pain, so per usual, I kept silent. For the final "calming mask" she left the room for 10 minutes so I could relax. Twas peaceful. At the end she said I may breakout from the facial. Great side effect to a supposed skin cleaning, no?

All in all, worth the full price? Not at all. Worth the Groupon price? Maybeeee. Will I do it again? Probably not. Well, unless I find a coupon.

Tune in soon for my zipline adventure story... yet another Groupon purchase. Luckily I've managed to steer clear of the Escape Getaways. My wallet thanks me.

I was expecting something like this...
candles... quiet... relaxation....




But this more accurately depicts how I felt
 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

This is a long post. One that jumps around between a couple of topics. One I probably should have edited to make shorter. But I didn't want to go through the hassle of editing this here casual blog of mine. So, instead I left it in its wordy, drawn-own state, added in this introductory paragraph to make it even longer, and all I have to say is bravo to you if you make it to the end. Really wants to make you keep reading right? Drawing the reader in with clever opening lines was always a strength of mine. Cough. Anyways, if you're still with me, here it is...

I'm re-reading one of my favorite novels, The Thirteenth Tale, and this one passage stuck out to me... it's about an author and the stories she has yet to write,

"My study throngs with characters waiting to be written. Imaginary people, anxious for a life, who tug at my sleeve, crying, 'Me next! Go on! My turn!' I have to select. And once I have chosen, the others lie quiet for ten months or a year, until I come to the end of the story, and the clamor starts up again."

I felt an instant connection to this passage because it perfectly describes how I feel about choreography. I have a huge list of songs I have to use, the workings of multiple pieces started in my mind, and the minute one dance is done I'm eager to pick out the next and get started, feeling bad for the other songs and ideas that will have to wait until later. I'm lucky to have such a passion and it's crazy to think that just 6 years ago I had absolutely zero interest in ever attempting choreography and little to no respect for it as an art. I truly believe this is one of the main reasons I was led to Wheaton, to discover this passion of mine... every so often things happen to fall a certain way and a lot of "chance" things lead you to something wonderful you couldn't have expected. Wheaton for me is one of those things... to think of how I ended up there and then what I got out of it... it's nothing short of a blessing.

How I ended up at Wheaton College is a bizarre story, all the more so if you know how much I am into researching and planning things and just how much typically goes into my decision making process. I had a list of 7 schools I was applying to senior year, not to name drop them (but I am anyway) they were Brown, Amherst, Wellesley, Tufts, Vassar, Stonehill and Gordon. I had done all my research... I knew their acceptance rates, average SAT scores, and essentially calculated my odds of getting into each one. In my know-it-all teenage mind I KNEW I would get into 2, had a chance of getting into 3, and probably would not get into the remaining 2, but wanted to try anyway... or in guidance counselor terms I had 2 safeties, 3 matches and 2 reaches. I had visited dozens of colleges, done all my interviews, taken tours, sat in on classes, and again I KNEW these were my top 7 choices. So when my guidance counselor told me I needed to apply to more "safety schools" I was strongly against it. If I KNEW I could get into two of my schools and I KNEW I would choose any one of these seven over any other school, why should I have to apply somewhere else? He was adamant that I choose at least one more school, "to give me more options" he said. KNEW (had to throw in one more all caps "knew"... sorry)


Now, normal Trisha, if forced to pick another option, would have gone through the whole research process again of trying to find her 8th choice... the perfect school for her if options 1-7 didn't work out. But rebellious Trisha (a side which rarely comes out) thought it would be perfectly spiteful if she chose a school at random, as if to say to mr. guidance counselor, "fine, i'll pick another school, but don't think I care which one I choose because I WILL get into at least 2 of my schools, I WILL go to one of those and this "8th choice" will be inconsequential and unnecessary, as I said from day 1". Time for Trisha to stop referring to herself in 3rd person. In reality, he didn't know how I came to the decision of choosing my 8th school, and probably it wouldn't have mattered much to him anyway. But I felt deliciously evil in knowing how I decided and in my mind it was the perfect way to get back at the guidance counselor who forced me to spend the unnecessary $55 on another application. So how did I come to my decision you ask? I picked up one of those top colleges in the northeast guidebooks, opened to a random page (which happened to be Wheaton's), saw its acceptance rate was more in the realm of the schools I knew I would get into rather than a Brown or Amherst, and decided to apply there. Knowing nothing about it. It made me so happy to do this to my guidance counselor without his knowledge that it was almost worth the $55 in my mind (of my mother's money... if it was mine it might have diminished my happiness a bit. But that's irrelevant).

Fast-forward several months and low and behold I get into the two schools I knew I would, plus Wheaton, and waitlisted at two others. Once I actually was accepted at Wheaton I figured it would be just plain irresponsible of me to not at least visit the place and see how it compared in my mind to the other two schools. (Of course, my method of choosing the school wasn't at all irresponsible in the first place). Two second background story... at all of my past college visits it had rained the day I visited... every single one (and remember, I visited dozens) so, by the 14th time or so that it happened I said to myself "if I ever visit a school and it's not raining I will take it as a sign and go there if I'm accepted". Well, no shocker with what happened next. I visit Wheaton and it's a gorgeous, sunny day. Even though researching, planning, calculating and comparing is my way of decision making and I'm often ruled by logic, I allowed my gut to take over and, completely unlike me, I didn't even think about it when I accepted my enrollment to Wheaton, turning down the other two schools. I felt that I was led there, for some unseen reason, and that it was where I was meant to be. Strangely enough I was really comfortable with my choice, even though I knew little about the place, because I took everything as a sign. Yet spiteful me was biting her tongue and did not thank guidance counselor. Didn't want to give him the satisfaction.


Now, I always follow my gut... it leads me throughout my life. While my heart isn't always smart enough, and my head doesn't always care enough, my gut has yet to lead me wrong. It combines my head, my heart and that unknown instinctive quality that I believe is God's guidance to get me what I need, even if it's not always what I want. I'm SO thankful I ended up at Wheaton, as I truly believe it was perfect for me and helped me grow into who I am. Beyond the classes and professors, friends and experiences, one of the best things I found at Wheaton was my passion for choreography. I honestly do not believe I would have found it otherwise.

I have been dancing for a long time, over 20 years now (ugh). In high school I had the opportunity to choreograph, and was greatly encouraged to do so by some of my teachers. But I had zero interest... not a spark... not one miniscule part of me had any desire or curiosity to explore even the possibility of it. I liked dancing. I liked others giving me steps to dance. I did not like the idea of creating movement for myself or others to dance. Period. When I got to college I didn't think I would have much of an opportunity to dance again in my life, beyond possibly some occasional classes, and of course in musical theater, but that's completely different. I didn't think I'd be able to dance in choreographed works. There simply isn't much opportunity once you graduate from a studio unless you join a professional company. Then I found dance company at Wheaton. I had an outlet to dance and I had a dance family. Still, I had no interest in choreography and I did not expect this to change. During my first two years at Wheaton I had the opportunity to work with multiple choreographers, all with different styles, very different than I had ever experienced at home. One day, sophomore year I (quite subconsciously) started visualizing choreography to a musical theater song I was listening to. I didn't know what to make of it. More and more ideas came to me with each listen to the song... I was choreographing without even trying. I decided to follow my gut (again) and push myself to go for it... if I'm ever going to choreograph might as well make it this semi cheesy, fosse-esque musical theater choreography I was visualizing, because, I thought, I could do anything with a musical theater style piece, and it would be much easier than a "real" dance. I worked for something ridiculous like 8 months on the piece before teaching it to the company as a junior. I was proud to have choreographed something, when I never thought I would, even if it was "just a musical theater piece". But I hadn't found my voice yet as a choreographer. Honestly, after that first experience I didn't have a huge desire to try choreographing something else and I had little belief that I would be able to ever do a "real dance". Even now, after having choreographed over a dozen pieces I feel like each time I start a new piece I won't know what I'm doing and I have little confidence that I'll be able to do a "real dance". Now I realize my works are real dances, they're just different. (I always thought of a real dance as like a lyrical jazz, which is actually sort of the style of the piece I just set recently.) I enjoy though that with the start of each new work I still feel like I won't have a clue what I'm doing... it emphasizes to me how there's no formula or set approach to choreographing and the process becomes more organic for me. Where was I going with this? (going back to re-read...) Oh, so I had no desire to choreograph again and little confidence in my ability. Then, junior year I worked with a choreographer who completely inspired me. His approach to choreography was unlike anything I had encountered before... there were no counts, no set tempo from dancer to dancer (dancer's choice!) and he had choreographed the whole thing but hadn't picked out music yet... but his passion for movement was infectious. Beyond his approach, which was new to me, what really inspired me was something he said, something that I now consider to be practically my mantra with choreography. Someone asked him why he decided to become a choreographer and through a huge smile he said "I get to play with movement every day of my life. What could possibly be better?" Those words struck a chord with me. Never before had I thought of choreography as playing with movement. I thought of it as you learn these set steps in your technique class and choreography is just stringing those learned movements together in a different order. Romantic definition there right? Can you tell I was a math major? Never before had I considered the possibility of creating something new or playing. My eyes were suddenly open to a world of possibilities. I said my first piece was heavily Fosse inspired... I had always admired his work but had never really thought about why I admired it. Now I believe it's largely because he wasn't afraid to be different, his moves are both sexy and odd and they have a sort of tongue-in-cheek, quirky humor I am drawn to. So many of these qualities I admire in Fosse's work were relevant to me in a fresh way when I thought about choreography in terms of playing with movement... now when I choreograph I do whatever strikes me, even if it's bizarre and different, I enjoy quirky movements that play off of literal interpretations of lyrics and I try not to limit myself to conventional dance steps learned in class. I found my voice and my inspiration, guided by the choreographer's words "play with movement". Such a simple idea, yet it completely turned my perspective upside down, or rather, right side up.

Since then I have been unable to stop creating choreography. Thoughts constantly swim in my mind for bits of movement and new works to set. And while it's possible I could have stumbled upon this passion of mine at some other point in my life and in some other way, I'm not so sure I would have... like I said, I was certain upon entering Wheaton that I wouldn't dance again. And if I didn't dance again, in this traditional way as I'm referring to it, outside of musical theater, why would I have ever been inspired to choreograph? I believe in my heart that dance company at Wheaton, and the choreographers and different styles I was exposed to there (and one choreographer's words in particular) are the reason I found this passion of mine. It makes you wonder what other passions of yours may be out there, yet undiscovered. Here's a shameless invite to check out some of my choreography here.


And as a random conclusion to this essay length blog of mine, if you haven't read The Thirteenth Tale and you enjoy reading, go read it now. I love a lot of books but very few are memorable and this is one that still creeps into my thoughts years after having read it, necessitating multiple re-reads. That's all.

Random pic, just because.