Friday, July 24, 2009

So I just finished creating an extra long, extra intense, extra detailed, extra insane "Who are you most like from A Chorus Line?" quiz. Yes, to answer your question, I am that cool. My motivation stemmed out of boredom and I knew creating this quiz would be a process that would eat up a lot of empty time, but still be fun for me... for one, I knew I would include all 19 main characters... the line crew plus zach and larry. This meant each question would need 19 possible options. Also, it meant I would need a lot of questions... since there would be so many options it would be easy to select answers that belong to a whole array of characters and therefore get an inconclusive/inaccurate result. It also meant writing up little summary result things for each character ("You are so and so because...") and finding a great picture of each character to go with it... because pictures are fun. So, in summary I wasted a lot of time putting together this ridiculous quiz that probably about 7 people will take.

To me though it was fun... and I'm used to this sort of thing. Well, not writing quizzes. I mean the character analysis junk that goes into it. I know these Chorus Line characters inside and out, but very few people ever think about say, what the character's favorite childhood game would have been (question #9). Well, I'm one of those very few people. All because of one of my first directors, who I did 4 or 5 shows with. It was one of my first musicals, I never really did any acting before, and I had a bit part... a role, but a tiny one without much character development or anything. I was young and had no idea there was any sort of "method" to acting, nevermind multiple methods and I never considered in-depth character analysis. Well, about a week into rehearsals this director gave everyone in the cast, ensemble included, a homework project. We all had to write a detailed analysis of who we were, our character. It could be a list but it had to be as comprehensive as possible. Full name, physical characteristics, personality, family background, interests, favorites (everything... book, movie, food, music group...), least favorites, fears, hopes, what you're ashamed of, what your friends think of you, what your enemies think of you, what you think of you.... you get the idea. If you could think of something else to add, great. In the end it meant each of us had to research the time period so we could give appropriate answers for the character and we had to really give some thought as to who our characters were. It gave everyone a story and our director made sure we knew our story inside and out. I'll never forget one time I walked into a scene and the director stopped me immediately and said "where did you just come from?" then "why are you going here now?" and questioned every response I gave as well. In other words if I said "home" she'd say "where's home? what were you doing there?". It was a mortifying experience for me, someone who doesn't much enjoy answering questions about herself, nevermind "making up" answers on the fly about "someone else"... and feeling interrogated is hard when you're someone who can shut down under verbal pressure. But for that very reason you can be sure I thought of all of these things before ever walking onto a scene again. So, very early on I learned what it meant to really know your character and become that character. It was my first lesson in acting and something I use to this day.

Creating this quiz brought back all of those memories, of the character profiles and such, since that's essentially what I did for these 19 characters. And it made me wonder, if I were to create "a profile" for myself, what would I find? If I had to sum up my life and who I am and then read it over, in its summarized, list-like form what impression would I get of myself and would I like what I see? It would certainly be a lesson in self-discovery. I'm not going to lie, I think I would make one of the world's best character studies. haha. My mother was talking with me at dinner the other night, asking me all sorts of questions about how I think in various situations. At one point I laughed and asked why she was asking me all of this. Her response? "I know you better than 99% of the rest of the people in your life and you're still such a mystery to me. You intrigue me". My response? "So you like psychoanalyzing me?" Her response? "I do". I've always thought of myself as a very self-aware individual with strong perceptions. But I've just recently started learning new things about myself. Things that intrigue even me. Not all of which I'm proud of. Many of them seem to contradict other aspects of who I am, thereby expanding the interest of my imaginary character profile tenfold and then some. I'm not sure yet if these things are just new realizations, but parts of me that have always been there, or if they're new to my life... changes from growing up and coming into my own. Probably a mix of both.

Maybe the next time I'm bored and want to waste a few hours I'll do this suped up character analysis of myself and call it a condensed auto-biography. Part of me is afraid of what I'd see, but part of me knows everyone has strengths and flaws. I'm one of those people who believes that everyone, underneath it all, is good and worthy of respect and love. Everyone does what they think is best... whether it's best for themselves, best for others or a combination of the two... and both things are important, neither is better than the other. I may just be discovering some things about myself, and good or bad, they're making me feel more connected to myself, to others and to the world around me. Which is a good thing. The more I live, observe and experience the more I'm enjoying the learning process of life.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

So, I finally have something blog-worthy. My hilarious injury stories. That's right, I used the words hilarious and injuries in the same sentence. Some of my funniest memories happen to coincide with moments of excruciating pain. And they all have to do with theatre/dance. Let's skip further pre-amble and jump right in...

Story number one goes back a little over a year ago, early January of '08. I'm back at Wheaton for pre-season for dance company... the best slash worst time of the college year (for theatre folk equate it to hell week). Essentially, we're in rehearsal for 8 hours a day, everyday, for about 9 days straight... learning up to 7 new works from the various choreographers that come in and reviewing the old routines from last semester that we probably forgot over Christmas break. You know an injury is coming since I gave the blog topic away in the opening paragraph... you would probably assume it would happen on day 6 or so.... when I'm somewhat into the process and my body is just overworked. Probably would also assume it happened mid extreme dance move. Such was not the case. Try day #1 during warm-ups. We're sitting on the floor, essentially in "indian position", which I know is probably a politically incorrect term, but I don't know what else to call it... criss cross apple sauce? Anyways, we're sitting like that and leaning our bodies forward, over our legs... nothing intense or anything, and I feel an odd sort of pop/pull on the right side of my back. It doesn't hurt, just felt funny. I think to myself, "hmm, that was weird" but kept going through the exercise. I finish the entire floor warmup, still not in any sort of pain. Then I stand up and I can feel it. Nothing too bad, but I knew I had a long week+ of dancing ahead of me so I asked to sit down, maybe stretch it out some more. Well, fast forward about 2 minutes and I'm on the floor, unable to move ANYTHING, and sobbing uncontrollably. Some college health guy comes in to examine me and he can't get me to so much as lift my pinkie without my screaming out in pain (no exaggeration). It's pretty clear, I need to go to the hospital. An ambulance and stretcher come to pick me up. They give me an insane dosage of morphine through the IV at the hospital because I keep saying I don't feel its effect, I'm still in insane pain. The doctor man tells me it's as clear a diagnosis as possible, I merely threw out my back. I think he HAS to be wrong... there's no way that's all this is. I couldn't even move my pinkie without a shooting pain stemming from my back. He insists that's all it is. I still think he is wrong, but I don't argue. Only thing to do, he says, is get enough morphine in me so that I'm able to get out to a car and get home... he'll write me a prescription for Percocet or something and some anti-inflammatory jazz that I'm allowed to take up to 4 times a day and I'll have to be on complete bed-rest for at least 2 weeks. I'm complaining because I'm not feeling the morphine and I'm convinced there's no way I will ever be able to get to a car unless they completely sedate me and do it themselves. Eventually they tell me if they give me any more morphine it would be too dangerous (after commenting on my unnaturally high level of tolerance for it and utter shock that they weren't even noticing it having any sort of effect on me) and that I should try getting out to the car. Well, the minute I stand up boy do I FEEL THE MORPHINE. I got super super dizzy but was able to slowly wabble out to the car, relying heavily on my friend Laura, who went with me in the ambulance, and the dance company director, who showed up later at the hospital and would be driving us both back to campus. Now, on the car ride home Cheryl (dance director) says I have to get some food in my system (this whole process took most of the day, god knows how many hours, and I hadn't eaten anything) and she insisted on going to the pharmacy at that moment to get the prescriptions as well as pick up one of those moist heating pads, which the hospital man recommended. She takes us through the McDonalds drivethrew, which in and of itself, if you know Cheryl, is hilarious. She eats nothing and has been known to make weight comments about dancers (oblivious to how they are received, not out of meanness. She's a little clueless... understatement), so the fact that she insisted Laura and I get something "of substance" from McDonalds cracked us up. But then she goes through the CVS pharmacy drivethrew, all the while commenting on how miraculous it was that there were drivethrews for such things now and asking if we were sure she could turn in the prescription there. We get up to the window and she gives them the prescriptions. They ask when we'll be back to get them. She says we'll wait.... at the drivethrew window.... not caring that it would take at least 10 minutes and there may be cars behind us. But the pharmacy man doesn't tell her that she can't. Just gives a funny look for half a second before remembering to be professional. Then, she decides to ask to the pharmacy man if he can run into the main part of CVS and also pick us up a moist heating pad, giving specific instructions on which type of heating pad would be needed so be sure to find the right one. I'm fairly certain this is not in their job description, to go shopping around CVS for random items for pharmacy drivethrew pick-up customers. Cheryl asks us if we need anything else, so she can ask him to get that too. Well at this point Laura's in the back seat trying not to laugh and I'm cracking up on the inside and drugged out of my mind, which is making the entire experience that much more hilarious. I'm realizing now that this is one of those stories that may not be funny in the re-telling, but if you were there and heard her ask the pharmacist to pick up the random store items for us as well, you would have found it funny.

The next two stories are much more recent and much funnier in the retelling. So, first one involves another (though MUCH less severe) back injury. I'm doing a couple of musicals this summer with a group up in Danbury (about an hour from where I live). These past few weekends I've had rehearsal for one show in the morning/early afternoon and then a performance of the other show in the evening... with about a 4 or 5 hr break inbetween. Since I live far away I just stay up there during the break, along with another few people who are in both shows and don't leave either. It is designated nap time. I pull up a lounge chair bench prop piece thing and fall asleep. Wake up, feel okay. Hour or so later back hurts. Another hour or so later and I can't get out of my car, finally realizing it's actually a pretty bad injury that won't just go away. I go to the doctor the next day... spasm and torn muscle. Nothing too severe, can still be in the shows (though advised to "be willing" to skip the first one or two, "if necessary"... which obviously to me means, go for it), just have to be careful and rest inbetween. Lots of ice, anti-inflammatories and Valium. I make it through a performance or two with little problem. Then, one performance night, mid tap trenches, I feel it... bad. I get offstage and about 10 seconds later someone else realizes something is wrong. Suddenly there are about 6 people there to help me. Someone is pulling me out a chair, I have about 3 people changing my shoes, another one holding a flashlight so they can see what they're doing, 1 trying to make me laugh to lighten the mood (and laughing made it hurt more so I was trying not to laugh but also nervously laughing at the situation of everyone catering to me and being so helpful. And of course, telling people to not make you laugh because it hurts makes everyone laugh more). And I'm sitting there trying to avoid crying, to no avail. I'm told not to go back onstage and to wait until they can get people to help me back into the house. I'm asked if I can walk (assisted) or if they will need to carry me in on the chair. I can walk. I get inside and everyone's asking how I am, they're all being super nice. Super stage manager Janice goes out to find my family, with my helpful assistance of telling her what they look like.... "there's my mom and about... well, some other adults... and 2 younger people... my brother looks like me"... that was the extent of my family's physical description, aka I gave her an impossible task of finding them, though she assured me she would, and she somehow did. Someone asks if I have any of my medicine with me. I take a Valium. Music director then tells me red wine relaxes the muscles. Well wouldn't you know it, I just happened to have a bottle in my bag. When I say this the reaction is hilarious. I do not normally have bottles of wine in my purse. I am not an alcoholic. The fact that I happened to have a bottle of red wine was a hilarious coincidence because I had picked some up for the night before, had most of it still left and had forgotten to take it out of my bag before coming to the show. I tell her that I just took a Valium. She tells me it's okay, have some wine anyways. I'm in pain so it's good advice in my mind. So here I am, sitting in a chair, having just taken a Valium and now sipping red wine from a 1.5 Liter bottle while crying and laughing as others go by at the absurdity of it all and knowing how ridiculous I must look. That's funny part number one... happening to have the red wine and then sipping it from the bottle after taking a Valium. On to funny part number two... the method of getting me in a car to get home. My brother pulls his truck up to the house and I'm assisted outside. After joking that they should just put me in the pick-up part of the truck we try to actually get me in the back seat. It is somewhat high up... I will not be able to just "climb in". Amazing Janice decides to act as my stepstool to get me into the back seat. But getting on all fours leaves her too high up, so she gets in plank position, nearly lying on the ground, held up by her forearms, while I step on her back to get in... next I'm kind of pushed into a lying position across the back seat. Then there's the whole ordeal of do I want my hair taken out? shoes off? feet hanging out the window so I fit better? something to prop under my knees? a pillow of sorts for my head? I have Janice on one end, taking out my hair, Ron on the other, adjusting my feet, and Anna and who knows who else outside the car, laughing with the rest of us at the hilarity of the situation. Then there's the rolling factor. Unless my brother drives 15 miles per hour the entire ride home I will probably roll around, quite potentially right off the seat. So they push the front seats back as far as possible to "tuck me in" and secure my position. The whole ordeal was my best worst memory to date. Yes it was painful, but it was also highly amusing.

Fast-forward another week or so and I'm in the foyer of the rehearsal space (henceforth referred to as Richter), with a few castmates, during another break between rehearsal and a performance. (No longer will I take naps there). Anyways, all of a sudden I get a HORRENDOUS charley horse. I'm talking worst one of my life. It was in BOTH my shin and my calf and there was no relief to be found. My foot was stuck at a ridiculous angle and I could not, for the life of me, get it to move to stretch it out. I was literally grabbing my foot with both hands and pulling at it, and yet it would not budge from its bizarre position. (You know how when you get a cramp your toes or whatever will get stuck in a funny way and the only way to get relief from the pain is to manually move your toes to a normal position to stretch out the muscles? Well, it was that, but my entire foot. And it would NOT move). So we're all laughing because my foot looks ridiculous but I'm nearly in tears also because of the pain. Janice says I should stand up on a cold floor, and we all know the only way it will go away is if I can manage to stretch it out, which probably involves standing. So three people help me up. I'm a little more than half-way up when I realize there is no way I will be able to stand. So someone goes and grabs a chair to slide behind slash under me that I can just collapse on. And I'm in so much pain, all I want to do is crash to the floor and helplessly grab my awkwardly bent foot. The second the chair is behind me I start to go down, with Janice in front of me, essentially completely supporting me. I turn into her arm on my way down and out of sheer pain I open my mouth to let out a cry and it slowly closes.... on her arm. By now I'm in the chair. A few seconds of silence.... assessing the situation (Is Trisha okay now? It's all quiet and calm). "Owww! I think I bit you." Laughter ensues. I most definitely bit Janice's arm on my way down to the chair, and she never said a word about it until my "ow, I bit you comment". Now we're all cracking up, not only because I bit her but because I said "oww" first before saying "I bit you", as if it hurt ME to bite HER. I proceeded to apologize 817 times for biting her while trying to alleviate my charley horse pain, which did eventually go away, but left my leg muscles sore slash weak for the entire rest of the night and into the next day. It was like the spasm was a workout my legs had never seen the likes of before. I decided bananas and water were my only hope in preventing it from coming back.... wanted to get a bunch of bananas but the store was closed because it was July 4th so I got a smoothie at Starbucks instead that had a banana in it. Came very close to eating the single banana that was in the kitchen at Richter, before realizing it was a prop that the lead character would eat on stage later that night in the show. Imagine if I ate her prop? Especially on a day all the stores were closed. Janice probably would have bitten me.

So now we laugh that a lot of the funniest moments at Richter seem to occur when I am in pain, and that Janice is always somehow on the receiving end of it as well. Oh, and not really related, but I'm going to attempt to make a mild connection between the two because I want to mention it here, is a dream that I had. The mild connection of which I speak is that it involves potential pain and Janice. In my dream I'm at Desert Moon (essentially a step between taco bell and a sit-down, full scale Mexican restaurant... there's one near Richter we visit often). And someone walks in, pulls out a gun and says "Everyone, on the floor!". Not two seconds after I get down to the floor do I feel something pressing against my back. I'm sure it's the gun and that I'm going to be shot as an example to the rest of the people that this guy means business. (Didn't find it amusing during the dream that this was occurring in Desert Moon of all places). Then I hear the voice of the "gunman" and it was Janice. She yelled "Give me your Harry Potter or else I'm going to jack hammer your spine!". It suddenly occurred to me that the thing pressing against my back was a jack hammer and not a gun. And in my dream state I remembered that Janice had seen me reading Harry Potter at Richter at one point (even though in real life I never have) and she must have really wanted the book.... badly enough to jack hammer my spine, if need be, to get it.

So there are my funny injury stories. A drivethrew CVS moment, some Valium and wine, being manhandled into a truck, accidentally biting a friend, and getting a jack hammer to the spine at a Mexican cafe.