Friday, October 22, 2010

I have an obsessive need to use every coupon I receive. This is not good. But, you may say to me, you're saving money! So what's the issue? There are several issues. Time for a (semi, not really) brief list of said issues. I've bolded the key points for easy reference, not that it's really beneficial, or that you particularly care:
  1. I typically end up spending more than I'm saving. Yes, I get some good deals, but me receiving a coupon means me buying something I most likely wouldn't have bought without said coupon. Example: Trisha gets coupon for $10 off a purchase at a Nike outlet. Does Trisha need new sneakers? (No) Does Trisha even like Nike products? (Not particularly) Will Trisha still go to the store and buy an $80 pair of sneakers for $70 just to use the coupon? (Of course)

    CVS is another good example. You know how you get those coupons at the bottom of your receipt for say, $2 off a pack of brand XYZ sleep-aids or buy-one-bottle-of-wrinkle-remedy-get-one-free? You can bet I buy every single one of those items, most of which end up in a random drawer at home... because really, how much of that junk do you need? Yet I can't resist the incentive of savings! But, you never know, maybe someday I'll decide to go back to taking Flintstone vitamins or a young cousin will stay over and it will be my chance to teach them about healthy habits... and I saved money, so the purchase can be justified, right? Of course, I get these coupons every time I visit CVS so each visit ultimately leads to just another one. Vicious cycle of unnecessary spending.

  2. Going hand in hand with issue number 1 is that you usually have to spend X dollars to use the coupon or rack up say, 10 purchases at a store to get $20 off your next one. Both cases lead me to spend more than I have to. Instead of buying just one item I may actually want or need, I have to buy four to get the discount. Great example here is this deli I've been frequenting in between work and rehearsals during the week to kill time (and have some dinner). Now, I work in one of the richest, most expensive counties in the country. Things here are far from inexpensive. A regular old sandwich at this little mom and pop deli could easily cost me more than $10. After every purchase they give you a green slip of paper with their logo on it. Turn in 15 of these and get a free sandwich. I've gone there every day, determined to earn 15 of these said coupons just to be sure that I get a free sandwich for my loyalty. It's to the point where I'm sick of sandwiches. To be honest, I'm looking forward to the day that I finally get my free slices of bread and meat just so that I don't have to go there anymore. That's right, I said "have to", because going there is basically a necessity until I earn my well deserved free meal. At the end of the day I'll end up having spent at least $150 on 10 sandwiches just to get one for free that probably would have cost $2 to make on my own. But I need that free sandwich.

  3. While coupons typically offer a good deal for whatever the particular store is, quite often similar products are available full price at other stores for cheaper than the coupon's discount offers me. Make sense? Best example I can give here is Borders. At least twice a week I get emails with coupons for 33% off any one item, or 20% off all paperbacks.'s average savings (sans coupon) is something like 45% from the listed price. Almost all of the time it's cheaper to order books regular price from Amazon than to buy them at Borders, using the best coupons Borders offers. If it's not cheaper at Amazon then it's at least the same cost. I don't think I've ever once gotten a better price at Borders than at Amazon. Yet I get those bi-weekly Borders deals and HAVE to use them. It must be psychological with the savings. Well nice marketing campaign on their end, because I can't even tell you how many books I've bought at Borders in the past month alone. It seems every weekend I'm going there because I have another coupon it will kill me not to use.

    Another word about that psychological savings thing... it really is a smart way for businesses to get customers in their store. Their regular price items could be as high as they want but so long as there's a discount offered, people will buy what they're selling. There's an Indian restaurant I go to whose prices are quite higher than average for the area. However, when they bring you the check the waiter always says "I gave you an extra 10% discount". Every time, without fail. So really, their ultimate costs are probably on par with other Indian restaurants in the area, or possibly still more expensive. But this "automatic 10% discount" makes me feel special and keeps me coming back. It's an obvious trick, but a smart one that I completely fall for. Honestly, I'm encouraged to return just to reward them for their clever business scheme.

  4.  Final issue with these coupons is that it's usually the same stores I receive coupons to over and over and as a result, I end up shopping there on a fairly continuous basis. I already mentioned Borders, a.k.a the reason why I need to purchase a new bookshelf due to my overload of books that keep coming in weekly. I must say they are the primary culprit. However, Express gives them a run for their money. (Pardon the trite expression). Now I love Express, but to me it's a "treat store". Its prices are higher than I can realistically afford if I'm shopping there to fill my wardrobe because I'm basically poor. I'm really a $30 or under for pants and $20 or under for tops type of shopper and Express' average ticket price is closer to $80. Needless to say, I only shop there when I'm depressed and looking to splurge (retail therapy) or if I can get a really good deal with a combination of sale prices and coupons. They like to send me $30 off $75 or $50 off $150 type of coupons. They like to send them to me a lot more often than I prefer to receive them. Because once it's received, within a day or two it is spent. I don't often buy new clothes for myself so this type of deal is okay with me, except when it happens more than once a month... and it's still difficult for me, who is usually a discount/bargain clothes shopper, to walk out of the store having spent $100 on only three items, despite the $50 off I received. Just last weekend I went to the store to make some big purchases using one of their coupons and what happened? Two days later I got an email for $30 off $75. Even though I just went to the store and spent over $100, I promptly went online and ordered some of the other things I had wanted, but didn't buy. If they sent me a coupon daily you could bet I'd probably own the store's entire collection within a relatively short time frame.

  5. Okay, I lied about that being the final issue. While typing issue #4 I thought up issue #5. Usually the coupons you receive regularly are all for expensive stores. This is really kind of a combo of issues #3 and #4, but let's ignore that fact. I've mentioned Borders, I've mentioned Express, both of which have somewhat higher than standard ticket prices... depending on your definition of standard. For someone like me (read, very little to no discretionary income), standard = discount-ish places a la Walmart or Forever 21. Sephora is another place that sends me coupon codes on a regular basis. Do I really need another $30 eyeshadow? The overflowing makeup bins at my house will tell you no. But I'll buy it if Sephora's offering a bonus-size free item with any $50 purchase. (Then of course after the $30 eyeshadow I have to spend another $20 to reach $50 and in reality, an additional $25 on top of that in order to get free shipping because I refuse to pay shipping for anything).
Why do I do it? Why do I keep buying things I don't need, from expensive stores, just because they say "shop here between these three days and we'll give you 20% off your purchase"? It's completely psychological. Even if you don't immediately need something you purchase, discounts = spending more now to possibly save more later = being a smart shopper = little pat on the back to self + new stuff! And what's wrong with that equation?! It's like a little treat to yourself (fun new stuff!) that makes you feel good about spending money (because you saved money too!). It's indulgent without being overly indulgent. Who doesn't fantasize about getting luxurious new items? If you're offered a discount, it's a perfect excuse to go ahead and make that purchase you dream of! So what if the "luxurious" item is a new book or a fairly common pair of jeans? If you wouldn't buy it full price any other day, it's a luxurious item in my mind. Hence that exercise dvd suddenly has this feeling of luxury. It may be completely ridiculous, wasteful and result in some degree of "spending guilt", but I don't see my coupon obsession ending anytime soon. And ultimately, I'm okay with that. We all deserve a little treat from time to time... or bi-weekly :-) and you might as well feel thrifty while indulging, even if your savings aren't really so great. Justifiable or completely illogical?... don't answer that.

Do I need new fabrics? Not at all. Will I find a use for them
if I buy them? Probably not. Will I buy some anyway?
Most likely. Who can resist those colorful swatches!?! 
(Or that lovely 10% off sign?)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

So it's been roughly 4 months since I've updated my sad little blog here. The reason is not from a lack of ideas... (at one point I had a written out a list of 6 or so blog topics I wanted to sit down and write... of course, now they all escape me... my memory is slowly dying away at age 24, although it was never that strong to begin with, while my ingenuity and motivation comes and goes in random outbursts). I can't blame my lack of writing on being too terribly busy either. I have been busy, but I've always been busy... it can't be an excuse now if it never was one before. I'm going to stop discussing why I haven't written. Just like that. Done.

Today's topic goes back to my old school style blogs. My more recent blogs have dealt with my ponderings on life, random ideas I dream up, bizarre lists I create, etc..  But back in the day I was not so philosophical, and I was arguably, less random. My blog posts were simply stories of what happened in my life, sort of like a humorous diary shared for the reading pleasures of the world (or just me, foolishly narcissistic in the belief that others rushed to read about my life). Today's post is simple... a story about something small and insignificant that happened to me that I found rather amusing.

So, on a recent weekend I went up to Mass. with my boyfriend to choreograph. The hotel we stayed at was no Ritz Carlton, but it had a decent enough pool slash hot-tub area that we were lounging around in. This hotel also had a couple of meeting/event type rooms, a ballroom, and the like for weddings, conferences and other such social occasions. Well, we had noticed during this weekend stay that there was some type of event or reception going on for an Orthodox Jewish group. It was kind of a difficult thing to miss. While we were in the pool area (switching between the hot tub and the pool so as to avoid the groups of children) we saw the whole Jewish group start to convene in one of the hotel's big event rooms. All of a sudden, around the corner, through the traditionally dressed sea of Jewish men, women and children, comes a man decked out in the full on Scottish garb.

That's right. Full on Scottish garb. He was carrying a bagpipe of course. Did we miss something? Did this Jewish group hire a Scottish bagpipe player? That somehow strikes us as odd, but what do we know? We're not Jewish. I suppose it's entirely possible Scottish bagpipe players are part of their customary traditions, however incredibly unlikely it may seem. (Just kidding?) Or maybe they just wanted to let loose with a little Celtic music. (Just kidding again?) We look with curiosity.

Scottish man starts playing his bagpipe. Then he starts walking around the pool, playing his bagpipe. Even the crazy pool children stopped splashing. It was just too bizarre to do anything but stand there and watch. Many of the hotel's rooms had sliding doors that opened directly to the pool area. These said doors opened in rapid succession at the bagpiper's first few notes. It was difficult to tell if people were more a) confused, b) angry at the noise or c) pleasantly surprised by the evening's entertainment. One man pulled out his cell phone... I thought he was calling someone to complain, but Vinny thought he was calling his wife. I think Vinny's guess was closer because sure enough the guy held out his phone for whoever was on the other end to listen and enjoy. He pulled up a lounge chair and sat outside his room. I'm still watching the Jewish clan entering the room, trying to notice if any of them are finding the music bizarre or, on the other side, if they're waiting for him to enter the room. But they seem to pay him no mind and as for the Scottish dude, he stuck firmly to the pool area.

Vinny got up to get his camera just as the guy stopped playing. I watched bagpipe and player round the corner and disappear. I should have followed. All I can say is I'm fairly certain that he was not hired by the Jewish party. Maybe one of the other halls was rented for a Scottish wedding and he was tuning up around the pool? Good acoustics? Maybe he was just a tourist with an unusual hobby who thought no one would question him if he wore a strange outfit? Whatever his purpose, it was amusingly out of the ordinary and rather fun to observe.

This was the closest image I could find of a bagpipe player near a pool, and a possible lake background is hardly a pool. Just goes to show how rare a bagpipe player near a pool is. I attempted searching jewish bagpipe player first but there were no results.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Little things that make me extraordinarily happy:

  • When I get new messages in my email inbox. Even if 99% of it is spam... or bill payment requests... I still love that initial rush of excitement when next to my little yahoo avatar is the note that I have new messages. You never know what those messages may be. I'm one of many people who obsessively check their email, multiple times each day. It's always delightful to have a new message greet me. And yes, it gives me satisfaction to check the little boxes next to the irrelevant messages I don't want to read and delete them away!
      • I still get audition notifications (for free!) even though I canceled my account over 8 months ago. I've checked this over with them multiple times. Each time they assure me that my account was canceled last fall and that I'll stop receiving the emails in a matter of days. I continue to get at least 5 e-mails a week from them. The information I'm getting should cost me $16.25 per month.  They've never charged me and I've never paid them a penny. I'm going to stop complaining to them :-)

    • Getting a new book. I was never a "non-reader" who hated books, but I really got into reading just a few years ago. You might say I'm one of the many who started reading due to Harry Potter. Now, few things make me happier than getting a new book (or a well priced used one from amazon) to add to my collection. I'm often guilty of reading several books at once-- right now I'm in the middle of 4. I just love reading new stories or learning something new... it's rather difficult to not get swept up by it all.
     I couldn't resist this image because not only is it a pile of books...
    but they're all orange.
    Nor could I resist this image, because it's so cheesy and predictable. 
    "I love books!"... awww
    • When I'm outside and can actually smell flowers. Fake floral scents, like in perfumes or candles, are probably my least favorite of all scents (vs. woody, oriental, fresh, fruity, blah blah blah). But when I'm walking outside and suddenly pick up the scent of actual flowers I am always urged to stop and linger. It's simply delightful!
     I may not literally stop, drop and... crouch to smell the flowers 
    like this shirtless child, but I enjoy their scent nonetheless
    • When things work out perfectly. I'm a far cry from being OCD. I'm fairly messy and disorganized with my things. My alphabetized within category DVD collection is probably the only organized thing in my home. And yet, there is this definite OCD side of me that gets really excited when, say, the train stops so that I am directly in the middle of a door, or if when driving to an appointment I pull into the parking lot exactly on time, not one minute late or early. Aren't moments like this fantastic?!

      • When I can find some sort of "mathematical significance" for something... either number or pattern related. This is related to the whole "things working out perfectly" ordeal. Simply a subcategory because the examples above are more obvious... these ones here only a legit number nerd like me would ever pay attention to or care about. I love it if a book is exactly 400 pages or a movie is exactly 2 hours. Or if I notice that there's exactly twice as many men as women in the car of my train one morning. I often do nerdy things that involve counting and grouping. I sometimes spend a while trying to force a pattern out of things and make them end up perfectly. Take, for example, the number of each color M&M in a bag... if there's an equal number of each color that would be a momentous, celebratory occasion indeed! Other (more likely) scenarios can make me really happy as well... like if there's an even number of each color, or if I can execute a particular color pattern without having any left over... I could easily spend 10 minutes with a bag of these chocolate candies, counting and grouping them in various ways, before any would get eaten. Now take into consideration all the ways I could count and group cars in a parking lot, the shelves of makeup in a store... the more patterns I can find in something, the happier I get. Perhaps I shouldn't have confessed to this...
    My patterns can get rather elaborate...
      • Getting my favorite drink at Starbucks, which I discovered when given the wrong drink one day (I then greedily kept it rather than returning... who got the white chocolate mocha with a shot of espresso that I did order, I'll never know). Growing up I was one of those "only snobs go to Starbucks" types who criticized it for being more expensive and trying too hard. (Did it make me a snob to think of Starbucks this way?) Now I think of it as an expensive treat, partially because of how I felt as a child. Even if I go there more often than Dunkin Donuts... it's set in my mind that Starbucks is a luxury item. So besides the tasty beverage and boost of caffeine, some of the happiness brought upon by my Starbucks drink is that I feel like I'm pampering myself. And who doesn't love pampering?
      Even their little marketing message here screams luxury, pampering, treat...
        • Discovering a new music artist whether it's through Pandora, categorical searches on CDBaby or reading reviews on Amazon, every so often I come across an artist who I simply fall in love with. It's always refreshing to find something new (or not so new, but new to me) with a unique sound.
        As a concluding, random note... something that should make me happy but never does is treating myself to buying something. Retail therapy has the reverse effect on me... if I get new clothes (or shoes, or a book, or a dvd) instead of being pleased with my new items I always feel guilty for spending the money. Even if it's a great deal, even it's something I really need vs. just want. There's always the guilt. I'm terrific at spending money, which is why I'm so bad at it. That is all.

        Wednesday, May 05, 2010

        So, latest random thing that got me thinking? Fairy tales. Don't worry, there's no sappy, fluffy-fuzzy talk about happy endings with a side of glitter here. If anything it's the opposite. I started to think about the types of lessons these "innocent" stories really give to kids. The more I thought about it, the more twisted I thought these stories were. You might as well skip the fairy tales and just read your kids the latest tabloid with Lindsay Lohan on the cover. Every single story I thought of had some sort of inappropriate lesson or terrifying statement about the world we live in. Here are some of the common themes I found (once again, I've turned my random thoughts into a sort of categorized drawn-out essay... making sense of nonsense). Anyways....

        1) It's okay to treat badly those who treat you well. Not only is it okay, you will be rewarded for it.
        First example here is The Frog Prince. The frog helps out the princess by fetching her fabulous golden ball she simply couldn't live without. What does she do next? She lies to him, breaking her promise to befriend him, and leaves him (quite literally) in the dirt. If that's not enough, when the frog shows up and kindly reminds her of her promise, she repeatedly is rude to him, turns him away and refuses. The story we all know ends with her kissing the frog and wha-zam!, he's a prince. Allow me to share the actual, original ending.... princess throws frog against the wall and when he hits it (wha-zam!) he turns into a prince. In some versions she instead attempts to be-head him or burn his skin. Lovely, right? Pretty gosh darn close to a kiss. All this violence and lies and what's her punishment? A handsome prince and happily ever after! Great lesson there.

        That's right, try to kill that frog. The more violent and malicious you are,
        the more handsome he'll end up!

        Next example, Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack climbs up the beanstalk and runs into giant's wife. She not only warns Jack to steer clear of her husband (rather than attend to her wifely duties of providing her giant-husband dinner), but when Jack stupidly ignores her warnings and asks to be fed she obliges. She feeds the boy a nice meal before sending him on his way. She feeds him on his next visit too. How does Jack repay her for her kindness? By stealing their gold, their hen who shoots out golden eggs, and their magical harp thing. Naturally, Jack ends up rich and happy while the kind giantess and her husband are killed. By Jack none-the-less. Because the only thing to do if someone catches you stealing is kill them. Of course. Jack the protagonist hero is really Jack the thief and murderer.

        Jack's mother is praising him for being a good little thief

        This leads me to sub point, 1a. It's a sub point because it's not really a cohesive, separate thought and I'm trying to cover for my lack of ingenuity by hiding it within point #1 rather than separating it out on its own. Of course, mentioning my intention like that completely counteracts it. Regardless,

        1a) It's fine to steal from or mislead someone if that someone is ugly or you simply don't like them.
        Both The Frog Prince and Jack and the Beanstalk work here too. Princess thinks frog is heinous so she treats him like crap. Jack steals from Giant for no reason other than he's big and ugly and has nice things. (He wants to eat him too, but I doubt Jack's purpose in stealing was revenge on the Giant who has yet to even see him... It's an established practice to side-step points that contradict one's argument. If other people can do it, I can too. So from now on, expect me to ignore contradictory points instead of offering a side note in parentheses.)

        Another good case-in-point here is The Emperor's New Clothes. These swindler folk demand insane payment and more expensive gold thread than they could ever use (because they use none) for making the King a bunch of nothing. Yet they're the clever ones in the story... the closest thing to the "good guys" that this story has. They steal from the King and make a complete fool out of him. But it's okay because the King is vain and all vain people deserve to be taken advantage of. At the best what they're doing is teaching the King a lesson, but is even that a lesson we want to teach to kids? That it's okay to steal or humiliate someone so long as they deserve it? Probably not. Okay, back to full fledged, important enough to be bold, points.

        2) If you take someone's food you could literally die.... or have your baby stolen.
        Some people are protective of their food. When I was younger I knew not to take one of my brother's french fries or I'd risk being attacked. And god forbid I get the piece of the cake with the flower on it. If I eat someone else's left-overs in my house I may be ignored for the rest of the week until I decide to go to the same restaurant, order them the same meal and hand it to them as a peace offering. But all of that is nothing compared to what happens in a fairy tale if you take someone's food. Seriously, I'm surprised children ever try to sneak a grape at the grocery store after hearing these stories.

        Goldilocks eats some porridge. (She also breaks and enters... and vandalizes a chair. Ignore that part of it.) Goldilocks eats some porridge. Next thing she knows she's facing three bears ready to tear her apart. She's so scared she jumps out the window... we never really learn if she lands safely or not. Allow me to share a direct quote from the original story, simply because it's too humorous to not share. This is legit, I didn't make this up. "Out Goldilocks jumped; and whether she broke her neck in the fall; or ran into the wood and was lost there; or found her way out of the wood, and was taken up by the constable and sent to the House of Correction for a vagrant as she was, I cannot tell." Anyway you look at it, Goldilocks paid for eating that porridge. And there's a good chance it cost her her life.

        Goldilocks dead from a bowl of porridge?

        Next case in point, Hansel and Gretel. Yes, they were starving, yes it was actually someone's house they were eating (a slightly more criminal offense), and yes, it was the house of an evil witch who put it there to lure them, but still, these two kids were tortured. One was starved, the other over-fed, and both were nearly burned alive and eaten... all for consuming some of this witch's house. No sympathy for the starving?

        In Rapunzel the pregnant woman (more commonly referred to as Rapunzel's birth-mother) wants some of her neighbor's radishes. So her husband, loving and doting as he is to his wife's pregnant cravings, goes and gets some for her. Neighbor turns out to be a witch (surprise!), finds out about the radishes and demands that they give her their child once it's born. I don't think this was the main lesson in Rapunzel, but because of this story I was terrified growing up to even look at my neighbor's garden. Don't take someone's food or they will take your baby. Clearly an equal exchange.

        3) Do good things for others only if you will get something in return. 
        One story here we already touched upon. In The Frog Prince the frog will not simply help out the princess by going for a swim and getting her her gold ball. Before jumping to her assistance (ba dah ching!), he asks her "what will you give me in return?". It's a little bribe action going on here. Sure, I'll help you out... but only if you help me out.... Rumpelstiltskin feels bad for the miller's daughter who can't weave straw into gold. But he won't just use his magic to weave it for her and save her life. No, she'll die unless she gives him something. So she offers some trinkets which appease him for awhile. But, in the end he's not happy unless he gets her (unborn) kid. Won't just save her life and weave some gold to be nice.

        Another good one is The Elves and the Shoemaker. The elves help out the shoemaker, doing all of his work and making him hundreds of pairs of luxurious shoes that earn him loads of money, but the minute the shoemaker shows his gratitude by making the elves some clothes so they don't have to run around all naked the elves peace out forever. (Complete side note: this reminds me of Dobby from Harry Potter. You give a house elf some clothes and they're free to go. I'm sure it's related. End side note.) This also seems to say to kids don't acknowledge someone's kindness or else they'll up and leave you. Let others do your work for you and don't so much as say thank you. It will make you rich. But main take-away from these three stories? If you're going to do something for someone, make sure you get something out of it too. Or else don't do it. Simple as that.

        4) Beware of family members. They will abandon you during walks in the woods, try to kill you or turn you over to be killed.
        Some of these examples are obvious. Evil stepmother anyone? Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White all had them. I think Sleeping Beauty's was actually a mother-in-law. Either way, they all had new female additions to their family who were intimidated by their good looks and therefore hated them and wanted them dead (or in Cinderella's case, it's toned-down considerably by just making her do chores and wear rags rather than attempting murder). It's no wonder kids aren't supposed to like their step-parents. They learn it from these stories. Let's talk blood family here though. You may have thought nothing of these at the time, but you're going to look back now and be shocked that you didn't pick up on the disturbing qualities of the following stories.

        Our favorite evil step mothers

        Three Billy Goats Gruff. A goat's walking along and is nearly attacked when crossing a bridge. How does he save his life? By offering up his brother's. "Don't eat me. I'm too thin. My brother's coming along. He's fat. Kill him, not me." Now there's a lesson. Let your siblings fend for themselves. Feed them to the enemy and hope they can get out of it. If not, at least you're safe.

        The most common theme though in terms of why you should fear your family has nothing to do with stepmothers who want you dead or siblings who will sell you out to save themselves. Instead it gets at the most primal childhood fear. Being abandoned. I'll start out soft with this one... the less offensive abandonments, if you will. Perhaps the one we're most ready to forgive is in Beauty and the Beast. Belle's father runs into the beast who basically tells him "bring me one of your daughters or else I will kill you." Because we know the story, we know the Beast's intention wasn't to kill this said daughter, but the father sure didn't know that. In his mind he would bring the Beast one of his daughters who would be killed in place of him. Yes, the father was a good guy... urged Belle not to go, etc. etc. but he still let her, expecting her to be killed. Some protective parental urges in action there.

        Another one we're more likely to forgive is the woman for promising her unborn child to Rumpelstiltskin. At the time she had no idea if she would ever even have a child, and it's easier to give up something you don't have yet. Also, if she didn't agree the king would kill her. And, she tried relentlessly to not give up her child once it was born by trying to think up some ridiculous name. But still, she offered to abandon her kid to a strange little man. There's another example in Rumpelstiltskin, and that's the father who subjects his daughter to have to turn the straw into gold in the first place. He wants to impress the King so he says he has this wonderfully talented, magical daughter. That move right there would have cost him his daughter's life if Rumple Stilt Face hadn't shown up. But no matter. At least the King was impressed by him.

        I already glossed over another example earlier. In Rapunzel the parents essentially just hand over their child as payment for taking the witch's radishes. Do they die before letting her go? Do they go searching for her after? Shout out in the woods for her to throw down her hair? Or do they accept that giving up their child is a fair price for some pregnant craving? That's right. Choice d.

        The worst case of being abandoned though I think is in Hansel and Gretel. The family is poor and starving. So naturally the only option left is to go for a walk in the woods with the kids and then purposefully lose them. Time to celebrate, now there's only two mouths to feed rather than four! Seriously, between this and Snow White, where she's led into the woods to be killed, I would not trust going for a walk in the woods with anyone. Or at least I wouldn't let them leave to "collect firewood" without tagging them with a GPS first.

        Look at us sad little German children left to die in the woods.

        5) Love ugly people because odds are, they'll become handsome
        Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince, Snow White and Rose Red... in all of these stories the ugly creature is really a prince in disguise, telling us... go ahead, love that unfortunate looking, acne prone boy with the abnormally large nose... not because he has a good heart or is fun to be around, but because he's going to surprise you and be strikingly good looking some day. Shrek and Fiona are seriously the only case where the ugly stay ugly. And that's not even a real fairy tale... it's a hollywood cartoon creation of a fairy tale that makes fun of fairy tales. In real life if you're unattractive, you more or less stay unattractive throughout your life. There are exceptions. But it's rare. Let's not lead children into a false sense of hope. The Ugly Duckling is another good case. Don't let others make fun of you for being ugly... not because you love yourself and have high self-esteem, but because some day you're going to be gorgeous and show them all! Again, a false sense of hope. The message sent here is about as far from "love others for who they are inside" as you can get. It says if you're different, you will be made fun of. And you won't become popular and well-liked until you magically become pretty. And for those who end up seeing past the unattractiveness and love someone for who they are, their reward is that their beast is transformed into a suddenly beautiful person. That's like saying we should reward someone who gives up all possessions and devotes their life to charity by giving them millions of dollars. Or maybe it's nothing like that. I don't know. I'm confusing myself. This blog is too long.

        Keep thinking that's what you look like because some day it will come true! Everyone will stop hating you because you're no longer ugly! Hooray!

        Literally every single story I thought of had some sort of negative lesson or theme. According to The Three Little Pigs the only way to deal with someone trying to break into your house is to kill them. The Princess and the Pea tells us to be high maintenance and rude and you'll be rewarded. (Seriously, your provided accommodations is a set of 40 luxurious mattresses and you're going to tell your host you had a bad night's sleep? Apparently her rudeness worked cause she got the prince!) Even Little Red Riding Hood which has a pretty clear cut, valid lesson (don't tell strangers where you or your relatives live if you don't want to die) has a subliminal, deeper sort of disturbing message. Steer clear of the road less traveled; conform to society and stick to "the right" path or else you'll get what's coming to you. A little dark, yes. But perhaps valid.

        In summary, avoid telling fairy tales to children. They're chock full of bad lessons and are bound to lead to criminal behavior and irrational fears. I'd stick to more wholesome forms of entertainment. You know... sex toy parties, uncensored episodes of cops, strip club outings, listening to the latest Britney Spears song.... stuff like that.

        Monday, April 26, 2010

        In our culture people are obsessed with having the perfect figure, losing weight, staying healthy. You would be pretty hard pressed to find a single woman's magazine cover that doesn't sport the phrase (pun completely intended) "2 minutes to flatter abs!" or "15 reasons you're not losing that weight (and what to do about it!)" or "Tasty recipes that won't ruin your waistline". Basically each of these articles recycles the same tips, exercises, facts and recipes and just re-polishes them with new headlines and glossy photos to make them seem new and exciting. Seriously, don't we all know by now that many small meals a day is better than 2 or 3 large ones? That eating too late at night contributes to weight gain? That strength training will not make you look like a bodybuilder so women shouldn't shy away from it? That many hidden calories are in what you drink rather than just what you eat? That there's no such thing as "spot reducing" by targeting a specific muscle when you exercise? That watching TV during meals encourages us to eat more? (Shall I add yet another example? I could keep going... don't worry, I'll resist the urge.) Yet they package all of this up as new information and send it our way. And of course we eat it up. Once again, pun intended.

        Well, I just found a bit of "new" research that threw me a bit off track. The headline of this here article was "Laughter Affects Body Like Exercise". The fact that both exercise and laughter have similar effects isn't new news.... both can reduce stress, improve blood pressure & cholesterol, strengthen the immune system, and blah blah etc., etc... It's one of those facts that magazine editors like to throw in to a couple of issues each year. Like I said, nothing new. But what caught me off guard was a particular study that they talked about in this article that was done to further "prove" that the effects of laughter are similar to those of exercise. One of these shared effects, they say, is a healthy appetite. Fine. Sounds good, right? Who can argue that a healthy appetite is, well... unhealthy? Listen to this...

        They took two groups of individuals and showed each group one of two different videos, one was upsetting and the other, funny. While these groups were watching said videos they monitored levels for two hormones that affect one's appetite. The distressing video was the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Can't argue that that's not distressing. Funny video was stand up comedy. Stand up may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly funnier than Saving Private Ryan. End result? The hormone levels of the people who watched the funny video changed as if they had participated in moderate exercise... translation: they were hungrier. So they're saying that one of the health benefits of laughing is that it makes you want to eat. Does this strike you as funny? Laughter is similar to exercise in that it makes you hungrier.... meaning you will probably eat more... and there's a good chance you're not going to reach for carrot sticks or soy nuts when taking in a funny movie.

        Personally, while I know that yes, muscle weighs more than fat (another favorite fact of magazine folk), I think the main reason I gained weight rather than losing it when I was working out more regularly wasn't because I was gaining muscle... it was because I was starving after each time I exercised. And so I ate. Sure, I ate relatively healthy (after my gym trips I'd make my way to Subway to eat fresh, Jared style), but I ate SO much more food when I exercised often. I'm not arguing that exercising is a bad decision... just one that will probably lead to weight gain (so, naturally, it should be avoided at all costs. hah). But in all seriousness, isn't it slightly amusing that this study says a common benefit of laughter and exercise is that it makes you WANT TO EAT?

        So, a closing word of advice... if you hate exercising, just try laughing 20 minutes a day rather than jogging. The benefits are the same. But when you take in this good dose of laughter beware of the salt and vinegar chip craving. I'd avoid Subway too. In fact, it might be easier to just avoid exercise and laughter altogether. Yeah, go with that.

         These women like to laugh between sets. After their exercise
        they're going to Olive Garden for the bottomless pasta bowl.
        That laughter cost their bodies at least 2 extra bread sticks.

        Friday, March 12, 2010

        I consider myself a lucky person. No, I'm not one of those people you'd look at and constantly think "man, why does she get all the luck?" and no, overly fantastical things do not seek me out or seemingly fall in my lap. As a matter of fact, they don't even make my acquaintance all that often. I have a pretty average life. When I say I consider myself a lucky person I merely imply that I have the necessities, and that in and of itself is lucky. I have people who care about me who I care about back. I know what I love and I'm able to make these things part of my life. That right there is luck.

        When I was thinking about this earlier today I came across an odd realization. I owe a big thank you to Coin Operated Boy by the Dresden Dolls and another big thank you to A Chorus Line. That may sound silly, but I am being completely sincere. Both have impacted my life in huge ways in the past 3 years alone... they have given me the two things I previously mentioned as being lucky for having. Still may sound silly. Relax, I'll explain. 

        Let's do the Coin Boy reference first. If you don't know the song it's a sort of playful, dark cabaret sounding ordeal that one might say has overtones of loneliness and a desire for a relationship with lots of (physical) affection without the chance of getting hurt... but one is more likely to say it cleverly (though not subtly) talks about a sex toy. My college roommate introduced me to the song and I ended up choreographing to it my junior year. Choreographing a dance to such a musically creative song, in my mind, gave me permission to really play with the movement. Although I had done choreography before, this unique way of looking at dance and creating this piece made me absolutely fall in love with choreographing and helped me find my own style and choreographic voice. Today, anyone who knows me will probably tell you that musical theatre is my first love, but choreography is a close second. I credit that passion for choreography entirely to the process of having created a dance to Coin Boy. I affectionately call the dance "my baby" and know it's what ignited my passion. Without that experience, who knows if I would have ever developed this love for choreography, if I would have ever found my style. But the song did more than open me up to the joys of choreogrpahing. It completely, single-handedly changed my taste in music.

        Dresden Dolls in Coin Operated Boy

        Pre-Coin Boy, as I like to call the phase (totally kidding) my musical listening included pretty much two things: 1) Broadway soundtracks, and 2) Turning on the radio, station flipping for 10 minutes, getting frustrated that nothing appealed to me, and turning off the radio. I always enjoyed music pretty much entirely because I enjoyed musicals and singing. I was not a "music fan". Coin Boy (as I have affectionately nicknamed the song) completely opened my eyes as to what music could be. The song has a completely inventive use of instruments (or ordinary objects as instruments) along with drastic changes in dynamics, melody, vocal tonality, etc. It made me eager to find as much music like it as possible. With the assistance of pandora and similar sites I soon found several other "dark cabaret" artists and eventually the list expanded to include folk artists, indie rock artists and singer/songwriter types with only one thing in common: they were all very different from what you normally hear. The one song opened me up to a whole world of creative musicians and artists with new, different sounds that often borrow from old influences (one of my favorite artists describes her sound as "modern ragtime"). I love two things especially in music: 1) When lots of different instruments are used. I'm big on heavy percussive beats and equally big on violins/classical piano used in unexpected ways. Though toy pianos, washboards and the sounds of paper being shredded work too. 2) When there are big changes in the song... from slow to uptempo, calm to frantic, major to minor, whatever it is, so long as it's drastic. I now have a solid musical preference and quality I look for in new artists, when before there was no type of music I claimed to be "my music". Now "new music searching" is somewhat of an obsession of mine. Coin Boy not only brought me to my love of choreography, it is the reason I was able to find music that I love.

        On to Chorus Line. Where to begin. I'll premise by saying I don't even like the show all that much. Yet, it has managed to have a major impact on me and keeps creeping into my life. I've done the show three times. Read, still don't like the show all that much. Why do it three times then? First off, I like shows with lots of parts... lots of parts means I'm more likely to get one. Secondly, I like shows where some of the main people are dancers... only because I'm so often looked at as "just a dancer" and therefore given a part in the ensemble. I joke around and say I have "the dancer's curse"... once I was offered a dancing role after doing the dance part of an audition, before I had even sung. Even though I was hoping for one of the other roles I was immediately labeled "a dancer". Chorus Line was always the one show for me that I thought I have a decent shot of being something more. I mean, they all have to dance. The only time I was ever given legit parts in shows was after a director had worked with me and decided I was capable of more than just dancing. So even though I never liked the show all that much, I had a strong desire to be in it. Little did I know the opportunity would arise for me to do the show three times in two years. Nor did I know how much each time would impact me.

        A Chorus Line

        First time, senior year of college. Can't believe I actually have the chance to be in this show. Audition for Cassie, heart set on it. First time in my life I get the role I wanted, rather than my "other choice". I think it was the combination of achieving that, and with this particular show, that had such an effect on me. I became so attached to the role that it killed me to have the show end. I broke down on stage in the middle of my number. I still get this odd feeling whenever I see other women play Cassie. I said then, and I still believe, that I will never be as attached to a role as I was to Cassie. I believe I (somewhat stupidly, through tears) said at the time that that was my moment. That was it. Even if I were to some day "make it", nothing would ever compare to how I felt the first time I was Cassie. Sounds silly I'm sure. But I can't describe how strongly that role affected me.

        Second time I did the show had a big impact in two ways. First and perhaps most importantly, it got me involved in theatre again. Before college I did one show a year, if that. During my four years of college I only did the one show. I had pretty much accepted that after college I probably wouldn't be performing again. Or if I did, it would not be happening on any sort of "normal" basis. Maybe every few years something would come up. That's pretty much all I expected. Well, a year or so after graduating I decided on a complete whim to type "Chorus Line CT audition" into google and see if anything came up. I was surprised to see an audition listed for a community theatre group that would be doing the show that summer. I took it as a sign and went to audition. From this experience I found out about all other theatre groups in the state and since that Chorus Line audition less than a year ago I have performed in 6 shows-- more than I had done ever done in my life combined prior, and all in one year. All because I decided to do a little google search on the show, and a group happened to be doing it that summer, I ended up immersed in performing again. Doing what I love. And a lot of it. Here comes other big impact of this particular production-- I found myself incredibly humbled. Like I said, it's the one show I always saw myself as having a chance in... a chance to be more than "just a dancer". Well, what happened? I was cast as Zach's assistant... arguably the only role in the show where you had to be a good dancer and that was it... zero singing, very few lines. Here it was, the one show that I always aspired to be in because I could avoid the dancers curse and I had managed to get a dancing only role. This, combined with the fact that I had so recently just finished playing Cassie, a role I was so attached to and was no longer associated with, took a huge emotional toll on me. Being in that production was incredibly difficult for me. I felt childish the entire time that I got so upset throughout the process of rehearsals. I felt awful and even worse, felt guilty for feeling that way. Yet by the end of it all I had come to terms with everything and I left the experience grateful for its effect on me and with how much I had learned about myself.

        Third time I did the show was literally about a month later. I decided I would try to get one of the roles I had so desperately hoped for the previous time. This time I was successful and got to play Kristine. While performing it was a lot of fun, the real impact the show had on me this third time around was not the show itself but in who I met. We didn't really start talking until two months after the show closed, but the guy who played my husband and I are now dating and I'm happier than I've been in a very long time.

        So look, Chorus Line gave me my ultimate performing dream role experience, a summer filled with major humbling slash learning and growing, brought theatre back into my life in a huge way and gave me a great guy. And Coin Boy ignited my love of choreography and helped me discover my musical taste. So like I said, a big thanks to Chorus Line and Coin Boy!

        Thursday, February 18, 2010

        I am an academic at heart. Other people may choose to use a different word here (nerd comes to mind)... I don't shy away from using this myself. I did, after all, create the facebook group "Self Proclaimed Math Nerds". I may not be your stereotypical nerd, but I am a proud one none-the-less. What can I say? I'm a curious creature, always eager to learn more. I'm known to spew out bizarre facts and am a frequent visitor of wikipedia, looking up information on whatever random topic happens to pique my interest at the moment. But lots of people are curious, right? Am I really that abnormal?

        Answer: Perhaps I am. Now that my school days have (at least for the moment) come and gone I find myself actually jealous of high schoolers I see working on math homework, envious of college friends researching and writing a paper. I know, I'm bizarre. It's not like I eagerly looked forward to studying and doing schoolwork when I was actually IN school. But back then it was mandatory, and anything that is a "have to" is usually met with some degree of resentment. Now there's no one telling me I have to get this set of problems or that analysis handed in by Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Learning was, however, my favorite part of pre-college school days and one of the highlights of college as well. While everyone in their right mind looked forward to lunch or gym periods (or studyhall... which I never chose to "take"), I was the one enjoying making flashcards and anticipating what we'd be reading next in English while dreading the social aspects of school life. Since I've graduated, I've not only picked up old math textbooks and worked on problems, but I've actually purchased new textbooks for my reading/problem-solving pleasure. When I say I miss college I miss more than just the friends, parties, dance company and campus atmosphere.

        Yesterday is a prime example of my nerdiness. During the day I was bored. Very bored. So I visited, a site with cool, random articles and lists that I often frequent in an attempt to appease my curious mind. There was an interesting article on the facts behind "going Green"... what's really good for the environment vs. what things people typically think of as being cleaner/more energy efficient that are actually bad. It reminded me of how much ridicule I got in college (as a largely apathetic individual on a very activist do-good campus) for not recycling. I jokingly said then that I was "an economist and not an environmentalist" and that recycling costs millions more dollars than throwing things away. People got angry. I realize that you, reading this, are probably now angry too. Perhaps prepared to call me ignorant. The fact of the matter is that I had at one point seen an episode on the discovery channel that pointed out all the negatives of recycling. This blew me away... I had never before heard anyone say recycling is not what we should do as good, "moral" citizens. It's not like the show convinced me of anything, but it made me curious enough to look into the topic more... start up my own research project if you will. I spent weeks reading as many academic articles as I could find on the issue... not too many people are anti-recycling. I found that there is however, a small but vocal group who do believe it is not the way to go. And they're not lazy, apathetic, ignorant people... if anything, they're strong environmentalists and big supporters of wasting as little as possible. Anyways, I was reminded of all of this while visiting yesterday and it made me want to take on another new "research project" to satiate my ardent curiosity and relieve some of my boredom. I intended to spend the next several hours looking up information in order to find the perfect topic. While I started off reading some things on how it's ridiculous to believe there's not hundreds of other, more advanced life forms out there in space and then on the inexplicable physiological explanations for intuition (inexplicable explanations, haha), I ended up finding (and reading in its near-entirety) a 47 page "article" discussing the pros and cons of recycling that was published in a journal a few years back. After I was done I felt a strong urge to write a critical opinion essay on the topic. Don't worry. I refrained.

        I have a constant need to learn more (and apparently to write essays and solve math problems). Maybe some day I'll go to grad school. For now I'll have to settle with helping people edit their papers and secretly buying used textbooks.

        Just think of me as the non-stereotypical nerd girl choosing to read while her
        classmates in the background choose the ever-more popular activity known as socialization
        (and ignore the "waterstain" that shows I stole the photo)

        Wednesday, February 03, 2010

        Interesting blog topics used to fall into my lap. I swear to you, they sought me out. I would regularly encounter bizarre situations or hilarious characters that begged to be written about. Something like this has not happened in a very long time. Now, I generally have to rack my brain or ask for suggestions in order to come up with something to write about. Occasionally a topic will come to mind organically... but very rarely anymore does something happen that makes me think "I can not wait to blog about this". Maybe my perception of the world around me has changed. Last week, however, an interesting blog topic downright tackled me during my train ride home and here I am today, a few days later, hoping I can remember every detail of the story and retain its humor in my retelling.

        Setting: January 28th 5:40 p.m., Stamford train station, outside, 17 degrees... 0 with windchill, 5 minutes until train arrival, went outside 5 minutes early because voice-over attendant man said "New Haven train now arriving on track 4"... he lied, I have 5 minutes still to go. I stare off at nothing in particular, looking at the ground, when walking into my line of vision is a pair of legs in dark baggy jeans and timberland boots. When this person invaded the empty bit of pavement I was staring at I was pulled out of my daze and looked up casually. The baggy jeans and timberlands belonged to a young 20 something African-American guy with long dreadlocks, a black shirt and a clerical white collar. My initial thought I'll admit was not "isn't he freezing?", it was, albeit stereotypical of me, a surprised reaction to see such a young man wearing a priest's collar, especially in combination with the rest of what he was wearing. I was intrigued. At this point I even thought to myself, hmm... there may be a blog here. Almost immediately however I dismissed the thought... so I see a young priest in some street clothes, big deal. I realized quickly that he was probably not a priest, but rather a deacon. Irrelevant.

        Fast-forward 5 minutes and I'm on the train. Deacon guy sits down directly across from me and next to another young 20 something year old woman. I pull out my book and begin to read when I hear them start to talk. I kept reading for awhile but very quickly I was drawn into their conversation, not caring if they noticed that I was still reading the same page after 30 minutes and could probably guess that I was eavesdropping.  She begins the conversation "So, you a priest or something?". I suppress a smirk, I admit it. (From here on out my internal thought bubbles will be in italics). Priest man: "Actually, I'm a student of theology." Silence. More silence. Silence lasts a good 13 seconds. Priest man: "You know what theology is?" Silence. More silence. Silence lasts a good 13 seconds. Other people besides me sit there in silence and don't respond to people? This is new to me. Priest man: "It's the study of religion. From a biblical perspective. So the only book we need in class is the Bible..." and added as an afterthought "and a notebook to write in." Apparently the girl finally thought of something to say and replies, "That's cool. Do you get to give speeches in churches and all?" ... Speeches, sermons, whatever. Same thing. Priest man: "I get called in a lot to do funerals. Because I'm young." Now, here I don't blame her for her silent response. I don't see the connection either. He does funerals because he's young. Makes perfect sense. Note sarcasm. I guess priest man realized that in fact it didn't make much sense and he chose to explain... "Because so many young people are being killed nowadays... whenever someone young dies they call me in to run the funeral. It makes the families feel better to have someone else young there in charge." I still don't see it but, okay. He said the worst part of it is when it first happens and they call you to "the crime scene" to comfort the families. Where the on the earth is this kid from that there's so many murders of children and crime scenes? Somewhere close enough to warrant him being on my train? I mean, perhaps NYC... okay, that's possible, probable. But still... He went on to say how the first thing they tell you is not to cry when you're "running the ceremony". That's the first thing, really? Is "ceremony" the right word? He explains "I mean, if I cry I'm not going to like, get fired. But I'm supposed to come off as a strong support." "I wouldn't like, get fired..." I found this amusing verging on hilarious. Well, as hilarious as something related to a funeral could be. Imagine firing a priest, or expelling a student, for showing emotion at a funeral. At this point I look up as if looking to see if the ticket collector man is coming by and I notice priest man's hand on the girl's shoulder. Very odd. Is priest man hitting on her? What is happening here? I also happen to notice the huge Rolex on his wrist... "diamond" encrusted, the type that shows 3 different times at once. Aren't you supposed to give up things like that or something? At this point I decided to go back to my book. I felt bad for listening in... and it was a good book I had been looking forward to finishing up on the train.

        Well what was said right as I made this decision to continue reading made me flat out put the book back in my purse. Ready for it? Priest man: "So, you wanna grab like tacos or something? Maybe catch a movie?" No wayyyyy, priest man is actually hitting on her! Can they do that? I mean he's not a priest yet, but shouldn't he be practicing? Maybe he's not going to be a Roman Catholic priest... aren't some of the other Christian denomination priest people allowed to date and marry? Are they still priests or are they called something else? Do they still wear white collars? I need to look up more about religions other than my own... I'm surprisingly un-knowledgeable in the area. At least regarding clergy and dating. (All of this was a split second thought by the way. You know how your mind can think so many things simultaneously or at least in such rapid succession that you're amazed you thought so much in the matter of 2 seconds? Yeah, one of those moments). Okay, sorry for interrupting priest-to-be and woman's dialogue. Re-cap, priest asks woman out for tacos. Woman says "Are you allowed to do that?" Eagerly awaiting priest man's response on my end here. Priest man gives a funny smile and says "Even holy men have to f*cking eat" Am I alive? Did I really just hear that?!? Did priest man just swear!!!!!! I'm tempted to ask him to repeat himself because I'm in such a state of disbelief. Woman laughs. Laugh of nervous disbelief? Laugh because it would be funny response to you if it was just a normal "non priest" saying it? Laugh because it's a funny response precisely for the reason that it is a "priest" saying it? Any way you look at it, I think she heard what I heard. At this point I'm so completely drawn in, waiting to see what happens next that I'm practically just staring at the two of them. Woman decides to ignore the food comment (and the swear... and the invite out) and goes back to the movie comment. "So what kind of movies do you like?" Priest man doesn't hesitate "Probably have to say gangster movies. Like mobs, mafia... that stuff" This is too much to bear... a swearing priest who likes movies about violent criminals and suggests tacos to seduce women. I couldn't make this up. I heard her ask what his favorite movie was but regrettably had to get off at my stop before I was able to hear his response.

        Seriously contemplated skipping my stop to hear the conversation out and then catching a return train but decided that was just ultra sketch and pretty lame. Looking back though I think it may have been worth it.

        I could not find an image of a baggy jeans, timberland & rolex wearing priest
        but this odd ensemble would have been just as bizarre to see and therefore
        seemed equally fitting... google images labeled him a "punk priest"

        Tuesday, January 26, 2010

        I had a bizarre dream last night. Bizarre dreams for me are not unusual. Actually I take it back... not the second sentence, my dreams are unusual, but I take back the first sentence. This dream wasn't so much bizarre as it was interesting to me (and probably boring to you). It mixed together 4 musicals (and a movie). I'll explain it later for anyone actually interested. But this dream did make me start to think about dreams in general. They're one of the biggest mysteries out there. Most people have on average something like 14 dreams per night (I made that up but I know it's a sizable number) and yet we remember less than 5% of them. There are countless theories on why we dream at all and why we dream what we do. Some say it's a way of processing memories and eliminating unnecessary information from the brain. Others believe it's a reflection of our subconscious hopes and fears. And there are studies that claim they're completely random sequences that mean absolutely nothing and are based entirely on neural signals. Then there are other theories that say, for example, that dreams allow the repressed parts of our mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping our conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly make you wake up from shock. And I think it was Freud (or some other famous psychoanalyst) who claimed that bad dreams teach the brain to gain control over emotions that are a result of distressing experiences, thereby literally helping us to cope. Who knows what dreams are all about... all I know is 70% of my dreams are nonsensical and bizarre (read, random). Then maybe 15% of the time it's a clear story/situation with some degree of believability (no supernatural slash impossible events, just improbable ones). 10% of the time my dreams really get me thinking about some part of my life (these are the ones I think reflect my subconscious) and the other 5% of the time I wake up amazed by the cleverness of my sleeping mind (usually it's a really awesome dance that I'm watching and I wake up wishing I could remember what my sleeping self choreographed, other times it's just a really clever, witty joke someone says in my dream and I wake up wishing I were funny enough in real life to think up something like that... you get the idea. Basically I'm more clever while asleep than awake. Good quality to promote about myself.) Really, when I think about all of the dreams I can recall in my lifetime, last night's dream was pretty normal.

        So here is the dream, to the best of my recollection. Maybe 1 in 12 people will actually enjoy this. Make that 1 in 12 theatre people. But I'll still tell you about it, because I find part of it amusing. So, I dreamed I was auditioning for the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Quick one sentence background info: There's only one role I would ever go for in this and that actual character's name is Christine Colgate. End background info. In my dream I was debating between two roles in terms of which one I should audition for. One of them was Janet van de Graaff (wrong show entirely... she's a character in Drowsy Chaperone) and the other was Veronica Corningstone. Yes, I know that's the character in Anchorman. Allow me to explain where I think that came from. See, in the dream I was picturing the character of Christine Colgate, including an image of the original actress who portrayed her, Sherie Rene Scott, but I merely had the name confused as Veronica Corningstone instead of Christine Colgate. Part way into the dream my image of Christine Colgate (or should I say Veronica Corningstone) switched from Sherie Rene Scott to Christina Applegate, the actress who played Veronica Corningstone in Anchorman (except it was the Sweet Charity version of Christina Applegate I pictured in my mind circa the 2005 Times Square billboards, not the anchorwoman version of Christina Applegate in a suit).

        Sherie Rene Scott as Christine Colgate

        My new image of Christine Colgate

        I think my brain became confused because Christine Colgate and Christina Applegate sound quite similar really. Change an "e" to an "a" and a "Col" to an "Apple" and they're identical. So anyways, I was debating about whether to try out for Janet van de Graaf (who at least I imagined correctly as Sutton Foster in her Drowsy Chaperone yellow nostalgic dress) or "Veronica Corningstone".

          Janet van de Graaf

        Veronica Corningstone

        To aide in making my decision I decided to practice Janet's song "Show Off" and Christine/Veronica's random part where she belts crazy high in "Love is My Legs" (I say crazy high, it's probably like a D... your regular, standard D, not the crazy high one). And when I say I practiced these songs it was more so my envisioning Sutton Foster doing "Show Off" and Christina Applegate doing "Love is My Legs", complete with the dance moves, costumes and scenery... but in my dream-state this envisioning other people singing equated to me practicing. After I was done "practicing" I decided I was an ill-fit for both of these roles and that I would just audition for Peggy Sawyer instead (from 42nd Street).

        And that was the dream. A combination of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Drowsy Chaperone, Sweet Charity, 42nd Street and Anchorman all wrapped into one. I really am a theatre nerd.

        Friday, January 15, 2010

        I've decided I hate Winter. It's too freakin cold. An age old question that shows up on 9 out of 10 "fill this out just because" surveys is what's your favorite season. I've always been a Fall/Spring answerer, leaning more towards Fall... but during Winter I'm always tempted to put Summer as my favorite season out of sheer resentment of Winter and its coldness. (Because we all know Winter's opposite, and therefore arch nemesis, is Summer... and in my bizarre mind declaring "Summer" as my favorite season is a kick in the gut to Winter.... Because seasons have feelings.... of course). I've always said I liked living in New England because we get the four seasons. Which I mean, yeah it's nice I suppose. I went to college with some people who had never seen snow before, and I thought that was a pretty sad thing. (These people went berserk when the first snow happened. I'm talking you saw a single flake and they were outside in snow gear, determined to wait and watch for 4 hours until half an inch had accumulated, all the while eagerly anticipating the moment there was enough that they could make a snow angel.) Certainly when I was younger Winter was probably my most hopeful of all seasons. With Winter came the chance of snow and with the chance of snow came the chance of school being closed. Of course, I lived on the coast and was more often than not merely taunted by seeing towns less than 10 miles north of me having no school while we only got a 30 minute delay. Really, why did 10 miles north always get snow when we in Orange got a "wintry mix"? The curse of the coast. Even then Winter was frustrating. If you're going to get snow, might as well get enough to warrant a school cancellation. That was my thinking. Otherwise what's the point? Sure, it's pretty while it's snowing (and it always weirded me out that it's warmer when it's snowing too) but after the snow is done it just becomes messy and annoying.

        Now that I'm older, and driving (and not in school), any forecast of snow is just frustrating. It means I will have to add at least an hour into my schedule in order to clean off my car, leave early to get places and drive more carefully than normal, all the while fearing that my car will slip and do a 360 (as happened to me once) and go flying off the road or into another car. And yet, even though I hate when I look at the weather and see "snow" listed, I get depressed if an entire Winter has passed without one good snowfall. Then it seems a waste. I'm difficult to please. Not really though... it's just that Winter inherently annoys me. January is prime Winter time too... it's at the point when you're over the cold. Christmas is done, aka the only good thing about Winter, so Winter should be too. Time to move on to Spring.

        Some people love Winter. You know the type... not the ones who tolerate it or the ones who enjoy snow, but the ones who really LOVE Winter. It's like with purple... I know how random that sounds and I agree, it's random. Allow a moment for an explanation (after which you'll still agree it's random). People generally have a favorite color but there are legit purple fans. I don't know why it's only that color that has the fanatics but I find it to be true. If someone's favorite color is purple they're usually obsessive and protective of their choice (do not insult purple in their presence). Well, Winter is to seasons what purple is colors. There are Winter fanatics. This is unfathomable to me. I mean, I suppose if you ski or ice skate (of which I do neither) okay... maybe then. But really... who prefers the cold to a comfortable temperature? What, do you just have  fantastically stylish winter gear you love to show off and wear? Matching scarf, glove, hat set? Cute boots? I don't know. I suppose I'll never understand. Just like I don't understand what's so fantastic about purple. All I know is I'm ready for Spring. Now, please.