Sunday, July 30, 2006

Speaking of missed opportunities...

My old piano teacher died earlier this month. The memorial service was planned for the 29th. I had every intention of could I not go to a memorial service for someone who I saw once a week every week for eight years? For some reason, however, I got it in my head that the service was SUNDAY, July 29th, which as we all know, doesn't exist in 2006. So you can imagine my surprise when I'm asleep on the couch yesterday and I'm awakened by the alarm on my phone which is reminding me to go to said ten minutes.

I seriously felt like crying. I know that Mr. Somerville probably won't know if I was there or not, but I felt like I needed to honor the man that gave me a gift that today serves as a source of creativity, emotional release and even sometimes income. And not to be crass, but you don't usually get a raincheck on these type of things. They won't hold another one just because you're an idiot and don't know how to read a calendar.

So, in penance, I'd like to post a short eulogy here.

James Somerville scared me, but in a good way. He was a tough man, an instructor who tolerated little deviance from constant rehearsal and practice. He was the type of teacher that made you afraid of less than your personal best, and who made you tremble when you knew that you'd chosen to watch TV...or God forbid, play sports...rather than spend an extra hour or two at the keyboard, and now, you were walking into your lesson unprepared.

His small apartment on Summit Street routinely smelled like hotdogs, had little natural light, and was stuffed to the gills with antiques, old papers, music and three pianos. I remember sitting on a threadbare blue chair that was old and sinking, and perfect for a tired child to fall asleep in, except I rarely nodded off because I was either a) partaking of the candy he kept stocked in a crystal bowl between the chair and a tired old couch, b) gazing around at the mysterious paintings and artifacts tucked here and there about the room or c) scrambling to review my music or fill in my music theory homework that I had neglected to do once again.

Mr. Somerville was not an overly verbose man. His responses to your playing more often fell on the side of "gruff", and it was not uncommon to be sent to the porch to clip your nails, or have him bang on the lower keys in frustration over your pitiful attempts at Bach, or for him to snatch your music, tap you on the shoulder to move, sit in your spot and show you how your piece was supposed to sound. And oh, the sounds he could work from those keys. Always emotional, never rushed, the music would pour out of the dusty, dilapidated old instrument and make you wish, not for the first time, that you had practiced harder that week.

There were times, though, that you had put in the work required of you and when you finished your piece, perfectly or nearly perfectly, you were met with silence. And when you turned your head to face your instructor, a small smile played around the corner of his lips, as if he wanted to laugh for joy, but wouldn't, lest you take his joviality as license to slack off for a week. Then he'd tilt his head, pat you brusquely on the shoulder, and dispense his highest compliment, "That was very nice."

And you knew then, you'd really rocked that score.

It's funny to look back now and see how proud he really was of us, when my duet partner Anna and I played our thirty-two page two-piano duet to perfection, or when we performed in front of nearly eight hundred people and received thunderous applause, or the greatest individual honor of all: being scheduled as the last musician to play in one of his private recitals. He taught us much about performance that I still carry with me never show a mistake on your face or in your body language, to play like you were the greatest musician alive, whether you were playing Haydn or Rachmaninoff, and how to add power through subtle drama in tone, phrasing...even through your appearance for a recital or concert.

He was a quiet man on all levels, never revealing much about his past or present...not that we thought to ask once during our elementary, Jr. High or High School years. He put up with our childish tantrums, our teenage surliness, our wanting to play pop music or poorly arranged hymns for church competitions...he helped us with it all, maybe not necessarily patiently, but perhaps "enduringly" because we were his kids, and we were helping him live his dream as he was helping us live ours.

So, thank you, Mr. Somerville, for instilling in me a permanent love for music and meter, a true appreciation for practice and hard work, and for exposing me to performance and even now, nearly ten years after my last lesson with you, helping me to be the person I am today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

They say that a big break only comes once in a lifetime.

Wouldn't you know it, I had mine and blew it. If I could kick my own ass, I would. Perhaps I could get a volunteer?

So, I've mentioned my voice lessons before and how amazing they are, right? Well, turns out that this guy is also related to one of the biggest agents in the country, who decided to visit during my lesson. The same lesson where I heard phrases like, "The great ones are always on. There are no excuses." And, "The great ones could make your purse cry."

I was not one of the great ones yesterday. I made excuses, and my purse did not cry or even tear up. And neither did the agent. Whaddya know...

On a side note, if you have really bad panty lines when you're wearing jean shorts:
a) your shorts are too tight
b) your panties are too tight
c) your butt is too big for said panties or shorts
d) all of the above

Ah, the coffee shop. Always good fodder for blogs...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The things I do for community theatre...

Not only do I give up a good portion of my free time, sacrificing gas and mileage and sometimes relationships, and not only do I spend time outside the theatre in lessons and memorizing lines and trying to get my freaking slow-ass feet moving, but I've spent my last three weekends in various states of rehearsal and set painting. I'm tired every night, and wake up cranky nearly every morning, only to go to work (in Hilliard, no less, which means I don't have time in between work and rehearsal to go home, which in turn means that I leave the house at twenty after seven--a freaking m--and don't get home until, at the earliest, twenty after ten--p freaking m) get tired out some more, rush around on my lunch break trying to accomplish things I can't accomplish in the evenings, grab some shitty food--if I'm lucky--and head off to a theatre that, at present, pretty much amounts to a box with a stage in it.

And why do I torture myself month after month after month like this?

Because I love it.

I love the challenge of learning a new role, of getting inside a character's head, and bringing a person to life by utilizing parts of myself, but also dredging up emotions and actions I never believed I could manufacture. I love the comraderie the theatre instills in me...the way I've learned to make friends quickly and deeply, the way I've allowed people to have a glimpse of my life, and ultimately a glimpse at my vulnerability--if you're watching closely and I'm doing my job correctly--because a character is never believable unless they are in some way vulnerable. I love the way the stage makes me feel alive, just for a moment, and the discipline of selflessness acting requires of me, since the role I play is never really about me, but how I make the audience feel in that moment.

It's a crazy, too-small world where everybody knows everybody else's business, and more often you're talked about than talked to, and personal politics often outweigh raw talent in the casting process. It's a life of fast food, fast changes and fast thinking. I've discovered it's not uncommon for me to put on a pair of jeans I haven't worn in a while and find that they're falling off of me because for the last two months, I've been surviving on too little sleep and too much caffeine. And yet, I find myself looking forward to showtime, to my fifteen minutes of "fame", even if it's in Grove City or Dublin or--God forbid--Hilliard. I don't get paid, my fellow actors and I are often underappreciated, and still I trudge in to rehearsal or a show night exhausted, but feeling more human than I feel anywhere else.

Of course, getting to wear a dress with a slit up to your left butt-cheek is a bonus, too.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dear Dale,

I hate lawyers.


Dear Randy,



Dear Everyone Else,

The crying jag is officially over as of yesterday. Somewhere along the way, I've re-found my heart of stone and can return to being calloused and jaded and hateful of Paris Hilton.

Thanks, though, to everyone (except Dale, of course) for all the love and encouragement you sent me over the last few days. I really appreciate it.

Now enough of this mushy shit. Let's go knock over some old ladies!!



Author's Note: No old ladies were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Does it count as "crying" if you tear up, then realize that you're in public and stop?

Jai said yes. I was about to argue with him when I started crying for real.

Make that three days in a row, folks. Good thing I skipped Saturday, cuz this is just getting annoying.

I'm really not all that worried about my body's sudden interest in estrogen. While the past few days have been hard, for sure, it's also been really cathartic to get it all out...all the crap that's been building and building and building. Sort of like taking Milk of Magnesia for the soul.


On the bright side, maybe all this extra feminine girly what-not that's going on with me means that I'll get bigger boobs. There is a plus side to everything, and I'll find it. Even if it's a stretch. And highly unlikely.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Thanks to all of you that had kind words to say after my last penned meltdown...I just wish I had read my blog comments before going to work, where I cried AGAIN. Geez. This is getting to be a bad habit.

And for those of you who didn't have kind words, I've made a list, and I'm just psycho enough these days to hunt you all down and do...something. I'll figure it out. I might cry on you and ruin your shirt. Yeah...I'll wear extra mascara and be sure to work up a good nose full of snot. You're all screwed now.

And quit twisting that last sentence, pervs.

Well, it's official. I was worried over nothing. My dance solo has now been cut from the show--under pretenses that "I don't care how good you are, I don't want to see just you dancing for 60 measures."

I bet no one ever said that to Barishnykov. Or The Star Wars Kid.

I probably should be a little offended, but I'm so relieved, that I'm conveniently forgetting to have my feelings hurt. Seriously, thank you, Deb. Now I can just focus on my acting and singing and looking cute in my fringe skirt. I've decided that I'm just going to Sharon Stone it for this production, too, and skip the dance briefs. I'm not sure if that will make you more or less likely to come to the show.

Probably less, since I've been meaning to tell you all: I'm a dude.

Alright, all this crying has made me downright silly and weird. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I am losing my freaking mind.

The tears have been flowing more freely than ever these days, and I'm not real sure what to do with that. I cried Thursday because someone put their arm around me and said, "How are you?". I also cried Thursday because someone patted me on the back and told me I was a good person. I cried again Thursday in the car on the way home from rehearsal. I cried Friday on the phone with a friend. I skipped Saturday, just for kicks. I cried today over something I never would have cried over before, but for some reason, today it was a tragedy. And no, I won't reveal what I cried over, because it's embarrassing and makes me look weak.

And Lord knows, I hate for people to think I'm weak.

Just for the record, I am not PMS-ing. This is something entirely different...a lifetime of salty water build-up. A hole in the dam. Complete mental meltdown, I suppose. Nah, not really, just a lot of stuff happening all at once, and for a girl who's usually really good at compartmentalizing her emotions, the past week or so has been like the overzealous temp getting a hold of your desk space while you were on vacation and doing a little "organizing".

But it makes me feel a little better that you're probably depressed now after reading this. Hooray for Schadenfreude. :)

My problems probably aren't even that bad, but I'm usually so proficient at either a)denial, b)blame or c)feigned ignorance, that I can cope. It's just that when everything (EVERYTHING...with the possible exception that I had a tasty salad today, and a particularly satisfying greasy sandwhich last night) is bad all at once, and you don't do heavy narcotics, things can seem overwhelming. I swear if one more thing happens (knock on wood) I'm going to crawl into bed, set the alarm for half-past never, and go to sleep.

So, how are you? :)

Yeah, yeah. I'll post something funny tomorrow.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Posted comment by Heather from 7/14/6:

Cool: Watching and loving Mr. Rogers as he rides around his living room on a kid's tricycle when you're about 3 years old.
Not cool: When your older sister and brother make fun of Mr. Rogers so bad that you get furious and start yelling at them and burst into tears.

** This happened yesterday at our house with Sam and Kate (only it was Little Einsteins) and I couldn't help but think of you and your beloved Mr. Rogers. Can you ever forgive me?

No. I am obviously damaged beyond repair by what you and Joe did.

That, combined with the fact that you would never let me play with your Strawberry Shortcake dolls...something about not wanting me to cut off all their hair and otherwise destroy them. Whatever.

Oh yeah, and all the times Joe would play fun games with me and Sam, like tying us to a chair and timing us to see how long it would take to extricate ourselves (you'd be surpised how well tube socks work to tie one's hands). Oh no, my friend, sister of mine, I remember the Mr. Rogers instance quite clearly, and forgiveness will be long in coming.

Okay, no, I don't remember that at all, but, oh, Heather, that was hilarious...poor Kate. I feel her pain. ;)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cool: An Ipod.
Not Cool: Not having an Ipod. :(

Cool: New clothes.
Not Cool: When your dog locks himself in the bathroom, and you've stupidly hung a new bra and shirt on the back of the door, and said animal goes beserk and begins pulling on anything he can get his teeth onto because apparently, he's decided that getting all the hangy stuff down is his gateway to freedom. Because of his insanity, he rips your new bra in half so it looks like two (little) flying saucers with weird straps and also puts a big hole in what was to be your favorite shirt, rendering it and the brazier useless.

Cool: Excercising and working up a good sweat.
Not Cool: Sweating profusely for no reason.

Cool: Wearing sunglasses on a sunny day to protect your eyes.
Not Cool: Wearing your sunglasses inside for any reason, but especially because you think it looks cool or because you have a "black eye". Unless your name is Tina and your husband's name is Ike or unless your name is Bono and you make millions and millions of dollars counting "one, two, three, fourteen", your sunglasses are not an accessory once you cross a door jam, no matter how fashion forward they are or how much money you spent on them. They might be cute perched on your hat or used as a headband, and they always look nonchalant and savvy when looped over a pocket or purse edge, but never, ever because you think you're a movie star or even an above average person or some sort of victim of crime, sporting accident or personal carelessness.

Cool: Blogging.
Not Cool: Crossword puzzles.

Cool: Actually getting a dance step right.
Not Cool: Being yelled at for singing flat because you were concentrating so hard on moving your freaking slow-ass feet.

Cool: Peace and quiet.
Not Cool: Children, especially ones who decide they need to kick their sister, causing said sister to jerk--and rightfully so, because the little brat, if anything, has a strong right leg--right while you have a sharp instrument in said sister's mouth. Then you have insane urge to jab child in eye, but know you shouldn't, even though you're sure this is one of Satan's spawn, and you're probably ridding the world of evil by doing so. To add insult to injury, child's mother thinks this is all very funny, and you look like the jerk because you, the stranger, are suddenly the disciplinarian, because you're the one who has to say in a firm, but calm, tone, "Honey, it's very important not to be a little beast while I'm working here." Then you have urge to slap mother, because you're sure that while she's probably an intelligent woman, her lapse in judgment in sleeping with the Devil (who I'm sure was charming and held the door and bought her dinner and pretty things) has produced this child who has now ruined what was otherwise a perfectly nice day.

Cool: Feeling well rested.
Not Cool: Not going to bed because you are still on the computer. Good night.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

And yet another:

Expresso...really, really, fast coffee.

So today was a lesson in humility. Funny how the word "humility" is the root of "humiliation".

I cannot, absolutely cannot, dance.

I can shake my ass in a club. I can do a few sensuous strip tease moves and wiggle my hips and run my hands through my hair...I can even do a decent hip-swivel-turn and the Lawn Mower and a little move I like to call "The Crank". But put me on stage, ask me to do a kick-ball change, and suddenly I'm--and yes, this is really, really horrible what I'm about to say, so you should probably stop reading--suddenly I'm Christopher traumatic horse accident. No, scratch that, I'm Christopher Reeve's love child with Elaine Bettis. I'm freakin' Chrislayne Rettis. A fish that has just been snared and is flopping around in the bottom of a dinghy, sucking nothing but burning, dry air into its parched little gills has more grace and style than I.

It's not that I don't try. And it's not that I don't have confidence that I can do it (eventually...after some sort of lobotomy or perhaps brain washing or maybe gene splicing). It's just that, plain and simple, I suck. And I'm not saying this to get sympathy. My attempts are quite laughable, actually. You'd laugh the way you'd laugh the at Autistic kid who's been taught to say, "Nice ta-ta's" to every girl that walks by (true story)'d think it's funny at first, and then, when you really applied some brain cells, you'd realize it was just plain sad.

That's jazz shoes.

So, needless to say, I'm a little well, yes, embarrassed, humiliated, and maybe show-up-to-work-in-my-underwear ashamed, but I'm also a tad freaked out. This character that I've created is one of my best. She's a culmination of a few years of ups and downs and a new maturity in my acting, and my voice (thanks to my new voice teacher) is better than ever, and for all "intensive purposes" (ha!) I should rock this show (if I do say so myself). But then, right in the middle of everything, I have to move this body, Fastrada's body, and I feel like all the hard work I've done up to this point will be overshadowed by my grotesque two left feet.

"That one girl was good, but she sure can't dance."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm afraid it will ruin my entire character, or ruin the experience of the character for the audience. Now, I know that I'm being dire to some degree, but really, people, I'm not sure you're understanding me here. William Hung could dance circles around me. Kevin Bacon would have given up on me and gone looking for another preachers daughter to corrupt. I make the Star Wars kid look like a fucking ballerina (sorry, Heather.)

Big sigh...I think I'll go eat something fatty to cheer myself up. Oh great. Yeah. That'll help me move better.

Okay, I think I'll go eat something fatty to cheer myself up.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Excerpts from the new English to Sarah Dictionary, now at your local Barnes and Noble.

"I think we could learn a lot from each other."

"I think you could learn a lot from me."

"I was thinking about that last situation/statement/comment and I've come to a conclusion."

"I was poring over that last sitaution/statement/comment and analyzing it from every possible angle, turning it inside out, making it mean something entirely different than what was originally intended, then spending time worrying about possible future implications of the situation/statement/comment one, five, and ten years down the road, making mental spreadsheets and pie charts, then re-thinking everything based on my conclusion, and am standing here talking to you about it now as though I spent thirty seconds in between SVU re-runs and it's just now crossed my mind and I felt like, oh, on a whim, bringing it up in between a conversation about farts and my dog."

"I really liked the new Superman movie"

"Brandon Routh is my new boyfriend."


"Don't let me drink any more."

"I loves me some chocolate cake!"

"I loves me some chocolate cake!"

"Yeah, so..."

"You've dropped the ball in the conversation, and now I have to resort to monosyllabic filler words. I can even drag out the 'sooooo', but it's your turn to pick up the slack, because obviously, I can't think of anything intelligent to say."

"I walk like I know where I'm going."

"Where the hell am I?"