Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nightmares on Broadway

10-12 years ago, I took musical theater workshop classes at a little studio that popped up down the street from my house.

I was in 7th or 8th grade when I started, and it was the perfect outlet for a dorky, Broadway obsessed shy kid.  We put on A Chorus Line.  We sang Christmas songs for senior citizens. We put on The Sound of Music.  We put on Godspell. We started to put on Cats...

...and that's where our relationship fell apart.

Actually, our relationship had been on thin ice for a while previous to that.  You see, despite being in musicals, there was one thing I never had going for me.
I couldn't sing.
I realized this, so at least I wasn't one of those show-off kids who tried to belt out like I really had pipes.  Nope.  I spent most of my time mouthing the words.
Now, unless you've actually been in my position, you need me to tell you: this is painful.  For a girl who really LOVES Broadway? The music and the dancing and the shows...to not be able to really sing?  To not be able to even dance?  (Uh, yeah, I couldn't quite do that, either.)  It really hurts.
So one year when everyone signed up for classes, I marched down to the studio and demanded solo singing lessons.   I knew I would be a challenge, but I was ready to work for it.  I really, really wanted to sing.  I had read an article in the paper (I had actually gone as far as to laminate it--I was a weird kid!) that said, "If you can breathe, you can sing!" and I was determined I was going to sing.

They told me no.

More accurately, they told me, "We are tentatively holding the last available spot for Paige.  If she doesn't take it, we'll give it to you."

I am pretty sure that was a line of bullshit.  (I had been there for three years--long enough to know they played favorites.)

So I reluctantly signed up for another music theatre workshop class instead.

I don't know what was different about this class, exactly.  But this year something was off.  First, we were putting on Cats, which I hated, but I grit my teeth and powered through it, learning all the words and steps to the Jellicle Cat song.  They even gave me a LINE to sing in it... "Have you been an alumnus of heaven or hell?"  I'll never forget it.
I remember when they asked me to actually SING a solo line my mouth fell open and everyone laughed.
But that hadn't been what I had in mind.  I didn't want a LINE in a song, I wanted actual solo instruction so I could strengthen my voice and learn how to use it.  Not speed through a line in baritone (and it really was in baritone, even though I'm an alto!) instead of gaining any instruction.

But anyway.  I sang it. Badly.

A few weeks later, with the show date fast approaching (and no actual work being done.  We still hadn't even gotten a script!) we were given our parts.  I was Bustopher Jones.

The other kids weren't familiar with Cats, so they decided to go around the room reading the "poem" that corresponded with everyone's character.  I begged Katie not to read mine, but she did.
Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones
In fact, he's remarkably fat

Now, at 26, that doesn't seem too bad.  Maybe they gave it to me as comic relief (I was often given comic relief roles) but the problem was, at 16 I had two problems:  I was overweight, which was a very painful struggle for me--and I had been taunted and called a lesbian (I was not.) by my classmates for years, and given MALE roles in plays for most of my high school career.  And the musical theatre teacher didn't think that it might be appropriate to take me aside first and say, "Alison, I don't want to upset you, but I think you could play this part funny..."


I saw this as the lowest of all low blows.  I was absolutely mortified, horrified, offended...I had begged my parents to pay for these classes.  I ate slept and breathed musical theatre, and at a time where I really needed to feel attractive and liked--the teacher basically was like, "Oh, Alison?  Make her the fat dude."

I was sixteen.  I wanted to be feminine and cute.

I couldn't handle it.  I went home crying and withdrew from the class that same day.

Some days I wish I had stuck with it.  That maybe I could have convinced them to give me singing lessons...but as far as I know, the entire school fell apart soon after that.  I could almost feel it's downward spiral--especially when we were weeks away from the show with no script.  Our venues went from the elaborate stage at my high school, to a splintering tiny monstrosity at a catholic middle school.

I bring this all up now because I just had a nightmare related to this school.  In a few words:  We were having a recital, but I had been very sick, so I never went to rehearsals.  The left me in the show, for some reason, but it was opening night and I just couldn't get my hands on a program to see WHEN I would be on stage.  I figured that I knew Broadway musicals pretty well, so the chances were I'd know whatever song they had chose for me.

When I finally was able to get a program, I learned not only was I on stage for the next song--I had NEVER heard it before.  Great.

(Then I woke up, laughing.)

(image from broadwayspace.com and pedanticalcats.com)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Real*Love


I know it's a fairly simple bag, but I love it.  It's the most feminine briefcase-type bag that I can find. (And it has a crossbody strap, in addition to the two handles on top.)  I'm in the market for a new purse, and I'd like one that can hold my paperwork neatly, and a laptop.  I'll be saving my pennies for this one!

The best way to store your record albums is standing up--no easy feat unless you have special shelving.  I really need one of these cases for my albums (they're lying down right now, FOR SHAME!)

This is only the CUTEST fabric I've ever seen!  I'd love to make something out of it, but I'm not sure what.  A pillow, maybe?  It would make a cute fabric to use as a pocket to offset a solid dress.  Maybe I'll get creative with it...

 
Too bad I don't know any friends who are getting married soon.  I love this cute little bridal tote bag!  Perfect for lugging makeup, shoes, etc. to the beauty parlor!

Pink and black is definitely my favorite color scheme.  This is only a bottle of nail polish remover, nothing exciting, but I think it would look super cute in my bathroom :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Small things.

I haven't been feeling very creative for the past two days. Progress on my novel has been at a stand still, although I have been doing a great deal of research. The fact that I don't have any desire to put pen to paper is slightly worrysome...I was going at a really respectable speed and now I've just stopped. I plan to hole up in a cafe tomorrow and see if I can squeeze some more out. (For some reason, writing at home isn't my strong point--even if there aren't many distractions.)

For now I leave you with small things that make me happy.
(Feel free to add your own.)

-Watching my kitten wash his face
-Drowning out the noise of the music studio next door with the 1812 overture (accompanied by my own half-assed ballet.)
-DVDs of Broadway shows in concert
-Not having to frolic outside in the ice :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Really, Ian?

As far as celebrities go, I think Ian Somerhalder is a pretty stand up guy for all his activist work. He and I see eye to eye on many issues, and I'm glad that he uses his celebrity status for good.

That being said, he's a hottie and I've been lusting after him since I caught him on some WB summer television series that I don't even remember the name of. [EDIT: Young Americans!]

But I'm slightly concerned about what's going on with his face...(Ian before: This is a movie still from Rules of Attraction, from this site)

Looks normal, right?
This photo was JUST posted today by Ian on his twitter.

I'm no pro at this, but I do think I'm pretty good at picking up changes in face shape. I'm thinking possible Rhinoplasty, but I'm not sure. His entire face looks different to me.

Any thoughts? I know, who cares, celebrities get plastic surgery all the time. But this one is bothering me. I tweeted him: Rhinoplasty? But he didn't respond...lol.


Don't mess with a good thing, people.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some day I will laugh at this...


...but not today.

Things that I don't own:

  1. Add ImageA shovel
  2. A broom
  3. A snow blower
Thing I DO own:
YEP. That's a frying pan.

Wish me luck. I've been at this for 2 1/2 hours already.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recycled: Meeting Sharon & Bram.

I wrote this post when I returned from a trip to Canada in 2007, where I had met Sharon and Bram of Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show. I was in total awe and still shell-shocked from the entire experience. It was incredible.

I'm sitting in the back of a silver Toyota Camry, and Bram Morrison has just lied to me.

"You know, in French, Avalanche means "vomit"." he had said matter-of-factly, as we passed a midway ride called "The Avalanche" which, by all means, is likely to make you vomit.

"Really?" asks everyone in the car. Even Sharon Hampson, who's toured with him for the past 30 or so years and should know his humor, believes him at first.

I can barely wrap my brain around this weekend. I am in the back seat of Bram's car. Sharon is in the passenger seat. Sitting next to me is Laura DeCesare, whom I've only just met the day before, but without her none of this would have been possible. There's no Lois, and there's no Eric Nagler, and there's no elephant, and although I'd really like for Lois to be there [she was always my favorite as a child], I'm overwhelmed enough as it is.

It started just before 4:00 P.M, as I'm sitting with Laura watching some girls dance on stage at the Winona Peach Festival. Laura taps me on the shoulder and points to my left. I look, and it's Sharon. She's waving. At us. I don't even know what to do. Fortunately my giant dark sunglasses cover up my wide-eyed look, but they couldn't conceal the shock on my face. I managed a meek little wave, as Sharon brought Bram over to wave to us too. Laura gets up and we both walk over to them, the whole time I'm smiling like an idiot. My emotions are very confused: Should I be laughing? Crying? Jumping up and down? How can I treat people I've been watching on television since age 3 as 'normal people'?

I manage to shake Bram's hand. I think I'm trembling. "I'm sorry, I'm completely shell-shocked." I say, staring in disbelief at the scene before me. A man named Al comes up to us, looking just as excited as I feel. "Hi I'm Al!" he says, pumping my hand enthusiastically as if I'm someone special. He thinks I'm with the band. I don't burst his bubble.

Next thing I know I'm sitting on the back of a golf cart with Laura and Sharon. Bram and Al are in the front, and we're driving through the Winona Peach Festival, towards the main entrance, to purchase some [what else?] peaches. Sharon and Laura are catching up, which is fine with me since I'm still in complete shock. We're driving by festival-goers, and in the back of my mind I want to say, "Don't you KNOW who these people are?! I'm on a golf cart with Sharon and Bram!" When we stop the cart, Al goes into a booth and brings the four of us peach sundaes. Sharon and Bram get peaches--two bags each-- and the girl at the counter tells them "I remember you." and continues in a calm voice. All I can think is If Sharon and Bram came through my line at CVS, I'd be hysterical. We return back to the trailer, which is being shared by all the groups but is currently empty. We put our things down and settle in for conversation. They talk a little bit about how Lois is doing, about various friends they all have in common. Sharon shows me photos of her grandchildren and talks briefly about her husbands illness [apparently he passed due to lung cancer not too long ago] before we're instructed to change the subject, or else she'll cry and ruin her 'elaborate makeup'. Laura informs them that I used to have a children's television show, and Sharon asked me if I loved it. I inform her that I did, and am trying to get it going again, but it's much harder to do with a full time job and a full time course load.

Sharon Hampson asks me, "Why are you going to college?" and I laugh. Of course she means what am I going to college FOR, and I explain psychology, but that ideally I'd like to major in Children's Media, if I could only find a school that offered it. Laura suggests I try Emerson, her alma mater, but I express apprehension about my grades not being good enough and my not having enough money.

We start singing not long after that, a nonsense song at first, and then "Fish and Chips and Vinegar". Bram plays the guitar, and our voices eventually bring curious passersby into the trailer-- mainly girls in their early 20s, who are even more star-struck then I am. They ask Sharon and Bram to sing "I am slowly going crazy", a song they inform us they had stopped singing for a number of years due to people complaining about it's political incorrectness. Bram tells a story of when they performed in Pennsylvania, I believe it was, & had sung a song about a hunter, in which they had used their fingers as pistols. After the show, a teacher came up to them and told them that it was a bad idea to mention guns and use finger pistols. They had realized she was right, and after some thought, came up with a lyric change which allowed them to still use the song. [Instead of 'or that hunter will shoot me dead' it became 'or rabbit foo foo will bop me on the head'.]

Outside, the sky, which had been threatening rain all afternoon, and sometimes drizzling-- picked this moment to release it's fury. Safe in the trailer, we continued to talk unbothered by the conditions, while Jam Sandwich, a canadian kids group, warmed up the crowd. They returned to the trailer soon later, soaked clear through to the skin. They also had a problem-- the stage roof was in danger of collapsing-- all of the rain water was collecting in the very middle. They took 20 minutes or so do drain it.

Sharon sings a song she has never sung before. It's beautiful and haunting-- "We'll Pass Them On" by Sally Rogers, which is about sharing the music with generations, and that generation passing on the music. And as Sharon sings I'm struck with this image of myself at age three, watching Sharon sing on television, never knowing that twenty years later she'd be singing to me about the IMPORTANCE of singing to me at age three. I fought back tears and won, only because I convinced myself that it would be completely embarrassing to cry in front of Sharon and Bram.

Al came back into the trailer eventually and asked if they were ready to go on stage. Sharon and Bram had been pretty much convinced that the rain would keep away any audience. I assured them that Laura and I would be loud enough that they wouldn't notice the difference, but if it meant that much to them, we'd gladly drive through the festival on a golf cart yelling at people to go see the show. Al assured Sharon and Bram that folks had actually been waiting THROUGH the downpour, and that they definitely had an audience. Bram got up to do a sound check and left Sharon with us for another 10 minutes or so. When she took the stage, Laura and I ran around to find seats and take pictures.

They sang If All The Raindrops, The Eensy Weensy Spider, Fish And Chips and Vinegar [a three part song-- this was the first time they sang it without Lois], Grandpa's Farm, She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain, A: You're Adorable, Little Rabbit Foo Foo, I Am Slowly Going Crazy, Tingaleyo, Rags, and closed with Skinnamarink.

At the very end, Sharon announced that they had some friends who had driven all the way from Massachusetts to visit with them, and would we stand up so everyone could wave to us? It was incredible. Al was very excited when he found out we were from America-- he said we were strengthening Canadian/American relations, and that we should be ambassadors, or something of the like.

After the concert Sharon and Bram did a short meet and greet, and offered us a ride back to our parking lot. We grabbed our stuff from the trailer and hit the road.. only to be unable to FIND our car. It had been very early when we arrived and the parking lot had been empty-- we were extremely disoriented. Sharon and Bram drove us around for ten minutes before we told them just to go on without us-- they had things to do that they were already running late for. We took some pictures with them, got some autographs, [I gave Sharon my business card, yay!] and then they were on their way.


All in all I came away from this weekend with a renewed sense of what it is I WANT to be doing with my life. I'm not as far away from my goals as I sometimes think. After all-- I just had a jam session with Sharon and Bram.

Present day note: My only regret from this trip was not taking more photos. I have a few of the concert, and some of the four of us together after the show. But I was SO nervous during our little jam session. I didn't want to suddenly turn all paparazzi and ruin the down-to-earthness of the entire moment. But I should have just turned my flash off and snapped a few photos.

Monday, January 10, 2011

One more thing to worry about.

Some of you may remember the Barbie Camcorder scandal that occurred this Christmas. I'd paraphrase it, but I do NOT want my blog coming up on perverts search engines. So I'll just tell you that people were concerned the camera might take some not-so-nice photos. Of youngsters.

(Ha! Find THAT, pervs.)

Anyway, now Lady Gaga herself has teamed up with Polaroid to create new Gray Label products. One of these products? Glasses. With a camera in them.

*Sigh*
*Headshake*

I understand the Barbie doll was marketed to kids, and that's the problem.

But now we have a pair of sunglasses that can be used to take photos AND videos. While all the while, sending the images to a USB drive.

Great.

I hope beyond hope that they make these glasses very obvious. I haven't seen an image of them, but I would really like to KNOW if someone is wearing them.

And, OH, GOD, what about PAPARAZZI? Seriously, Gaga? Do you really want to give them ANOTHER tool to poke into your private life with?

I do NOT see these glasses as being as wonderful as she has hoped.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

FYI...

I'm submitting my new novel to the "Dear Lucky Agent" contest on the Guide to Literary Agents blog! Winners get the first 10 pages of their manuscripts critiqued and a free subscription to Writer's Digest.

For more info, check out The Guide to Literary Agents blog!

To insure or not to insure...


As some of you may know, the company that my job obtains health insurance from decided to raise their rates by...well, a lot this year. And as some of you may also know, I was having trouble keeping my head above water with the rate it was at before the raise.

So, after much debate, I canceled my health insurance.

What this means to me, as far as I'm concerned, is that I'll have to pay out-of-pocket for my monthly birth control.

Which sounds scary...but when you look at it this way....

Birth control WITH health insurance: $15 a month
Health insurance: $450 a month (estimation)

Birth control without health insurance: $40 a month (again, another estimation. but I worked at a pharmacy so it's a slightly educated guess.) (Which would make it what, science nerds? That's right--a hypothesis!)
Health insurance: $0

Dropping the health insurance was clearly going to save me some serious dough.

So, I did.

It sound scarier than it is. In truth, I went to the allergist twice last year and the gynecologist once. I never even saw a regular doctor. (Even if I wanted to see one, I couldn't afford the co-pays or bills that my insurance would send, so I didn't go.)

I'm okay with both my meds, and neither one needs any tweaking, which means no new appointments are necessary, until maybe a gyno at the end of the year, which I can pay for out-of-pocket.

Also? I don't LIKE traditional medicine, anyway. I've seen alternative medicine work wonders, and in most cases (the two obvious exceptions being birth control and my allergy/asthma inhaler!) I favor that. Plus, I can't stand people who run to the doctor at every hiccup. I've never been like that. I come from tough stock ;)

So, $450 x 12? That's $5,400 that I'm going to be saving in 2011. And I can't wait. I hope to put almost every cent of that into my debt and maybe I can finally be squeaky clean by 2012! That would be pretty sweet.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Real*Love part duex

Japanese Sushi Plate Set
Two things I love, cherry blossoms and sushi, come together so perfectly in this cute little service-for-two sushi plate set. These cute robins egg blue plates have been on my Amazon wish list forever. One day they will be mine!
Antique french "rotund" birdcages
These ones are just a decorative copy--the real thing sells for somewhere around $4,000. No, thank you! But I am very much obsessed with these as of late. The characters in the novel I'm writing right now have a pet canary in a cage much like this. I almost want one myself. You know...for research. Not because the protagonist is a Mary Sue or anything...
Lucca Couture Ruffle Collar Jacket
Oh, skinny girls with small chests. How I envy you! I am still a size medium in most cases, but I am well aware just by looking at it, this beautiful jacket will NOT work with my hips and chest. So, go forth and buy this so that I may live vicariously through you. And send me photos, please. SO CUTE.
Fortune Teller Tree Incense Burner
Try as I might, I simply could NOT figure out what gives this tree 'fortune telling' properties. There was nothing that said, "The smoke blows to the left for yes..." or anything like that. The whole fortune telling concept here is lost on me. BUT, I do think this ancient tree man is cute...in a sort of creepy way. Not sure if I would buy him. I might turn his face to the wall when I went to sleep.

And I leave you with the thing I really love most right now. The email that totally made my day:
Yep. Yoko Ono is following me. (As you can see, she follows a LOT of people. But the fact that she actually had to physically click to add me? It might be silly, but I feel like a total rock star.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Real*Love

Pocket Canons: Books of the Bible
I'm not religious. At all. But Grove Press has a great idea with these pocket sized books of the Bible...you can literally take each book with you. And the covers are very much my style and sure to appeal to younger audiences, and people who are a little self conscious about maybe lugging a big Bible around on the bus or something. If I did read the Bible, I would definitely pick these up.
Steve Madden slippers
I think the applique flowers on these are just darling. They remind me of one of my favorite movies as a kid (which is still a guilty pleasure to this day!) Annie. In the film, Annie has a bathing suit that has similar flowers on it. So cute! I've also been needing a pair of slippers for a long time and was very happy to find these for just $4.99. And the great thing is, I could wear them out like clogs if I wanted to! Yes, please!
Cherry Blossom wall art, $166, found at Overstock.com
I'll admit, I'm biased. I have two cherry tattoos (one of cherries and one of cherry blossoms) so I am likely to love anything that has this imagery. But I also really like the idea of three separate canvases that make up one image. I've been seeing quite a bit of this lately, and I enjoy it. Extra bonus? That warm brown/orange tone on the outside of the painting would look stellar in my bathroom...when I'm finally finished painting it, that is!
La Cafetiere Tea Pot, $45 from Macys
I absolutely love this cute little tea press--and even the pretty box it comes in! It's not a practical purchase for me, seeing as I drink more coffee than tea. Also, my tea comes in tea bags and I assume you have to use loose leaf tea for this. Still! If I had a bigger kitchen (and a bigger paycheck!) I would pick it up merely for it's aesthetic value. Adorable!




Stay tuned for Real*Love part two...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Post-holiday laziness

Is anyone else's sleep schedule completely thrown off by the holidays? I keep feeling wide awake at night. I go to bed at my normal time (usually between 10 and 12) but then I wake up at 3, 4 or 5 A.M and I have a really hard time falling back asleep.

Last night (I was busy writing, editing and submitting) I was up until around 2:30 or 3:00...and then I SLEPT until 2:30 today. Thank goodness it was my day off!

I just can't seem to get back into the swing of things.

The good news, however, is that I FINALLY got out some mail that I had been having a hard time mailing. The universe really aligned against me on this one! But it's finally out, so I feel much less stressed out now.

I'm doing a lot of writing lately, as I said in my last post, which results in me blogging less. I'm going to try to schedule some posts for the next week or so, just so I don't seem so absent. So stick around! I have lots of Real*Love stuff to show you :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Writing overdrive!

I haven't been able to think of anything else but writing lately. I've been obsessively working on a second chapter of a new book, obsessively craving feedback about older pieces, obsessively trying to figure out my TENSES...

I am at present a member of three writing groups. (Just joined a new one today!) And I can't get enough. I'm working with one professional editor and two, maybe three non-professional ones.

I have one short story that currently got approved and moved to "phase two" in a magazine. I am unbelievably excited but trying to not get my hopes up, seeing as I've not exactly had a good year...

Here's my total from last year:

Pieces submitted: 35
Rejections: 27
Acceptances: 1
Lost/Never responded: 2
Still pending: 4
Rejected, but requested to see more work: 1

So...yeah. As far as I'm concerned, getting approved is a huge victory. As is, of course, the acceptance, and the one who requested to see more work.

I really wish I had more writer friends, though. We'll see what writing group number three has to offer.