Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thoughts On The Years To Come

I don't want to jump into any career changes too soon. I genuinely love my current job. But, I like to think about the future and how I might grow and become better.

I was looking into teacher certificate programs last week. Despite already having a BFA, an MLitt, and an MFA--it will take me two years to become a certified teacher. I like teaching, but it seems like the field is saturated and I'm just not sure. I love teaching college--but so do a lot of other people. It's very difficult making a consistent living as an adjunct, and they want PhD people. I have thought about getting my doctorate--but in what? I don't enjoy theory enough to get it in English and theatre is a hands on practice. The MFA is the best terminal degree for theatre--and I have that already. 

A friend of mine is in Law School and it could be that I miss school, but I keep thinking about it. It feels like Law combines my love of the theatrical, with my love for business, and my love for language. I decided to see if I really have an aptitude for it.

I started taking random LSAT practice tests online last night. I missed the first question. But ever since that first question, I've gotten every other question right. I really think I could do this. Some weird combination of script analysis, teaching Ethics for three years, and studying rhetoric has created in me a mind that just might rock the LSAT. And if I rock the LSAT--I will get into Law School.

I saw a feminist meme last night on Facebook that talked about the money that women make compared to the money men make--and of course there was a picture of a woman lawyer. A brand spanking new lawyer makes quite a bit more money than a teacher--and it's only one more year of school. So, I'm leaning.

I still love doing theatre, but lately I feel like doing theatre is a little out of my control. I've been performing and studying theatre constantly since I was 13 years old. At some point, you really want to believe that the unpredictability will go away--but it's only gotten worse. I would still love to perform, but I need to step back for a bit and check out other avenues.

I'm 36 now. I have a good 50 years left on this planet. I am opening myself up to all the options available to me.

Today I am grateful for the years to come.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Musings on Getting a Doggie

I want to get a dog. I think.

Reasons not to get a dog:

1) I live in an apartment and there are days where I'm gone a long time.
2) Upfront costs.
3) I can barely take care of myself, let alone an animal.
4) All of my plants are dead. Shouldn't it be required that you keep plants alive before graduating to larger living things?
5) Vacations.

Reasons I want to get a dog anyway:

1) If I can find the right breed, I think the doggie will be happy in my little apartment. Although, I think it would be kinder to get two doggies so they can keep each other company.
2) I will wait until I get taxes back and use that for upfront costs.
3) I am not good at taking care of myself because it's me. Maybe because it's taking care of other little souls--I'll inadvertently care for myself. I can talk myself out of going on a walk by myself in the morning--an enriching experience--but I won't have a choice when it comes to the doggies. This will help me out as well.
4) I will google many things and make sure that I don't kill the doggies.
5) My parents love doggies.

Things I imagine doing with my doggie:

1) I could put up a little doggie gate at the office and have my doggie here with me at the office when I'm at work.
2) I could set up a doggie bed at the foot of my bed and leave the curtains open so the doggies can watch people go by during the day.
3) I can take the doggies for little walks around my neighborhood as the sun is rising.
4) We can trot along the sidewalk in the evening.
5) We can go visit my parents and surprise them with puppy kisses!

I'm going to make myself wait until mid March before I go to the pound. If not, I'll fall in love with a doggie now--and I need to give myself enough time to let these thoughts percolate.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Birthday Thoughts

Clearly, birthday thoughts can only be expressed on the birthday.

1) I made an awesome steak this morning. I perfectly grilled a ribeye steak to a perfect warm pink center. It was divine.

2) I am dressed up. I did my hair and make up. My face is puffy because I'm puffy right now. This is not pleasing.

3) Over the past month, I keep imagining running my car off the road. I keep imagining disappearing. I have these horrible instances where I just feel so completely insignificant. Not unloved--just separate from. And it's my own fault. In my need for space--I've forced myself into this very isolated place. I just feel like I'm an unnecessary player. And while I'm not suicidal, I'm not entirely eager to live either. I just feel disconnected.

I can feel the love resonating from the birthday wishes I've received this year, and each touches me in that part of my heart that felt so unnecessary. I opened my grandmother's card and cried. I read my dad's card and cried. So many of my friends and family's wishes have touched and confused that part of me that whispers that I am separate. A part from.

Thank you for that. These feelings are the result of--

a) the long flu of December
b) not getting to bed on time--(I really need more sleep)
c) winter blues
d) lack of oxygen due to inversion
e) the stress of bills I've ignored

These things all contribute to this weird lonely paranoia. I was thinking to myself the other day that I was feeling insecure. I hate feeling insecure. Such a horrible feeling.

4) I have wonderful friends. Two friends took me to breakfast Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon I saw a play with a bunch of people I really love. I went to Thai food with friends and my little brother Nick down in Provo. Then I caught the last half of Hairspray at Midvale Main Street Theatre.

5) Yesterday at church, we sang my favorite hymn in choir. I get to work with splendid people on the music committee.

6) My dad came over and brought me birthday flowers! We got to watch Sherlock and just chill and chat. It was great fun.

7) This morning, another good friend called and we caught up about acting and he told me his adventures in La La Land.

8) My mom sent me my birthday wishes in French. I can't wait to spend time with her next week!

Right now, I'm sitting at my desk at work. I love this place.

I would like to get some new shoes. Mine all stink. I don't buy shoes. I need to make that more of a priority.

I don't think I'll ever not get depressed/overwhelmed/apathetic. (Not synonymous of course... just... varying symptoms of the same problem.) I think the only thing that changes over time for a woman of my varying tempers is that I know they vary. I know that things will pass. I need to get better at passing through these moments without eating quite so much ice cream. It's just not healthy.

Wishes for myself on this day of my birth:

I want to be less apologetic.
I want to be genuine.
I want to be stronger.
I want to be sensitive to others' feelings before I launch into discussions about my own feelings.
I want to be unafraid of my beauty.
I want to be responsible.
I want to be light.

A Review of Bonnie and Clyde

On Saturday afternoon I went to see Utah Rep's production of Bonnie and Clyde at the Lehi Arts Center. It closes Feb 1st.

The space is beautifully small. The live band, directed by Anjanette Mickelson, was enchanting. Frank Wildhorn's music is a lovely combination of beautiful melodies reminiscent of Jekyl & Hyde infused with twangy gospel infused country.

I enjoyed the balanced sound.  The voices blended well with the instruments.  At the same time, because of the intimate space--when they announced that they would be firing blanks--I spent the rest of the show covering my ears in anticipation. One poor woman had a blank fired right above her head. I thought she was going to scream. It sure made things exciting.

The show flowed together--scenes weaving in and out. The director, Adam Cannon, created a beautiful world in that small space. He directed a great show that was true to Wildhorn, Don Black, and Ivan Menchell's book and lyrics.  And yet... the show starts off showing us the dead duo. We know what's going to happen. So why on earth does it take 45 minutes for them to die? From the song "Dyin Ain't So Bad" to the reprise of "Dyin Ain't So Bad"--it was just too long.  The show is 3 hours long. The Broadway running time was 2 hours and 20 minutes. I don't know how they managed to add 40 minutes to the show.  Because of the length of the play, I stopped caring. It's like when I went to see Titanic in the movie theater. I really needed to pee and I really needed Leo and Kate to just die already. Or sink.

Favorite moments and characters:

Loved young Clyde. He was darling. His character was a great visual image of the innocent ambitions behind Clyde's dark deeds.

Twyla Wilson's character Blanche Barrow was complicated and north star true. Twyla's voice was like a bell. One of my favorite moments was the duet between Bonnie and Blanche--"You Love Who You Love".

The ensemble was a definite highlight. I especially loved Christopher Bradford and company's performance of "Made in America".

Johnny Wilson's performance of Buck Barrow made sense. I understood everything he did--and every choice he made. He helped me to understand where Clyde was coming from.

Between Buck and Young Clyde--I began to understand where Clyde was coming from. I even respected his decision to break out of jail and choose his own life over someone else's.  My problem with Johnny Hebda's performance of Clyde--is that I never really bought his intentions with Bonnie. Every kiss they shared was so driven by desire that I couldn't relate to the their love story. Instead--it was just really codependent.

Which brings me to Bonnie. I enjoyed that Madeline Weinberger was able to play the pathos and the sass--but I never saw how these moments connected. I missed her arch. The play itself is a collection of moments--vignettes. And in one moment, she wants nothing more than to be famous. And in another moment, she wants nothing more than to be with Clyde. Then she is tired of running. Then she resigns herself to her tragic fate. Through each of these incarnations--there was very little by way of a common thread. It was as though Ms. Weinberger was playing three different characters. Her connection to Mr. Hebda was best when they were joking or making out. But I missed moments of vulnerable tenderness. Or rather, when the tenderness finally came, it was too late in the play.

The production gave me a great deal to think about. I don't need to gush about the beautiful voices--because somewhere on the internet, someone else did. And really--this is Utah. Who doesn't have a beautiful voice? The vocal range of Clyde Barrow is out of Mr. Hebda's range--but he makes a valiant effort. Why is it every leading man on Broadway must be a tenor? Is there no room for a baritone anymore?

Dallin Major as Ted Hinton was a revelation.

Clyde, Buck, and Ted's voices on the reprise of "Raise A Little Hell" gave me goosebumps.

Another favorite scene was at the beginning of the show, "You're Goin Back To Jail". Speaking of that scene and others--there were a few great funny moments. It was just lovely.

Overall, it was an enjoyable afternoon at the theatre--albeit a little long for the subject matter.  The melodies were beautiful and the actors were talented. The weakness in the production was in the play--not in the production. There's a reason this show only ran for 4 weeks on Broadway.  The story is ultimately uninteresting and uninspiring. And no amount of beautiful Wildhorn melodies can make up for that.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thoughts on Time

Time is not a gospel doctrine.

Time is not a spiritual concept.

Time simply marks the difference between point A and point B.

Every day is an eternity. There is no beginning and no end. You can predict eternity by looking at your day. In order to have eternal joy--you must find joy in the moment--contentment and peace in the present.  The past and the future are abstract constructs that we create in order to make sense of the never ending present.

But long ago--God created the concept of a probationary time. A time to prepare to meet God.

(Read Alma 42)

Life on earth is this space of time. During this space of time--we can change our days--and as a result, change our eternity.

My day at 10 years old is different from my day at 18 years old, and my day at 35 years old. Because of this--I know I can progress. I can mark my improvement and I can change my eternal outlook--simply by changing what takes place within a period of time.

Time is not an eternal concept. It is a gift that God gives us to show us that He believes in our capacity to grow and change during this period of probation.

Eternal joy comes when we are able to find peace and joy in our day to day grind.  Since every day is its own eternity--it's important to make time during the day for peace, gratitude, love, contemplation, and more love. In this way, we shape our eternity.

Imagine a world without time. Time exists because God believes in our ability to change. The passage of time and the process of aging is indicated in our changes.  I am not who I was before. And I will not remain in this state either.

Every day represents an eternity. And the existence of time is proof of God's confidence in our ability to improve.

(These thoughts are brought to you by a conversation with a dear friend currently in Law School. He's supah smaht and his words get my brain all percolatey.) 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I’m sitting in the living room. The carpet is brown. It’s old. The walls are white because it’s a rental. We have a tiny little twelve inch TV. And I’m watching it. I’m sitting on my couch watching this tiny little television.  My mom comes in and I feel my weakness hanging in the room.  I prefer the isolation of watching television to going outside. I prefer this distraction.

I remember riding my bike behind his bike. I remember feeling the wind in my hair as I rode faster and faster. I remember singing Madonna softly under my breath as he rode next to me, “Uh oh uh oh Ahhhhh… Trying hard to control myself…”  He got it. That afternoon, I fell in the grass and heard him whisper, “I love you!” behind me.  We were 8.

I like being outside in the Utah summer nights.

But I also liked watching TV alone.

I remember my brothers and I would fight over whether we were going to watch The Cosby Show or The Simpsons. It’s funny because we didn’t even own a television before that first 12 inch set.  And today, we all control our own smart phones and electronical tv watching devicy thingies that give each of us isolated control.

My first choice is always to isolate. But I know I can have a good time when I spend time with people too. It’s just not the easy choice to make. It’s easy to curl up and watch the story unfold. It is exciting to do your hair and think about making memories. But then, time passes, and you do your hair and your make up, and nothing happens. You wanna dance—but the music just isn’t right. No one else wants to dance. You’re in this huge crowd of people, and you feel alone.

I remember standing at a Broken Social Scene concert in New York City. I pushed my way towards the front so I could feel the crowd and the music. Three drum kits, at least 5 bass players, guitars galore, and a horn section to rival Glenn Miller. The house was packed with people there to share in the music. I was there to share with them. I tried. I loved the music. I sailed away in it. But I was isolated. I watched lovers cling to one another during “Lover’s Spit”.  And I took pictures and videos and sent them to my lover who lived far away.  I was in love, but isolated. In a crowd, but cut off.

That night on the drive from New York City to Virginia, I made the decision to put off the move to New York City and move to Utah to be closer to him and closer to my family.

Fast forward.  He hurt me. I retracted. I am cut off. I have cut myself off. I’m in the middle of huge crowds of people—people who want to love me. But I am hidden behind an apathetic, colorless face.  I isolate and withdraw for as many hours of the day as I can stand and come out to play and mingle during rehearsals and occasional meetups.  The rest of the time, I watch TV, play games, and peer from a safe distance.

I’ve had relationships since then, but without certain assurances, I worry that I will humiliate myself in love again. At our age, everyone needs these upfront assurances. And so we distance ourselves—standing behind these bold demands. And because of our age, we have little to offer one another by way of assurances. I’m too old to not be fat. He’s too old to not be broken. We’re both too old to not be jaded. And so we pretend not to care in between moments where we cling to one another and I awe at the sound of another person’s heart beat.

Because socialization is difficult, I create obligations.

I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5. The piano allows me to isolate, while creating music that invites others to participate in my isolation. When I was younger, I would play and play—expressing stories and feelings through the keys. When I turned 13, I started doing plays. It was an opportunity to express the same stories in a different way-but with the same dynamics I had discovered as a piano player.  Just as my fingers learned to create tension, wonder, peace, pain, joy, anger, solace—I discovered how to reveal the dynamics of a character. Only in the theatre, I was required to rely on other artists to tell the story. I was no longer isolated.  I spent hours in rehearsal with my best friends. We were united in a purpose, and because I was obligated to come to rehearsal, I wasn’t allowed to choose the easier path of isolation.

People wonder why the theatre is filled with introverted actors.  I can only explain my own story. Isolation is easier. Theatre forces me to interact. It reminds me to enjoy and respect what friends can bring to a work, as well as the joy I find in the company of like minded friends.

The idea of going to a party or a reception simply because is out of the question. I find no joy in it. If I’m responsible for something—even if it’s just ensuring that someone shy won’t be alone—I am thrilled to be able to serve. But I go for the joy of friendship, not for the joy of mere socialization. And yet some obligations won’t arise until you arrive. When faced with the choice of a large party or the comforts of my isolation, I choose comfort.

Am I comfortable alone because I don’t know the joy of responsibility in love? Have I created a life so comfortable that I don’t even know what I’d prefer?

I think I would like to get a dog.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why 12 Years a Slave Should Win Best Picture

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

My dad loves movies. He would prefer not to go alone, but he will. But he loves it when I can join him. He loves to see every recommended flick out there. As a result, I have had this wonderful opportunity to enjoy more movies this year.

Last night, he invited me to come and see 12 Years A Slave at the Broadway Theatre downtown.

For those of you keeping up with the Oscar nominated movies, this is the favorite to win.

12 Years a Slave is not one of those movies that you WANT to see. I wasn't excited to see it. But it is something you NEED to see.

Lest the title is confusing--it is a movie about a man who is a slave for 12 years.

Why is this important?

Because he is NOT a slave at any other time.

Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northrup, a free black man who has a thriving career as a musician. He lives in a beautiful home with his wife and two children. He is educated and respected among his friends and neighbors in upstate New York.

And then he is kidnapped and made a slave for 12 years.

Michael Fassbender plays Epps, the man who purchases Solomon Northrup.

He lives in a world where he sees slaves as property.

They are things. They are animals.

To imagine a world where a black man might be free and educated is beyond his capacity. Is he wicked if he is unable to imagine what he has taken from the man? If he is unable to imagine his slaves in freedom, then is he guilty?

In every moment where a slave exhibits human ingenuity, a human need, or frailty, he returns them to their state of pathetic apathy through torture.

Lupita N'yongo plays Patsy. She is a slave who has never known anything else. She grew up picking cotton, and while the men are expected to pick 200 pounds a day, she picks at least 500 pounds a day.

One day, Patsy disappears and returns with a bar of soap. While Epps yells at her for being gone for an hour, she tries to explain her need to clean her awful stink from the work that she does day in and out. She simply wants to be clean. It's a simple human desire. Rather than recognizing and understanding it, Epps squashes her need with a brutal whipping.

Each of these people have a different frame of reference by which they see the world and by which they see themselves in the world. Through their contact with one another, each person's worldview is enlarged to provide opportunity for evolution. Patsy sees the educated Solomon and she discovers that she is not prized cattle, but an abused woman. Epps fights his evolution as he spouts scriptures that support his worldview.

My favorite moment in the film is a long shot of Solomon towards the end of the movie.

It is subtle, brilliant, and it tells the whole story in one achingly long shot of Solomon's face.

You see his face on the left side of the screen. The whole right side is open.

At first his face is turned toward the left--the beginning. The light shines on his face, and because we read from left to right, there is a subconscious understanding that the light represents the joy of his beginnings. After looking with longing to his left at the light, his face slowly turns forward as he acknowledges his present. Immediately his face darkens and his eyes grow hard and wet. You expect him to turn toward the right, but he never does. He can't. The right indicates the future. And the future is either filled with horror, or the possibility of hope. Hope is not allowed. Hope will break you. And so he simply stares forward, facing only the present.

It is perfect.

Our world is filled with people who live in their own world. We each see ourselves differently. And we find ourselves with opportunities to evolve and expand these views as we come in contact with different people. We can fight against it and reduce ourselves and others, or we can allow ourselves to learn, and to see through different eyes. Allowing for growth does not make us wishy washy. It does not make God changing. We learn line upon line. As we learn one another's stories, our intelligence expands, our capacity for love expands.

This movie is not comfortable. It is not entertaining. It is necessary.

And it should win best picture.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The First Day

The first day is important. And so I did nothing particularly important.

I rolled out of bed when I woke up. I took a shower.

My grandma is important to me. I noticed her face still has this lovely shape. Even as I noticed her wrinkled jowls, the definition of her jaw catches my eye and I can see how beautiful she will always be. She moves slowly, but her eyes sparkle like a little girl. My brother Nick drove from Tremonton and three of us went to see The Book Thief. It's a movie about death, narrated by Death. And books. And words. It's kind of the perfect movie for anyone in my family. We're morbid and we read. A lot.

I've heard critics don't like it. They're stupid. It was a wonderful movie. I don't know whether it followed the book because I haven't read the book. (I guess we don't read as much as we should.) The movie talks about the Word. That Word that gives Life to everything.

After the movie, we ate lunch, did some chores, shared stories, and I got an emergency call from work. I left.

At work, I called my dad and asked him to help me out. He was there in 5 minutes. It was pretty spectacular. Nick left Grandma's and joined us. Then the three of us went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  I've read the short story by Thurber. I've seen the Danny Kaye movie. Really--these movies need to say, "This movie is based loosely around a complicated character that James Thurber wrote--but his story was just so damned depressing, we decided to write the ending we imagined as we read the ending Thurber wrote...And really, you're perfectly happy with the changes because you didn't like his ending either. And really, we changed the middle too... And a lot of the beginning too."

But that might be a little long.

As New Years movies go, it's perfect.

The movie honors life. And Life. More than that, it honors the ordinary as much as it honors the extraordinary. Everything in the movie catches your breath. And it's meant to. Reality is beautiful. Connection. Love. Loss. All of it. There's a line I can't quite recall, "Beauty doesn't need to be sought after." I don't know if I got it right, but it's true. Beauty simply is.  Like my grandmother's face.

So I spent the first day of the year reveling in well told stories next to people I love. I love hearing my brother laugh. I love sitting next to my sweet grandma, while she watches a little girl who was just a couple of years older than she had been during the war, in a country that she lived in so many years ago. I love hearing the tears catch in my dad's throat.

I hate the inversion. I resolve to go up to Park City as often as I can to allow my lungs and my spirit some relief from the smog. I resolve to find the extraordinary in my ordinary.

Today I'm grateful for the new, the beautiful, and for my family.