Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trust Me

You may have noticed the new icon on the right of my blog. Trust 30. It's a challenge set forth by The Domino Project in honor of Ralph Waldo Emmerson's 208th birthday. Participants will write for 30 days to hopefully inspire ourselves to be honest visionaries, reflecting and creating direction for our own futures.

Additionally, each day, I'll receive in my mailbox and inspiration thought or essay by one of 30 authors chosen to speak to this challenge. And the fun part of that is, one of the featured authors is my friend, Sam Davidson whom I have written about and referenced numerous times on this blog.

Finally, The Domino Project is releasing a collectible edition of Self-Reliance that looks really sweet. But unfortunately, they only made 100 books and they're all gone. :( So you'll have to read my work instead, I guess...

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

So we're off. Thirty days of writing. Starting June 1st. Go.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Perry May Parry for the White House... Stab Me Now.

So the man who, as recently as 2009, said that it was conceivable the Texas may secede from the Union (um... the United States of America) provided things in our government led by the abominable President Obama didn't change soon, is now potentially running himself for President of the Union he believes so strongly in that he may lead us Texans to abandon.

Potential announcement here as recorded by Austin's own Statesman.

What a dumbass. Sorry, Grandma. But this guy is a real jerk. He's screwed up so much for Texans that he can't do much more damage here, so he needs to move on to bigger and better governments to manage and people to ruin.

I seriously loathe this man. We've only ever agreed on one thing: Arizona's law allowing racial profiling, I mean, law to ensure that their precious state wasn't being invaded by aliens (of the Mexican persuasion) was wrong and immoral. But that's the only nice thing I have to say about Governor Perry. And since Grandmother taught me that if I can't say anything nice to not say anything at all, I'm stopping there.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

33 Wishes... sort of.

It's here. Better late than never, eh? This is my Wish List for my 33rd Birthday which will be upon us in eight days. While my therapist suggested I register for gifts like women would for weddings or baby showers (debunking the idea that the community only helps provide for a woman if she's getting married or having a baby), I'm not ready for that. However, I will categorically share my wish list in three parts: What I Want, What I Need and... Be My Patron. Check it out...

  • Gift certificates to Parts & Labor (my favorite local store in Austin), Creatures (another local Austin treasure - it and P&L are located on South Congress just south of Riverside) or Anthropologie!
  • Full sized sheets for my bed (with two queen sized pillowcases) in neutral colors: white, cream or beige with minimum 400 thread count.
  • A curved curtain rod like this one (double rod!) at Bed Bath and Beyond or this cheaper one.
  • A new shower head like this one (also found at BB&B) with a "finger pause button" for when you're shampooing, shaving, etc. (awesome!)
  • a blender (for margaritas and smoothies - would like to try some new healthy alternatives) and maybe a vegetarian smoothie cook book (P.S. don't tell anyone I asked for a cook book. I'll never live it down).
  • a bar stool like this one at Ikea in black.
  • Other things I love... Books!... Candles!... Cool Belt Buckles!... Earrings and Rings!... Shoes (size 6)!... Scrapbooking stickers and stuff!... and Fingernail polish: one day a month or two ago I just decided that for the first time in my life, I wanted to wear bold, bright nail polish. But not your normal red or pink or brown. I want fun colors!...
  • New size 6 tennis shoes for walking, jogging and exercising (haven't had a new pair of in years and am running another 1/2 maraton relay in October).
  • Fillings on six teeth (approx $200 a tooth)
So this final section is things I would like to have but can't currently afford. They are things that, if I lived in the 1800s or early 1900s I could maybe get or do because I am artist and I would possibly have a patron. That patron would sponsored me and my art allowing me time to write and perform and not worry about how to pay the bills...

  • Headshots by Claire McAdams. $250. She's local, she's young, her work is amazing, and I really need a good headshot for auditions.
  • Dance classes at Ballet Austin in Ballet, Modern or Broadway Jazz. They sell "Class-cards." For a 4 class-card it's $60, an 8 class-card is $110, 12 classes is $150, 16 is $190 and a 20 class-card is $220.
  • My hair returned to it's more natural and more likable red-brown color (I'm still currently sporting the leftover blonde Evita hair now with two inches are dark roots!) I go to "gypsecowgirl" at Topaz Salon on South Lamar. $120-160.
  • Buy me a day to write. I earn $15/hour babysitting (and work 8-10 hour days) and approximately $10/hour acting (if I get cast in a show that pays!). So, buy me a "writing day" for $120 and I'll take a day off work and devote 8 hours to working on my book or buy me a writer's block for $40 and I'll devote four hours of a weekend to writing (either way, you'll get your name in my list of thank you's when/if the book is published!).
  • Voice lessons... in addition to getting another Masters in Minority Literature, I'm also considering another Masters in Vocal Performance. If so, I have to have the recommendation of a vocal coach to even apply to schools. And that costs money. Depending on the teacher, between $50 and $100 a lesson...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Born This Way: my song and my tee-shirt

If you're a fan of Glee, then hopefully you caught last week's episode (Season 2, Episode 18) about loving yourself as you are and living life to the fullest. My friend, Sam, has been all up on following your dream, living the life you always imagined, and being your best. From getting married to dying for a dream, Sam is always asking his readers to be uniquely them, to create from that conviction, and to simply get serious and live life, or maybe to seriously, simply live.

I too have been trying to do that in my own life. I quit my job last year to do theater full time (check that off), write more (picked up the pencil, but no check mark yet), and get more speaking and preaching gigs (ugh, I can't do this on my own... feel free to pick up the phone for me and hook a sista up) in addition to being more available to my friends (I'm a nanny for one of my bestie's - well, actually her 17 month old daughter - who was twice diagnosed with cancer last year) and my family (I hope to attend more graduations, retirements and holidays from here on out). Check and check on those.

But it's hard to live life to the fullest. Sometimes there are doubts. Sometimes there is self-pity. Sometimes there is self-deprecation. And sometimes there is the stopping of living life fully all together.

Glee sort of tackles that this week. Much of it has to do with image issues and self-loathing typical of teenagers, but certainly not limited to them (I mean, have you seen my nose? or how about my super round face? or my ass?!). However, another, more challenging aspect of last week's episode began to tackle bigger prejudices. Boldly, Glee has taken on homosexuality and bullying. And it's not just a tipped hat to the gay guy who dresses nicely and sings in the choir. One of the a gorgeous, Latino, cheerleaders is a closet lesbian. And one of the top football players is homosexual. But in addition to these prejudices, now Glee's taking on mental health disorders as School Counselor, Emma, discovers her OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a little OOC (out of control).

So when Rachel (the star of Glee Club) decides she wants a nose job so she can look like Quinn (the former captain of the Cheerio Cheerleaders), Mr. Schu steps in. And everyone makes tee-shirts confessing what they wish were different about them, what they've been ashamed of before, what they've let plague their thoughts so that they couldn't be who they were born to be. And we get an array of shirts:

After first writing GINGER, confessing her embarrassment at the color of her hair and the critiques it brought her in High School, Emma finally changes her shirt and writes, OCD. Mr. Schu writes BUTT CHIN, Brittany writes I'M WITH STUPID with an arrow pointing up to her brain and Puck writes the same with an arrow pointing down to his... dumbstick. Finn writes CAN'T DANCE, Mike writes CAN'T SING, Tina writes BROWN EYES and Mercedes writes NO WEAVE. In addition, they sing songs by reject artists who didn't make it as far as they really should have. They sing songs about claiming who you are. And of course, they end the episode performing Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and wearing their tee-shirts. Check it out.

So that got me thinking, what would be on my tee-shirt? And what song would I sing? It was easy to find an answer to the latter. I'd consider 32 Flavors by Ani DiFranco, Beautiful by Christina Aguilera, but would probably pick I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Folles, which has been my favorite song since I was a little girl and paraded around my parents house performing it until someone told me to shut up and quit singing for God's sake.

As for my tee-shirt? Well I've already mentioned my ski slope of a nose, my round face and matching bottom. But there were other things too... WEIRD maybe. I learned to embrace it as a child (or at least put up a good front) when I would respond, "Thanks, I take that as a compliment," whenever one of the kids in grade school would say, "You're so weird." In college, I learned to write, CLINICAL DEPRESSION on my metaphorical tee-shirt and at the advice of a therapist, chose to let God use me and my illness to help other people through hard times instead of resenting life and closing myself off to it. But now, maybe now I would write PERFORMER. Because for as impractical as it seems, and for as long as I've tried to just keep it a hobby, for as long as I've pushed it to the back burner because really, I'm an academic who should quit meddling in the arts... because now, it's just what I want to do. I am a singer and an actor and an actor who sings and a singer who acts. And I love performing anywhere, in churches, on the stage, in bars or clubs, at children's birthday parties (I would totally dress up as Mary Poppins or the Little Mermaid and crash your kids bday!). But owning that is hard. So is owning WRITER. So maybe that would be on my tee-shirt too. I write and write but I never publish. I set goal after goal of getting out a book but always find some reason to let it go. Everyone writes better than me, has more to say, employs better metaphors... whatever. You name the excuse and I've used it. So maybe WRITER would be on the shirt.

When I started writing this blog, I wasn't sure what would come out. I figured I'd write about how I love the song "I Am What I Am" and how I'm always afraid someone will find out I have a mental health disorder and will look at me differently. But I guess that's another perk of writing, it exposes how we really feel. And right now, I want to write. And perform. And I'm taking big steps (if hard steps) in one (do you know how many times I audition but am not cast?), and little steps in the other (at least I'm publishing my blogs!).

But maybe if I keep learning from art (Yes, I just called Glee art. Get over it.), I'll muster the courage to wear my shirts proudly, and eventually retire them for their irrelevance. And maybe I'll go to Curtain Call or some other open mic night one evening in Austin and sing "I Am What I Am" (even though I'm a girl and I'm not gay). And maybe one day I'll make theater my profession. And maybe one day I'll write a book, and go to Barnes and Noble and see it for sale on the shelf.

But in the meantime, maybe I'll just get used to saying, I was born this way... and smile... and mean it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Stop the World, I Want To Get Off!

I started crying. About three minutes before the show ended. I never cry in live theater. The audience may think I'm crying (that is why they call it acting), but in neither real life or theater, can I turn on the tears. They're either there or they aren't. And this weekend they were. Saturday night. And then again at the Sunday matinee after my parents flew back to Missouri.

You see, I'm performing as a Chorus Girl (#8 to be exact... if you line us up alphabetically) in Austin Playhouse's production of Stop the World I Want To Get Off. And my parents met performing in this show 44 years ago at William Jewell College.

"The funny thing about a circle is, it has no beginning and no end," Littlechap concludes. And as I sat there onstage behind him in my 60's, Brittish, half-plastic, hemline-well-above-my-knees costume, my normally dry eyes swelled with tears and I hoped no one would notice as the mood would quickly shift and I would have to be all smiles for the final scene.

My parents were watching their daughter perform roles they had played themselves 44 years ago when my father was young and agile and my mother ironed her hair straight. This was before thoughts of marriage, parenting or grand-pet-parenting was even a reason to pause or cry "stop the world!" altogether.

They never imagined me and I never imagined myself playing a role in this show before their eyes. And the circle keeps on going.

Here we are, Chorus Girl and Littlechap 2011 and Littlechap and Chorus Girl 1967...

I don't actually like the show. I probably shouldn't say that because now you won't come see it. Don't get me wrong, it's conceptually compelling, the music is classic and the it's a nice history lesson (as history will always repeat itself lest we learn from it), but it's a show about a man, Littlechap, who basically embodies everything I hate about men. It's a sexist, racist, period piece that is ultimately a comedy as it tells an (albeit too late) redemptive story of a man realizing the folly of his grandiose dreams, insatiable lust, superficial successes and wasted relationships. (Please stay tuned for a post entitled, "A Feminist Response to Stop the World, I Want To Get Off, or Why Not All Men Are Grasshoppers.")

The show actually turns 50 this year (I must have a knack for doing timely shows... remember The Fantasticks last year on its 50th Birthday? or Inherit the Wind on the bicentenary anniversary of Darwin's birth in 09?) And it is not a show to be seen by the faint of heart. And by that I mean, if you don't have an appreciation for this type of theater (think Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd or even The Fantasticks for that matter), then you may not understand this work of art. Similarly, if you're not well versed in history (or if you're under 65), most of the jokes, references and cultural stereotypes will be over your head. In other words, unless you're a theater freak or a history buff, you may not love this show.

But, the performances are wonderful in case you do think you'd appreciate this fun musical. Rick Roemer as Littlechap is superb and as my father said, "the role is so easy to overact, but Rick did a beautiful job and showed much honesty with the character." Angela Davis as Evie (and Anya, Isla and Gennie) has amazing accents and characterization for all her roles. And, quite frankly, I'm pretty awesome as Chorus Girl #8. :)

To buy tickets (HALF PRICE for STUDENTS!!) to this super show at one of Austin's premier professional theaters, grab them online or call the box office at 512-476-0084.

Famous songs from the show are "What Kind of Fool Am I?," "Gonna Build a Mountain," and "Once In a Lifetime." Famous people to play these roles include Joel Grey as Littlechap. And, of course, it was made into a movie in 1966.

Stop the World - I Want To Get Off! debuted on The West End 50 years ago, is set in a circus, and tells the timeless tale of Littlechap, a clown who conquers the world but loses himself. The story will be told through song, dance, drama and the artistry of the Austin Playhouse acting company. The show is a cherished musical classic - a boundless, shameless, and humorously entertaining production. (Yes, I stole this piece of promo from the website.)

And if you need a little help with context, here's some helpful cultural and historical reminders...
  • Lumbered: to walk or move with heaviness, awkwardness or clumsiness, slang for imprisoned or burdened, used as a euphemism for being "screwed" (but not in the good way).
  • Quid: slang for the brittish currency (the pound).
  • Fag: slang for cigaratte.
  • Stalingrad: one of the bloodiest battles during WWII in which the Allies defeated Germany and secured the eastern world from their control. It's name was changed to Volgograd in the 60s during de-Stalinization of the country.
  • Neuremburg: location of Allies military trials prosecuting prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated German Nazis.
  • Butterfield 8: an oscar winning movie where Liz Taylor plays a call girl.
  • Presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961. John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963.
  • Luftwaffe: generic German word for air force.
Again, to buy tickets, grab them online or call the box office at 512-476-0084. And maybe this little fool will see you there...