Category Archives: Memoir

Into the Woods: So Happy

We went and saw an early screening of Into the Woods the other day. When did we start hearing about this movie being made? A couple years ago? The first whisperings. Then you start hearing casting and concepts. What songs will they cut? What plot lines will they change? I remember there was rumor of one big change – which then apparently “fell through” because of “public outrage.” (I still think it was a publicity stunt.)

This show is so personal, to both Drew and me. Here’s the background: back in college, my two best friends and I decided we wanted to produce the show. We were young and reckless, and there was this student “production” group on campus, Studio 301, that at the time, was basically a campus organization that anyone could just jump on and do whatever show they wanted. (I actually think it was through Studio 301 that had presented Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb!)

So to make a long story short, we got together, got some early funding, got the royalties, got a production team, got a faculty advisor, got a space, got a cast, got some business cards to pass out to promote the show…and put on Into the Woods in the spring of 2005. I directed, and my friends played Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.

Here’s the set – this is Wyatt Pavilion, the cattle show ring turned thrust stage.

woods set

 

I literally still have a piece of the story book writing from the wall.

When we were doing auditions in the fall of 2004, Drew (then just a friend of mine) came in to audition for the part of Milky White, the cow. We hadn’t planned on casting a person – it just hadn’t occurred to any of us – and I think we were just going to use a plaster cow that we were pretty sure was in prop storage underneath the theatre department. But he’s a genius and so the musical director and I went with it. He played Milky White, and also Little Red’s Granny, which I actually still think was hilarious, because the costume designer really made no attempt to make him look old, or like a woman.

Drew is very creative, and he makes a lot of choices. I think having the cow be more a character and less of a prop actually adds a lot to the show. In our case, the cow did things like eat flowers, eat Cinderella’s hair at one point, and offer to play Clue with his bff, Jack.

milky white

(On a completely unrelated note, here’s a tumblr of Low Budget Milky Whites. Completely unrelated.)

(Also – I so wish that cameras were better quality back then, that long long nine years ago. I took all these pictures with my digital camera, but it just didn’t capture movement well without the flash, and so most of the pictures are super blurry, and also far away, since I was running around in the house while taking these. I treasure them anyway.)

Anyway, by the time we started rehearsals, Drew and I were dating, which I think is partly why I thought all his choices were hilarious. So yeah, this show has a lot of emotion and memory attached to it for both of us.

Which is why we were both excited and scared to go see the screening. I mean, this movie could have gone really wrong.

But it didn’t! I am happy to say that we both liked it and I think that Rob Marshall and Disney did a good job of adapting it. I miss some of the songs they cut out – but I get why they did. I think the edits are good, and the Baker’s story is fleshed out in an interesting way you don’t really get onstage. It’s funny, poignant, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. The parenting themes hit me harder than they have in the past, maybe because I haven’t seen a production in awhile, just listened to it, and it’s not the same. At any rate, I’m a big fan, and can’t wait to watch it again.

Happy now, happy hence, happy ever after!

(Oh, and yes, Tug was a decent Milky White, but I mean, she was no Drew…)

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Filed under Drew, Memoir, Sentiment, Theatre

The Correct Way to Work a Holiday Gift Exchange

Tonight is our work holiday party, complete with yankee swap gift exchange. In honor of this tradition, I thought I would reuse this blog post from a few years back, which basically sums up my priorities and my wisdom in one anecdote.

Originally posted on Dec 14, 2011.

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Alternate title: My Shameful, Gleeful Secret.

Despite knowing about my work holiday party, and the “yankee swap” type gift exchange, I didn’t remember to buy a gift until the day of the party. (Also despite browsing at Macy’s over the weekend, picking things up and wondering if they were appropriate for a holiday gift exchange.)

On my lunch break I ran to Target to pick up some boring stuff and also look for a gift. On the drive there I decided to buy a book, because I’ve talked about books with several other people here, and I thought that would be a nice diversion from the numerous bottles of wine that I was sure would be there.

I looked through the book section, but there wasn’t really much of interest. There was a wall of trashy teen romance, a wall of trashy adult romance, a wall of trashy thriller/suspense…and then I saw a single copy of Stephen King’s recent collection of novellas: Full Dark, No Stars.

I know of at least two other people in the office who like Stephen King, and he’s pretty mainstream, so I thought it would be a better gift than, you know, Twilight or The Chocolate Cat Caper or something like that. (Although, I also thought about getting Dollhouse, the book “written” by the three Kardashians.)

So I bought the book and wrapped it in a little bag, and told no one except Jonathan what it was. I deposited it under the tree at the holiday party and waited for the gift exchange to begin.

Soon I started feeling like I needed to leave the party soon – later that night Drew, Erin and I were going to a screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – and for a minute or two I wondered if I could get the present back out the door if I left before we started the swap.

But then we all settled down and the fun began, and I’m glad I stayed, because it was super fun. The entire thing (there were around 30 people participating) took about 90 minutes.

I was number 26 in the lineup and I had decided I wouldn’t just select my own gift, even though Full Dark, No Stars was one of the few Stephen King books I didn’t own. When my turn came, I stole a set of balsamic vinegar and olive oil from someone else, and I was very happy with that steal. After all, I could always go back to Target and buy another copy of the book.

In a few more turns, a girl sitting next to me selected my gift, and once she’d unwrapped it, she looked less than enthusiastic. No one seemed to want to steal it either. Perhaps I had completely misjudged this group – and neither of the people who I know like Stephen King were at the party.

In another few turns, the hostess of the party stole my balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and I made a snap decision to steal Full Dark, No Stars. Which I did. That girl opened another present and seemed much happier with it. No one stole the book from me after that.

When I got home, I told Drew the whole story and then displayed the book, and he said, “Well, I guess that worked out perfectly.”

And it did.

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under Awesome, Books, Holidays, Humor, Memoir, Nonfiction, Work

The First Meeting of JASP

This is a shout out to one of my besties. We’ve worked together for the last few years, and we’ve been through the ringer together. We even have a celebrity couple name: JASP. (It’s just our initials. No big deal.) We’ve technically only known each other for about 4 years, but here’s a fun fact about us.

Back when we were both still in college, 6 years before we officially met and became coworkers and cohorts, we attended the same production of Into the Woods at the theatre company we would eventually work for. November 30, 2005: we both sat in the Lucie Stern Theatre and watched it snow onstage after intermission. (As our Artistic Director says, “It all makes perfect sense when you realize it’s snowing in the second half.”)

Much has changed since 2005 – much has even changed since our official meeting in 2011. But I just wanted to say that I’m so happy I know you, Jonathan! #tbt to that time we both saw Into the Woods on the same date without knowing it!

(But we are way cooler now than we were back then.)

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(To be clear, these are both pictures from the cooler “now.”)

 

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Giving thanks, 2014 style

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ll be honest with you: this year has kind of sucked.

Every New Year we say “This is gonna be OUR year!” And sometimes we’re right: 2009 was a good year. As was 2012.

But 2014 was not kind to us. But the silver lining – because I always have to look for the silver lining – was that I spent much of this year being actively thankful for specific things in my life. Because I had this idea that, if I spent too much time dwelling on the negative things, God and karma and the universe would say something like, “Guess you don’t care about all this good stuff then.” And it would be taken away.

So I’ve thought a lot this year about the people in my life, the ways I’m blessed, and the things I’m grateful for. And there are plenty of them. At the top of almost every list are my husband and my son, two people I couldn’t live without. There are my parents, who are consistently supportive and loving and who make the 3-hour drive from Lakeport to Pacifica over and over and over, just to hang out with us. Drew’s parents treat me like one of their own and I have literally ZERO crazy “in-laws” stories (and I know that other women out there have some crazy in-laws). There are my friends: the real-life ones who have put up with me for years, and my online mommy friends, all of whom are invaluable. I have a job I love, with people I love. I get to live by the ocean in a neighborhood and an apartment that I really, really like. (There’s even ample street parking.)

And on top of all of that, this year I’m also thankful that 2014 is almost over. Rather than ringing in this New Year by saying “I can’t BELIEVE it’s already 2015!” I’ll be saying, “Thank God. Now, bring on a fresh start.”

Just to make sure I don’t end on a downer, here are some really specific things I’m thankful for at this exact moment: My kid is napping, and he apparently knows who Elmo is, which surprised both Drew and me this morning. I made a German chocolate pecan pie for dessert tonight and while it looks a little, um, “homemade,” the filling part tastes good. We’re actually going to finish our Disney Project this year, which was a grand undertaking, and I’m proud of that. It’s a really pretty day right now…but I hear it’s going to rain all weekend, which would be really nice.

See? Still an optimist. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Filed under Baby, Children, Drew, Endings, Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Sentiment, Writing

The Best 5 Years

Yesterday marked five years of wedded bliss with my best friend! (We are not celebrating in Gone Girl-style, although I’m not going to lie, I thought about it.)

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Five years is 1/6 of my lifetime. It doesn’t sound quite as impressive as saying that Drew and I have been together for almost 10 years, which is 1/3 of my lifetime, and encompasses perhaps the most interesting decade of my life. I’m so glad that for most of my “Omg, remember when this happened?” moments, he’s a part of that.

I love our team. When counting my blessings, I put this at the top of the list. I just feel very lucky.

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Filed under Awesome, Drew, Love, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment

tbt: Theatre Obsessions

I remember this one time, in my sophomore year of college, there was this production of Falsettos. I wasn’t working on the show but I had seen it a couple times – I don’t think we ever ran a show longer than two weekends, but I had to go to a tech rehearsal for a class. I had become obsessed with the show…an obsession that’s lasted for the next decade.

It was a Sunday night, closing night of Falsettos. I wanted to go see it one more time. But there was another show closing that weekend – a one-man show by another student. I’ll call him Ivan. The show was called Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! Good gravy.

I had promised the stage manager of the show, a friend of mine and someone I looked up to, that I would come see his show that night. But by late afternoon I was just lying on the floor of our apartment, tormented because I wanted to take my very last opportunity to see Falsettos. I was completely torn. I was a little over-dramatic.

The moral twin of my Gemini sensibility must have been on duty that night, because I went to Ivan on Ivan: In Reverb! But I regretted it almost immediately. I mean, it was just ridiculous. At intermission, I left and went down the street to Falsettos, where I snuck into the back. Man, that’s a good show.

The thing about theatre is that if you love something, there really isn’t a way to just save it and rewatch it. Even a bootleg version of something isn’t the same as being there. And I know there’s bad theatre. I have seen bad theatre. I have peeked at my phone to see how much longer this act could possibly be. I have left things at intermission (not often, but I’ve done it). I’ve seen things out of an obligation and not necessarily out of joy.

But then there are the things that you can’t get enough of. When I saw Wicked for the first time (cheesy example, I know), it was the first time in years and years of shows that the curtain call ended, the lights came up, and I was like, “Okay, reset everything, I will watch this all again from the beginning RIGHT NOW.”

I went years without having that feeling about a show. But I am having it again. Right now. (This is not a marketing ploy.)

My work is currently presenting Sweeney Todd. I love Sweeney Todd. It’s one of my favorite musicals. This particular production has something extra. It’s addictive. I can’t stop watching it. It has been running for the last three weeks, and closes this Sunday. I have seen it five times so far, which is already two times more than I have seen any other work show. I saw it yesterday and again today. I am sitting here debating whether I should go back for the closing performance on Sunday night. The only reason I’m not sprawled out on the carpet, conflicted over my decision, is that I have a couple days to work it out. If I don’t go, I will never see this particular production, with this particular cast and set and direction again. But maybe the five times I’ve gone should be enough.

This time, instead of missing out on a student-written one-man show, I would be missing out on precious weekend time with my family. I would be driving all the way down the peninsula a whole extra time. But I would be helping out by filling a seat, and I would be getting one more chance to bask in the pure joy that I experience while watching a show about an insane guy who kills people, and his girlfriend who bakes them into pies. “God That’s Good.”

I think I might have my answer.

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tbt: National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day. The National Poetry Day theme for 2014, according to a random website I clicked on, is “Remember.” How fitting for a throwback Thursday!

So here is a poem I found on my laptop, in the “old computer stuff” section, which I cruise through whenever I want to remember what it was like to be 17. I don’t like staying there long. I was more prolific, but way angsty, and overall pretty obnoxious. There is something to be said for just being content.

This is from April 2002. It might actually be two separate things. None of the stuff in this particular document is titled…although there is some very interesting formatting in terms of font, size, use of ampersands, and justification.

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I woke this
morning
with a
longing so
fierce I thought
it must have
been
someone else’s.

When you left
I burned
everything.

 

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Filed under Being a girl, Humor, Memoir, Sentiment, Writing