Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wabash Arts Camp

I got back last night from another fun year at camp. This was the 20th Wabash Arts Camp in Shenandoah, IA. It was my 5th year at the camp. I did the theatre class this year. I've also done a musical theatre class, a class called Music & Movement, and a class called Showstoppers. I had 2 classes of 3-5 graders and 2 classes of 6-8 graders. We did tons of theatre games, and then we prepared a small performance for the showcase on Friday afternoon.

I love this camp because it has both visual and performing arts. There are about 18 classes for the kids to choose from. They get to take 5 different classes, and they go to those classes for an hour every day. They also get snacks, lunch, and swimming time every day. As a teacher, I teach 4 classes a day, have my housing covered, and get to spend a week in the charming little town of Shenandoah. I really love this little place.

I get to stay in the house of the parents of the camp director. The Gee's are in their 90's, and they have a cabin on Lake Okoboji where they spend some time every summer. We get to stay in their home while they're away. It's a great place... it's the kind of home that tells you everything you need to know about a family. By staying in the Gee home, you know exactly what is important to them: family, travel, the arts, lifelong learning, books. I love being there.

The week flew by for me. After the closing matinee of Annie, I drove to Shenandoah. I got there around midnight and taught the next day. I went to bed at about 7:30 on Monday night because I was so pooped! Tuesday night I went to see Salt at the local movie theatre ($1 popcorn & pop on Tuesday nights... woo hoo!). Wednesday afternoon I drove over to Council Bluffs to see Trace. We went out for dinner & did a little shopping, and I got Christy Creme (the day's flavor was blackberry)!!! I can't be that close without seeing Tracy. It's a quick hour drive from Shen to CB & worth every minute. Thursday night the camp always hosts a dinner for its teachers and helpers. Then, Friday night I drove home! Whew! Good, crazy week.

On an entirely different note, ten years ago today, Andrew's wife Lee died of breast cancer. I'm thinking of her today. I was lucky to know her a little because she was friends with Jeff, and she designed the set for the one show I did at Andrew's theatre, Caught in the Villain's Web. I also knew her as a mom when I had Holly in science class. She was an amazing woman.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Book That's Currently Messing With My Head

I haven't decided whether I'm blessing my friend Roberta or whether I'm cursing her. She recommended the author Anne LaMott to me, and I'm reading her book Traveling Mercies. This book is seriously messing with my head. It's so refreshing to read a book about faith that's by a real person. A person with flaws who cusses like I do and messes up like I do. It makes me feel like I'm OK and that I deserve some of the best things that I sometimes talk myself out of needing or wanting. And it makes me feel like God is accessible. And it helps my hope. Hope is a flame for me, and well, let's just say if it goes out, I go out. This book is fanning my flame.

And messing with my head.

I haven't decided if that's a bad thing yet or not, Roberta.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm Blessed

I'm truly blessed. I live a charmed life, and sometimes I need a kick in the butt to be reminded of that. I'm in love with a wonderful man. I have the best friends in the whole world. I have the best job I could ever dream of. I have a hobby and a passion that brings me infinite joy. And, I know I'm doing the right thing.

See, once in awhile, I get an itch. When I'm up on stage, sometimes I think... "Wouldn't it be great if I could do this all the time? Every day? Can you imagine having this feeling be your job? Could there be anything more wonderful? To get paid for this joy?" When you're standing in the spotlight, and the audience is on its feet, it's easy to forget. It's easy to forget the insane amount of work it took to get to that place.

For the past month, I've been living the work. This month, I've been doing theatre for my life. And it's been awesome. Last weekend when Annie opened, I have never felt more on top of the world. It's like I tell the kids... why would anyone ever do drugs when there is theatre??? But it was a rough 2 weeks to get to that point. I have a sinus infection, and every day, I wondered (and am still wondering) exactly what is going to come out when I open my mouth. It's scary. I'm blowing more crap out of my nose than I thought I could produce in a lifetime, let alone a couple of weeks. My ears have been plugged (not a great asset for a singer), and my head has been throbbing. I'm going on 10 days now with no end in sight.

My feet look disgusting. Dancers of the world, I salute you, but you must have the ugliest feet of anyone on the planet. Hours in character shoes every day have really taken their toll on my tootsies. Blisters, callouses, swelling, redness, and let's just forget the pedicure I had last month before Martha's Vineyard. Ugh.

My body hurts. A lot. The kids that surround me every day are half my age, and most are half my weight. When we were choreographing "Easy Street," I had about a week of being so sore, I couldn't go down a flight of stairs without wincing and moaning. My hips are aching, and my thighs are all bruised up. Isn't it weird how a person can be completely bruised without knowing how it happened? My toes are smashed, and my throat is killing me (see the two paragraphs above). Advil has been my best friend lately.

I'm emotional, and way more than normal. When your body is your instrument, and you feel like you can't rely on it, it's a frantic feeling. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have to rely on your personal instrument for a paycheck. I'm not made of that kind of stuff. Then add fatigue on top of that, both psychological and physical. I've been a wreck.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. Despite the agony, I wouldn't trade all these hellish side effects for anything. This month has been perfect. The cherry on the sundae of this perfection happened this morning when I got up in front of the interns and sang for a Master's class with Anne Runolfsson. I almost talked myself out of going this morning. I had a meeting at school at 10:00, I was tired, I felt like crap, and I hadn't eaten anything. But I went. And I got up there in front of all the interns, and I sang. I shook like a leaf. My legs were complete jello. That's what happens when I'm nervous AND I haven't eaten. I sang OK. Not great, but OK. But I got wonderful feedback from Anne. She's a performer, but she's a teacher. I love this woman. She's amazing. And I got to thinking...

Here I am again. Putting myself out there where I ask my students to go every day. It was frightening, and I was a mess up there. But this is what it's all about. I am tooting my own horn here, but I really think one of the things that makes me a good teacher is that I'm willing to personally do everything I ask of my kids. I stepped out of my comfort zone into the freefall. I took a deep breath and jumped. Today made me a better teacher. And a teacher is what I am. I love performing, but it's never going to be my job. I like knowing where my paycheck is coming from every month and that if I'm sick, I can call a substitute. I like working with kids every day and sharing books and writing and the arts and everything with them. I do love performing. Maybe I even love it more than teaching, but it's a love that would burn me out if it was every day. The highs and lows are higher and lower than in teaching... at least for me. I can't live without that high completely. It's in my blood. But, I have the best of every world here in Fairfield. I love that I live in a town and have a job where I can take an entire month and pretend performing is my life. I can work with professionals, and I can experience the aches and pains and emotions and friendships and growth and applause and that theatre high. And when the month is over, I can go back to my classroom and my kids.

I'm tearing up as I write this because it's hard to admit that it's almost over. This crazy month is almost over. I only have 4 shows left of playing Miss Hannigan, one of my dream roles. I've learned so much and worked so hard and made so many new friends. What a gift. I'm going to miss it. It's going to leave a definite hole.

Yesterday, I bought 55 composition notebooks at Target. Yep, the school supplies are out. And when the school supplies are out, I'm a little girl again. A little girl organizing her folders and spiral notebooks, laying out pens and pencils and crayons, putting them all in her backpack, only to take them all out the next day and do it all over again. I'm getting another itch. It's the itch that happens every August where I can't wait to get back into my classroom and get things up on the walls and make seating charts. I'm a teacher. A teacher who loves theatre. And I truly have the best of all possible worlds.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

20th Class Reunion? How Did That Happen?

Yep, I'm old. My 20th high school class reunion is in just a few weeks. I sent in my check and my R.S.V.P. Then it suddenly dawned on me that I had nothing to wear to this thing!!! Ugh! Today Suzanne & I went shopping in Iowa City, and I found a cute outfit (ALL on sale) at Coldwater Creek. I love that store anyway, but it's usually way out of my price league. Today, however, was another story. This outfit was all on clearance, and I'm happy with it.

I'm excited about seeing people from my class... I hope my good high school friends will be there. I already know that some can't make it, but I hope to see many. I also am looking forward to seeing my Facebook friends. These are people that I didn't know very well from high school or that I really didn't think I had much in common with, but through Facebook, I feel like I know them. We comment on each others' picture or status here and there, and I feel very much like they are my friends. That is one of the bonuses of Facebook, in my opinion. My class had something like 287 people in it. My group of friends actually from my class that I considered "close" was pretty small. My group was more multi-grade through swing choir and theatre. I think I know many people in my class better now that I'm connected to them through Facebook than I ever would have otherwise. It's nice.

I hope we have fun. I hope it's not too cliquey (is that even a word?). I hope I'm comfortable. I hope it makes me want to go again in ten more years. I hope... ... hm... ... such weird feelings when you deal with the past. I was such a different person then. I'm sure everyone feels that to some extent. The person I was then was shiny and unblemished. I feel like the person I am now has been through the wringer. I'm sure we all have our bumps and bruises. But we all come from the same place and walked across the same stage in our blue and crimson caps and gowns.

Abraham Lincoln High School, Class of 1990.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quiet Monday

Here's the Annie update... This weekend went so well. We had nice houses all weekend, but Friday night was the best. They were involved & supportive. They were on their feet when the bows had barely even started. It was so FUN!!!

It's such an intense process, putting a show like this together in 2 weeks. It's frantic and emotional. I was a little strung out before the show on Friday and even had some tears (which is NOT a good idea once a person already is in makeup). It was very unlike me, but this whole experience is unlike anything I've ever done before. What a wonderful reward though, to be onstage in front of an audience presenting everything we've worked so hard doing for two weeks. Today will be the first day I haven't performed Annie in a week. It's weird. I'm glad for the little break though. My voice & body are tired. It will be good to rest them before our big weekend of four performances.

I'm just really proud of the show. I love the show, I love the music, and I love my part. The cast is seriously working their butts off every single night. Our kids our fantastic. Our interns are crazy good singers. And our Annie is a little dynamo. I think about what I was like at 11. I had done a lot of piano recitals at that point, but I hadn't even been in one play at that age. Tess has three years of Broadway experience under her belt. It's mind-blowing. Friday before the show, she asked to speak, and she boosted the entire cast with her words. We had an awesome night that led into an awesome weekend of performances. If you're anywhere within driving distance to Fairfield, please come see this show. You have four chances left. It's for all ages. I saw grown adults crying in the lobby afterward, saying how touched they were by the production. Annie has a reputation for being a sappy kids' show, but this production is really something more.

On a different note, yesterday morning, we had a crazy lightning storm, and my friends the Grunwald family who live right across the street from me, had their house struck by lightning. It caught fire, and caused a lot of major damage. Luckily, they were away at their cottage when this happened. Thank God, because it turns out the lightning struck directly above the headboard of John & Heidi's bed. If they had been home asleep in their bed, they would not be here with us today, and their 3 kids would not have parents. It's a sobering thought. It's made me very pensive and thankful. Every day is a blessing, people. Stuff is just stuff. The people in our lives can never be replaced. Cherish every moment.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dress Rehearsal

Tonight is our first dress rehearsal. I'm happy to report that I'm growing as a human being by doing this show. It certainly is a switch to try and look crappy for a show. We had headshots taken in character, and everyone is looking so beautiful. I'm scowling with frizzy hair all over the place. I'm OK with that. Really, I am. ;)

I'm feeling a titch better, but I need to rise about 3-4 more titches before I feel like I'm where I want to be vocally. I have zero resonance in my head voice at this point, and that makes me push my chest voice up too high. For those of you that don't have a clue what I'm talking about, let's just say, I don't sound good now. Luckily, no one is going to mind if Miss Hannigan sounds a little chesty. They might worry if it was Annie. HA!

On an another note, the heat index here today is 122 degrees. It's mind-melting. I've never been so thankful for air-conditioning in my whole life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Blog Joys

Some of you may have noticed that I follow some blogs. I keep a list of them on the left side of this blog... you know... over there <----. Anyway, this week, I found 2 new ones that are making me smile a lot. If you're bored or curious, check out Random Thoughts With Professor Chuck and Things I've Learned Talking to Myself. Very different, very witty, and very well written. Fun times.

Something that is not fun? My current sinus infection. Hello, Body?!?!? Don't you realize I have a show to open Friday? Grrrr... Hopefully, the antibiotic, today's vocal rest, the steroid nasal spray, the neti pot, and the ibuprofin will do their magic before Friday because, in case you're not completely sick of me talking about it, Annie is going to be an amazing show. I'm so proud of it, and it's not even ready to be seen yet.

Something else fun? I'm reading a book that made me laugh out loud twice in the doctor's office today. It's called Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen. I'm just barely into it, and I'm already making a fool out of myself in public waiting areas, so I think it's going to be a good read. I can't wait to get further into it when I tuck myself into bed for a long, healing night's sleep.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Little Girls

I can't remember when I've had so much fun playing a part. Miss Hannigan is a blast, beginning to end. This morning, we choreographed "Little Girls." Adam Cates is a genius, and the number is going to be so freaking funny. I can't wait to perform it in front of an audience. I'll never have her impeccable timing, but here's a clip of the great Carol Burnett performing the number in the movie. For some reason, this is one musical Matt could tolerate watching when we were little, and we would rewind this song over and over again, just for Carol Burnett's facial expression at 2:13... hysterical! The woman is a goddess among mere mortals.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Little Question... Take 2

I'll try this again...

Many bloggers have music playing on their blogs. It's a nice personal touch that I've considered using. However, when I'm reading blogs, I find it really distracting. I know there are usually players somewhere on the blog that let you turn off the tunes. But, I normally don't care for it, especially if the blogger has posted a video to watch. Maybe I'm just being cranky and/or lazy. What do you think?


It was the poll, folks. I'm sure some of you figured that out instantly. The second I took that sucker off my page, my header went back to normal. I'll look for another poll site that doesn't put baby poop on my blog. Stay tuned, and Diane, I hope you'll post your comment again when I do! :)


I'm seriously going to punch my fist through the screen of this computer. All I wanted to do was add a little poll to my blog. Not a big deal, right? So it went on fine. Nice! But I noticed that after that, my header background was this lovely shade of baby poop brown (see above). In the past 2 hours, I've tried every trick I know of to get rid of that nasty color, and nothing is working. I'm going to have to change the title of my blog to Baby Poop Brown! GRRRRRR! As you can see, I've completely redone my template in hopes of getting rid of the wretched color, and nothing is working. Anyone have any tips or suggestions before I completely lose my mind?!?!?!?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blessings for Today

* A day of rest. I read for most of the day. Wonderful.

* Pat Conroy's writing. Yes, it's flowery. Yes, it's over the top. And, yes, I love love love it. Tonight I'll be finishing up South of Broad, and I've loved every second of reading it. I don't remember when I've read a book so fast, and this one is long!

* A boyfriend who cooks. Andrew made salmon and potatoes for our late dinner this evening. We had berries & ice cream for dessert. Lovely.

* The kids in my life. Yesterday was Emma's birthday, and I was reminded of all the kids of my friends and the kids in my neighborhood and the kids I know through school & church. They brighten my days beyond measure. If it's not in the cards for me to be a mom myself, I feel blessed that I have so many kids in my life in other ways.

* Fireworks. I love them. A lot. We actually got to see the Country Club fireworks through the trees as we ate dinner last night, and then we drove to the other side of Fairfield to see the town fireworks after that. I cannot get enough fireworks when it all comes down to it.

* In general, today I'm just feeling extra blessed. For everything. People, home, pets, love, health, creation... pretty much everything. Sigh... :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

South Pacific... Sigh...

Yes, I love Spring Awakening. And yes, I love Rent. And yes, I love Sweeney Todd. I love some drums and a rock beat and an occasional murdered person baked up in a meat pie. I like modern musicals just fine. I love them, in fact. But... but... but... South Pacific. Oh, South Pacific... with an Emile that was born to sing "Some Enchanted Evening" and who makes you literally ache when he sings "This Nearly Was Mine." With a Nellie so strawberry shortcake sweet that if you knew her in real life, you might have to slap her, but when you see her fall in love, she takes you right back to the very first time you fell in love, when it was so all-consuming that you thought you might explode with how much you were feeling. With a Billis that can have an entire audience in the palm of his hand with a pair of coconuts and a funny face. With all those wonderful songs packed into one show. You forget just how many good songs there are in that show. Just when you think there can't be another one... well... there is. I do love me some South Pacific. If you're anywhere near Fairfield, Iowa, Saturday or Sunday, you must come see the Sondheim Center's production. It's divine. I feel all warm and fuzzy and full of love. Sigh. South Pacific... :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's Like Being 10 Again

I've begun rehearsals for Annie. I'm in hog heaven, having the time of my life. Miss Hannigan has to be one of the most fun parts I've ever done, and I'm only 2 days into the rehearsal process. I met the orphans for the first time today, and we had a ball blocking our first scene. I'm learning a lot working with the music director, Ben, and I think "Easy Street" is going to kick butt. The interns playing Rooster & Lily are good, and we sound good together. Happy, happy, happy!!!
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