Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sing Loud, and Proud, and Wrong

My instruction this week from my vocal teacher is to sing loud and proud and I'll probably be wrong on more notes than usual.  It's not bad advice since I tend to sing really quietly for fear of screwing up.  I'll never be able to sing louder until I do it and discover where my problems are. 

But it also makes me think about stage managing in an odd sort of way.  I went to a party on Saturday night at the home of a friend with whom I worked at People's Light and Theater Co (out in Malvern, PA).  I didn't stage manage there, I worked in the Education Department.  But, stage managing called again and I couldn't stay away.  I spend half my life trying not to stage manage; I love doing it but the hours suck.

At this party, I ran into another stage manager and we traded war stories which sent me down memory lane.  I've been lucky enough to have had several people tell me to my face that I am a good stage manager.  When I hear this compliment I always chuckle because I think to myself, I hope I'm at least half way decent with all the mistakes I made.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the compliment since an SM's work is not always noticed.  But I am one of those creatures who learns by fucking up.  And sometimes, fucking up big. 

Here's a quick example: years and years ago, while I was still in college, I held an entire audience in black for 90 seconds because I hadn't bothered to check with backstage to make sure the actor was ready to get into his place.  He was still in the dressing room.  To this day, if a cast has to get into place in a blackout, I have to time it because I will jump the gun.

And, I still screw up occasionally (at least I hope it's only occasionally), and I think to myself, Seriously Kate, really?  You didn't know better?  But it's always a learning process with new situations to encounter and (bringing it all back home) new notes to sing.

So what I find pretty funny is that I am more than willing to mess up as a stage manager when it affects other people but I'm too scared to sing loudly in the comfort of my own home. 
But now it's time to get over my bad self.  If you hear anything weird coming out of Glenside, PA, in the next few weeks it's just me singing, loud, and proud, and probably wrong.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Burger Blog

I was a vegetarian for 13 years or there abouts.  I became a vegetarian because I realized I had to think about my food choices more and therefore ate better.  At a deli, I'd think, well, since I've skipped the processed meat (but not the processed cheese) I might as well have an apple instead of chips.  Plus, vegetarianism seemed cool at the time.

After a while, vegetarianism became a habit.  I never thought about it, I just did it; like putting on underwear everyday.  When someone asked me why I didn't eat meat, I'd say, I didn't see any reason to.  I had a boyfriend who thought my response was pretentious and perhaps it was.  But, to me, it wasn't.  At that time, I just didn't need to eat meat, so I didn't.  But I did need to wear underwear, still do.  Perhaps he thought it was pretentious because he was a loser.  Or maybe, he was thinking of the numerous people who, upon learning that I didn't eat meat, would describe, in detail, how much meat they ate during the week.  Like that made them a better person in my eyes.  But seriously, I could give a rat's ass how much meat someone eats in a week.  I didn't eat meat, but not due to religious, moral or ethical reasons.

Anyway, I stopped being a vegetarian for almost the same reason that I became one.  About 5 or 6 years ago, I was working out more and hungry all the time.  I ate what felt like slabs and slabs of fat.  I have eggs slathered in cheese and brownies with peanut butter on them.  Then I'd feel like crap but I never felt full.  Plus, I craved meat.  So I started eating meat again (still wearing the underwear in case you were wondering).  Oh, but I didn't just dip my toes in the pool.  Oh no, I cannonballed.  I went right to hamburgers and steaks.  I mean, I like chicken and pork is fine, whatever, but give me a Filet Mignon (medium rare), a green salad, and a glass of red wine and I'm in heaven.

So here's my problem:  I love burgers but sometimes they are too tall to fit in my mouth.  What is up with that?  I know that working ground beef too much can cause the burgers to be overcooked or hard.  But why do they have to be so tall that with a bun and some cheese, a person would need Keith Jagger's jaw to take a bite?  Brian and I were in Village Whiskey the other day.  This is a new bar in Philly, very retro with a tin bar and old fashioned cocktails, etc.  The burgers, which were written up in Bon Appetit, were just too tall and stuff was falling out all over.  It's just not fun and, not to mention, very messy to eat.  To be honest, the burgers were okay but not the best I've eaten.  And, it wasn't just because they were too tall.  The best burgers I've had were at a bar next door to Capital Rep Theatre in Albany, where I used to work.  Soooo good.  And, I might add, not too tall.

Do you know?  Do you care?  Do you eat meat?  Do you want to know how much meat I eat in a week?  Do you still wear underwear?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Post is Brought to You by the Note A

As some of you know, I have been taking singing lessons for a while now.  Almost a year.  And it has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  When I started, I expected to be belting out karaoke by June.  Not so much.

Mostly, I have to train my ear.  Growing up, I never sang as a child.  No one in my family did.  And the neighborhood was probably better off for it.  So I started lessons knowing 2 notes and both of them were flat.

Every time I think I'm finally making great progress, I stumble and get all frustrated again.  One time, I told my teacher I tried to sing a song with my sister-in-law.  My niece who was listening said I was singing harmony.  I sang the song for him and he said, "No, you were just singing the wrong notes."  I know, learning is never linear.  I'm using muscles I never knew that I owned and they don't like being discovered. 

It's not to say that I have not made progress, I have.  I used to need my teacher to play the notes of the song very loudly on the piano for me to follow along.  Now, I can follow an accompaniment (with the vocal notes of course) on my MP3 player.  And yes, I wander around the house belting out tunes pretending I'm in a smokey jazz club (oh, and I have fantastic hair by the way). 

But I'm still having trouble hitting the notes without help.  Especially "A."  For some reason this note gives me the most trouble and when I don't hit it right, all the following notes just suck (there is no better term for it).  Turns out, that is the note where I change from my lower/chest voice to my head voice.  Whatever, I just hate that note.  What have I ever done to it that it gives me such trouble?

Oh, and, because I never really sang before, I have a really weak, airy voice so I have to learn "how to sing."  This means singing with my throat open and my tongue on the bottom of the mouth and not blocking my throat and all this technical stuff designed to give my voice more power.  I made the mistake of asking my teacher about the people who naturally have a good voice.  He told me that those people already do all that technical stuff instinctively.  Man, I hate them.  They probably have no problem with the A note.

Despite how excruciatingly frustrating it is, I stick with it.  I really want to learn and I know I'm making progress, even if it is at a snail's pace.  But I know, someday, somehow, right here on this blog, I'll post about going out in public and doing karaoke or even an open mic night.  I may even post a recording of myself singing.  You never know so stay tuned.  Oh, and I'll have fantastic hair!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bits n Pieces

Was a bit busy getting ready for Thanksgiving which turned into a luxuriously lethargic weekend following the feast.  And, if you've ever read my blog, you know how I go for the lazy.

Although I was the official host of my side of the family's Thanksgiving, hardly anyone could make it due to several constraints.  But my brother made it with my sister-in-law and niece who just got engaged so her fiance joined in as well.  As did my cousin's daughter and her family.  Her side of the family is out west so we were happy to have them.  Small but mighty we were.  My niece studied culinary arts so after we did the Gobble Wobble (a 5k T Day morning race), we headed back to make the feast.  Basically, I just did what I was told and drank wine which worked out well.

Great thing about not having visitors, is not having them in your house.  The day after Thanksgiving, I found myself alone with my family.  We didn't have to travel anywhere and we didn't have to entertain anyone.  It's a rarity for us to be alone on Thanksgiving weekend.  So we went to the movies -- we saw Tangled.  I give it an "eh."  Not the best Disney flick and certainly not the worst. 

Friday was a bit of a gift because Brian was going to spend the day (with our only car) in Trenton, NJ, trying to buy us a second car.  See, and I can't remember if I posted about this before, my car got totalled in an accident in early August.

I'm fine and it wasn't my fault at all.  I was driving home from Old City around midnight, minding my own business when a car ran into the driver's side front end (according to the police he made an illegal left and ignored a steady red).  All very sudden.  My side airbag deployed.  Well, not so much deployed as fell out of its casing.  Luckily, I wasn't hurt and even more luckily, 2 policemen saw the accident.  It was a bit scary because I was alone.  Brian had to come down and get me and wait with me for the tow truck which took so long I had to pee behind a statue because there were no nearby loos.  Don't tell anyone will you?

We had to get a new car because of the frickin' air bag.  The insurance company will total your car because an airbag is so expensive to replace.  So we got a new car the day before Thanksgiving.  A smaller car than my last one (which was a station wagon).  The funny (odd not ha ha) thing was I had been thinking just a couple of days before the accident that "as soon as we finish with this station wagon, we're going to get a smaller car and save on gas."  I guess someone heard me.  Still getting used to a smaller car.  I'm a bit worried about road trips but as Brian pointed out, "we'll just take less stuff."

That's pretty much what I've been up to.  Oh one last thing...James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting the Oscars?  Really?  They don't have any personality yet.  And I don't even think they are stage actors which helps enormously if you're going to be on Stage for an entire evening.  I know what you're going to say: Well, don't watch them.  But that really isn't in my DNA.  Although, I have not been much of a movie goer this season.  I did see Howl with James Franco and it was good and will probably assist in getting him a Best Actor nod for 127 Hours (the Academy loves breadth of work although they don't always recognize it).  None of the movies have really inspired me to get off my lazy ass and go see them.  But I am trying to buck that trend and will be going to see Stone (tonight hopefully).  It's certainly no Oscar contender but Edward Norton is in it.  (SIGH!)  Now, he could host the Oscars and I wouldn't complain, hell, he could read from the phone book and I'd buy a front row seat.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Theme Thursday: FOOD

I cannot wait to eat off the buffet of blog posts about food.  It's EVERYWHERE!  I mean, I love food.  I eat it every day.  And, so much is being written about it nowadays.  Everyone seems to be heading toward the locovore, slow-food, grass-fed movement.  I try, I really do but have you seen the prices lately?  And, I'm not just talking about arugula.  So please, don't yell at me that my ground beef isn't always from cows that have been grass-fed and put to bed each night with a story.  And, okay, I'll admit it, I have bleach in my house!  I need to whiten my tablecloths for Thanksgiving.  I know it's bad, I'm sorry.  Oh, oops, got carried away there for a moment, Catholic guilt and all.  But can I just mention, real quick, that I mostly clean with vinegar?

Vinegar reminds me of one of my sisters because she can't stand it.  When we were young, if she had to pass the salad dressing, she would wrap it in a napkin so she wouldn't get any on her.  To this day she eats her salad without any dressing.  And if you think that's odd, you have not met my family - home of the pickiest eaters on the planet.  Several family members do not eat cheese of any type.  My brother never has and never will eat pizza.  Who doesn't eat pizza?

This same brother though, only ate one type of peanut butter growing up.  Grand Union brand peanut butter in the five gallon buckets.  But they had to be red buckets.  Side note:  the empty peanut butter buckets came in handy as holders of large amounts of spaghetti sauce or as personal puke buckets, you know, whatever.  One day, my mother brought home Grand Union peanut butter in a yellow bucket and my brother said it tasted bad.  So now you know what my poor mother had to deal with.

7 kids and 1 husband: all picky.  It's no wonder that we had the same meals every week.  One time my mother made pea soup and none of us liked it so she sent all of us to bed without supper.  Go mom!  She did some odd things though as well.  On spaghetti night, we all had half a grapefruit, don't ask me why.  To this day, I always associate grapefruit and spaghetti.

I'm surprised I'm not as picky as I once was but I attribute that to Brian, who likes food and will try anything, even jelly fish.  And to Clara, my daughter.  When Clara was born, I wasn't one of those overly busy, frantic parents.  I mean, she slept all the time, what was I going to do?  I didn't have a car which was probably lucky because I didn't go out and spend lots of money.  The closest store to me was a grocery store so I'd stroller Clara over and buy food and make dinner.

I almost raise a picky eater though.  For some reason, and I can't fathom why, I started, all of a sudden, making Clara a separate dinner from what Brian and I ate.  As we all know, this is stupid because it creates picky eaters.  We had a time changing that pattern but eventually we did.  Now, both our kids eat a lot or at least try a lot of different food.  Even sushi.  Sushi was difficult at first but they both started to like it after they spent the day making it with dad.  They say the way to get kids to like food is to have them make it.  So I guess, They were right.

The first time I had sushi was in Baltimore on a date.  I was living there in a previous life and went out with this guy from work who told a friend of mine he was smitten with me.  I can't remember his name.  He took me to sushi because I had never had it and he insisted that I would love it.  I don't know if I did love it or not.  I think it was an acquired taste for me.  After dinner, we went back to his apartment and smoked pot and listened to the Grateful Dead.  We sat there and over a long interval he explained how awesome the Dead were at playing their own thing for a while (listen, listen, listen) and then coming back together at the same time.  We didn't have a second date.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I didn't inhale.  But I hear that pot causes munchies which is so funny because weren't we just talking about food?  Happy Theme Thursday Everyone!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forget Me Nots

The other night, it was cocktail night if you must know....wait, now before I begin, I must say it was the beginning of cocktail night.  Because, well, I'll tell you the story and then I'll tell you why.

When I say the beginning, I mean, drinks had just been poured.  So Brian and I are discussing Kevin Costner for some reason.  Not my favorite actor by any stretch of the imagination.  Hang on, now I know why we were discussing him:  I was telling my mom (when I was up in Vermont) about the movie The Upside of Anger (great flick with Kevin Costner and Joan Allen), but please don't ask me why I was talking to my mom about it; that's just too much remembering.

Anyway, Brian and I were discussing which Kevin Costner films we like and I said, "I like him in that film..." for the life of me I couldn't remember what the name of the film was.  And Brian says, "Yeah, I know, the film where he's dead?  I can't think of it either.

There we were, finishing each other's thoughts and forgetting the name of the same film.  If that isn't love?  Or two people who've spent a lot of time together...

In case you're racking your brains right now, the film was The Big Chill.

One of my favorite movie lines of all times comes from that film:

Karen You'll never get this many people to come to my funeral
Michael Oh Karen, I'll come.  And you know... I'll bring a date.

So the reason I insist of saying that it was at the beginning of cocktail night is because at the end of cocktail night we tend to forget things.  Sometimes, the next day I'll say:  Hey, what was that thing we wanted to look up last night?  And Brian says:  We wanted to look something up last night?   And I say:   Didn't we

And no, it's not because we were snockered the night before.  It has more to do with the fact that as we get older, alcohol and tiredness affects us such that....well, I don't have to tell you do I?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ramblings and Repetitions

Last week, I drove up to Vermont to spend a couple of days with my mom.  She has Alzheimer's.  She still lives by herself but can't drive any more.  She relies on friends to bring her to church and my sister-in-law to take her to appointments and shopping.  People are busy with their lives though and she doesn't get out much and is quite bored; she tells me so all the time.

So I went up by myself so I could focus on her for a bit and she'd have a little company.  We did go to the movies:  RED and Morning Glory.  She didn't love either of them saying at the end of the second movie: They just don't make them like they used to.  Too true.

One morning we were imprisoned in the house waiting for the Cable Guy.  My mom doesn't have cable, never did.  Growing up the refrain was: I will never pay for television.  Alzheimer's has mellowed her and we told her we (the kids) were paying for it so she can watch all those old, good movies.  Surprisingly, she agreed.  While waiting, I thought how she is rather like a toddler.  She repeats herself the way a young child wants to play the same monotonous game over and over.  Also, because she is bored, she really enjoyed having someone to talk to; she almost demanded attention. 

I, immediately, felt guilty for thinking this.  And felt even more guilty when I had to return home and leave her to her boredom.  I feel guilty and helpless because I don't know what to do to alleviate her condition.  I'm cranky and intolerant of other people (more so than usual) because I don't know how to negotiate this new terrain.

Returning home, and hanging out with my own children, I feel worried about my future and their future.  My mom did a lot with her life:  raised 7 kids, returned to school to get her MLS, worked, traveled, volunteered (and that's just a small hit list).  I want to model a fully realized life for my children but how do I do that?  And yet a part of me wants to just hide my head in the sand.  Staring mortality in the face, my flight-or-fight instincts are working overtime; I wonder who will win.

I have no point to this post but wanted to share because I'm sure I'll be writing about this more.  I guess you could say that this subject, like the rest of my life, is a work in progress.

Friday, November 5, 2010

There is Superstition...

Brian and I were at a party a couple of weeks ago talking with another couple about baseball (this was before the Phillies failure to make it to the series).  We told this guy that we couldn't watch the Phillies play because every time we did, they lost.  In all seriousness, the guy said, "You know, whether or not the Phillies lose has nothing to do with you watching the game."

Well, duh, but we weren't going to take any chances.

Superstitions are funny, and sports (baseball in particular) is riddled with them:
  • The curse of the Bambino
  • No mentioning "it" when a pitcher is on his way to a no-hitter
  • The William Penn curse
  • The Sports Illustrated jinx
Not to mention of course the players personal superstitions including: bat smelling, chicken eating, beard growing, special shorts wearing, etc.

I have to admit, while I'm not a professional sports player (bet you didn't know that), I have my own superstitions which in the clear light day are obviously ridiculous. 

My silliest superstition is about my earrings.  I swear that if I wear certain earrings, I'll have a bad day.  Don't!  I know what you are thinking.  But I have hard-core, well-researched, anecdotal evidence!  It seems that every time I wear certain earrings, my day goes south.  Sometimes, I'll forget what pair I've put on, my day will be rocky, I'll look in the mirror and Voila!  Bad earrings!  I don't know how you can argue with that. 

I do have to get over it though because Brian gives me most of my earrings and I don't want to offend him by suggesting he is somehow the orchestrator of my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days. 

Now who's up for sharing their superstitions?  Unless of course, I lost you at bad earrings.

Oh, and, in case you were wondering, we tried not to watch the Phillies play but ended up in a bar when the game was on.  They were up by 2 runs and in the time it took us to drink a beer, the Giants pulled ahead by 2.  So I guess I won't be watching baseball next summer.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My "Ah Ha" Moment

Yet one more post in my "Laziness" series.  I'd write a book, but who has time?

It isn't a huge "Oprah Ah Ha" moment where I figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life; paint road signs, save the armadillos.  Unfortunately, it is the Ah Ha moment when I realized why I have trouble getting lots of stuff done even though I have tons of free time.

I discovered it in bed yesterday morning when the alarm went off.  My choices were to sleep an extra half hour, or get up, get breakfast and go for a run before I had to meet a friend for lunch.  Well, let's just guess what I picked?

See, my problem is getting out of bed in the morning.  Once I do, I'm fine (after coffee of course) but it's the actual, physical act of getting up that makes things difficult.  And that translates into the rest of my day because I have an actual, difficult time of starting anything... at all.  Once I start a project, I'm good, I'm into it.  It's the starting that's difficult. 

I had friend, a few years ago, who used to run in the morning with a group.  She told me that she regretted joining the group the first few times the alarm went off at 5:30 am, but then she got used to it. In fact, she started waking up before the alarm went off. 

So I tried it; getting up early to run.  Except that it didn't work out so well for me.  When I knew I had to get up the next day, one of two things happened:
  • I would try to go to sleep at 3 in the afternoon because "Oh my God, I have to get up soon!" or
  • I would go to bed at a reasonable time and think, "Sleep, Now!"  "Okay, sleep now!"  "Right now!"
I've been working on it lately.  But I've found that if I've run, and shopped, and perhaps done some yard work then well, I need a break so I play Spider Solitaire, then check Facebook, then look up Meet Up groups online that I'll never join, then...well, then it's a crap shoot.  But dinner getting made doesn't look good.

I am getting better at starting stuff (and even finishing) but I can't start too many things in one day before my lazy self takes over and says, "Really, but we've worked so hard, why do we have do that as well?"

I've met women who get up and run 10 miles, get their children up, get everyone off to school, go to a full-time job, put dinner on the table and write a best-selling novel in their spare time.  But I'm not friends with them.

It's not that they are not nice; truly they are the nicest people in the world.  But it's like hitting your head against a concrete wall, you know?  I will feel bad just thinking about how much they accomplish.  Seriously, thinking about how much they do in one day just make me want to go back to bed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is this High School or What?

I was in French class last night and we were going over the Passe Compose.  In French, certain verbs use the avoir (to have) for the past tense and certain verbs use the etre (to be) verb for the past tense.

Yes, only the French.

Anyway, we were going over it last night.  For the most part, I know what verb uses what in the past tense but I know it instinctively now.  Yes, I sound like the arrogant nerd of high school but I was a French major in college and did a year of graduate study so I should be able to speak it a bit. 

Anyway, there's this girl (okay, woman), in my class.  I'll call her Cheryl (because that's her name).  Anyway, Cheryl likes to give EVERYONE the answers.  She even corrects the teacher and offers "helpful" suggestions. 

Can you tell I don't like her that much?

Oh, and she does that thing where, when she answers a question correctly or "helps" the instructor, she tosses her head and looks around to make sure everyone knows she was right.

Well, last night the teacher asked me about a verb and all of a sudden I couldn't remember.  You know, when you know the answer but when asked a direct question you don't know.  You know?  So the teacher starts in on an example to help me remember.  I guess Cheryl felt I needed help because at the same time she turns to me (complete with toss) and says, "It's etre." 

Pissed off, I shut her down with a loud, "Shhh."

Everyone in class heard and they all like Cheryl and I hate being the bad guy and they'll probably never speak to me again and I'll never be friends with them but OH MY GOD SHE WAS JUST ANNOYING THE CRAP OUT OF ME!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Fun in Fund Drive

You'd think, because I'm not working, I'd have plenty of time to blog.  Turns out, not so much.  I've been trying to stay busy and I'm working on some creative writing.  I am sitting down with my journal to sketch stuff out.  I used to use my journal to vent about my day but it just depressed me.  I'm not ready to share the writings yet though.  I don't want anyone thinking, "Oh, is she writing about me?"  Yeah, 'cause like all I think about is you. 

Anyway, last week, I spent 3 days answering phones for a fund drive for a local radio station; WXPN.  This is a pretty cool radio station.  It is run like NPR so it's member supported but it plays contemporary music - mostly from independent artists that you won't hear on commercial radio.  They really support local artists in Philly as well.  They have a venue where they bring local and out of town musicians in and they also support gigs all over the city.  If you're into cool music, I urge you to check out the website.  They stream live so  you can get a taste for the music they play.

I had  blast answering the phones and I met all sorts of people.  One group I like to call the music geeks.  They could not wait to tell me about all the different venues where they usher and the artists they have seen.  They were so excited to impress me. 

I met another woman who is taking a year off to find herself or at least a job she enjoys; very risky in this economy.  I started out really liking her until she played the "But I have a better story game."  Who knows, it could have been that we were both tired but a U2 song came on and I mentioned that I had tickets to see them until Bono hurt his back.  Well, she went on about all the times she had seen them.  Like an idiot, I said I had seen them play with some cool people in Ireland.  Not only had she seen them in Ireland but at Slane Castle, etc., etc.  If I had met Bono, she would have dated him, I swear.  I did keep my mouth shut about meeting Adam Clayton though.  That's a funny story, I'll tell it to you sometime.  Um, meeting Adam Clayton, not keeping my mouth shut : )

For the most part, though, most of the volunteers were good people who liked the radio station.  Many were unemployed and it pained me to hear their stories.  One of my favorites was a librarian who explained the difference between the Dewey Decimal and the Library of Congress cataloguing systems.  It may sound dull to you but I'm the daughter of a librarian and I've worked in a lot of libraries in my time.  I'm partial to the Dewey Decimal system.  If you're asking that is.

Can you see it though?  A short one act play set during a fund drive?  Maybe one of the music geeks had an affair with a DJ?  The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Daniel Day-Lewis and Me

As I was lamenting over the meaning of my life, I was watching Nine, the movie version of the stage musical directed by Rob Marshall.  It was fine; some good moments, some yawners.   It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a famous Italian movie director of the 1960's who has lost his way and is trying to figure out who he is.  So it was a perfect film for me, as I too, am trying to figure out who I am.  Of course, I'm not a famous Italian director who is cheating on my wife with Penelope Cruz (although if she knocked on my door...).  And, Nicole Kidman is not my muse, which is totally fine because I'm not a fan.  Oh yeah, I'm definitely not Daniel Day-Lewis.

He's delicious isn't he?  I would not kick him out of bed for eating crackers.  Not only that, ladies and gentlemen, he acts too!  Sure, he does some schmaltzy stuff but I'm there anytime he wants to tell me:  No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.  Dude, you had me at the waterfall.

Even better, in his off hours, he makes shoes!  What a great life - acting and making shoes.  I guess he never questions the meaning of his life, huh?

I heard a story about him a long time ago.  Round about the time he was breaking into our consciousness as an "eat crackers in bed" kinda guy.  Now, I doubt this story is true, in fact there are so many holes in it that it's probably not.  But I want it to be true.  I want him to be that guy.

I heard this from the cousin of the friend of the woman that it happened to.  So we're close to the source, hmm?

Anyway, he did My Left Foot in 1988.  This woman, who worked for Miramax at the time, saw the film and told her bosses that they MUST get the distribution rights to this film.  According to the story, she risked her entire career on the film.  Well, Miramax got the rights and the film, as we know, went on to be nominated for several Academy Awards.  As a distributor of the film, Miramax got a couple of seats to the awards ceremony.  But does this woman, who risked her career for the film, get a seat?  Oh no, they go to some executives instead.

It's Oscar day in Los Angeles and the poor woman is hanging out with nothing to do (apparently), when she receives a phone call from none other than Daniel Day-Lewis.  He says, "I heard what you did for our film and I appreciate it.  Would you be my date for the Oscars this evening?"

How she got a dress, I have no idea.  BUT I guess more importantly is that while her bosses were sitting in the nose-bleeds, she was the "plus one" of the guy who just happened to take home the Best Actor Oscar.  She wasn't sitting in no nose bleeds, am I right?

Wouldn't it be great if that story were true?  Sure, he may already be an incredibly nice guy but still it'd be fun if it were true.

And, now, I think I know what I should do in my free time.  I'm going to become a cobbler.

Go Phillies!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What Did I Say I Wanted to do Next?

I haven't blogged in a while but I have been thinking...a lot.  Does that count?  I'm in sort of a funk but my situation could not be more enviable.  This past summer when I told the Arden that I couldn't do the show this fall, I expected them to throw me out on my ear.  Instead, they understood and said they definitely wanted me to work on a show in the early spring.

This fall, I had expected to be furiously writing cover letters and ranting about the indignity of it all.  But no, I'm free until February with kids in school all day and collecting unemployment.  Ideal, no?

But what should I do with all this time?  I am volunteering, taking singing lessons, running, taking a French class.  I'm even, and this is hard to believe, doing some yard work and actually liking it.   I'm clearing an old fence, weeds, and the persistent ivy from the back of our property. 

The ivy stole our yard....I'm stealing it back.

But then I think, maybe I should be doing something revolutionary or creative?  I could make a mark on the world with all this free time.

But what?

And, if I do....will I still have time to get dinner on the table at 6 and kiss my kids good night?

Sometimes, I wish I knew exactly what I should do with my life and other times, it all seems so simple.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pardon My French

As I've mentioned before, I'm not working this fall.  I almost got a part-time job but it turns out I make more money on unemployment.  Go figure.  Anyway, I feel that I need to keep busy in order not to fuck too many things up which I feel like I've been doing a lot lately.  Especially with my daughter.  She's having trouble with friends at school (she feels that people put her down and tease her a lot) and in trying to be sympathetic, I think I may have become too involved.

To prevent further grief in her life, I'm getting out of the house and taking an adult education French class.  I was a French major in college although none of the professor knew it because I spent all my time in the theater.  Anyway, I love all things French and with time on my hands I thought it'd be good to re-learn the language a bit.

At the start of class, the teacher wanted to make sure that she had our correct phone numbers.  The first student recited his in French so we all felt we had to follow suit.

Now, I've spoken enough French in the past to know my numbers well so I rattled mine off quickly.  And this woman, another student, turns to her neighbor and says, "Well, that was an easy number, that's why she did it so quickly."

Do people never change?  Maybe I should ask my daughter for advice....

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ligers, Cheetahs, and Servals Oh My!

My son, Jorge, provides me with an overabundance of pride, joy, frustration and worry, just like every child.  He came home about 8 years ago it was only 6 months after his homecoming that I couldn't imagine my life without him.  Just like every child.  Someday, I'll write about the entire adoption process but it's Friday and time for fluff or should I say fur?  See, Jorge's latest obsession (and I mean obsession) is with:

Big Cats!

It started with an interest in Cheetahs because they run so fast and Jorge loves to run.  It expanded to cover all the big cats in the category.  Every library book he brings home has to do with big cats.  He actually keeps a notebook with facts about big cats.  When he gets computer time, he spends it watching YouTube videos of big cats.  He has, in fact, introduced me to species I have never heard of:  Servals?  Caracals?  Ligers anyone? 

Oh yes, there is such an animal as a Liger and it is a cross between a Lion and a Tiger.  What?  You don't believe me?  Here's a clip:

And, if you want more, here is my new favorite video of a Caracal making a HUGE leap into the air to catch a Guinea Fowl.

Isn't it great what our kids can teach us?  Happy Weekend Everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well, I Finished

Yep, I finished the half-marathon on Sunday.  Just barely though.  I ran it by myself so I didn't have to worry about keeping up with another runner which was a good thing.  About mile 3, we ran near to where I had parked the car and I thought, "I could just run right over to the parking garage and take off."  Mile 3!
  • The good side of running a race by yourself is that you can cop out without anyone knowing.
  • The bad side of running a race by yourself is that you can cope out without anyone knowing.
I did end up walking A LOT.  But I managed to finish in 2 1/2 hours.  Not great but not awful.  I did feel awful though at the end of the race.

How awful you ask?  Well, as I walked away from the finish line, a voice over the loudspeaker directed runners to the beer garden for their free beer.  The thought of a beer at that time nearly made me vomit.  And you know how much I like beer.

So, yeah, I felt like shit.

I was scratching my leg and it felt like it had sand all over it.  It was dried salt from my sweat. 

Not only did I feel like shit, I looked like shit.

Here's the funny thing.  I went out for a run today for the first time since the run on Sunday.  And I felt great!  I didn't go too far but my legs felt light, I ran fast, I thought I could go forever.  I haven't felt that way about a run in months! 

Go figure, I finally find my groove....3 days too late.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Keep the Kate Running

I usually don't ask for things on my blog but this time it's different.  This time, I really need some help.  If you wouldn't mind, please send good thoughts my way for Sunday morning.

I've signed up to run the ING Philadelphia Distance Run on Sunday.  Or, as I'm calling it these days:  13.1 miles in the 9th Circle.

Last year, I ran the Philly Half-Marathon in late November and had a great time.  But since then, I've had a running injury and worked on two shows, and lived through the hottest summer on record in Philly (that last one may not be absolutely correct).  And yes, I'm trying to make excuses.  It's true, I did run 10 miles a month and half ago but since then, if I try to run farther than 6 miles my body just shuts down.  I'm not kidding.  It just says, "Nah, we're good.  We're going to stop now."  There's not a damn thing I can do about it either.

When I signed up for the distance run, I figured I work up to 13 miles no problem, I've done it before.  Instead it's been a grueling process with tons of disappointment.  And, I can't not run because I have my t-shirt and I can't wear the t-shirt if I haven't done the run.  Right?

So, it looks as if I have 3 options:

1.  Get really sick before Sunday.  Got any germs you don't want?

2.  Feign a really bad injury in the middle of the run so I have to be carried off the race course.  I like this option because people will feel sooooooo sorry for me and try to make me feel better for not finishing the race.  I could even sob (as they are carrying me off), "No, I can make it, I can really finish."  Good huh?

3.  Trudge it out and walk as much I have to in order to finish the freakin' thing.  Of course, my son's birthday party is as 4 pm that afternoon so here's hoping I finish by 3 pm (the race starts at 8 am).

If anyone has any other ideas, I open for suggestions.  In the meantime, your best wishes would be most appreciated!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bored to Tears

My daughter was bored to tears today.

Seriously, she was literally bored to tears.

And, I'm not talking about a few drops down the cheek.  I'm talking about full-on, one hour, uncontrollable sobbing.  You could call it a temper tantrum but she's 11, almost 12, going on 23.

And, what caused this you might ask?

Math homework.

Being the proactive parent I immediately began to problem solve:

"Do you need a math tutor?"
"Shot of whiskey?"

Hey, it's disconcerting to have a normally well-behaved (if albeit 11, almost 12, going on 23) young girl crying for an hour.

Turns out, as she explained when she calmed down, that her math homework is so incredibly boring she can't stand it.

She's bored as hell and she's not going to take it anymore!

But honestly, that's the answer.  She is a good student.  She understands what the homework is all about and she does it perfectly.  Her problem is that she's been doing the same thing everyday, over and over again and it's boring and it's frustrating and she just had to let it out.  I'm not against letting it all out.  I do have to point out, however, that it's only the 5th day of school.

Lord, help us all.  Or at least me.  Or at least provide more wine.  Wine should work.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Une affaire de femmes, Claude Chabrol: 1930 to 2010

Claude Chabrol died yesterday.  While I haven not watched all or even most of his films, he is responsible for one of my top 5 All Time Favorite Movies:  Une affaire de femmes (The Story of Women).  To be honest, I haven't watched a ton of French films although I love them and I was even a French major in college.  During a one year stint at graduate school (I couldn't hack it), I took a course in French culture through film.  I loved seeing how societal attitudes changed through the years and how they were reflected in films.

But I digress, as I am wont to do.  A boyfriend introduced me to Une affaire des femmes, probably 20 years ago now.  He said the first time he saw it, it left a pit in his stomach.  While I can't say anything nice about the boyfriend because having dated him still leaves a pit in my stomach, I will say I'm glad I saw the film.

The movie is loosely based on the real-life of Marie-Louise Giraud who was one of the last women to be guillotined in France in 1943 for performing abortions.  In the film, Isabelle Huppert plays Marie LaTour who discovers that an easy way to make money in Vichy, France is to perform abortions.  Now, I know what you are thinking:  Vera Drake.  But it's a far cry from that.  In fact, there isn't an ounce of sentimentality in the film.  Chabrol uses the fact that we know what's going to happen to Marie LaTour as a way to distance us from the story and to let us decide how we feel about this women.

But oh!  The film covers so much more than that!  Marie LaTour isn't a sympathetic or unsympathetic woman; she is at the same time warm, loving, sly, business-like, cold and opportunistic.  What would you do if under a totalitarian regime your kids were starving?  It reminds me of a line in Le chagrin et la pitie, a documentary that explored the collaboration between the French and the Vichy state.  A farmer states quite plainly (and I'm paraphrasing):  We did what we had to do to survive.

Does it make it right?  No.  Does it make it real?  Yes. 

I believe, if I remember my course in French Film correctly, that it was this documentary, The Sorrow and The Pity (which figures prominently in Annie Hall), that ushered in a new consciousness in French films.  No longer were film makers castrated by the point of view that EVERYONE in France was part of the resistance.  Of course, French television banned this documentary until 1981, perhaps they were the last hold-outs of the belief that, yes, EVERYONE in France was in the resistance.

A precursor to Marie LaTour can be found in Louis Malle's Lacombe, Lucien.  Another story about a young naive person, who seizes opportunity to make his life better under Vichy France.  I think the reason that Chabrol's film hits me harder is that the main character is a women.  Of all the World War II movies, not many are centered around women.  And even fewer, look at their lives in such a cool, objective way as this movie does.

What this movie does, and why I think it stays with me, is that it asks difficult questions but doesn't answer them.  And it does it in such a brilliant way that you are caught up into the story without realizing the depth of the questions until the movie is over, leaving you with a pit in your stomach (and not from your boyfriend).

Adieu, Monsieur Chabrol et merci.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Decks, Hot Tubs and Electricians - Whatever

This summer we put a deck on the back of our house. Well, to be technical, we hired someone to build a deck on the back of the house. Oh, and we added a hot tub as well. It looks great. Here are some pics:

This is the deck with the new deck furniture and below is the hot tub which sits off to the left of the deck.
The hot tub has changing lights!!!!

We went back and forth between building it ourselves and hiring someone to do it. Then, our neighbor, who has a construction company, came in with an offer we couldn't refuse. He did a great job. The first thing he did was to offer us two kinds of composite material to use on the deck. Every other contractor told us to go to a store and look at the material and pick out what we like. Do you have any idea how many different kinds of composite material there is out there? And when you see them all lined up together...they all look exactly alike! I'm like a 2 year old: just give me two choices. He did lots of other great things like helping with the lay out and using wood railings but putting the composite material on top to avoid splinters.
We like our deck. And we love our hot tub.
The best part of the entire process was the electrician though. He came on a day when Brian wasn't home. He went out back and then came into to the house and said, "You have a wire. Whatever."

I'm not kidding. Now, I've been trying to avoid hiding behind my husband when contractors are around. Usually, when one wants to speak with me I grab my keys and say, "I'm on my way out, you'll need to talk with Brian about that." And then I drive around the block and hide.

I'm trying to kick that habit so I probed further. He said, "There's a wire, it's exposed. Whatever. It needs to be looked at. I could do it. Whatever."

We checked out the wire and then I really did have to pull the Brian card because I didn't know if Brian had planned on doing something about it or not. So then the electrician says, "Where would you like your receptacle?"

My what?
Talk about having no clue. He takes me out onto the deck and shows me the post where he wants to put the outlet so we'll have electricity for the deck. He was talking about a freakin' outlet. How was I supposed to know that?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Block Party Madness

It was 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon and I was heading to the store to get some last minute school lunch supplies. I couldn't believe how many people were out and about at that late hour. Then I realized it was the middle of the afternoon and not late at all. I was so tired that I thought it had to be really late.

That's how much fun I had this weekend.

It was block party time for Oakdale Ave. It was the first year I was able to attend because in years past I would always be working on a show. I'd leave the house as people were setting up and return home to watch the last few stragglers stumbling into their houses.

A couple of years ago, someone suggested that I call in sick so I could attend the block party. I guess he didn't understand that we don't call in sick in theater. Oh no! We go to rehearsal or tech with runny nose, sore throat, and a high fever declaring to everyone that we'll be fine and we'll soldier through somehow.

I've done block parties before. In upstate New York, our block party consisted of burgers, dogs, a keg, a blocked off street and maybe a late night bonfire. One block over sometimes had a volley ball game or even a band playing. In Narberth (on the "main line dahling"), the block party took place on Memorial Day from 4 pm to 7 pm because everyone had to work the next day. I don't think the neighbors really like each other in Narberth.

Well, no such thing in Glenside. These people take their block parties seriously. They changed things up a bit this year and held it on Labor Day. Some believe that's the reason that fewer people attended this year. Others feel that attendance was down because it was BYOB. Still some claimed that everyone knew that I was going to be there so they stayed away.

Maybe it's true but I don't care, I had a blast. We had go-karts, a bouncy-bounce (for the kids, although one or two adults did get in), jello shots, and water balloons with 2 launchers. But the best parts were the games. Two of the neighbors, Dave and Nadine, organized a day of games for everyone. They did a spectacular job. There were games for kids, for adults and some for all ages. Although, I'm not sure Dodgeball should be played with mixed ages. Some of those dads whipped the ball like they were finally getting revenge on the gym class bully.

The races were my favorite. I notched an early win with the wheelbarrow race; those push-ups I've been suffering through have paid off. Brian and I were the odds-on favorite to win the 3-legged race because, well, I told everyone we were going to win. Dave and Nadine, a late entry into the race squeaked by us and won it twice.

In fact, Dave and Nadine, or their kids, won every race or game they entered. They were like the Lance Armstrongs of the block party games.

Next year, I'm insisting on drug testing.

You might have thought that all this fun would exhaust us for Sunday but never, ever underestimate Glenside. Because we had Monday off, Sunday was a like a second Saturday. Round 2 commenced with an impromptu volleyball game that turned into a bar-be-que with block party leftovers. And before you know it, we had the son of a neighbor lined up to watch all of our kids while the adults scampered off to a local bar to listen to Rockabilly, complete with dancing on the tables! To be honest, it was so crowded at the bar that there was no other place to stand but on the tables. We ended the night with a dip in the hot tub.

So, you can see why I thought 3:30 pm on Monday afternoon was really 3:30 am. Boy am I glad that school started.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Anybody Still There?

Ooph, it's been a while since I posted last. So long in fact, that I wondered if I would ever post again.

It's like exercising (at least for me). I'd work out for a while, months in fact, and then stop for a day or a week and think, I'll work out again tomorrow. And there would be so many tomorrows creeping in their petty pace from day to day.

But really, it's not as tragic as all that. I got busy is what happened. I got busy and I got down. It's not that I was depressed but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. I stage managed 2 shows in a row at the Arden and they were both HUGE shows and I did not feel in control as I usually do. Brian said that most likely what happened is that someone did something and instead of standing up for myself, I cowed. And then, instead of fixing it right away, I stayed down. Then I didn't know how to get out. Not sure if that made sense but I think he's right. I lost my mojo.

I wasn't even sure I wanted to stage manage anymore. I was signed up to do a production this fall and I had to tell the Arden that I couldn't do it. Because I was feeling all weird about stuff, I expected them to say, "What a flake! How can we count on you again?" Instead, they just said, "Okay, but can you do the show in the Spring?"

Well, if they didn't think I was flaking out, maybe I wasn't. It was time to get my mojo back.

So, slowly, I worked on feeling better. Running helped. A lot. It's hard to feel crappy after you've proven to yourself you can run 9 miles.

Then, a few weeks ago, a bunch of friends/neighbors were sitting on our newly built deck chatting. We were laughing and generally enjoying a beautiful summer evening. And it hit me! My life is great! It's time to get my head out my ass and start enjoying it again!

Oh yeah, the cocktails helped some too....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Theme Thursday: Pink

I'm tickled pink to be returning to Theme Thursday after a bit of a hiatus. And, per my m.o., I'm going to bring you some pleasantly precious pfacts about Pink.

So, a quick aside: yeah, I do a lot of trivia on my TT posts but it's because I adore Trivia! Actually, I think it runs in the family. Growing up, we never got cable; my mother was NOT going to PAY for television! But we did watch Jeopardy! Rather regularly. I learned how to do the crossword puzzle from my mom and my entire family is font of useless bits of knowledge. I wonder if it's because my mother was a reference librarian so we always had to "look things up." Of course, we do like to share what we know.

Yepper, dinner at our house...always a blast. Oh, and don't play any of us in Trivia Pursuit. My mother, I swear, would win the game on the first roll of the die.

But I digress and I know you're all patiently waiting for these pfascinating pfacts!

The word Pink was first used as a noun to describe a color in the late 17th Century. It described a yellowish pigment which was mixed with blue colors to yield a greenish color.

Assigning Pink to gender began in the 1920's. Pink, though, was associated with boys because Pink is related to red, thought of to be a masculine color. Blue was associated with girls because it was deemed a more delicate color and related to the Virgin Mary.

In Japan, the color Cherry Blossom Pink is associated with the vagina so soft core porn movies there are called Pink Movies.

Most flamingo species are pink in color due to the pink pigments in their diet.

Seeing pink elephants is a euphemism for hallucinations caused by the DTs. This concept was used in Disney's Dumbo when he becomes drunk and see a parade of Pink Elephants.

In Thailand, Pink is associated with Tuesdays on the Thai Solar Calendar. Anyone may wear pink on Tuesdays.

Pink triangles were re-claimed by the LGBT community as a positive symbol. Originally, it was the color of the patch that gays wore in concentration camps during World War II.

Alecia Beth Moore, better known as Pink, was born in Doylestown, PA, just up the road from where I live. I don't know her though.

In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio says: I am the very pink of courtesy. Meaning, he is the perfect embodiment of courtesy. Oh, and yeah, Shakespeare was the first to use pink as a metaphor.

Must end with a video. This one is especially for my sister, who is not only another treasure trove of trivia but who also reads my blog, is a Bruce Springsteen fanatic, and blogs at http://www.janeandgeridishthemovies@blogspot.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Week of Sunday

I spent the last week in rehearsals for Sunday in the Park with George. I always think I'm going to find time to blog during rehearsals but then I find myself fascinated by the entire rehearsal process. More so on this show, I think because I don't entirely get the show. I don't think I understand what Sondheim was trying to say with this musical. So I spend my time engrossed by the entire process.

This past week was especially fun because we only worked with the 2 leads who play Georges Seraut in the first act and George the artist in the second, and the one who plays Dot in the first act and Marie in the second. See? Already you're confused so you can imagine my state of mind! I really enjoyed getting to know these 2 actors before everyone else shows up on Tuesday. They are very nice and easy-going, yay! Plus, I only had to track the blocking for 2 people instead of 15; so much easier! Next week, I'll be tearing my hair out trying to figure who enters in what wing only to have the director change it as soon as I've written it down.

Oh well. Goes with the territory. Can't make art without a few edits.

And, I've discovered that my singing lessons have come in handy on this musical! I can read music but it used to take me a while to decipher the rhythm and notes. But now, that I've been working with music on a daily basis, I find it's much easier to follow along in the score. I bet that comes in handy during tech week when I have to call cues off of the music.

I sure hope it makes my life easier because there is a lot going on in the show. We have dogs tracking on and off the stage as well as panels, benches, a vanity, a scaffolding unit. Add to that the 15 cast members plus 11-piece orchestra along with video, sound cues, and all the rest of a normal production. It's going to be big!

I'm kinda scared but also a little excited for the challenge.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Golden Slumbers

Ever have one of the those really, really good sleeps? The kind that's so wonderful you don't want to leave your bed? It's like reading a great book - you can't stop reading it but you don't want it to end.

I had a good sleep like that last night, full of weird, funny dreams. Or, maybe they were all separate dreams that I've just confused together, I'm not sure. I have no idea how dreams work. It doesn't matter - the sleep was so good and it had been a while since I slept so well!

This past weekend my daughter had a dance competition about 2 hours away. I had to get her there by 8 am on Saturday so we got up early! Luckily, friends of ours offered to have my son, Jorge, sleep over on Friday night so he wouldn't be dragged to the competition. My husband, Brian, was away for the weekend. Since it was just the two of us on Friday night, I let Clara sleep in my bed. No matter how big a bed it is (and I have a king sized bed), Clara manages to find her way over to me and then proceeds to sleep on top of me. It's times like these that I can't wait for her to start NOT wanting to be around me.

This was Friday night after Thursday night cocktails. Okay, maybe I should not have stayed up so late on Thursday but I go into rehearsals this week so it was our last cocktail night for a while.

Despite the lack of sleep on my part, I did manage to get us to the competition on time on Saturday. I can't understand why dance companies want to attend these competitions but I try not to ask too many questions. I will say that some of the moms at these competitions scare me! I saw moms with sequined, pink jackets that said "[Name of Studio] Mom." One sweatshirt read, "Dance Mama," and had a picture of the woman's daughter on it. I'm all for supporting my kids and their activities--(hey, I got up at 5:30 am to drive 2 hours didn't I?) I have a NAME! Also, between us, I think Clara needs a shirt that reads, "Kate Hanley's daughter." I mean, why not? Her time will come!

Well, that competition took all day and I still can't figure out how they judge it and I'm not really sure I want to know. Don't get me started on 8 year olds shaking their booties all over the place. On Saturday night I tried to get the kids in bed early but it was a struggle:

"It's the weekend! We always stay up late!"
"But you've been up since 5:30 am!"

"So, I'm not tired"

Finally, I resorted to: "You're going to bed at 9 pm and if you argue your bedtime will be 7 pm for the rest of the week." Not my finest parenting moment but I was tired. Of course, then I couldn't sleep because I was so happy to be alone, I got restless: Hey, no one needs me to do anything, I can do whatever I want. Does that ever happen to you?

Sunday morning, I planned to sleep in but my daughter surprised me at 8 am with breakfast in bed. Pancakes and coffee that she made all by herself and it was delicious! So how could I be mad about getting up early?

Luckily, I got a short nap in while watching a French flick in the afternoon and then a long and glorious sleep that night. As my grandmother always said, "One good nap leads to another."

It's a great start to my week: I begin rehearsals tomorrow for Sunday in the Park with George; a Sondheim musical about Georges Serrault's "Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte." I'm nervous because it's only my second big musical and excited for the challenge. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime Happy Slumbers!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

For Your Entertainment

Yesterday's blog post seemed so sad when I re-read it, although I do appreciate the comments. So difficult to take it slow again - it feels like I'm returning to start.

Anyway, to lighten the mood I'm posting a video from YouTube - in case you haven't seen it yet. After watching 55 performances of Romeo and Juliet you begin to see the holes in Shakespeare's script and it gets a bit depressing: Death? Again?! So here's how her fate may have been avoided:

Monday, April 19, 2010


I've been avoiding writing a blog post on running because well, I've been avoiding running.

In December, right before our first big snow storm, I ran 20 miles one week; 9 on one day and 11 on another. It felt so good. I had run the half-marathon a few weeks earlier and I was still keeping up with my long runs.

Then the snow came and the holidays and well, I didn't have time, there was too much snow, I might slip and hurt myself, I was too tired, I had too many things to do, etc. etc.

I had been reading some books about running, most notably, The Perfect Mile, about Roger Bannister's and John Landy's attempts at breaking the 4 minute mile. These guys ran in all sorts of weather. So I laced up my shoes and started running again.

But more snow came and as did rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet. Tired and cranky, I drank more coffee hoping I could still run.

Sneaking in a run one day while my kids were playing at home, I got about 1/2 mile from my house when I thought someone had taken my calf muscle and cut it in two with a scissor. I nearly fell on the sidewalk and barely managed to limp home.

After soliciting opinions from everyone ("too little potassium" "too little water" "shin splint?") I went to a Physical Therapist who knew exactly what it was; a slight tear to my calf muscle caused by dehydration. Happens a lot in older runners. At 41, I had no idea I was an older runner but if the shoe fits (or the calf hurts).

The PT guy iced my leg, gave me exercises and sonogrammed it (supposed to help with healing). At first I was royally depressed because of the show and not being able to run. I did a lot of running during History Boys in training for the half-marathon and I really loved the show so I've forever linked fun shows and running in my head.

I am trying to look at this as an opportunity; I couldn't run but I could do ab work in order to strengthen my core which I hadn't done in years. So I've been doing ab work and slowly trying to get out and run. One day I did 5 miles and felt fantastic but then allergy season hit and running felt like I had weights tied to my feet.

Yesterday I ran about 3 miles and was feeling great when my calf started screeching again. I can't seem to catch a break

It's such slow going. I feel like a completely different person than I was last fall and logging 20-25 mile weeks. Now, if I hit double digits or I should say when I hit double digits it'll feel like such an accomplishment.

I say I want to work up to a marathon but right now, a week of solid running would suit me just fine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shoes! A Long and Frivolous Post

First, I want to thank everyone for their kind comments on my return to blogging, it was quite a boost after closing a show that wasn't so much fun. Of course not all the actors in Romeo and Juliet were annoying; I actually enjoyed quite a few of them, like Scott Greer who plays a supporting role in my shoe story.

Scott Greer is like the energizer actor; he just keeps on working, all over Philadelphia. The major reason is, of course, that he is a phenomenal actor. In addition, he's a wonderful cast member -- kind, considerate, and fun.
Mr. Greer played Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet only he couldn't make all the performances because right after we opened, he started rehearsals for another play, Shining City, with another theater company (incidentally with the same director who directed R and J). As part of his contract for R and J, the Arden agreed that his understudy would go on for 3 performances.
Enter Benjamin Lovell who was Mr. Greer's understudy. I had met Mr. Lovell when he understudied 2 roles during History Boys (now, that cast I could never complain about). Mr. Lovell was not always an actor. He began his life (or the the part of his life that I know about) as a shoe salesman opening up several shoe stores in the greater Philly area. The shoe stores, Benjamin Lovell Shoes, are quite well-known in the area because they carry some very nice brands--Clark's, Danskos, Naot, etc. I had no idea that he had these shoe stores until he brought us all coupons for the shoe store.
Mr. Lovell has said that when he meets a new person he doesn't look at his/her eyes, he looks at the shoes. He says he can tell everything about a person by the shoes. I wonder about that. I wished I had asked him but we were too busy going over lines and blocking.
I'm not a shoe person. I'm not even a clothes person. I hate spending more than $20 on jeans or shoes. Well, that's not entirely true. I do spend money on running sneakers but I don't buy new ones every 500 miles as suggested; it's more like every 3 years or so. Truth be told, I prefer thrift stores. Going into a department store and seeing the same item of clothing in 50 different colors and 52 different sizes overwhelms me. And, you can find the best stuff in thrift stores. Case in point, here's a totally cool pair of pants I found in a consignment shop recently:

Wait for it though, you HAVE to see the back:

You won't be finding those pants at Target! They fit me perfectly and were only $12. I call them my party pants.

But I digress. Yesterday, it rained all day, and I had some residual bummerness about not being the best of all possible stage managers on R and J, and not getting along with everyone--so I went shoe shopping. And, I spent money. I bought 2 pairs of Danskos because, well they were extremely comfortable and because everyone, I mean EVERYONE has told me how great they are. The salesperson told me that once I own a pair of Danskos, I'll always own a pair. I'm not so sure about that but I am tickled pink about my purchase. I can't tell you why I'm so happy but I am. Retail therapy I guess. Oh, here's a picture of them:

I wore the sandals all last night and they were the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. The clogs I have on right now so I'll let you know.

Who knew shoes could make you happy?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Return of the Cocktail

So I suspended my blog a couple of months ago because I felt it was stale and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it. As I mulled it over, I realized that I wanted a blog to chronicle some new personal goals I have set for myself -- learn how to sing, run a marathon, and become a phenomenal stage manager. Not only will it be great to have a record of what I'm doing in order to reach my goals, I hope it also motivates me to keep trying, even on bad days.

While all this pondering was going on, I was also stage managing Romeo and Juliet at the Arden. The show closed yesterday and it was quite successful. A solid production with some great acting. Unfortunately, working on the show was incredibly difficult for me. The schedule was brutal, especially the performance schedule. We did several student matinees (which meant arriving at the theater at 8 am) as well as evening performances--sometimes in the same day. In between the shows, I had to go home, see my kids for a hot second, make dinner and then return to the theater.

In addition, I didn't enjoy all the cast members as I had during previous productions. I felt that several of the cast members had no respect for me at all. It seemed they just wanted me to stroke their ego and fetch them things. It was very dispiriting for me. I'm sure it didn't help that I stopped running for a while due to weather and a running injury. I do think exercise helps us keeps things in perspective.

But the show itself was good and hopefully as I reflect on the experience I'll learn something from it. Most importantly, it's over. Now, it's on to more singing lessons, more running (yup back on the streets, more on that later), and another show in a couple of weeks. I'll leave you with a clip of our production of R and J:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Hey everyone, just a quick note to say I won't be blogging for a while. I'm not going to shut down the blog quite yet because I'm not sure if as soon as I post this, I'll have a zillion things to write about. I hope to surface every once in a while with a Theme Thursday post.

I've been in Verona this past month with a pair of "star-crossed lovers" and right after Romeo and Juliet closes, I head to Paris to spend Sunday in the Park with George. In between rehearsals, I'm trying to keep up with my singing lessons (I've had 8 so far and can actually hit a note or two!). Plus, I'm determined to keep up with my running and maybe even see my kids every once in a while.

Blogging has become, in the past couple of weeks, something I feel I have to do so I keep putting it off. I think I may need to re-think what I want to do with my blog. Who knows?

I hope to keep up with all your beautiful blogs. I'm on Facebook and can always be e mailed at: katharine.hanley "at" gmail.com


Sunday, January 31, 2010

I Was that Mom: Just for One Day

When I first had my daughter, I envisioned that I would be "that mom." You know, the one who is totally cool with kids coming in and out of the house. I'd be the center around which my kids' and their friends' lives would swirl.

I'd always have the right games or food and would always welcome an extra guest at dinner or for whenever. My kids' friends would confide in me when they couldn't talk to anyone else.

Then reality set in.

I forgot, in my copious daydreams, to factor in that I'm incredibly intolerant. I work on it, I know and for the most part I keep my mouth shut. But, once at my son's birthday party, a friend of his got up from eating pizza walked over to my couch (dripping crumbs) and started jumping on it.

Who does that?

I will say that I didn't yell--probably because I was in shock--but I did say, "Dude, that's my couch." And that's not the first time something like that has happened. I tend to be stricter with my kids and therefore with my kids' friends. If my kids don't do it, then you can't either.

Anyway, on Friday, my daughter, Clara had two friends over. They want to create a web show and since Clara has the camera they have to film it here. No big deal as they are 11 and quite capable of taking care of themselves. Brian was on his way home from a business trip but wouldn't get in until late so I offered to make everyone French toast for dinner (with homemade bread, of course, that I can do).

Well, they totally wanted to stay and then I offered a few suggestions for their web show--this being right up my alley of course. I let them use my permanent markers (which I save for work) and got them sheets of paper to make a big sign. I even went on the show as a guest.

One of Clara's friends said to me, "You're a cool mom."

And believe me, I've not heard that before.

So for one day, just one day, I reached "cool" status.

Very nice.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Restaurant Shopping

I start rehearsals next week for Romeo and Juliet so Brian and I are going to go out on Saturday--a last chance to see each other before summer as right after R and J, I'll be in rehearsals for Sunday in the Park with George. Oh, we'll live in the same house but keep vastly different hours.

I'm looking forward to a reunion in July. Watch out!

So, I've been perusing restaurants in Philly because we want to do dinner and a movie. Make that a movie and dinner. I find it works better that way because once I sit down to dinner and get a glass of wine in me, there's no way I want to shut up for a 2 hour movie.

Hey, I'm just being honest. I talk a lot as it is but put some alcohol in me and bam! Emeril couldn't even turn it up that much. I can't help it, it's genetic. Once, I was going to visit my family and Brian said, "Well, you better talk to me now because you won't get a word in edgewise all weekend."

So true.

This is why Brian and I are such a good match; he's not a talker. In fact, the first time I met his family, I freaked out because at one point during dinner, NO ONE SAID A WORD! Well, this had never happened in my family before so I figured they all hated me. I mean, why else would everyone stop talking?

Sometimes he does want to talk and I try to so hard to listen because obviously it's important but half-way through, inevitably I start thinking, "Ohhhh, when is it my turn?"

Okay, so I'm looking for a restaurant and perusing reviews and such on the web and I realize I'm totally basing what I want to eat tomorrow night on what I want to eat right now at this moment. (Man, was that a run-on or what?) Has that ever happened to you? You're planning dinner but it's morning so you start thinking: French toast would be fun for dinner. And then dinner comes and the last thing you want is something sweet. Or, you really feel like hamburgers at 3 pm but at 6 pm you're thinking, salad and a beer (this is of course after you've snacked on cheese, crackers, sausage, etc.).

Well, I've picked a couple of restaurants based on availability and walking distance to the movie theater. Let's hope I've chosen wisely and don't end up like that dude in the Last Crusade.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Theme Thursday: Felt and Impression

Impression Felt: A Haiku

Eyes meet in the room

Hellos, small talk, butterflies

An impression felt

Put a Fork in Me

Have you ever been done, just totally done at the end of the day?

That's how I feel tonight. I had planned on working on my prompt book and putting in tabs for each scene (makes it easier to get to the right place when the director says, "Let's look at scene 3, what page is that on?" and expects me to find it instantly) but I just can't think anymore.

I brought it on myself a bit. Brian and I had cocktail night last night instead of Thursday since he left for Florida today. It's our last cocktail night for a while so.... He called me today from some man-made island in Miami telling me how gorgeous the view from his balcony was; clear, blue water, soft breeze, warm air. Meanwhile, I was freezing my butt off. I tried to be nice, I really did.

I did manage to get a run in today (while baking rolls, yum!) but it was windy and cold which always tires me out.

Then, it's Wednesday and I hate Wednesdays. My daughter has 2 dance classes but comes home in-between them to eat dinner which means a lot driving back and forth. Plus, it's the night my son has to do his one chore of taking out the garbage. It's ALWAYS a hassle to get him to do it. He began whining and then my daughter joined in. Finally, I had enough and said, "Why? Why do you have to whine all the time?"

And my daughter answers, "Well, probably because a lot of kids whine at school and people tend to give them what they want so it probably rubs off on us."

I know, right? I wasn't expecting an answer either.

Luckily, though, I can tell my kids when I'm just overtired and done and they get it. Well, mostly they get it. My son likes to stall with, "Can I read to you for a minute?" And then spends 10 minutes trying to find the right book. But how do you say no when your kid wants to read to you.

So brain-dead and cooked through, I have never been so happy to see my bed!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Simple Life

Prep week starts this week for Romeo and Juliet so I'll be posting less than usual, which is hard to believe seeing as how I've barely posted lately. It's really just that I've been extremely busy doing...nothing.

Yeah, that's right, I'm the queen of inactivity, the first one to say, "Let's just grab a beer and sit." It's rubbed off on my children as well (I wonder if they've discovered a gene for inactivity?). I may have written about this before but one my favorite sayings by my daughter is, "Mom, you should give me an allowance for doing nothing because it's the hardest thing to do. You can't stop to rest."

Amen, sister.

I have been trying to stay busy and start doing things. For years, I wanted to be one of those mothers who always complained about having too much to do because it sounded like these moms led such exciting lives. Finally, I gave up and turned on the TV to watch Mildred Pierce about a mom who worked herself to the bone for her daughter only to have her daughter turn on her. Instant justification for my lifestyle.

Anyway, I have been filling my time with activities but nothing exciting enough to post about. Case in point, I've taken up knitting. You're excused for yawning. I'm hoping it proves to be a viable activity for me during rehearsals and the show. I can't exactly read during my down time and sometimes, as bad as it is, I'll go smoke a cigarette. It's a boredom factor and it gets me out of the building.

You might say, "How can you smoke and be a runner?" Well, let me tell you it's not that difficult. I don't run very fast and I don't smoke all that much. I'm just hoping knitting replaces the ciggies.

Oh, and I have been running again. I took about a month off around the holidays because of the terrific snowstorm, the high winds, and the general hubbub around the holidays. Unfortunately, I didn't stop eating as much as I did when I was running 6-8 miles at a time. And, guess what? I gained weight! It's never happened to me before. I've always been one of those lucky people with the high metabolism. Make that, I WAS one of those lucky people....Damn the 40's. Everyone said it would happen to me when I turned 40 and I just didn't believe them.

That's about it (besides baking bread which I know I've written about) so you can see why I have nothing to post about. Here's hoping R & J has some interesting moments. In the meantime, how about a beer?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Theme Thursday: Bread

I make a lot of bread.

And, I'm not talking money....c'mon I'm in theater!

Seriously though, I do make a lot of bread. Between shows last season (November to late April), I made so much bread that we had homemade bread every night for dinner PLUS I put about 20 loaves in the freezer for the summer.

Growing up my mom made bread all the time. When I think of her during my childhood, I picture her kneading dough on the square marble slab she used for that purpose. We had homemade bread every night for dinner back then and I guess I'm just carrying on the tradition. My grandmother, my mom's mom, was French so perhaps that's where she got it from. To me, it's just not dinner without bread. Good bread. Good homemade bread.

I'm not a hand-kneader, I use my handy Kitchenaid for that:


And yes, it does match the kitchen:

So what kind of bread do I make? Well, a few different types:
  • A Tuscan one-rise bread which was the first bread I ever made. It's easy and quick (kneads in the food processor!). My mom gave me the recipe and I make it often, especially if I don't have a lot of time. Sometimes I add soy flour or whole wheat flour.
  • Rustic Potato Bread from Baking with Julia. This is pretty quick as well and it makes 2 loaves so one for dinner and one for the freezer. I've made this for neighbors and they all rave about it.
  • Cloverleaf Rolls from The Joy of Cooking. My mom made these growing up and they bring back such memories.
  • Various others: I've experimented with sandwhich bread recipes trying to find the best one. I just discovered a sponge bread recipe in Baking with Julia that shows promise. I've only made it once so I have to do it a few times in order to make sure I've mastered it.
Here's a quick tip: If you want crusty bread, throw some ice cubes into the hot oven and shut the door for a minute before adding the dough to be baked. The steam from the cubes will make the dough form a nice, crispy, crust.
I just love bread. I love the way the house smells when it's baking, I love the warmth of just-finished bread, I love eating. Best of all, I love it when my kids say, "Oh yum, mommy bread. it's the best."
Happy Theme Thursday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Are You Feeling? Rate Yourself!

Back in college, a bunch of us took a road trip to Montreal. I went to school at the University of Vermont in Burlington, which is only about 90 minutes from Montreal so we could do the trip in one day. I drove, and on the way home, late at night, my friend Joe P. had the unenviable job of keeping me awake. So, periodically, he'd say, "Rate yourself! How are you feeling?"

For some reason, it's one of those ride homes I'll never forget (and I understand it's also a location thing, you know, had to be there).

I was thinking about that today as I tried to rate myself but I'm not sure I could settle on a single emotion. Ever have one of those days?

This morning, my alarm did not work so I didn't get up until 8:28 which is significant because we leave for the bus at 8:38. Somehow, my children got up, ate breakfast, brushed their teeth (even!), got dressed and made it to the bus stop in time for the bus. I just thank the good Lord (or whomever) that about 20 kids get on the bus at our bus stop and that the bus is always late. So this morning I felt relieved. Oh, and tired.

I'm also feeling impressed with the response to the earthquake in Haiti. So many people donated so much money in such a short time. But I confess, I'm a bit conflicted as I hear reports of Haitians complaining that we didn't act fast enough. I can't imagine being in Haiti right now but it feels to me that we acted as quickly as we could. Of course, I'm not there and since they didn't have much to begin with...it's just so sad.

And, I'm sad because I heard news last week about an actor I worked with last season. He was diagnosed with acute leukemia and is now in a medically-induced coma. I didn't know him really well--we had some beers, I hung out once with him and his wife--but I enjoyed working with him and looked forward to maybe working with him again. It's just heart-wrenching.

On the lighter side, I had my second vocal lesson yesterday, and my teacher said I know more than I think I do. He even told me to buy some music so I can learn a song. That idea, of learning to sing a song, seemed so far away a couple of weeks ago. Life goes on, but in the midst of tragedy how am I supposed to feel?

This is light but weird. This afternoon, the kids and I walked into Keswick Village (the little town square in Glenside). I thought I'd buy them a treat for getting out of the house so quickly this morning. After our pretzels (and if you've tasted Philly pretzels, you'll know they are a treat), we stopped in at the used clothing store. My son tried on a pair of pants and got locked in the bathroom. The poor woman who ran the store tried everything to open the door. It took a good 20 minutes to pry the door open. I felt so bad for the poor woman, and my son (who held it together quite nicely but cried when he got out), and my daughter (who was visibly upset). I knew we'd get him out but if you're a kid locked in the bathroom, I guess it's pretty scary. Luckily, we had gummy bears when we got home. Gummy Bears solve a lot.

Except when Gummy Bears are soaked in vodka. When we had our big snow storm, a neighbor came by with vodka-soaked Gummy Bears and they were the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted.

I digress but right now, thinking about those gummy bears, I feel yucky. But not so yucky because I found Inherit the Wind on TV and I've never seen it (good to be me!).

So, Joe, I'm not sure I could rate myself right now. Ever have one of those days?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Golden Globes and Arts Education: A Bit of a Rant

I know The Golden Globes and Arts Education seem not to have a lot in common but see if you can follow me (I wish you luck).

I watched The Golden Globes the other night but only half-enthusiastically. The movies this year haven't really excited me or I guess I haven't seen enough of them to care. I'm not sure what it is. I've seen some good movies but I guess I just don't care who wins.

Don't get me wrong, I'll watch The Oscars (well, after my show, I have a performance that night of Romeo and Juliet) and love it but I'm not so invested in who wins.

I did love Ricky Gervais though (he hosted The Globes), especially his irreverence; he made fun of everyone and everything Hollywood. He put it well when he said, "It's not like I'm going to be doing this again." As true as it might be, I enjoyed that he was pulling the Hollywood elite down a peg. Sometimes, I think they live in such a fake world, they truly feel the work they are doing is life-altering. I believe it was during Adrian Brody's Oscar acceptance speech for The Pianist, that he stopped the "get off the stage music" with "This is important."

Really? A gold statue for PLAYING a Holocaust survivor is important? I'm thinking the actual Holocaust might be oh, just slightly more important. As much as I love the movies and Hollywood, I do think they are full of it sometimes.

But at the end of The Golden Globes, Jim Cameron won for Avatar and he said, "Give yourselves as a hand. We have the greatest job in the world." It was nice to hear someone recognize that. I mean, I work in theater, I hardly make any money, but it's truly the best job in the world.

So that's a long way around to thinking about how exactly I can help the world. I just saw a French movie called The Class about a teacher in an economically disadvantaged arrondissement of Paris. It chronicles a school year as he deals with a class of teenagers who don't want to learn, or have trouble learning. Many of them are immigrants and dealing with home problems and the government, etc. Plus, over the weekend, I had dinner with my sister who works in such a school in Bridgeport, CT. So these people are doing good work, helping students in less than glamorous education. Now, that's important, Mr. Brody.

So, how is what I do important? Or is it important? Here's my answer (rationale?):

Teaching students math, English (French in the case of the film), reading, et cetera gives them the tools they will need to help them get out of their current situation. What arts education and theater in particular, can help them with is the desire and courage to try to change their situation. Growing up in an impoverished setting and seeing the same people stuck in the same jobs with no money does not give anyone incentive to break out and try to change their circumstances. Theater can teach young people that they are not alone; the emotions they have are universal and, that they can choose a different path.

I'll take Romeo and Juliet as an example since I'm reading that show right now in prep for rehearsals. The society that Romeo and Juliet live in chooses violence as a way to deal with their emotions. The "feud" between the Capulets and Montagues is described only as an "ancient feud." It has been going on so long, no one knows what it's about; they just know they don't like each other. Out of this society come two people who defy everything they have learned and love each other, and would rather die than live in the conventions of this "hateful" society. It's a powerful lesson; love is stronger than hate. But will such a tale really help troubled students?

I think it's possible. I think it's possible to expand people's minds with stories; to allow them to experience different situations or similar situations where different choices are made. I may be wrong, I don't know, but I do know that I feel more empowered when I know that someone out their feels the same way I do.

If you've made it all the way down here, thanks for listening and I'd love to hear your thoughts.