Tag Archive | theatre of note

When did I become so afraid?

How many times have you heard a story begin “When I was in college…” among the thirty-something set? We seem to draw upon that just-out-of-reach chapter in our lives to desperately try to understand how we ended up in our current situation. What was it I wanted to be again? What was I passionate about? What did I do when I was fearless? Of course that’s not everyone’s recollection of their college years, but for me, I was fearless.

Recently I’ve been infiltrated by a foreign emotion when it comes to my ability as an artist, namely an actor. I could call it insecurity or self-consciousness. It started out as doubt. I’ve been insanely insecure about many other things throughout my life, but never my ability as an artist. I could boil the rest down to two fears. Being fat, and being a loner.

I hate the word fat. Almost as much as I hate chubby, plus-size, and lately the patronizing overuse of the word curvy. The unfiltered kids who would tease me in grade school just went straight to fat. My trying-to-be-polite “friends” thought chubby would be less upsetting. I’ll never forget the girl who sat next to me in 4th grade calling me “pleasantly plump.” This is no doubt something she’d overheard at her mother’s weekly Weight Watchers meeting. The women’s clothing section at Macy’s obviously feels that plus-size is somehow comforting. And now the overdue positive body image movement has appropriated the word curvy to describe any woman larger than a size 12. To me they’re all touchy, but that’s largely my own madness. They all push the same button. The same weak spot on my soul that reduces me back to that 10 year old girl on the playground crying at the edge of the field where no one will see me because Thad just made fun of my fat stomach while playing foursquare. Yes I kind of want you to feel sorry for me. Whatever though. I’m over it. I really am. Over the past 10 years I’ve worked so hard to get over my body image issues and can proudly say that for the most part, I have. Not that I love myself all the time, I just don’t really care that much anymore. Yes I wear a size 10 and sometimes 12. Yes I’m too heavy for my husband to comfortably whisk me off my feet while we’re walking barefoot on the beach. Yes I have a huge butt. Whatever. Over it. The point is, these things do leave weak spots that become susceptible to other insecurities. I think that’s what’s happened.

Oh, I also said I was insecure about being a loner. Totally true. I possess this completely irreconcilable set of traits where I love spending time by myself and at the same time am totally pained to be without a set of friends. I enjoy being alone, but I don’t want to be a loner. I like being by myself, but I long to be part of a group. Classic Gemini. Someday I need to accept one or the other. I can’t have it both ways, and for now the struggle makes me feel sort of crazy and sad. But this topic is a post for another day. For right now I just have to put my finger on how my weak spots have been invaded by an insecurity of something totally foreign to me, my artistry.

Fat loneliness being the only thing that truly ever kept me up at night, I somehow always maintained a strong faith in my ability as an actor. I don’t know why. It’s an easy thing to be insecure about, but I was immune. I was never cocky. Humility is not the same thing as insecurity. I was humble, but confident. Ruminating on this for several weeks now, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was because I was doing it all the time.

Last year was the first in 18 years that I did not do a play. Seriously. That dawned on me recently and I about died. How depressing, and weird. Save the two or three years that competitive baton twirling replaced theatre as my extracurricular activity, I’ve always been in plays, even as a kid. Plays at school, plays at River City Theatre Company (youth theatre), or plays in adult community theatres, I was always acting. A funny thing happens when you’re doing something all the time. You don’t have much time to doubt it. You can feel frustrated and shaky, maybe challenged and even overwhelmed, but not deep-seated insecurity. That is the kryptonite that prevents you from even being able to get on the stage.

So flash forward now to 2014 and I audition, and I audition, and I audition, and I audition, and for the first time in forever I do not get cast in anything. Whoa. Unlike before, I am not asking you to feel sorry for me about this one. When I made this observation to a friend of mine his response was, that’s amazing. Not the response I was expecting because I saw it as a negative. He reminded me that I could just as easily see it as a positive that I had been fortunate enough to ALWAYS be practicing my craft and playing from the time I was 11. So yeah, that turned me on my feet real quick. I’m grateful. I’ve lived a charmed actor life.

But gratitude doesn’t dismiss the detriment NOT acting is having on my spirit. To use the phrase I began this article with, when I was in college, I was acting every day all day. I was fortunate enough to go to an amazing acting conservatory program at an amazing university (BU pride forever baby!), where literally everyday from 9:00 am in the morning to 9:00 pm at night I was stretching my creative muscle. I was moving around like an earthworm in movement class. I was playing status exercises in scene class. I was thrown into an existential crisis discussing Plato’s takedown of the arts. Is he right? Oh my God. Is art too far removed from the truth? I was learning about what my body could do for itself in Alexander technique. I was getting to know my voice. I was discovering my knack for German, Scottish, English dialects. I was in London! Acting! I was living my absolute dream studying theatre in my favorite city in the entire world. Who has time for doubt when DOING all the time? Not me.

Then graduation comes and goes. You move on. The real world hits. Bills hit. College loans can’t be deferred any longer. Cars need to be bought. More loans. You decide between a soul-sucking restaurant job and a stable 9:00-5:00. You pick the 9:00-5:00 to spare your soul but consequently put a huge barrier in your way to auditioning. However you do leave the evenings open to continue to do theatre. You join a theatre company. Yay. You audition and get cast sometimes. Yay. You audition other times and don’t get cast. Poo. Then one year, 7 years later, you audition again and again and again and you don’t get cast in anything and you’ve been working your 9:00-5:00 job to pay off the college loans you took out to get a degree that you’re not using and you’re so tired by the time you get home that you veg out on the couch watching other people act on your TV instead of figuring out why you’re not. And you wake up one day and you’re 30 and you realize that although you’re happy and you actually like your 9:00-5:00 job and you’re married to a wonderful man and you love your apartment and your car that you’re still trying to pay off, and your priorities have changed a bit, you realize that despite all of that, you’re not acting. You really thought you’d be acting. You were fearless. And not acting has made you bad at acting. And you’ve never been worried about being bad at acting in your entire life. And so how do you reconcile the fact that you’re no longer afraid of being fat or being a loner but you are terrified of being a bad actor.

I’m pretty sure the answer is simple. Just start acting again, right? Easy. Except it’s kind of not. It feels like there are limited opportunities to act. The trick is to take what you can get and take it seriously. The other night a friend of mine was having a very informal reading in his apartment of a pilot he wrote. They needed readers. Normally I would say no, because I’d rather go home and veg out on the couch and watch other people act. But I thought about my struggle of late and said, you know, this is an opportunity to act. Even though it’s going to be very casual and you’ll be among friends, it’s an opportunity to read words that someone else wrote and try to bring them to life. So I said yes. And I had a great time. Yes we just sat casually in his living room drinking ginger tea while we read. Yes it was a room full of female actors even though most of the characters were men. Yes it was super casual. But it was fun and I acted. So there.

This is what I need to do. Not because I need a career as an actor. I’m not sure that’s my fate. A career is beside the point. What I do know is that I need to be acting. Because acting is what turned the fearless switch on when I was 11 years old.  Acting is what made my fear of being a fat loner tolerable. Acting is fun. Acting is the very core of my imagination. I have to be acting. To not have done a play in the past 12 months has felt like a part of me is trapped. My wings have been bound. I guess it’s sort of an addiction. I can’t shake it. No matter how much I turn to writing more seriously than acting. No matter how much I paint, or twirl baton, or practice the guitar, or run. All of those things are great, but nothing is as fulfilling to my very soul as playing make believe with someone else’s words. My acting fuels all other artistic pursuits. Like a shark that stops moving forward, if I stop acting my imagination dies and I can kiss goodbye to writing, painting, or whatever else.

It’s like those new Ben & Jerry’s Core ice cream flavors. Acting is my chocolate fudge core. (You can kinda see how I ended up a chubby kid, huh?)

Do any of you feel this way too? I know it’s hard to be working professionally all the time but we have to keep working out. We have to get to the creative gym. When I was in college (there’s that phrase again), we had this weekly event called Locals. It was a lifesaver. Freshmen at BU are not allowed to audition for any of the mainstage shows. It’s wise. You spend the first year getting acclimated to college, acclimated to the conservatory environment. You learn before you apply. But the professors acknowledged the importance of casual pressure-free application. So they started this thing called Locals. Every Monday afternoon the entire Freshmen class of theatre students, as well as some professors and upperclassmen, would gather in one of the larger classrooms and just do stuff. People would get up and perform whatever they’d been working on. Sometimes you’d get a scene partner and spend the week working on a scene you always wanted to do and then you’d perform it at Locals. Maybe you’d sing songs, dance, play an instrument, or tell a story. It was an exercise in fearlessness. No one was expected to be perfect; everyone was expected to be brave. It was fantastic. I miss Locals.

This got me thinking. I’m a part of this large community of artists at Theatre of NOTE not unlike my community of artists in college. All talented, supportive, top-notch types who don’t get to act often enough. Wouldn’t it be great to have Locals? I don’t think we could organize it every week, but what about once a month? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a safe space where you could just work on stuff?

A friend of mine, Bill, started something similar to this called The Creative Fete. It was very Locals-esque. From what I understand it has since been somewhat dissolved and that makes me sad.

I’m just putting it out there to gauge interest. What do you think LA theatre nerds? Do you want to play? Because the 11 year old I once knew is looking me in the face and asking with a snarky expression, “When did you become so afraid?”

Advertisements

My Irish-Ghost-Theatre-Love-Child

About 6 months ago I was sitting in a company meeting at Theatre of NOTE while the Artistic & Management Committee asked its membership for someone to step up to produce one of the plays in our season, BANSHEE by Brian C. Petti. I had been particularly fond of this play ever since it made its way through our play selection process the prior year. It contained my favorite elements. Grit, family drama, ghosts, folklore, dialects, and a banshee, and it was slated during my favorite time of year, the October Halloween slot. I raised my hand. Hell yeah I’ll produce.

Then I looked at my calendar. At the time it was April-ish and I had pretty serious Bride Brain. Totally discombobulated as the clock ticked down to our July wedding, I may have raised my hand in haste. My wedding was on July 21st, auditions for Banshee would have to be in early August. Pre-production would have to begin simultaneously with the most important production of my life. Ok.

I can do that.

I have this habit of saying yes to everything. What can I say? I’m a worker bee. Saying no feels like turning down opportunity, and I love opportunity. I decided that despite perhaps the best interest of my sanity I would do both. Here on the eve of opening night of our Irish ghost play, I’m so glad that I did.

I mean I really love banshees. If you know me you know that I am a nerd for two things in particular: holiday traditions, and Disney. Well, did you ALSO know that one of my favorite traditions established with my Nana when I was just a wee bairn, was to watch the Disney movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People every St. Patrick’s Day while making homemade green butter. And if you’re still with me then you know that Darby O’Gill is all about banshees, or specifically, the BanSHEEEE! Man that’s a great movie. Actually it’s really ridiculous and kind of offensive but when you’re 8 and making butter with your Nana while Sean Connery serenades you on TV, it’s the best. My intrigue into Irish folklore was sealed.

Fiddle? Check. Pot of gold? Check. Tiny King Leprechaun? Check.

Fiddle? Check. Pot of gold? Check. Tiny King Leprechaun? Check.

but then Sean Connery

but then Sean Connery

So I was sold on this play from the beginning. It’s nothing like Darby O’Gill (thank God), and it’s everything it CAN be. It’s dark, it’s haunting, it’s spooky, and at the heart of it, it’s a classic family drama, my favorite.

Kit Jun 5

Producing this play has been hard. Very hard. It’s hard work and there’s just no way around that. If it wasn’t hard though it probably wouldn’t be as delicious right now. I’ve heard tell of the post-wedding blues that plagues brides after their big day (I actually hate that phrase, “big day,” but I can rarely think of an alternative synonym), and this production has done the trick of keeping my mind too busy to get sad that the wedding dress hangs limp in my closet and the wedding cake gets frostbite in our freezer. Too busy. There have been nights when all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch with my new husband and coo about our newly married life together. Sure. We’ll have a lifetime for that. Besides, the wedding already had me in producer mode. Let’s be honest. Planning a wedding is basically producing a show, only you’re also the lead, and you only get one performance. Although the past 6 months of my life have been back-to-back INSANE, I do not regret it for one second.

Cuz look at this…

Cara Jun 3

Our show rocks. The beauty of it has made it all worth it. It’s like making a baby (well, without the most fun part), and might be just as difficult as giving birth. I somehow managed to pull together a team of rock stars. I mean our sound designer is a Tony-nominee for cripes sake! (Cripes, that’s an Irish thing). Our entire team of designers are so brilliant. Matt Richter, Bill Moore, Abel Alvarado, Cricket Myers, David Thomas, JJ Barrera, Maggie Blake. Y’all make cool stuff happen. Our director James Carey has captained this ship to its full potential. My soul sister Kelly Egan keeps my head screwed on straight and nerves at bay. Doug Burch is the absolute best shoulder to lean on, or cry on, or anything on. I completely lucked out in finding a co-producer in Nadia Marina who happens to be responsible, talented, amazing, organized, and married to an artist who painted our entire set! It’s so beautiful. My associate producer Kirsten Vangsness who, I mean, there just aren’t words to describe her really. Kirsten was among one of the first people I met moving out to L.A. I interned in the casting office for Criminal Minds and I recall the first week coming into the office and Kirsten was sitting there wearing a cherry blossom dress and she introduced herself and was so friendly, inviting, warm, and funny. That was 8 years ago (hard to believe!) and since then CM has turned into a television phenomenon. She’s still one of the kindest, warmest, funniest, and most generous people I know. It’s an honor to be in a theatre company with Kirsten, and with a hundred other people who share her attributes of generosity, humor, and family. It’s a damn fine family, and I’m honored to have reared one of our children (that means one of our plays, are you following my metaphors? I’m almost lost myself).

To my cast, oh my Lord, I love you all so much. Lynn, Bill, Joe, Norm, Alysha, Jonathon, Suzanne, Jenny, Brad, and Tim. Your talent is the absolute backbone of this play. You all know that I’m an actor at heart. I feel your role in all of this more acutely than any other, and I thank you for your patience with me as I try to make this production worthy of our humble black box.

Kit Neil 2

I still have a million and a half things to do before we open tomorrow night, but I really wanted to take a moment to write down some words of thanks, to spread the word about our new playby (that’s like a baby, but a play, because plays are like babies. I’ll stop now), and to invite you to come meet the Banshee! Tonight we have a free invited dress rehearsal. Tomorrow night we open! Tomorrow night is really the place to be to tell you the truth. Following the show there will be Irish whiskey. And food and other treats too. And whiskey!

And look, I know it’s hard to budget for the theatre. I am broke as a not-funny joke right now and I myself could not afford for Brad and I to spend $50 for a night at the theatre. Combined with parking, perhaps childcare costs, dinner, you’re looking at a $100+ evening easily. Although I know our show is worth the price of admission, I also know that many of my friends can’t swing that right now, or ever really. I got you covered. Just go to LA Stage Alliance for half price tickets. Or you can get tickets directly through our website and use the code word KERRY for half pricers. Or just email me, rmsigl@gmail.com. For up to date info on discounts and ticketing, why don’t you join our Facebook event? All the cool kids are doing it. So many options to see this show. In the words of Oleta Adams, I don’t care how you get here, just get here if you can.

Banshee Card Junior

See you at the theatre friends!

Turning 30, and Other Milestones

I picked up my wedding dress yesterday. It hangs in my closet like a quiet animated thing. It’s as if life sits in it, waiting to be breathed into motion 35 days from now. When I tried it on yesterday in my final fitting, I felt like I had slinked into a missing layer of skin. I stood there looking in the mirror and felt not like a princess, but like a princess about to become a queen. And that is exactly how every person should feel on their wedding day. Like they are transcending into a regal elevated version of themself. It’s an important role to play, and every role needs the perfect costume. This dress, oh this dress.

This major milestone is so near in the road ahead, it’s practically the next turnoff. It has consumed so much of my mind that it has almost overshadowed another rather major milestone in my life. Almost.

I’m turning 30 on June 18.

I know to most of my friends and family the general response to that is, “oh you’re still so young!” and that’s true. I am. Turning 30 is not a big deal in the sense that it makes me feel old. I’m not. It doesn’t. But that doesn’t detract from its gravity. When I moved to L.A. 8 years ago, I would occasionally look down the road at the big 3-0 and I thought I saw many things in my future. I thought I would be working full time as an actor or, ooooh, famous. I thought I would be in the possession of much money. I thought I might be out of debt. I remember, at 22, having a conversation about the biz with an agent I was interning for at the time. She was talking about pursuing the career of acting and patience and how it might not happen for me “until I was 30.” Thirty?!?! I thought to myself. She must be crazy! 

🙂

I think back to those musings of my 22 year old self and all I can do is smile, because I don’t have any of those things that I thought I would have. I don’t really want any of them (well, except for the money and get-out-of-debt thing. That woulda been great). I have so much more than my little 22 year old mind could have imagined. I have a love. The love of my life. A love that nurtures me and teaches me and gives me faith and purpose. I have a job. A job that gives my life meaning. A job that makes me proud to work every day even though I’m not quite on the fast track to pay off those college loans.

And I have art. I have a theatre company. I’m a part of a community of artists that I have to remind myself I’m worthy of. I have a little corner in Los Angeles that I belong to. A lens through which I can gaze out at this sprawling city with pride and love. It’s such an honor to have a community like that.

So on this, the week of my 30th birthday, I only want to celebrate by saying thank you. After my trip down the aisle, I’ll make my way back to Los Angeles (by way of Sedona, yay mini-moon!), and I’ll step into the role of producer for an upcoming show at Theatre of NOTE. I’m going to make a play happen, and it’s going to be awesome. The only thing I could ever ask for on my 30th birthday is for your tiny bit of help.

I’ve recently been blessed with an amazing fundraising producer who is going to take the reigns on gathering the juice to make this play puppy run. (Thank you Kirsten!) Before she works her fundraising magic, I did have one trick up my sleeve, and that’s to host a birthday fundraiser. Since I wont for nothing in terms of gifts, material or emotional, all I can ask for on my birthday is your small contribution to make this play happen. Here is the link to my online fundraiser.

https://www.crowdrise.com/RebeccasDirtyThirty

I have a modest goal of raising the first $1000 of the budget. We need a lot more than that, but $1000 will get the ball rolling. If any little part of you would like to send me a birthday gift, I would be so grateful.

Here’s to major milestones! Here’s to thirty years of living! And here’s to THEATRE!!

Happy Birthday to Meee!

Happy Birthday to Meee!

 

Some of my favorite moments of NOTE:

getting my hair pulled by Carl Johnson

getting my hair pulled by Carl Johnson in Holy Ghost

 

looking wistful in Mulholland Christmas Carol

looking wistful in Mulholland Christmas Carol by Bill Robens

 

PTSD by Tommy Smith, with Jason Denuszek

PTSD by Tommy Smith, with Jason Denuszek, damn that play was good

 

photo shoot for He Asked For It by Erik Patterson, my first mainstage at NOTE

photo shoot for He Asked For It by Erik Patterson, my first mainstage at NOTE

 

And the Crowdrise link again:

https://www.crowdrise.com/RebeccasDirtyThirty

And again 🙂

30 Days of Thanks – Friends, Suspects, Sunsets, and New Hobbies

Guys I got so behind this week! That’s what a vacation will do to you. I’m not complaining! Plus this month is all about giving thanks and so I am not going to be hard on myself for not writing for a few days, but instead get right back on track and focus on the positive.

Day 19

Since I missed her actual birthday (yesterday) while I was galavanting around the central coast of California, today I simply must pay homage to my bestie of SO many years that it’s gotten to the point where I have to get out a calculator to count them. Friends since high school (I was actually in middle school and super cool for being friends with a high schooler), today is all about saying thank you to Dana Block. Thank you for being a sister. As someone with only one sibling who happens to be a dude, it’s nice to know what sisterhood is like. Thank you for never judging me, no matter how many stupid things I do and how many times I let you down. Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for introducing me to The Walking Dead. Thank you for the slumbies, the nail polish, and various other girlie tropes. Thank you for being my Maid of Honor. It’s just rare to meet someone that you WANT to know for 15+ years, let alone get to actual hang around for that long. There’s only one word for it. Family.

We even kinda look like sisters.

We even kinda look like sisters.

Day 20

The first day back to work after a vacation is brutal. Instead of capsizing from the load of work waiting for me on my desk, today I’m going to be grateful for my amazing job at The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company.

TheaterGroup-Post

I’ve worked for The Unusual Suspects for 5 years as the Program Administrator. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years! I came into the office with less than a year’s worth of experience in administration and human resources and pretty much zero experience in accounting, and this company has empowered me and elevated me to implement all three on an organization-wide level. I think it’s rare for a company to nurture an employee as much as The Unusual Suspects has nurtured me, and I owe it largely to our Executive Director, Sally Fairman who for whatever reason saw something in me that was worth mentoring! I really can’t believe the skills I’ve learned. Like, really. Accounting? Me?? I’ve been even more surprised to discover how much I love it. Numbers are like puzzle pieces of the universe!

On top of my little role, this company is staggeringly powerful in the affect it has on LA’s youth. I have witnessed firsthand the awesome power of arts education and specifically theatre. I know for a fact that The Unusual Suspects is making the world a better place. This is starting to sound like an acceptance speech so I’ll move on but man, I really am thankful.

Day 21

Today I’m thankful for PicMonkey! That sounds totally dumb but it’s actually totally amazing. I never knew the first thing about graphic design. Less than I knew about administration, human resources, and even accounting. Through this silly little user friendly web-based picture editing software, I have now discovered, I wouldn’t say talent, but I would say major interest. It’s amazing! I have fallen down the rabbit hole and spent many nights up into the wee hours tinkering away on PicMonkey. I’ve always fancied myself a visual artist, though not a good one. I’ve never been able to match the image in my head with what I want to see on the canvas. Frustrating. With the computer it’s much easier to tinker and edit and tweak until what I envision in my head matches what I see in front of me. Oh the satisfaction!

The most joy of all is that I’ve been able to design our entire wedding stationery suite myself. Our Save the Date cards arrived from the printer today and I can’t tell you how giddy I am! The sense of accomplishment and ownership in creating all of these details in our wedding means so much to me. I love you PicMonkey. One day when I’m rich and I can afford to purchase the Adobe Creative Suite, I’ll never forget you.

picmonkey-logo1

Here are some of my little creations. I know the pros out there will be able to point out the million and a half things wrong with these from a graphic design perspective, but that’s ok. That’s the joy of doing things for fun.

Holiday Card collage

Rainbow Grove with Frame

Always You Note.jpg

Sagan only through love

heart card

Cure for Anything.jpg

Love Balloon

Save the Date bookmark FINAL

Day 22

Today I am thankful for good theatre pals. I know I’ve already thanked Theatre of NOTE proper, but this is specifically about the people. I watched a preview performance of The Invisible Play at Theatre of NOTE tonight and was blown away once again by the talent, commitment, charm, good looks, friendliness, love, and all around good cheer in that theatre. First of all you need to get out to see this play. It’ll make you all kinds of happy, and it’ll be a treat to surround yourself with the list of attributes previously listed. These are good people.

Day 23

That’s today! First of all I’m thankful for getting caught up on my thankful days. Yay! And secondly, I’m thankful for this amazing sunset that accompanied me on my evening run.

20131123_165329

See ya tomorrow.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 8: Theatre of NOTE

note_logo_491

Yesterday my little blog here had the most views in it’s short history; a statistic deserving of Scott’s visit. Thank you for reading everyone. I know the bulk of those readers were members of my lovely theatre company, Theatre of NOTE. They are my extended family and like any family we have our share of occasional drama, but only to match the presence of love.

I am so thankful that I found a little black box in Hollywood filled with compassionate creative artists, and that they let me hang around. They are the most talented people in Los Angeles. And the wackiest. Both admirable attributes. The truth is, without you guys, I think I would have gone crazy. Probably left L.A. This town can be a vortex of ego and loneliness and you need a tether to keep you from getting sucked in. A community. For the past 6 years I’ve had the most wonderful tether.

Without NOTE I would have never met the love of my life. That one gets the theatre brownie points to last a lifetime no matter what ever else happens.

I’ve had some of the most incredible theatrical challenges both at NOTE and because of NOTE. Every year I eagerly await what new opportunities will come down the pike, either to perform in or just shows to see that I know will blow me away.

For all of the late rehearsals, the fundraisers, the company meetings, the dance parties, the terms of the AMC, the endless font of acronyms (just when you think you can’t come up with one more…) the committee meetings, the drama, the love fests, the long emails, the joy of being cast, the heartbreak of not, the love that keeps you coming back despite the heartbreak, the performance marathons, the NOTEwoods, the Scott McKinleys. I love it all.

It’s good to have a family. You all are so precious to me. Maybe more than you’ll ever know. I’ve always wanted to feel like I was a part of something, and here I do. It’s a warm and Thanksgiving-y feeling.

Go theatre club. Now turn in your hours!

At a company meeting. Packed in like sardines.

At a company meeting. Packed in like sardines.

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Scott McKinley photobomb series

Scott McKinley photobomb series

NOTEwood

NOTEwood

a band

a band

PTSD

PTSD

Rehearsal for Mulholland Christmas Carol

Rehearsal for Mulholland Christmas Carol

Mulholland Christmas Carol

Mulholland Christmas Carol

739953_10151154579796114_1552903211_o

 

See ya tomorrow

30 Days of Thanks – Day 7: My Lucky Penny

Yesterday a series of events occurred which reinforced my belief in serendipity and magic. Before I begin there are a few things you need to know.

Earlier this year the corporeal Earth lost one of its best creations. Scott McKinley. He was an angel on earth and as of yesterday I’m even more convinced he continues to be an angel of the universe.

I think about him often, and most often in scenarios where I ask myself “what would Scotty do?” You see he was the kindest and most loving man I’d ever met. No matter what troubles befell him or what mood he found himself in on a given day, he made everyone feel special when he saw them and he greeted them with the most warm and loving “Hey there.” I often think that he played a part in my life to teach me about kindness, to be a living example of what the Golden Rule is really all about.

Now here’s another thing you need to know before I tell the story. There was this thing he and I had with pennies. One evening at Theatre of NOTE Scott handed me a penny. I was in a grouchy and cynical mood and guffawed. I told him half sarcastically that I thought pennies were stupid and lucky pennies just perpetuated their ridiculous use in society. Of course, magical love creature that he was, he was shocked and appalled and insisted I take the lucky penny, while he proceeded to school me on their magical attributes. It all made such perfect sense. In a moment of cynicism and grumpiness, here is Scott to remind me that beauty and goodness is a better choice. From that moment on every time I saw a “lucky” penny on the ground I picked it up and thought of Scott. And the pennies have reminded me that I always have a choice, to be good, or to be a grouch. To be like Scott, or not.

The night before last he visited me in a dream. It wasn’t just a dream wherein he made an appearance. It was one of those conscious/aware dreams where I knew I was dreaming and I knew he was visiting me. I said to him “Scott! Thank you! Oh my God it’s so good to see you!” And we caught up a little, and he smirked his Scotty smirk. And then I woke up.

So that’s what you need to know. Now here’s the story:

Yesterday evening I was walking to my car after work. Traffic was heavy downtown, as it often is. I’m waiting on the corner of 8th and Olive to cross the street. It was one of those situations where cars were pulling into the intersection because they had a green light, but the traffic was so backed up there was no way they were going to make it all the way through before the light turned red, and thus the cross-traffic wouldn’t be able to make it through their green light, causing even worse traffic. This is a pet peeve. I feel like there’s a special circle of hell reserved for those who block the intersection. Back to yesterday. There is a minivan stuck in the intersection obviously hoping to get through, but her light turns red and MY light turns green to walk. What I could have done was wait a minute before I started walking and let this poor woman in the minivan who’s probably late to something important just pull through so she wouldn’t feel like a jerk for blocking the intersection. But I don’t. Like I said, I’ve got a beef. I want to teach her a lesson. The moment I walk in front of her car and grab a glance at her distressed face, I think, “This isn’t right. What would Scotty do?” i.e. what is the kind thing to do? Once he enters my mind I realize instantaneously that I should have done the right thing. I make it to the other side of the street feeling a bit like a jerk and thinking about how I failed the Scott test today. For whatever reason I look down briefly. What is the first thing my eye catches?

I’m stunned. The exact moment I’m thinking about him, there he is. I stoop down to pick up a lone penny. To make sure it’s real. I don’t know what compels me, but I check the year of the penny thinking, now THAT would be weird.

1957.

The penny was from 1957.

Same year Scott was born. This penny and he came into the world the same year.

I stand there on Olive and 8th under the lamplight and start to cry. At once sadly reminded that such a good soul has parted, and joyfully reminded that he never truly left. Serendipity. Goodness. Magic. It’s real.

lucky penny

I want to keep the penny. I want to make it into a necklace and wear it next to my heart every day. But I wonder if I shouldn’t send it back into the world. Leave it on another boulevard for the next person who needs it. I don’t want to be greedy. I do, but I don’t. What would Scott do? My heart’s desire is to take this little sign of him and hold onto it with all of my might. Should we keep such tokens? Or send them down the river? I haven’t decided yet.

Everyone slips away into the cosmic dust. Maybe when we do we get to leave little signs of ourselves around the ol’ neighborhood. Little bread crumbs that we’re still there.

Thank you for being my lucky penny Scott. For being everyone’s. I’ll keep following your bread crumbs. I love you. I miss you.

Rebecca and Scotty 1

 

 

Balancing Act: Running vs. Friends

Today I’m struggling with balancing priorities of equal importance. My days are full. I work a 40 hour work week (sometimes more), and I come home and have approximately 4 or 5 hours to do the following: have dinner, clean the apartment, feed the cats, make and process Whimsy Do orders, write, spend quality time with the man who will be my husband, socialize with friends, do the dishes, do the laundry, and run. Somewhere in there I would like to be able to squeeze in some relaxation, when I can. I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. My life is full, but it’s full of goodness. I love my life. I pinch myself daily. The problem is that there really are limited hours in the day to accomplish such massive quantities of goodness, and usually something falls by the wayside.

Lately it’s been running. Who am I kidding, also cleaning. Our apartment sometimes looks like a few empty pizza boxes away from an episode of Hoarders.

But I can’t let running fall by the wayside. It brings me too much joy, helps me feel sane, and most important of all, gets us to Tahiti! Running must be mandatory from this point out. When struggling with how to squeeze in a mandatory activity there really is only one option. Do it. If that means you have to NOT do something else, then that’s what it means. Today that something else involves friends and it’s making me wish there were two of me.

There’s a fundraiser at Theatre of NOTE tonight called “Stand Up for NOTE.” It’s an evening of stand-up featuring several friends of mine, and all of the proceeds benefit an upcoming production at the theatre. You should go! ;). BUT, we are behind on this week’s mileage and today’s run is crucial to keep us on track for the longer run this weekend. I couldn’t run this morning because I had an 8:00 am dentist appointment and I just can’t get out of bed to run before 7:00. I’m like a robot. I don’t switch on until usually 7:30.

In his book “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” Haruki Murakami pretty succinctly describes the struggle of balancing life’s priorities:

It’s a lifestyle, though, that doesn’t allow for much nightlife, and sometimes your relationships with other people become problematic. Some people even get mad at you, because they invite you to go somewhere or do something with them and you keep turning them down. I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance. I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing, not associating with all other people around me.

It’s a bit harsh, and many may say selfish, but there’s truth there wouldn’t you agree? There are only so many hours in the day and I have to preserve as many as I can to allocate to my personal goals. It’s the only way they’ll get accomplished. But my personal relationships are also very important to me. I don’t want them to be diminished by my aspirations.

One solution is to kill two birds, or as many birds as possible, with one stone. (I really hate that a metaphor about killing birds is so useful.) I’m grateful that Brad enjoys running with me because then I can check running and spending quality time with my man off the list at the same time. Maybe I should start a running club with my friends and bring my social life and running life together. What say you friends? Would you go for it?  I suppose combining priorities is one way to solve this problem of mine.

In the meantime, you should go to this in case I can’t. Check out that line-up! And hosted by the one and only Kirsten Vangsness. It really is going to be incredibly hilariously awesome.

How about you? Do you have trouble balancing your personal goals with other obligations? I’d love to hear what you do to get it all done.