Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Second Home

When my English teacher announced that we had to create a blog for our "Art of the Essay" class, I first thought about combining the two on "Crazy Dreamer." After thinking it through, though, I decided it would be best to keep the two separate.

My new blog is lamely titled (temporarily) "Art of the Essay." Writing is a collaborative process, which is why every student in the class was asked to create their own blog. On our blogs, we will be posting snippets of our work, along with ideas and questions we have, with the hope that people will leave feedback. Although the majority of the feedback will likely come from those within the class, I am always looking for feedback on my writing, and the wider audience I get, the better.

You can find all of my work at this link:

I have also posted it in the sidebar for future reference. Of course, I will still be maintaining this blog for my personal writing. My second blog will solely be a place for my academic writing.

I hope everyone is enjoying a final summer's weekend!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tomorrow Comes

Two containers of powdered foundation. One tube of liquid foundation. A can of hairspray. One and a half packages of bobby pins. 20+ hair elastics. Two containers of blush––one neutral, one hot pink. Two packages of makeup remover wipes. And these are only the full tubes/containers/packages I went through...I still have leftover eyeliner, makeup sponges, mascara and eye shadow. The 28 shows really made CVS happy.

Last night was the closing night of "Les Mis" at the Academy Playhouse. Thus, I felt I had finally earned the right to sign my name in the backstage staircase, where decades of performers had signed their names along with, perhaps, some witty line or inside joke from a show they were in.

It took me awhile to find an empty space to write. I didn't want to write over anyone else's signature, and I wanted to sign my name somewhere in the middle of the staircase. After all, that was always where my eyes were drawn to when I ascended the stairs every night for "At the End of the Day" and later on for the "Epilogue."

Along with my name, I felt inclined to write a quote from the show. (With a show as long as "Les Mis," there is an overwhelming number of options.) I thought about what I wanted to leave behind. I was reminded of the messages I always see written in the sand, of how what people choose to write reflects something about them.

I finally decided on this:

"There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes." It seemed apropos for a time when we cast and crew members were all melancholy about the end of the show. "It isn't really goodbye," I thought, as we all sang the last notes of the "Epilogue." "We will go on to other performances and hopefully be able to watch each other or even work with each other again."

So as tempting as it was last night to look back as the lyrics and choreography trailed behind me, I knew I just had to keep rolling. Before every show, our director talked about the snowball effect of "Les Mis," and how every song, every show just had to keep building upon the last. And how we had to let it. So I rolled with it. Through every song. Through every show. And even after the final curtain call last night, that ball kept rolling–with me following–into tomorrow, tomorrow, and beyond.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Giuseppe Painting

There is a cyclops in our garden. A bodiless little plump cyclops with a Pinocchio nose. He tells us he didn't see who nibbled away at all our kale–he only has one eye, you see–but his growing nose indicates otherwise. It was little Peter Rabbit who ate our kale. I think Pinocchio is just happy Peter Rabbit didn't come for him instead.

All we need now is the carrot with the two legs we grew last summer and we will have an original Giuseppe Arcimboldo painting.

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe 
Oil on panel, 67 x 51 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Behind the Scenes

I park at the lodge down the street from the theatre. On average, it only takes me two tries to park now. I put my red Denison water bottle in the side pocket of my backpack, throw it on my shoulders, and warm up my voice as I walk. I know the front entrance is closer than the back door, but I always go through the backdoor. 

Anyone can use the front entrance...only the cast and crew can use the back entrance. I like to take advantage of this. 

I walk into the dressing room, find my costume hanging on the rack.

Amidst all the chaos on the counter, I find a spot to set my makeup. 

I've never had a real dressing room before. Sure, most of the lightbulbs surrounding the mirror may be burnt out, but I feel like a movie star. 

Over the course of the hour, the rest of the cast floats in. Next to the clock is Gerome the Squirrel. Apparently he has made an appearance in many Academy Playhouse productions. Fantine dedicates "I Dreamed A Dream" every night to him. 

7:15 comes around and we report to the stage for vocal warm-ups and notes. The barricade boys practice lifting Eponine after she dies, just for good measure. We review the cart crash scene to make it look like Fauchelevent actually got ran over by it, instead of casually placed underneath. The boys practice tossing the flag without hitting anyone in the audience.

7:30 now...10 minutes until pre-set for those who enter stage left. We file downstairs, chattering about how many people are in the audience, quoting Spongebob Squarepants, obsessing over Harry Potter. Thénardier grabs his pre-show Cliff bar. Everyone takes dibs on revolution cupcakes. Our costume manager glares at us from the corner, just daring us to get chocolate frosting on her King Richard's Fair costumes. 

In the past, I was always so serious about being in character from the moment I put on my costume until the moment I take it off. But with this performance, I've come to realize that it's okay to relax a little. In fact, I perform better when I do. It's also okay to bend some of the "rules." When I would perform in my school productions, the performance would take up my entire life during dress rehearsal week. I hardly talked to anyone to save my voice. I didn't eat dairy for a week (it's bad for your voice). It was the only thing on my mind all the time.

But I can't do that with 28 least not without sacrificing my sanity. I have learned how to balance a performance with my everyday life, something that is essential if I ever go on to perform professionally. Most of the adults in the cast work full-time jobs before coming to perform. Somehow they manage.

8:00 now. Our stage manager calls for "places," which means I still have about fifteen minutes until I need to go upstairs. Only now do I turn within myself and focus on my character. I touch up my makeup. Quietly keep my voice warm. Go to the bathroom. Have a mint. Drink water. Adjust my mob cap. 

8:15, I quietly ascend the dimly lit staircase to backstage, all the signatures of past performers illuminated on the cream-colored walls. At the top of the stairs, I look at the floor and think about how my character I just want to be home with my children. I think about the redundancy and misery of my everyday life. The pianist plays the familiar chords of "At the End of the Day" and on cue, I walk into a Montreuil-sur-Mer factory, ready to "graft as long as I'm able." 

This has been my night, six nights a week, since July 24th. 15 performances down...13 more to go. I have done the same thing for fifteen nights now. 

"Maybe we'll actually win the revolution today," we joke backstage.

It's crazy to think that we're counting down the performances now. I can't imagine going back to school and not performing almost every night. At least I have my school musical to keep me busy. I can't be away from the stage for too long. 

Apart from the show I performed in when I was in 5th grade––when I told my director I couldn't make dress rehearsal because of a school presentation––I have never performed on another stage before. My school stage is my home. This stage felt foreign at first. But it didn't take long for me to fall in love with it. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Spinners #4

For those of you familiar with the book Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, then this exercise will sound familiar to you. I don't remember too many details from the book, but I remember the eccentric Susan "Stargirl" Caraway telling the narrator of the story (Leo Borlock) about one of her favorite past times: people watching. And not just people watching. She took it to the next level to try and come up with their whole life story––their family life, their favorite food, their education, their biggest fear. She looked at them and questioned why one person wore his coat backwards...or why the woman had a wedding ring on both hands.

So here's my challenge to you: go to a public place. A coffee shop or a park or anywhere you can sit down is great, because then you don't have to follow the person around. Find someone who intrigues you. Proceed to write their life story. Think about the questions you might ask this person if you ever were to have a conversation with them. Then, proceed to answer those questions. Let your imagination run wild. You may be writing about a real person, but their story does not need to be accurate.

Have fun!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Kangaroo Corn

"Knee-high by the Fourth of July," so the saying goes. By the 4th, our forty stalks of corn were right on track. 

Almost a month later now, and the corn towers over us with its feather duster tassels. 

We part the leaves to find the hidden ears. As I was preparing this post, I got to thinking why they are even called "ears of corn." I was not surprised to find that an ear of corn has nothing to do with the ears on our head. Apparently, the scientific word for an ear of corn is "inflorescence," meaning "a flowering." It makes sense, then, that when we grind this up, we get flour.*

Our friend told us that the raccoons would get to the corn before we did, but we beat them to it. Above is our first ear of corn from the garden...or should I say ears of corn. This corn had a baby corn attached, like a kangaroo with a baby in its pouch. 

We steamed the corn and we probably picked it a day too late but it didn't matter that it wasn't snappy––it was still some of the best corn I have ever had. 

Meanwhile, a sunflower grows amidst the stalks––a scarecrow ready to ward off thieving raccoons.

Do you garden? What do you grow? How has your garden been doing? Our lettuce and kale haven't been strong this year...the leaves have been small. Our beans and snap peas, meanwhile, have been growing generously. 

I hope you're all enjoying your summer!

*Note: The information about the etymology of "corn" comes from this blog: (