September 12, 2012

Play Musings

So, I am sitting in my apartment on this deliciously hot day, with a Caribbean flavored popsicle in hand, going over material for my current show, and pondering the fleeting quality of this profession I have chosen. The show is Into The Woods. A classic, a masterpiece, a giant heap of complicated music. The first day of rehearsal can feel a lot like the first day of school. Everyone is secretly scoping out one another, sizing each other up, and forced into the ever-tedious "Hi my name is..." game.

We've passed that point and have now found ourselves in the limbo position between wanting the show to just open already, and knowing that once it does it will all be over much too fast. Most of us have only known one another for these three short weeks. But in this world, and in these woods, relationships form fast. Jokes are tossed back and forth at lightning speed as though we've known each other for years. We've already grown accustomed to each others habits, and look forward to what treats our baking-maven stage manager has brought us each day.

It's hard to believe only one month ago I was in Utah sharing similar bonds with an entirely different set of people. All of whom have different jokes, different lives, and different stories. I can't think of many other professions where such things are true. In what other life do you meet someone for the first time, and then a few hours later find yourself having to kiss them, or cry with them, or yell at them? Well, I guess in some ways that could be a typical Friday night...but that's another story.

But seriously, you work so closely with your fellow cast mates. The rehearsal process is often fast and furious, especially in these dire economic times where funding for the arts is disappearing. It's almost a test of how fast and how cheap can we get this show up, set, and open. And then...poof! The show is done. That magical thing you'd been holding onto, giving all your attention to, suddenly disappears. To many friends outside of this world, it's as if it never happened. It becomes that show or that job you mentioned in passing but they only vaguely remember. "Is that the one about the boat?...No, no the one in French?'s all fairytale characters? I'm so confused."

I have no answers. Not even many questions, mostly just musings I guess. I'm constantly in awe of this life I live, and the way I've chosen to do it. I cannot imagine a world where I was not passionate about what I do. How lucky am I that I get to play dress up every day? And while the projects change, and the people who play with me change. Each show, each job has such specific memories. Memories tied to very specific people. And although we may lose touch here and there, or not see certain friends or colleagues for extended periods of time you will always have that show. That nugget of time that you shared working on that production of -insert show title here-. I don't look forward to saying goodbye to my Into The Woods family, it's always bittersweet. But like the end of a school year, you always know there's another first day waiting just around the corner with a new set of faces, laughs, and rounds of dress up to come.

September 2, 2012


It's been almost an entire year since my last post. Time sure flies doesn't it?

It's hard to believe that two years after starting this blog I actually feel like a "real person". Well at least a little bit. Sure there's always the anxiety of bills, rent, and life in general but I can honestly say I am in love with this time of my life. I don't have the longing to be back in the safety of school and also no desire to grow up anymore than I have so far. I think that's really the secret. Regardless of the scary parts that are waiting around every corner, if you can find the good things, and happy things, the parts of this crazy life that fulfill you, the other stuff falls away. Of course, this isn't an easy task. It's something we all deal with daily. Hourly even.

I sit in my apartment, coffee in hand, armed and ready for another day of not much to do. Since getting back to Los Angeles I've begun rehearsals on a new production of Into The Woods which has kept me busy in the evenings but left me with a lot of mornings to fill. At first I was loving this freedom. Time for new dance classes and sleeping past 10 am. What a thrill! But now I find myself feeling guilty. Days off are great when they've been earned. And while I am working my butt off in and out of Woods rehearsal I still feel that so much free time is unwarranted. When I first returned home my goal had been, like many young performers, to not get back into the day job game. This goal that once felt oh so attainable has become less and less so. Partially for financial reasons but also because I can't stand to be so idle all the time. I guess this is just the curse of my high energy and go-non-stop attitude. I'm sure my parents would tell me to luxuriate in the free time since it finds me so infrequently. But I did luxuriate, and now I am ready for what is next.

Another hesitation for this whole "to day job or not to day job" dilemma is letting go of what I wanted my life to look like when I got home. Truly what I want is to have a full schedule of doing what I love. Whether it be teaching, choreographing, rehearsing, or more likely a combination of everything. But at what point do I have to say, maybe right now is not the moment for that? Isn't that a big part of becoming this real person, understanding financial realities and responsibilities? I try to live by a certain motto thanks to Ms. Julia Cameron of Artist's Way that we should "leap and the net will appear" that we should let the universe take care of it. But how long can I wait for the universe? And more importantly, is that even what the universe has in store for me right now? Maybe it thinks I need to grow up a little more before I am rewarded with the life I think I want. Or maybe it's knocking me off my high horse for a moment and bringing me back to this humble earth. It could be any of these things, and yet none at all.

So we go on the journey, winding down the path because really we have no other choice. And when I find the opportunity to leap, I can only hope I'll have the courage to do so knowing something will be there to catch me.

October 3, 2011

Equation for a Real Person

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Lauren who recently reminded me it had been ages since I updated this bad boy. So Ms Lauren, this post is for you!

I'm still here, finagling my way through this real world. Sort of playing-at being a real person. Flip flopping between being a real adult with a real paycheck and bills to pay, and the inner little girl, curled under the covers, asking her mommy for her binky. Okay so I never had a binky, but you get the picture. Being a big kid is hard! I am currently working five days a week at a cute, mildly trendy, semi organic sandwich place which is the main source of my income, and am this close (imagine me holding up my pointer finger and thumb close together right by my face here for the full image on this one) to paying my own rent. Bomb sauce indeed, but no easy task. On top of this I am working as Dance Captain on a production of Annie which is also paying me (more bomb sauce, real person points here) and we rehearse six days a week including weekends. While this equation does equal money flowing my way, it also equals lots of 13 hour days with zero days off until the show closes. Multiply that by the negative hours I am getting in sleep and you've got the perfect equation for a very tired lady, aka, me.

Don't get it confused, while I am quite exhausted I would much rather be too busy than sitting at home with nothing to do. I am so thankful to have a day job, AND a creative job. Both of which are quite tough to come by these days. Working on Annie has been a very fun experience. I did the show when I was 14, what musical theater geek didn't, right? And my memories were mostly playing the ditzy Lily St. Regis, wearing a blonde wig and a big stuffed bra, and lots of dancing servants. This version though has an entirely different feeling. Because it is being produced by a professional company the maturity level is much higher. How often do you see a production of Annie that isn't preformed entirely by children or teenagers? Where Warbucks is a 17 year old kid who was forced to shave his head? Our adult cast is comprised of people ranging from 20's-40's or 50's. All of whom probably have a lot of experience being real people, maybe I should ask them for some pointers before I go running back to my hypothetical binky again. This production also has very little dancing. There are many physicalized moments, movement patterns, and gesture-ography, but you would be hard pressed to find a pirouette. I remember being 14 and dancing like a crazy person all over the stage. But this production shaves away all that excess stuff. It's simple. Not in a negative way. Not in the way people often think when they think of a production of Annie. Sure, it's a cheerful, sometimes sentimental, and often cheesy show. But at the end of the day the message does still resonate. I'm so proud that this production seems to shatter the flippant and juvenile reputation the show has come to have. It sure isn't easy.

Anyways that's enough of my preachy, "my show rocks" speech. I've got to get up early and put my big girl pants on again tomorrow.

More soon I hope.

June 21, 2011

Power Brunch

It has been entirely too long since I've posted anything about my latest food creations. Although I've been collecting pictures and notes about my latest endeavors, no actual evidence has been produced...until now!

In my true old lady, food obsessed, fashion most things on my birthday wish list this year were food related. Namely a new coffee maker, a cast iron grill pan, and my new favorite secret weapon, a mini food processor. As soon as I unwrapped my mini Cuisinart, saving him from a life of flavorless solitude inside that cardboard box, we got to work. My first creation? Homemade pesto. Although I cannot give you an actual recipe for the pesto here, (due mostly to the fact that when I cook I almost always just guesstimate until it tastes right) I can show you what I did with the pesto to spruce up a very delicious power brunch. If making homemade pesto ain't your style try this recipe with store bought, or sprinkle fresh chopped basil over the top instead of the full blown pesto sauce.

And finally...Behold my super duper power brunch!

This deliciousness was created and inspired by a variety of things. At one of my favorite cafes in Santa Monica, Huckleberry, the have a delicious twist on green eggs and ham where the ham is actually delicious, salty prosciutto and the aforementioned "green" is really just pesto slathered on top of fried eggs. Being that this is one insanely delicious combo I started out to make simply fried eggs with some homemade pesto and toast. As I was browsing through my refrigerator, as I often do, I realized I had left over brown rice, and some veggies that needed to be used, namely spinach and mini heirloom tomatoes which are a personal Trader Joe's favorite. A frequent breakfast in my kitchen is a fried egg on top of fresh spinach with sliced tomatoes and chopped basil...and suddenly the mind wheels were a whirring. Why not combine this green egg, spinach, tomato madness? All I needed now was to replace my usual slice of toast with hearty brown rice and I had the meal of the century...okay, maybe that's an overstatement. Either way it was the best breakfast of my week.

Here's how it goes:
Olive Oil
1/4 c brown rice 
1/2 c mini heirloom tomatoes halved (feel free to use any tomatoes you've got)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c fresh baby spinach
1 egg
1 Tbsp basil pesto
salt and pepper

Since I'm using left over brown rice, I pour it onto a plate and microwave for about 1 minute. Remove from microwave and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan heat 1 Tbsp olive oil, tomatoes and garlic. Cook about 2 minutes, until tomatoes begin to puff up.
Add spinach, a dash of salt and pepper and cook another minute or so until the leaves begin to soften and turn a bright green. 
Remove the tomato, spinach goodness from pan and pour onto your already cooked brown rice.
In the same pan heat another teaspoon of olive oil.
Crack egg into hot pan and fry until desired firmness. (I like my yolk nice and runny)
Slide egg on top of the brown rice, spinach, tomato pile.
Add a dollop of pesto, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and enjoy!

This is perfect if you've got a long day ahead without much time to stop and eat. If you eat it at brunch time (11am or so) you're likely to be full until dinner!

Happy Eating!

June 2, 2011

Midnight Musings

This evening I went to see the new Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris. (No, not the homemade sex tape of Paris Hilton.) It starred all kinds of wonderful actors including Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams (a personal fave), and Michael Sheen who's in another upcoming movie I am dieing to see; Beautiful Boy. I may just end up spending my whole birthday weekend at the movies since I still haven't seen Bridesmaids OR Hangover 2! It seems every where I turn there's another movie coming out I want to see, and after missing Water For Elephants I am determined to catch as many as possible.

Anyhoozles, the movie - Midnight in Paris - centers around Wilson's character who seems to be stuck in the past. Not a past he has lived though, but rather a historical era that he idolizes. He fantasizes about 1920's Paris, all the artists and writers, the culture, the glamor etc. and somehow manages to be transported to this time period where he gets to rub elbows with the likes of Ernest Hemmingway, Cole Porter, and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. During his time with all of these, now, wildly famous people he finds that they are just as disillusioned with their own era and generation as he is with his. He finds that their lives are not perfect and tidy but rather very messy and rambunctious. 

When we have heroes that we look up to, or aspire to be, we place them in a realm of memory and nostalgia that cannot possibly be accurate. We look at past generations and think how amazing it must have been to be there when...(and fill in the blank) or how amazing it would have been to meet...(fill in the blank again). I find myself doing this too. I've had the amazing pleasure of working with a few people who danced for some of the greatest choreographers Broadway had ever seen. Namely Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. And when people talk about these great geniuses of dance they use nicknames and share anecdotes with complete nonchalance. "Oh Bob would get so pissed at this...." "Jerry spent hours working that..." "I saw Bob throw a girl out of rehearsal for this." When I hear these stories I feel that same awestruck yearning to have been there when, to have just been in the room with those people.

But I think what the movie is trying to tell us is that no matter how much we think all the generations before us had it figured out, they were just as messy and screwed up as we claim to be now. The reason we ache for the past is because we are so unhappy, or bored, or terrified with our own present. It's a way of escaping the utter unknown of what's to come by looking back. Hindsight is 20/20 even when the memories are not yours, but those of your greatest idols and influences. I think it shows that no matter how much we look back at these people with feelings that they must have really had it all figured out, in reality they were probably just as scared, insecure, and scatterbrained as we are now in our own lives. We think about successful people and can't fathom they ever doubted themselves the way we all do everyday. Someone of that magnitude must have known all along they were great, that everything they wrote or created was brilliant. Not like now, not like us.

Maybe the movie serves as a way to humanize our idols. To remind us that no matter the time or place, everyone has these very real human fears about the present and our unknown future. Everyone wonders how their lives will pan out, and maybe we need to believe that generations prior had some magical cure to all their instability in order to get through our own. In order to believe somewhere down the road we'll find that magical cure for ourselves in this generation.

May 31, 2011

Fat Free Cream Cheese Creeps Me Out!

Just like every other female in America, I set out at the beginning of 2011 with the resolution to lose weight. Okay, so maybe not in that obsessive hydroxycut, Special K diet, join Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem sort of way. I think the conversation in my head went something like this. "Hey, it's a new year. Maybe my resolution should be to eat better, what if you gave up sugar, for a whole year! It can't be that hard. You could totally do it...ooh Yogurtland. Yah I'm gunna need some of that. Screw no sugar, that's just evil, I do what I want!"

When it comes to diets I am almost whole-heartedly opposed. Of course I believe in eating well, eating fresh fruits and veggies, keeping fried foods to a minimum, blah blah blah. I just don't believe eating cereal two times a day for two weeks will give me lasting results in the waistline category. I was making toast today *gasp* "aren't carbs supposed to be off limits when trying to lose weight??" when I decided to put a small amount of butter and jam on my toast. Probably no more than one teaspoon of each, and I got to thinking. I recently watched the movie Food Inc which has inspired me to be more conscious of where the food I buy is coming from but also to be aware of what my food is made of.

In this diet-crazed world it seems that every product at the grocery store has a "light" version. Fat-Free cream cheese, Sugar-Free fruit juice, butter substitutes, and Non-Fat chocolate pudding. Although I am all for watching our weight and keeping an overall low fat and sugar diet, when does consuming all the chemicals to make such products as sugar-free Hershey bars become more of a hindrance to our bodies than if we just ate the full fat alternative made of ingredients we can actually pronounce? Not to mention who wants to eat sugar free Hersheys? It tastes like cardboard! I am guilty of using non-calorie sweeteners such as Splenda or Equal in my coffee. But that's mostly because I like LOTS of sugar in my coffee and if I used the real stuff it would probably be enough to bake a small cookie or keep a toddler bouncing off the walls for a minimum of 2 hours.

I digress. The question I guess I am posing is this; if used in moderation, is putting one teaspoon of real, organic butter on my toast really worse for me than the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Spray that boasts only 20 calories per 25 sprays, made of who knows what? I am in no way advocating always using butter, or whole milk (ew!) but rather asking where is the right place to draw the line with all these chemicals. At least with real fats, like the ones found in that damn almond butter I love so much, my body can recognize what it is digesting. The fats from nuts are found naturally in the environment unlike ingredients such as Carrageenan, Potassium Sorbate, and Calcium Propionate all found in Fat Free cream cheese. I recently bought "light" cranberry juice thinking I was being smart in avoiding some of the sugar and calories but I almost immediately regretted the decision. First of all, it tasted like hyper-sweet cough syrup, and secondly because every time I drank it I got a stomach ache. Something in this hybrid juice really didn't get along with my tummy.

So which is the lesser of the two evils? Does having a diet reliant on diet-versions of my favorite foods really help me lose weight? Or can we learn to moderate ourselves. Let's be honest, if I am going to eat a cookie I'd rather it be made from scratch and just deal with the fact that I am choosing to consume some extra calories. Not to mention baked goods made with things like Splenda and margarine really freak me out. Am I right? Am I right?

May 10, 2011

Early Mornings

Good morning early risers!

It is a beautiful day in Los Angeles and in rare fashion I am wide awake and enjoying the morning calm. While living and working in San Diego I often found myself up extremely early (like, before the sun comes up early) which is no easy task, but not always entirely unpleasant. With the exception of the few days I woke up with massive headaches from one too many glasses of wine the night before...but that's a story for another time.
While waking up at the ungodly hours I was never able to really relax and enjoy the morning. As soon as I was able to peel myself out from under the covers it was into the shower and onto my morning routine of vocal warmups (sorry neighbors) and lots of coffee. Generally by 7am we were in the van on our way to which ever school was our destination of the day. And by the time our performances for the day were done it was afternoon. The mornings seemed to fly by without notice while we unloaded our set in an array of locations which by the third week all seemed to blur together.

My reason for being up this morning is a temporary gig as nanny/driver for a family while the mother recovers from surgery. Gotta love that day job eh? Hi, my name is Cami. I'm a professional dancer slash performer slash nanny. Yikes. Lets hope I can drop that last title soon and replace it with something a little more awesome like broadway diva, or rising star, or superhero... I went too far again didn't I? Anyhoozles, I figured after my long two-audition day yesterday that getting up and staying up after dropping the kids would be torture. But I guess the sunshine and fresh air is luring me to stay awake and present for this morning. Or maybe it's the two cups of coffee I drank. My money's on the rays of sunlight pouring into my room. It feels like a frickin Disney movie in here I swear, all I need is some singing birds to come help with my dishes. Wouldn't that be nice.

All in all, real life is progressing as always. I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with my mom to celebrate mother's day and we had all kinds of wonderful chats. Exchanging new discoveries each of us is making on this never ending journey. The constant changes, ebbing and flowing through anything life throws at us even when we think it's all too much. I admire my mom a lot more than I probably let her know, but I gotta brag a bit and say she is one fantastic lady. To think she is still reinventing herself after two kids and a whole lotta living is inspiring. Just reminds me that life is really not about reaching a destination. We often think "once I have this I'll really be happy" or "After I reach this point in my career, work with this person, make this movie I'll be set" But that's just the thing, those sort of destinations, and clean cut milestones don't really exist. Except maybe in retrospect when we can look back and say, "ah yes, that's when I really started believing in myself as an actress" or "That's when I realized this relationship wasn't going to work" that "this school really was the right choice for me". But we can never make these realizations when we are in the middle of it, trudging through the mud of whatever today brings us because we are too busy learning and experiencing to notice or care.

Now I can look back on my time at school and pinpoint so many personal shifts within me. But at the time, I was just living. Going parties and classes, trying to survive 8am Tai Chi, and rehearsal every night. I'll be interested to see how the rest of this year plays out as I become more and more of a "real person". I'm sure it will continue to be a wild and bumpy ride!