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!

May 3, 2011

Happy May

I am taking some time on this delicious day to write to you in the vain of a recent blog post. Here though, I have traded in the crowded Coffee Bean full of awkward first dates for a more serene, outdoor patio at my neighborhood favorite Coral Tree Cafe. Instead of hearing the sounds of stunted date conversations, blenders grinding out frothy coffee treats, and overplayed top 20 radio hits I am surrounded by a sound scape of world music, little chatter, and surprisingly no car horns! Maybe I just jinxed myself, we’ll see if that holds true through the end of this post.

In my first hour of time here I was sharing the patio with only two other women  who seemed to be writing something together. One had out a laptop, the other an ipad, and they were spitting out phrases like “what stanza was that?” “Do you think we’ve left her alone for too long?” “No, the last time we heard from Jenny she was 36, so she can’t be in this part.” Very interesting stuff indeed. I began fantasizing about them needing a young actress to give life to their characters, choosing the cute girl on the patio who eventually stars in their hit movie, wins an Oscar and takes the world by storm...Too far? Too soon? Eh, a girl can dream can’t she?

Most other people at the cafe this gorgeous afternoon are glued to laptops with earbuds in apparently studying or researching for something. As I walked through the seating area I saw many a word document open, sitting idly while the writer searched through pages of notes and textbooks. Ahhh the joys of school. Reinforces for me how happy I am to be done studying for tests I could care less about. Yes I am talking to you Native American Studies, Air Pollution, and Linguistics, don’t act like I forgot how much your exams made me want to kill myself. This past week I had the immense pleasure of seeing so many of my friends and peers in UCLA’s production of Rent. The show was truly wonderful and I couldn’t help but feel like a proud mama seeing all the younger TFT Bruins coming into their own as actors and performers. Especially those who I’ve known since they were itty bitty freshman. Walking away from the show I was struck for the first time by nostalgia for my time in school. It was the first time in the last year since I’ve been graduated (yes, it’s been almost a year, yikes!) that I missed being in school. The camaraderie, being in shows with ALL of your closest friends, working on seven thousand projects, scenes, shows, etc at once, working yourself to the bone just to finish all your theater and GE homework, avoiding getting sick like it’s the plague even though you know your roommate’s already caught the cold and it’s only a matter of time until you start hacking up a lung in voice and speech class...wait come to think of it, maybe I don’t miss that crazy grind.

In all seriousness though, it was such an amazing experience. One that could never be duplicated and will most likely never be matched in my lifetime. Sure I missed it, but when push comes to shove I love my new quasi-adult life I’m living. (I don’t think I’m allowed to call myself a grown up until I stop sleeping with my stuffed pig --What? Another over-share? Damnit.) It’s fun, tiring, silly, and completely unpredictable. What’s next life? I can only guess.

Here we go, Happy May everyone!

March 13, 2011

Mr. Big Scary Quake

Happy Daylight Savings!

Today I write from the discomfort of my hungover, spring forward, daylight savings daze. My clock says it's almost 11am but my body feels like it's 8am. My sore muscles are yelling at me to get back in bed but my eyes and brain are winning the battle by making it impossible to get back to sleep. It's an overcast day in San Diego at the end of a long eventful few days. In general this weeks shows ran smoothly. The most difficult part of it all was our VERY early call times. Monday started out easy -just one show at 12:45pm- but the rest of the week was not so kind to us. Our first shows were all scheduled somewhere between 8 and 8:30 am. These early showtimes put our van pickup somewhere around 6:30 am and my wake up time somewhere near 5am. Before the sun has even started to rise. Oye. Let me just say that by our second show on Friday we were all very loopy and in need of some happy hour love.

There have been a handful of times in the last few days that I've found myself whining or complaining about some minute thing. Yesterday's hangover, getting home from Trader Joe's to find that some of my Clementine tangerines have gone bad, or realizing there's a button missing on my brand new dress. But then I'm reminded of the insane catastrophe that Japan is experiencing. I cannot even begin to fathom what those people are going through and I immediately just feel humbled and so so so thankful to be where I am. Yesterday afternoon, while they're experiencing threats of nuclear explosions I found myself at the mall shopping for a dress to wear to a special event next weekend. Isn't it weird that myself and so many others can have a carefree afternoon like that when the rest of the world is suffering?

There are so many disasters that are preventable or predictable. When there's a raging fire we can often see it coming and know what materials we need to put it out. When there's a tornado in the midwest once we can often see it coming and most homes have basements built in for just such occasions. Sure, in these natural disasters there is massive damage, but we are prepared for them. We know how they work. Earthquakes can happen at any moment. Without any warning. And then suddenly a home is split in half in a matter of seconds. I've lived in California my whole life and felt my share of earthquakes but as I got older I never was afraid of them, I had never seen them do major damage to my home or anyone else's that I knew. But now we look at Japan who was hit with a massive quake which caused a massive tsunami and very large aftershocks. It's like a scene from one of these end of the world, Day After Tomorrow, movies. But it's real life. These are real people who cannot find loved ones, who have been forced into homelessness with very little food and water left to sustain the now crippled country.

Just a few weeks ago I was talking to my castmates about earthquakes and which ones we had all experienced growing up. But the conversation was light, filled with laughter. Sure, we shared fears about "the big quake" that California is supposedly overdue for. But it still seemed so far away. The threat of "the big one" for me always felt like those rules imposed by someone that everyone knew didn't really matter. It's that small worry that hangs over your head, that tells you to be prepared for something like this, but you shrug it off because it couldn't happen here, to me, to my friends and family. Maybe we sweep those precautions under the rug because if we give into them it makes it all real. Like being somehow being prepared and scared means the big quake, wherever he is, has won. And maybe we're all just too stubborn to forfeit our pride for the sake of Mr. Big Scary Quake.

This may seem fatalistic but this whole situation in Japan has been a very scary lesson in how quickly an entire life can be turned up side down and inside out. I'm writing from the comfort of my one bedroom apartment, using my fairly new laptop, drinking coffee and listening to music. And there are people in Japan, and elsewhere, that before this whole ordeal were probably doing something very similar. An entire country has been disrupted. A concept I can only barely imagine. Talk about putting things in perspective...

More soon

February 26, 2011

My Two Left Feet

So it has been a while since I've updated.

After my last post I unfortunately got insanely sick, woke up Saturday morning with almost no voice and spent the entire weekend on my couch. Thankfully it was Valentine's weekend and I was able to take advantage of all the cheesy chick flicks being shown all weekend. Not-so-thankfully, my Valentine this year was a studly man by the name of Nyquil. Although he and I hadn't seen each other for a while I was happy to have him back for this year's holiday. The nights were just getting so rough without him! The only time I left my apartment that whole weekend was to hit up Whole Foods for some delicious vegetable soup and orange juice. Like I said, it was a really raucous weekend.
The weekend after that was much more enjoyable despite the rain. I went back to LA and managed to have some good girl time with friends. Saturday night we went out in downtown Culver City which was a relatively good time. I think he highlight of that night was having a very drunk man, attempting to hit on us, tell me that "at first when I saw you I was like, this girl can get down. But now I'm thinking you probably can't dance at all." Yes, my drunk friend you are right. The booze you've consumed has given you extra powers at deciphering a woman's ability to break it down on the dance floor. Thank goodness I don't dance and perform for a living. And thank you for putting your hand on my waist when I have no idea what your name is and I am pretty sure you will be falling over somewhere near a toilet within the next hour. A word to my male friends out there, try not to grope uninterested girls while mildly offending them. For some reason it just doesn't quite work.
This past week of shows have been oddly difficult. Having Monday off we all thought we would breeze through the week. We had been mentally prepared for the week prior because we had known that we had to switch schools almost everyday AND had an added show bringing the week's total to 10 performances. All of this was no easy task, but we knew that. We had a game plan, I went to sleep even earlier than usual (if that's possible) and we all survived. This week we were not so lucky. Tuesday marked our earliest show yet. 8:30 am. Oye. Luckily that day we were at one location and since the second show was at 10am I was home and through with work by noon. Later in the week we had a day of changing locations. The first school was way South in San Diego County and the second was a private school WAAAAY in the hills of La Jolla. Not only was I a little scared for my life as our van was winding up the narrow road, but our un-loading spot was no where near where the performance room was set to be. Apparently private schools don't have loading docks. This being the case we were forced to take smaller things down to the space via the smallest elevator ever and the larger things had to be wheeled down hill on the sidewalk of a busy street and then up a zig-zag ramp into the performance room. Like I said, not easy.
After that load, and the quietest audience we had ever had, we were sure Friday would be a breeze. Although the shows were early, we were in one location all day which usually makes us very happy. Until we got to the space. Our show, best case scenario functions in a 20 ft wide playspace. The smallest we generally allow is a depth of 15ft. This school's stage was 13.5 ft deep. Man oh man. We managed to make it work, but the set up and tear down took much longer and some of the actors had to completely change their placement onstage and their traffic backstage because the space was so tight. It made for quite a tense morning and not the greatest way to close out the week. But then again we just try to smile and say "Ahhh the joys of touring." I cannot express how much this is teaching me about being a flexible actor and keeping a role and show alive for an extended period of time. Yesterday we hit our 35th performance. That's more than I have ever done before. Look ma, I'm a workin gal! It's pretty astonishing, and thankfully, for the most part, I am still having a blast.

Here's to more fun road stories to come.

February 11, 2011


Thank goodness it is Friday!

As our second week of touring comes to a close I am fighting off a sore throat/cold like it's the plague. I woke up Thursday morning with a very sore throat and haven't been able to kick it since. Luckily yesterday was an easy show day. Just one performance at 10:30 am. I was back at my apartment before 1pm and got right back in bed. One perk of morning performances is that our work is generally done pretty early in the afternoon. Today's schedule unfortunately was not as pleasant for those of us struggling to belt out our music. We had a two show day with no real break between each performance. The first was at 9:15 and the second was at 10:45. Once again I was home early, but believe me when I say I am very happy it is the weekend.

Once again we had our share of fun road stories. I feel a little ashamed to say though that a lot of the schools and kids are already starting to blend together. I find myself asking 'wait what school was that at?Were we at the catholic school on Monday or Tuesday?...and what day is it today?' Overall the students have continued to be very receptive of the piece. Today's younger audience was our biggest struggle yet. The teachers had to continually ask the kids to be quiet and sit on their bottoms. And each time we made them laugh it took a good 30 seconds for them to calm back down and listen to us again. A little frustrating especially when you're losing your voice. Competing for the attention of a room full of kids under 8 is like competing against a small army. You can probably put up a good fight, but when alls said and done, you're probably going to lose.

Another wrench that was thrown into our first show this morning was an impromptu prop switch-eroo. A certain prop that is supposed to be preset at the top of the show had been forgotten. Nothing too major. But it did give us a great exercise in first of all thinking on our toes and second of all how to communicate with another actor without the audience knowing. Luckily the message went through and we were able to retrieve the prop just in time for the scene it was needed for. Phew, it was a close one.

I hope I'm not jinxing us, but we have been very lucky in the tech/props department. Very few things have gone wrong. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for our poor POP tour van. I'm not sure if I mentioned our realization that the breaks were practically shot. But earlier this week while we were driving back to La Jolla we heard an loud alarming sound that sounded like our tire had popped. We pulled over on the left shoulder of the 5 freeway to find our tires were all in tact. Puzzled and confused we had to call our company management people to save the day. Turns out something didn't get fully screwed back on after they fixed our breaks. Thanks car people, I feel really safe now in this van now!

Then a day later a strap of someone's bag got caught in the latch of the trunk causing it to be jammed for a day or so. Thankfully after our show yesterday the boys in our cast were able to force the door open from the inside and save the day (and her purse). Now I remember why it's good to keep boys around sometimes.

Anyways, I must be off. But many more stories to follow, and hopefully some recipes too! I've been cooking quite a bit, including a huge fajita feast for my cast, but I have failed at taking pictures. Oops!

Happy Weekend!

February 6, 2011

'I can be brave like Frida'

So this time around I am not writing from a fun, blind date filled Coffee Bean. Instead I am writing from a random vegan cafe in Culver City that is conveniently close to where my car is getting fixed this Sunday morning. This is, in no way how I anticipated spending Super Bowl Sunday, and I will have to warn you this entry may be fraught with a tidbit of pouting and a drop of disdain for my car that has died at a quite inopportune time. Aside from possibly missing the game, if the car cannot be fixed right away I could be in some trouble as far as getting back to San Diego for work tomorrow. This has my stress level spiking and my hand reaching for my drug of choice, hershey's kisses, much more frequently than is probably good for my health and my waistline.

So far since I've been here I've enjoyed some very bland oatmeal (they were out of brown sugar...on a Sunday morning. Are they crazy?!) and green tea. I feel pretty useless being in an area of town I don't really know with a few hours to kill. I'm sure the mechanic is busy, especially because it was the only one I could find that was even open on a Sunday but still, I need to get my bum back to San Diego ASAP. A word of advice to those who make the working hours at auto repair shops: Cars die and break down at all hours of the day, seven days a week. My car is not going to hold out until 9am on Monday morning. In fact in the past few months any time I have had car trouble is has happened either at 5pm on a Friday, or 9am on a Sunday. Both excellent candidates for the worst possible times and days there are. 

In completely unrelated news I have some fun stories from our first week on the road. Including some important lessons learned and entirely too many adorable children to count. Day one was at Freese Elementary. The kids were full of energy and a joy to perform for. Our second day was by far our worst show to date. I would chalk it up to second show blues, thick carpet, and performing in the strangest configuration we will probably see the entire tour. 

All of our set pieces are on wheels and each space is completely different from the last. Sometimes working on carpet is not an issue. Other times though, it makes our jobs, specifically those in the cast who are constantly moving the large flats and pushing me around on ladders very tough. Our morning show on Friday taught us that sometimes it may not be worth all the people/ladder moving. The actor who plays the teacher is perched in a rolling ladder to appear larger than life. But at the end of one of the scenes the ladder just wouldn't budge. The actress who pushes him was pulling and maneuvering as best she could but it still couldn't keep Maestro on his ladder. After almost plunging forward, all of us broke character and had a momentary, 'wtf do we do now?!' moment. An expert at thinking on his toes, the actor turned it into a schtick and although it took me a second to recover we managed to finish the show unharmed physically, and only partially terrorized emotionally. 

All of the drama of that show was wiped away though when we had a chance to perform that night for an organization that specializes in education for the children of migrant workers in San Diego. There was a handful of kids and their families and the show and all of us couldn't help but feel that the performance was extra special. They understand all the Mexican references, they have a knowledge of Frida Kahlo. It was so touching to see the kids in the front beaming up at us. For most of them it was probably their first experience with theater, and how amazing that we could bring them something that was so relevant. What a delightful way to close out of first week on the road. 

Overall the kids have been wonderful. Only a handful who think they're too cool or too young to pay attention. But their feedback makes all our work so worthwhile. I'll close this post with something a little girl at La Jolla Elementary said to me after the show. She came up to me in the middle of the crowd of kids and said "I used to be shy, but now I can be brave like Frida." Talk about melting my heart. 

More tales from the road very soon. 

February 1, 2011

E-Harmony's Coffee Bean

Okay, so today I am writing to you from a random Coffee Bean somewhere in San Diego. After our show this morning I decided it was far too beautiful our to spend the day in my very beige apartment. So I ventured out of my secluded neighborhood to a Borders and consequently a big outdoor mall. I've been sitting here for about an hour, sending emails, updating resumes and all that wonderful stuff and it has become apparent to me that I am surrounded be people on first dates. Most of which seem to be blind dates. Over and over now I've watched people walk up to each other hesitantly, laugh awkwardly while shaking hands and murmuring nice to meet you. What is this place I have entered? Is there some dating site that suggests this specific Coffee Bean as a good neutral place to meet your future mate? Luckily everyone seems to be having a good time. I haven't seen any of these daters running out screaming and running for this hills. Most are deep in conversation and hopefully unaware that I am totally stalking them. Maybe all those e-harmony or match.com commercials are true...?

In other news Frida Libre is going gloriously! Well I should rephrase that, I am having an amazing time performing in what I keep calling a total gem of a show. Today's performance though, (our last preview before we officially open tomorrow) was rough to say the least. Yesterday the kids who got to see parts of our rehearsal process finally saw the whole thing with costumes and sets, the whole she-bang. And that show went great. The kids were so receptive and delightful. After the show we have a small question and answer period and it is really interesting how perceptive some of the kids are. Sure we get the usual little kid questions such as "do you really like to paint?" or "do Alex and Frida loooove each other?" but sometimes they are truly insightful. As if I couldn't love kids enough, hearing their awe and laughter is truly amazing.
Today's show however was our first one in a brand new space we had never seen before and boy did it make us work for our money today. That's the beauty and pain of touring. Showing up, seeing what you got, and making work as best as we can. The space was a sort of inverted "kiva" as they called it. The kids sat on stairs while we performed on the flat space below. On top of that they were seated in a thrust formation. Meaning instead of having audience just in front of us there were little people sitting on THREE sides of us. Talk abut making adjustments. Unfortunately this meant masking the backstage was impossible and a handful of kids saw EVERYTHING we were doing back there, but hey, it's an educational experience right? Watch a fun show and see how all the magic happens behind the scenes. On top of our thrust formation the room was thickly carpeted which made it very difficult to move our sets and props that were on wheels. Oye, apparently at one point our big flat almost tipped over on me and the amazing Rae had to save the day. I had no clue until after the show...oops

I think tomorrow will be our first real test. Sadly, all the creatives have now left us, and from what I understand we will be entirely on our own for the set up and strike of the set. Once again we will be in a new space figuring it all out all over again. There are trying moments, and heavy pieces which will hopefully turn into nice ripped biceps by the end of the run. I cannot express how much fun I am having. It's such a wonderful little piece of theater with a lot of sophistication that most would never expect from a children's show.

Along with my adventures as Frida I have been choreographing a dance piece to be a part of Dance in Flight as Pepperdine University which also runs this weekend. I spent my day off driving up to Malibu to tech and light my dance on the stage before rushing back to San Diego for an 8:30am call time on Monday. I am so proud of my dancers and the whole show in general, directed by the amazing Bill Szobody whom I've assisted in the past, is going to be fantastic. I can't wait to see it this weekend.

Many more stories and fun to come. Who knows maybe I'll come back to this Coffee Bean just to people watch and witness more blind dates. Or is that creepy? ;-)

January 21, 2011

Greeting From San Diego!

Okay, it has been entirely too long since I've posted.

I have been in San Diego for almost two whole weeks now and I could not be having more fun. The show has definitely turned out to be more work than I had anticipated but it is 100% worth it. I'm staying in my own apartment that is almost entirely beige. One cast member said it looks like I live inside a paper bag, I thought it was a good observation. Since moving in I've been back to LA once and brought a second crop of my belongings including an orange comforter and my UCLA throw blanket to add just a splash of color. I also brought a handful of my kitchen necessities because the kitchen here is a little less than inspiring. And it has an electric stove. Womp womp. Just takes some getting used to. I have already begun creating new recipes including some BOMB mahi mahi tacos which hopefully I can post the recipe for when I have a little more time. 

Since rehearsals began I have delved even farther into the land of old lady-ness. Our rehearsals start every morning at 9am. And since our rehearsal space is a minor drive I get picked up each day at 8:20. Oye, for all you theater people out there you know how tough it can be to get up at such an early hour. This means I have to be showered, packed, warmed up physically AND vocally all before about 8am and ready to belt my face off by 9am. Phew now you see why I've turned into a grandma. Due to these early hours my bedtime has creeped lower and lower. I think my earliest shut eye time has been 10pm, and it's happened more than once. Dear early 20's I apologize for making you miss being a real person, but for now my body and vocal chords are needing some 70 year old resting time. 

Despite my new schedule the show is going fantastically. Our creative team is fantastic and amazingly collaborative. Working on a brand new musical means many changing lines and lyrics everyday and although it can get confusing, it's a wonderful adventure. Today will be our first "tester" audience of children. It's not a preview, but rather a stumble through with kids present to get a feeling for how they will respond. I'm excited for them to see it, especially since this is my first real Theater for Youth show. Also on the bill for the next few days is a real day off on Sunday since I spent last week's day off rehearsing in Malibu. AND on Monday our playwright returns to rehearsals to see our progress which will be a very exciting day. I have to admit when I signed up for this kids show I anticipated the usual ABC, cheesy, campy kids bunk, but this show is far from that stereotype. The music is sophisticated and melodic, the subject matter (some of which is based on Frida Kahlo's life) is anything but simple. I really can't wait to see how the kids take it. If they get squirmy in our short, but more serious moments. 

I must be going to catch my ride, but expect an update soon! 

PS Our show has it's own twitter page so if you want to follow we update it a few times per day and often include at least one picture. A few days ago I was the picture tweeted on the official La Jolla Playhouse twitter page. I felt pretty fancy. 

January 2, 2011

New Year's Reading and Christmas Cooking

Happy 2011!

The new year is officially here, and after waking up way too early for work on New Year's Day I have subsequently nestled myself on this rainy Los Angeles day in my apartment with my nose in a book. The book is Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. Up until today I had read and enjoyed the book mostly just before bed and in increments of about 10 pages at a time. But today, with nothing better to do I dove in and have only stopped briefly to do some chores, and get my bum off the couch to grab some last minute veggies to cook for friends tonight. I've only 50 pages left in the book and I must say I am in love with it. Walls' first book, The Glass Castle is one of my all time favorites and her second is seemingly going to be a part of that list very soon. I will not bore anyone who actually reads this blog with a synopsis of the book, only because I suck at writing them, and if you really want to know what they're about look them up or go visit a bookstore. What I can say though is both books are filled with fascinating characters, specifically women, who are brave, insane, and amazing.

Walls' books are both about her family, the first centering around her upbringing and the second about her mother's. Truly fascinating stuff. If you've got the time go check them out. Seriously. You won't be let down.

Now that I'm done pitching her book a little about the New Year. Mine was mellow. Went out with a few girlfriends, drank some champagne, enjoyed being out at a bar with other young people since it's something I do so rarely. I've been Martha Stewart-ing all of December and consequently cemented my place as an old lady for the moment. I can however at this point share some of my foodie pictures from Christmas since I haven't done so yet.

First off is the yummy breakfast spread I made with my friend Steve. Although neither of us is Jewish we decided to pay some respect and make latkes from scratch. They came out pretty good, but since I only have a lightweight non-stick pan they didn't all come out as brown and crispy as I would have hoped. Included in the spread is the latkes, cinnamon applesauce, fruit salad, and a side of spinach and tomatoes with lemon juice as a light dressing.

This is just a yummy peppermint cocktail my roommate made us while we watched Love Actually. An on going tradition at Christmas-time that this year coincided with her last day of work at  the job she hated. YAY!

And now comes the fun part. All my cookies! The only things I didn't snag a picture of was the Chocolate Madelines which I generally only make during Christmas for my family because although they are a delicious, require a little more work than most of my other cookie recipes.

 Here's some peanut butter cookies that didn't quite turn out as I had planned, but after baking I melted peppermint chocolate kisses over the top that managed to save otherwise dull cookies. In the end they were festive AND delicious.

Oatmeal raisin cookies are quite honestly one of my favorite kinds. For as long as I can remember I've always loved anything with cinnamon and raisins, so it's not all that shocking. I made this batch specifically for someone who is allergic to chocolate and nuts and wouldn't be able to eat most of my other cookies. Oddly enough, they were my favorite batch this year. I made them with golden raisins instead of dark ones because that's what I had on hand. But I think they make the cookies look a little more elegant.

These were another new creation spurred by the fact that I had many left over cans of pumpkin puree and nothing to do with them. I had set out to make just plain pumpkin cookies, but the recipe I had found made thick doughy cookies that I felt wouldn't be able to stand on their own. So...I whipped up some cream cheese frosting and made pumpkin whoopie pies. They were sinfully delicious and a great new addition to my baking repertoire.

These bad boys are a Christmas staple in my household. Once December rolls around there are a few things you can count on. Meatballs, tamales, and Snow Balls. These little tasties are a piece of heaven. I ended up making a total of 4.5 batches this year. If that's not proof of their high demand then I don't know what is.

Happy New Year and Happy Eating!