Monday, February 22, 2010


Holy Hannah!
I tried out level one of the 30 Day Shred a few hours ago-- it pretty much kicked my ass. In a good way, mind you, in the way that when you're done you're standing up straight and feeling like a tight and toned size 2. But I can tell I'm going to be sore tomorrow, especially in the upper body-- all my years of figure skating gave me a lot of lower body endurance, but I have weak, pudgy arms. Using my hilariously small 2 lb weights was enough weight for me, thank you very much.
I don't know if I can do it again tomorrow-- I'm thinking I might alternate days for the first week, depending on how sore I am tomorrow. But I can definitely see how this gets results. And I was surprised that Jillian wasn't a super bitch, just a supportive trainer who doesn't tolerate bullshit.

Moving On Up...

To the mountains!
Yes, friends and neighbours, on Friday I got the phone call formally inviting me to the SuperPrestigiousPlaywritingColony in the mountains!

I'm stoked. I'm sure as the day to leave approaches, I will be a little terrified, seeing as how I will probably be meeting writers who are famous. Like, whose plays I studied in school. Or whose plays are so good that it makes me want to vomit with jealousy.

Of course, maybe I'm a little bit awesome as well... just don't tell anyone I said that.

On the scale front, things remain largely the same-- down a half a pound, which is just so frustrating. And I know, I should be glad I'm not gaining, but come on. When you watch Dr. Phil and he's all like "Well, if y'all would stop drinking frappucinos, y'all would lose 100 lbs in a year", or whatever. And I'm like "I eat tofu! I eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains! I don't eat whipped cream-laden, chocolate sauce-drizzled blended coffee ice creams! So why am I still fat?

Phew. Just had to get that out.

So I bought a copy of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I'm jumping on the bandwagon on this one. Not that I think that the "You can lose 20 lbs in 30 days" statement applies to very many people, and I don't expect to lose that much. But realistically, a workout that's high intensity and only 20 minutes is appealing, because who doesn't have 20 minutes to work out? Even if I don't want to work out, it can be over in 20 minutes! Or I can just start doing it, and by the time I realize that I'm exercising, it'll be almost time for cooldown.

I'll try and blog a little about it, but I am afraid. I've heard it's a pretty ass-kicking little workout.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

News, Knits, and No Exit Strategy

Howdy,friends and neighbors!
I thought I'd stop by and give an update-- that very prestigious playwrights' retreat (hint: it's in Banff)? Well, I am officially on the waiting list. Which I guess is pretty impressive for a play that had absolutely no support from anyone wanting to produce it. I'm not on their "A" list, but I like to think I'm on the "We would totally want you here if we had more funding" list. And the depressingly-toned email they sent assures me that they'll let me know if a space opens up, it seems like they are also saying "fat chance". Because who doesn't go to something like that? And I wouldn't feel good wishing family emergencies on playwrights everywhere, so I'm just going to have to wait and see.

On the positive panda front, I found this website through a blog the other day. It's a super cute idea, and just the thing I need these days-- short, digestible, positive affirmations.

Oh, and the play I'm writing? That we're producing in May? I have no exit strategy. I just keep churning out my 5 pages a day, with no end in sight, no conceivable structure. I know this is an easy fix, just have someone read it, or read it myself and cut out all the crap bits. But I need an end. Good GOD, I need an end. I will feel so much better once it's done, no matter how shitty the draft, no matter how much rewriting it needs. Because I will finally have the albatross that is this play lifted from my shoulders.

But I promised some knitting chat.

Now, I absolutely cannot resist buying knitting needles secondhand. At Value Village, at yard sales, if you're getting rid of knitting needles, I will buy them. Consequently, I end up with a lot of weird sizes of circular needles, yet always have to go buy the right size for a new project. I did score an awesome set of vintage straights in delicious metallic colours, but circulars always seem to do me in.

But no more!
My mom got me these for Christmas:

Not only are they interchangeable, but they are Addis!

They are amazing. Incredibly lightweight and easy to knit with. I'm a huge fan of metal needles, anyway, and these are the best I've ever used. Plus I can make any length circular I want!

I've just been making a test scarf, as I'm currently between patterns-- a friend moved to Australia for a few months, taking most of my knitting books with her! Quel scandal! But once I get paid, I think I'm going to pick a pattern, something juicy and difficult, and really break in these needles.

And that's all the news that is the news!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Production Value

So, the scale is the same. A frustrating 173. But I've made it through almost 21 days of gluten-free vegan! I'm pretty proud that I haven't cracked and eaten a donut or something. I am going to gracefully end the cleanse tomorrow, as it's Hallmark Invented Day, and we are going out for Indian food before J heads out on tour this week. I'm excited to eat bread again, but it has made me really think about what I could be eating, and how I *can* eat healthy, yummy food.

But in other news... I had a long-awaited meeting with an artistic director today. It had really become something of a joke, because we kept trying to reschedule and he kept blowing me off, and it just seemed like it was never going to happen. And when I say "meeting with an artistic director", it seems like it's the huge poopoochichi thing, and it's not. Other places, it might be. Here, everyone knows each other and can tell you five stories about who the person at the table next to you is sleeping with.

In any case, I was having this meeting about a play I've written, a play I applied with to a prestigious writer's colony with, a play I really, really hope will one day be produced. And I was just kind of straight up about it, which really surprised me, but I get tired of the runaround. Long story short, it sounds like we're doing a workshop in March, a public reading in May, and if things go my way, my play will open the 2011/2012 season!


I was so thrilled I came home and wrote another 5 pages on the play I'm supposed to be writing, like, yesterday. For me, writing can be kind of like working out-- you have to do it as soon as you get the idea, and suffer through it because it feels so good when it stops. And it's good for you. And, you get worthwhile results.



Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Well, duh...

Do you ever have those moments of epiphany where you realize something that alters your way of thinking, but is so staggeringly obvious that you don't understand how you couldn't have realized it before?

I had one of those moments today after my singing lesson.

Let me tell you a story about me and singing:

One of my earliest career aspirations was to be an opera singer. I remember my dad listening to Saturday Afternoon At The Opera every weekend, and being incredibly interested in the curtain call segment of the proceedings. All those people yelling "Bravo!", and the applause, and my imaginings of roses raining down on the singers (yes, I was a mildly overdramatic child) made me think "That's something I want to do." Of course, I can't discount the fact that the singing orange on Sesame Street may also have influenced me.

I loved singing. I sang all the time. I still do, probably to the annoyance of people around me. I asked my parents for singing lessons, but that never quite panned out. But we did get a piano, which I taught myself to play so I could sing old show tunes to my heart's content. I remember once my dad saying "You know, if you stopped fooling around, you'd probably have a good voice." Needless to say, I wasn't fooling around.

Long story short, when I was 16, and decided to audition for the local arts high school. (It is nothing and everything like Fame, for those of you wondering.) I got accepted into the drama program and the music program, and there was no question that I was going to go into music. Since I'd already moved out of my parents house, this was a BIG SCARY INDEPENDENT STEP that I was taking.

Somehow, as I took voice lessons, as I was surrounded by other singers, something changed for me. I felt... different. I didn't sound like other people, and there were so many people who were so good. So many people that it seemed like it was so easy for, while I was struggling. I felt blocked. I felt frustrated. I started to hate singing in public, because I felt like I wasn't good enough, wasn't good at all. I got tired of getting put in the alto section because I was loud and everyone else was blossoming into these lyric sopranos. I got critiques from a lot of people (one of the hazards of pursuing the arts-- you're expected to accept criticism with good grace, from just about anyone). I wanted so much to audition for a musical theatre program, but I lost my nerve. Not just because of my singing, but because of a lot of other things. There were plenty of other things I didn't like about myself besides my voice, but that's a dark tale for another time. But I hated my voice. I hated singing.

Instead of going away to become a singer, I stayed in my hometown and went to theatre school instead. Which was fabulous, and I learned a lot. But somehow, I kept drifting back to singing. I'd pick up with a new teacher every few year, hoping that they'd have the magic key that would unlock my poor blocked voice. No one did, and I'd get frustrated, realize I couldn't really afford to study something that was going nowhere, and quit after about a year. Incidentally, a friend told me her daughter's piano teacher refuses to take adult students, because adults who want to study an instrument "are always trying to work out some unresolved childhood issue." True? Or maybe they just want to take piano lessons.

I even had a job where I had to sing, last year, doing a school tour, I had to open the show singing a song in French (it was a French touring show). And even when people told me I was fine, good even, I didn't feel like it was good enough. Like somehow they weren't telling me the truth, that I just wished I could be a singer, and whatever I was doing, it didn't feel like it.

Fast forward to last year. My old teacher was moving away to teach elsewhere, and she recommended another teacher for me, if I was still interested in continuing. I hemmed and hawed over it for a while. Let's face it, I thought, I have a weird voice and I kind of suck and it's frustrating. But I decided to give it another shot. And I'm glad I did, because my voice teacher now is awesome. I mean, I still think I have a weird voice, and I'm not exactly fantastic yet, but I'm beginning to remember the things I loved about singing in the first place. And that I don't have to feel judged for doing it. So much so that I'm contemplating singing in front of people, seriously, for the first time in years and years.

Which brings me back to my "duh" moment. Had a great lesson this morning, made some real progress. Thinking on the bus ride on my way to work about the things people have said to me about my voice, things I have said to myself about my voice. And I suddenly realized a couple of things:

*Just because people say something to me, it doesn't mean it's true
*I don't have to hold on to negative stuff forever and ever to torture myself with
*Keeping score of positive comments vs negative comments is exhausting and pointless
*Really, I'm sure most of the people involved wouldn't remember saying anything to me, so why should I keep hitting myself in the face with it in lurid technicolour detail?
*It's none of my business what other people think of me.

So there is my realization for the day. Other than that, I'm eager for the cleanse to be over so I can go and have some Indian food with naan bread!

Monday, February 08, 2010

It occurs to me...

That I do a lot of bitching and moaning and insecuritizing in my blog. Which is okay, I mean, if blogs aren't for pretending your venting matters to others, then what are they for?

But it does occur to me that maybe all this bitching and moaning and insecuritizing isn't great for my life and my creative pursuits. I'm not saying I've suddenly discovered "The Secret" and am busy making an inspiration board, but I have been thinking that maybe you do attract what you put out there.

I was chatting with another artist friend the other day about feeling blocked, and jealous, and left behind. And how I realized that probably everyone I know feels this way, probably right at this very moment to some degree. And how that still didn't help, you see, because I felt like *I* was actually the only one who was sucking the big benucci at this thing called living a creative life.

And do you know what she said?

"You just have to remember your inherent awesomeness."

Now, normally, the bitter, chain-smoking, washed up drag queen who lives inside me would have rolled her heavily-false-lashed eyes at her and ordered another daquiri. But for some reason, this made sense. Remember my inherent awesomeness? But... I'm not awesome. Not at all.

Am I?

I mean, I have some pretty insecure artist friends who are pretty damn awesome, and can't see it to save their lives. Could I in fact, be like them?

You see where I'm going with this?

In any case, I'm going to try and be more positive in my life for a little while. Hey, it can't hurt. And if I don't like it, I figure I can always make a triumphant return to bitterness. Not that I'm wholly bitter, because the bitter artist is an iconic figure whom I particularly loathe. I mean, everyone gets frustrated, but at the same time, no one's holding a gun to your head, forcing you to choose this career.

Which is something I have to remember.

So, friends and neighbours, any of you who are still with me-- how do you stay positive? Are you relentlessly chipper? Do you secretly drink in the mornings to keep a shine on the day? Do you remember your inherent awesomeness?

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Path of Most Resistance

Well, I realized I didn't post my weight last week. That was probably some kind of subconscious thing-- it was 176. Yikes!
Fortunately, today's weigh-in was better-- 173. I'm on day 12 of the cleanse, and feeling good about what I'm eating. I think I've definitely managed to get out of the eating junk for the sake of eating habit. Then again, I would really like a tofurkey sandwich...

I've been thinking a lot about resistance. I has it. I was reading "The War of Art" (which I recommend to any and all creative people), and he talks a lot about resistance. That which keeps us from doing, which keeps us trapped in wishing we could be doing something.

Yeah, I've got some of that.

I'm a results-oriented person. I'm always thinking about the end result, the performance, the finished project. Even when I'm just starting something. Which is, you know, a lot of pressure. I'm trying to get out of the habit of doing that, but it's hard.

I'm resistant to overcoming my resistance.

I'm a bit of a jealous person. As long as I can remember, I've had this idea in the back of my mind that life is supposed to be fair. Ridiculous, right? But I have a very highly developed sense of justice and fairness. I get jealous of people who are jerks who are successful, who are mean and still get cast, who bitch all the time despite having a show in a major company's season.

I could go on. But I won't, because it feeds the jealousy. And I hate jealousy. It's a useless emotion. It traps you. And "poor me" doesn't get you anywhere, it just keeps you stuck in the past, or some undefined future when you'll get yours. I need to be in the now, working my own thing, on my own path. I have to trust the path I'm on. Hell, I should probably start out by trusting that there is in fact a path.

Otherwise, I will become that thing I loathe: the bitter artist.

But hey, 173!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Remembrance of auditions past, part 2

Okay, so where was I? Oh, right, I was contemplating hustling my way through the picket sign folks to ask the abortion clinic if I could use their phone to call a cab to get me to my audition on time.

So I didn't do it. Just as I was about to, a bus came around the corner. Hallelujah! I thought. I am saved!

Only I wasn't, not yet. This bus, being a milk run bus at the best of times, had to stop at every. single. stop. on its way to downtown. I was losing it, checking my watch every 3 seconds and wishing I had left earlier, wishing the iron hadn't barfed up cat hair on my skirt, wishing I'd stayed at a hotel instead. I just about lost my shit on the guy who got on the bus and proceeded to have a 4-minute argument about why are bus fares in Calgary so high, and maybe he didn't want to ride the bus today after all.

But finally, we made it. As we were turning into the downtown core, I felt the bus... slowing down. Stopping. Stopping in front of an A&W. And then the bus driver got off and slowly meandered into the restaurant.

I couldn't take it any more. I still had 4 minutes to get there on time, and I was Going To Get There On Time. I grabbed my stuff, and leapt off the bus, my docs pounding the pavement through downtown.

Now, I'm not that familiar with Calgary. Calgary is confusing. It's on a grid system, meaning that it's set up on a Cartesian plane kind of dealie. So there's Centre Street and Centre Avenue, which is (0,0) on the grid. And then the streets and avenues go north, south, east and west. So there's 1st street SE, 1st street SW, 1st street NE, 1st street NW. The grid system does give you the advantage of being able to figure out roughly where one place is in relation to another, but it just looks like so many numbers to me... I get the math panic. You know how it goes.

In any case, the place I was headed for was near the Calgary Tower, a pretty easy landmark to find. And so I, a non-runner (and I stress this heartily) ran about 15 blocks to the stage door entrance. I must have looked like a hot mess when I got there, barely managing to gasp out "Where are the auditions?" Wordlessly, the security guard pointed up a looooonnnng flight of stairs.

Crap. I dragged my sweating, gasping self up those stairs, sprinting the last couple of steps and around the corner to find... another actress, waiting for her audition.

"They're running late," she said.

Thank God! This time, I truly had been saved! I sat down and tried to catch my breath while simultaneously going over my monologues. I was going to be charming, calm, composed and confident. I was going to nail it.

And here's where I do great, get cast and become the toast of Calgary, right? Credits roll as I accept an award, or take a bow at a sold-out show, right?


Wrong. I had it pretty together when they called me in, had some nice chat with the two artistic directors about my resume, and then they said "What are you going to do for us today?" And I told them. And got ready to show them my stuff.

Now, I still don't know what happened. My best guess is that all the adrenaline from freaking out and running suddenly kicked in. Or, conversely, completely left my body in a mass exodus. But I started my monologue, and...

I started shaking.

And it wasn't the fine tremor of nerves that "no one will notice but you". It was a full on body shaking. Like, the kind of shaking that makes you wonder if the person is going through some kind of withdrawal, or has a brain tumor or something shakes.

Curious, I thought. And I decided to muscle it out. At the time I assumed it was just nerves, and that it would subside as I continued my monologue.

Nope. Just kept on sh-sh-sh-aking through the whole thing. And the two people behind the table were staring at me in horrified fascination, looking at me, looking at my resume, looking at me again. You know we know this resume is totally fake, right? You realize that no one could possibly have hired you to do anything in front of people, right? This is what they were thinking. I could tell. It's what I would have been thinking on the other side of the table.

I finished. The shaking stopped. Completely. I was myself again, apparently. And the people behind the table paused for a moment, and then kindly asked "Do you have anything else?"

Did I? Boy howdy, now that this shaking thing was over with, I was going to blow them away with my serious, touching monologue. And I began.

And so did the shakes. Again, full body shaking. Start acting-- start shaking. Stop acting-- stop shaking.

I recall wanting the floor to open up and swallow me, or for a meteor to hit the building, anything to stop me from having to finish this mon-n-n-n-ologue. Of course, it didn't. And I finished. And stopped shaking. And they graciously said "Thank you" and asked "Do you have any questions?"

And I've always been of the mindset that you should have questions in those situations. Job interviews, auditions-- questions make you seem interested, give you the opportunity to make an impression. And so I asked the only question that sprang to mind.

"Will you be having callbacks?"

I know. As if I, of all people, needed to know that information. Oh, honey, their eyes seemed to say. Don't you worry your pretty little head about that.

And so, I left. I still had a few hours to kill before the bus home. And I went back to my friend's house and ate ice cream and m&m's while watching soap operas. And cried.

Actually, I didn't go out for auditions for quite a while after that. Fortunately, the theatre company in question has changed artistic directors since then, and I'll be mailing my stuff to them asking for a general this week.

And this time I will definitely be staying in a hotel. A hotel within a 6-block radius of the theatre.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Remembrance of Auditions Past...

So I subscribe to the Equity email list for auditions and stuff-- most often the audition notices and ticket discounts are for Toronto, but once in a while something pops up closer to me.

So. There's a theatre in Calgary which is asking for submissions for generals. And it just so happens that I had the worst audition of my life there a few years ago.

But wait! Some of you may be asking. What are "generals"?
Well, Virginia, I'm glad you asked. Every year or two years, theatre companies will hold general auditions, in which they invite people whose work they aren't familiar with to come and audition for them. Union houses like this one are obligated by Equity to give Equity actors a chance to be seen, at least every two years. The plus: you get to go in and be seen by the artistic director. And often other artistic directors in town will tag along to see actors. The cons: really, by the time they do generals, many theatres have already cast their season. Unless they're looking for something ultra-specific, it's less likely you'll get cast in the upcoming season.

Anyway, it's an audition. You go in, hand them your picture, and do two monologues for them, everyone thanks each other, and you leave. What could possibly go wrong?

Flash back a couple of years ago. Actually, maybe about 5 or 6 years ago. I'd been trying to get out-of-town auditions, and had managed to get one with this company. I was feeling pretty proud of my independence as I took the Greyhound down to Calgary the day before the audition. I was staying with a friend, I was familiar with the bus routes into downtown, I'd been working on my monologues for a while. I was pretty sure I was set.

The morning of, I got up nice and early to eat breakfast and get dressed. I was going for that weird eclectic look that only people in movies seem to be able to pull off-- big doc boots, black skirt with a print, some kind of top. The friend I was staying with had cats, and thus I had been extra careful to keep my clothes away from them. But as I zipped up my skirt, I noticed it had a little crease in it. I spotted an iron and ironing board in the kitchen, and decided I had plenty of time to give it a go. I heated up the iron and went to town.

Big mistake. It was like the iron had a cat in it or something. My first pass across my black skirt left a white furry trail.Then, perhaps not believing that this could really be happening, I took another pass at the skirt. Yep. Hot wide streaks of white cat hair.

While desperately looking for some tape to de-hair my skirt, I realized that I was missing my bus. No problem, I thought. That bus comes every 15 minutes. Which was true. When I'd been taking it the previous summer during rush hour. During regular time, it was one of those random buses that seem to come at the whim of the driver. But I didn't realize that as I was cheerfully walking through the sunshine towards the bus stop, headshot my lucky purple folder in my bag. As far as I was concerned, I had plenty of time.

Plenty of time passed. I kept checking my watch, realizing that the chances of my getting to this audition on time were decreasing by the second. This was before I had a cell phone, so if I was going to call a cab, I needed a public phone. I looked around...

Now, the funny thing about this bus stop is it is literally in the middle of nowhere. Even though it's in the middle of a residential neighborhood, there aren't really even houses by it. The only place of business nearby that might potentially have a phone was across the street. I squinted to see what it was. There certainly seemed to be a lineup outside the place, anyway.

That's right, it was an abortion clinic. And it wasn't a lineup, those were protesters hassling people going into the clinic. I immediately flashed back to my days of watching Degrassi Jr. High, when one of the twins is going into the clinic and all those people were shoving rubber fetus dolls at them.

Should I go into the abortion clinic and ask to use their phone? I wondered. Do I show the protesters my headshots and tell them I really just need to call a cab? That's probably the oldest trick in the book for avoiding abortion protesters on your way into the clinic. Plus I thought the people in the clinic would think I was weird. Plus I didn't want the hassle.

I stood there, contemplating this for some time, as my audition time inched ever closer...

OK, that's enough typing for now. I'll finish this fascinating tome later!

Monday, February 01, 2010

The February Blahs

Yes, I get them every year, and every March (or sometimes April), I block them right out of my mind, only to be surprised the following February: What's going on here? Why do I feel so crappy? Oh, right, it's February.

You know that feeling where you feel kind of down, but it mainly just translates to being irritated with everything? Just feeling bored and sick of yourself and everyone else?

If you don't, you're lucky.

I'm in the office alone today. My two cube-mates are out sick, leaving only me in my windowless cell. There is a huge slab of birthday cake only steps away from my desk.
Cake, people. The kind with the disgustingly sweet, edible-oil-product frosting. With yellow roses on it. Yet, I managed to walk on by.

As I've mentioned, I work two jobs-- one is doing box office at a concert hall, and the other... well, I have a feeling they're one of those companies that probably don't want you mentioning them in your blog, even if your blog is read by no one. Suffice it to say that I am working in a facet of the entertainment industry, and that I am very lucky to work here, and a lot of my friends would kill for my job. But there is a lot of food here. Like, they bring in 3 meals a day. Bins of pastries, fresh fruit, yogurts, cheeses. They have sandwich presses and all the fixins, should you so desire. Cereal. Lunch and dinner brought in every day.

Today is day 8. I'm doing well. A little bored with my uncreative dinners, but what are you going to do? Trying to work up a non-intimidating, accomplishable to-do list that will GET DONE for the rest of it.

Making some plans for the future, that kind of thing. Just working through the blahs. Or working with them. Because as much as I'd like to spend February hiding in bed and watching soap operas, I need to make some money!