Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ghost in the Machine?

I got my father's Ipod after he passed away. My mother already had one and didn't need another one. This is the second time I have gotten an Ipod I did not want, nor ask for, just given to me. I'm not real jazzed about the circumstances on this gift, but it is a gift none the less.

I've listened to what he had on his Ipod. Some music I believe came with the Ipod, but mostly he had audio books. He had gotten his Ipod for his last birthday in March, so he didn't have a lot of time to use it. However, I really believe he got it so that he could listen to the audio books on trips. He used to listen to books on tape while driving. I have no clue how he stayed awake. I tired to listen to the "Two Towers", which is a great audio book - John Dale narrating - but after about 5 minutes I was fast asleep as if I were a child being read a bed time story.

I recently figured out how to get all my dad's music and audio books off his Ipod, onto my ITunes and all my stuff on to his Ipod. It was a simple confusion of "import" meaning importing to my computer, not importing new stuff onto the Ipod (thank you to the person who gave me the heads up on that). It is so nice to have all my stuff on one Ipod. And, quite exciting.

So, after doing all that, I took it out for a test spin. And, decided to write down what the first three songs were. As, I am one of those people that believe things happen in threes/meaning in threes, etc. Now, anyone can put meaning into anything. And, maybe I did this here, but the first 3 songs that came from my once father's Ipods spoke to me, some a little more than others. I listed them below in order and put the lyrics as well.

1. "39" By Queen. Which has come to be one of my favorite songs now. After I listened to the 3 songs and some others, I went back and listened to the this song over and over again - and you could say, found religion or my spirit was moved, take your pick. (When I am a little down, I listen to this song now.) The song has a definite "dad" feeling for me. It speaks to his toughness. It speaks to his sense of duty and perseverance. It has that bit of a dirge/country feel. (On my level, it spoke to the lil' pirate in me.) And, this verse, do I need to explain: "Don't you hear my call, Though you're many years away, Don't you hear me calling you, Write your letters in the sand, For the day I'll take your hand, In the land that our grand-children knew". And, then the last line: "For my life, still ahead, pity me." Maybe I'm stretching here.

In the year of thirty-nine
Assembled here the volunteers
In the days when lands were few
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
The sweetest sight ever seen
And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day
Sailed across the milky seas
Ne'er looked back never feared never cried

Don't you hear my call
Though you're many years away
Don't you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I'll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

In the year of thirty-nine
Came a ship in from the blue
The volunteers came home that day
And they bring good news
Of a world so newly born
Though their hearts so heavily weigh
For the earth is old and grey
little darlin' we'll away
But my love this cannot be
Oh so many years have gone
Though i'm older but a year
Your mother's eyes from your eyes cry to me

Don't you hear my call
Though you're many years away
Don't you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I'll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

Don't you hear my call
Though you're many years away
Don't you hear me calling you
All your letters in the sand
Cannot heal me like your hand
For my life, still ahead, pity me.

2. "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. The first sentence I ever said was "It's a sunny day." My parents told me I would get up in the morning, run to window, pull open the curtains and say "It's a sunny day." Even if it was raining outside or cloudy and not a bit of sun in the sky, I would say it. They don't know where I picked this up. When this song came on next, I almost cried.

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say, it's all right.

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter.
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say, it's all right.

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces.
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say, it's all right.

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say, it's all right.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun.
It's all right.
It's all right.

3. "Lucky" - Second Hand Jive. This was a song from my dad's Ipod. It has a country feel, so even if it didn't come with the Ipod, I am sure that he liked it, being a good ole country boy and all. My father, every time he did something for me, he said he was "making an investment". And, that he knew that investment was a good one and a chance he would take anytime. That's what I got out of this. There are a couple of lines that of course were not a part of this thinking - the wine and the stoned ones. OK - those were a little weird.

Well I gotta call you lucky
Cause all I can think about
Is what to do with all of your charms.
Well I know you think it's not enough
But I could never give it up
Since I had the lovin' you show

Well I place my bet no matter the line
Well I pick a winner every time
Well lucky always gets me home
Yeah with lucky near I can't go wrong

Well I gotta call you lucky
Cause all I can think about
Is all the love you've given so far
Well I know you think it's not enough
But I could never give it up
Since I've had a taste of your wine.

Yeah Well I place my bet no matter the line
And I pick a winner every time
Well lucky always gets me stoned
With lucky near I can't go wrong

No I can't

Come on lucky

I'll place my bet no matter the line
And I pick a winner every time
Well lucky always gets me stoned
With lucky near I can't go wrong

So, you tell me. How much am I reading into this and how much could be my father speaking from the beyond?

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Eyes Are Dry....

I have other things I am about to post, but as I am writing, I am squinting. Then blinking. Rubbing my eyes. Drinking water. A little better. Then squinting. And, repeat.

Winter and working in an office is drying out my eyes. Could also be the fact that I haven't been drinking as much water as I should.

That could be because I have been having to buy water to get water bottles to put my water in. And, after a week or so of uses, you can tell that the plastic is starting to carrying around some bacteria perhaps. Or just general ickyness.

I've been having to buy water to get the water bottles because I lost my Nalgene. I realized today that I have bought a total of 3 Nalgenes in the past 8 years or so. They're great bottles. I have even dropped one down a path of a mountain, came back for it later and found that it was just scratched. All my Nalgenes I have had to replace, I have lost.

Oh wait, what's this? A package.

I got my 2 new Nalgenes. Yay!

I wonder if this will help my eyes?

Non-sequitor lady signing off.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Shamless Plug #???? - Nosedive's Boxcar Social

In an effort to raise funds for our Spring production of James Comtois' Colorful World, Nosedive is throwing a fundraiser at the Battle Ranch in Williamsburg this weekend.

Featuring The Amazing Amazini, the poetry stylings of Brian Silliman, some new video sketches by our own tribe of sick little monkeys, a raffle featuring: Some of Nosedive's DVD Collection and tickets to Vampire Cowboy's Fight Girl, Battle World - and every one's favorite BEER!

So come on down to the Battle Ranch on Saturday, win some stuff, enjoy some eclectic entertainment, drink yourself silly and help us put on a show!

Nosedive's Boxcar Social
at The Vampire Cowboy's Battle Ranch
111 Conselyea Street, 2L (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) Saturday, February 16th, 7pm-11pm.
$5 Cover, $2 beers, and $1 Jello Shots

Sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery

If you can't make it Saturday night, you can always give a little back by going here. We would really appreciate it!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Part Deux - The Act of Slowing Down.....

My Smoking.

Part 2 - Developing my smoking and how the hell is Stephanie going to cut down.

So, over the course of that year, I cut down and when I got to NY, I swore I would only have a cigarette once a week - if even that. And, I did very well on that. Not even really smoking for months on end. Ever so often there were a few weeks where I would smoke more. A lot of the AMDA kids did smoke and since you could still smoke in bars back then, I did smoke more some nights than others.

Then, AMDA was over; I quit smoking for almost 2 years when...

I joined a band as a back-up singer. My thinking was - well, the lead singer, she won't smoke. Oh, I was so wrong. She smoked. She smoked a lot. A couple of her band mates smoked. So, the more we rehearsed and the more we performed, the more I began to smoke again. However, when I had more than 4 or 5 cigarettes in one night, I got the cigarette hangover the next day. Some of you might know what this is. It is a headache and feels like your brain is drying up. You can almost hear it crinkle. I hated that, so that kept my smoking down some.

Then, one of band mates introduced me to American Spirits. That changed everything.

They weren't the best tasting at first, but I soon came around to them. And, what do you know - no cigarette hangover the next day. So, I kept up to about a pack a month, or every 2 weeks, depending on what was going on. Bands came and went and so did my smoking.

Then, I joined Nosedive Productions.

And, the smoking has not gone down since. I've quit for a week here or there, but once a production comes up - I am smoking right along side them. But, it is not just them. I have done other productions with other theatre groups and I still smoke. And, there was the whole Master's Degree. Yeah, good time to quit. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

So, after that ball of twine, my knitted sweater above of my life and cigarettes, here is the real point - I am trying to cut down, if not quit all together. And, this is all for health reasons and money. I know I will feel better when I wake up. I know my voice will be better for singing. I know I will have a little more money during the week. These are all things that I know.

But, I do love a good cigarette ever so often.

How am I doing it? First off, as I have learned, going cold turkey does not work. Not that I can't do it, because I have many times. I just get really sick. Bronchitis, pneumonia, you name it. If I quit tomorrow, I would be coughing and wheezing 72 hours. Which, I just always find ironic. When I quit, this is when I get the smoker's cough.

So, I have started by watching how much I smoke during the day. I was at 3 a day in January. Now I am at 2 a day come February. I am hoping to get back to not smoking during the day. Granted, I will still take my "non" smoke breaks, just not smoke. A friend of mine did this. I thought he was a smoker for a year cause he would always go down with the smokers on breaks, but found out he used to smoke, but quit. He went down with the smokers because why should he give up that "break" time.

I have given myself a few more options when the sun comes down. If I go straight home, I can have 2 total. I have to pick when my two will be. I started doing it on my way home from the train, but then had only one for the rest of the night. So, I now listen to my ipod or call someone on my way home from the train. Then March, it will only be one. Then April - no more at home.

Party or going out. I can have as many as I want until March. Then I will start pairing down much like above - probably starting with 5 in the night, then 4, and so on.

However, one part of my life will not change - the Theatre Production. Smoking is definitely part of my creative process/stress reducer, you name it. Like alcohol and cigarettes. Same with theatre. It is technically where I started and along with it being a gift from my grandma, it becomes a little more sacred. Or at least that is my reasoning. And, with theater, there will be a break in rehearsal, before performance, where I will go downstairs (cause rehearsal or performance spaces, there are always stairs), collect my thoughts and smoke a cigarette. It is my meditation in that world.

So, I don't plan on quitting completely. I just can't see myself doing that. This is kind of funny because when I was younger, I never saw myself smoking. So, smokes if you got em'. Cause there is nothing quite like taking a drag off of "the little death".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Act of Slowing Down....

My Smoking.

Part One - the History of Stephanie and the Cigarette:

Smoking was a big No-No in my family. Although, all my grandparents (well, except my mom's mother) and most Uncles and Aunts, smoked. When I was 3 or 4, I remember my Uncle twirling a cigarette and then throwing it up in the air and catching it in his mouth. I wanted to do that too. So, I went over to his pack and picked one up. I don't really remember what exactly happened. I just remember commotion and being swooped up and a lot of "No's" being said and I think I got swatted on the butt.

I had no clue that a cigarette was bad. That just looked like a neat trick.

I also was not allowed to play in a room where people were smoking. I was a very sick child growing up with a lot of cases of pneumonia. As I got older and less sickly, that rule got little more lenient. However, most of the time, when I was around cigarette smoke, I would get woozy, nauseated, hard time breathing or all of the above.

I never thought I would ever smoke or even be able. I didn't like the way I felt when I was around it, so why even bother trying. And, since I mostly hung out with the geeks and band nerds, I was never really around it.

Only once do I remember actually thinking, I want a cigarette. High school. I was dating the lead singer of a band. (A band all my friends were in as well.) And, he ended up dumping me for a bleached blond hottie from Sweetwater, TX. (And, going to a tangent for a moment - I ended up, in college, getting dumped by the guitarist of another band for said Sweetwater chic. Irony? Or just dumb luck? Small world?) Any way, I was talking to my friends about the break up and said hottie and got really frustrated and angry and sad and just blurted out - "What I wouldn't do for a cigarette right now."

What, wait? I had never smoked in my life.

My friends I was with had been smoking ever so often. And, even though I did hang out with the above mentioned geeks, I did have friends who smoked. But, except for that one time when I was 3 or 4, I never really touched a cigarette.

Then, came college and I ended up doing a scene for my acting class where the character smoked. Seeing that I wanted to play the scene as close as possible, I set out to teach myself to smoke.

No dice. Didn't work.

I had friends that tried to help me. Tried to teach me. Nothing. I couldn't inhale. Every time I tried I would gag or cough. Or, I just couldn't. My friends told me to just keep trying and practice. By the time the performance of the scene happened, I was no where near being a convincing smoker. My director/professor really liked the scene, however, he told me that if he ever saw me on stage not inhaling when I smoked - basically, looking fake - he would come up on stage and slap the cigarette out of my mouth.

I didn't touch cigarettes again. Decided probably for the best.

Then, my 21st birthday. I was going to Lubbock to see my grandmother. She was an amazing lady and if I had to pick a favorite relative - it was her. She was a smoker since she was 16. She had stopped smoking about 5 years before her death. A week before my 21st birthday, while on a choir tour, I saw her. She gave me a ring of hers and told me to take it because I would never see her again. I told her that I would be coming down for Spring Break and she didn't need to give this to me now. She said she just knew I would never see her again and she wanted to make sure this one ring got to me. Anyway, Spring Break came and I did not get down to see her. Then, the day after my 21st birthday, she passed away in her sleep that morning.

Some friends took me out that night, after a rehearsal, for the birthday drink and to comfort me. I was really shaken up. I had other family members die, but this was the first one that really hit me hard. We were all drinking; I was talking about my grandmother when I asked one of my friends for a cigarette. He said sure, gave me one and then reminded me of the "not being able to smoke" thing. He lit it, and I inhaled and had no problem smoking.

Thanks Grandma. Thanks for the gift of smoking.

So, after that, I smoked VERY rarely. One or two every few months. I started with Lucky Strikes (non-filter), then went to Camel (no filter) before I finally became a Camel Lights girl. Again, smoking rarely, or better yet the social smoker - only at parties where large quantities of alcohol were served.

It wasn't until I was graduating college. I was directing a full length piece (that I had to design all myself, from lights to costumes to set - you get the picture) while working 2 jobs (Facilitator at a Ropes Course and Waitress at a Black-Eyed Pea). I worked the Ropes Course, then went to wait tables, then went to the theatre to work on my set. I walked out onto the docks of the theatre at about 5:30am that morning to watch the sun come up and have a cigarette. I reached into my pack and there was only one left. I bought this pack yesterday. I smoked a whole pack in 24 hours.

Woah, this is not good. I'm no longer a social smoker. I'm a smoker.

Friday, February 08, 2008

January Was Not the Month I Was Waiting For - But Awesome None The Less

So, my January was not as laid back as I had been waiting for. I know, "waiting", wouldn't that be hoping? No, waiting. Since about Septmeber, I have been waiting for January to come around and give me some nice nights off and weekends off. Go out, watch movies, maybe organize my life a little more. Not the case.

1. Rapid Vamps Fight Studio held by the Vampire Cowboys - Instructor Qui Nguyen. This started that very first weekend in January and came to a close this past Sunday. Awesome, awesome class. And, although I lost one day of couch time on my weekend, it was totally worth it. This is my 3rd time taking the class. Even though a lot of it is the same, it is definitely worth taking more than once. You see your own improvement and moves or techniques that didn't make sense before suddenly do. And, there is always something new or different that Qui throws in.
2. Dance/Movement piece with Catherine Gasta for the New Dance Group. One night Catherine and I were talking in my kitchen and she mentioned she needed dancers for a piece she was choreographing that would perform at the end of January. She would be using some dance technique and mime and some acting. She showed me some moves, I attempted to repeat, even though I had 3 beers at this point. And, she asked me to be involved. One of my goals last year was to get back into some sort of dance. Having a tight budget, didn't really get to that. So, it was nice to start off the New Year with a goal from last year accomplished. The performance went really well the other night. The rehearsals were challenging, but rewarding. And, Catherine also used me as a sounding board on rehearsing, choreographing and such. And, most importantly, I kept up with the young kids.
3. Pinkie Episode 5. Not that I have been doing that much with the whole series, I did help slightly with the organizing and the filming and the drinking of the beer that night. It has really been a delight to be a part of this series. Vampire Cowboys has found a fun and creative way for other Off-Off Broadway companies to meet and mingle. It doesn't feel like networking, yet I met some people that I hope I keep in contact with. It was like summer camp. It was so great to see everyone, see their shows and it was really sad to see it come to an end. I hope that we can take Pinkie and make it into a full length. It was such a joy to watch.
4. IT Awards Judges Video. Granted this just started, but I will be part of the Innovative Theatre Awards instructional video for the judges. Did a rehearsal, got to see the story boards and hear how everything was going to work. I am excited to see how this goes. They are definitely shooting this in a very creative way.
5. Vampire Cowboys - Fight Girl, Battle World. Got to sit in on the reading of this soon to be amazing show that I got the honor to be Assistant Stage Managing. Have you noticed I have been writing a lot about Vampire Cowboys? They are definitely hot. I mean, with a name like that? And, if you haven't heard of them, check them out.
6. Colorful World. Nosedive's new show had it's initial reading. I'm really excited about where this show is going to go. So, I have been doing the normal things I do, except, since we have the script, I have been able to get the ball rolling early. Also, because space is getting harder and harder to find 2 months out, we pushed our production dates to May instead of April. I am also probably going to need to the most research on this show than I have with any other in the past. Although, it is total geek girl moment for me: comic book reading. Oh yeah - giggity!
7. A Night With Alan Cumming. Okay, not a whole night, but an hour where a (sadly incompetent) interviewer talked about Alan's career. It was a freebie I got for going to NYU. Alan came in, in a wrinkled pin stripe suit and the interviewer let us know that he just got off work at 5pm. With the wrinkled suit and just how approachable he seemed, I thought, oh, he works a day job too? Of course this was rehearsal. He is doing The Seagull with Diane Weist (I believe). He decided to sit on the chair arm so that the back row could see him and was so very kind to the interviewer even though the questions he was asking were not as pertinent to his career. The talk back was much more interesting. Another goal I have is to go to as many of my freebies from NYU that I can. So, goal #2, working on it.

That's about it. I mean, there were the few nights out and a few movie viewings, but January was much more different than I envisioned. Now, I am in February, the shortest month of the year, then the roller coaster starts to go on the downhill until June. But, looking back over the month, I am so blessed to have had so many creative outlets to be a part of. And, although it was not the most restful, I feel like I have taken a step up in my artist career.