What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

31 August 2015

What I Read On My Summer Vacation

This summer, the church I attend ran a reading initiative to encourage everyone to use the new online resources that the church library has, especially the review feature. Those of us who reviewed books received gift cards to Half Price Books and were asked to answer the question, "How does reading aid your spiritual growth?" This was my answer (kinda... this was what I meant to say, anyway. Not sure how many of these words actually came out in church on Sunday morning). (Also, I understand and respect that not everyone has the same belief in God that I do, and if that is the case for you I encourage you to likewise live a great story with your life in accordance with your own beliefs.)

God, the creator, the master storyteller, has invited us to collaborate with him in writing a great story with the lives that we live. Right now, I'm rereading Les Misérables, a story I'm sure most of you are familiar with. The book doesn't start on a barricade, it doesn't start with a sad little girl sweeping a floor, and it doesn't even start with Jean Valjean in prison. It starts with the bishop in a little town called Digne, and while the bishop may not have thought of his life in these terms, he absolutely embraced God's invitation to live out a great story with his life. And when he encountered Valjean, he invited Valjean to also enter into God's story. The bishop only gets 120 pages of the book (I had the book with me & held it up at this point to demonstrate what a small slice of the book that is), but his invitation to Valjean resonates throughout the rest of the book.

The story of Les Mis is one of forgiveness, of redemption, of second and third and fourth chances. Lots of characters in this book make poor decisions and squander their second chances, but Valjean doesn't, and that's why he's the main character of the 1400+ pages.

I don't necessarily recommend that you read Les Misérables, because it's a long and hard read and you have to really want it. Here's what I do recommend that you read: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller. It's all about living a great story with your life. If you're not a Donald Miller fan, well, neither am I, but you should read it anyway.

I wore this shirt today (pictured) on purpose. Greenfield is my hometown, and it reads, "It's where my story begins." I bought it to remind myself that my story began there but it hasn't yet ended, and neither has yours. We all have great stories yet to live. Please, please, please, let God use to you write an amazing story.

And that, my friends, is why I read.

25 August 2015

In My Mailbox

Tentatively trying theme days again, so I may as well start with an easy one: on Tuesdays we talk books. So! Only one of these actually arrived in my mailbox, but whatever. All from this weekend:

P.J. Hoover had a book signing! She's my favourite local author, and her book Solstice is somewhere in my top 10 favourite books of all time. I went to get a copy of her newest book, Tut. If you're not reading P.J.'s books, it's time to start.

So while I wandered around Barnes & Noble after chatting with P.J., I found this. I love C.S. Lewis, but am nowhere close to having read all his stuff, and this one seemed apt:
Couldn't get this one signed by the author, though.
So, this book. I've seen this cover all over the internet (well, all over Pinterest and Tumblr) with Eddie Redmayne's face on it as a Les Mis joke. I had no idea it was a book (usually the authors' names are cropped out). So when I saw it on the shelf while wandering around, I did a happy dance & bought it. It's hilarious.

And, finally, the one that actually came via the mail. I have this version of Les Misérables on my Kindle, but I decided it was finally time to own a hard copy. So now I can fight off attackers while reading, if necessary. Seriously, there's a reason fans call this thing "The Brick."

 What are you reading this week?

20 August 2015

What Not to Say

I promise I was already planning this post before I read Rachel Ward's excellent piece, "I’m Sorry I Didn’t Respond to Your Email, My Husband Coughed to Death Two Years Ago," (don't click if you don't like to read sweary things!!), but this isn't going to be a lot like that anyway. She's in a space that I'm not up to yet, although reading that gave me a lot of hope for the next 18 months.

If I lit a candle for every weirdo thing
someone's said to me... well, I'd have
to call the fire department.
Instead! I have a collection of weird things people say in times of grief. Humans have a hard time with loss, even though we know it's an inevitable part of being alive. And despite there being hundreds of books and websites and blog posts telling us what not to say, dumb things will tumble out of anyone's mouth in times of stress.

So! I'm here to add to the cacophony with my own Cheeky twist on what not to say. Obviously, as with so many things, grief is idiosyncratic, so your mileage may vary. (And yes, these are all things I've really heard, some of them multiple times. I'm not making this nonsense up.)

1. "He's in a better place."

I don't care. Hawaii is also a better place, but I wouldn't want him going there and leaving me behind, either.

And the second is like unto it:

2. "It's comforting to know that he's with Jesus."

Well, he was with Jesus here, too. And it's not that comforting when I'd much rather he be alive and in my house instead of playing laser tag with the angels or whatever he's getting up to these days.

3. "He's still with you."

This one is kind of tricky, because he believed very strongly that our loved ones who have departed are still hovering round. I've never been able to embrace this belief as much as he did. What's more, I'm not sure that I like the idea that he's standing around watching me feel sorry for myself, or even worse, having fun without him. I'm sure this is idea is helpful to some, though, so that's why I call it tricky.

4. "You're so lucky you don't have children."

Let me say first: Yes, part of me is glad I don't have to get kids through the loss of their father. But really, why would you say such a thing? I lived with the grief of infertility for ten years, followed by the sudden loss of my husband before either of us reached 40. Yeah, I FEEL SO LUCKY RIGHT NOW. Let's go to Vegas and see how my luck holds out!

Just, no. Don't say anything if you can't do better than that.

5. "You're free now."

Get. Out. And turn in your humanity card before you go.

6. "Did you guys know he was sick?" or "Was this a surprise?"

If you don't know the answer to this question before you ask, it's probably none of your business. I honestly got asked this so many times that I started telling people that a pulmonary embolism is an acute condition that can happen to anyone at any time, which is not 100% true, but usually gave the questioner reason to ponder his or her own mortality, preferably somewhere I wasn't.

(By the way: yes, being ungracious is part of the grieving process. Also a key part of my personality.)

7. "How are you?" or "How are you, really?"

Okay, y'all. This is so well-intentioned, so it's hard to fuss, but I will anyway. There are a limited amount of people in anyone's circle who can ask this question and expect it to be answered with grace. (And I can tell you that most of mine have already gone there. If you haven't asked this one yet--don't.) Err on the side of caution. If it's not one of your best friends, skip it. They're not going to tell you, or at least won't want to tell you.

Don't worry, I'm not going to leave you hanging. Instead, here's what to say:

1. "Please feel free to text/call/Facebook me."

Now, I don't recommend this willy-nilly. Obviously, there needs to be some sort of consideration of how good of friends you already were--this is not a helpful thing coming from casual acquaintances.

2. "What can I bring you?" 

For about five days, my answer was "Peanut M&Ms," but that's partly because my sneaky father kept eating the peanut M&Ms that people brought me.

3. "Can I go to the bank/supermarket/library/etc. for you?"

Yes. Yes, you can.

4. "Do you want to go to (fun thing you guys usually do together)?"

Please, please don't stop asking. One day, the answer will be 'yes' again. Don't give up or be offended if the answer is 'no' for a while. Please.

5. Sharing a favourite memory or something you liked or appreciated about the departed person is always welcome.

Note: this means stories like "most embarrassing moment" or "something horrible he did to me when we are kids" are probably not welcome. I'm pretty easygoing and have a good sense of humour, but if you start to tell me a story like that about Chadwick it will probably end badly. Keep those for your own chuckles. Maybe someday I'll be ready to hear them, but not yet.

6. "I care about you."

Good for all seasons.

I know there are horror stories out there. Let's hear it--what's a really stupid thing (or really smart thing) someone has said to you in a time of crisis?

19 August 2015

The Darkest Skies Will Someday See the Sun

Well, yesterday was nice & depressing, wasn't it? Thanks for coming back today for something (slightly) less sad.

After melting.
 Another day, another non-Les-Mis crayon art, this time from my new obsession, Next to Normal. This didn't turn out quite like I had it pictured in my head. Maybe the dark colours were a mistake. But, as with everything else I've done so far, I'm probably better off embracing the mess than being fussy about it. This musical is all about life (and death) being messy, and the best thing you can do is keep going on. And so I'm trying.

And despite all my best efforts (and pointing the hairdryer the opposite direction, for goodness' sakes), I still got splatters in what was supposed to be the non-splatter section. Ugh!

I mentioned before that the Next to Normal soundtrack has kept me upright and buoyed for the last couple of weeks, and this crayon art (as well as today's post title) is from "Light," the final song of the show. I'm not kidding about this being a super-sweary show, so if you go digging any deeper, please beware, but this song is safe for all ages:

Before melting.
And should you decide that you can live with the swearing but can't live without this soundtrack for one day more, the Broadway cast album (with Aaron Tveit! and Alice Ripley!) is on Amazon, where incidentally you can order it through Amazon Smile and support the charity of your choice (looking for ideas? Try Texas Bicycle Coalition & help pay my salary!).

I still have one more canvas and a few more crayons... suggestions? I can do non-musical things, if absolutely necessary.

18 August 2015

I'm Holding On, and I Won't Let Go

Six months ago today, I woke up a widow. (Be warned that this post is not going to get any happier from here.)

Things since then that should have been major life changes--moving, graduating, complete change of job responsibilities at work, an ER visit--they feel pretty superficial by comparison. (Just for fun, I took a look at the stress scale thing. You don't want to know what my score is.)

I've stopped dreaming about Chadwick for now, and getting out of bed in the morning has gotten easier than it was. I still have an irrational fear of losing someone else at any moment. I don't know what to do when one of his favourite songs pops up on the radio. I've found out just how many times a day I think about something I'd like to tell him when I realise halfway through reaching for my phone that there's no one there. There's still a chance every minute that I'll suddenly need to stop what I'm doing and lay on the floor and cry.

I can't stop staring at his last tweet. And when I close my eyes at night, I still see him laying on the floor where I found him that morning.

On the other hand, I've gotten very good at controlling my emotions, and mostly don't cry in public. Apparently I've been fooling even my good friends into thinking that I'm happier/stronger/more resilient/insert adjective here than I really am. I have a squadron of said good friends who are on call for bizarre tweets or ranty texts or incoherent Facebook messages at all reasonable hours, and even some unreasonable ones. (Thanks, y'all!) I try to vary which friend I'm emptying my brain onto from one day to the next so no one has to hear all of it.

Theatrical therapy (mostly) helps. Friends help. Throwing myself into goofy musical-based craft projects and stalking Broadway & West End actors on Twitter sort of helps. (You know, until they start tweeting about how awesome all their significant others are.) Listening to the Next to Normal soundtrack on endless repeat helps way more than it should, but I'm not about to walk away from something that works this well just because it's not quite an apples-to-apples metaphor for my own life. (Incidentally, that's where today's post title comes from. It's a pretty sweary musical, so don't click if you're easily offended.)

One of Chad's favourite songs was "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables." (This is one of those facts I have to be careful of mentioning to people, because it's an intensely sad-making thought if you dwell on it for a second.) I think he would have loved seeing the version currently on Broadway. I saw it for both of us, but sometime in the next weeks and months and years I'll stop doing things for both of us. One day I'll wake up and realise I'm doing things for just me. I don't know if I'm dreading or welcoming that day. I probably won't know until I'm on the other side of it.

I'm still standing. I'm holding on. I won't let go.

16 August 2015

Into The Dark

This weekend, I decided to give the crayons a rest (okay, not really-- I'm starting my next crayon art thing as soon as I get done blogging) and try a different crafty thing.

So, if you spend a lot of time pinning Les Misérables things like I do-- you know what, I'm just gonna assume that you don't. There are quite a lot of t-shirts, mugs, and other things with the Barricade Boys listed & lined up so their names spell out "Revolution" in a contrasting colour. I like these things, although many of the examples I've seen leave out at least one of the less-well-known Barricade Boys, or have Jehan Prouvaire twice (apparently the memo hasn't gotten out that "Jehan" and "Prouvaire" are the same character).

So! I rounded up some supplies, looked at some online examples, and opened my copy of Les Misérables to the chapter called "A Group Which Barely Missed Becoming Historic," where Victor Hugo kindly lists out all the Barricade Boys' names and spells them correctly to boot. Result.

Here's the front:
Enjolras, Combeferre, Prouvaire,
Bahorel, Joly, Courfeyrac,
Bossuet, Feuilly, Gavroche, & Grantaire 

Obviously, I'm not thrilled that the 'N' in "Grantaire" didn't stay red when I baked the paint on, but it's growing on me a bit the more I look at it. Like the revolution gets darker as you go along, which happens to be true, not to mention that Grantaire, as the cynic of the group, would probably appreciate that his letter didn't come out red. Still deciding on whether to leave it or try it again.

In case you're wondering: yes, I left out Marius on purpose. It's more a book thing than musical thing, but he's not listed with the other Barricade Boys since he wasn't really a part of them for most of the story, and since he outlived all of them.

Strictly speaking, Gavroche is also not listed in the Barricade Boys group, but "Revolution" is a ten-letter word and there are only nine Barricade Boys. Plus, he died on the Barricade, too. He deserves a spot with the rest of them.

And yes, I bookended the list with Enjolras and Grantaire on purpose. (Not just because that's how Victor Hugo lists them; unfortunately, I wasn't able to stick exactly to his list order due to alphabet challenges.)

I was going to be done once I had all their names listed out, but on a whim, I flipped it over and wrote "I will follow you into the dark" on the other side. The red paint really is dark and hard to read (which is why the mug looks greenish in this pic; I had to amp up the fill light to make it even readable, so the darkness of the mug was lost a bit), which is kind of the point, I think. Anyway, I know that it's there, even if no one else does, and I know what it means.

Speaking of what it means, it's a nod to this-- George Blagden, who played Grantaire in the 2012 movie version of Les Misérables, is really into the Enjolras/Grantaire relationship, to the delight of many fans, and he covered "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" with a small lyric change to fit Les Mis. I've seen it mentioned in a few fanfictions now, so I'm guessing a whole bunch of Les Mis fans (and especially the E/R shippers) are similarly enamoured:

If you decide that you need to race out and personalize yourself a set of mugs, I recommend the directions here, up to and including the brand of paint pens.

What would you put on a mug?

15 August 2015

Overture, Curtain, Lights!

I mentioned in passing on Twitter a few days ago that I'd been to the theatre many times this year-- much more than probably any other year of my life thus far. There are a couple reasons for this-- one being the obvious, that it's a hobby that provides a short escape from my own thoughts and reality and thus is therapeutic. (I wish I could say theatrical therapy is cheaper that retail therapy, but it's not. The upside is that it makes me a lot happier than a new shirt ever could... which is why I pursue my therapy at the theatre instead of the mall.) And the second reason is close on its heels-- it's cheaper now that I only have to pay for one ticket instead of two, so I can go twice as much as before.

So here you have it, a very long list of all the theatre I've been lucky enough to see this year. One caveat before I begin: I rarely have anything bad to say about anything I've seen. I'm a very easily pleased audience member, which is probably why I'll never manage a career as a theatre critic. Imagine a weekly column filled with, "This rocks! Go see it!" Yeah, I'd be fired in five minutes. So this is probably an overly-sunny list.

Courtesy of a friend who won the tickets in a giveaway and didn't want to use them herself, I went to see Once knowing absolutely nothing about the show at all, except that the actors all play their own instruments on stage. I don't know that I've ever gone to see anything without at least some knowledge of the plot. So, it was a delightful surprise to me when they started playing Irish music. I shot off a text to my friend at intermission that was basically "!!! Irish music FTW OMG thank you thankyouthankyou!!!"

Love's Labour's Lost 
Love's Labour's Lost
It's been so long that I've forgotten the characters' names, but the one on
the left is the Princess of France (I think?) and the guy with the matching
turquoise scarf is the King of whatever country this is set in. I really
hope this post doesn't come up in one of their Google alerts later.
I was already planning to see this before I checked out the cast list, because I saw the same company do Much Ado About Nothing last summer and it was sensational. But when I finally saw who was in the cast, I was delighted to not only recognise a few names as people I'd seen in other things, but also to see a guy I went to UT with in the cast. I knew before that he was an actor, but had never gotten to see him in anything. He was fantastic. And so were the rest, so much so that I saw it twice. And I got a poster (unsigned, alas, because the cast were too busy running round afterwards to do the stage door thing) (not that there was a stage door, because it was the roof of Whole Foods).

Love's Labour's Lost
I was way too engrossed in watching the guy that I know that I forgot
about getting any decent pics of him. So, this blurry pic will have to do:
that's him on the far left.

Another set of tickets courtesy of my very lucky friend who wins things. I'm going to have to pay this forward sometime soon. This was my first time seeing Annie live, and as we waited for it to start, I said to Denise, "How does this show even end? It's a happy ending, right?" She said, "Haven't you seen the movie?" Well, I have (the old one, not the new one with Quvenzhané Wallis, which I'm anxious to see but haven't yet), but apparently it wasn't that memorable. I do remember my high school drama coach being really unimpressed by the movie version, so maybe that's why I never bothered remembering it. Anyway, the tour was excellent, and as I followed all the actors on Twitter afterwards, I saw Gilgamesh Taggett (Mr. Warbucks) retweeting all the stage door photos, and that's when I decided that it's pretty dumb not to go to stage door. (I never did until I went to Broadway. It takes me a while to catch on to things that are smart.)

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
Alison Arngrim, better known as Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie. When I was little and obsessed with Little House, my mother often suggested that I should be more like Mary Ingalls. Hahahaha. I was forever destined to be somewhere halfway between Laura and Nellie, but after reading Alison's book and now seeing her show, I'm thinking that being more like Nellie wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world. Got a signed book afterward, which is currently sitting on my shelf like a shining pink beacon. Incidentally, Alison is probably my favourite celebrity on Twitter. She's super-responsive to fans and fun to watch even when she's not interacting with strangers. And seeing her and Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls, back in the day) tweet to one another is priceless. Yes, they are friends in real life, and have been since the day they met, which anyone who's read Alison's book can tell you.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
I convinced my sister to see Love's Labour's Lost with me by telling her that it was fun! And they used body language! And Austin jokes! To make it more understandable for those who don't really do Shakespeare. She is still insisting that I'm a liar. Yes, being my sister is hard work. So, we went to this one with even more promises that it was mostly in modern English, and while she was less than delighted that Romeo and Juliet was mostly Shakespeare's language, she was even madder that I didn't warn her about the audience participation.

So much free Shakespeare in this
city. I love it.
Henry IV, Part I
So after that, Denise was absolutely not going to see Henry IV, especially when she heard it has more than one part. Instead I teamed up with a slightly more like-minded friend for this one, and was delighted to recognise a bunch of the actors again. That's definitely an upside to seeing so many local shows the past few years-- I've seen nearly every actor in Austin at least once. (That may be a bit of an exaggeration.)

The Importance of Being Earnest
For someone who loves the theatre as much as I do, I seem to have been the last one of my friends to see this show. How have I missed it all this time? I don't know. And wow, how many zingers did Oscar Wilde manage to cram into this show? The only downside to this show was that since the actors had to have English accents, for some of them it seemed to get in the way of their acting. (And I've seen some of them before--they're great. The accent just seemed like it gave a couple of them too much to think about.) Still, it was very fun and kept me giggling all evening.

It Shoulda Been You
It shouldn't have closed! Eagerly waiting for the cast album to be released next week. Read what I thought here.

Les Misérables

Ramin Karimloo's face on the marquee. If you've ever seen him on YouTube,
or on the 25th anniversary Les Mis concert, or anywhere else on the internet:
Yes, he really is even better in person.
I may have mentioned this one a couple of times. Per minute. To anyone who would listen. For the last three weeks.
Joe Spieldenner, who plays Grantaire and a couple other characters
(the ensemble for Les Mis is insanely versatile, and also magical at
changing costumes in a hurry). I'm grinning because 1) I was really
chuffed that I recognized him out of costume, and 2) he is an incredible actor
and also really sweet to barely-coherent fans at stage door.
I've seen the 1988 movie, but never the musical version until now. And wow, have I ever been missing out. Turns out I knew a bunch of the songs, but had never seen them in the correct order. This cast is crazy-good, and I once again feel super-lucky to live in a place where I can see lots of low-cost, high-quality theatre. The trip to New York was totally worth it, but it's not like I had to wander far away (as you can plainly tell) to see some great shows.

And that's it so far! Ten shows, eleven trips (since I saw Love's Labour's Lost twice). I have tickets to this year's Broadway in Austin series; the first one is The Little Mermaid, arriving at the end of September, and the national tour cast must be some kind of industry secret because I sure haven't been able to find it anywhere. Before that, I'm plotting to see West Side Story in San Antonio (another one I've never seen live, so I hope it works out), and a friend of mine is in Love Alone, which is also coming up in September.

It remains to be seen whether theatrical therapy works (I have moments, like during Les Mis when I turned to say to Chadwick, "Did Enjolras really just hand Grantaire a gun? Is he insane?" only Chadwick obviously wasn't there-- I have these moments when I think too much theatre may be making the grief worse), but I don't see me stopping any time soon. It makes it better for two or three hours at a time, and that's not a lot to ask.

Do you go to live theatre? What's your favourite show?

12 August 2015

Look to the Rainbow

More crayon art! This one is a (slightly modified) quote from the musical Finian's Rainbow, not only because it's a quote I've loved for many years, but also as further proof that I do know about musicals that aren't Les Miserables. :D 

So, the proper quote is "follow the fellow who follows a dream," but I went for a more gender-neutral version for my own wall since the person following the dream may well be me, and I'm not a fellow. The sentiment remains the same.

And obviously the rainbow colours of this piece reflect the name of the show. I'm almost out of crayons, but not quite, so now I have to come up with something else.

The song the quote comes from:

What quote would you put on your wall?

11 August 2015

Being Bookish

When Keely & I were making our must-see lists for New York, #2 on my list (after Ramin Karimloo, natch) was Strand Bookstore.

I've wanted to visit the Strand ever since the first time I read Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, in which the Strand is a major character in its own right. If I'd had 24 hours to spend in New York, as was my original plan, I'd probably have spent four of them at Les Mis, five at the Strand, and the rest just wandering around the city in awe.

Anyway! We visited the Museum of Modern Art on the Saturday in New York and I spent about 30 minutes in the room with the wall-length display of one of Monet's ginormous lily paintings (I love Monet, but haven't learned the names of basically anything he painted. Not even the one in my living room), and when we left, I thought about how I should just get a coffee table book of his works and maybe learn something.

So, this:

... is what I brought home from the Strand. (In addition to the magnet in the photo above.) It's gorgeous, it's huge, and it looks so pretty on my bookshelf. And yes, I've kept the price tag on it for no good reason, except that the price tag reads "Strand Book Store" and I'm not tired of looking at that yet. 

It was a toss-up between three books that finally came down to this one because I had already been thinking about it anyway. The other two I was torn between were a beautiful, annotated, hardcover Much Ado About Nothing that had gorgeous illustrations inside (and which I may still buy online, because it was that amazing) and a likewise illustrated, annotated, and all-around gorgeous The Hobbit.

(Edit: here's the Much Ado I'm talking about. Hard to see in the preview how beautiful it is, but trust me. It's fantastic.)

So it's a good thing I ran into Claude here when I did, because otherwise I would have been in the Strand a lot longer than I was.

Incidentally, while I was browsing the 18 miles of books, I overheard a conversation between two other patrons in which one of them denounced the practise of putting a photo from a movie on the cover of a book. Y'all, I found my people. They're at the Strand.

With apologies to our own glorious and beloved Book People here in Austin, of course. They get way more of my money than the Strand ever could.

What's your favourite bookstore?

10 August 2015

When Good Resilience Goes Bad

A couple weeks ago, I did this: 

Don't ask me how. The penultimate night of Camp NaNo was taken up with an emergency room visit, the final night my boss asked me to stay late to finish something at work (it was a Friday as well as being the end of Camp NaNo, so I gave him 30 minutes and then headed out), and basically I'm pretty sure nothing I wrote during July is worth keeping.

Here's the thing: I wasn't expecting it to be worth keeping. In fact, I was expecting everything I write right now to be a dark and stormy mess of emotions that will have to be edited for clarity and probably lightened up a bit later. Instead, Sybil (my MC) has turned out to be impervious to pretty much everything.

When I started writing Sybil, I gave her emotional resilience on purpose--it's one of her traits that she shakes things off, at least in public, and is able to carry on instead of hiding under her covers every time something goes wrong. (Unlike her author, who quite frankly would happily carry a blankie and a teddy bear everywhere if that were socially acceptable behaviour for adults.) However, I wrote what was supposed to be a hugely emotional chapter that would finally show some cracks--taking Sybil more or less to her breaking point--and much to my alarm she bounced right back up again and zoomed off without so much as dusting herself off first. I'm not even sure she bothered hitting the ground.

So I tried again, and again, and--seriously, does nothing upset this girl? Is she dead inside? What does it take to knock her off her even keel?

So, obviously, at some point this will have to all be rewritten. But maybe writing isn't the outlet for my worst emotions that I thought it was. Which means I probably need to figure out where they've all been going.

09 August 2015

It Shoulda Been You

Today is the last day for this beautiful show to be on Broadway, so it's just as well I don't have the kind of readership to drive a stampede to the ticket office, because it's too late. Which is a real bummer.

Posing with the sign before
the show. Me dressing like
the wedding party was
merely a happy coincidence.
So! When I bought tickets to see Les Misérables, I knew we'd have time for at least one more show, and I thought, "Hey, what's Sierra Boggess in right now?" And so it was that I bought tickets for It Shoulda Been You.

To start: the show description pretty much everywhere does not give away the massively massive plot twist, so neither will I. However, I will say that the writing in the first half was so incredible to build up to THE moment, with tons and tons of foreshadowing that gave absolutely nothing away, only for the audience to think, "Oooooohhhhh," when the moment arrived. At least, that's what it was like for me. (Mind you, I'm the sort of audience member who is always surprised. And reader, for that matter. Anyone who reads as much as me should be able to spot foreshadowing a lot faster than I can, but nope! I'm really good at being in the moment/suspending disbelief/gullibility.)

And I'm also not giving anything away here because I really really hope this show goes on tour or to regional theatres, even though it's closing early on Broadway, and I'd hate to give it away if the show comes near you.

Possibly my favourite line of
the whole show, when Tyne
Daly's character is explaining
to one of her daughters and new
sons-in-law how marriage works.
Indeed, the shoe begins to fit.
Source: It Shoulda Been You
Facebook page.
Seeing Sierra live was incredible; she's even more amazing in person than on YouTube. (No kidding, right?) And it was such a treat to also see Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, and Edward Hibbert live. And as with Les Mis, I absolutely found more actors to be obsessed with. (Josh Grisetti and Montego Glover, for example, were both amazing, and I definitely want to see both of them live again someday!) And It Shoulda Been You was my first stage door experience, since we saw it before we saw Les Mis. I didn't fight my way to the front, because I was really only interested in getting Sierra to sign my program, but had a nice chat with the woman beside me while we waited.

David Hyde Pierce, who directed the show, has been saying, "You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll be home by 10!" which was true, except for the last bit, but that was mostly because we stopped for some NYC souvenirs on our way home. 'Twas brilliant.

08 August 2015

Who Am I?

From Davide Guglielmo on
Identity is kinda one of those fundamental things that humans kind of need to navigate our way through the universe, yeah?

I managed to upend mine a bit in recent months, what with graduating and changing my job (and getting a car-- never realised before how much of my identity was tied up in being car-free) and, you know, that other thing that people are a bit nervous about mentioning in front of me.

It's in the back of my mind a lot, that my identity is in flux at the moment as I adjust to this new normal, but it comes into sharper focus when I run across TV shows about teenagers (Girls Meets World, for one) and discover to my horror how much I have in common with their teenage angst. I wasn't planning on doing this more than once in my life. At least this time I don't have raging hormones to go along with it.

One more thing to work through on this journey. Well, I was getting bored of all the other things, anyway.

04 August 2015

S is for Sisterhood.

Believe it or not, I'm still thinking from time to time about that A to Z Challenge from 2014 that I never finished. (I totally blame grad school!) Almost there now...

Image from Goodreads.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, series, Ann Brashares.

Wish these books had been around when I was a teenager. I could have learned a lot from these girls then. As it is, having to read them as an adult, I enjoy their journey.

What's your favourite 'S' book?

Runner up: Spindle's End

Not Much to Look at, Nothing Posh

Many, many moons ago, I saw some Les Mis melted crayon art kicking around on Pinterest, said out loud that I'd like to try that, and someone gave me a bunch of old crayons they were wanting to get rid of anyway. Result!

As is my wont, I hung onto the crayons for ages before I finally went out this weekend to buy some canvas and finally get on with it. My first idea was a French flag that said "One Day More," but I changed my mind and went with a line from "One Day More" instead.

"There's a new world for the winning," in case it's not exactly readable.
My apologies to any French readers for what I've done to your flag.
This was not just a fan art project, although it obviously is fan art and it was a lot of fun doing. This was also an upcycling project. You'll see a lot of crayon art out there with beautiful, gleaming new crayons, but I didn't have any of those. And really, when it comes to Les Mis fan art, what better to use than broken crayons to build the little melty barricade? 

While choosing the red crayons, I noticed I had a lot left over, so I went ahead and worked up a "Red and Black" version, too. Once again, I backed away from the original lines I was going to use ("The blood of angry men/the dark of ages past") and went for the slightly more hopeful second half of the verse. I need hope more than despair right now.

This one obviously did not turn out so well with the letters. Not sure how or if I'll fix it. Messy, remember?
"World about to dawn" and "Night that ends at last."
 I have one more plotted for myself that's not Les Misérables themed: a rainbow background with the line "Follow the person who follows a dream" from Finian's Rainbow. That's slightly edited from the line in the actual song, where "person" is "fellow," but I'm opting for inclusiveness over fidelity to the text, being as I'm not a fellow and I may well be the one following a dream.

And I'm waiting to see if Denise wants to do a Stargate or Doctor Who melty art. Or both. Oooh--crossover!

03 August 2015

Sticky Situation

I came home from New York with sore legs and feet from so much walking and standing around, and it resolved itself pretty quickly-- in my right leg. I waited to see if my left leg would get better, and when it was still sore and started swelling on Thursday, I gave in and started looking for a doctor.

Why? Because I had a blood clot in one of the deep veins of my leg many years ago, I recognize the symptoms, and I was really anxious to avoid another three-day hospitalization like last time. Ugh.

Here's the culprit! By some miracle,
I didn't take a selfie in the ER.
From sanja gjeneroon freeimages.com.
Here's my problem: Like many people on a fairly tight budget, medical care is for emergencies for me. I don't have a PCP right now, and didn't even have health insurance for the first couple of years I lived here. Unfortunately, not having a PCP means there's no one to order the test that would rule out a blood clot, so I was stuck with walk-in clinics. The first clinic turned me away because it was overcrowded, the second one because they didn't have the equipment to check, which left me with the oh-so-exciting option of heading to the ER. Ugh. 

To keep myself amused and upbeat, I started tweeting the experience, so I will refrain from a play-by-play here--but I finally left the ER at 10 PM with a confirmed diagnosis of a blood clot, in a shallow vein this time (translation: not the kind that's likely to send a clot to my lungs), and a prescription that I still haven't been able to have filled because I don't have a PCP. (I plan to fix that tomorrow, so no worries.) But at least I know what's wrong, and the medication should sort everything right out so I can be back to my usual walking/riding/running all over the place that I've had to put a slight hold on for now.

Not exactly the homecoming I was hoping for.

01 August 2015

NYC, What Is It About You?

See, from time to time I can quote musicals that aren't Les Misérables!

When I first started scheming this little adventure and I was thinking I would be going alone, my plan was to get an Airbnb somewhere for a night or two, see Les Mis, visit the Strand Bookstore, and then take in whatever I could of New York in whatever time I had left. (MoMA & FAO Schwarz were high on the list, until FAO closed the week before we went. I'm still mad.) And while I agree that's a crazy way to attempt one's first trip to New York, my only reason for this trip was to see Ramin Karimloo as Valjean while I still could, so the rest could wait.

Of course, that turned out to be not quite what happened, because Keely was able to come along and "a day or two" in NYC quickly turned into a long weekend in NYC, which meant we could add a second show (It Shoulda Been You, recap of which is coming eventually, I promise!) and add a few more things to our list.

We ran across the New York City Pass and ultimately decided that it was a good way to see a whole bunch of things in a short period of time. We were able to hop from one attraction to another without feeling like we were wasting money on entrance fees to only be places for an hour or two. (And while we could have spent an entire day in places like the Met or MoMA, other things like Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building are really not places where you'd spend a whole day, no matter how much money you hand over to get in.)

So, here's what we did with our five days (I am so not looking up the links to all of these, so you're on your own for Googling):

Grand Central Station
Rockefeller Center
Top of the Rock
Central Park
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Guggenheim Museum
Times Square
It Shoulda Been You at Brooks Atkinson Theatre
The Museum of Modern Art
Les Misérables at Imperial Theatre
Discovery Times Square
Madame Tussauds
Chelsea Market
A Chelsea Market bookstore's
plea for people to stop stealing.
The High Line
City Sightseeing Cruise

Brooklyn Bridge Park
Bryant Park
Went by the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (New York Public Library), but had just missed closing time
Empire State Building
Strand Bookstore
Forbidden Planet
And Strawberry Fields in Central Park before we headed out on Monday
This is actually the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, but we
walked through Strawberry Fields to get here.

Obviously, with packing this much stuff into so short a time, I am probably the wrong person to ask for recommendations on anything. But if you do want my thoughts on what I did see, ask away & I'll do my best to answer.