My life through painting or cleaning the project room

When I was a freshman in high school, I went to a private school.  A lot went to hell after that year and I ended up transferring to a public school as a junior, but before then, it was a pretty ideal place for me to be.  The classes were small, the teachers had time to get to know you, it was a community more than a school. You grew up with your classmates. I had been with my group since I was in the 5th grade.  Some of my classmates had known each other for even longer.  To this day, I have pangs of regret over leaving, even though there was no other way.

I never considered myself an artist, my childhood drawings were all pretty much of the Stick Figure Girl Walking a Dog or Riding a Horse variety.  Art class was hanging out with my girlfriends and chattering while we made something with our hands — it was peaceful.  I realize that later it would morph into hanging out with my girlfriends and cooking.  But I really enjoyed art.  A nice respite from class, but not necessarily where my talents lay.

So one day, the incredible woman who ran the art program gave us a project. She assigned each of us a square from Picasso’s Guernica to paint.  When we were all finished, she put the pieces together into this very cool patchwork painting.  I know a photo of it exists somewhere, but I couldn’t find it.  I painted the foot in the bottom right hand corner.  It was my first time using oil paint and I fell in love.  It also freed me up from thinking that I didn’t have to be the best or even very good to enjoy something — a novel idea for a 15-year-old.

I love how sneery Scarlett is in this

A visiting artist then came to the school and he assigned us a project where we would do a pencil drawing of an image and then later an oil painting of the same image.  I was in my second year or so of obsessing over Gone with the Wind (over a decade now, baby!) so obviously I chose the movie poster.  

Then I built a frame, stretched and jessoed my own canvas, and painted it.

I’ve been circling my love affair with oil painting ever since. I’ve never taken any official classes or anything, it’s been something that I just like to dabble in every once and awhile.  Something peaceful to do with my hands.

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Those flames must be REALLY hot, cus Rhett has a serious tan.

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An Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Guy from Brooklyn (Brooklynman?)

I’m thinking about applying to this directing internship at a local (and widely respected) theatre company. Part of the application includes a 2 minute (max) video. I thought about telling a joke first, so I recorded this to see how long it would be. Since the whole joke is about 2 minutes, I probably won’t use it (and certainly not this take since my hair looks ridiculous and I’m bra-less with a Ubuntu shirt on), but it’s my favorite joke to tell so I thought I’d share.

Beware, thar be f-bombs. Enjoy :)

Alvin Motor Bean Eichhörnchen: The Cat of A Thousand Nicknames

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Alvin Motor Bean Eichhörnchen

“The Baby”

April 1, 2010 – November 13, 2013

Little Baby

The Baby

Squiggle

Brat Cat

Little Brat

Serpent

Wraith

Little Tushie

Pest

Little Squirrel

Alvin

Alvin Bean

Alvin Motor Bean Eichhörnchen

Little Dragon

Dragon Eyes

Fluff

Little Purr

Little Bunny

Shoulder Baby

Halloween Cat

These are but a few of the names that M Fox and I used to refer to one of our kitties.  You’ll notice that “Little” comes before a lot of them.  Although certainly a term of endearment, the fact is that Alvin, most referred to as “the baby,” was always very small.  He always had a kitten face.  He had soft kitten fur.  The smell of his neck fur still had that kitten smell.  I loved to bury my face in his scruff and inhale it, the way some mothers describe craving the intoxicating scent of her newborn.

Squeak on the left, the baby on the right

Squeak on the left, the baby on the right

I was going through an Orson Scott Card kick at the time, hence Alvin (from the Alvin Maker series) and Bean (from Ender’s Shadow).  Motor was both part of his origin story (he was found in a car engine) and because he had a very big purr for such a little body.  Eichhörnchen is German for squirrel.

Sidebar: Neither M Fox nor I speak German, but M Fox had German housemates once and they all bonded over how it was impossible for Americans to pronounce “eichhörnchen” and damn near impossible for Germans to say “squirrel.”

Physically, the baby’s most defining attribute was his tail.  His tail was so long that it almost folded in half when sticking up.  As a kitten, he resembled one of those little black squirrels.  

Well, a weird-looking squirrel

Well, a weird-looking squirrel

When he would “bun” around the house, it was like he had no control over his tail.  He would be in a perfect little cat bun and his long ridiculous tail would stick straight out behind him, like a lollypop stick.  As he got a little older, he figured out how to wrap it around him.  Stretching, he reminded us of the classic Halloween black cat, back arched, bottle brush tail at attention.

We never could decide on a name, so we kept them all and added more — when we got him at 10 weeks, he already had two names from the shelter (Mr. Cheeps, then Gusto, which they pronounced Cousteau for some reason).  It all seems very fitting that he was born on April Fool’s Day.

The baby's baby photo

The baby’s baby photo

When we first got him home and released him into our small Mountain View apartment, he joyfully raced back and forth the length of the apartment, exhilarated.  I remember feeling so filled with love and pride that I got to witness our baby discovering that he could run.

Having already been denied the opportunity to potty train the new kitten, M Fox wanted to teach him to ride on people’s shoulders.  Even though he was a little squink of a thing, the baby’s paws were huge.  We always thought he was going to turn out to be one of those massive cats — he did look a little like a Maine Coon. We used to laugh about how it was cute now, when he was little, but when he became a massive beast of a cat, shoulder-riding would be onerous.  We didn’t know he would pretty much stop growing at a year old.

Shoulder baby

Shoulder baby

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This is What Drunken Photo Album Spelunking Will Get You

My ten-year-old meme-self with Pete the Parrot

My ten-year-old meme-self with Pete the Parrot

Toothless in Seattle

This is a story about how my husband is willing to risk his sanity for my vanity.  There is quite a bit of preamble, but I haven’t blogged in awhile, so I figure I’m due for a long post.

When I was a little kid, I adored my dentist, Dr. Turk.  I named various toys after him, including a lion with wings and a crown.

May I present: Dr. Turk.
(Also, I CANNOT believe I actually found a photo of this toy.
Hot DAMN I love the internet.)

Dr. Turk’s office waiting room was literally a playground. (I am literally not misusing this word *snort*)  There were towers and slides and hidey holes, all encased in brown shag carpet.  His office was bright and open and you got to pick the flavor of floride, floss, and mouthwash used.  There were at least three flavor options for each.  On your way out, there was a gigantic white furniture wheel with dozens of compartments and drawers filled with stickers and little toys that you could choose as a parting gift.  Going to the dentist was AWESOME, plus, on the way home, we usually stopped by Nathan’s for hotdogs and sometimes we were lucky enough for Mom to drive us through the carwash (the height of little kid entertainment).  As you can imagine, while I have had some very nice dentists since then, none have really compared to Dr. Turk.

I remember one such appointment, in between obediently spitting out my apple candy-flavored toothpaste in a much-congratulated show of how well I knew how to brush my teeth, and skipping to the prize wheel to claim my door prize, when Dr. Turk mentioned to my mother how I had perfect teeth.  Of course, thought I, digging through the stickers, of course I should have perfect teeth.  I am the perfect child.

“But.

But,” said the kind, wise, and generous dentist, “because she has perfect teeth now, it means she may have some trouble when her adult teeth grow in.”

Fiddle dee dee!  Cobbswoggle!  Perposterosity!  I gave it barely a thought and we went on our way to Nathan’s to ride the ascending rocketship 300 times while my poor mother counted the holes in the ceiling (this was before smartphones, remember).  One cross-continental move, the rest of childhood, a harrowing teenage wasteland (as I watched others succumb to metal braces), and a rapidly disintegrating decade of being 20-something and useless, the chickens have come home to roost.

Dr. Turk, dear, dear Dr. Turk.  Your counsel holds true to this day.

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A Reset

My dad once told me a story. He was a young actor in New York and had a lot of young actor friends.  One such friend was turning down auditions for commercial work because he said he was afraid that it would “hurt his career.”  My dad, an eloquent man, responded with, “What career?”

I think I need to revisit this story more often.

Since moving to Seattle, I have been pursuing theatre.  I don’t even know in what capacity yet. Should I be able to climb up to the status of it being a “career,” then bully for me, if not then I’m happy to do theatre as a passionate hobby.  To tell the truth, I don’t know how honest that is, but that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

I have been on quite a few auditions lately and have done very well at most of them — this, in and of itself, is a triumph.  I am really proud of the work I have done in the past year, even if it hasn’t necessarily bore me much fruit.  I wanted to be in four productions this year and am halfway through my goal.  After being passed over the last several times I’ve auditioned (and gotten to callbacks, even!), I admit that I’m starting to get all moody about it.

And it’s only fricken July!  The year is barely half over!  I needed a reset.  Fortunately I have a brilliant vocal coach and supportive friends and husband and I’ve been able to get my head straight.  But it had been eating at me for awhile.  Worrying about my “failed” career.  What career?  Ha!

To clarify: I don’t mean that in a negative, derogatory way, but in a FREEING way.  I have nothing, therefore, I have nothing to lose.  This is a good thing.  This concept should be paradoxically relaxing and energizing.  I have everything to win.

Speaking of jobs, I have four more days working at Cheezburger and even though I am so glad that I took this job and have really enjoyed it, I am really going to be happy when it’s over.

I am looking forward to having a quiet, boring day.  I am looking forward to having a quiet week.  I am looking forward to having my thoughts and my time to myself.

I am currently working on an idea for a musical.  This is a seriously lofty idea that may in fact turn out to be a disaster.

I’m not going to delete that last sentence, but I think that that is extremely telling of my state of mind about my art right now.

Disaster?!

How could it be a disaster? ;)  Why do I have to make every artistic endeavor a matter of complete triumph or failure?  Can’t it just be?

Also, I know that I have been derelict in my monthly-writing promise.  I’ve done some work on my musical, which I am not ready to share publicly, but I would still like to work on my Mia stuff.  I really like her and I like my idea so I will keep pecking away at that.  There.  I’ve made a public promise to myself and now it’s time to keep it.

Worst Internet Radio Commercials

I listen to a lot of internet radio (Spotify and Pandora) at my job.  Here is a list of internet radio ads that I hear multiple times a day and make me want to throw something.  I’d love to keep adding to this list, except for some reason they’ve determined that a person who listens to musicals, bluegrass, 50’s music, Green Day, and Ella Fitzgerald only really needs to hear the following advertisements.  Over and over and over.

– The ad about how UTIs are really painful.  If it were a short ad it would be okay, but the anti-UTI lobby ponied up for 30 second ad space.  (also, anti ootee, hehe)

– I don’t even know what this ad is about because I can tune most of it out up until the girl sees a kitten and screeches “GOOCHI GOOCHI COO!!!”

– The ad that has some pretty decent music and I start bobbing my head and get all excited that I might have discovered a new band/song only to find out that it was a jingle.  And then I feel like a tool.

And the fricken WORST ad where I actually rip the headphones out of my head:

– The horrible ad about getting a flu shot because you could infect your baby, which is accompanied by the constant sound of an infant violently coughing that gets louder and louder as the ad goes on.  I don’t even have a baby and I become panicked.

For all you (talented) out-of-work writers out there, do everyone a favor.  Stuff your dreams of glory deep deep inside.  Please Join an ad agency and save us.