Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Ode to Chandlee Caldwell!

If I could I would say it in Chinese!

I am so grateful to have just seen my friend Chandlee while he was visiting NYC, a long way from his current hometown of Wiehai (which I heard is on the Beach), China. Chandlee went to teach English in China a few years after college, and now is running his own school in the town of Weihai! How cool is that?

Other cool, fun fact--Chandlee is the first person I remember meeting at Davidson College, the first day of freshmen orientation. If I remember correctly, Chandlee was standing behind me in the line we were in for...whatever it was we had to line up for on the first day of orientation. Check-in, packets, something like that! I remember thinking two things:

1. They name boys Chandlee down south.

2. There are places named Look Out Mountain, Tennessee down south.

And thinking "We're not in Minnesota anymore, Toto!"

The great thing is that Chandlee ended up becoming a theatre major. Was this because he also was a dresser backstage for the very indecently exposed show "Cabaret" his freshman year, as required lab hours for his fine arts distribution credit? Very likely. But he was a great addition to our little team. My college graduating class had 10 theatre majors, which was one of the highest number of majors in recent years. Needless to say, there weren't many actors.

After college, Chandlee moved to NYC and worked in the film industry, and I've always been so amazed as his ability to just "Go For It!" Whether it's thinking working costume shifts for a lab hour credit in Theatre 101 sounds like it's probably "pretty interesting" or moving to China and starting your own business, he has cajones.

So I am very grateful for all my adventures with Chandlee, and to know he's supporting me in my life's adventures. I can't wait until my life takes me to his end of the earth for an adventure of Epic Chinese proportions! This time, we'll have to take some pictures!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An Ode to Jessica Ruhle

There is not enough room on any imaginable server space in the world wide web for me to write enough good things about Jessica.

Jessica and I went to Davidson College together, and were roommates from sophomore year until we graduated.

She is a sister to me. A friend. A confidant. Someone who challenges me.
I have learned so many things from Jessica, but two come to mind in particular.

It was Jessica who taught me how to "work what you've got". I'm not sure she's ever used this exact phrase, but this is in essence what she taught me. To be confident in who I am, and the beautiful parts of me, and to flaunt it. I first remember this getting dressed for a Warner Hall Madonnarama party. (Madonnarama is a party honoring, who else, but Madonna, to which everyone shows up dressed as their favorite era of Madonna). I remember being in our sophomore apartment (I don't recall our third roommate Elizabeth being there, perhaps she was out of town) and feeling insecure about my Vogue-era Madonna outfit. Jessica told me to look at myself in the mirror and say "I look hot!" over and over again until I decided I believed it.

Secondly, Jessica is the one who probably started me on the path towards running marathons, because she has already done it! Jessica will probably readily admit that she was not the most athletic person in college. And neither was I. I did a lot of yoga. But I think my idea of working out was mostly reading InStyle on the elliptical machine. I did run from time to time, but never particularly far, and generally only after some boy had broken my heart.

So some time after college, Jessica started running 5Ks. Then 10Ks, and then the next thing you know, she's running marathons! And I was so impressed. At her guts and courage for reinventing herself to someone that was doing something she used to think she couldn't do.

Jessica is fearless. She is selfless. She is strong and independent, and the greatest friend anyone could ask for. My only wish is that we could find a city where we could be roommates again, forever and always, and we could share clothes, and bake cookies, and decorate an apartment in matching colors and get family portraits taken. She and I are both not big "phone people" and we don't talk or email as much as I wish we did, but I don't worry about it, because I know we will pick up right where we left off, whenever it is we get a chance to.

She is the greatest friend a girl could have. For anything from sob-stories to laugh-yourself-silly, she's seen me at my worst and still loves me. And I am forever thankful to have her in my life to encourage me.

There's always room in my apartment for another roommate, Roomie. :)

(p.s. this picture is so old, which is totally unacceptable! We need a photo-shoot soon!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Ode to Chris Tilley

This donation from Chris came in an interesting form. I met Chris when I was performing in Spitfire Grill 3 in Roanoke, VA. Chris was our music director and he and I got along very well. I respected his abilities (and remember, I’ve done this show so many times, I’ve got opinions about how it should be done!) and I think he liked me, and so that’s always a good place to start to get me to like you! Be talented and like me. ☺

From time to time, I have needed transcriptions for auditions here in NYC. We musical theatre actors are constantly looking for audition songs, and sometimes we find something great, but it’s hard to get your hands on the music, or sheet music doesn’t exist, or what does exist is chicken scratches and illegible, or worse: it sounds awful on the piano.

Insert my first request: Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” in a piano version that didn’t sound tinny and empty. I asked Chris for his help, and he came back in less than 24 hours with not one, not two, but THREE versions of the song to be played on piano. I have a surplus of Madonna that I can sing at any audition, and can change the tone of the song as I need to: ballad, jazzy, rock. Amazing.

Then my second request: The Facebook Song by Kate Miller-Heideke, which The DBF actually discovered some way on YouTube. After one listen I KNEW I had to have it in my book for auditions. So I shot off an email to Chris, that there was no real hurry, just wanted to add it to my repertoire. And again, within what seemed like hours, the full song was back in my hands, beautiful transcribed.

So I owed Chris, big time. And he wanted to donate to the marathon. And in lieu of being paid, he asked if I would use the money to donate towards my fundraising goals. And I happily obliged!

Chris is a true gem of a guy. Interesting, talented, quirky and insightful. I think he has so much of life in front of him and I am always curious where he ends up and what he will be doing next. Hopefully we will work together in person very soon, not just via email and PDFs. ☺

So thank you Chris, not only for your generous donations, but for making me look so good in auditions!

Monday, November 1, 2010

And Ode to The Greengrass Family!

I am so humbled and honored to have received a donation from Michelle Johnson and Andrew Greengrass. There is always this unknown when it comes to the friends of your significant other. Are they your friends, are they acquaintences, do they like you, do they hate you? Or maybe even worse, do they just tolerate you or think quietly “I guess she’s okay, but he could do better”.

Now I’ve never heard definitively from Michelle and Andrew that they think I am the greatest thing that has ever happened to The DBF, but I am going to take this wonderfully kind donation as a sign that in fact I am above “Not too bad” and they must like me!

In fact, I met Michelle and Andrew, as well as their two children, shortly after The DBF and I first met.

A little background: The DBF and Andrew went to Hunter College High School together, and were among the same group of friends, so have basically known each other since 6th grade. Sometime there after a New Year’s Eve tradition developed among the boys (they were 15, I think) and it is a tradition they still keep today, over 20 years later. The tradition is: Eat Chinese food for dinner, spend some time recapping your previous year on this Earth, and then play board games until sunrise, when you then eat bacon and go home to go to sleep.

Funny little tradition.

So The DBF and I began dating December 14th, 2008, or at least we attempted to start our first date that night. I stood him up because I had a callback for Ragtime. So we rescheduled for December 17th, and our date went much better than either of us had expected, especially since I had already flaked out and stood him up for the attempted first date and our second date I never had time to change from the clothes I wore to move into my apartment, so I basically had our first date in sweats. So he liked me, I liked him, and we quickly planned a second date before I was heading home to Minnesota for the holidays.

By date two I was smitten kitten, and he had told me he wanted to date me exclusively, and we were a couple, pretty instantaneously. I was spending Christmas at my parents house when he and I were discussing our plans for New Year’s Eve. I had none. And he, of course, had long standing traditional plans. After some time there was a very hesitant offer extended to me to join the gang for New Year’s Eve. The DBF’s hesitation made me pause, and I tried to get him to qualify why he was being a bit recalcitrant to invite me, and he said previous girlfriend’s have come and not had a good time. Lore even tells us that one girlfriend of yore even cried.

Now, loyal blog readers, we already know I am nothing if not insanely competitive and that, my friends was a challenge. To go and have fun! But I also discussed it with my mother, who said “You have the opportunity to meet his friends of over two decades? You go, and you take notes!”

And so plans were made for New Year’s, which The DBF was hosting at his house. I think by the time December 31st had rolled around we had maybe had 5 or 6 dates… Fully fledged as a couple but… well… really not knowing much about each other.

So I first met Michelle and Andrew, and their two beautiful children, Adam and Rebecca, New Year’s Eve of 2008. I liked them both right away. First because of their beautiful children. My father has a saying that “Nutty kids come from nutty families”, and the reverse is also true: happy, bright and loving children come from happy, bright and loving families. But I also found Andrew to be open and welcoming and I liked Michelle because she is also from Minnesota and is a doctor (like my father). I felt a little closer to her perhaps just because a Minnesotan recognizes another Minnesotan. She has even moved Andrew and the kids out to Minnesota, which I think has given my parents the pipe dream that The DBF and I would also move out to Minnesota some day. Sorry guys, not going to happen.

Since New Year’s Eve of almost two years ago I have spent quite a lot of time with Andrew and Michelle, both in New York when they have visited Andrew’s family who still lives here and of course the crew of boys who have now become men and still steady friends. But we also spent a week in Canada with Andrew and Michelle (and many other New Year’s regulars) in a bi-annual tradition of a week at the cabin up in the Northern Woods, and we’ve visited their home in Minnesota when The DBF and I visited my family again this spring.

So the question still always remains, in a relationship, when do “your” friends become “our” friends. In reality I have accepted that in the case of The DBF and his motley crew of guy friends, they will probably really always be “his”. You can’t make up for the 20+ years of friendship and experiences, and if for some horrible reason we broke up, I wouldn’t expect to still be invited to New Year’s or Canada. But Michelle and Andrew have always made me feel welcome, and like I belonged. And perhaps not just “belonging”, but a more profound sense that I might be appreciated, that my presence might add a little something. Maybe more song and dance routines.

I also have to say one of my favorite things about Andrew and Michelle is they have been very patient with my learning how to play Wiz War. What is Wiz War you ask? Well, it is the game of choice for these guys, and to even begin to describe it would be another five blogs and I would fail. And I said I was competitive, but I meant it. I’m so competitive, I don’t ever want to fail, or God forbid, to lose! So I didn’t play Wiz War for a full year. I just watched. I tried to make note of strategy, tendencies, etc. And Andrew and Michelle have always been patient with my learning, and guiding me towards where I am now, which is a mildly competent Wiz War player. I have never won, though I came close once, and I think I’m starting to understand it enough that it might actually be fun!

So I am eternally grateful to Andrew and Michelle for always making me feel welcome every time I’ve seen them, but now also being so kind and generous in helping me with this latest competitive obsession: running a marathon (and raising $3000!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Ode to Clare McIntyre

To the Lovely Miss Sunny Clare...

Clare is the final of the quartet of Germany Girls (the others being Sara and Ailsa), and Clare has the unusual distinction that she is the only of the other girls that I have seen since 1998. Clare came through NYC for pleasure this spring and we had the opportunity to sit down at Alice's Tea Cup, one of my favorite places in Manhattan, and share delicious foods and "catch up".
But as I've said in the blogs about the other girls, it's not so much about "catching up", because how do you really catch up on years of time, when it doesn't really matter. You share the big stuff. There's no "And then in 2003 I did..." it's just the stuff that matters. The nitty-gritty. And I love that about Clare.

I'm not sure if Clare knows she believes this, but I think she exemplifies something that I hold to be a truism: if it's scary, it's probably the right thing to do. Clare does things that are scary. Not terrifying, but things that are hard choices. She recently was at a crossroads and unsure of where to go next, and made a scary choice, but she made it boldly and proactively and with the utmost faith.

I think there are lots of different kinds of courage, and I think Clare has a very special kind in spades. I think it takes a crazy kid to want to go live in a foreign country for a year, alone, at 16 or 17. God bless being naive, because I know I would have never gone if I knew then what I know now, but I don't regret it for a second. Now, as an adult, I would be aware of all the things that could go wrong. At 17, I was only aware of possibility of what could be. And that was enough.

Somehow, I think Clare has managed to stay this course--to constantly be aware only of possibility. Does she get dragged down in the mire of day to day life and responsibilities and the baffling questions of the unknown, sure, we all do. But in her in a spirit that just moves forward with the sense that "Alles wird gut".

So when I'm running and feel like I just can't keep going, I think I'll remember Clare and know what she would do: Just keep going forward.

Seems like a good way to run a race.

Immer alles gute, Mein Liebchen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Ode to Alex Pearlman

Who is no relation to David Perlman, aside from both being my friends and wonderful! ;)

If I have learned anything from writing these blogs, it's that I need to take better photographic evidence of my exploits and my fabulous friends. I can barely find a single picture of Alex and I together!

But you already saw Alex in a previous post about Nathan, and here we are with our good friend Joel...

Alex is another dear Ragtime friend, as well as a Who's Tommy friend. When searching for pictures, I went through the Ragtime pictures again, and I will say what I have said before, that show changed my life. I loved every person in that show with such an abandon, and I am forever grateful for that experience. And to have the opportunity to work with Alex again on Tommy was just icing on the cake.

Alex is a fantastic singer, and a wonderful friend. He is always there, to meet me for lunch, to distract me from life, or to listen to me complain about something that probably is not that big of a deal in the long run, but he listens anyway. He is a musical theatre genius, and pretty much his own Lincoln Center Archive, with a recording or video of almost every musical ever performed! He also knows anything about musicals past, present and future (yes, even future--he's to the minute on the behind the scenes gossip)! He is always the first to congratulate me on my successes and console me after casting losses or missed opportunities.

I have a wonderful memory of Alex singing with me for The DBF's Birthday Celebration last year. The DBF has said on numerous occasions that I should never buy him anything because the only thing he wants is to hear me sing (He is the dearest of the Dear Boy Friends, is he not?). So for his birthday last year I arranged a private concert, and enlisted the help of some friends (Nathan, Natalie and Alex). He is always game. No idea is not worth exploring and he is amazingly gifted and talented, and a truly superb singer!

I am not sure he knows how fabulous he is. But I do. And now the world does! Or at least the 4 people who read my blog. ;)

I am a fan. And I am glad he is on my team.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Ode to Sara Ehrhardt

My dear, lovely Sara has been my friend since the awkward age of 16 when we were exchange students in Wilhelmshaven, Germany together, along with Ailsa, whom loyal blog readers already know.

Sara is actually a redhead. It is my birth defect that I too wasn't born with red hair. She has milky white skin and beautiful curls and I was always so jealous of her when we were in Germany. Maybe I'm just channeling her now as an adult!
I fake this coloring with the use of hair dye and good makeup technique...
Sara's a natural.

Natural is a great word to describe Sara. She's a free spirit, but grounded enough to have a great career as an Engineer. An Engineer. I have a friend who is an Engineer. Most of my friends tap dance. Not that there's anything wrong with tap dancing, but seriously. Not only is Sara an Engineer (I'm so impressed I keep capitalizing it!), she's also done a lot of work for Engineers Without Borders Canada, doing things like building irrigation systems. Thank goodness for someone like Sara, who not only has the brains to build such things, but the heart to inspire her to do so!

However, she is not currently working specifically as an Engineer (is one always an Engineer, even if using their skills in a slightly different avenue?) She is currently employed by Finance Canada in the International Trade and Finance group to work on Canada's international assistance budget and climate change. Brains, a heart of gold and milky white skin. Who's not jealous?

All in all, the best way I can sum up Sara is that I think she is Super Woman. I think there is nothing she couldn't accomplish if she desired it. She follows her heart, and has the abilities and the passions to make things happen.

I am grateful to have known her this long in my life, and just so humbled to have her donation towards my crazy marathon goal. I carry her with me every day in little ways. It's that way when you know someone as long as us crazy Exchange Student girls have known each other, when you share something as obscure as a year living in a small coastal town in Germany. She, and all those girls, share a large part in the woman I am today. And I am always grateful for that. Always.

An Ode to Pamela and Kidberry!

I am so thrilled to be writing this THANK YOU post, because it is the kind of donation that just warms my heart.

I met Pamela a few weeks ago when I was doing my required volunteer shift for my CSA farm share (Community Supported Agriculture). Living in Harlem, NYC has been such an amazing, urban experience for this white girl from Minnesota. I love feeling so connected to so much history of the city. But there isn't the hugest selection of fresh produce, and certainly not high quality organic produce.

At the New Year, along with deciding to run a marathon, I decided I wanted to change my relationship with food, and decided to "Eat Food". Real food. Not food-like substances. (Much of my philosophy of food has come from Michael Pollan's books, primarily In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto). So I searched out a local CSA. Basically a farmer will offer a "share" of his yield to the public. Typically it's a box of vegetables, sometimes fruit, and dairy and meat can be included. You buy in to a membership and then get a whole ton of fresh food each week from whatever is freshest on the farm that day. You can find your own local CSA by clicking here.

So I joined my local CSA, Roxbury Farms, which drops off on Thursdays at a school about 5 blocks from my apartment in Harlem. I get so much food that I have to actively work towards consuming it. I have loved the challenge that this provides. What do you do with 9 pounds of tomatoes? I have also loved that it has made me more aware of the seasons, the weather, about timeliness, the passage of time...

As part of your membership, each share owner works at the distribution a few shifts throughout the season. I was fortunate enough to work with Pamela, and her awesome son Max. While moving around crates of kale and onions, we just chatted about life and the things we're involved in, and it turns out Pamela runs an organization a lot like my current job! She is one of the founders of Kidberry, and I am in love with what they are doing in my neighborhood!

It is really lovely when you meet someone for an hour or so and get to share the things that are important in your life. Really, the only connection we had was we live in the same neighborhood and both enjoy Food (Real Food always gets a capital F). But we started talking and the walls start falling down, and it turns out we share much in common. I am grateful for the two hours we spent with our veggies, and especially grateful for her generosity in donating to the cause.

Harlem is a better place because of generous and creative individuals like Pamela and her partners at Kidberry! I wish them all the success in the world, and can't wait for the last stretch of the marathon, when I run through MY neighborhood, and get to see all my neighbors cheering me on! Me, and the other 34,999 runners... But especially me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Ode to Walter! And his family...

As some of you blog readers undoubtedly already know, I have the world's greatest day job. In addition to my career as a musical theatre performer, I also teach infants and preschoolers in Mommy-and-Me music classes at a wonderful company called Hands On! A Musical Experience. I teach Monday through Saturday, 4 classes each morning, for children aged 4 months to about 4 years. Each teacher learns how to play every instrument in the orchestra and we allow each child the opportunity to put their "hands on" (see, get it!) while we play the instrument, making connections about the physics of sounds, the difference in types of instruments, and hopefully cultivating a love of music, and perhaps a desire to play aninstrument some day.

So I am very grateful for this donation, from one of my dear sweet infants, Walter.
Sweet Walter with his dad and mom

Now, how can you not love a little face like that, and the fact that his name is Walter, just melts my heart. In Manhattan we get a lot of crazy names. Did you know in 2007 the second most common boy's name in Manhattan was Jayden? Pushing out Daniel, and right behind Michael. I've had Lazer, Blue... so Walter just melts my heart. And the fact that he comes with his mother and their fellow apartment-infant, Evelyn, comes as well with her nanny, they are like an old married couple, who arrive side-by-side in their strollers. Walter and Evelyn.

It is hard to say what these little babies take in from class, and I am fond of saying that you just never know who they are going to turn out to be. Perhaps Walter is the next great Oboist. Or perhaps he will be a computer programmer. But the time that he gets to spend with his mom, while she can take a little break from being "On" (and then it's MY turn to be "on"), means that he gets 40 minutes to be loved and entertained, Mom hopefully leaves with a baby ready for a nap, and I get to see his sweet little smile. It's a win-win situation.

Walter's mother has run a marathon before, and she is working at one of the aid tents this year for the NYC Marathon, so it is my goal NOT to have to see her during the marathon. But it is so sweet of her to donate to Free Arts and my marathon goal. Having been there, she understands what it's like to push your body to the limit, in addition to pushing your friends and family to help you financially! :) I am very grateful for the help of Walter and his family, and it is always a pleasure to see him every week.

Maybe Walter will be a computer programming, marathon-running Oboe player when he grows up? You just never know! He will certainly always know he is loved, of that I am sure.

A training update, and checking in with... me.

Hello blog friends.

It has been a while.

I have been struggling to stay afloat lately, barely scraping by with blog posts and trying to stay at least with it enough to go to work, attempt laundry, and keep life together.

As some of you may know, the DBF's grandmother passed away last weekend. This weekend was the wake and the funeral. Yesterday, following the service and then the trip to the cemetery where Eileen will be cremated, the DBF and I fell asleep for over 3 hours. And we woke up, the sun had set, and to say we were "new people" wouldn't be the correct phrase, but it felt like we had finally let go of the difficulties of the past few weeks and months.

My maternal grandparents passed away long before I was born, and both my paternal grandparents passed in their sleep with little complications. Watching someone become more and more aware of the reality that their end is far closer than the beginning is trying. It forces us to see our own humanity and frailty, to question if we have done enough for them, for others, if we too were to pass away, what can we claim as ours, what have we accomplished in this brief trip around the sun.

In addition, or perhaps because of all this, I've also been searching my heart for some answers about "Who Am I?" I started this blog to figure out things that I thought I wasn't, or couldn't do. And in it, I have at times found myself more confused than where I started. I've described it lately like I am Mr. Potato Head. I feel like a bunch of pieces of something that obviously are a person... it just doesn't seem quite right. I don't feel like less than myself, I just don't feel like "myself". And the question became who or what IS myself? How is that defined?

When will I catch up and realize that somewhere along the lines I have BECOME a runner and an athlete? I am running a marathon in 14 days. Two weeks. I will be running through the 5 boroughs of Manhattan with over 35,000 runners, and an additional 12,000 volunteers and then spectators. Which reminds me of a Bible quote that I have always loved, Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weights that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (New Living Translation)

When does truth become Truth? When does a belief, or a hope, or a dream and desire become something that IS. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the sky is blue, the sun will rise, that everything is already fine. That I am strong, and beloved, and worthy.

At the funeral yesterday, the Priest spoke about how Eileen lived a life confident in God's love. And I was struck by the obvious. That though I have felt like I have changed, for better, for worse, for lateral movement, for who knows what, that I have felt changed--there has always been a constant. That I have always believed, and I still believe, that God is in all of us. God, Love, Buddah, Atman, whatever you want to call It, that God is still in me, as God was before, and always will be.

Makes you feel a little less like Mr. Potato Head.

I have been sick this past week. Physically exhausted from lack of sleep, and a harsh cold or allergies, and emotionally stripped. So today, bouyed from a good nights sleep, as well as a three hour nap yesterday, I head back out onto the pavement. I'd like to run a little over 2 hours. I should be tapering, in preparation for the Marathon. Having skipped an entire week of training, 3 weeks out, makes me just the slightest bit nervous. Are you still a runner if you fail to run for a week? For two weeks? For a month? When does athleticism fail? Am I still not an athlete because I chose sleep and rest over training? But I read this quote and thought perhaps this is the lesson for me:

Sport is not about being wrapped up in cotton wool. Sport is about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute. Sport, like all life, is about taking risks. --Sir Roger Bannister

I'm all over the place with this blog. But here's the summary:

I am back. With God who never left. And we are running a marathon in two weeks.

Who's got $1259 they want to donate to a great charity? :)

An Ode to Ned Massey

You probably don't know who Ned Massey is. But you should. And you'll wonder why you never had heard of him before.

Being a rockstar is exceptionally cool.

I first "discovered" Ned when my agents submitted me for a project called Bloodties, and, well, to be honest, I kinda didn't think twice about it. I get submitted for a lot of crap. I read the sides for Bloodties (short mini-chunks of the story) and didn't really think twice about it. But as the audition date was coming closer I asked my agents if I could get a copy of the script in preparation for the audition. Because I am a good actor who prepares. :)

Bloodties is written by Ned and tells the story of Ned. It is raw, hard, beautiful, and devastatingly open. I can only say that there was something about this project that broke me open, just in reading it. As loyal blog readers may know, and those closest to me have witnessed, this past year or so has been incredibly trying and hard. So hard that training for a marathon was "easy" and "accomplishable" in comparison. And I believe when we go through these times, it's human nature to bundle up inside a shell of protection, to crawl back into a shell of comfort, whatever that is. For me, I crawled into numbness, and when I wasn't numb, I was angry. Alternating between numb and paralyzed and infuriated, raging at the unfairness of the world.

I read this script, and it just felt so daring, so scarily honest, so ballsy--walking the line of fully putting yourself out there, warts in all. Presenting your trials and tribulations for the world to see (and turning it into Musical Theatre nonetheless). Something about the story spoke to me, in its brokenness, its universal humanity, the daring courage it takes to put yourself in your entirety out for the consuming public.

I didn't get cast, though I did get a callback, which gave me more time to sit and ponder this material and the implications I was feeling on my life. And I was pissed when I didn't get cast (I mean, we always are a little disappointed no matter how well-adjusted you are). I don't believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe everything can be made good. And I had already gotten what I needed out of this project. Which was a wake up call of sorts.

I gushed to Ned about my adoration for the project, and for his courage in sharing his story. And we became friends. I mean why not be friends with someone you respect and admire? I admire his courage, his transparency, his faith and spirit, and of course, his unmistakeable talent.

I'll leave you to experience Ned and his musical Bloodties on your own, but you heard it here first. And if you ever are so blessed, you should make him your friend. I am lucky to have him as one.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Ode to Kate Marie Roselle

I miss Miss Kate with all my heart.

Kate worked at New Stage Theatre in Mississippi both times I went to do a contract there (loyal blog readers will remember that Spitfire Grill #2 was in Mississippi). When I returned a few years later to do I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, and Kate was working there, that time as Director of Education. She now lives with her Beloved in Denver, Colorado, and I am sincerely hoping that the DBF and I can make a trip out to visit soon. It has been on our to-do list forever, and maybe this year will be the year!

Kate is a passionate and warm woman. She is focused, driven and accomplished. But what I admire most about Kate is that she works at being happy.

Now that might not make sense. It would be wrong to say that she is always happy. Simple people are always "happy" because they don't understand the complexities of life, which can so often lead to unhappiness. But Kate works at happiness. She actively pursues it. She chases it with abandon. And I think she succeeds.

I am jealous of her zeal, and always impressed by her gratitude. Any person could learn a lesson in gratitude from Kate. And I am so honored to have her behind me as I train for this marathon. And when I'm running it, and it feels hard and awful, I know that I can think about Kate and her big, glorious smile, and know that she's cheering me on, and sending all her happiness my way. And for that I am grateful!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Ode to Tom Wojtunik

I think Tom Wojtunik is a brilliant director and the "next big thing" and not just because he's cast me in two shows.
But yes, he has indeed cast me as a leading lady in two shows (Ragtime and The Who's Tommy), but there have been many shows he hasn't cast me in, and rightly so. He is that good of a director, and that good of a friend. We actors can have really ridiculous egos, and to know that a director appreciates and admires your work, but also appreciates it enough to know what you can excell at and what someone else might be better in, and NOT cast you, is also a compliment of some sort. I know if Tom calls me about a project, it's because he really thinks I'm right for it.

Tom cast me as Mother in Ragtime when I had no New York credits and had barely been here for a few weeks. And he told me the best advice that I've ever gotten in rehearsal. We were blocking and staging "Back To Before", Mother's big 11-o'clock number, and after a few tries he said something along the lines of:

Stop trying. You're doing it. Just do it.

And I did.

There was an artistic director of a theatre that shall remain nameless who told me that I "wasn't really an actor", I was "just a singer". Now, this man was wrong. But as a young kid right out of college, it broke my heart. There have been many directors who have said otherwise, but it hard to let go of that Negative Tape! But when I feel it creeping back, I remember one of the reviews of Ragtime:

“Jensen also drives the show in her own right. Mother undergoes a sea change of emotional realizations throughout Ragtime, which the actress underscores with subtlety and grace. Jensen also has a gorgeous voice, put to great use in the number “Back to Before.” Rare is the actress who can take a few minutes of standing still and alone on stage and turn it into a command performance.”
--Doug Strassler,

But you know what, that's all Tom. Tom is the one who told me to stand still alone on stage. If he hadn't, I would have been "acting" or doing something dumb.

Tom also asked me to audition and cast me in The Who's Tommy. He has watched me cry more times than I can count. He has consoled me through actor neurosis. And he still has managed to turn out a fantastic project. His work is continuously praised, I don't need to tell you this, since every newspaper or online review already will.

The next big thing, Tom Wojtunik. And he happens to believe in me, as not just a singer. But an actress. And also as a marathon runner.

So I am quite thankful to be in on knowing him and watch his star rise.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A long absence, and an Ode to Eileen

I'm sorry for a long radio silence, and I am way behind in blog posts and my Odes to those people who have helped me in my fundraising efforts.

The DBF's grandmother passed away last night, after about 6 hard weeks of hospitals and nursing home care. She was 92 and until very recently healthy as a horse, even living alone and taking herself for walks to go to church, get a manicure, have her hair done. She was a spectacular lady.

The first time I met her, The DBF and I had been dating for a few months and she and I happened to be coming up the stairs to his house at the same time. She looked at me and said "I know who YOU are!".

Last Sunday, before things took their last turn this past weekend, we visited, and she was having a pretty good day. The DBF and I, however, weren't having the best day, having had a misunderstanding that ended up in a little spat in the car. But as we sat with her, she held my hand and said "Take good care of him. He will take care of you.".

And I will, Eileen. I promise you I will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Ode to Nathan Brisby

Oh Nathan.
Where do I start with Nathan.

I think I am a pretty good writer, and I think I have a way of being able to use words to convey my thoughts... and when it comes to Nathan I'm at a bit of a loss. Because the task is too wide, it's too huge. I feel daunted by the task.

Nathan and I met during Ragtime, my first show here in New York after moving here and getting my Actor's Equity (union) card. As just a little bit of background on me, moving to NYC was a long time coming, and there is only one reason it took me so long to get here:


Of failure, I suppose. Or even mediocrity. It took me a lot of time, energy, love, recouperation, loan repayment, stints in jail (I'm not kidding about that one!) before I was able to get my butt to move here. And I moved here and someone basically offered me my Equity card (which is like someone just walking up to you and saying "Hey, would you like a raise?"--a holy grail of sorts for a lot of actors!). And then I went to my second Equity audition and booked the leading lady role in Ragtime. And the day of my callback I stood up the DBF (by accident) for our first date. So by the time the rehearsals for the show came around, I was on cloud 9. Or cloud 15! I know life is full of ups and downs, and at the time I knew I was on an extreme high. And I was enjoying it while it lasted.

So I met Nathan at a high. Nathan played J.P. Morgan, and was excellent in the show. However, Ragtime didn't really show all that he was capable of. More on that later, however. It did show me, however, that he is a fierce friend, that he is a hard worker and a great person to have on your team. We had a lot of fun, those Ragtime-ers and I.
What was so wonderful is that Nathan and I booked the next show together, The Who's Tommy, where I was once again leading lady, but he was playing Uncle Ernie. Which begs the first question: what actor can play J.P. Morgan and then just a few short weeks later turn around and be an fantastic drunken, lost and lonely Uncle Ernie perverting young deaf, dumb and blind boys? Oh just you wait, blog readers.

For me, if Ragtime was a high, Tommy was a low. It was probably during this time that Nathan and I became closer. I'm not sure two souls like Nathan and I can do an emotionally tortured show like Tommy and not come out a little worse for wear. It is nearly impossible to go to that place each and every day and not have it sink in to your pores a little bit. And to share that experience with someone is unique. Long story short, I think going to hell and back, on stage, day after day, we were friends for life.

The DBF refers to Nathan as the best actor he knows. That's not to say all of my actor friends are talented, and no worries, the DBF loves you all. But he thinks Nathan takes the cake. And I have to agree, that Nathan is the most transformative actor friend that I have. In my mind there is no role that he can't pay, and exceed.

But Nathan is also a wonderful, gentle man. He has a heart of platinum, not just gold, he is a fierce friend who will always go to bat for you, challenge you in your times of need, listen when you need an ear, but never afraid of speaking Truth. That's Capital T Truth.

There are not enough words to tell you how honored I am to be Nathan's friend. And I am so grateful that he has been with me as I explore this life as a runner. He too has been running, and I look forward to running our first 5K together this November, my first post-marathon race I have scheduled!

I believe there is nothing Nathan can't do. I am his number 1 fan (though I know I have a lot of competition for that role!), and I would walk through fire if he needed me. I am forever grateful to have him in my life.
with Nathan and Alex, at my 28th Birthday

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Ode to Lisa Austin

What's so remarkable about this next donation is that I don't really know Lisa.
We went to the same college (Woohoo!! Davidson College! Yay!!), and we met one time at a Young Alumni in NYC event, and became facebook friends after that day. I've been posting my blogs on my facebook account, and Lisa clicked on one, and I guess the rest is history!

So I sent Lisa an email asking for her update. In her words:
"As far as what I'm up to, I'm living near DC now. I live in Reston, and work at a healthcare consulting firm in Alexandria. I, too, have a DBF who has shown me the same unyielding support that yours has shown you. Things are going well for me, and I'm inspired to re-start my efforts. As you know, it can be hard to stay motivated and even harder to erase tapes that have been continuously playing in your head for years. I'm happy you've been doing it, and I'm happy that I'm going to do it too."

All I can say is: GOOD FOR YOU, LISA! You have already done the hard things, like taking a nice hard look at your life, what works, and what doesn't work, and are moving towards a change to make things different. And you're accepting your own role in that process--both as instigator and resolver. I am not sure I would ever have the faith and the confidence to donate to someone I barely knew, but that speaks volumes to me about your character. (But, I mean, you went to Davidson, so you're already upper echelon of the human elite! :)

You've got a fan in your DBF, and you've got a fan in me! As you work out your stuff and your NTs, let me know if there's anything that I can help you with! I recommend marathon running, simply because it has been so amazing for me, but it certainly doesn't have to be the only way. I can't wait to hear more updates about your successes!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An Ode to Manami!

I am so lucky to get to work with Manami almost every day. Manami is one of the accompanists at Hands On! (where I work as a teacher), and we have been paired together since she started last spring. Manami is a fantastic jazz pianist, trained at Berkley, and a recording artist in her native Japan. She is a amazingly talented musician.
I sadly don't have any pictures of Manami, and since she's not on facebook, I couldn't steal any!

But she's also just super-duper fun! She always makes me laugh, and I can always count on her to make it a great day, no matter what. I am in awe of her constant optimism, sense of humor, boundless energy and the fact that she doesn't judge me for being upset when the french horn is sounding awful, or whatever non-essential thing is bugging me. She lets things roll off her back. I am generally not so easy going!

I hope that I get to see her on race day, doing a wild and crazy dance, jump, cheer, whatever, because I know it will make me laugh and I will take all the laughs I can get on November 7!

An Ode to Elyse Marrocc

I love every Thursday because I love going to the Lincoln Center location of my job and seeing the smiling face of Elyse!

Yes, this is a picture of Elyse with The Backstreet Boys... More on that later.

Elyse is a recent college graduate and hopes someday to be working in the music business industry, but for now is helping our little preschool music business. She is our office manager, meaning she deals with the crazy artists, the crazy parents, the crazy kids and still keeps coming to work. And she deals with me saying things like "Elyse, we're going to need two mini accordions stat!"

She is always happy. I actually don't know how she does this! But it is always a pleasure on Thursday mornings to come to work and check in with Elyse.

Elyse also writes an awesome blog, which you should all check out! It is so awesome, in fact, that she's getting paid to write it. Elyse is unabashedly in love with pop culture, and takes on no irony when she tells you she loves the Backstreet Boys. I like a girl who likes what she likes, no apologies.

Thanks to Elyse for a wonderful donation, and for making my day each and every Thursday!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Ode to Jodie Bentley

I am incredibly grateful for a generous donation from Miss Jodie Bentley. Jodie is an actress, singer and business woman extraordinaire, and a founder of the fantastic company, The Savvy Actor.

I "met" Jodie when I audited a class that Savvy Actor taught, and I can only say it changed my career life. Savvy teaches performers to find and be their most authentic self, and to take that energy and uniqueness and turn it in to a brand. It is very smart, and indeed very savvy!

After the class, I decided to use the one-on-one coaching services with Jodie. I am not sure I can really describe what the coachings were to me because they were so helpful on so many levels. It gave me guidance, confidence, a game plan. But there was one very distinct and important thing coaching did for me:

It made me decide to run the Marathon!

As part of my original prep work for my coaching, I had to set career and personal goals for the next few stages of my life. And a year ago I said in one year I would be running the marathon.

So here I am, about a month away from running 26.2 miles, in the best shape of my life, feeling strong and athletic and immensely proud, and I really have Jodie and The Savvy Actor to thank, for this, and much, much more.

Thank you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Ode to Jeremy Smith (and Billy Clark Taylor)

I am so fortunate to know Jeremy, who is the boyfriend and partner another Spitfire Grill (Roanoke Version) alumni, Billy Clark Taylor. Billy played my husband, Caleb, and let me just say: this boy can SANG. For those of you not in musical theatre, to be able to sing is one thing, but to sang, with an A, means you are at a different level. Billy has an amazingly beautiful and smooth voice, something that you honestly don't hear much of anymore. People don't write ballads for men anymore, unless they're pop-rock, power ballads. You should absolutely go to his website and give a listen and enjoy!
Me, Billy and Jeremy

So I met Jeremy during my stint in Roanoke, and Jeremy and Billy have the distinction of being the only other couple I know, besides the DBF and myself, that is a Corporate Lawyer and Actor Couple. In fact, at their most recent party, I almost got myself into trouble. The DBF had told me some "insider information" about the law world and some changes in workforce and allegiances, and had said to me "don't tell anyone about this". Well of course, when he said that, my thought was "Who would I talk to that would even remotely care!" A few nights later we happened to be at Billy and Jeremy's for a wonderful party, and I remember from somewhere in the cavities in my brain, that I actually have something interesting in the law world to talk about, so launch into a conversation with Jeremy about this law-gossip. Of course I couldn't keep all my facts straight and called the DBF to clear some things up, and he gently reminded me "Remember the thing that I told you not to talk about with anyone?" and we laughed. Now instead when he shares law-gossip he says "Don't tell Jeremy". It's much clearer.

But Jeremy has got the DBF beat on the Lawyer Actor Powercouple standpoint in one major way: he is a huge fan of Musical Theatre. Long before he met Billy, he was already collecting as many recordings of musicals as he could get his hands on. And when I say he's got almost all of them... he actually has a recording of almost every musical theatre production that ever did get recorded! Anytime I am looking for something obscure, or even not obscure, to learn for an audition or to get my hands on for reference sake, I know I can turn to Jeremy and Billy!

Jeremy and Billy also are two of my favorite people because they love food just as much as I do! In fact, Billy can attest that when I was doing Spitfire, I was not nearly the athlete that I am now training for the marathon. He was the one going to the gym every day to work out before coming to rehearsal or performance! But Billy knew then what I know now: you can't love food as much as the three of us do and not work out semi-regularly (and the truth of this statement goes exponentially higher the further you get away from 25!) I love hanging out with the two of them because I know we will always enjoy a fantastic meal, and if they are hosting, I know there will be delicious foods and baked goods!

I am just happy to be around them. They are a lovely couple, and they are strong and loyal to each other and the people they choose to call friends. I am humbled and honored by Jeremy's generous donation. The only thing we're missing is some desert. ;)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Ode to Natalie Newman

My dear friend Natalie Newman and I also met during the 3rd installment of The Spitfire Grill at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA. If you're keeping score the only one without representation is the first one, in Memphis, TN. Step up to the plate, Memphis! ;)
Natalie and I at Magnolia Bakery in West Village

Natalie played Percy, and on stage we were best friends, and she remains to this day one of my best friends. I know I say this about all my friends, but she truly is amazingly talented. A true tripple threat, she can dance, act and sing, and she works all the time! In fact, that may be her only "fault" because she leaves town too much! I get lonely!

Natalie is dedicated, resilient, focused and ready for anything. No matter what the idea, Nataie is always game to try anything once! And I love that she isn't afraid of walking. When I suggest we walk from Chinatown across the Brooklyn Bridge to go see a movie, she doesn't flinch or think twice. Natalie experiences life through a very active and participatory way of living it! She's fun to be around, and she makes you want to enjoy your life more.

What I love about Natalie is no idea is not worth a shot. When I ask "Wanna come over and help me make zucchini bread, eat leftovers and watch reality tv?" She always has an enthusiastic response of "Yea!".

Natalie and I share obviously a love for theatre and not sitting still, but she is also a deeply spiritual person, so it's a wonderful gift to connect on that level as well. She is a rock of a friend. You know you can call on her: anytime, anywhere. She will not judge you, and she will not get bored with your stories or process. She is patient and kind.

I am very grateful for Miss Natalie and I'm honored that she chose to help me with the marathon by her donation. And I wish she would book a Broadway show so she would stop leaving town and hang out with me more often! Sounds good.
Yippee! Having fun in Roanoke!

Friday, October 1, 2010

An Ode to Stacie Bono

I am so grateful for the very generous donation of my beautiful friend Stacie Bono.

Stacie and I met when we were both in Astoria Performing Arts wildly successful production of Ragtime in the winter of 2009. Stacie played the coquettish Evelyn Nesbitt to a T, and she was always so spot on. I remember in the very beginning, at our very first rehearsals, hearing Stacie deliver a line and nail it, and for everyone to laugh (she's a fantastic commedienne), or to subtly break your heart a little and hear the moment of awe from the room. But then the realization dawned on us all that she was already knocking her performance out of the ballpark, and she could only get better through the rehearsal process, and therefore we would all have to start working harder to meet her at her level of talent.

(I would like to think the whole cast did that for each other: raised the bar, and everyone consistently met it after each raise, and went beyond. I think critics who reviewed the show would agree. But Stacie certainly made me quake in my boots almost immediately, the woman is so talented!)

But I want to write something here about Stacie that I hope I can accurately convey, and I don't know if I can use words eloquently enough to describe it. Stacie is a wonderful performer, absolutely. She has training and technique and is also just naturally beautiful, gifted and inspired. But she is uninhibitedly and unabashedly Stacie. So many performers try to phone in their best Indina Menzel or their best version of pop-rock princesses, or whatever it is they think "they" (casting directors, agents, whoever) are looking for. But Stacie is Stacie, and she shines. I envy this about her. There is a freedom to her performances and her vocal work that I admire and am quite jealous of.

Acting is a crazy business. Yes, it's crazy for lots of reasons, but for me the most consistently mind-bending is the concept of running your own small business that sells only one thing: you. To be objective enough to know how to prepare, present, refine and improve yourself, and to be consistently proud of that product... Stacie seems to have this one down.

So I am a huge Stacie Bono fan, because to me she exemplifies a type of grace and freedom which is not only inspiring but encourages her fellow co-workers to be more, and reach their fullest potential.

And she is a wonderful friend. I told the DBF recently that I would like it if she and I became better friends, and I asked him how do adults do that? Just choose to be better friends? The answer it seems has remained the same since our mothers were our social directors: you arrange a playdate.

Hopefully we'll have a playdate soon!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Ode to Jen Perkins

I am so in love with my dear friend Jen "Perfect" Perkins. Jen and I met during my pre-move to NYC time when I was living at home with my parents and working full time in cosmetics at a department store. I was the business manager for Lancome and she was the business manager for Estee Lauder. She had been with the company and held her position for far longer than I, and in the beginning I constantly was asking her for advice. In some ways I think I got most of my on the job training from Jen. We were just about exactly the same age, both tall, and both good at our jobs and ambitious. (One of the hard things about cosmetics is there can be quite a lot of turnover in employment, so finding a fellow employee who really cares about your treatment penetration into total business in comparison to last year is a kindred spirit).

A host of cosmetics girls (notice the glowing skin): Nadia, Jen, me, Carrie and Megan

But my favorite things about Jen are that we share a world-view outside of work as well. Jen can truly appreciate the brilliance of a dive bar with cheap beer, an afternoon spent sunbathing on the lake, and the awesomeness of a years worth of free buffalo wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.

Jen just a few months ago gave birth to a stunningly beautiful baby girl, Veronica, with her loving husband Jerry by her side (and her neurotic and spastic chihuahua Renegade at home!). Jen and Jerry have always been two of my favorite people, and I can't think of anything better than another little version of them in this world.

Tell me this isn't one stunning child, I dare you!

Unfortunately for Estee Lauder, Jen no longer works as a business manager for them. But fortunatetly for Lancome, Jen was promoted to Account Coordinator for that amazing (and in my humble opinion superior!) Brand and represents counters across the midwest. She is amazing at her job, and I would not be surprised to see her continue to climb up the glamorous cosmetics corporate ladder.

She is a classy lady and a devoted friend, and I am so honored and grateful for her support as I undertake this crazy marathon experience!

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Ode to Josh Gaffga

I can't decide if it's a blessing or a shame that I don't have any pictures from the days of yore. But in terms of Josh Gaffga, I am probably doing me a favor-- I am much cuter now than I was in college. ;) Josh still looks good, as always. And introspective, as suits an ode.

I met Josh when I was a theatre major at Davidson College in North Carolina. Josh was also a theatre major at Davidson, but he had graduated 5 years earlier. We met, as most actors do, doing a show. This particular show was my freshman year, and Josh and I had been hired by a local dance studio to play characters in their dance recital extravaganza, "The Witch and the Prince". If I may toot my own horn, I played a title character (the Witch, please no comments from the peanut gallery), and Josh was Captain Hook. (Though if I remember correctly he was promoted to The Prince in subsequent years performances).

In theory it was a great idea--giving a structure and story line to what can be a stagnant and dull thing, the yearly dance recital. But when the 45 minute recital takes almost 2 and a half hours to finish because of technical difficulties, I think that puts us in Guffman Realm.

Anyway, the ridiculous scenario made us fast friends, and Josh, who was working full time as an actor and the Youth Minister at Davidson United Methodist Church asked if I would like to be a youth leader the following year.

To be brutally honest, my spiritual life was almost non-existant my freshman year of college. Not that I stopped believing in God, but I was certainly sleeping in more than I was getting up for early morning church. I'm not sure why he asked. But I said yes, and that affirmative changed my college experience ten-fold.

Working with the Youth and then regularly attending DUMC didn't just bring me back to a spiritual life, but it completely sky rocketed it. Being a "leader" will do that, make you face to face with what you believe, and why you believe it. But having leaders like then minister James Howell, Josh, the other youth leaders, really transformed the way I saw God in the world and in my life.

There is one conversation between Josh and I that I will never forget. I'm not totally sure the context, but I remember being in his red truck. We were driving to or from somewhere. And we were discussing my plans post-college. I would vassilate between teaching, possibly going into ministry, and then there was this left-field option to be a professional actor. We were discussing different certification requirements of teachers, the perhaps fruitlessness of wanting to be a teacher in the creative arts, and just the vastness of choice, and not knowing what to do post-college. Josh said:

"You don't have to be a teacher. You are a teacher, that's who you are. If you do what you love, you will always find yourself teaching and mentoring others."

And he was so right.

Funny now that he is also a teacher in Denver, and I teach part-time here in New York.

But this is part of what this whole blog is about, and this marathon training. I am not sure, had Josh not said the words to me, that I would have ever totally understood or accepted how much teaching and mentoring is a part of me. And maybe the same is true of all of us. There are truths that slowly reveal themselves, through other observers, through our life experiences (both that which raises us up and that which can leave us in heaps at the depths of the bottom). Like "I am a teacher", "I am an athlete", "I am loved".

So thank you to Josh, for helping me realize all of those things, through your time, donation and unconditional friendship.


It's been a while since I've blogged about training, so here goes!

I have been looking forward to this past weekend's runs all week because they were light, comparatively. Last week's 18 miles and next week's 20 are epic in comparison to the 8 and 12 I was scheduled to do. I did my 8 miles Friday night in Prospect Park (Brooklyn) after babysitting, and had planned on my 12 miler after teaching on Saturday. However, when the temperature in NYC on Saturday was 86 and I saw that Sunday's high would only be 69, I decided to switch my days.

I ended up doing my 12 miles in Prospect Park again. It's about 1.7 miles from Jon's house, and has numerous loops in it, the largest circumference being 3.6 or so, and with some nice hills. One of the nice things about consistently running in Central Park is that I know those routes like the back of my hand. I know where the water fountains are, the bathrooms, and the nearest Starbucks if the bathroom isn't open. But it also has it's downsides. One being boredom--a "been here, done that" lassez-faire. Another is the tourists. No offense to any non-New Yorkers reading this blog, but some of us are training for the marathon here, you should watch where you're going! The "traffic" of runners and cyclists in Central Park is already heavy, and adding in tourists with the huge Abercrombie and Fitch bags stopping in the middle of the road for who knows what, can get tedious and irritating. And it's easy for things to feel irritating when you've been running for 2 and a half hours and are only still moving due to momentum and some grace of God, or insanity, or all of the above.

Anyway, 12 miles was a great distance for Prospect, since the loops are smaller (Central's largest loop is 6.5, which makes it better for those really long runs). And I have been enjoying how open and relaxed Prospect is in the few runs I've done there. I still haven't quite figured out the internal loops (and I think therefore ended up running 13 miles instead of 12), but it's been a good change of pace.

On Sunday I set off, wearing a pretty traditional workout outfit for me: running shorts, long sleeved moisture-wicking shirt, visor and sunglasses, iPod band, and heart rate monitor. I was about a third of the way through my first loop when a fellow runner came up and asked me a question.

This runner is one of my favorite runners I see out and about. I have no pithy name for them yet, so I shall call him Amazingly Fit Older Guy With Serious Gear. (AFOGWSG).

These men are generally in their late 50's and upwards, no real body fat to speak of, and are generally decked head to toe in the latest and greatest clothing, shoes and accessories. To be honest, when I see men like this, it generally gives me a boost, because I think "If THAT guy can run like that, then surely I can keep my feet moving".

So, AFOGWSG got my attention, and I removed my iPod and we had the following conversation:

AFOG: what is your heart rate right now?
Me: 171
AFOG: really? That high? I was just curious--for comparison's sake. How far in are you?
Me: not that far, but it's been high since I started, maybe 15 beats higher than usual. I think I had too much coffee! It's a little higher than normal. But I'm pushing a little too.
AFOG: well that's understandable. What's your max?
Me: my Anaerobic Threshold is 194, I'm a singer, so I have a huge CO2 capacity.
AFOG: oh that's got to be helpful with running! Well, I was just curious--testing my new monitor. Have a good run!
Me: Thanks! You too!

And he picked up and went on his way.

And I had a good hour and a half left of my run to think about this interchange, and the thing I was struck with first was "How did this guy know I was wearing a heart rate monitor?". I suppose you can see my watch/receiver, but it doesn't look much different than any other work out watch. And I giggled to myself a little bit that this guy "mistook" me for a hard core runner.

There is a clarity that comes in long endurance runs, when your brain clears a little. It feels like your neurotransmitters are firing more cleanly, less rapid-fire, more efficient. Things sometimes just "come to you". And it dawned on me a few miles later that AFOG didn't mistake me for hardcore.

I AM hardcore.

What does it mean to be "hardcore"? Does it mean zero percent body fat? Or super fast paces and record setting races? Well sure, but that's probably not all. Having a casual conversation with a stranger about CO2 capacity or Anaerobic Threshold seems pretty hardcore to me. Getting up at 4:30 for a 10 mile run before teaching preschoolers is hardcore. Running in 96 degree heat, and enjoying it, is hardcore. Training for a marathon is hardcore.

I know I'm a pretty intense person. I rarely do anything mildly, for better or for worse. But I have never in my life been hardcore about a sport!

So this hardcore athlete is taking this rainy NYC day off, and going to relax and take some time for herself. A really nice gift!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Ode to Anne Karner

There are no words to really start talking about this next donor, my loving roommate Anne Karner.

Anne and I met doing The Spitfire Grill in Roanoke, VA (for those of you keeping track of Spitfires, this was #3, and the most recent!).
The Spitfire Grill at Mill Mountain Theatre, in Roanoke, VA

The funny thing about Anne is I was pretty sure she was going to hate me. Why, you ask? Well, one of her former roommates happens to also have been an ex-girlfriend of one of my ex-boyfriends, and he was not very clear in making a precise delineation between the two of us... (He then turned around three years later and did the same thing to me, and to quote my sister "What else did you expect?") The theatre world is so incredibly small, there is a really strong argument for not "pooping where you sleep", or what have you.

So I thought Anne would hate me.

And now she's my roommate!

Anne and I in our Harlem apartment, in our fancy T-shirts!

First and foremost, Anne is amazingly talented. If I don't mention this enough about my actor friends, let me just say, ALL of my friends are amazingly talented. But Anne is
remarkable. If she doesn't book a major show sometime soon, I will be shocked. She has been "so close!" so many times, it's only a matter of moments until her number is called. But you should check out Anne's website, and really see how amazing she is (and also appreciate that I am the one who designed it!).

Anne is also hilarious. I have even tried to take on some of her token phrases, my favorite being the complete deadpan "What." Not a question. A statement.

You could use it in such situations:
Friend: Did you hear that they just cast Britney Spears as the new Desiree Armfeldt in Little Night Music?
You: What.

She can always make me laugh.

She is also a great roommate. Not just for the basic things like paying bills on time, but she's neat and organized, AND has amazing style! I love that when we discussed painting out kitchen a luscious deep, dark teal blue, she totally went for it! And enthusiastically. Anne loves a bargain just as much as I do, and can shop for "tops" at TJMaxx with the best of them. In fact, our whole apartment is classy-chic from the best Designer-For-Less stores there are! Anne recently got engaged to a really wonderful man, and she will make a fantastic wife and mother.

But more than anything, Anne is a great friend. She has always been there for me, whether it's in celebration or anger, and she challenges me to see the world in other ways, especially when I get stuck in my own head.

I will miss having her as my roommate, as she moves in and upwards towards her new life, but I couldn't be happier for her starting this new adventure in her life with a new partner in crime.
(And I console myself with knowing that fashion sense and color palate choices my will always be way better than his!)

So thanks to Anne, for being a fantastic woman who shares more than just her space with me! Love you!

An ode to JoAnn... David's Mom!

I am overwhelmed by this donation, which came from my wonderful friend David's mother. Whom, as far as I can remember, I've never met!

She read my blog about David, and was so moved that she donated to my marathon fundraising goals!

(And just as a side note, my own parents haven't even donated yet! But don't worry, they have said they would, and I'm sure they will!)

As I said, I don't know JoAnn, but I did steal a picture of her from Facebook.
Isn't she stunning? No wonder David is such a cutie patootie! Good gene pool!

My father once said, at a potentially inappropriate time: "Crazy kids come from crazy families". And I have certainly learned that, more often than not, "Fantastic people come from fantastic families".

That's not to say every family doesn't have its ups and downs, its skeletons in its closet, its own issues, because of course we're all human. Humans loving humans, it can't all be perfect.

But I can say, definitively, that a woman who raised a fantastic son like David must be a woman of great class and style. She must have a sturdy head on her shoulders, encouraging him in his career as an actor (something many parents refuse to do!), but also donating money to a total stranger (or a two-degrees-of-separation stranger).

So I am blessed and humbled by the kindness of strangers. And if the Perlman's ever want to adopt a Swedish Shiksa daughter, I owe them a whole lot of Yulekaka and Pepparkakor!

Thank you. A million times, thank you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

An Ode to Kat(i)e Clawson Kunkel and Doug Bailey

I will refer to the beautiful Kate Clawson Kunkel as "Katie" for the rest of this post because to me she will always be "Katie". Her name has been changed to protect my fragile childhood memories.

Katie and her newly enfianced beloved, Doug...

If you're one of my 4 loyal blog readers, you've already seen a piture of Katie, since she is the second "little sister" of the wonderful Jeff Blumenkrantz. So needless to say, we all go way back. Like 10 years old way back.

I recently told Katie and her wonderful beau, now fiance, Doug, my favorite memory of her from childhood. We were talking on the phone one night (remember when you could talk on the phone for hours?! Now I avoid it like the plague...). I could never remember to whom I was referring, but I'm sure it was some boy who didn't really deserve any discussion, let alone hours worth. I must have been going off on a tangent, trying to decipher his actions/words/intent, and she finally rebuttled with "Just kiss him. Then you'll know. But no matter what you'll know."

Did I mention we were 14 and I'm pretty sure no boy would have touched me with a 10 foot pole? I was tall, bossy, and a huge brown-noser. Teachers loved me, insecure middle school boys not so much.

Needless to say I take the advice at the time, and sadly as I look back, I'm not sure I have ever used this advice! On our second date, I remember silently in my head BEGGING the DBF to kiss me. (Don't worry, he finally did--and not too soon there after, and there's been plenty of smooching since!).

But here's where Katie and I are so different. We're both smart, logical, calculated--but Katie is functionally fearless! I mean, the woman raised 3 beautiful daughters, has jumped out of a plane, and has an amazing chameleon-like ability to adapt and reinvent herself. Katie doesn't just get going when the going gets tough, when the going gets tough, she takes stock and then takes over!

What's hillarious to me is she claims this isn't exactly "fearless", and perhaps we're arguing over semantics. But I find so often I function in a state of constant fear, "what if it doesn't happen?" "What if I ruin everything?" "What if I fail?". Katie doesn't ever let that stop her. If anything she seems to use it to refocus, regroup and move further.

So not only am I thankful, I am in awe of Katie.

I have only met her fiance, Doug, once, and he seems like a very nice, kind and grounded man. But if he has the good sense to want to marry Katie, he must also be a genius.

A thousand thanks to you both!