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!

An Ode to Susan Vear

Oh all four blog readers... what can I say about Susan that won't sound trite and just totally miss the mark on what a good friend she is?
Susan and I went to college together and really started becoming friends on a trip to NCTC (North Carolina Theatre Competition) her senior year, my junior year. NCTC is the pre-screening audition for the regional South Eastern Theatre Competition (you guessed it, SETC), which is a big summer theatre audition for college students and recent graduates. As a good theatre major I went. But Susan was pre-med, and just thought "Hey, why not?" So we went together.

In hind sight, the Good Lord intervened and gave Susan almost instant laryngitis when she went up to audition--to this day I have never seen a sudden attack of voice-loss like this moment. But perhaps it was God's way of saying "Uh, Suz--you're a good actress and all, but I really think you should be a pediatric oncologist..."

(And probably my parents are really sad that this message didn't get mixed up and accidentally delivered to me!)

If you're unaware of doctoral terms, a Pediatric Oncologist deals with children who have cancer.

I know, let's think about that one more time: children who have cancer.

Sometimes when Susan tells me about cases work or children she sees, I get overwhelmed even hearing about it. To immerse oneself in the world of terminal illness of children who have yet to really live... I'm not totally sure how she does it. Except that she does. And she does it exceptionally well. She can be compassionate, sympathetic, at time empathetic and clear headed. She was born to do this.

Really the only bad thing about Susan is that she doesn't live anywhere near me, and probably never will. I think she needs to move to New York City. I mean, it's the greatest city in the world, and they certainly need doctors here, so that means she is needed here. And then she could be around me more often. But she does come to visit, and when she does, it's like having the greatest house guest of all time. One who knows how to find her way to and from the airport on the bus, who keeps a Metrocard in her wallet just for upcoming trips, and has her own subway map. Maybe NYC is her second home, and her second bed is my couch?

That's fine with me.

And did I mention she's funny? Funny, smart, a world traveler. Life is Susan's oyster, except that the Oyster is GIANORMOUS and she is going to explore every single nook and cranny. Susan is also a very devout Christian; but never condescending, never dogmatic, and always loving. You should want to be Susan's friend.

Susan also took up running recently! Maybe I'll add her to the list of Jessica W. and I can talk them into coming to a half marathon this spring... :) You always have a place to stay!

I am very thankful to Susan. And the world is thankful for your compassion, intelligence and caring. And I hope everyone reading this blog never needs to see you as a doctor, for themselves or any of their loved ones. But if they do, they know who to call.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Ode to David E. Shane

My second David donation! (I have three more David friends on facebook... not that anyone is counting!)
The wonderful, talented and always working David E. Shane!

I met David at the same time I worked with Megan, so he is another wonderful example of how great things come in some of the most unlikely places. Like contracts that make you cry all the time and want to stop being an actor for almost two years. ;)

David is yet another cutie patootie, and so funny and talented. He's a superb singer, a great actor, and now even becoming a fantastic director (or so the rumor on the street tells me). The only bad thing about David is that he is always working! I feel like he's always out of town, and when he's back in the city I somehow always miss him!

This year David is also marrying his beau, Adam, and I could not be happier and more delighted to have known the two of them for so long. They are a beautiful couple and so caring and funny. There are some couples you just really love to be with, even if you're single or not with a significant other. David and Adam are like that.

So I am very grateful to David, and his other half. And when he's back in the city I hope we can find time to get cheap hot wings and beer, which we haven't done in... oh... two years?! How much beer and wings doe $26.20 get you??

(And then I'll run a marathon to burn off the calories!)

On the floor of The Theatre Which Shall Not Be Named Actor House with (clockwise from Red Head: Jaime Cepero, David Shane, Dennis Clark and Phil Name I Don't Remember Because We Are Not Friends On Facebook And We've Totally Lost Touch...)

An Ode to Ailsa Woodhouse

I have known Ailsa since we were both exchange student living in Germany in 1998.
Lucky for both of us I don't have any pictures of our 17/18 year old selves on my computer! Instead I just have gorgeous pictures of her I steal from facebook!

Here's the most fun fact about Ailsa for most people reading this blog--She's from Australia! I know! I mean, I have never been to Australia and neither have most of the people I know. She may, actually, be my furthest away friend, and definitely wins the award for the donation that has traveled the farthest!

So Ailsa and I met over a decade ago when she and I were both Rotary Exchange Students in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Since she came from the other side of the world, she came in January of my exchange year (that had started in August) and we overlapped for about 6 months. In the small town of Wilhelmshaven, all the exchange students knew each other. And Ailsa and I went to the same school (at least I remember it that way...? Maybe I've forgotten!) Even then I remember being envious of Ailsa and her "try it, why not?!" attitude! Perhaps this is an Australian trait, but it certainly isn't Minnesotan or New Yorker! To be able to experience life in all its small and innate beauty as it floats by, not grasping too hard, but enjoying the pleasures as they come, and searching out the light when it seems there is none to be found.

There's a picture that I do have somewhere in my parents basement from that time, during Wilhelmshaven's unseasonal snowfall. On rare occasions snow will fall on this coastal town, and during my exchange year it did. Now to a Minnesota girl this was a familiar thing, but Ailsa had never seen snow! Imagine, somewhere in the world where there is no snow! And she knew no German when she arrived--I remember her telling us that in her school in Darwin, Australia, the languages they taught were Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian (though I could be wrong, I don't even remember if we went to the same school...!) She was a strong and independent girl, with a big and beautiful smile and a "Why the heck not?!" attitude. I was envious of her ease, grace and happiness.

Sadly I have never been to Australia to visit and never had a chance to cross paths with Ailsa the few times she's crossed the ocean to North America. Maybe soon. Maybe after I get my first big Broadway break and actually have an income that can afford trans-atlantic travel... But she is still one of my dearest friends and allies.

And who doesn't want someone cheering you on from half way across the world?! Those cheers have to get a lot of velocity while they travel all that way.

I am grateful for you, Miss Ailsa Jane. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Ode to Jeff Blumenkrantz

A very wonderful, loud and musical shout out thank you to Jeff Blumenkrantz, my "big brother"!
Pictured here with my "twin sister", Kate ("I Will Always Call Her Katie") Clawson Kunkle

So I met Jeff when I was 11 and my children's choir was chosen to be in the Minneapolis stop of the first national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starring none other than Donny Osmond. Have I dated myself enough with the information in this sentence? All the kids in the ensemble children's choir adopted Big Brothers and Sisters from the adult cast, and Katie and I chose Jeff. He played Simeon and was (and is!) funny and amazingly talented. What makes the whole story so sweet is we are all still friends! And now that I live in NYC, I get to see Jeff much more often (though not often enough!).

I can't begin to tell you what an amazing man Jeff is. First, he is a brilliant actor, comedian and composer! You should absolutely check out his website if you aren't already in the loop. To befriend a mildly OCD and nutty music theatre and music geeky 11 year old is one thing, but to stay her friend and mentor through all of adolescence, struggling into adulthood, finding a way through life... And now living here, trying to "make it" in this crazy theatre business, having a friend who's made a wonderful career in this industry has been a wonderful asset.

I am so thankful for Jeff--for the talent that he has brought not only to my life, but to others through his performances, his talents and his compositions. I am thankful for all the times he's listened to my neurosis, given me a guest bed to crash on, and shared part of his gigantic and wonderful heart with me!

And seriously, you should go check out his music! It will move and inspire you, I promise!

An Ode to Jessica Wilkinson

I am so thankful to the wonderful support of my good friend Jessica Lemon Wilkinson!
Jessica and I met in Jackson, MS in 2004 (good lord, was it really 6 years go??!) when I played Shelby to her Percy the second time I performed in The Spitfire Grill (which I have now done 3 times!). I went back to New Stage Theatre in Jackson in 2006 and performed in three more shows, so perhaps the sum total of months we've spent together is about 6 or 7, but she remains to this day one of my best friends!

Recently she came to visit me in New York (see above picture) and after meeting her for the first time, The DBF said "You girls are like two peas in a pod!"

I had never really thought of it, but it's true--we are two peas in a pod! Sure she's a red head and tiny and I'm an amazon red head, but we have been friends since day one, and that will never change.

Jessica is a wonderful mother and wife, and has two beautiful children. She is a kind and loving woman who knows how to laugh at all of life's ups and downs. She is a southern woman down to her bones, gentile and sassy. We also have the same favorite president! She is an ally and a confidant and I am so grateful that life brought us together and keeps us close!

Also--Jessica has started running too! And I'm so proud of her!

It is a rare friend who can talk about musicals, politics and The Biggest Loser in the same sentence!

So THANK YOU to the lovely Miss Jessica! I am grateful for you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Ode to David Perlman

One of the beautiful things about being a professional actor is that everyone knows everyone! And I "knew" David long before I actually really knew him.

Okay, first and foremost, can we just state the obvious:

What a cutie patootie!

David is such a hottie.

He is also:
--a superb actor and singer
--a fiercely loyal friend
--a funny and witty conversationalist
--a serious reality TV afficionado

So I met David on a trip to NYC long before I moved here, because he's good friends with my longest-time actor friends, Jeff Blumenkrantz (more on him to come later)! I've known Jeff since I was 11! So I "met" David for one night in his beautiful apartment in Chelsea, and I was super intimidated (I mean, he's such a cutie patootie, he's got a beautiful apartment, a well established New York career while I was struggling in the regional theatre circuit, and he was way more versed in American Idol than I could even try to be!)

Long story short, years later I move to NYC and in my second show, The Who's Tommy, David ends up playing my nephew! (Okay, let's not do the math that in real life I think I'm about 2 years older than him...) It was such an honor to be in a show with him. Always prepared, focused, interesting and wonderfully creative, quirky and smart. I loved sharing what little stage time we had together, but more than anything, I loved seeing him in his super awesome red leather trench coat!
David played sadistic Cousin Kevin in a likeable, funky and too cool for school, twisted way, and he was a huge asset to that production.

He has continued to work almost constantly, and I am always in awe of his perseverance, focus, determination and work ethic. I am honored too that he and I are a part of the same Career Group (once a week a group of actors get together to discuss challenges and opportunities in our careers, and seek advice, help and encouragement. Kinda like a weekly staff meeting, kinda like free therapy!) But all of you reading should bookmark David's website because he is going to be a name you'll hear. You may have also seen him on 30 Rock this past season?

I am honored to call him co-worker, and now I am also honored to call him a good friend. Thank you for everything, David, especially your constant support!

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Ode to Megan Opalinksi

The lovely Miss Megan Opalinski was the first person to donate towards my $3000 goal for the NYC Marathon. With her smart and witty gift of $26.20 (a dollar for each mile, down to the cent!) she helped me get the ball rolling. And I thought I would share a bit about why I am so thankful for Megan.
Megan is fearless. Megan does not back down. Megan believes in what is Good and does not tolerate what is not-Good. She has an amazingly strong faith, but never judges or criticizes others who may think otherwise. She is warm and open and gentle. To know Megan is to be her friend. Even though we don't get to spend nearly enough time together, every time we do run in to each other or find the time to have lunch, it is always like seeing an old friend, and like no time has passed.

We met doing a non-Equity gig a few years ago in a town in middle of nowhere, America. (Names of theatres have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent!) In
my own personal history, I refer to this time as "The time when I broke". I was coming out of a time when everything had fallen to pieces, and I was too busy, too poor and too down in a dark place to find a sensible way out. I could barely make it through the day without crying at something, fragile like a bird who fell out of its nest. But the friends I made during that contract are some of the best friends I have to this day, and I think they saved me from a certain emptiness that certainly would have come without people like Megan in my life at that time. Megan was a rock. She would make me laugh, she would listen to my ranting and raging, and she was a consummate professional, each and every day. Even when the props department gave her a "violin bow" made out of masking tape (that wasn't even taut), she just laughed, made a joke, and went on stage.

Did I mention the girl can SING?! And she can! She's my favorite kind of singer--a SMART singer! Classically trained with a huge range and a fierce belt, she can make you laugh while cracking jokes or sing sweetly to make you remember why life is so beautiful.

So I am thankful for Miss Megan Opalinski! I am blessed to have a friend like you!

(why we were making this face, I don't know...?)


So it hit me in the past few days that this marathon is really happening.

Not the running part. The running part I've got down. Almost to the point where it's uneventful to run 16+ miles, because I now know that I can. I am a runner.

I repeat:
I am a runner.

But it dawned on me that I have $3000 to raise and about 7 weeks to do it.


Granted, I had planned on making a trip to do some fundraising concerts down south in Virginia and North Carolina this August which had to be cancelled at the last minute, so I HAD a plan. But all the best laid plans...

So here comes the hard part--how do you raise $3000? When I signed up to run for the charity I chose I felt like it was a totally reachable goal. Now I think I must have been crazy! Where will this money come from? I know not. I have some ideas, and I'll keep going.

But meanwhile, like I said, running is going quite well. Did 18 miles this weekend. 18 freakin' miles. That's just over an hour of running. And it felt pretty normal. That's amazing. This is the girl who used to not be able to run a mile in school. The human body is a beautiful thing. But what's amazing is I don't quite know yet how to change my mental perception of myself. Even though I've been running pretty regularly since January, and definitely since April, I still think of myself as incapable of any type of real athleticism.

So my brain seems to recognize that only a true runner should be able to run 18 miles easily, but my daily state seems to forget.

How do you get all your different brains to match up? The history brain, the reality brain, the perception of current events and facts? And maybe it's just a constant reassessment and recalibrating. (My computer says that's not a word. To calibrate again. And again. And again.)

I am grateful for legs that keep me moving, at various paces, fast, slow and in between.
I am grateful for joint that seem to suffer my folly to run for 3 hours straight.
I am grateful for the three donations I've already received for my fundraising goal!
I am grateful for a brain that can learn new things, like finally accepting the truth of my own strength.