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!)