Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Oh Mylanta, it has been a while!  I've had so many ideas for blogs in the past couple of months, but simply no time to sit and compose them!  My life as a student here at AMDA has become busy to the exclusion of almost everything else.  It is as though the fat has been trimmed from my lifestyle, so to speak, and I am now a lean, mean, musical theater machine.  Or at least I am well on my way to becoming one.  I was so exhausted and overworked during the first four weeks of the semester that I couldn't think of anything but flopping into bed at night when I finally got home, but I have thankfully adjusted to the fast pace, and this is becoming a new version of normal for me.  I even finally have a moment to sit down and write this blog post.
Because it has been so long, I think I'll continue with a few half-baked ideas that would have become full posts if I had had the time, so you can get an idea of what's been on my mind during my absence from the blogosphere. 

Item 1: Rest and Relaxation
The crucial turning point at the four-week mark this semester came out of a monumental shift in attitude.  Up until then, I had the idea that I am entitled to a certain amount of free time every week, and if I didn't get it I would be upset about how busy my life was and take free time for myself in a variety of ways such as procrastinating or all-out not doing my homework.  I was justified, I thought, for taking the free time I needed to keep my peace of mind.  It certainly didn't help that I didn't give a rat's ass about the grand majority of work that I did in college. 
Now, however, there is nothing I don't care about that I can cut from the agenda when the going gets rough, so I had no choice but to do it all, which did indeed make me very unhappy for several weeks until this breakthrough:  I am not entitled to any free time.  Of course I need rest and relaxation just as much as every other human being, but psychologically I cannot be always looking forward to and living for the next period of rest, be it an evening with my favorite TV shows, a night out on the town, or a weekend off for Thanksgiving.  There may be no breaks one week and loads of them the next, but I need to be able to keep going without pouting about how little free time I have.

Item 2: New Mass Translations
As my Catholic readers know, this past Sunday began the use of the third edition of the Roman Missal, with translations closer to the original Latin.  I know that there have been mixed reactions to this, but I am super super pumped!  I am all for the beautifying of the language surrounding the Eucharist, the most beautiful thing in the whole world!  And I love the idea of returning even closer to the roots of the Mass, the original Latin, which saints prayed for centuries.

Is coming!!!!!!!!  There are less than three weeks left!  AH!  Thanksgiving, as usual, has been only a teasing, tantalizing taste of the family, food, and fun that is to come... and I am excruciatingly excited about it all!  And meanwhile I get to revel in Christmastime in New York City. Who could ask for anything more?

Ok, there are more things, but I really have to get going.  I have songs and dances to rehearse for midterms this week and next!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I've Got That Feeling...

So, almost done with my first semester here.  There have been ups, there have been downs, there have been triumphs and there have been failures.  But it has all led to this... I will be a second semester student in a matter of days, which may seem like an obvious progression, but in this accelerated 4-semester program, finishing a semester is like finishing a whole year of normal college.  Supposedly.
So, what do I have to say about AMDA now that I've been through the first bit of it?  I still hesitate to sing its praises too loudly since the work will keep getting harder, but I seriously am having trouble finding fault with the program.  Sure, it's not for everyone, and it's very unforgiving.  There's not really a middle ground here; you're either getting good grades with perfect attendance or you're flirting with dropping out.  We are expected to give 110% all the time, no matter what, because that is what our employers will expect of us in our ideal work situation, namely, 8 shows a week for years on end.  But I think that's a good thing.  Better to learn it now than out in the real world.
Here's what I've learned as far as keeping up with the challenges presented:  you have got to find something that refreshes and rejuvenates you, something that can calm you down or help you blow off steam.  Keep yourself rested, hydrated, and well-fed.  I've said all of these things before.  They're still true.  And I probably would have gone insane without them. 
Honestly what wears on me the most is the constant scrutiny.  We enter the school each day to be placed under a microscope in all of our classes.  That which is most personal and most dear to us - the way we sing, the way we speak, even the way we move! - is constantly open to harsh criticism.  It's certainly not easy to live like that day in and day out.  But I think it's so worth it.
If we are open to receiving those criticisms, whether we agree with them or not, we are open to improvement on a vast scale, a scale on which most people fail to make even a blip.  And that's exciting!  Watching myself and my classmates grow over the course of this semester, getting to know our strengths and weaknesses as a group and as individuals, and watching us improve in every respect is truly one of the more rewarding experiences I have been privileged to experience.  I greatly look forward to continuing our studies next semester, intensive as they may be.  Difficulties and all, I love this school and its curriculum so far; it is exactly what I wanted from a school when I started looking to transfer not even a year ago.  The teachers are all extremely knowledgeable and professional, and they truly want us to be, and push us to be, the best we can possibly be.  I truly believe that if I throw myself into my work here, I will be setting myself up for blazing success upon graduation.  And you just cannot beat that feeling.  That I-am-going-to-conquer-the-world-and-AMDA-is-going-to-help-me feeling. ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lists n Things

I cannot believe how time has gotten away from me!  I haven't blogged in almost a month!  I suppose this is ample testament to how busy my life has been here at AMDA.  My first semester is wrapping up in a couple of weeks, and then I'll have my first set of final demos!  Exciting.
There's not really anything specific that I sat down to write about this evening, just checking in with y'all so you know I'm still alive and well.  But while I'm at it, I think I'll make a list of things that have been making me happy lately:
- chocolate-covered donuts
- sleeping in
- stopping in Petco to look at all the birds and fish
- looking cute in boots on rainy days
- the way my shaggy little haircut is growing out
- styles from the 70s
- reconnecting with a couple of long-lost friends
- icee pops
- curling up in my comforter when the AC is up really high

In other news, since I last blogged I have
- made it through my mid-term demos with flying colors
- survived Hurricane Irene by evacuating to Pittsburgh for a weekend (albeit unnecessarily in retrospect)
- taken the Labor Day weekend to travel to Canada with my sisters
- been sick for a week now without missing any classes. yay meee.

And now I am most looking forward to
- being able to breath normally through my nose and laugh without coughing up a lung
- attending Steve Moakler's performance in NYC with some of my classmates this weekend
- finishing my first semester strong
- visiting Pittsburgh again
- NYC Comicon!!  I'll be dressing up again and maybe remembering my camera batteries this time.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love making lists?  lol
But it seems that twitter is really a better way to keep track of me nowadays, since I can do that from my phone and it doesn't require any planning or organizing.  Although this blog didn't really require much of either, to be honest.
And that is the end of this sonnet.  I have never crocheted a bonnet.
lol STILL gets me every time...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lessons Learned

Hello to all my beloved readers out there!  I can't believe my first semester here is half-way done!  Well, actually, I can sort of believe it; I've been working my butt off since I got here.  I sincerely apologize for not keeping up with this blog as I have been swept up in a flurry of musical theater schooling the likes of which I had scarcely dreamed!  I have been too exhausted lately even to make myself food other than toast, let alone assemble my thoughts for a publication detailing my adventures.  I have, however, been keeping a running mental list of some of the choicest lessons I am learning here to share with my devoted, if minuscule, following.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Lesson 1:
Praise and criticism must both be taken in a stride, allowing neither to distract you from focusing on the task at hand and both to propel you to increased achievement in their own way.

Lesson 2:
Give your body what it needs! 
It is insanely important to get enough sleep and to eat well, or at the very least take a multivitamin.  And don't forget to hydrate!  The regimen of classes here is extremely physically taxing; I am sore and tired all the time from the sheer exhertion of it all!  Listening to my body when it needs rest and nourishment are key to maintaining my health so I am always at the top of my game.  Honestly, the last time I've had to pay this close attention to my body was when I was in Ghana, performing manual labor under the hot sun of the Equator.  Which brings us to our next lesson...

Lesson 3:
Food is fuel!  I have never noticed such a direct correlation between when and what I eat and how I feel.  Because of this, I will probably never eat fast food again.  Sure, it's cheap, but it actually slows me down and makes me feel crappy until it's out of my system.  I feel the best when I eat lots of protein and some carbs without too much sugar or salt.  Fresh fruit is always nice, but not usually possible, financially.  I only drink water throughout the day, because other drinks aren't worth the money or added sugar.

Lesson 4:
You can never have too many connections as an actor... or as a person.
Personal connections to people you know and love and who know and love you are crucial.  I've never relied so heavily on my family and close friends, or my faith, for that matter.  All of them have helped to keep me grounded and sane through the roller coaster of this extremely challenging experience.  I talk to someone from my family or circle of best friends every day.
As far as acting goes, this philosophy applies to the fact that acting is, among other things, about making connections with your character, the other characters, the scenery, your character's backstory... the list goes on, and it's impossible to be too specific, so dive right in!  Specificity = an honest and believable performance.  Also, connections will keep you grounded and focused as an actor.

Lesson 5:
Early is on time, on time is late, late is RECAST!
True, I became familiar with some version of this philosophy during my time in the BPHS Marching Band, but the hilariously threatening tone of this phrase never fails to bring home the reality of my situation; in just over a year, I will be finished at AMDA and tossed into the cut-throat world of professional performance, and the harder things are for me here, the easier I will make that adjustment.

Lesson 6:
If you think you can't, you probably can.  Never say "I can't."

Lesson 7:
Never make excuses.  Just make it right.

Lesson 8:
Know your limitations and accept your humanity.  You're going to make mistakes and sometimes you're going to fail miserably.  Don't let that derail you; let it ignite a fierce determination to succeed.

Lesson 9:
Always keep your lights on.
No, this does not mean to waste electricity, but rather refers to the fact that even if you are concentrating hard on learning a new dance step or sight-singing a piece of new music and especially if you are performing a piece of choreography or a song or a scene, your face must always say "I know exactly what I'm doing and I enjoy doing it."

Lesson 10:
Hard work really pays off, and as my grandma always used to say, "Anything worth having is worth working for."

Lesson 11:
I was born to be a professional performer, and every aspect of my life, every tick in my personality, every experience and triumph and failure leading up to this has prepared me in some way to succeed here.  I have never been so sure of anything in my life as I am sure that I belong exactly where I am, doing exactly what I am doing.

And that's really all I have to say on the matter.  :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Un-broken Glass

So, I'm through my second week at AMDA!  This is kind of what my life feels like right now:

In case you didn't catch that, my life, which not even 10 months ago was at the lowest it has ever been, is coming together so beautifully that it's hard to believe that this is really my life now.  I live in New York City, I study at one of the best performing arts schools in the country, my ADHD is well under control, I have a loving and supportive family who I speak to almost every day, there are two Catholic churches within walking distance of my dorm, I have a job that I know I'm going to love (costumes!  woot!)... the ground work is set for unbelievable success here.  
Here is how good things are going:  On Friday, when classes were over, my reaction was "Awww no more class until Monday?"  :(  lol but seriously.  I love every single one of my classes, and the days and weeks are already flying by.  I know I'm still in the honeymoon phase with this school, and I know it's going to get much harder, but I also know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to do.  And wouldn't you know, it's exactly what I've always wanted to do, too!  :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

First Week Thoughts

Well, I have now survived my first week of classes here at AMDA!  I purposefully waited until the weekend to blog because a) I've been way to busy to just stand at a computer and blog, and b) I wanted to make sure that I had a fairly good sense of the place before I sang its praises across the internet.
This week has been one of the most exhausting, challenging, and rewarding weeks of my life, and my time and work here has only just begun!  My professors are amazing, intelligent, experienced people who I trust to guide me through the next 15 weeks as I begin my journey into the world of professional performing.  My classes are designed to form me into the best performer I can be, in every sense of the word.  Here is a peek at my schedule:

Acting 1 - Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 2 hours
We will be working on small "etudes," as they are called, about 15 lines each.  We are trying to develop an honesty of expression, not just acting but putting real emotion into our performances.  We are also working on economy of movement, moving only when necessary and eliminating any little tics we may have.

Tap 1.4 - Mondays for 2 hours
The highest level of tap for first semester students.  It's been four years since I tapped last, but it's coming back so quickly, especially as I have been practicing almost every night!

Theater Dance - Mondays for 2 hours
We will be learning basic dance moves like walking prettily in time to music, paddle turns, waltz steps, and polka steps.  I think I already know how to do these, but the walking patterns we've been given have been surprisingly challenging for me because I tend to overthink things.  So I'm sure I'll be learning a lot here, too.  This class is also set up like professional auditions are in order to get us used to the feel of them, which is a most useful knowledge in my book.

Musical Theater Film - Mondays for 1 hour
We watch videos of famous performances.  No joke.  This is quite possibly the best class of the semester.  Not only is it extremely enjoyable, but we are gaining valuable knowledge about our field and the masters of our art who came before us.  There is a lot of reading in this class, too, though: background info about the performances we watch in class.

Sight Singing 1.4 - Tuesdays and Thursdays for 1 hour
The highest level of sight singing for first semester students.  We are learning rhythmic solfege right now, and at the end of every class we open up our songbooks and sight-sing show tunes seemingly at random.  Our professor tries to pick songs that none of us know, obviously, and that display the things we worked on in class that day.  We also have been working on singing and doing simple choreography at the same time, more extremely useful experience.

Jazz 1.4 - Tuesdays for 2 hours
The highest level of jazz for first semester students.  This class kicked my ass this week.  And I suck at turning.  But I've been practicing!  And I swear that I will be so much better by the end of the semester.

Musical Theater 1 - Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for 2 1/2 hours
This is the meat of my education here, I think.  We basically are learning to act through songs, and every week or so we'll be performing a new song for the class.  We haven't done too much yet performance-wise, but we are slowly working our way up to the proper way to analyze the text of a song, the circumstances of the song, and other such things so as to give meaning to it all.

Voice Production and Speech - Wednesdays and Fridays for 2 hours
This class is about learning to use our vocal apparatuses properly.  We're learning to loosen up, breathe deeply, and all of that.  We'll also be learning the International Phonetic Alphabet!  Exciting!  This will make it easier for us to drop any regionalisms we may have, learn Standard American, and pick up easily on accents and dialects (which is actually another class that will be available to us in later semesters).

Private Voice Lessons - Wednesdays for 1 hour
I'm studying with an opera singer who also teaches at NYU sometimes!  Glorious.  I've only had one lesson so far, during which she asked if anyone had ever asked if I was a mezzo!!  Apparently my voice has a nice "color" in the mezzo range.  Oh, and she said my voice was well-suited for the singing of early classical music.  I am so excited to continue studying with her! 

Ballet 1.4 - Fridays for 1 hour
The highest level of ballet for first semester students.  I love my instructor in this class.  We spent most of our time getting to know each other and doing simple barre work and turns.

My day usually goes something like this:
6am wakeup
7:30 walk to school
8am class or warmup
3:30 or so finish up with classes
~ holy hour at St. Paul the Apostle ~
walk back to dorm
change, eat, read comic books on my computer
walk back to school
rehearse for a few hours (dance reviews, learning voice music, etc)
walk back to dorm

So, now you have a taste of my life here!  I'll try to keep y'all updated, but no promises; I think I'm about to get even busier as we get deeper into the semester.
Keep me in your prayers!  This lifestyle is going to take all my strength, discipline, and perseverence, but if I stick with it and throw myself into my work, I know I will accomplish amazing things here!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here at AMDA

Hello all.  I have arrived in the lovely city of New York, and I am finally completely settled into my dorm!  I am sharing my room with three other girls, and though it's a nice room, it's not quite large enough for the four of us, so I forsee spending a lot of time in the studios to rehearse and in the rec room chilling out.  There is a lovely basement area with a kitchen and an internet cafe-type thing, where I am currently updating, because the wifi isn't up and working yet down here.  There is no internet access in the rooms, but honestly I think this will be a good thing; because it's so small I plan to only sleep and get ready for the day there. 
Also, I don't think I'll really have time to be browsing the internet endlessly or anything, because, as one of the admissions counselors told us in our "welcome" talk, "the next four semesters are going to be a beat-down.  I'm just getting that out there right now."  Whenever I described AMDA's curriculum, the most common response was "Oh, that sounds like so much fun!"  But in reality, the drop-out rate here is pretty high because people just can't take the intensity of this program.  I'm ready for it.
Well, I've gotta wrap it up.  Some orientation thing...  I'll blog again soon to let you in the loop about orientation/initial evaluation things. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I wrote this last night, but, thanks to the lack of internet connection at my house, I am only posting it now, from the Downtown branch of the Carnegie Library.  :p


People move all the time, especially in this in-between phase in which I now find myself, too old to live with my parents, too poor and unsettled to have a permanent place of residence.  I sincerely doubt, however, that many people experience moves like the one I am now setting myself up for, which, if all goes according to plan, will go something like this:

Wednesday, June 15
I work 9-5 at Joseph A. Bank, my last day.  Sad.  But not too sad.  There are bigger, better things ahead!
In the evening, I move from Greenfield to my parents' house in the South Hills. .

Thursday, June 16
I put the majority of my things in the attic, pack a duffel bag with the bare essentials, and mail one box to my new address at AMDA (still unknown, btw).
I have a doctor's appointment where my physician will (hopefully) fill out a form that says I am fit for the physical, emotional, and psychological rigors of an education at AMDA.
My family has its portrait taken at St. Thomas More Parish.  Cute.
We celebrate my beloved Dad's birthday!  Not sure if this is actually his birthday or not... but we are partying nonetheless!  And I know, I am a horrible daughter and terrible at remembering people's birthdays, among other things.

Friday, June 17
This day is a grace period.  I have no plans (other than to try to sell a few of my things on Craigslist) but I'm sure I'll have plenty to do.

Saturday, June 18
I hop a Megabus for Philly!  I take only the duffel bag and perhaps a tote bag.  We'll cross this bridge when we get there.
I go to Mass in Narberth at 5:15.
I attend a sure-to-be-fantastic pre-Comic Con party!!  Complete with superhero movies and realms of awesomeness not yet fathomed.

Sunday, June 19
I attend Philly's Comic Con 2011 dressed as my favorite Neil Gaiman character.  Or, one of them, anyway.  (hint: I have read all the Sandman novels up to volume 8 in preparation for this.)  Pictures to come, most likely, cuz this costume is gonna kick ass.

Monday, June 20
I take a bus up to NY.  Not sure what I'm gonna do for the day once I get up there.  Maybe picnic in Central Park?  I've been dying to do this for a long long time.  :)
I am staying with a friend's sibling on this night because I'm not allowed to move into my dorm until the 21st.

Tuesday, June 21
I move into my dorm at AMDA!!  Finally!!  And hopefully the box I shipped will be there, waiting for me, in the mail room.
Grocery shopping will happen on this day, most likely, in addition to a variety of other settling-in things.

Wednesday, June 22
Everyone else moves into the dorms, registration and orientation begin.

Monday, June 27
First day of classes!!!

Gaaahh it is all so exciting!  I can't think of it anymore, or may go crazy with anticipation!  Plus, right now, I have a whole bunch of sorting and packing up to do.  Talk about a buzz kill.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Life = Sucky Mess

Here is the low-down:
a) there is no internet at my house right now, for reasons unbeknownst to me, so I am sneaking off to the library and Crazy Mocha during my 1/2-hour lunch breaks from working at Jos. A. Bank so I can check my email.
b) I have NO money in my bank account because of two overdraft fees which my lovely bank, PNC, charged me because they hadn't processed my paycheck yet when my landlord cashed my rent check.  So much for "next business day."  I WILL be calling customer service about this.  But as it is, I am out $72 and have no buying power except for my credit card...  hello, Discover, old friend.
c) I am leaving for my week-long move-to-NY-a-palooza on Thursday of next week.  That is 5 days from now, in case you were wondering.  Between now and then, I have to pack the bare essentials in my old black duffel bag and mail myself what doesn't fit.  The rest I have to put up in my parents' attic.  Or sell.  All in all, quite a hassle.  Did I mention that I work EVERY DAY until then?  Which I guess is good, because I obviously need the money. x__x
d) I am SICK.  Is there even a God up there??  (I'm just kidding; I know You're up there.  Please don't hurt me.)  How could this happen?!?!?!?!  As if my life wasn't stressful enough, now I have to worry about sinus infections and muscle aches.  Balls.  Just... balls.

lol, yes, sometimes i just post things on my blog bitching about how shitty everything is.  it's MY fucking blog.  i'm ALLOWED to do that.

here is the only thing pulling me through:  in exactly one week, i will be arriving in Philadelphia for Comic Con 2011, at which I get to dress up as my favorite Neil Gaiman character AND spend copious amounts of time with one of my best friends ever.  true story.  siiiiighhhhh.... why can't it be next week now?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Medjugorje: Home at Last!

I am home, I am home!!!  I am SO thrilled to be back in the States, yes, even in the little city of Pittsburgh.  Last night I was supposed to go home to my house in Greenfield, but I am still at my parents' house because by the time my dad got home to take me home, I had slipped into an I-have-been-awake-for-24-hours coma.  And there's just no waking up from that, I found out.  But I am getting ahead of myself.
On Sunday, as I mentioned before, I attended the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Zagreb.  There were about 400,000 people there!  His homily was phenomenal, and he preached in Italian (with a translator translating into Croatian) so I could even understand about 60% of what he was saying without a translator!  Father also translated from Italian to English for us, since he studied in Italy and took many of his classes in Italian.  Here is a link to the full homily in English:  http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=zenit&id=32762
We had great seats, too.  The Mass was said at the Hipodrom, which is just a wide open field, and the sun was very hot, but we had lovely seats on our picnic blankets (actually, they were just plastic ponchos haha) under some trees in the back of the field, with a clear view straight to the altar under the white canopy at the front.  We were even close to the path where the Pope-mobile drove by before Mass, with Papa blessing the crowds!  I got a couple of really good pictures of our Holy Father; I was only about 10 feet from him at the closest.
When we got home, I took a nap straight away, since we had to wake up super early to get to the Hipodrom by 8am for Mass at 10am.  Then after dinner our guide took us on a walking tour of part of Zagreb, which is truly an astonishingly beautiful city.  I think I took more pictures that night than on the rest of the trip put together!!  It was a lovely way to end the trip, because even earlier Monday morning we left our hotel for the airport, after which I spent roughly 18 hours traveling from Zagreb to Frankfurt to Detroit to Pittsburgh.  Blech.  I've officially decided that I dislike flying.  Super uncomfortable.  I'll take a road trip any day.  Though I guess it's not really possible to road trip across the Atlantic.  And driving takes longer.  But at least in a car or a train you can see the sights as you drive by and there's none of that swoopy feeling in your stomach when you take off or land.  And in a car you can listen to your own music and, if someone else is driving, take a nap, or talk (ok, or sing) as loud as you want without disturbing the other passengers.  And then there's yummy car food to be considered, and the possibility of stopping to run off the excess energy that builds up from sitting still and eating for hours on end.  And picnics!  Road trips usually mean picnics, too!  Except when you take a bus.  I HATE tour buses.  They smell funny and you can't open the windows and why in Jehovah's name is there itchy carpet on all the seats???
Ok, so I'm not entirely sure how I got on this topic...
What matters is that I am home, and in 14 days I will be moving into my new little NY dorm at AMDA.  eep!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Medugorje: So Busy!!

Ok, a lot has happened, so I'll just give you the low-down:
On Friday morning I woke up at 5am to climb Mount Krucevac at 6am in my bare feet with Father and my roommate. When we got to the top, we prayed a rosary, I sang Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Pie Jesu," put my sandals back on, and we climbed down again. Then we walked back to the village and went to 10am Mass. I sat in the choir section, as the director had invited me to do after my performances during Thursday's Mass. About halfway through Mass, she leaned back and asked if I could sing a Communion meditation, and I said of course I could. So I sang the "Pie Jesu" again! The congregation was completely capitivated, hanging on every note, and at the end there was a general stir of contentment and much wiping of eyes. Score! 10 points for the Holy Spirit!
Well, after all the climbing, walking, and singing, I was completely drained, so I went back to my room and slept for two hours. I felt much refreshed after my nap and a shower, so I headed out into the village for a bit of shopping. I ended up ducking into an internet cafe to escape some rain, though, and by the time my hour was up it was time to head back for dinner.
After dinner I climbed Apparition Hill by myself, arriving around 7pm. I found a little perch on the steep rock face where I could see everything that was going on below and settled down, for the apparition there wasn't until 10pm. It was a lovely time for watching the sun set over the village, praying rosaries, and writing in my journal, and before I knew it, Our Lady was there, appearing to Ivan. She stayed for about 20 minutes and then it was done. I climbed down the now-dark mountain with my little flashlight, walked back to my hotel, and went straight to bed.

This morning after breakfast I packed my bag and headed to 10am Mass, my last in Medjugorje! I went over to sit with the choir again, and told the director that it was my last day, but she said that she couldn't squeeze me into the program because there was some youth group coming in and taking over the music. So no singing in Mass today.
Afterward, though, I continued to receive compliments from Friday's "Pie Jesu," and I got to talking to a couple of Canadian pilgrims, who invited me to coffee, where we met a friend of theirs from Scotland. They were really lovely people, asking me all kinds of questions, and we laughed a lot together, which I love. At noon we prayed the Angelus, I gave them my info, and then I headed over to the Risen Christ for one last visit.
Upon my return to the hotel, I picked up my bags and climbed on the bus for our trip to the airport. Checking luggage and going through security and waiting at the gate took foreeeeveerrrrrrr and ironically enough the plane ride was only half an hour long. Then we got on another bus and another and finally arrived here, at our hotel. We had a bit of difficulty getting in, because the streets are all blocked off for the pope or something so our van couldn't pull straight up and we had to cause a scene on the sidewalks of Zagreb, click-clacking our rolling luggage up and down the sidewalks and speaking a language that was quite obviously not Croatian. Our hotel is super nice, and the dinner they fed us was sublime, including several glasses of wine and some whiskey for me, which was also of exceptionally high caliber.
So, that is all. I may or may not be blogging again before my return home; it all depends on how the schedule works out tomorrow and if there is internet available in the airports on Monday. Now: beauty sleep!! Or not...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Medjugorje: Just for Her

Oh God, where to begin??  After several days of feeling like nothing is happening, we've had a very busy day and a half since I last wrote. 
Yesterday afternoon, we met our guide to hear Mirjana's talk, which was in Italian.  We were there an hour early, but the Italians were already pushing and crowding, like they do, around the doors of the yellow hall where the talk was to be.  Our guide is fluent in Croatian, English, and Italian, so she said she would translate for us outside while listening to the Italian radio broadcast of the talk.  But just as the talk was beginning, it started to POUR down rain.  We hustled into a large green tent to get out of the rain; though many of us had umbrellas and ponchos, they were no match for the torrential downpour.  The tent was obviously not meant for anyone but workmen; there were dismantled benches, doors with broken glass in them, wood shavings, piles of wood that had been cleared from paths, and other such mildly dangerous things.  We picked our way through the refuse to the back of the tent, which, by the way, was made of a metal frame with water-resistant material draped over it.  It was about as big as the yellow hall right next to it, and apparently before the hall was built they used to have talks and Mass and things in there, in the middle of the fields.  But I digress.
We hoped that the rain would let up soon, since rain that intense usually comes and goes pretty quickly, but instead it got worse.  Counting between lightning flashes and thunder crashes, it was getting closer and closer until we could hear the snapping sound as the lightning hit the metal frame of the tent and the deafening crash of thunder that was RIGHT THERE.  There was no counting going on anymore, because thunder and lighting were coming at the same time.  It was mildly terrifying, but also pretty exciting.  Now I can check near-death-lightning-storm-experience off my life's to-do list.
We wasted no time in whipping out our rosaries to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, and as we rounded the second decade to begin the third, our guide came to get us. (She had been out in the rain looking for a member of the group who had been seperated from us.)  She led us the five or six steps from the tent to the hall, and in those few steps I got completely soaked.  The main hall was, of course, completely packed, but there was a back room where they were broadcasting the talk on speakers, and our guide translated as best she could.  I wish I could say I remember something profound that she said so I could tell you, but alas I cannot.  I was so distracted by the excitement of the storm.  By the time the talk finished the rain had let up, praise God, though it continued to drizzle throughout the evening.  Then we had dinner and I went to bed!
This morning Mirjana had her monthly apparition at 9am at the Blue Cross which, I have since learned, is a large blue cross at the base of Apparition Hill, where the original three apparitions were, the same hill we climbed a few days ago.  Our guide had told us that prayers at the Blue Cross started at 5am, and if we wanted to get a good spot there we'd have to get there at 4am at the very latest.  None of us were really up for that, so instead we left our hotel at 8am and climbed Apparition Hill, then snuck through a path in the brush to a spot on the mountain above the Blue Cross.  We couldn't actually see the cross or Mirjana, but we could hear what was going on over the loudspeaker.   Plus, that side of the hill overlooks the village, and it was so beautiful and peaceful in the morning sunlight, away from the crowds and the pushing (those Italians!!).  There was singing and rosary-praying leading up to the apparition, then silence while Our Lady spoke to Mirjana, and then the crowd started up with ˝Ave Maria˝ again so we knew it was over.  We climbed back down the mountain and walked back to our hotel.  I should probably add that we got gloriously muddy on our climb, cuz everything was still wet and slippery from the tempest yesterday.  I wore a little dress up the mountain, which kept getting caught in thorn bushes as I climbed.  I felt like Snow White, running through the big scary forest with things grabbing at her.  Except I was laughing, not crying.  Somehow, despite all of this, I only got mud on my feet and ankles, nothing above the calves, so my dress remained spotless.  My feet... were another story.  Lol. But I loved it.  I actually took a picture of my muddy feet when we got back down the mountain.  Maybe I'll post it on twitpics sometime. 
At noon Father was the main celebrant at the English-speaking Mass, and he specifically requested that I sing at the Offertory and after Communion!!  I was so honored, especially because today is the Feast of the Ascension!  So, in a church packed to standing-room only, I sang Franck's ˝Panis Angelicus˝ during the preparation of the altar and Bach's ˝Ave Maria˝ after the communion hymn.  Afterward there were hordes of people who wanted to tell me how I had ˝touched their hearts,˝ even in the restaurant where I went out to lunch with a few of my group after Mass, and the talk Father and I went to after lunch!  I was giving hugs and squeezing people's hands all day.  This must be what stardom feels like!! Except maybe with less hugging?  lol
But as I said, after lunch Father and I went to hear a talk at Cenacolo, which is a community of men who are recovered drug addicts.  They gave beautiful testimonies, of course, and great examples of discipline and humility.  Then Father and I walked back to the hotel for dinner, and he popped right back out again to attend Ivan's apparition this evening.  He gets to be in the room with Ivan during the apparition because he is a priest!  So lovely. He brought some of our religious articles to be blessed by Our Lady herself!!!  Let me tell you, we are hitting the jackpot with blessings lately.  The priests here bless all the religious articles in the church after every Mass, and on Sunday we will have the opportunity to have things blessed by our Holy Father the Pope himself at his Mass in Zagreb!
So, that's all I have to say.  Phew!!  As I said before, we have been quite busy!  I must get to bed and get some sleep, for tomorrow morning we start the climb up Mount Krisevac at 6am!  We are meeting a group of Irish pilgrims.  :D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Medjugorje: Another Day

Yesterday afternoon, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went to hear a talk by Ivan, the visionary.  He has been seeing the Blessed Mother every day for over 30 years now!  Unfortunately, I don't remember much of the talk because, well, I have ADHD and all the talks we're attending are starting to run together a bit since they all say roughly the same thing: "Pray with the heart."  "Fast."  "If you knew how much I love you, you would cry for joy."  You know.  The usual Medjugorje message stuff.  ;)  Ivan pointed out that Our Lady is just like a real mother in that she doesn't mind repeating herself for the sake of her children.  What earthly mother, he said, expects to only correct her children once and be done with it?  None.  So it is with Our Lady, repeating her messages to us over and over, always gently, with love and encouragement.
After that, I finally bought those scarves I've had my eye on since we arrived, three of them, each more beautiful than the next.  Super cheap, too.  I used to see them every day as I walked to and from my hotel room, because the shop where they used to hang on a little spinning rack, flying in the wind, is right along the way.  And now I see them every day, hanging in my room.  :D  They are also filling the place with the most wonderful scent of roses, because the shopkeeper, when I bought them, took out a handkerchief, shook a bottle of rose essential oil over it multiple times, and tossed it in the bag with my scarves.  Free gift.  They sometimes do that here, apparently.
Then, at 9pm, we attended a David Parkes concert.  It was mostly in the style of 90s old people worship music (so my companions completely ate it up lol) but he also did a stunning rendition of "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables that pretty much stopped my heart.  In between songs he told a bit of his story, which you can read more about here: http://www.irishrecords.com/davidparkes.html 
This morning we woke up at 5:30am (and I didn't get to bed until 12am because the concert finished at 11!) to be breakfasted and ready to go by 7, when we headed over to Vicka's house to hear her speak to the crowds (and I do mean CROWDS) of Italians.  And us, of course.  haha there was a translator there translating from Italian to English, though I tried to follow as much of the Italian as I could. She said the usual things, like Ivan, but she also told us about the time Mary took her and one of the other visionaries to Purgatory, Heaven, and Hell.  Fascinating stuff. 
Later today we will hear Mirjana talk and then I am going to bed early, because I am turning into an old lady on this trip.  Oh, who am I kidding; I was an old lady well before this trip.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Medjugorje: Technological Advances

You will probably be pleased to know that, thanks to the generosity of our dear spiritual director, I no longer have to pay for Internet connection. Believe it or not, there is a restaurant here with wifi and Father brought an iPad!! lol I certainly could not believe my good fortune.
Not too much has happened since last I wrote, but I will bring you up to speed nevertheless.
Last night after dinner, I went for a walk in the fields and vineyards behind the graveyard and prayed my rosary in Italian! Yes, I finally acquired a pamphlet with the Italian prayers, so I can communicate with Heaven in multiple languages. I want to be able to pray the rosary in as many languages as possible!! So far I am good in English, Spanish, Italian, and a bit of Croatian. Also in an Irish accent. ;) I am loving that I get to use my Italian here, because even though I don't actually speak to many Italians, the shopkeepers here usually know a decent amount of Italian, and sometimes it is easier to communicate with them that way.
This morning I woke at 6am and went on my own to the crying statue of the Risen Lord to douse some things I bought last night in His tears. Even at such an early hour there was a line! But it was ok, a good time for reflection and enjoying the morning sunlight. Then breakfast and Holy Mass, and a talk by a priest whose name I completely forget, unfortunately, because the talk was quite good, focusing on conversion and prayer of the heart.
Later tonight we will attend a talk by Ivan, the visionary. Now, I am lunching with Father: crepes with walnuts and chocolate syrup. How decadent. How delicious. How divine!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Medjugorje: Apparition Hill

This morning our wake-up time was 5:30am so we could be ready and breakfasted by 7, because that's when the bus came to take us to Apparition Hill, so as to avoid the heat of the day.  We climbed to the top, stopping at all three of the first three apparition sites and praying the Joyful Mysteries.  Strange things have happened to my stamina for prayer here; while at home I struggle to complete even two decades in a row, here I pray multiple rosaries every day without a second thought. 
After the Hill, we had a bit of a snack (it was still only 10:30am or so) and headed out to a little church where hangs an image of the Divine Mercy, the very same image that came to life and healed a crippled man in Italy to provide the third miracle necessary for St. Faustina's canonization.  It did not come to life today, but Father said a very beautiful Mass beneath it, after which we sang a Divine Mercy Chaplet. 
When we got back into the village, we stopped by Vicka's house, where she gave us her blessing, and then we were shown into the apparition room, where she had seen the Blessed Mother every day for almost twenty years when she was too sick to join the others at the apparition site.  I wish I could upload the picture I took there of the spot where the Blessed Mother had stood (hovered?) so many times, but alas this computer does not have a handy little slot for an SD card like my laptop at home does.
That's all for today.  I am under strict orders from my confessor of last night to spend half an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration this afternoon, so I must be going to the chapel!
May God bless you through the intercession of Our Lady, Queen of Peace.  :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Medjugorje: Sunday things

This morning after breakfast a group of us went to the stations of the cross and tagged along with a group of Irish pilgrims, which for whatever reason delighted me exceedingly.  They were by far the friendliest group of pilgrims I have yet encountered.  Those darling Irish.  I quietly practiced praying along in my best Irish accent, but I dropped it when they offered to let me read one of the stations and went back to American English so they wouldn't think I was crazy.
Today being Sunday, we went to Mass and then to lunch, and then we went back to the stations of the cross to wipe our hankies on the knees of the statue of the Risen Lord, which cries real tears (scientifically proven by the Germans, so you know it must be true ;).  So, now I have a hanky with Jesus' tears on it.  Pretty sweet awesome, ya?  I think so.
Also of note: our priest has finally arrived!!  I am super excited about this, even though he has been resting and I haven't gotten to see him yet.  He will probs be at dinner.  This is where the real fun starts.  More tomorrow!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Medjugorje: Safe Arrival

Just arrived in Medjugorje last night, after about 24 hours of 3 flights, 2 layovers, and 1 3-hour bus ride.  By the time I went to bed last night I had been awake for around 32 hours after not sleeping for more than 4 hours at a time for several nights in a row.  Needless to say, I was so tired that I had pretty much lost my grasp of reality and was slipping in and out of dreams as we checked in and ate dinner.  No joke.  My group went to an apparition last night at the Blue Cross, whatever that is, but as soon as my head hit the pillow for a " quick nap" after dinner I knew I wasn't gonna make it.  I slept til 8am this morning.  Quality nice.
At this time I would like to point out that the keyboard here has the "z" and the "y" switched, and I am a skilled touch-typist, so every time I type a "y" it actually come out as a "z" and I have to backspace and type in the other one.  Seriously, you'd think that I'd be able to figure it out, but every single time.  Just keep that in mind, that I am putting in so much extra effort for this post.
One other instance of note is that, when we stopped for a bathroom break during the bus ride, I got to chatting with a couple of nice Italian ladies who said that I spoke Italian "very well!!"  I was so pleased.  Nevermind that I failed out of Italian 4.  :D  Apparently Medjugorje is just full of Italians nowadays because some Italian actor had a major conversion experience here, upping the press coverage of this village in the Italian media.
So, other than those few tidbits I don't have anything interesting to say.  I'll probably be back to this internet cafe in a couple of days to blog about something more exciting.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Birds

I really, really have better things to be doing right now than blogging (namely: sleeping), but I absolutely must share with you the this-cannot-be-happening moment I just had the pleasure of experiencing.
I have been awake for over 17 hours now on only 5 hours of sleep.  I have spent 14 1/2 hours of that time working and approximately 2 of it commuting.  Not my favorite way to spend a day.  So, I FINALLY get home, ready to flop into my little couch-cushion bed and SLEEP at long last, when, as I am climbing the stairs to my attic room, I hear the sound of wings beating against the window.  The inside of the window.  My first thought is that it's my own bird, Jacqueline, but that thought is quickly disproved as I continue to hear the struggles of this unknown but undoubtedly larger-than-a-parakeet winged creature.  For some reason I decide to climb the stairs in the dark, so I actually have to walk past the part of the hall where the noise is coming from before reaching the light switch.  And as soon as those lights came on, the thing flew up at me like a bat out of hell, causing me to screech in a most un-lady-like fashion and then laugh hysterically from a combination of sleep deprivation, nerves, and a vague recognition of the hilarity of the situation.  After flapping around a bit more, while I continued to alternate between screeching and laughing at myself, the bird finally landed on the floor in the hallway.
It was a pigeon, mostly a dark charcoal grey.  She had flown in the slightly open hall window and had been unsuccessful in finding her way out again, like a lobster in a trap.  I could tell she'd been trying all day, too; she was pretty discombobulated, tired, and scared.  Luckily, I am quite skilled and experienced at catching and relocating birds, even wild ones, so once I composed myself I made quick work of tossing a piece of fabric over her, picking her up, and releasing her out the window.  She neither struggled nor made the smallest noise of protest during the entire process.
And of course, when I opened the door to my room, the first thing I saw was my own bird, sitting peaceably on the topmost perch of her cage, leaning against the bars and cocking her head with a most innocent air.  She can't fool me, though; I know she had something to do with this.  I'm just not sure what yet... the scheming little twit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Swing of Things


Well, now that I've got that bit of news out of the way...

My days have taken on a certain undulation which, though it would make me hate my life if it went on for too long, is oddly comforting in light of its temporary nature and certain anxiety-inducing events on my rapidly-approaching horizon.  Here is how things go lately:

I wake up either at 7am or 9am, depending on my shift, and catch either the 8:25 or 11:25 bus to downtown Pittsburgh.

I work an 8-hour shift at Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, either 9-5 or 12-8.  Business is always slow, so I usually spend my time doing one of the following:
- reading all the "How to Be a Gentleman" books on display
- writing letters to my siblings
- chatting with the security guards
- staring into space
- straightening piles of shirts
- refolding things
- tucking tags
- untangling the phone cord

I drink about half of a 5-Hour Energy about an hour or two before my shift ends.  (By then I can barely keep my eyes open from a horrid combination of sleepiness and boredom, especially on rainy days!)

I catch the bus home and change into comfy clothes (I have to wear dressy office clothes at work. blech.) 

I eat food while I watch online TV.  Sometimes Skyping also happens at this time.

I do THINGS like a grown-up!  The other day I tidied up my whole room in an hour!  Woot!  I only do this if I'm not too tired to move, though.  (That's where the 5-Hour Energy comes in.)

At 10 or 11 or so (depending on when I have to wake up the next day), I climb into bed and read until I fall asleep.  Usually I only get in a few pages, 'cause standing all day is way more exhausting that you would think.  


Obviously there are variations to this when I go swing dancing or have babysitting gigs.  But this is the basic framework.  Like I said, this would drive me absolutely insane if it was a long-term thing.  But as things are it is ok.  The regularity is even a bit reassuring, 'cause thinking about going up to New York in less than two months sometimes freaks me out.  I have so much to do before then!  (June 22 is my official move-in date.  Yipe!)
And, in other news, I am taking a 12-day trip to Medugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina starting May 26.  Yep, that's a week from Thursday.  I have to organize and pack for that, too.  Che stress!!
So, that's the update.  I'll probably write again soon with details about my upcoming trip.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cars, Control, Life and Things

Hello my beloved and faithful readers.  I am sorry to have neglected you for so long, but my life has hit an exceptionally busy patch, and this is truly the first moment I've had in over a week for any activities not qualified as productive or recovering from being productive.  I don't mind; honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way, and this is the happiest (and healthiest, mentally) I've been since the very beginning of this school year.
When I was first learning to drive, I had six lessons with a driving instructor.  He was quite an interesting character, who I'm sure many of the Bethel Park crowd remember, but he made learning to drive relatively painless.  Anyway, I distinctly remember one of the first times I went around a rather sharp curve in the road; I braked going into it the way any good driver would, navigating the curve at a safe but still-a-bit-nerve-wracking speed for my new-driver self, and as we reached that point where the road started to straighten out again, my instructor said, "Ok, good job.  Now hit the gas and feel control of the car return directly to you."  I stepped on the gas and felt the car surge forward, and just like that I was in complete control again, just like he had said.  For some reason that moment has stuck with me ever since, and I think of it every time I hit the gas after slowing down for a curve or a turn.  The sensation of being in control of something so powerful never gets old.  Man, I love driving.  Too bad I'm moving to one of the only cities in the world where nobody drives anywhere.  But I digress.
In the past month, taking control of my ADHD has given me exactly that feeling of exhilaration and relief that I experienced during that fateful driving lesson.  I can almost hear my driving instructor's voice saying, "Now feel control of your life returning directly to you."  My life is crazy busy; I've been working two jobs, one downtown and one in the South Hills, without having a car at my disposal, all while planning a visit to New York City (tomorrow!!) and transferring schools and pretty much putting drastic life changes into motion, and I've been able to pull through with nary a mishap! My planner has never looked so beautiful!  Yesterday I made a to-do list for the afternoon on my bus ride home and did ALL the things!
Yes, Things are actually pretty awesome.  I make lists of Things all the time.  Things to do, Things I want, Things to be happy about, Things that I'm worried about, Things I can do so I don't have to worry, and so on and so on.  And now, I am DOING things, too!  I am getting Things done!  And every Thing that I do takes me one step closer to being what we call a Real Live Grown-Up Person.  The more complicated my life is, the more I prove to myself and to the world that I CAN DO THIS.  I can do all the Things!
Hahaha I am raving like a lunatic a little bit.  I apologize for that.  I just get so excited.  This is also why I sometimes choke when I am eating.  But that is a story for another day.
Anyway, that is pretty much all I wanted to say.  Treatment for my ADHD is going amazingly great, and with each challenge that I overcome here in Pittsburgh, however small, I feel a little bit more ready to take on the bigger challenges that my new life in NYC will present. At last I am acquiring the tools I need to be a healthy and successful adult.   This is my life, and I will not let attention deficit disorder or anxiety take it away from me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This is Real Life

Sometimes things happen to you that seem way too good to be true.  But they are true.


On the first Sunday of spring break (March 6th), I auditioned for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.  They have two campuses, one in New York City and one in LA.  The audition was at the Sheraton Hotel in Station Square.  So convenient.  Everything went swimmingly, the warm-up, the audition itself, the interview... I really could not have asked for a better audition experience.  I loved working with the AMDA people.  And I felt that I had something to offer them.

The next Tuesday (the 15th) I got a call during HCC rehearsal.  Don't worry, my phone was on silent, but it vibrated in my pocket when the unknown number left a voicemail.  I checked it right after choir.  "Hi, this is Nathan from AMDA concerning an admissions decision. Please give me a call back..." I didn't even listen to the rest because I started hyperventilating and pushing all the buttons on my phone at once to try to hang up with voicemail and call the number back.  Nathan was busy.  The admissions secretary put me on hold.  I paced the sidewalk frantically.  "Hi, Jane?"  "Yes????"  "Nathan's still on the phone with someone else.  You've been accepted to AMDA New York."  !!!!!! *gasping* *herculean efforts to control the squealing* "Thhhhank you?!!!"  "Yea, congratulations.  So, look here's all this information you need to know, info in the mail, etc. etc. etc.  Do you have any questions?"  "Um, yea, when do I find out about my financial aid package?"  "Hold on, I can transfer you to the financial aid department right now."  "Thanks so much."  On hold again.  At this moment most of my friends from HCC came around the corner on their way to Lulus.  I pranced around wordlessly for a bit before I managed to eep out "I just got into AMDA!!!"  There was much rejoicing, and my dear composer/piano player friend gives me what is quite possibly the best hug of my life thus far.  The crowd continued to Lulus, but composer/piano player friend offers to make celebratory pancakes.  I readily agree, and he rides the wave of my euphoria all the way to his house, discussing how famous I'm going to be and how I'm going to make him famous, too, and many other crazy things which I'm not sure I completely remember...  But the pancakes were delicious, of course.  Afterward, I headed over to Lothrop to visit another friend of mine and rehearse for the benefit concert on Saturday.  He served me green tea, as usual, and I promptly spilled it all over myself in excitement.  I think he actually had to take my mug away until I calmed down.  We sang a lot, watched Chapter 5 of Inglourious Basterds, and laughed at several episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway.

I find it quite fitting that these two young men were the two with whom I celebrated my triumph, for these very same men were there the night I broke down and freaked out about where my life was going, etc.  They have now seen me at my lowest and my highest points.  Congrats, you two.  Although I never mention names on my blog, I'm sure you know who you are.  I really don't think I could have chosen two better people to share the evening with.

AMDA is a conservatory in New York City.  Well, actually there are two AMDA campuses, one in NYC and one in LA.  The NYC campus offers 2-year conservatory programs (which culminate in a professional certificate) in Musical Theater, Acting, and Dance Theater.  The LA campus offers those programs in addition to a 4-year B.F.A. program in  Musical Theater, Acting, Dance Theater, and Performing Arts, which is a fancy way of saying create-your-own-program.  Only the LA campus offers bachelors degrees, but students finishing the conservatory programs in NY have the option of transferring to LA to finish their degree.  This is the option that I will most likely be completing.  Since I have so many credits under my belt from my time here at Pitt, I will probably only have to spend a semester or so in LA, which is fine by me.  I want to get acquainted with the performing arts scene on that end of the country, too!  Also: the professors there are mostly working professionals, so, potentially, one of my teachers could have just walked off the set of a TV show.  How cool is that???

So, classes start in October.  That gives me about 6 months to pull my life together and prepare to take full advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime.  Earlier in this post, I said that things are too good to be true.  And part of me still feels that way. (It's taken me about 2 weeks to get this thing published haha)  But I also realize that, as they say, "no school is going to give you a career," especially in the performing arts.  Sure, I'll be in the right city and getting the right kind of training, but ultimately this is only going to be as wonderful as I am willing to put forth the effort to make it so.  So wish me luck and keep me in your prayers!  ADHD is no easy beast to tame, and I want to be the "best version of myself" as Matthew Kelly would say, before I leave for the Big Apple!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ADHD Things

As previously mentioned, I have recently been diagnosed with ADHD.  So far, it has been absolutely fantastic.  Hm, let me rephrase that.  Finally knowing what is going on in my brain has been fantastic.  Turns out, I am not lazy or unmotivated.  I legitimately have a condition which very often prevents me from focusing on anything and thus prevents me from achieving at the highest level possible.  I've been reading the book Delivered from Distraction by Dr. Edward Hallowell, an expert on this disorder, and I'm realizing that a lot of things that I thought were just me, just the way I work, are actually symptoms of ADHD.  Here are a few (taken from pages 40-47, the ADD Self-Assessment Quiz, and a couple of other places in the book.  Sorry, I'm bad at annotating things...):

- When sitting, I fidgit a lot, and I always have.  I am actually just now realizing that I am almost constantly in motion.
- It is unusually torturous for me to sit still and pay attention for any prolonged period of time, i.e. in a classroom/lecture hall.  After about 20-30 minutes I am ready for a change of scene.
-  Along those lines, I feel I could pay better attention at lectures/presentations if I could get up and pace around. (I always pace around when I'm on the phone or waiting for things, too.)
- My education since high school has been ripe with underachievement, usually because of poor organization and trouble getting to class on time/at all, aside from the primary trouble of focusing on lectures and homework.
- I LOVE driving, especially fast.  It helps me think; it's like the fog lifts.  The same goes for walking.
- Sometimes my thoughts go so fast, my "mental organizer" can't keep up.
- Sometimes I focus extraordinarily well, even superfocus, but I also get frustrated because I can't make myself superfocus on demand.
- My schoolbag, desk, bookshelves, room, closet, etc, are all a MESS.
- I have a razor-sharp memory one moment only to be foggy and absentminded the next.
- I prefer work in intense bursts rather than prolonged intervals.
- I sometimes smile in a conversation in hopes that it will be a sufficient contribution, because I have totally lost track of what is being talked about. (I never realized how often I space out until this diagnosis!!!  It happens all the freakin' time!!!)
- I do that change-the-subject-out-of-nowhere thing during conversations, because I always have other things spinning around in the back of my mind, even if I am completely tuned in to the conversation.  I've gotten good at recognizing this and warning people, though.
- I waste vast quantities of time roaming around on the Internet, sending and receiving e-mails, playing electronic games, and otherwise diverting myself from what I originally sat down at my computer to do.
- No matter how hard I try to be on time, I am usually late.
- I have trouble sticking with one task until it is done.

There are lots more, but those are some of the most prominent and interesting ones, I think.  Usually, the next question to pop up is, "Aren't most people somewhat like this?"  Dr. Hallowell answers this question as follows:
The diagnosis of ADD is based not upon the presence of these symptoms - which most people have now and then - but upon the intensity and duration of the symptoms.  If you have symptoms intensely, as compared to a group of your peers, and if you have had them all your life, you may have ADD.  An apt comparison can be made with depression.  While everyone has been sad, not everyone has been depressed.  The difference lies in the intensity and duration of the sadness. So it is with ADD.  If you are intensely distractible, and have been forever, you may have ADD.
 According to Hallowell, "roughly 5 to 8 percent of the American population has ADD."  Although it is true that "its [ADD's] symptoms abound in modern life," only this small percentage experience symptoms severe enough to warrant a diagnosis and treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or medication.  That being said, there are loads of ways to deal with ADD that do not involve medication, so if you have ADD tendencies, there are still tricks for dealing with those things.  I think they are addressed in this book somewhere (I haven't gotten through it yet), but a lot of it is just understanding how your brain works and what your limitations are.

Ok, that is all.  I am quite fascinated by this new discovery, so there may be more posts along these lines in the future.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Home Alone

I would like to begin this post by stating how wonderful my housemates are.  Really.  They are not messy or loud, they respect my privacy but also don't let me become a recluse, and they are generally cool people with interesting and unoffensive ways of viewing the world.
with that being said
there are some things that one just cannot enjoy when there are other people in the house.  These activities include (but are not limited to):
- blasting my music as loud as it goes
- talking to myself out loud as I putter around the kitchen
- hanging out in my underwear (away from windows, of course)
- singing at the top of my lungs
- watching "Coupling" on the house tv in the living room and laughing loudly and obnoxiously at the inappropriate humor unfailingly found therein
I acknowledge the fact that any of these things would be mildly to extremely not ok if my housemates were home.  It is no reflection on them; rather, common courtesy dictates a certain way of behaving for everyone's sake.  And now that the house is mine, all mine, I may engage in said enjoyable activities as I please.

On a completely unrelated topic, here is a game that I have been spending waaaaaay too much time playing.  May it bring you similar hours of internet bliss:
yes, I am a word-games kind of gal.

And the title of this post makes me want to watch a certain Christmas movie....
I had planned on working that in a little more cleverly and subtlely, but alas it is getting late and so... that just happened.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Life in Lists

Here is what I love:
- sleeping, especially NAPS, especially when I didn't sleep a lot the night before
- EATING.  Praise God for my young, fast metabolism and my love for walking everywhere, cuz without them I'd be fat.  Fat, fat, fat.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gspaoaecNAg  1:37
- the above video
- when my room is clean.  Not like it is now.  :(
- snakes.  I want this watch:
and this pet:
I'm pretty sure this is a phase.  I have, in the past few years, gone through the following phases of wanting pets: rabbit, russian song canary, pit bull, ferret, black cat.  I never end up getting one.  Anyway, I still have my little blue bird, Jacqueline, and she still sings to me some mornings. Usually just because she wants her breakfast, though.
- this: http://emailga.me/  

Big Doings
- Closing night of Into the Woods is tonight.  I will admit that much as I dislike Sondheim, I am going to miss people from the cast/crew/pit.  That's as far as I'm going along that mushy route.
- I was officially diagnosed with adult ADHD about a week ago.  This explains a lot, if you ask me.  
- I am a part-time student now.  I forgot to mention it on this blog a few weeks ago when I dropped 9 of my 15 credits.  Hopefully this will mean more work which means more money!  And less self-loathing due to being behind in school.
- I am auditioning to transfer into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy for musical theater in New York City!  Also Point Park.  I have auditions with both schools this month.

Songs that have been stuck in my head this week:
- Pretty Girl Rock by Keri Hilson - current favorite... "My name is Keri, I'm so very fly, oh my, it's a little bit scary... girls think I'm conceited cuz I know I'm attractive... don't hate me cuz I'm beautiful"  sigh, story of my life ;D
- Strauss's Pizzicato Polka - we are singing an arrangement of it in HCC and it is SO CUTE that I can't help but giggle and bob my head back and forth when I hear it/sing it.  Shows up at 3:20 or so of this little clip: http://www.mojvideo.com/video-sylvester-mouse-mazurka/4acf8004e425b7b7d2ec
- One More Kiss from Sondheim's "Follies" - singing this for my AMDA audition, so I've been practicing singing out those high As!
- When Somebody Loved Me from Toy Story 2 - I have a certain composer/arranger friend of mine to thank for this... He has a knack for introducing suck-the-happiness-out-of-you sad songs into my life. :p

Spring Break Goals:
- clean my room
- find a way to buy snake watch
- knock my AMDA audition out of the park (it's on Sunday)
- go to confession
- decide what to do for Lent (starts on Wednesday!)
- receive the books and boots I ordered in the mail (don't you love goals that don't require any work?  haha I do!)
- find a summer job?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine Weekend

There are SO many things I wish to do this Valentines Day weekend, not just because Valentines Day is on Monday, but because there is so much wonderful stuff going on!  Here is my to-do list:
- attend my first weekend rehearsal of Into the Woods, since Jungle Book just closed on Sunday.
- go to the Black and White ball wearing my favorite dress! (prom 2008, for those of you who know what I'm talking about)
- go to see Camelot.  sigh... this sadly may not happen...
- go to see Dracula.  This also may not happen, but I am dying to see this ballet, so I may just buy a single ticket and head out there myself.
- sing in the HCC Chamber Choir Festival on Sunday at 3.
- deliver singing valentines on Monday with fellow fabulous HCCers

Clearly, the Arts are my life. I didn't realize how much so until I formulated this list.  If only I could do nothing but sing and dance and perform all the time...

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Ok, I'm dying here.  I haven't West Coast Swing-danced for two days now, and Tuesday feels absolutely forever away!!!  How did this happen to me??  Barely two months ago I was just a normal girl, finishing up fall semester and learning how to swing dance.  Now, I'm a full-blown addict.  Check it out:

Criteria for Addiction
* Symptoms have persisted for at least a month or have occurred repeatedly over a longer period of time.
Check.  It's been two months since West Coast entered my life.
* Taking the drug more often or in larger amounts than intended.
Check.  I dance at least twice a week, and I want to dance way more.
* Unsuccessful attempts to quit; persistent desire, craving.
Check.  Never tried to quit (why would I??), but the desires and cravings are indeed persistent.
* Excessive time spent in drug seeking.
Hmm... not sure if this one applies?  I already know when/where to get my fix... so I don't really seek it out anymore.
* Feeling intoxicated at inappropriate times, or feeling withdrawal symptoms from a drug at such times.
Check.  Definitely felt withdrawal symptoms at inappropriate times.  Like in class.
* Giving up other things for it.
Check, check and CHECK!  Like money, for instance.  And time.  Evenings and evenings of time...
* Continued use, despite knowledge of harm to oneself and others.
This clearly does not apply.  What harm could a little dancing do?
* Marked tolerance in which the amount needed to satisfy increases at first before leveling off.
Check!  Two hours of dance is not enough for me anymore.  
* Characteristic withdrawal symptoms for particular drugs.
I'm not sure which withdrawal symptoms are characteristic for West Coast Swing.  
* Taking the drug to relieve or avoid withdrawal.
Does it count that I sometimes try to West Coast BY MYSELF because I want to go dancing so bad?  

Ok, I realize that I'm probably not ACTUALLY addicted to swing dancing, and that this post could be offensive to someone who's actually struggled with addiction.  I was just trying to illustrate my feelings in a clever way.  Don't judge.  Just take me dancing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


One of the disadvantages to having my bed dismantled and in a pile in the corner of my room is that I didn't get it re-mantled in time to sleep on it last night.  This is due to a string of circumstances including meaningful late-night conversations with my roomies, haircuts, long phone calls with strange men, reading Harry Potter book #7, and perhaps more dancing than was absolutely necessary.  Also due to this string of circumstances, I didn't really go to bed until almost 2am, at which time I arranged my pillows in my papasan chair and snuggled in.  It was comfortable at first, but I realized as the night went on that it wasn't quite as nice as I imagined it would be.  I had strange dreams about making out in dressing rooms and losing my sister's dog in New York City.  And when my alarm went off at 8 for my 10am class, my still-half-asleep brain thought that "I slept in a papasan chair last night" was a good enough reason to cut class this morning to sleep more, a thought which was repudiated by my fully-awake self about an hour and a half later.  But what could I do?  By then I had already missed the bus into campus.  My next class isn't until 1.  It seems fitting that I spend this time putting my bed back together to avoid a repeat performance of last night.  Oy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

She Wolf

Overall, I am happier than I have been since the end of September.  I still have ups and downs, but the downs are far less frequent and less painful.  I attribute this turnaround to a variety of things, most important of which are:
-  a wonderful and relaxing Christmas break with my family, who love me no matter how much of a bitch I am and always accept me for me. :)
-  new plans for the future, which I may or may not disclose to you sometime in the next  few months.
-  frequent dancing and plans to dance much more in the coming weeks!
-  participation in my first non-high-school show: The Jungle Book at the Gemini Children's Theater in Homewood, in which I play Mother Wolf and the Monkey Queen.  Loads of fun, good experience for my desired career path, and motivation to do more theater this semester.  (also inspiration for the title of this blog.  though i do always listen to that song while i'm getting ready in the morning. :D)  and I am getting paid!  it just doesn't get any better, does it?
- a newly realistic, humble attitude toward my faith.  we all make mistakes.  i still love God.  but i'm still figuring stuff out, too, and i can't be perfect all the time.  no one can.

Oh, so serious!  But really, I am having a great time.  I love studying music, looking for performance opportunities (and finding them!) and having the self-confidence to be the person I've always wanted to be.  Hopefully I'll be writing more now that I'm not so depressed all the time. :)

If you have some kids you wanna bring to the Gemini, or you just wanna come see me yourself, the shows are every weekend this month and the first weekend of February.  Tickets are $9.50 each and the shows are Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 3:30pm for a total of 4 shows/weekend.  I do not recommend coming if you are over the age of 8, since it is most definitely children's theater, but so many people have asked me about it, I thought I would post the info.   That being said, if you are under 8 years old, it is a raucously good time and I highly recommend coming!!