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.  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:  

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:
- 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?