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Adventures in Bridesmaiding

5 Oct

A few years ago, my dear friend Lindsay moved to India.  She’d traveled there before, fallen in love with an Indian man, and decided to just freaking go for it.  I was really, really sad when she left–but had to tip my hat to her.  I mean, talk about balls.  They planned to return to the US to marry, but various bureaucratic BS kept that happening.  Last year, she and Sanjay married in India.  I devoured the photos on Facebook.  I was sad not to be there, but thrilled to see how effing happy she looked.

But it all worked out in the end, because in September Lindsay brought Sanjay to the good ole US of A to meet her family and friends and get themselves hitched in their US wedding.  It was LITERALLY the event we’d all been waiting for.  We’d waited TWO WHOLE YEARS to celebrate this pair in the US. And folks, it did not disappoint!

Lindsay and Sanjay wed at OMSI in a beautiful ceremony that blended Hindu and American traditions.  And I was honored to serve as one of her bridesmaids.

And this was not just a one-day affair.  Oh no, it was a THREE DAY LOVEFEST of JOY.  Here’s how it went down.

Day 1: Henna Party/Bachelor Party

Thursday night the gentlemen vacated the house for the bachelor party (which included the youngest male member of the wedding party, the ring bearer, who got to have as much root beer as he wanted that night), and Linds brought in a henna artist.  Melanie did BEAUTIFUL bridal henna for Lindsay, with fun designs for the rest of the ladies as well.  Oh, and there was food.  There was a lot of food, all three days.

Day 2: Rehearsal/Rehearsal dinner

Friday was the rehearsal, at OMSI.  We met the officiant and went through the whole shebang.  When that was done, we went back to home base for food.  AND CAKE!  The bride’s niece turned 11 that day, and we took a wedding break to celebrate her.  She had gifts, and her mom (bride’s sister) made an amazing cake.  Best part?  The niece wore a tee shirt that said “she may be the bride, but I’m the birthday girl.”

Day 3, Part 1:  WEDDING DAY/Getting ready

The next day, I was up at the crack of freaking dawn (ok, it was 7:30) to get my hair blown out and flat-ironed.  Folks, I’m a loud and proud curly girl, and it has been ALMOST 4 YEARS since my hair has seen a straightening iron.  But I decided it would be a fun look to do for the wedding.  My pal/stylist Jamie did a KILLER job and I had a great time as my straight-haired evil doppelganger.

Boom.

Boom.

Then it was time for a quick lunch before heading to the hotel to get ready with the rest of the bridal party and the bride!

Linds has brought all of us beautiful, jewel toned saris and jewelry to wear for the wedding.  Here’s the thing–putting on a sari is a tricky thing if you’re not used to it.  I tried to teach myself via YouTube video, but quickly gave that up.  So before we could dress her, she had to dress all of us.

After we were all set, we got to business and got the bride ready. She looked amazing in a Western white wedding dress paired with jewelry she brought with her from India.  And then we were off to OMSI to get this wedding stuff DONE.

Day 3, Part 2:  WEDDING DAY/BIG EVENT

Finally, it was time.  The ceremony was a beautiful fusion of elements from her culture and elements from his.  The couple exchanged vows and kissed at the end, but also incorporated the saptapadi (7 step ritual) as the bridesmaids and groomsmen threw flowers.  The bridesmaids tried to get the flower petals down Lindsay’s top, because we are classy.  After the ceremony, we posed for photos before going inside and partying down.  It was glorious.  There was a ton of dancing, with a special performance by the bride herself.  It should be mentioned that the bride had THREE costumes, because  after waiting 2 years for her stateside wedding, a girl should get to be a little Beyonce.  Oh, and there was more food.  And cake.  And Ashley (maid of honor) made her famous red velvet whoopie pies.

The Aftermath

I got to see Linds and Sanjay one more time before they returned to India.

I’m a little broken hearted, but it’s bittersweet.  They’re so, so happy–which makes me so, so happy.  And I earned a year’s worth of killer memories in those 3 short days.  It was just really effing special.

So congrats, Lindsay and Sanjay.  You are loved, on both sides of the world.

A Happy Birthday Do-Over

29 Aug

My birthday was two weeks ago.

And I gotta be honest, it wasn’t the best.

It wasn’t bad, not at all.  I got to do a show that night, I got lots of phone calls and messages from friends and family, received some lovely gifts, was surprised with beautiful flowers from my boyfriend…all good things.  But there were some bummer things, too.  My plans to spend the day on the Lewis River with my boyfriend were totally derailed and the trip got cancelled.  I took myself to the movies as a consolation, but I went to see The Giver, which was totally wretched (read the book and skip the movie.  Please).  I was exhausted by the end of the day and our tentative plans to go out after the show didn’t materialize.  It was just kind of a bleh-birthday.

But Dusty was adamant that we make it to the river.  So on Wednesday, we cleared our schedule and took a day off.  And friends, it was AWESOME.

Waking up that morning FELT like my birthday.  We got up, put together our picnic, and dashed up to Lewisville Park.  We spent hours sunbathing (extra win–my SPF 75 and sunhat did their jobs and I DIDN’T BURN!), splashing in the river, snacking, and taking summery selfies.  I got to try out my new bathing suit (the “Penelope” crochet suit in navy from Nordstroms cost me an arm and a leg but was totally worth it!) Since it was my (un)birthday, I subjected him to Harry Potter, reading the first few chapters aloud to him like I always wanted to.  We took a slow walk back to our car, stopping to pick up walking sticks and swing on the abandoned swingset.  We ate ice cream on the way home and took a long, long nap.

But that wasn’t everything.  That evening I went out with two friends who I love like family for a belated birthday dinner at Tasty N Sons, which was every bit as delicious as it should have been.  I went home full of food and happiness.  Dusty had gone to Seattle that night, so I was free to discover Orphan Black, which is basically my favorite show now that there is no more Game of Thrones for me to watch.

I guess my point is this: Birthdays are special.  The gift of another year lived and the promise of another year to come is worth celebrating.  And everyone deserves one day a year to be totally selfish and have things their way–and the chance to give others that day in return.  I’m happy I got to have the day I wanted, even if it wasn’t on the day I planned.

And here are some photos:

 

A Summer of Magical Reading

9 Jul

Ho. Lee. Crap.  I love summertime.

I’m lucky enough to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, which is the best place to summer in the entire universe.  Sure, it’s gray and rainy for 8 months out of the year, but the remaining 4 are the loveliest you’ll find ever.

It’s magical.

And speaking of magic, the last several books I’ve read have all been magical in one way or another.  So for those of you who are like me and like a little magic with your iced tea and sunglasses, here’s the lowdown on what I’ve been reading.  Just a note: most of these books fall into the “magical realism” genre in one way or another.  If you’re seeking legit fantasy, you’re gonna have to find another blog. Sorry.  But here we go:

 

1. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin:  It’s funny that I’m starting a list about summer reading with a book called Winters Tale, but life is funny sometimes.  And summer or winter, this book is worth your time.  winter's taleThis is the type of book that makes me love books.  It so large, sprawling and epic that it makes my ribs stretch in the reading of it to make room for ALL THE FEELINGS in my heart, yet also deeply personal and intimate.  It takes place in an alternate version of turn-of-the-century (the last century, duh) New York City, and is a love letter to that city.  It follows Peter Lake, a thief and an outsider, as he meets and befriends the angelic white horse Athansor and falls in love with the beautiful Beverly, who can hear the universe.  The story contains miracles, a cloud wall, and a mythical village upstate that is hearbreakingly beautiful.  I adored this book with my heart and soul.  It took me months to read, and I found myself putting in down for days or weeks at a time.  Not because I didn’t like it, but because I loved it so much I felt I could only take it in small doses.  It’s not an easy read, but it is a worthwhile one.  If you prefer your summer reads to be of the page-turning variety, maybe put this one on hold until the nights are longer.  But don’t deny yourself the pleasure of reading this great novel.  Oh, and apparently they made a movie.  I refuse to see it because I’m pretty positive I’d hate it.

 

2.  Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke.  WHAT?  ANOTHER SUMMER BOOK WITH “WINTER” IN THE TITLE?  mind of winterWhatever.  I play by my own rules.  ANYWAY.  This book is less “magical” and more “psychological thriller/ghost story,” but again, I play by my own rules.  If you’re seeking a page-turning thriller this summer, this might be right up your alley.  It follows Holly Judge and her 15 year old daughter Tatiana, whom she adopted from Russia as a toddler.  It’s Christmas morning, and Holly wakes up with a pit in her stomach, and the feeling that something followed them home from Russia years ago.  Due to a crazy blizzard, Holly and Tatiana are stuck alone in their house on the holiday.  The interactions between the two escalate from typical mother and teenage daughter spats to encounters that are truly bizarre and frightening.  Neither character is truly likable (Tatiana can be bratty and Holly’s obsession with her “princess” daughter is cloying), but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment in this book.  In fact, watching these two imperfect characters and wound each other and then try to make up is fascinating. Kasischke’s writing kept me on edge from start to finish, and I read the entire novel in a single day.  No matter how hot the beach where you read this, you’ll feel chills.  Trust me.

3. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan.  I’ve known the film Portrait of Jennieportrait of jennie (1948, starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten) for as long as I can remember.  It’s a classic in my family, as my mom was named after Jennifer Jones and called “Jennie” as a little girl.  It’s the story of a depression-era artist who encounters a little girl who seems to be of another time.  Each time they meet, she is years older, although it’s only a few weeks or months since they’ve last seen each other.  She is moving in and out of time, and her “timelessness” inspires him to paint her portrait.  I’ve always loved the film, but had no idea it was a book.  A few weeks ago, I saw it on the shelf at my boss’s house and commented on it–and his wife insisted that I borrowed it.  Friends, it’s lovely.  It’s sweet and sentimental and also quite unsettling.  Not for everyone, but the romantics out there definitely should give this a read.

4. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block.  I love a good post-apocalyptic YA novel as much as the next girl, and this one, based on Homer’s Odyssey, seemed like a slam dunk.  love in the time of global warmingBut I found that my reaction was mixed.  The story follows Pen, art art-loving teenager, as she navigates through a devastated Los Angeles after a cataclysmic “earth shaker.”  Block’s writing is lush and the world she creates is both frighting and beautiful…but something left me unmoved.  There is something in her writing that doesn’t quite connect with me (I never could get into to the Weetzie Bat books, hugely popular during my middle school years).  And I found the constant references to The Odyssey tiring–I would have enjoyed it more had the characters not kept commenting on the fact that they were following the Homer work.  But I did appreciate the complex and beautifully written LGBT characters in the book–something that was missing from much of the YA fiction I read as a wee one.

5.  The River King by Alice Hoffman.  PSYCH!  I’m actually smack in the middle of this one.  But so far it’s enchanting and haunting as all get-out–pretty typical Alice Hoffman.  Her special brand of Massachusetts Magic has gripped me since I read Practical Magic for the first time as a teenager.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

River King

I’d love to write more, but I got a book to finish.

Having a Moment With: Violet

13 May

Some of you will never understand/get/like/care about musical theatre.  And you know what, that’s fine.  We are all free to like what we like and, as long as we are not committing any crimes or impeding the freedom of anyone else, we shouldn’t be judged for liking or not liking something.  So if you don’t like musicals, it’s cool.  Come back next week and read about something else.

But for those of us with a smile on our face and a song in our hearts and spirit in our fingers, musicals can be a balm on our soul after life has wounded it.  At least, it always has been for me.  Most musicals, like most movies or meals and lovers, come and go.  But some…some stay.  Les Miserables.  Into the Woods.  Chess.  She Loves Me.  I will go for years without bothering to listen to any of these–and then something will happen and I won’t rest easy until I’ve put in those old CDs, discs I’ve had since middle school.  There’s wisdom and art in these pieces, and they never let me down.

Violet is one of the most special ones.

You’ve probably heard of it.  It’s a big deal now, because SUTTON FOSTER is playing the lead.  And, in true Portlander fashion, I admit that I internally (and sometimes externally) scoff when people bring it up to  me.  Because (God, I hate myself right now), I WAS INTO VIOLET BEFORE IT WAS COOL.

My voice teacher, Trina (holla!), told me about it when I was 15.  She had won a CD in some kind of crazy online contest (back when the internet was young) and thought I’d like it.  I pretty much took everything she said as gospel (still do), and I bought it.

And I loved it.  Instantly, irrevocably and completely.

For those unfamiliar, here is the story:  Violet is a young woman living in the hills of North Carolina in the mid 1960s.  When she was 13, she suffered an accident.  Her father, who she adored, was chopping wood when the blade flew off the axe and struck Violet in the face.  She survived, but was left with a disfiguring scar.  Now an adult, she is leaving home for Oklahoma, to seek the aide of a televangelist she believes will heal her.  Her scar, not seen by the audience, is constantly being commented on by the people she meets.  On the way, she meets two soldiers, Monty and Flick, and forms a sort of friendship with them.  Monty is handsome, slick and charming.  Flick is quieter, shier, but sensitive and charming in his own way.  The men may have started speaking with Violet as a lark, but over the course of their time together they are both deeply affected by her.  She spends the night with Monty.  But it is Flick who is truly captivated.  He is African American, and shares with her his understanding of being an outsider.  She does, finally, meet her preacher, and he can’t heal her scar the way she expects.  But she is healed all the same–albeit not in the way she expected.  The story is cut with scenes from her childhood, between “young” Violet and her father.

It’s beautiful.  The perfect, gorgeous-voiced Lauren Ward played the lead.  And I was 15 and awkward and feeling like an outsider myself (as teenagers and all of us do sometimes).  Of course I fell in love.  How could I not?  I was a shy, awkward, goofy teenaged musical-theatre addict who was obsessed with being “normal” and terrified I was not.  I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be loved, and I wanted everyone to just leave me alone so I could just be with my CD player.

The original cast, Lauren Ward and Michael Park.  Photo courtesy of playbill.com

The original cast, Lauren Ward and Michael Park. Photo courtesy of playbill.com

My university performed Violet a few years later.  I was too scared to audition, but I went and saw it.  Twice. And then when the show was over I went for one of those long walks I love so much and asked myself “what is it about this show that gets to me?!”

And even now, if you were to ask me what it was about this show that I love so much, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.  This story and this score has been a part of me for so long, over half my life, that it’s a part of the fabric of what makes me me.  But I know that this story is one of the most pragmatic and yet one of the most hopeful that I’ve ever encountered.  The courses of our lives move and shift by chance and circumstance, by “the luck of the draw.”  Bad things, unfair things, can happen to people who don’t deserve it.  But so can good things.  There is always hope.  There is always light, somewhere.  The preacher can’t fix Violet’s face, but the journey to the preacher can start to heal her soul.  No one has to be alone.  And even if you’ve lived your whole life afraid, today can be the day that you take the first step that will change it.

This new production, and its star, are getting raves.  And while I would give my eye teeth to see it, travel to New York isn’t a possibility for my life right now.  But a friend who remembered my love for this show has bought a copy for me, and it’s now on its way.  And when it arrives I’ll shut myself up, sit on the bed or the floor and listen to it.  Everything I hear will be new and not new.  I’ll know whats coming and wait, breathless, for it anyway.  And I’ll be thrilled that the little show that meant so much to me is now reaching millions of people, and also selfishly want it to be mineallmine.  And I’ll remember in times of sadness and doubt and trouble, that I have to “tend my soul, give it room, and let it sing.”

Sutton Foster as Violet, photo courtesy of broadwaybox

Sutton Foster as Violet, photo courtesy of broadwaybox

Love a good video montage?  Watch one here.

Kickstart some Independent Women.

25 Feb

Oh snap, guys.  I’m about to do something I never thought I’d do.  I’m about to ask y’all for money.

Ok.  Wait.  Backup.

When I started this blog, I had a little conversation with my self. “Self,” said I, “how do you feel about blending this upstart new blog you’re started with your theatre career?” “Well Self,” I replied, “I don’t really wanna do that.  I wanna keep my theatre work in the theatre and my Rosettes and Revolution stuff on Rosettes and Revolution.  I’ll probably only vaguely refer to my theatrical work in the blog.”  “Good plan,” my Selves said in unison.

But today I am BREAKING that sacred agreement between Self and Self, and using R&R to talk about my current theatrical endeavors.  So it’s a really, really special day.

For the past SIX MONTHS, I have been working with the most amazing ensemble of ladies to devise and produce INDEPENDENT WOMEN.  This show is an exploration of women in the workplace (now and during WWII–when women went to work in never-before-seen-numbers) and what it means to be an Independent Woman.

And friends, I have been blown away by the explosion of talent that has come together on this piece.  Every day I am inspired by everyone’s vision, creativity and dedication–and every night I thank my lucky stars that I get to be a part of it all.  We’ve got comedy.  We’ve got feminism. We’ve got singing and soul-searching and SWEET DANCE MOVES.  What ain’t we got?

We ain’t got money.

We’re on a wing and a prayer here, guys.  And so we do what the dreamers before has have done (since 2009).  We launched a Kickstarter.  SEE IT HERE.

We are so.darn.close to our goal that I can smell it–and it smells GOOD.  So if you like R&R, feminism, and supporting theatre and you can spare $10, it would mean the flipping world to us if you could send it our way.  This money will cover the costs to put up the show and maybe–maybe–even provide a small stipend for the amazing artists who have donated their time.

And to those who have already donated and spread the word–thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I mean it.

As my good friend (in my mind, obviously, I don’t know her) Jessie J says, it’s not about the money.  But money sure does help. So please give us a little cha-ching cha-ching.  Cause we just wanna make the world dance.

Ladies, it ain't easy being independent.

Ladies, it ain’t easy being independent.

For more information on INDEPENDENT WOMEN, visit the Social Sciences Productions website.

 

Having a moment with: Wall Decals

14 Jan

I guess I never got over my toddlerhood obsession with stickers, but I’m really into wall decals right now.  Wall decals are an awesomely easy, quick, CHEAP way to spruce up a room.

I’ve been on a real nesting kick for the past several months.  I’ve even slowed down my rabid clothing purchases to put more time and funds into home stuff.  New curtains, bath mats, throw pillows and dishes have been brightening my life.  But nothing has brightened my day like my wall decals.

It started as a fluke.  I was a Target, buying shit, when I stumbled upon the wall decals.  For kicks, I picked up a pack of 3D butterflies.  I took them home and went to work.  I tried several different designs on several different walls before sticking them willy-nilly on the wall above the bed.

BUTTERFLY EXPLOSION!

BUTTERFLY EXPLOSION!

AND THAT’S THE GLORY OF WALL DECALS–you can stick and unstick them easily and with no damage to the wall.  I liked my butterflies so much that I went back to Target and picked up a set of mirror bubbles for the bathroom.

Bubbles everywhere!

Bubbles everywhere!

They’re kind of silly, but also kind of awesome.  Each pack is between $10 and $20, so you can experiment without flushing too much money.

Are they sophisticated and chic?  No sir.  We’re talking about stickers for grown-ups, after all.  And not even for grown-ups, because at least half the designs are clearly meant for kids rooms (whatever).  But if you like a touch of whimsy and charm, give it a go.

If you’re into it, check out the designs from the Target website.

And happy sticking!

Having A Moment With: Emilie Autumn’s “Fight Like a Girl.”

9 Dec

I know I’m a little late to the party here (the album came out December 2012), but it’s fantastic–if you’re into so-concept-it’s-almost-a-play Victorian chamber pop.

Emilie Autumn has existed in my musical consciousness for the past few years, although I’ve never gone so far as to call myself a fan.  Every once in awhile, one of her tracks off Opheliac will pop up on my Pandora.  I always liked hearing her stuff, but never purchased it.  This past summer, I discovered The Devil’s Carnival, and fell in love with her exuberant rendition of Prick! Goes the Scorpion’s Tail.  Watch it here.

Fantastic.

A few days ago, I stumbled down an Internet Rabbit Hole that somehow ended at Emilie Autumn’s home page.  I watched the video for the title track Fight Like a Girl…and fell in love.  I bought the album, and I’ve spent all day listening to it.

Ok, I’ll say right off the bat that this isn’t for everyone.  It’s theatrical.  It’s weird.  It’s angry.  From the piddling bit of Internet Research, I’ve learned that Emilie Autumn is a fine musician, but that she definitely has a schtick.  Part burlesque, part feminist, part humor, part Victorian steampunk mental asylum–you get the drill.  It’s a concept album that tells the story of The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, a part-autobiography-part-fantasy novel Autumn wrote some years ago about her experience with mental illness and treatment.

But here’s the thing– I totally buy into her schtick.

I find her music and performances to be electric.  I’m ignited both by her rage and cheeky humor.  And I think her music is a whole lot of freaking fun.  From the battle cry that is Fight Like a Girl to the clever dance-hall oom-pah of Girls Girls Girls and the beauty and hope of the final songs….she reaches me.

She’s not for everyone.  But for this Angry Feminist with a touch of an Alice (in Wonderland) complex and a love of musical theatre and Victorian dance hall sexuality–I’m sold.

Fight_Like_a_Girl_Emilie_Autumn_Single_Cover