31 October, 2016

I've Been: September-October 2016

Family Squad GOALS.
I’ve Been…

- Loving loving loving 'Autumn in New York'

- Singing  at the Mandarin Oriental with the "fam"

- Pranking Kantor
     (Kantor was out sick (?) for the first time, and thus I decided to start a prank: the entire cast wrote "Dear Adam" get-well notes, ranging from the sincere to the deeply inappropriate and his understudy Matt Moisey and I taped them ALL. OVER. HIS. ROOM.) 

Pranking genius.

- At the Mayo Clinic:
     - Getting answers
     - Meeting some of the best doctors on planet earth
     - Getting off the evil evil medications that were ruining my life!
     - Healing healing healing
     - Swimming in mega-steroid withdrawal! (SUUUPER FUN!)
     - Sleeping 9-14 hours a day.


- Introvert-dating to The Strand Bookstore with my beloved introvert gals Nikka and Ashley...

Introverts.
- ...and buying 8 squillion children's books (and a catnip owl for Tati, duh) for our mutual pal Laura Benanti's baby shower:
     - Lyle Lyle Crocodile
     - Eloise
     - The Phantom Tollbooth
     - The Secret Garden
     - A Little Princess 
     - The Chronicles of Narnia
     - Little Women
     - Anne of Green Gables
     - A Wrinkle in Time
     - East of the Sun West of the Moon
     - Frog and Toad

 - Enjoying Lilly playing in our Fiddler orchestra!
     (Can you believe Lilly and I have never, in our entire lives as performers and BFFs, performed together? This was one of the most incredibly special days of my life. Lilly and Al making their performance debut on Broadway. The feeling of having Lilly playing gorgeously, supporting me underneath my feet as I played Tzeitel was a dream beyond imagining.)


- Celebrating the Jewish High Holidays. 
 
- Adult-ing (I bought a shredder! And shredded things!)

- Exploring in NYC (Have you checked out The Oculus?)

- Experiencing major Fiddler understudy love!
(for instance, reveling in the magical day Adam Kantor was out, Jeffrey Schekter was on vacation, And Aaron Young was sick so JACOB GUZMAN HAD TO EMERGENCY GO ON FOR MENDEL!)

Happy Anniversary Hub!
- Celebrating our one-year anniversary at Fiddler on the Roof! Marking all the little "one year agos" as a company:
     - First day of rehearsal
     - T-shirt day
     - Staging Matchmaker
     - Our first Kamzoil date.
Happy Anniversary Fiddler!
- Finishing my book edits
     (Joyfully. It was a pleasure returning to these familiar characters I now see every day once again, and revisiting my new friends. I can't even express how extraordinary the priviledge is to share all these people with you on July 4).  
The cover!

- Dropping my jaw at the book cover! (It is REAL!)


- Coming apart at the seams that the book is available for pre-order on Amazon!

- Standing up for myself!
     (A very opinionated woman who is the hostess at Cosmic Diner on 52/8th avenue asked me "What did you do to your hair?" followed by her rolling her eyes, shaking her head and telling me it looked "terrible.")

- More and more Reading reading reading:
     - The Great Courses: Becoming a Great Essayist
     - Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
     - The Five Keys of Mindful Communication
     - The Great Courses: World Mythology
  
- Auditions auditions auditions
     ...and then?
- Getting a new gig!

#TheCutestPregnantWomanOnBroadway
- Long autumnal walks in the park

- Making new friends!

- #TheCutestPregnantWomanOnBroadway SHENANIGANS

- 6 show weekend

- 5 show weekend

- WATCHING SOME TV
     - Binge-watching Hawaii Five-0 (...aaaaand WEEPING)
     - The Grinder
     - Bones
     - Family Guy
     - Chef's Table: France
     - Bloodline
     - The Roosevelts
   
- Reveling in Tati’s NOT *AT ALL* OVERBLOWN fame:




- Fighting for a #FairWageOnStage!

- Bonding with my lovely older neighbor Christian in apartment 12, as he attempts to give me his very last piece of precious baklava. I refused, but my my was he sweeter than the Aegean treat!


- Attending and singing at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's American soiree

- Attending my very first ever BOARD MEETING! For the RCS, a true honoUr.

Friends.

- Collecting for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids

- Coaching incredibly talented students, friends and colleagues

- Watching Astoria (adorably!) trick or treat

- Having an impromptu Halloween Party with beloved pals ElStans, Max and Daniel with drinks, memories, laughter
     and
- the epics carving of pumpkins!

30 October, 2016

'Zilpha Marsh' from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

from The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

AT four o’clock in late October
I sat alone in the country school-house
Back from the road ’mid stricken fields,
And an eddy of wind blew leaves on the pane,
And crooned in the flue of the cannon-stove,
With its open door blurring the shadows
With the spectral glow of a dying fire.
In an idle mood I was running the planchette—
All at once my wrist grew limp,
And my hand moved rapidly over the board,
Till the name of “Charles Guiteau” was spelled,
Who threatened to materialize before me.
I rose and fled from the room bare-headed
Into the dusk, afraid of my gift.
And after that the spirits swarmed—
Chaucer, Cæsar, Poe and Marlowe,
Cleopatra and Mrs. Surrat—
Wherever I went, with messages,—
Mere trifling twaddle, Spoon River agreed.
You talk nonsense to children, don’t you?
And suppose I see what you never saw
And never heard of and have no word for,
I must talk nonsense when you ask me
What it is I see!



24 October, 2016

The Visit

Moscow,
September 1910


That night, she dreamed.

Lying next to a fitful Maxim, she became aware of the unmistakable briny smell of the ocean air. Moments later, she felt Mikhail sit beside her on the floating bed, and then, in an instant, she knew he was there. She felt his gaze on her like the heat of sunlight through their shabby window. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. He smiled back.

“Gorky?” he chuckled.
“Well…” she shrugged.

He looked so well: as vibrant and rosy-cheeked and healthy as he ever had in life. His skin had a lustrous glow, as if a lambent flame deep within him was radiating a brilliant light of serenity, warmth and comfort.

“So,” she asked, smirking a little, “How is it?” she was overwhelmed with joy in seeing him.
“It is everything you hope it is.” He paused and thought for a moment. “That is all I should say…” He inclined his head, smiling, surveying her face, regarding her with love.
“I delivered the document, Mikhail. I succeeded.”
“I know, my love” he nodded.
“The journey was so treacherous. Thank God Dmitri found me in that alleyway, I never would’ve survived.”
“Well,” he glimmered “he had some help…”

And then they sat there a while. She bathed in his light, basked in his luminous presence, while he appraised her with a compassionate distance that simultaneously discomfited and soothed her. He was changed. But the change suited him. The signature resolve, the fight and pluck that so accompanied Mikhail’s every gesture seemed quelled; as if his fight had not been extinguished in death, but won.

She had kept her promise, and here, in her dreams, he was keeping his. How she missed him. Sorrow and yearning began to well up within her, and she turned away for a moment, allowing tears to fall down her neck and onto the pillow. Then, as if he had read her mind, he placed his hand on hers, and she felt a sudden, quiet, serenity. Turning back to face him she recognized there was heat and energy, but no weight or pressure in his touch.

Suddenly she felt herself rising, her vision sharpening, a wakeful consciousness pushing away the foggy mists of sleep. She wanted to sit up, alert, to be with him in waking life. But when she tried to move her she was frozen still, her limbs locked to the mattress. She fought and struggled to rise.

“No, Shura…” he whispered.

But she willed it to be. She pressed on, pushing through delirium with a wild force of love. His hand still on hers, his eyes locked on her struggling frame, he spoke easily, but his voice echoed from a far away place, as if in a tunnel,

“Look for me, Shura…” he counseled.

“Wait! Mikhail!” and she shattered through her paralysis, breaking through the immobilized cloud with a great force and sat up, breathless, at last.

Strikingly sober, she blinked the moisture from her eyes as they swept the room, observing with a great, clean, waking clarity, every corner and shadow as the first light of dawn began to caress the horizon. The hand he had touched was gripped atop the pounding of her heart.
He was gone.

Slowly, deliberately, she placed her hand on the spot where he had been and  and drowned in the ribbons of silence. Nothing remained save the cold of the dawn, the distinct scent of ocean air; and, fixed to the palm of her steady hand, a small collection of salt.

22 October, 2016

19 October, 2016

Adult-ing: Part 4

oh hey.
16. Every encounter counts.
    ...So always do your very best. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, give what you have and what you can, and do so with an open and glad heart.
    The number of jobs I have been offered because my reputation preceded me, or because I had done great work in previous audition rooms that didn’t require as much to prove in the ultimate room, all connected to original positive encounters. Good work is always your best calling card
    In addition, the number of friendships I enjoy because of meaningful encounters I thought would be casual, are many.
    You might not be the very best 100% you have ever had in The History of Ever, but give all you have that day, and if you genuinely think you are going to be better off at home, there is nothing wrong with staying home and recharging those batteries (believe me, I've done it). Why? Because every encounter counts.


17. Self-advocacy is not always about advocating for yourself to others, but, more often than not, advocating for yourself to your Self.
    When we are crushed into a corner, we are often willing to advocate for our safety, our rights, or for the rights and comforts of people, groups or causes we care about. One is much more likely to advocate for a convicted cyber criminal before we say to ourselves “I need to say No to this. Not because I am incapable or an inherently selfish grouchy pants, but because I can’t do this task well, nor will I be good to anyone if I don’t advocate for my health/rest/nutrition/downtime.”
    Why do we do that? Even though we would never actually allow anyone to speak to us the way our inner voice speaks to us multiple times a day, we tolerate it anyway, letting our best-worst-friend Inner Vampire drive the car.
    We also very rarely stick up for ourselves when our inner voice is being a big ol' jerk. The inner voice says things lik:
    “You were stood up on that date because your thighs are thick and you can’t hold a conversation. You should spend at least three days fretting that you are un-dateable and un-lovable.”
Then it says
    “Your boss addressed a work issue with unnecessary venom, accompanied by a total character assassination: you totally deserve to be spoken to that way, and not only a bad employee but a bad person.”
Wow. Keep it down inner-jerk-voice!
Your inner self-advocate is also equally capable of saying:
“If I made a mistake, a person has every capacity to calmly express their disappointment or address my error without attacking me personally. If it continues, I have the power to ask it to stop, leave this situation physically, or try to prevent it from hurting me so deeply.”
    Lesson: Sometimes it isn’t about standing up for yourself to your boss or to your mother-on-law or that jerk face at work. And that is challenging.
     But more often than not, it starts deeper: self-advocacy is more often than not about reminding yourself that you are a human being who deserves respect, and that that respect had to start by respecting yourself. (Oh, and actually respecting yourself, by the way. None of this lip-service self respect but still keeping Inner Vampire on the payroll! I know that game...) You have to do your personal homework so you get to a place where you know ad believe, that you possess worth.

18. Not choosing is also a choice.
Remember that.


19. You don’t have to LIKE everyone, and vice versa.
Ronda: scene of cliffs, sangria and arguments
     Well,what do ya know? High School is never over.
     I recall the very first time this lesson really hit home for me. I was away on a 10-day artist retreat in Spain (I know I know) with my artistic idol leading workshops at a beautiful Spanish mill during the day, while at night we ate and drank (and sometimes sang) our way through glorious Spanish delights, and socialized with the other artistic types. I initially withheld my profession and performance abilities. After all, I was on holiday, and I also thought it might a point of over-fascination for some (long lines of questioning and requests to perform, etc), outright threatening to others. And anyway it didn't really matter to making collages in Spain.
     Here's what I discovered:
  1. I was the youngest person there by about 25 years.
  2. The only single person.
  3. The only person who wasn’t (ostensibly) a Canadian mother (or, tag along husband)
  4. Socially, I had never dealt with ANYTHING like this situation, and I was
  5. ON MY FREAKIN' OWN ABOUT THAT.
     Some of the Canadians immediately associated me with their children. They responded to my 24-year-self, full of curiosity and youth with delight. Those folks scooped me up and adopted me instantly.
     Then some were suspicious. What was a 24-year-old American actress doing here exactly? What could she possibly want out of this experience other than attention After the first few days, when those people realized that I was down to earth and genuine, they relaxed and accepted me too.
     And then there was… well let’s call her Vanessa. Ahhh Vanessa. Vanessa was roughly sixty, a prominent person of British Columbia, mother of a 23-year-old son, and a retired television producer. Quite pretty for any age, Vanessa had lovely skin, a nice figure, and a shock of long, bright white, perfectly manicured hair that was once a shock of red.
     Vanessa was also incredibly intelligent, charming and cultured, but she also behaved as if she had grown used to being the star of every social scene. And I? Well tiny-fetal-poreless-West-End-actress-living-in-London ME was not what she was expecting. Or hoping for. Or enjoying. Not one bit. Just by showing up, just be existing, I was taking up her oxygen, her role, and all the “star quality” real-estate in this social circle and WHOA BOY: look out. Vanessa wanted, nay, required my  expulsion. Perhaps not physically, but she needed everyone to at least dislike me as much as she did, and she needed all of these things deeply in order for her to feel at ease.
      Now that I think about it,  I suppose there is something in the transformation of Vanessa's once-red hair now a shock of white that perfectly captures Vanessa’s (perhaps not entirely perceived?) crisis; a crisis I don’t even dare attempt to understand for even now I am still a relatively young woman. But people, particularly woman, in transition, are people I have great compassion for.
     For if I’m honest, a part of me just wants to go back in time and hug her. Even though I didn't actively do anything wrong, I understand that my presence along must have pushed very tender buttons within her, and I feel for her. I've been on the other side of that now in less intense ways and it is painful and terrifying.
     That said, Vanessa's behavior was odious. She was mean! Her behavior crueler than any high school bully (and believe me: I endured my fair few of those). Some days I stood agape at the things that came out of her mouth—the mouth of an adult, grown-assed human being. The details aren’t important but truuuuust me: Vanessa was a super-meany-pants, and a bully.
     At twenty-four, I suppose I had never even considered that “grown ups” could behave like this! I guess I thought that there was a sort of magical kingdom or “finish line” grown up people crossed at 40ish that meant they were "done cooking." This secret School of Adulting BFA (Bachleor of Fine Adulting?) made them infinitely wise, compassionate, tolerant and kind. This Adult Ivy League paradise is where they learned to drive, do taxes, do laundry, take out mortgages, change diapers, bake bread, write poems, join the PTA, and obviously, have all the answers! What a dope I was (the same dope that used to think elementary school teachers slept at school...)
     I didn’t expect Vanessa to pull punches that would make my sophomore year group of Mean Girls HIGH FIVE her…before stuffing me in a locker. Well. I know better now. BWA-HA-HA. Having reached my own "adulthood" I now know that every single adult out there is both "winging it" and, truly, doing the very best they can. After all, despite feeling like a total nobody-loser (which, by the way, I promise you all “together” people feel constantly), in reality I was (I suppose) young, kind of pretty-ish, relatively successful, fairly glamorous (at least to a group of Canadian non-urbanites?), living in London with my cute Australian boyfriend, etc etc— and sitting here writing that run-on sentence, my existence sounds annoying even to me... 
Pottery Vanessa and I did not buy.
    Anyway wow: Vanessa did not like me. And you know what? I didn’t much like her. But we were stuck in the middle-of-nowhere-Spain together making art, riding buses, and going on day trips together, and what Vanessa gave me was more valuable than the piles of art and lifelong friendships I came home with. It was this: you don't have to like one another to still have a good time! (I think Vanessa and I even ended up having a mostly-silent, but not-altogether-unpleasant glass of sangria in Ronda together before agreeing to disagree about Moorish influences on the local architecture and moving right the heck along to go see an ancient bullfighting rink. Or buy pottery. Or something.)
     It was evident that I'd done nothing wrong in this scenario, I was merely an unwelcome mirror Vanessa did not welcome or expect. This happens to everyone at some point, on both sides of the coin. What counts is how we choose to respond. I truly had (and still have) compassion for Vanessa, and while I did not love her behavior, I understood and had compassion for where it came from. But crucially? I knew it had nothing whatsoever to do with me.
My heart softened and I was able to un-skewer myself from blame, and release my need to be liked by a person who was never going to like me.
At least not right now.
As the kids say: haters gonna hate.

That conflict taught me valuable lessons in:
    Staying true to yourself
    Endowing yourself with the right to exist
    Letting it go
    Making the best of it
    Focusing on the good
and it set me free from
    the social “necessity” to be universally liked and/or approved of.
So, truly: thank you Vanessa!

And finally,

20. Success isn’t about what you do, it’s about how you FEEL about what you do.
Full Stop.

Adult-ing - Part 1
Adult-ing - Part 2
Adult-ing - Part 3
Adult-ing - Part 5

©hula seventy

11 October, 2016

A second-person letter.

    Bright blue clear morning skies, crisp autumn air and trees not-yet turned, filtering morning light like honey in Madison Square Park. Another audition.  You feel the mild futility of the audition mixed with its ultimate purpose: to get you out into this diamond-cut day. 

    You walk slowly around and around the park, inhaling deeply the smells of this city in the fall
roasted nuts, burnt sugar, the wafting stenches of downtown, the over-perfumed gales of up. Human musks, tilled soil, cider, exhaust. 

    You sit down upon the bench where you both met after a long silence. Shorter than this one, but still. Long. Hard. This innocent park is a dark corner of your past; it holds your secrets and your shame.
 

    Siting down upon a bench in a dark northwest corner, you close your eyes and feel the heat if his hand in yours, can almost summon his smell. Your hand dreams of his; it reaches out for a phantom, for a lie, for anything at all.
  
     Your body cries a four-in-the-morning cry. That mind, the humor, a sense of complete understanding. You know his breath. You miss him acutely. You grasp your phone to reach outbut pause. Good. You know the expulsion was necessary. Is.  What you shared was real, but unfair. 

     Or was it real? Secret loves can have no cemetery. You bury empty coffins, spread invisible ashes. 

     For a moment you allow that truth to take you over fully, folding in half with feeling. There is no metaphor to describe this pain; it is just longing, just regret. Incredible. Simple. Endurable. Terrible. And distant. Just not today, not in this moment. Now is now, and it takes you by the throat. Right now it is a tingling limb, long removed. The limb with the still-stinging nerves that burn, that punish.

     Then just as quickly it as it came, it ebbs. 

     You stand, exhale, and leave the park, and all it holds, behind you. Where it belongs.   


© Ade Santora

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