Friday, December 26, 2014

In case any other Utah actors would find this helpful...

An apology to all of my readers who are outside of the Utah Valley acting scene--this post is specifically for actors interested in auditioning for live theatre anywhere from Salt Lake to Orem.

I have a touch of OCD. It doesn't make my life unmanageable, but it does make me a tad neurotic. But there are times when my neurosis has benefits, such as when I organize all the audition information for the Utah Valley theatre scene into one handy document, organized by audition date.

This is specific to me and my own interests, so there are a handful of theatres missing from this list, and I'm thinking about keeping my schedule a little more open during the summer to be available for film projects. I've also made note of which shows conflict with one another--even though conflicts can usually be worked around, it's helpful to know when that's the case. I wanted to make sure that the opportunities I cared about didn't conflict with other opportunities I cared about this coming year. And I figured this was just the kind of list that might benefit others. Feel free to use this for your own--copy and paste and add your own details if you'd like. Hope it's helpful, and HAPPY AUDITIONING!

UPDATED March 8th

Carrie the Musical
Utah Repertory Theater Company
dir. Johnny Hebda, Kevin Mathie
AUDITION: Apr 18
REHEARSAL: August - October
RUN: Oct 30 - Nov 15

Into the Woods
Hale Orem
dir. Chris Clark, Jenny Barlow, Rob Moffat
AUDITION: Apr 20
REHEARSAL: Apr 27 – July 1
RUN: July 2 – Aug 15

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Echo
dir.
AUDITION: Apr 22, 25
REHEARSAL: Apr 4 – July 30
RUN: July 31 – Aug 9th

Guys & Dolls
Center Point Legacy Theatre
dir. Josh & Jennie Richardson
AUDITION: May 16
REHEARSALS: May 25 - Aug 9
RUN: August 10 - Sept 5

Oklahoma!
Hale West Valley
dir. David Tinney, Anne Puzey
AUDITION: May 16
REHEARSAL: May 25 – Aug 11
RUN: Aug 12 – Oct 3

The Diary of Anne Frank
Hale Orem
dir. Dave Morgan
AUDITION: June 15
REHEARSAL: June 22 – Aug 20
RUN: Aug 21 – Sept 26

The Crucible
Echo
dir.
AUDITION: June 24, 27
REHEARSAL: July 6 – Sept 10
RUN: Sep 11 – Sept 26

The Glass Menagerie
Center Point Legacy Theatre
dir. TBA
AUDITION: June 27
REHEARSALS: July 6 - Sept 24
RUN: Sept 25 - Oct 17

Little Shop of Horrors
Echo
dir.
AUDITION: July 8, 11
REHEARSAL: July 20 – Sept 30
RUN: Oct 1 – Oct 31

Aida
Center Point Legacy Theatre
dir. Scott Montgomery
AUDITION: July 11
REHEARSAL: July 20 - Oct 4
RUN: Oct 5 - Oct 31

Big Fish
Hale West Valley
dir. John Sweeney, Kelly DeHaan, Jenny Barlow
AUDITION: July 11
REHEARSAL: July 20 – Oct 13
RUN: Oct 14 – Nov 26

The Addams Family
Hale Orem
dir. Dave Tinney, Rob Moffat
AUDITION: July 27
REHEARSAL: Aug 3 – Oct 7
RUN: Oct 8 – Nov 28

Babes In Toyland
Center Point Legacy Theatre
dir. Addie Holman & Jansen Davis
AUDITION: August 29
REHEARSALS: Sept 7 - Nov 18
RUN: Nov 19 - Dec 17

A Christmas Carol
Hale Orem
dir. Jerry Elison, Jayne Luke
AUDITION: Sept 14, 15
REHEARSAL: Sept 22 – Dec 3
RUN: Dec 4 – Dec 23

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Echo
dir.
AUDITION: Sep 16, 19
REHEARSAL: Sept 28 – Dec 3
RUN: Dec 4 – Dec 19

A Christmas Carol
Hale West Valley
dir. John Sweeney, Anne Puzey, Marilyn May Montgomery
AUDITION: Sept 19
REHEARSAL: Sept 38 – Dec 3
RUN: ???

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wisdom from teenagers, for teenagers

I wrote an original draft of this shortly before I turned 18. I've had it floating around among other important papers for more than a decade, and stumbled across it while doing some organizing. It's a decent bit of writing, so I did some revisions and I'm presenting it to you here. 


To you who are waiting to transform:

Teenagehood was always something I waited for with a sort of excited awe. When we were little, my sister and I would play a game called “teenagers,” in which we took on the identities of girls named “Mandy” and “Claudia,” who worked at Pizza Hut (which was so glamorous to us at the time), had their own rooms/phones in their rooms/cars/boyfriends, and left doodle-on notes in each other’s lockers after Algebra class. The boyfriend was especially important. Boys like “Seth” and “Jason” had convertibles, a sense of humor, and a great tan.

The older I got, the more I learned about life as a teenager. I remember finding out about zits from a Clearasil commercial when I was 9 or so. It’s prom night and when the girl opens the door for her date, the guy on the porch just stares at the red bump on her chin in horror. It’s all he can see, and it’s the beginning and end of her destruction in his eyes. Life was more dramatic for teenagers. So many joys and tragedies that were unknown to me! I eagerly awaited to be 15, 16, 17.

The age of 16 seemed especially magical. It was the age when a girl “blossomed.” Her hair automatically became cuter, the guys lined up to get her phone number, and her parents handed her the keys to a shiny new Mazda. Girls who were 16 were independent. Somehow, I never thought about academic success, maturity, or responsibility. I only saw 16-year-old girls from a distance. They wore flip-flops with beads on them and they laughed a lot. And they had perms. The perm was important. (Of course, it was the late 80s and early 90s when I was observing teenage girls. I didn’t actually perm my hair until I was 21. And the funny thing is that I LOVE it—I’ve had dozens of perms since then. It’s a hairstyle that fits me, but I can’t help but wonder if some part of me is just longing to capture that 80s/90s hip-ness that I spent my childhood waiting for.)

Then, all of a sudden, it happened. I was a teenager. I got my locker, but no perm, no phone, no car, no bedroom of my own. And then September 8, 2001 rolled around and I reached the transformative age of 16.

And…nothing…really…happened.

Boys treated me the same as they had before. My hair stayed long and layered, and I kept my thin-framed, school-girl glasses. I waited a few weeks for the metamorphosis, but somehow, I kept just waking up as the same person. Well, this is just stupid, I thought. Maybe I’m just defective. I’ll just have to sit here forever without a car or a boyfriend or the life I imagined for myself because apparently I’m on some sort of developmental delay.

So I sat, and I waited. A few times, the thought of a perm or a haircut crossed my mind. I kept thinking that maybe it would jumpstart my transformation and propel me into a world of teenage happiness, but I never went through with it. I just stayed the same. High school was lame until the middle of sophomore year or so, when it started to get a little less lame. It even started to get kind of fun by junior year. Even though I didn’t get my license until seven months after my 16th birthday, my parents let me borrow the station wagon every now and then. And I did talk on the phone. To girls. Boys sort of…stayed away from me.

Then one day, something hit me. I don’t remember the exact point at which it happened, but sometime during the summer before my senior year, I decided to be someone I wanted to be. For almost a year, I liked to think that the best of me was still hiding up my sleeve…that teenage girl with a cute haircut and a great laugh and an irreplaceable sense of fun. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but it occurred to me that that girl was doing me no good in my sleeve, so she might as well stop hiding and waiting for some outside cue to signal her appearance. So I just pulled her out. I got a haircut and new glasses, and I stopped paying attention to who had a backpack and who had a bookbag and what I should accordingly have.

When I think about it, there weren’t that many physical changes, or even circumstantial changes. I still didn’t have my own room/phone/car/job/boyfriend. And I was still awkwardly un-dated, un-asked out, and un-kissed. But I was happy. I was happy because I decided to be. I wake up every day as the person I want to be, just because I want to.

Oh, nevermind. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I heard it said to me when I was your age, but until you are almost 18, you probably won’t know what it means. [Interjection: Ah, the wisdom of youth!] Well, maybe you will. I wrote this not necessarily because I wanted you to hear it. I’m more hoping that the “best of you,” you know, that amazing person you keep hiding in your sleeve, will hear it and decide to come out. I loved being a teenager. And I love being an adult, too.

I am almost 30 now. I’ve had my own room (apartment), and my own phone. I don’t have my own car, but I do share one with a guy who will guarantee that I am kissed and kissed often (and by someone who knows how). I have a job, and a perm.

Someday, on the first day of school, years from now, I will stand in front of a room full of teenagers and read this aloud. Or maybe I'll blog about it. Some of them will laugh, some won’t care, some will think it doesn’t apply to them. But I hope that there’s a girl who is quiet because she thinks her clothes should be nicer, or a boy who sticks to his sci-fi novels because they make better friends than the guys on the basketball team do. I hope they listen. Because I was there. And the truth is that you can be quiet or loud no matter what your clothes look like. The truth is sometimes books DO make better friends than basketball players, and who cares? It is possible to be happy as a teenager, to have the life you imagined for yourself. You’re the author of this story. You’re the hero, even if you’re still figuring yourself out.

As cheesy as all of this sounds, there must be some sort of philosophical depth to it because I keep coming back to it. Be yourself. As someone else once said, everyone else is taken. If you don’t know who you are, you can spend some time trying on different selves, just to see which one fits you best.

Read Star Wars novelizations. Wear socks with sandals. Get a perm. Take a painting class. Learn to skateboard. Audition for a musical. Whatever you are, just be it. I see amazing people hiding up everyone’s sleeves…let the rest of the world see them too.

Monday, December 08, 2014

I'm still alive

I promise. It's just that I commute to and from Salt Lake, work 40 hours a week at an elementary school, and during November, I also did Damn Yankees and NaNoWriMo and traveled to California, so I haven't been blogging.

It's now December, and Damn Yankees has been closed for two weeks. NaNoWriMo has been over for one week.

I have dealt with the post-show/post-NaNoWriMo withdrawals by watching twelve documentaries and organizing/going through every single thing I own.

Even though I should have just slept. I mean, I have been doing that, but I suddenly have like, 30 extra hours in every week, and I can't just sleep for all of that time.

Anyway. I'll review those documentaries sometime soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blogging since before it was cool


I wrote my very first blog entry in November of 2004—exactly one year ago today. I was 19, and blogging wasn’t even really a thing like it is now.

During the last ten years, I have had 13 different addresses, owned 4 different cars, worked 20 different jobs, and dated and broken up with 5 different boys. I got engaged and married. I graduated college. I published a book of poetry. I wrote a draft of a young adult novel. I am a very different Liz than I was when I first started.

And the world has changed drastically too. This blog has lived through 3 ½ Presidencies, the legalization of gay marriage in multiple states, and the creation of Youtube and Twitter (yeah, neither of those things existed when I started blogging). This blog has seen the invention of the iPhone and the execution of Osama Bin Laden. It has witnessed the publication of the final two Harry Potter books and the entire Twilight phenomenon (books and movies). This blog has been through Hurricane Katrina and the demotion of Pluto as a planet. This blog began roughly 8 months after the Rosetta spacecraft was launched, and last week, that spacecraft deployed the Philae lander onto a comet—a first in space exploration.

Humanity is awesome.

So happy birthday, little blog! You've seen a lot. From your very first entry, where we talked about recouping from embarrassing moments, to your most popular posts of all time (this review of Midas Whale’s album and the true story behind a major controversy in the BYU-Idaho school newspaper in 2006), it’s been a good ride.

I credit my blog as a major factor in making me a better writer. I’m a big believer that regular practice does more to develop a skill than anything else. I have written 728 separate blog posts, on everything from backstage shenanigans at the Playmill to deeply personal goals and experiences. I have grown to love my little corner of the internet, even as the internet and my place on it shifted over the years.

To commemorate ten years of blogging, here are a few posts that I feel are good writing, or that are important, or that I refer to often. “Key posts,” if you will.

December 2009: Art Vs. Pornography

December 2009: Christmas is Not a Tree

September 2011: September 11 Memories

(I keep intending to write a sort of "Introduction to Modern Feminism" post, but everything I could say in it, I already said in this. So if you want to know about modern feminism, this is as good of an intro as I can give.) 

March 2013: Marriage Equality

December 2013: Winter Blues



July 2014: Rexburg Flood

August 2014: Fitting In

September 2014: Love is a Choice


Happy reading, and here's to another ten years! 
Thanks for sticking with me. 

Here’s to ten more years.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Mormon Darwinist: Why I Believe in the Theory of Evolution (And Still Have a Testimony)

I got to talking with a friend about evolution the other evening, and it got me all fired up and ready to discuss things, so I decided to write my thoughts here. I'm gonna do a little explaining, de-bunking, and testifying here, and it's much easier to present my ideas clearly in writing. I've had a long journey to my current ideas, and ten years ago or so, would have called myself a staunch creationist. But I've done a lot more learning since then, and I've come full circle (gasp!) without losing any faith in God. So here goes. (And I apologize in advance if this is a little...pedantic. I had to get a little academic here.)

First of all, let's get on the same page here.

READER'S DIGEST VERSION OF THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

Let's meet Charles Darwin. Here he is with his striking eyes and startling beard:


Charles Darwin was a naturalist who spent several years in the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s, where he observed lots of variation among the flora and fauna. This got him thinking and theorizing and observing even more, and in 1859, he published "On the Origin of Species" and basically turned the world upside down. Before this, just about everyone (scientists included) tended to believe that all creatures put on earth were formed perfectly and immutably. Fossils were assumed to be from creatures that still existed somewhere, not creatures that had gone extinct.

Darwin offered a different explanation: creatures evolved through natural selection. Here's how natural selection works: Let's say, millions of years ago, creatures that we'd now call giraffes were wandering around Africa, but they've got short necks. One day, a giraffe is born with a genetic mutation that makes his neck just a little bit longer than the other giraffes'. Because of his long neck, he can reach leaves higher up in the trees. He's better nourished and that makes him a little bit stronger and healthier than the others. And in the animal kingdom, that means more procreation! So he finds a lady giraffe and they have a giraffe baby. And that giraffe baby inherits the longer neck from her father. So she gets to procreate, and she passes the longer neck on to her offspring. With each generation, the longer the neck. And the longer the neck, the better the chances of survival, since  long-necked giraffes can reach leaves that are higher, see predators approaching from far away, etc. The giraffes with shorter necks don't procreate as often, simply because they don't survive. And after several thousand/million years, you've ONLY got long-necked giraffes. Bam. New species.

Generally speaking, a new species is official when it can no longer reproduce with the old species. Because there's usually more than one mutation going on...giraffes aren't only getting longer necks with every generation, they might be getting taller legs, or different coat patterns, etc. Eventually, long-necked, spotted giraffes' sperm and eggs are no longer compatible.

Got it?

One of the biggest proofs of evolution is the fossil record. We can see how species changed, adapted, and went extinct because their remains were left behind, and we can date them based on how deep in the earth they are and carbon dating. There are millions of species that no longer exist. We can also see natural selection at work today, not only in the Galapagos Islands, but everywhere. Check out this famous moth example.

Okay, now let's do some de-bunking. Here are some common arguments against evolution, and my response to them.

COMMON ARGUMENTS AGAINST EVOLUTION

"Evolution is just a theory."
Here's a delightfully sassy quote by modern biologist Richard Dawkins to address this point: "So is gravity, but I don't see you jumping out of buildings."

In science, the word "theory" has a slightly different meaning than in everyday life. In everyday life, a theory is an idea or a guess...something that hasn't been tested yet. In science, a theory is the end result of lots of observation and experimentation. A theory both explains past observations and makes predictions future events and patterns. Scientists don't throw the term around lightly.

So when scientists say something is a scientific THEORY, they mean that lots of testing and observation has been done to prove it.

"I can't imagine something as complex as the human eye just EVOLVING."
This is an argument that I've heard a lot, and I admit that there is a poetry to it. A lot of it seems to stem from this quote from Darwin himself: “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I confess, absurd in the highest degree."

BUT, it seems that people often end the quote there. In reality, the very next sentence in this Darwin quote is, "The difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered subversive of the theory.”

And the reality is that although true evolution takes many many many years, this kind of complexity has been observed. Scientists have proposed how light-sensitive patches of skin eventually became the complex eye. Check out a summary of the idea here.

"Wouldn't we see species changing before our eyes?"
Well, that's not actually how evolution works. Evolution doesn't say that individual creatures will transform. It says that over time, generations of a species change. (See explanation above.)

"But Darwin didn't even believe his own theory."
I'm not sure where this one comes from. I don't know a ton about Darwin's personal history...I do know he struggled with aspects of his theory, partly because of his religious uncertainty and partly because it was a CRAZY BRAND NEW THEORY that was not widely accepted at the time.

And regardless of whether or not he personally believed it, it has been proven by countless other scientists.

"Fossils are just placed on earth by God to test our faith."
Here's why this doesn't jive with me, personally. Because God doesn't seem to work like that...I just mean that there doesn't seem to be precedent. Faith is hope for things not seen...not the denial of things seen. I can't think of any other examples in scripture where God showed us something with physical evidence and asked us to deny it. So it doesn't make sense that He would do that with fossils.

"If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"
Darwin never actually claimed that human are descended from modern monkeys. He claimed that humans and modern monkeys share a common ancestor.

Most of us are familiar with the famous "March of Progress" illustration of evolution:


But it's actually a little bit misleading...it seems to imply that a monkey just grew up into a man. A better illustration is this:

A monkey swinging through the trees didn't suddenly lose its hair and start walking upright. Somewhere around 12-16 MILLION years ago, some ancient primates had babies who could walk upright more easily, and they survived to have babies who did the same thing, and eventually, those upright-walking primates could no longer reproduce with the other primates and they were officially a new species.

"Evolution can't explain how life FIRST began on earth."
It doesn't claim to. Life spontaneously beginning on earth is one of the great mysteries of science, and there are several hypotheses out there. There are also several amazing experiments that are getting closer and closer to showing that life can be created from non-organic ("non-alive") compounds.

WHERE SCIENCE AND RELIGION INTERSECT
(AND WHY IT MATTERS)

Okay, now let's get to the good stuff. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a "True Believing Mormon" with a testimony of a loving God. So how can I believe all this ridiculous science stuff that so blatantly denies a God? Here's how.

Creation of Man
So the Bible says that Adam was the first man. He was created from the dust of the earth. Here's how I reconcile this idea with that of human evolution.

One of the doctrines of the restored Gospel is that we are spirit children of Heavenly Father. Our spirits existed before we came to earth, and we inhabit our bodies like a hand inhabits a glove. So while there could have been generations of humanoid beings on earth, Adam was the first being who was a spirit son of God. Here's an illustration of what I mean. (And I know I just said that this illustration isn't a very accurate one, but it is a good one for illustrating this point). Like this:


The Bible says that "man was created in God's image" and "from the dust of the earth." But these are vague and poetic terms. It's totally possible that God just sort of snapped His fingers and swirled together a human being from dirt. But the fossil record says differently. The Bible doesn't give us the details of how man was created, only why. I don't think that scripture is the only source of truth...that it's the comprehensive guide to everything in the universe. The purpose of scripture is to bring us closer to God and help us know how to live good lives. I think that God wants us to study and find truth in all places, including the world of science.

Idea of Eternal Progression
When it comes down to it, the entire theory of evolution is all about how species change to meet adversity. And the entire plan of salvation is about how individuals change to meet adversity. To me, evolution is the physical and scientific parallel to the idea of spiritual growth. It's just that spiritual growth happens on an individual level and physical growth happens through generations. It's not a perfectly clean parallel. But it's one that resonates with me. 

My Place In the Universe
This is the "so what?" part of things. There are a handful of people out there who would ask "If you're just trying to be a good Christian, why do you need to know where human beings came from? Why do you need to understand any of this? Just be kind and move on."

And here's my reply.

While that may be enough for some people, it isn't for me. I think it's important to understand how the world around us works, because then we can better understand our place within it. And understanding our place within the world helps us know how to treat God's creations--how our actions affect the ecology around us. Understanding the scientific world reminds me that we are subject to the laws and patterns of the natural world. (And one of those things is evolution.)

There's also the awesome part of Mormon doctrine that says that I have the potential to be a God myself someday--to create worlds without end. But how am I to do that if I don't study how my own God did it? I realize that there will probably be thousands of years worth of curriculum on "planet creation" in the next life before I'll be ready to give it a go. And there are plenty of people who have lived on earth who didn't get a chance to study science and evolution in this life. But I do have the chance. And it strengthens my testimony to learn of these amazing things now.

Because here's the most amazing thing about the theory of evolution to me:

It reveals a God of immense complexity. 
From all that I've studied and felt and learned, I've come to see God as the Greatest Scientist. The God who loves me and knows me as an individual is also the master of the nuclear fusion that creates starlight. He is more than just an invisible man in the sky, a mere human being with magical creation powers. He understands the diverse and constantly shifting universe. That's incredible.

A God who can snap His fingers and create a living being is one worthy of worship, but one who can orchestrate a complicated machine of a universe is one worthy of emulation.


Have any other related questions or issues? Things you've learned? Things you've wondered? Leave a comment! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

NaNoWriMo countdown

Okay, FINE! I'M DOING NANOWRIMO AGAIN THIS YEAR AND YOU CAN'T STOP ME. 


I am, once again, joining the several thousand fools who are attempting to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. That's a little over 1,000 words a day, to end up with a novel about the length of "The Great Gatsby."

I know I said I didn't want to have two unedited manuscripts laying around--I wanted to finish one completely before starting another--but I changed my mind. My logic is that when I get bored with editing one, I can edit the other! Plus, I've got this great story idea, and I feel like I need to tell it. So I'm going to. (Even though I work 12-hour days, not including my commute.) If things are a little quiet around here for the month of November, it's because I'm insanely doing this insane thing.

If you're interested in joining the madness and fun, but don't consider yourself a writer, or if you're uncertain, I say GO FOR IT! You have nothing to lose! I've done it twice--the first time in 2009, and again last year. In 2009, I didn't technically "win" by reaching the 50,000-word count. BUT, I did write a 30,000-word memoir of my experience selling Kirby vacuums door to door, and I never would have had that manuscript unless I did NaNoWriMo. The point is to just get it on paper. Even if it's crap. Because you can turn 50,000 words of crap into a novel. You can't turn a lack of 50,000 words into a novel.

And I highly recommend joining the NaNoWriMo website! You get pep talks and encouraging emails and can be notified of cool events in your area and connect with fellow writers!

Any fellow NaNos out there? The kick-off is this Saturday, so this week, I'm loading up on inspiration and EasyMac. I thought I'd share some great story-writing resources that I've used in the past. These are helpful whether you're writing a screenplay, a stage play, a novel, or a short story.

Pep talks from the NaNoWriMo website
One of the great things about signing up on the NaNoWriMo website is that you get regular emails from famous authors, offering you advice and encouragement. You can also access all the past Pep Talks here. I'm especially inspired by the talks from John Green, Scott Westerfeld, and Dave Eggers.

Scriptnotes Podcast
John August (Go, Big Fish, Charlie's Angels) and Craig Mazin (Identity Thief, Scary Movie 4, The Hangover Part II) are two successful LA screenwriters who do a weekly podcast about screenwriting and things of interest to screen-writers. I've never written a screenplay in my life, but I find SO MUCH HELPFUL ADVICE from these guys. They talk about everything from character to dialogue to plot structure to lying and secrets. Almost all of it has crossover into novel-writing. Check it out on iTunes or here.

Blog Novel Doctor
I stumbled upon this blog last year while looking for some advice on how to get over writer's block, and ended up reading through almost the entire archive. There are tons of resources on how to outline a novel, what to do when you get stuck, and how to keep your head in the game. Check it out here.

Advice from Pixar
Someone fantastic took a bunch of statements and ideas from Pixar about how to create good stories, and put them together in a cool visual presentation called "Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling." There are lots of helpful reminders and good ideas. Check it out here.

Outlining Resources from Creative Writing Now
It can be a little overwhelming to try to tackle something as big as a NOVEL. I'm a big fan of outlines and planning tools--they saved my butt in past years. Some people prefer to write without them, but I find that it helps me stay organized and guided. This website has some great printable worksheets, and you can create your own based on their ideas. I'm an especially big fan of the Novel Outline, the Scene Outline, and the Character Outline. Check out the website here.

And of course, if you just google "novel writing tips," you'll find oodles of resources more.

HAPPY WRITING! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Minor Crisis: A Psychological Self-Analysis


WARNING: This blog post is an unflinching and slightly embarrassing glance into my own psyche. 

Good news! I got a regular full-time job!

Bad news! I didn't get a call-back for Barefoot in the Park!

And all of these things are creating in me a whirlwind of emotions and it's kind of overwhelming. So I'm going to write about it because that helps me process it. And I'm going to post it here because sometimes talking about things helps others to deal with similar experiences. Here's what's going on.

FULL TIME JOB: 

I've been subbing for a couple of months all over Utah Valley. After subbing for the secretary at a private school in Salt Lake City, they asked if I'd be interested in becoming a permanent in-house sub for them. I said yes, and THEN I found out they were looking for a permanent secretary. So I put my name forward and got the job! I'm a real adult, with a salary and benefits and a 45-minute commute and everything. It's kind of lame that I can't just take a day off whenever I want to, like I could when I was subbing. But it's nice to be paid almost twice as much now as I was as a substitute.

And the job is way less intense than teaching is. Teaching involves a lot of classroom management and planning and grading and talking and running activities and supervising and it's generally exhausting. I feel like that's not the kind of thing I can give to a school full-time right now. But I CAN sit at a desk and answer phones and organize files and hand out band-aids and deal with student discipline. And when the school day ends, my work ends--there's none of this silly after hours planning business.

But for some reason, I find myself feeling incredibly anxious while I sit at this desk every day. It might be because I have to get up earlier than usual, and lack of sleep makes me more prone to anxiety. But if I tune in to my body while I'm at school, I notice that my jaw is clenched and my stomach is tight and my breath is shallow. And I couldn't figure out why I kept needing to do calming exercises.

So here's my theory.

It always takes me a while to find my footing in a new group of people. It's easier with theatre people, because they're my "tribe" and I already know the "script" for social interactions in a theatre. In this educational world, I have things in common with the teachers and administrators that I work with, but it's harder for me to...connect. I feel shy and not very confident and generally a little lost. That's true of ANY new job--I always feel like the new kid at the lunch table, certain that no one will like me.

In the first few days here, out of uncertainty about my place, I let my slight OCD run its course unbridled--the desk was organized and everything was labeled and I was effing efficient. And in very complimentary ways, everyone was like, "This is awesome! You're so efficient! You're so good at this job!"

And in a bizarre Pavlovian response, here's what I think my brain subconsciously did:
"That's how I'll get everyone to like me! I'll be efficient and good at being a secretary!"

Then suddenly, every single thing I did as a secretary was a representation of my worth as a human being. So it had to be PERFECT! Because if it wasn't perfect, I was a crappy human and no one would like me! So the names on the files all had to be the same size! The drawers always had to be organized! Everything had to be color-coded! All the pencils had to be sharpened and all the pens had to have caps! Because if not, I SUCK!

This is how perfectionism is the worst.


CALL-BACKS: 

So even though I'm single cast in Damn Yankees and would have to miss like, 10 rehearsals, I auditioned for "Barefoot in the Park." I feel like I could be a decent Corie, and I was interested in the challenge and fun of the part. I feel like I did pretty good at auditions, but thought I probably wouldn't get cast. There are dozens of capable actresses who could play that part and who DON'T have major schedule conflicts. But I had this horribly narcissistic vision that I'd be good enough to warrant a call-back--that I'd impress the auditioners so much that they'd call me back, even though I wouldn't get the part.

And then I didn't get called back.

Which was lame.

The rejection you have to deal with in this industry is well-known for being torturous. I felt certain for a while that I was the ugliest, least talented, most terrible actress ever. Because of one audition I didn't get called back for. And because I was also dealing with this neurotic perfectionism thing from work, not getting called back felt like the final nail in the coffin of my self-esteem.

SOLUTIONS/COPING MECHANISMS: 

So after moping and feeling miserable for the first half of the week, and feeling guilty about feeling miserable, I finally did this:

1. Gave myself permission to take some time to mourn/feel miserable/feel mopey. 
I didn't want to wallow forever, but it was perfectly understandable that I was not exactly feeling cheerful. And that's allowed. I'm allowed to feel sad sometimes! So I gave myself some time to do that.

2. Gave myself this reminder: 


It's a lesson I keep needing to learn over and over again, but if you form friendships by not being genuine, those friendships will feel like work for the rest of your life. I don't want that. I want to just be me. I want to be comfortable in my own skin. It just takes a few daily reminders sometimes to do that. Because I don't have to prove my worth to anyone else. I'm valuable just because I'm a human being. And if the file labels aren't perfectly straight, I'm still a good person.

3. Remembered that Heavenly Father guides my life if I allow Him to. 
So I didn't get cast in Barefoot in the Park. It could just be that I wasn't right for the part. But it could also be that and that there's something else for me to be doing right now. There may be other people to meet or other projects to do. Or maybe doing the show would be taxing in ways I hadn't anticipated. Whatever it is, I trust that things will all work out.

4. Began to focus outward. 
Pride isn't self-love. It's self-obsession. When I allow my thoughts of perfectionism to rule me, when I hang my entire self-worth on things as arbitrary as clerical tasks or as uncontrollable as auditions, it's self-obsession. I think self-love is healthy. Self-obsession shuts you off from inspiration, keeps you from connecting with others, prevents you from living in the moment, and generally makes you unhappy. It's one of the hardest lessons I've ever learned (over and over again), but in my own experience, it really is true that if you lose yourself in the service of others, you find yourself.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to end this blog entry that's all about me and try to be kind to those around me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Secret Service (not the spy kind, though)

So I finished my first Personal Progress activity a week or so ago! (I'm doing the required value experiences as one of my "9 Goals While 29" this year.) I did one for Good Works, and it was actually just a little bit harder than I thought it would be. Here's what I did:

Learn why service is a fundamental principle of the gospel. Read Matthew 5:13–16; 25:34–40; Galatians 6:9–10; James 1:22–27; Mosiah 2:17; 4:26; and 3 Nephi 13:1–4. Others often give service you may not notice, such as preparing meals, reading to or listening to younger children, repairing clothing, or helping a brother or sister. For two weeks record in your journal the quiet acts of service your family members and others perform. Acknowledge their service in some meaningful way.

Here's why it was difficult. Number one, my current family is me and my husband. I don't have siblings or parents at home to observe. Number two, as the scriptures above talk about, one fundamental part of service seems to be discretion. So it's hard to observe others doing service when most people are trying to keep their service on the DL.

(This also makes it difficult to "acknowledge their service in some meaningful way." I can either publicly "out" people for doing nice things, or I can creepily be like, "Hey, I saw you do that nice thing. I've been watching you. Good job." So this is my way of acknowledging the service of others.)

When we think of service, I think we most often think of "tasks"--doing the dishes, making a meal. And I did observe this kind of service in others. There were times when people helped clean up the theatre before or during rehearsal, or when Jacob did the dishes, or a friend sent an encouraging text message. But I was also reminded that good works and service can mean anything that shows kindness. The kind of service that was really meaningful and inspiring was mostly very small. It was a compliment given briefly in passing, or someone asking how someone's day was and sincerely listening to the answer. I think that simple, sincere friendliness might be the most powerful kind of good works out there.

It's also contagious. Watching others around me be friendly inspired me to be more of a "giver" in my relationships.

To be vulnerable for a moment, I, like every artist (okay, like every human being), go through phases when I feel insecure and don't have any confidence and just feel certain that no one actually likes me. The thing is that these thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with my interactions with others--it's just me freaking out. And those times make me a "taker" in my relationships--I start to feel this desperate need for others to validate me as a human being. And that kind of need doesn't make me a very good friend.

It's kind of counter-intuitive, but the reality is that the antidote for a lack of confidence around others is to SERVE others. Low self-esteem makes you feel like you don't have much to give, but the reality is that giving fills you up. It turns friendships into something you desperately NEED (even though it's never enough) to something that uplifts and inspires and strengthens everyone involved. I feel a little bit guilty for forgetting this as often as I do. (To my friends and acquaintances, I'm sorry for that. I'll keep working on it.)

Thank you for your wonderful examples! You make me want to be better and to lift others up. Keep being kind, people. It's rocking my world.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

A poem, or "Public school is hell"

Hello!

I've been busy doing "Damn Yankees!" and substitute teaching, so the blog has been a little neglected. But today I was digging through some old poems and came across this one, so I thought I'd share. I wrote it while I was doing my substitute teaching back in 2012. I was focusing a lot on imagery at the time, and it's not my best work, but it kind of stood out to me today; I think because I've been spending time in public schools again lately. 



Dante’s Industrial Kitchen

Steam rises
in ephemeral bursts
mushrooming out from the
heinous, Dante-esque mouth
of the automatic dishwasher.

A school cafeteria is full of medieval hell-mouths.

Dirt is fed into it on a conveyor belt
and with every hiss and puff of super-heated steam,
trays come out clammy and sanitized from the other end.

A middle-aged woman
with outdated pants and keys on a lanyard in her pocket
stacks the trays with no expression.
Her feet hurt. This is her job.
Her non-slip shoes make sucking sounds
as she steps through soapy puddles
to the sink.
Rubs her red-cracked hands on a paper towel
and begins stacking trays again.

The kids with IEPs
walk from the dishwasher to the sink
and back again
like the tigers in city zoos
who have developed obsessive-compulsive disorders
in the absence of higher stimulation
walking back and forth and back and forth
repeating a task they are destined to repeat.

And there are all these kids,
standing in line.
The tills fill up as we
perpetuate the illusion of them walking
in empty and coming out full.
They check their phones and stare into space and
talk to each other but not to the girl whose shoes are too big.
They stand with the rain from the courtyard
on their shoulders,
the heat of the room making steam to rise
in ephemeral snaking columns.



(In a shameless bit of self-promotion, if you're interested in more of my poetry, I have a published book of it! You can buy it here, or on amazon.com. Or if we're friends and I see you regularly, I've got a dozen copies or so I can give out--just ask.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On love: What the heck even is it, though?

Part Two of Two

So, I wrote a few days ago about love, and how you have a choice regarding what you do with the
love that happens to you. The blog entry actually started by me trying to define love, but I never got around to an actual answer. As I was writing, I got to a certain point, and it just felt like the end of the blog entry. So I had to do a "Part Two." Because I think defining love can be empowering. I think when we better learn what love is, we can better learn how to love. And as cheesy as it sounds, I believe the more love there is in the world, the better the world is. So, despite Eliot's warning to avoid examining love too closely, here it is, "fixed and sprawling on a pin."

First of all, a disclaimer. I don't claim to be any kind of "love expert." At all. My only claim to knowing anything about love is the fact that I've experienced it and the fact that I looked up definitions online. But as I've been thinking about the whole idea of love, a few things I've found have been particularly enlightening to me, so I thought I'd share them here. Save you a little bit of research time and all that. It's all a bit academic, but also awesome. Let's start with the ancient Greeks, shall we?

So the ancient Greeks had a list of a few different kinds of love. They recognized that the love between friends and the love between lovers wasn't exactly the same, so they kind of split it all up. Here's how they defined love:

EROS
This is the steamy passion between lovers. It's closely tied to sexual attraction. It's powerful and intoxicating and usually a little bit irrational. It's also what we usually think of first when someone says "romance."

PHILIA
Deep friendship. This is the camaraderie that exists between people who have known each other for a while. It's the sisterhood among women, and the brotherhood among men. It has to do with loyalty and sacrifice and shared experiences and/or emotions.

LUDOS
Playful or flirtatious love. It's the combination of this kind of love and eros that makes starting a romantic relationship so exciting. But this kind of "fun" love isn't limited to romance...this is also what you feel when bantering with friends or laughing with others over dinner.

AGAPE
Love for all mankind. Also known as charity, compassion, or Christ-like love. This is the altruistic kind of empathy that leads us to serve others.

PRAGMA
Deep understanding that develops between long-together couples. This is the kind of quiet and beautiful connection people have when they've been together for a long time. It's based on patience and sacrifice and a determination to make a relationship work. This is what EROS has the potential to develop into.

PHILAUTIA
Love of self. This kind of love is a double-edged sword. It can be a healthy respect of oneself and valuing your own contribution to the world. It can also be narcissism and pride and self-obsession.

Honorary Mention: MANIA
Crazy jealous dangerous love. This probably shouldn't even qualify as a type of "love," but it's what EROS can develop into, and we might as well give it a name. This is the kind of obsessive "love" that leads to stalking or harm of self or others. It can be characterized either by mild obsession or by crazy assassination attempts.

And of course, all of these kinds of love are related. You can feel ludos and eros and pragma for someone all at the same time. The kinds of love you feel, and the amounts you feel it in, are constantly shifting and changing.

In modern times, there are all kinds of psychologists who have defined love in different ways. I'm a big fan of Robert Sternberg's "Triangular Theory of Love." (Sounds hot, right?) Here was his deal:



This Sternberg fellow said that there are three main components to love: Intimacy, Commitment, and Passion. Consummate love (or ideal love) is made up of all three. I like this model because it covers all the different kinds of love that can happen within a romantic relationship, but still includes friendship, too (companionate love). And, just like with the Greeks, you can move around on this triangle over time.

Here's where all this falls short for me, though. While all of this gives awesome insight into how we love each other, none of this defines the love one can have for things or worlds or activities. I love theatre, and I love nature, and I love the Gospel, and I love art. But none of these words or models give me much insight on what that means. I know those things give me pleasure and that I'm willing to sacrifice for them. But I haven't yet found a word that covers all that. (Anyone have any suggestions?)

But still, knowing all of this and thinking about it has helped me make choices about love in just the few days I've been learning about it. I hope it guides you too.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

On love: The choice

Part One of Two

(This is kind of a long post, so I'd recommend grabbing a cream soda or something. Also, I'm kind of baring my soul here. Again. So get back on Facebook or whatever if you're not into that kind of thing.)

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. Sometimes there are ideas that are just on your radar, and for the past year or so, love has been on mine.

Okay, I confess, it's been on my radar for like, most of my life. But as I grow older, my understanding of love keeps growing and changing, and I've just been thinking a lot about it.

Here's one thing I know for sure: It takes courage to love. I also know it's worth it to love. That goes for loving people, loving things, loving in general.

A little while ago, I blogged about gratitude, and how I think that gratitude is both a choice AND something that can happen to you. And I'm beginning to think the same thing about love. The romantic world of books and movies and love songs would have us believe that love is only something that happens to you, but I don't think that's completely true. It can't be. You have to be able to choose whom or what you love, to some extent. At the very least, you've got to be able to choose what to do with the love that happens to you.

Maybe that's the moment that takes courage. Between love happening to you and choosing what to do with it. Because sometimes the thing that takes the most courage is to say, "Yes. I choose this, I choose us, I want to take this leap." But sometimes the most courageous thing is to say, "No. This is not the right thing, and I know we will both be better and more full and more complete if we walk away." I don't think either choice is always right or always wrong for every person in every situation. I've watched friends and family make both choices, for better or for worse. And all I know is that both choices are terrifying.

When I was in high school, we went on this Kiwanis Key Club Convention thing, where they didn't EVER feed us and where we went to a workshop called "Don't Call It Love." It was a guy talking about teen sexuality and relationships. (Yay Oregon!) He defined LOVE as "choosing the highest good for another person." And for a long time, I really believed that to be the best definition. But...I dunno, I feel like my definition has grown to include more than that.

I took kind of an informal survey among a few friends while I was thinking about all this, and asked them what they thought the definition of love was. One friend quoted T.S. Eliot in her reply, saying, "We should not over examine love, not seek to place it fixed and sprawling on a pin. Love just is, and thank God for that." I'm grateful for that perspective, and I think it's wise. But at the same time, I want to learn how to love better, and I'm interested in the question of what love is so that I can do that. A lot of the answers that people gave me had to do with selflessness. One friend said that love leaves you better than it found you. Several other friends pointed out that there are different kinds of love--romantic love and sexual love and friendship love.

I thought a lot about the idea that love leaves you better than it found you. I think about the people I've loved, and the ways that I've loved them. And the truth is, to quote Nazareth, that sometimes, love hurts. Not just when it leaves you, but sometimes loving someone you know you can't have hurts. It hurts to feel love for someone and to know that you can't ever be together, or that you would actually not make a great couple, or that they will never love you back in the same way. It can make you mean and scared and jealous and maybe even kind of crazy. It can also make you brave and strong and patient. I've been all of those things at some point or another, for better or for worse. For the most part, I've been blessed enough to rebuild any bridges I burned by being mean or scared or jealous or crazy. (Thank goodness for the perspective of time, the patience of friends, and the beauty of forgiveness.) So maybe, eventually, even the kind of love that hurts can leave you better than it found you, if you choose to let it.

Because here's the other thing I think about love. And this is true of friendship love or romantic love. The choice of what to do with the love that comes into your life is a daily one. There have been times in my life when I prayed to stop loving someone, because it hurt, for whatever reason. And there have been times in my life when I've prayed for help in loving someone more, or even at all. And I think I did that because I thought that love was only something that happened to me, and that I had to change what was going on inside of me, what I was feeling. But it never worked. Because feelings happen. They come, they go, they stay. Choices are where we can be brave, or jealous, or patient, or crazy, or strong.

Sometimes it's hard to know what the right choice is, to know what the best thing to do with the love we feel is. Romantic love is especially complicated. But when it comes to love in general, at the tender and wise age of twenty-nine, I'm beginning to think (and understand) that we have nothing to lose in following kind impulses. We have nothing to lose in selfless love. We have nothing to lose in lifting others up. I sometimes get caught up in thinking that each of us only has a certain amount of love that we can give or experience, and that we have to "spend" it wisely. But it's not true. The more you choose to let love make you brave and strong and patient, to more you choose to lift up the hands that hang down or write a quick note of encouragement or give a compliment or just listen to someone, the more your ability to love grows.

And as that love grows, you have more to give. And in the times when you feel depleted and empty of love, people will show up to give you the love that you need to keep going. And then once your own ability to love has brushed itself off and stood up again, you can be that person for someone else.

And that's a pretty beautiful part of being human.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tech Week


It's a little after midnight, and I'm not even sure why I'm writing this blog entry. Maybe I need the post-rehearsal "decompression" time or something. All I know is that I have enough energy to write a blog entry (while eating an entire kaiser roll, plain), but not enough energy to clean my house.

Having done tech weeks as both an actor and as a technician, I will say that they are WAY more work for the technicians. It's a hard week for EVERYONE, just because everything about it takes a lot of energy. But I still feel kinda bad using tech week as an excuse to not do anything else, when I'm an actor.

Here are the things that I have NOT done this week, and which I anticipate will remain undone until Saturday or so:

1. The dishes. I've started using Tupperware for bowls (and their lids as plates). We're going to run out of clean Tupperware soon, though.

2. Put away the laundry. I did DO the laundry. But I think it will probably live in the laundry basket in the living room for a few more days.

3. Cleaned the bathroom. That needs to be done soon.

4. Made any kind of decent meal for myself or anyone else. Unless you count the fried egg sandwich I made the other day, which I ate off a Tupperware lid.

5. Dusted. Vacuumed. Swept.

6. Gone to bed at a decent hour.

The really ridiculous thing is that Jacob and I have managed to watch almost an entire season of 30 Rock in the last few days or so.

So the reality is that I totally HAVE time to do all this stuff, I'm just not doing it. But it's TECH WEEK! So I just keep telling myself that I'm "too tired" and "too busy" to do all that stuff. And the other reality is this: I love tech week just because I love what I do. I love acting, and getting into costumes, and doing mic checks, and having private dance parties backstage, and touching up lipstick. I love seeing a show come to life as each layer of tech is added. Yes, it's exhausting. Yes, it can be frustrating. Yes, it's hard to keep track of last-minute changes. But I'm so grateful to be a part of this. I'm so grateful that this is my JOB, and this is what I get to do, and this is who I get to be. The cast and crew of "Damn Yankees" are all so amazing, and I'm so excited to share what we've created with others.

Dressing room selfie. I love my job. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

9 Things While 29

It's that time of year! Time for my birthday report on my goals, and my new list of goals. 6 out of 8 isn't too bad.

Every year, instead of doing New Year's resolutions, I do resolutions on my birthday, in September. The number of resolutions/goals changes depending on how old I am. This last year, I had 8 goals for while I was 28 (even though that sign says 28 things...) This year I've got 9 (age 29), and when I'm 30, I'll have 10. Then it starts over with just 1 goal (age 31). 

1. Save up $1000 for a car. 
The goal is to be vehicle owners by April.
DONE!!!! It feels amazing to look at these numbers! Pay your tithing, people, because looking at this progress, I don't even really know where this money came from. Pretty awesome. We essentially saved $1000 in about a month and a half. Which is awesome. 
$165.06 as of November 30
$265.06 as of December 13
$255.06 as of December 20
$305.06 as of December 21
$380.06 as of December 26
$680.06 as of January 3
$840.06 as of January 8
$1000.00 as of January 10!!!
(And we got a car!)

2. Go an entire month without paying for eating out once. 
Eating out is one of my biggest weaknesses, and I'd like to slow down. And if we want to pay off debt, I'll have to. Notice, however, I just said without "paying" for eating out. If someone else wants to take me out to eat, that doesn't count.
DONE! Ugh. That was the WORST. January was the month I tackled this goal. Here were my thoughts as it happened: 
January 5th: It's already been tough, but it's gratifying to learn that you can do tough things...like writing a draft of a novel in a month, or completing a jigsaw puzzle, or getting money into savings. So I know I can do this, too.  
January 13th: Omigosh this is actually really hard.
January 24th: I hate this. I did this in an effort to prove to myself that I can live without eating out, which I can, but I hate it. I don't think my eating out habits will change very drastically as a result of this experience. 
January 28th: So close. Getting so close. I can make it.  
February 1st: Omigosh. Ugh. Never again. I'll probably eat out LESS than I used to, but ugh. 

3. Face a fear. 
This is a hard one to measure, and I have a few in mind, but it's something I want to do. I originally wanted to "overcome a fear," but that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself within just a year, and how do you know when you've actually "overcome" it? So I'll just face one down this year, and if I also "overcome" it, more power to me.
DONE! I want to continue to do this throughout the year and I have a few other fears in mind to face, but check this out. I've never in memory had blood drawn without passing out. Partly out of anxiety and partly out of having weak veins. But this fall, I was at the doctor's for a possible kidney infection. They told me they needed to draw blood and I freaked out a little. But I didn't want to call Jacob to have him hold my hand...that would only reiterate that this was something to be afraid of. I did cry for about 20 seconds before pulling myself together. I asked if one of the nurses would be willing to just talk to me or distract me during the draw. And I did it! Didn't pass out! Didn't freak out! Woot! 

4. Do a paid voiceover, television, or film gig. 
The time has come, people. I've done plenty of live theatre, and it's time to expand my horizons a bit more.
DONE! I was cast in a website geared towards kids, with a secret agent theme. I play the matriarch of the spy family in the interactive videos. Principal photography wrapped in April, and it was a ton of fun and I learned so much. It's in post-production right now, and should be ready by the end of the summer. Visit the website for more info. (Also, done again! I was a paid extra for a production in Salt Lake City called "Under the Bed." It was kind of a big deal. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime.)

5. Do a "photo-a-day" or "video-a-day" project to document one month of my life. 
Maybe it's a little self-centered, but it's always seemed like a cool project. So I'll do it.
DONE! During November. I was totally inspired by this video. Watch my own version of a similar concept here

6. Visit someplace new in Yellowstone Park.
We spent the ENTIRE summer right next door to this amazing park, and I didn't explore it nearly as much as I wanted to. I did discover a few new spots, but whether we live next door to the park or not this summer, I want to discover something new there this year.  
Not so much. But in my defense, our move to Provo got bumped to mid-July, when we were originally planning on moving in September. So we lost a month and a half of time being near Yellowstone. 

7. Save up $1000 for our next adventure. 
We don't really have a plan for fall of 2014, but whatever it is, we'll need a little cash for moving costs, housing deposits, etc. Even if we end up staying in Rexburg this fall, I'd love to have that cash on reserve for when we DO move.
DONE! It was a little tough there for a while...we had to keep taking stuff back OUT of savings for other things. But by golly, we did it! 
$20.06 as of January 14th
$70.06 as of January 16th
$25.00 as of January 26th (we had to use a little for our car purchase)
$125.06 as of January 28th (back on track!)
$225.06 as of January 31st
$125.07 as of February 12th (sigh--we'll get there!)
$0.00 as of February 19th (dammit)
$400.00 as of March 2nd (on our way again!)
$1000 as of March 7th!

8. Visit an art museum. 
I've been having a love affair with art lately, like...even more so than usual. So I'd like to spend some time among some art.
Also a fail. And this one I have no real excuse for. Some other time! 

Whew! Good year, I'd say. And I'm looking forward to 29. Here are 9 things I want to do this year:


1. Write thank you letters to 10 people who have influenced me for good.
I've always been a believer in giving compliments. There's this quote that kind of drives my philosophy on this: Don't say "I love you" unless you mean it, but if you mean it, you should say it. And I've been really aware of the good people in my life lately, so they deserve to know it.

2. Complete all of the required Value Experiences for each of the Young Women Values in the Personal Progress program.
A few weeks ago, I was thinking, "I wish there was some sort of spiritual program for personal development in the Church, that's really specific." And then I realized that there is one! I completed Personal Progress over 10 years ago, but the program has changed since then and I'm excited to give it a go, and see what new things I can learn and experience.

3. Get $3000 into savings.
This is about 2 months worth of living expenses. One thing I'm learning as we plunge into the world of professional acting is that while the money can be decent, it's not often consistent. Having some money in savings to help through the lean times is a good idea no matter what, but ESPECIALLY if you're acting for a living.

4. Some sort of work out goal. 
Okay, I know I'm being vague, which is lame sauce. I just don't know exactly what kind of work out goal I want to pursue yet. I'll update you as soon as I decide.

5. Do 3 PBS Art Assignments.
The Art Assignment is a weekly youtube show through PBS, hosted by Sarah Green. It highlights different contemporary artists and their work, and then they give you an "assignment" to participate in art inspired by their own work. You can post responses on youtube, or just enjoy the experience.

6. Finish editing my YA novel and submit it for publication
Uuuugggghhhhh I don't want to. I want to work on my NEXT story. But I'm almost done editing the YA novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and then I want to send it out into the world. Ideally, I want to have a final draft before this November, so I can do NaNoWriMo again without having TWO stories running around my head.

7. Poem a day for a month
I'm a big believer that regular practice will improve your skills in something more than anything else. I haven't been writing a whole lot of poetry for the last couple of years, so I want to give this a shot. I know that some of the poems will not be great. But that's not the point. The point is to just do it!

8. Take a community class in something (fencing, aerial silks, painting, etc)
I live in a place with community classes available! So I want to take advantage of them!

9. Pose nude for an art class
This is something that's been on my bucket list for a long time. And I debated for a really long time about it. As a member of the LDS Church, I wasn't sure how "okay" this was. But after doing a lot of thinking and researching and reasoning, here's why I want to do it. I want to experience the vulnerability of it. I want to use it as an exercise in courage. But I also want to do it because art students need bodies, and I've got one. And here's why it's okay. Figure drawing classes are not about sexuality. And as much as the media begs to differ, the naked body is not purely sexual. I'm not posing for pornography. I trust the men and women in any figure drawing class to be focused on their art. And I believe it's important for artists to learn figure drawing from the nude body...it's an important skill in creating good art. (For a great perspective on the LDS Gospel and nudity in art, check out this blog entry from an LDS artist.)

Here's to a great 29th year!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Months before Thanksgiving


Hello everyone.

I'm 29! I'm going to do an update post about my 8 Goals While 28, and share my new goals for this coming year, but first I want to talk about gratitude. Because I've got a lot of it, lately.

I used to think gratitude was a choice. Like, that you would be happier if you consciously chose to be grateful for things. I still think that's true, but I'm also starting to believe that gratitude is something that can happen TO you. It's something that can fill you up, suddenly and unexpectedly. I feel like that's been happening to me a lot lately.

There is so much uncertainty in Jacob and I's lives right now. We live paycheck to paycheck, and every audition and query letter and submission and substitute teaching job is another leap off another cliff. But while I'm leaping, the view is beautiful. Here are just some of the bright and peaceful moments that have been shimmering in my heart lately:

The early morning sunlight on the mountains as I drive to school in the mornings, the clouds slowly burning away as everything grows brighter.

The cast of "Damn Yankees" singing "Happy birthday" to me at rehearsal, accompaniment at all, while I sat feeling so shy but so full, grinning from ear to ear.

Jacob sitting in the living room, playing the songs he writes, singing words that are so beautiful and so true.

Driving through Provo in the rain, listening to romantic music.

Sitting in a Wendy's in Orem, while ideas for a story pour into me, and writing them messily down in a notebook.

Watching a woman at an audition write the word "YES" in capital letters on the top of my audition sheet.

Standing around the piano at Melany's house at 11:30 at night, Marshall's hands flying over the keys, and Daniel and Taylor and I all taking turns singing.

Good talks with new friends while driving to and from rehearsal.

Getting up early one morning and eating cereal on the front porch in the cool morning air, watching the world wake up around me.


Maybe it's because I'm sort of forced into "living in the moment" nowadays, but I just feel more present in my life than I have in a while. I suspect these moments have always been here, and I've just been too busy "planning ahead" to notice them. And life still isn't perfect. It isn't easy. The bathroom roof leaks and public school students always misbehave for the substitute teacher and I had to buy off-brand cheese last week. But I've got all these good and beautiful moments that give me the strength to deal with the not-so-good moments. I'm so so so blessed, and it would simply be unreasonable to go on without acknowledging that fact.

So I'm starting off my 29th year of life by feeling grateful.


photo via

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Keep saying funny things, everyone. You're golden.

It's finished! I'm officially on Volume #5 of the Quotebook.

So in celebration, here are a few gems from the last pages. This batch is pretty Jacob-heavy, but I do hang out with him ALL THE TIME.



Liz: Man, I had weird dreams last night.
Jacob: So did I.
Liz: Did you have a make out dream about Jason Sudeikis, too?!

"Nothing glamorous can ever be by a Papa John's." -- Isha

(Brigham, Riley, and Marshall sing an amazing harmony in rehearsal) 
Marshall: Yes! That was awesome! I'm all...hot and bothered now!
Riley: Really?
Marshall: It doesn't take much, with musicals.

"Most of my childhood was spent in pursuit of feeling like I was flying." -- Jacob

"What the heck even are pugs?! They're nothing but booty and smooshed faces." -- Laura

"I HATE math! I'm better at POOPING than I am at math!" -- Jacob

"#1 reason to live in conservative cities. Awesome books are donated to the thrift store." -- Carrie

"No more hitchhikers! The last one had diabetes!" -- Anonymous, said during an improv scene

"I've spent the last few years trying to think of things other than Star Wars." -- Jacob

Liz: Brandilyn's an old soul, for sure.
Brandilyn: I'm the oldest soul. It really shines through in my butt jokes.

"So...I've been thinking. And...I can't come up with anything." -- Jacob, out of the blue

Friday, August 22, 2014

"And you can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week..."


Today was my first day in a high school classroom in almost two years. It was…okay. Classroom management was less than ideal, but what the hell is a substitute supposed to do? It’s not like we know anything about the established rules or discipline procedures. It’s not like we have any real power to enact consequences. After class got out today, I immediately googled “substitute teacher classroom management tips.” I’ve got a handful of good ideas to try. I’m choosing to mark this day down as a learning experience.

But here’s something that was kind of awesome. I was reminded that artistic people are, in general, an accepting group. Drama kids are a welcoming group. I was subbing an acting class, and (classroom discipline aside) it was kind of awesome. I saw every shade of hair color, including blue, green, purple, and orange. I saw Betty Page bangs and lipstick, and boys with Steelers jerseys. I saw piercings and heard people walk in with a cheerful, “I’m here and I’m queer!” I saw boys with long hair and girls with short hair. I saw fat kids and kids with learning disabilities and kids with no concepts of personal space. And no one was left out. I saw kids who would be eaten alive in any other class be EMBRACED, literally and figuratively, in that drama room. I love that. That’s beautiful to me.

And it was a good reminder as Jacob and I find our footing here in Utah.

I’ve never felt like I could “fit in” anywhere except for a drama room, or a theatre (or at home). Even places that should be welcoming haven’t always been. (Young Women’s group, circa 1998, anyone?) It’s like…okay, I read this YA novel a few months ago called This Song Will Change Your Life, and it’s awesome. The main character in it has trouble making friends among her high school peers. At one point, she says:

“I feel sometimes like…there are all these rules. Just to be a person. You know? You’re supposed to carry a shoulder bag, not a backpack. You’re supposed to wear headbands, or you’re not supposed to wear headbands. It’s okay to describe yourself as likable, but it’s not okay to call yourself eloquent. You can sit in the front of the school bus, but you can’t sit in the middle…There are so many rules, and they don’t make any sense, and I just can’t learn them all.”

I’ve spent most of my life feeling exactly the same way. I could sense the rules around me, and sometimes pick up on them, but either I didn’t actually get it, or it was always too late. I was wearing baggy t-shirts until 2001, even though I think they went out of style around the early 90s. But I can’t be sure, because I could never pick up on the rules in time. I’d figure out one day that everyone around me was wearing button-down shirts from The Gap. So the next school year, when we went school shopping, I’d get a button-down shirt. But by that time, everyone was wearing graphic t-shirts from Hot Topic.

But the stupid thing is that as a teenager or young kid, if you’ve been marked as a pariah, it doesn’t matter if you follow the rules or not. If you’re the kid with bushy eyebrows and a button-down shirt from The Gap when Hot Topic is the new thing, you’re “not cool.” And if you notice, and you DO get your shirt from Hot Topic, by then, you’re just trying too hard.

(I know I’m bringing up a lot of angsty stuff from my childhood here, but this stuff sticks with you, man. I’m trying to embrace my vulnerability and say something important, so stick with me.)

There were also times, apparently, when I thought I was accepted and actually wasn’t. When I was fourteen or so, maybe fifteen, I went to Girl’s Camp. We’d just moved to a new ward and I didn’t really know many people, maybe one or two girls. But we had this fun cabin and an AWESOME leader, and I spent most of that week feeling pretty good about the new friends I was making. But towards the end of the week, the one girl I knew pretty well said something while we were sitting along in the cabin. I don’t remember how it came up, or her exact words, but she said something to the effect of, “Well, so-and-so and I were talking about how you’re kind of the odd one out, that like, you don’t really have any friends in our cabin, like no one in our cabin really likes you.” (In retrospect, what a bitchy thing to say.) But more than being hurt at her saying such a mean thing, at the time I felt a wave of confusion. I was disoriented because “not having any friends, not being liked, being the odd man out” was news to me. I had been completely unaware that I was still “not cool.” I thought I was making friends, connecting to people, having fun. The fact that I could be so incorrect was shocking to me. It’s a revelation that mystifies me to this day.

But it’s also an event that I still think about. When I am thrown into a new situation, especially. If I was so unaware then, is it possible I could still be just as ignorant now? Do these friendly acquaintances actually not like me? Are we not actually friends? It’s made worse when, Mean Girls style, I see people act friendly towards people they’ll say later that they can’t stand. THEN HOW DO I KNOW YOU’RE ACTUALLY BEING FRIENDLY TO ME? You could just as easily turn around when I leave and say I drive you crazy. It’s certainly possible that I don’t belong…she’s so much prettier than I am, he’s so much better-looking, she’s so much more stylish, he’s so much funnier. I mean, I think the last joke I made was a pun based on ancient scripture. I prefer trees to blockbuster films and I love jigsaw puzzles. I’m obsessed with Ancient Aliens and Star Trek: TNG. I’ve had some of my clothes since I was a sophomore in high school, which was roughly thirteen years ago. I HAVE ADULT ACNE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. This is the epitome of uncool.

And it’s true that there has been the occasional drama geek that has noticed this and treated me with disdain for it. But I think about every single close friend I have today, and here’s the thing. Every single one of them I met because of theatre. Our friendship solidified on stages and in acting studios. On the nasty couches that all acting classrooms have. In the tech booth. In the Dairy Queen after improv shows. My husband and I met while playing husband and wife in a One Act play. Annie and Sarah and Jordan and the whole gang from Rexburg all came about because of “Comedy of Errors” and “Crazy for You” and every other show in between. Carrie and I became friends in 2004 when we did a final scene in Acting I together (which we almost failed because we would just talk instead of rehearse). I can’t even begin to name how many other friendships were born because we all just followed our bliss.

Because sometime around 2002, right before my senior year of high school, I decided that if I couldn’t figure out the rules, if I couldn’t follow them, I’d just be myself. I’d follow my own rules. I had spent so long trying to fit in where I didn’t even belong. And I had loved theatre my whole life anyway. So I auditioned for “Little Women” in my high school drama department and never looked back.

So I guess what I’m saying is, find your tribe. Find your people. Follow your passions and be yourself and you’ll find the group of people who will embrace you for it. And if all else fails, join the drama kids. We’ll take just about anybody.