A graveyard smash

Halloween is not my holiday. Oh, as a kid, I loved it, and I was lucky enough to have a creative/crafty mom, so I've had some pretty rockin' costumes over the years, including:
  • Pink Bunny: Pretty self-explanatory. There was also a mask with pipe cleaners for whiskers.
  • Pippi Longstocking: My mom made me a jumper out of a skirt we found at the thrift shop and a garter belt out of an old bra. Combined with my own shoes and my dad's shoes over them, drawn-on freckles, and spray painted red braids with pipe cleaners in them to make them stick out.
  • Ballerina Pig: The pig costume was stuffed within an inch of its life, with a sparkly tutu and ballet slippers laced up the legs. The pig costume got recycled the next year as an Aristocrat Pig, with Grandma Bossy's fur stole and clip-on earrings in the pig ears. The third year, I wasn't creative or amenable to being stuffed, so I was just a Skinny Pig.

As an adult (ish), I have one costume I've used for the past 5 years or so. I call it my half-a**ed tiger costume, which consists of Tigger ears from Disneyland, a tiger tail my mom made me, and these little tiger cuffs she made to match. Combine that with black pants and a black shirt, and I'm good to go. Some years when I'm feeling ambitious (and this year I am not) I draw whiskers and a nose on my face in black eyeliner. Most of the time I try to avoid Halloween altogether with the exception of increased candy consumption, but this year, no such luck. I've been invited out with one group and to a party with another, so I'm actually party-hopping tonight.

Bah humbug Rawr.

Call me irresponsible

I totally bought it in ivory.

Sorry, Mama Bossy.

I got big plans

I'm a planner. I can occasionally be mistaken for spontaneous, but generally I like to figure things out in advance. I have an Excel spreadsheet for my Europe trip, listing Things to Do, Things to Buy, and Things to Pack. When I complete a task, I cross it off right away.

Yes sir, I'm a planner.

That is, up until the point when I buy a plane ticket to Europe under my married name, forgetting that I never changed the name on either of my passports.


The U.S. has a strange policy that you can only renew your passport in person if you're traveling within the next 14 days, so I have a few more days to wait. This morning, however, I decided to tackle the German passport renewal process. I arrived at the German Consulate armed with a completed passport application, photos, my marriage certificate, my expired German passport, and a cheery smile. But Germany, oh she was playing hard to get. First of all, in order for Germany to recognize my name change, I have to bring my husband with me to the Consulate (the marriage certificate isn't enough; they need to see him in the flesh to believe that we're married), fill out a bunch of paperwork, and then wait 2 months for it to be processed. Second of all, my German passport is not proof enough that I am German. After all, it was issued in San Francisco, not in Houston, so how can they tell whether or not it's real? No, I have to have my birth certificate, despite the fact that I was born in the U.S. Needless to say, I will not be traveling on my German passport any time soon. Oh, Germany, you may be a lot of things, but easy you are not. Cross your fingers that the U.S. bureaucracy is a little more forgiving.

So, on to things I can control. Like buying a new coat that will actually keep me warm. I've picked out this one, but I'm having trouble choosing a color. Please, give me your advice! I tried on the ivory at the store, and it was gorgeous and I loved it, but have you met me? It would stay ivory for about 5 minutes. I wish they had it in a pretty kelly green, but alas.

Back to planning. If you need me, I'll be cuddling up with Rick Steves' Austria and Germany 2007.

So just call on me, brother

Time spent laughing with friends is like chicken soup for the soul in a funk (No, I haven't trademarked that yet, so if it speaks to you, feel free to make it the title of your next inspirational self-help book). Generally I like to spend my friend time one-on-one instead of in a crowd, but in the past week I have had a blast hanging out in groups.

Thursday night I had plans to see a movie with The Wise Soprano and the fabulous Ms. Wilson, but they got invited to an informal dinner party and invited me to crash and then see a late movie. It ended up being so much fun that we never even made it to the movie. There was yummy home-cooked food and conversations ranging from blidgets (don't ask) to the Red Sox to Stephen Colbert's presidential campaign. It was loud and hilarious, and I was completely out of my element, but I had an amazing time, and I have 3 new Facebook friends as a result (you know you've made a real connection with someone when they're willing to declare your friendship on Facebook).

Last night the Wolf Trap crew was in town hearing auditions, and we Houston Wolf Trap alums went to the original Ninfa's for dinner. It might have been a random Sunday night, but Ninfa's was hopping, so after spending 30 minutes waiting in line we ended up at the ersatz Ninfa's on Kirby and Richmond instead. We settled at a long table in the middle of the almost empty restaurant. Usually I hate long tables because you never get to chat with the people at the other end of the table, but there was a fair amount of mingling that went on, so I got plenty of face time with everyone. One WTOS alum from this summer was in town, and as a result of reading the blog, he requested the goat face. One strong margarita later, I didn't need any convincing. The best part of the night, though, was when Halloween costumes got brought up. Halloween is not my favorite holiday, so I rolled my eyes and sighed, "Oh, Jesus," to which CameraMan replied, "Jesus? Is that what you're dressing up as, with your red hair and your whore boots?" It was completely random, but I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard.

Tonight was another great night out with friends, this time my tech/stage management friends. We went to my favorite sushi place, then to my favorite ice cream place, and then we played like kids in a candy store... in a candy store. Highlights of the evening include the time I said "boner" instead of "banner" by mistake (I know, we're 12-year-olds) and the sticker that got put on my shoulder that said "I cackle and my eyes light up." Indeed.

So thanks, friends, for the good times. If you want to hang out again, I'll be there... with my red hair and my whore boots.

Dites-moi, pourquoi

I can't believe I'm on Day 28 of my month-long "Blog Every Day Even If It Kills Me Slowly And Painfully" project. What on earth will you do when you can't depend on reading Little Ms. Bossy every single day? Have no fear, the project has had exactly the effect I was hoping for (but didn't believe would actually happen), and writing has become a habit for me. I will probably continue to blog most days, especially when I'm off having fantastic European adventures.

Despite how much I enjoy writing, there are days when I have difficulty getting inspired to blog. You can recognize those days, I'm sure. Often they turn into List Days or descriptions of my mundane activities for the day. Sometimes it helps me to read others' writing, though. Today I was inspired by reading Yankeediva, who asked her readers why/how music touches them, and Grecchinois, who tackled the question of why he has made a career as a singer. It seemed like a sign that I should perhaps address the question of why I have chosen to be a director. The question always comes up in interviews, so over the years I've developed a pat explanation of sorts, but it's a question that deserves more than a simple answer.

I think I could write a dissertation on why I love directing, even though it's almost too nebulous a thing to pin down. I feel more vital and alive when I am directing than I do at any other time. I love that it comes naturally to me, while still challenging me in every rehearsal. The collaborative aspect of directing is exciting for me as well. Besides the obvious collaboration between directors and designers (of which I've had only limited experience), the relationship between directors and singers is complex and satisfying when it is truly a collaboration. The life of a director may be a solitary one, but it's not a career for the socially inept. A good director has to be able to really see her singers, in order to help them be the best they can possibly be onstage. You get to know people in a whole new way (for better or for worse) when you direct them, and I think when it goes right you can create deep connections. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but even as an assistant, there is rarely anywhere I would rather be than in rehearsal. I can be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but after a 3-hour rehearsal I am energized and inspired more often than not.

I've known for most of my life that I needed to make a career in the performing arts. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose, depending on how you look at it), when I see an opera or a play, I find it impossible to shut off the critical director's voice in my head, so I'm constantly evaluating and judging production values and performances. I can't help it. There are moments onstage, though, and sometimes even whole productions, that move me and inspire me and make me want to be not just a better director, but a better person. No matter how many times it happens, it surprises me every time how much art can change us. My life has been shaped immeasurably by nights at the theatre, and to have the privilege to shape others' lives in that way is so great that I'm always amazed by people who don't want to make a life in the arts.

I better sign off before this actually does become dissertation-length. Turns out it wasn't so hard to think of something to blog about after all. Tonight I'm off to dinner with the Wolf Trappers, including two fellow bloggers, who already joined me today in the viewing booth for Act II of Daughter (happy family reunions onstage and off).

Oh, what a night

As you probably know, it's bad luck to say "Good luck" to theatre people before a show. Instead, you say "Break a leg." In opera, we always have to do things our own way, so we have a whole set of sayings to choose from on opening night. "Toi toi toi" is a popular one, and I've heard it explained both as deriving from the German word for devil and from the sound of spitting over your shoulder. I'm personally partial to the latter explanation. We also say "In bocca al lupo" (literally "in the mouth of the wolf" in Italian). The correct response is "Crepi il lupo" (which can sort of be translated "The wolf will die"). In France (and in ballet companies everywhere), you say "Merde" (you can look up the translation for that one—Little Ms. Bossy doesn't have a potty mouth).

Apparently all the right things were said last night, because it was a spectacular opening! Everything went according to plan and the audience loved the show. Afterwards, we went to the cast party, hosted at an unbelievable penthouse apartment near Memorial Park. I tried to take pictures of the glorious view from the enormous balcony to show you, but I clearly still have a thing or two to learn about my camera. I mingled and schmoozed, as well as spending lots of time talking to my friends. The food was yummy (especially the dessert tray), and as we were leaving we even got party favors. Thank you, host, for your business card made of chocolate. If I ever have any wealth that needs managing, you will be the first person I call.

It was truly a great night. The director called me "Notre fille" all evening, the lighting designer pulled me aside to tell me how fabulous I was (go on, go on), and there was this chocolate truffle filled with peanut butter that was a little piece of heaven. My friend Fuzzball came, adored the show, and was just as excited as I was to see my name in the program. I took many pictures, so here's this week's installment of Little Ms. Bossy, Page Six. Unfortunately, none of the pictures show the best part of my dress, the fringe of feathers on the bottom, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Stage Management Angels

Our own King o' the High C's

Fuzzball & Me

Boys Boys Boys

The New Oregonian, my lovely date

Another op'nin', another show

It's opening night for Daughter, and I'm so excited! We got a little preview on Wednesday night at our Final Dress, which had a medium-sized invited audience. I felt like we were exactly where we should be preparation-wise, and what we really needed to bring the show to the next level was an audience. Comedies, even more than other shows, can only blossom and transform with people watching, and this show was no exception. Our production is updated from the original setting to the end of World War II. Tonio is in the French Resistance and Marie is the "daughter" of a regiment of American soldiers. There are lots of campy touches that bring to mind old movies about what fun it was to be in the army. There are moments in the show (particularly any time Ms. Ewa Podles is onstage) that make me giggle every single time I see them, but there are far more that I haven't laughed at in weeks. After seeing the show so many times, I really couldn't tell you whether it's funny or not. Until I'm surrounded by people who are seeing it for the first time, that is. How heartening it is to hear people roaring with laughter in all the right places. We're going into this opening night with complete confidence that people will love it!

During performances I don't get to sit in the audience. There is a viewing booth at the back of the first floor of the audience where I sit. I'm on headset with stage management in case there are any problems. More often than not there aren't any major issues that need my help, but occasionally I'm thankful to be able to communicate to backstage, like when a prop breaks, or when someone falls down, or, you know, when the tenor needs to be replaced at intermission because he's ill. No worries about that last one for this production; our singers are all healthy, except for a small epidemic of knee injuries earlier in the rehearsal process. The viewing booth where I sit is also where audience members who come late have to sit until intermission. They're always annoyed to be in there, especially because the supertitles can't be seen from the booth, and I'm used to getting dirty looks if I have to talk on headset.

Another opening night means another schmancy party! I'm recycling a dress, but the lovely ladies of the costume shop are making some alterations to it to make it all new (I felt like Cinderella when they were helping me). Today I went out and bought new jewelry and a wrap (have I mentioned that it's fall here?!?). Browns, golds, and greens to match the season and complement my red hair.

It's the day of the show, y'all!

Oh happy day

It's no big secret that I adore my job. I love walking into the opera house, I get starstruck around the opera greats who sing with us, and I take great pride in being good at what I do.

That being said, sometimes there is nothing better than a free day. Today's our day off for the week (because we open tomorrow!), and I am enjoying the time. Here are some highlights from my day:
  • Watched Six Feet Under on the couch in my pajamas with my kitten.
  • Ate chips and guacamole outside for lunch.
  • Bought opening night gifts for the stage management team. Can't tell you what they are, but I will say that the best opening night presents are either a) edible, or b) displayable on your desk. My gifts cover both a and b.
  • Wore a mini-dress with tights. Said tights kept falling down, so I bought new tights. My height and weight combo did not appear on the size chart, so I guessed at what size I should buy. Got home and found out I guessed wrong. Had to go out again and buy more new tights.
  • Caught up on the phone with Mama Bossy and the Best Friend.
  • Discovered a fantastic shop dedicated to all things British, where I bought the Little Miss Bossy book whose name inspired this blog.
  • Boring things like cleaning, German verb drills, and lots of internet time.
  • Admired the fantastic weather.

Still to come? Dinner party and a late movie. Hurray for free days!

And in case you were wondering, our final dress rehearsal last night totally rocked. More on that tomorrow.

Leavin' on a jet plane

The nature of my job is a little strange because I'm contracted on a show-by-show basis. Those of you die-hard readers who have been with Little Ms. Bossy from the beginning may remember that I started off this blog with a month of unemployment. Well, I have 6 weeks off between productions coming up, so it's always a question of what I should do with the time. My first year at HGO I temped in my off-contract time, but after spending weeks doing what I love, I find it far too depressing to work for people who are amazed that I can type faster than 40 wpm, show up to work on time, and don't need copious smoke breaks. Besides, I can make almost as much money from unemployment, and then I'm free to do whatever I want with my time.

Which brings me to today's excitement. After much contemplation and brainstorming, I figured out what I want to do with my time, and today I bought plane tickets, so it's real. The day after my contract ends, I'm going to New York, where I will catch up with friends, see ACB in Figaro at the Met, and maybe (just maybe) do some career advancement-type activities as well. I haven't been to NYC since January, and that's much too long.

I will then fly back to Houston for a couple days, before going to Europe for a month!! I'm starting off in Vienna (my favorite place I've ever been, but ask me again after I go there in the winter) for at least 2 weeks where I'll study German and see lots of opera (yes, I'm a nerd, I know). I'm leaving the following 2 weeks open. Maybe I'll stay in Vienna longer, but I'll probably go up to Germany and travel around. In case you didn't know, Little Ms. Bossy has a German passport, because Papa Bossy is a bona fide German. I have lots of family and family friends in Germany, and I will most likely be crashing on various couches during my time there. I've never traveled internationally by myself, and I'm looking forward to having lots of adventures, auf Deutsch of course. I'll be taking pictures and blogging from the road. And if you thought there were too many stories on the blog involving beer, you might not want to read while I'm in the land of Bier. Oh, and the best thing of all is that my ticket was bought entirely with frequent flier miles. My nomadic existence finally pays off.

After a few days resetting my internal clock back in Houston, I'll be off to Oregon to visit Mama and Papa Bossy for Christmas. I'm hoping for a relaxing time that will also include a fair amount of Magic Flute review, because I start prepping the show December 27.

Today was a good day. I know you haven't heard that much from me lately, but I'm hoping all my jet-setting will bring me back to Houston with a whole new attitude.

City on fire

My heart is going out to Southern California today, and especially to my family there, including my cousin Tracy, the fire chief for the city of San Diego. Reading about the fires is devastating, and I'm always struck by the number of details that have to be considered in these situations, such as how to evacuate hospitals and jails, where to house evacuees, and how to gather resources quickly to fix the problem. Ideally there's a plan in place well before anything happens, but there still has to be an incredible amount of flexibility and quick thinking involved.

I've never experienced anything like what San Diegoans (San Diegoites?) are seeing this week. Growing up in Rhode Island I was in two hurricanes, Hurricane Gloria and Hurricane Bob, but for me they were nothing more than adventures. It was exciting to put tape on the windows, stock up on food and water, light candles, sleep in the living room in a sleeping bag, and climb around on the fallen trees the next day.

The closest I've come to a real natural disaster was Hurricane Rita right after I moved to Houston in 2005. No, please, don't look it up. You'll see that although it was slated to hit Houston in a big way, it actually brought nothing to the city but torrential rains and a bit of street flooding. However, Rita came only a few weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans, so there was an understandably alarmist attitude toward the storm. My roommate at the time managed to get a flight to Oregon to visit her family, so had I stayed in Houston I would have been all alone in my house. I hadn't been in Houston long, and I didn't know anybody very well. We were in the first week of rehearsals for Boris Godunov, and we had to call the entire chorus of 80 to tell them that rehearsals were canceled. The mood at the opera house was tense because everyone was remembering Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, when there had been huge amounts of flooding that wiped out a lot of costume and set stock.

Everyone was evacuating, so I decided to drive to Dallas to stay with the Best Friend. After I left work, I waited in line for 45 minutes at the gas station to fill up my tank, packed a few belongings, and set off on I-45 North. The drive to Dallas generally takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours. It took me 21 1/2 hours to get there. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I went through every emotion imaginable, from utter despair to hope to fear. I don't think I hit acceptance until I could see the Dallas skyline. People on the road were crazy, too, probably because they were experiencing all the same feelings I was. Everyone was driving on the shoulder, but then emergency vehicles would need to get by with their sirens blaring, and the jerks on the shoulder would have to merge back into the lanes. It was a nightmare. I managed to get all the way to Dallas on one tank of gas, which is lucky, since there was no gas to be had on the way. I stopped only once, at Wal-Mart (it takes a natural disaster to get me to go there), to buy a cell phone charger and use the restroom. Otherwise, I was on the road the whole time, crying on the phone to Nathan and my parents, and trying not to be too freaked out by what I was hearing about the storm on the radio. Once I arrived in Dallas, it all felt like a bad dream, but for the incredible soreness in my left leg from hours of stop-and-go traffic driving a stick shift. I hung out with my Best Friend for several days, shopping, going out to eat, and cursing the weather reports, and when I drove back to Houston it took about 4 hours.

I only wish the fires in San Diego could have such a happy ending. I'll be thinking of California this week, and wishing for some of the chilly weather and heavy rains that we've been seeing here in Houston to travel west.

It's the final countdown

The Daughter production is heading into the home stretch now. After tonight, we have only two rehearsals left until we open on Friday! The tech schedule at HGO is pretty luxurious, especially for a shortish opera like Daughter. We have two 4-hour Piano Tech rehearsals (we did Act I in the first and Act II in the second), one Piano Dress (the whole show with costumes, wigs, and makeup), two Orchestra Staging rehearsals (in costume), and the Final Orchestra Dress, which has an invited audience.

In opera, there's always a delicate balance between the music and the dramatic/technical aspects of the production. In the rehearsals with piano, we focus mostly on the latter, stopping to fix spacing and clarify blocking, giving copious notes about the costumes, and taking time to set the props correctly. The conductor rarely stops the rehearsal for musical issues unless there's a real train wreck, and often the singers don't sing out. As soon as the orchestra joins the process, we shift heavily toward the music. The orchestra staging rehearsals are Maestro's. He sets the plan for what we work on, and he stops often to give musical notes. The director is still watching and taking notes, but he doesn't dictate how the rehearsal goes or stop the rehearsal. The singers also change their focus. Tonight was the first Orchestra Staging for Daughter, and I heard some of the principals sing full out for the first time (worth the wait, that's for sure).

My job is a bit lighter once the orchestra joins the rehearsals. During the nights with piano, I'm often running around, shifting people, giving the chorus little notes, and checking in with stage management. Once we get to this part of the process, I have much less to do. When Maestro stops the orchestra to give a note, I don't even have to keep track of where we're starting from (a fairly major part of my job in tech rehearsals); there's a member of music staff to do that. I was reminded today, though, of the most important part of my job: making sure information gets to everyone who needs it. I spent most of the afternoon emailing and phoning with various colleagues in an attempt to clean up a small mess that was made through lack of communication. My lesson? Never assume that someone knows something unless you told them yourself.

Speaking of which, I hope you all know how much I adore you for reading this thing. What started out as a whim has become an important part of my days, and even when I can't think of a thing to write and I post total crap, it gives me great joy to know that you'll read it anyway. Especially you, my Latvian friend.

You other fellas can't deny

You know that girl who can't eat when she's miserable and/or stressed out? "Oh, I couldn't possibly," she says as you try to share your pint of Ben & Jerry's, "I'm so upset I've completely lost my appetite." Her friends are all concerned for her, and they talk to each other about interventions while at the same time secretly admiring the way her jeans fit her new smaller body. You confess your near-constant craving for chocolate, and she stares at you blankly like she has no idea what you're talking about. Her freakishly quick weight loss is physical proof of her pain much more than your 5 extra ice cream pounds. The Wise Soprano tells me she's never actually met one of these girls, but I certainly have...

...and I am not among their number. My funk has the unfortunate side effects of everyday excursions for ice cream, cheese, and cheese-related products leading to all my pants fitting just a little bit tighter, leading in turn to scowling and bitterness. I could take my a** to the gym instead of whining about it, but my new motto? If you can't join 'em, hate 'em.

What can I say? Green is my new favorite color.

Yours truly,
Bitter Betty

P.S. I'm truly not fishing here. There's really no need to leave comments about how skinny I actually am. BB

If I was a rich girl

I often wish I was independently wealthy. If money were truly no object, and you could do absolutely anything with your life, and you had oodles of cash to spare, what would you do? If it were me, I think I would probably buy up a huge piece of land in suburban Texas and build a huge museum dedicated to the history of Imperial China, complete with a 1/3 scale replica of 6000 terra cotta soldiers, a miniature Forbidden City, and examples of the weird food they ate, like bear paws and baby penguins. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Wait, what's that you say? That already exists? Damn, why do we eccentric millionaires all think alike? Seriously, folks, next time you have a spare weekend day, I can highly recommend a trip to the Forbidden Gardens, if only to clarify for yourself that there are people out there who are crazier than you are. You can't just wander through the exhibitions; you have to take a guided tour. At no time during the tour does the guide discuss the museum and why/how it was built. She only talks about the history of Imperial China, as if that's where we were. Kind of creepy. Also, the whole thing is in a sad state of disrepair, probably because of delinquents like me who are still using their long-expired student I.D.s to get cheap tickets. And because they only charge 50 cents to feed the fish and giant turtles (the highlight of the trip, in my opinion). Go there. You'll be bored and weirded out, but you won't regret it, I promise.

In other news, opening night was fantastic! The show went so well, the party lived up to all its schmanciness hype, and I spent much of the time during intermission and after the show taking pictures. Here are a few of my favorites (Little Ms. Bossy's version of Page Six):

OperaDaddy, HotMama, and The Wise Soprano

CameraMan and Me

The New Oregonian (my date) and the incredible Ms. Wilson (who kicked some serious a** in the show)

I'm just a girl

Tonight's the opening night of Ballo, the first show of the season. It's not my show, but I'm going to watch and then I'm attending the fancy schmancy after-party as The New Oregonian's date. There's one of these after every opening night, but the opening night of the season is the fanciest and the schmanciest of the year. I'll be wearing my new green dress for the first time!

I started off the day with a fantastic massage (my birthday gift from my co-workers). It was just what I needed. I'm pretty picky when it comes to massages, even though I don't get them very often. I like a lot of pressure (it's not a real massage if I don't have bruises the next day), and I don't like it when the massage therapist talks too much. I like warmed sheets and the scent of lavender. Today's massage had all of the above plus a cushy robe and slippers they gave me to wear to and from the massage room.

Because of aforementioned schmanciness, much of the day has to be spent primping, so I don't have much time to write. There's far too much to do. Skin to moisturize, toenails to paint, heels to pumice, nails to file, eyebrows to pluck, makeup to apply, hair to curl, and perfume to spritz, all with the ultimate girly movie on in the background. (What? You thought I just woke up every day looking like this? It takes work, people.)

But I will leave you with an amusing conversation I had today with a friend about a girl he likes.

Me: What does she do?
Him: She's a claims analysist.
Me: Analysist?
Him: Yes, an analysist.
Me: Or maybe, analyst?
Him: Oh.


My particular skill set suits me perfectly to my job. I have almost infinite patience, the ability to remember many seemingly insignificant details at once, and quick reflexes in a crisis. Yeah, yeah, fantastic, but my most important skill when the team is feeling low, when we're on dinner break gearing up for a long night, when everyone needs a little boost? This is when I break out the big guns: animal impressions.

I don't have a wide range. Only two, really. I warm up the crowd with an entertaining fish face, and then I sock it to 'em with the disturbingly hilarious goat face. Now, I know this post is crying out for visual aids. You can give up right away on seeing the goat face. My face contorted into imitating a goat is, no joke, the least attractive that I will ever look (so much so that Nathan forbade me from ever doing it in his presence again), and there's no need to put that out on the internet. If you need to see ugly, you can go here. I can't remember when I started the goat face. I think it was in high school, but it doesn't matter. It leaves my colleagues rolling in the aisles, and if my tales of virtuosic dart playing and impressive drink pounding haven't made you want to be friends with me, the chance of seeing my goat face in person should.

Still, it seems cruel to tell you about this skill, something almost indescribable, and simply say, "Guess you had to be there." So... I'm including a picture of my fish face. Keep in mind that a) I took this picture myself while holding the camera at arm's length, and b) there is actually movement associated with the face (no, I will not post a video). My mom used to do the fish face for me all the time when I was little, and then at a certain point she taught me the "secret" to keeping your cheeks expanded so that I could entertain others. It's been a big hit since I started pulling it out at dinner parties, but it's best combined in a 1-2 punch with the goat face.

I broke out the fish and the goat on dinner break before last night's tech. That rehearsal went so well it ended over an hour early. Coincidence? I think not.

Talkin' 'bout bad girls

So, while I was thinking through today's post, an amazing thing happened to me. I had an epiphany. I was planning to start by saying that I generally spend my time focusing on things I'm already good at because I don't like being bad at things, and how every once in a while when I step out of my comfort zone it actually pays off, and then I was going to tell a Little Engine that Could-style story about a darts game I won last night. It was going to be a great post, witty and possibly even a bit inspirational, and all of you were going to wish that you could play darts with me while sucking down gin and tonics.

But back to the epiphany. You don't get to read the fantastic post I've just described, because I realized that I've changed! It's not actually true anymore that I shy away from activities that I'm bad at. Of course most of my time is spent doing my job, at which I kick some serious a**, if I do say so myself, but my leisure activities have broadened in scope. My fairly recent interest in photography is a prime example. Taking the time to actually learn how to use my camera (still a major work in progress) has improved my photos and increased my enjoyment in taking pictures. The old Little Ms. Bossy would have contented herself (and in fact did) with taking out the camera once a month or so and keeping it on the Auto setting the whole time.

This blog is another good example. I'm challenging myself to write, something I've always talked about wanting to do, but never actually followed through on, and although I'm not exactly spilling my guts here, I'm still opening myself up in a new way. A small risk, maybe, but a risk nonetheless. I think it's incredibly easy to get into a rut, to reach "adulthood" and think you've figured out who you're going to be for the rest of your life, to always describe yourself in the same way. Sometimes it takes someone outside yourself to notice how you've changed for you to realize it. Yesterday I was talking to my Best Friend on the phone, and she said, "It's so cool that now you can say you have a hobby outside of music." She was talking about photography, but I had never thought of it that way at all. I was still under the impression that I don't need a hobby, because I do my hobby for a job, and that certainly used to be true, but it's not anymore.

Which is all to say that, in examining how I spend my time and the person I've become/am becoming, I think I'm doing pretty well. And I think I'd like to keep it up, open myself up to change. Anyone have a cello they want to sell me?

Oh, and maybe I'll take up modeling while I'm at it. Check out this picture of me. Also this one. Too bad I don't look nearly that good in real life. That Fuzzball, she can definitely list photography in the "Things I'm Good At" column.

Snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes

It's List Day! Why? Because I say so, that's why. I'm going to get all tourist-guide on you and tell you about my favorite Houston haunts, specifically eating establishments. I've only included places I go on a fairly regular basis.

My Favorite Places to Eat in Houston
  • Amy's Ice Cream: CameraMan got me hooked on milkshakes made with Mexican Vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and a dollop of peanut butter. Yum.
  • Auntie Chang's Dumpling House: Our Chinese takeout place of choice. Make sure you get dumplings with your order.
  • Barnaby's: The fries are amazing. The burgers are delish. Try to save room for a brownie à la mode.
  • Berryhill: One of my favorites for lunch. In fact, I went there for lunch today! I always get tamales. I especially like the spinach & corn ones. The one on Westheimer is a hole in the wall, but it's the one I like best.
  • Black Walnut Cafe: Soups, sandwiches, etc. in the Rice Village. I love the tomato basil soup because it has cheese tortellini in it. They also have fantastic gelato.
  • The Chocolate Bar: You can get almost anything made out of chocolate here, but the real draw for me is the house-made ice cream. Orange Sunrise is my favorite flavor. This week, that is.
  • Daily Review: Maybe it's because it was literally down the block from our old apartment, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Everything I've ever had was delicious, and even if you don't like your entree, I can guarantee you will love the bread and dipping oil. And the patio is gorgeous!
  • Divino: I highly recommend the goat cheese ravioli and the pinot grigio del giorno. And it's conveniently located right across the street from The Chocolate Bar.
  • Front Porch: The go-to spot for post-rehearsal drinkies. Sit outside (on the front porch, yes) and order the mini corn-dogs.
  • Market Square: My favorite place to eat when I'm working downtown. I usually get quesadillas, but the burgers are really good, too.
  • Romano's Pizza: The best pizza I've had in Houston. New York style, especially good with sausage. They don't deliver, but you can call in your order.
  • Sherlock's: Good place for mozzarella sticks and beer. They recently moved to a huge location. Only downside: the pool tables are in an annoying spot against a wall.
  • Shiva: Delicious Indian food in the Rice Village. They give you a lifetime supply of naan with your dinner, and it's amazing!

So, Houstonians, what are your favorites? Please share!

The rehearsal last night went as smoothly as I hoped it would. Tonight I'm going to the Ballo final dress. I'm especially excited for the lovely and talented Ms. Wilson making her role debut as Amelia!

Damn. Now I'm hungry.

Takin' care of business

Today is our first day onstage for Daughter of the Regiment. We call this Hell Tech Week even though it's more like 2 weeks at HGO (We start today and open on October 26). I usually go into this stage of the process with a mixture of anxiety and adrenaline, but I'm really not too worried about this one. Tonight we have 4 hours to get through Act I, which is 70 minutes long. There are no scene shifts (I can feel the Ballo team glaring at me again...sorry!) to get through and no other incredibly difficult technical aspects, so I anticipate most of our time being spent focusing on the singers' spacing, especially in the chorus scenes.

This afternoon before the rehearsal we'll have a lighting session, where we go through the lighting cue-by-cue. We don't call the singers to these sessions, so we bring in light-walkers. I'll be on headset with them telling them where to go in an approximation of the singers' blocking. Again, lighting shouldn't be all that difficult in this show because it's pretty much a strict remount (meaning the production has been done before) with the same lighting designer and director that were with the production last time it was done. Right before the rehearsal we'll do a sound check for one sound effect and one singer whose voice has to come out of a radio onstage.

During the rehearsal, I'll be on headset with the stage manager and his assistants, sticking close to the director at all times and taking notes for him. The first day of tech is always a bit of a crapshoot, because every director handles things differently and wants different things from the AD. After the rehearsal, we have a production meeting with representatives from every department where we discuss any problems that came up, changes that need to be made, etc.

I'm wearing my Little Miss Bossy t-shirt like I always do on the first day of tech. Now's the time to show my true colors.

One is silver and the other gold

The nature of my job makes it nearly impossible to make friends outside of work. I never have a consistent day off, so I can't take a class every week, or join a book club, or play a sport (hahaha, I could barely write that last one with a straight face). Luckily, the people I work with are pretty fabulous, but even still, sometimes I need some time away from opera talk. The question is, how do you find friends once you're out of school?

My first year in Houston, I met my great friend ArmyBrat completely by chance while I was visiting my Best Friend in Dallas. ArmyBrat was working in Dallas for a few weeks, hanging out with a childhood friend that happened to be my Best Friend's colleague in grad school. We met and immediately knew we were kindred spirits. When she got back to Houston we started hanging out all the time, and she made my life here infinitely better. Of course, being ArmyBrat, she wasn't here indefinitely, so last January I had to say goodbye to her as she moved to the Netherlands for the next 3 years. Since then, I haven't found any other non-opera friends.

Until now, that is. A few weeks ago I went to a Flickr meet-up, where I immediately clicked with the lovely Fuzzball. Could this be the friend I was looking for? We started out slowly with traded comments on each other's photos, and then I got bold and asked her out to see an opera outside, followed by frozen mojitos at The Flat, with conversation ranging from boys to theatre back to boys. It went so well that we braved a second date...today! We started out with lunch, where Fuzzball made a baby cry at the table next to ours (and you thought I wouldn't dare blog about that) and made me almost cry with laughter. We continued on to a walking tour of Houston, where we met up with 2 more fantastic Flickr ladies, Laanba and Aggiechristine. The tour guide was not great and the weather was far from ideal, but we made up for it with lots of giggling, chatting, and picture taking. I had such fun with these women.

After I parted company with my new friends, lest I start feeling opera withdrawal, I went to the tail end of the Ballo orchestra staging. The show is going to be amazing! I can't wait for the final dress rehearsal on Tuesday night.

Oh, and my Flickr friends tell me that the best way to stalk and be stalked is through Twitter. Turns out I'm a sucker for peer pressure.

Play that funky music

I'm in a funk. I can't remember exactly when it started, but it's been long enough now that it's becoming increasingly difficult to laugh it off as just a phase. I don't feel like myself. Friends have taken to calling me Grumpy Greta, Mopey Mildred, and Bitter Betty. I'd love to blame it on a combination of hormones and recent not-so-fabulous life events, but I'm afraid it probably comes down to a fundamentally bad attitude that I'm carrying around with me wherever I go. I need to shake it off, snap out of it, suck it up. But how?

Here's what I've tried so far: pretending everything's fine, listening to music that makes me smile, snuggling my kitten, watching funny movies, eating cheese and cheese-related products, sleeping in, watching far too much Six Feet Under, reading, frequent drinking, date nights, cleaning, blogging, saying "That's what she said" whenever the moment presents itself, throwing myself into work, taking pictures, shopping, being lazy, being productive, crying, laughing, talking on the phone, going out with friends, staying in, wallowing, and distracting myself.

What's missing from this list, people? What haven't I tried? Suggest it, and I'll be all over it, I swear. In the meantime, if you need me I'll be at the bar.

Hot child in the city

Whenever people hear that I live in Houston, they always say something like, "Oh, how can you stand the weather?" I usually leap to the defense of my new adopted hometown (I've lived here longer than I have anywhere since I left home for college) by touting its mild winters, lovely springs, and the fact that I'm never in town during the summer. Actually, though, Houstonians have developed ways to ensure that they never experience the weather if they don't want to. Houston is a driving city. There's public transportation, but it's not comprehensive, and the city isn't set up for a lot of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, although The New Oregonian rides everywhere on a bike when she's here. It's quite possible to almost completely avoid fresh air altogether, barring the quick walk from your front door to your car. There's even an elaborate tunnel system underneath downtown, connected to most of the bigger buildings, that's full of restaurants and shops, so that you can go out for lunch without, you know, going out for lunch. To top it all off, my office is in the interior of the building (read: no windows). There are days that I emerge from work completely surprised that it has rained, or shocked that the sun is still out. The lighting guys down the hall have put up a mural "window" on their wall.

Today I woke up and could feel a shift in the weather. It wasn't cold, but it felt different. Sure enough, on the walk to my car this morning, I was comfortable wearing a jean jacket (this is major). I did a little "Fall has arrived" dance and vowed to experience as much fresh air as possible today. And I did, sort of. Windows rolled down everywhere I went, lunch outside on a patio, and at this very moment the sliding door to the balcony is open and my kitten is making adorable instinctual "eck eck eck" noises through the screen door at whatever animals she can see outside. An impressive amount of fresh air, I think, considering the busy day I had. I managed to fit in an incredibly long production meeting for my next project, afternoon hang time with Nathan, some paperwork, a work-through of Daughter with the supers, and part of the Ballo Piano Dress Rehearsal (just an audience member for that one).

And now, I'm sitting on the couch with a Leiny's, listening to A Fine Frenzy on my brand-new Bose Sounddock (Thanks, Nathan!). All in all, a pretty good day, wouldn't you say?

Oh, and apparently I've become incredibly attractive all of a sudden. I've been hit on more in the past couple days than I have in the past 6 months. Guys, please. If I'm wearing a wedding ring, and you're wearing a wedding ring, and we didn't exchange them in a ceremony of some kind, don't look at me like that. Eew.

Happy birthday to me

The countdown is over. Today's the day, the 26th anniversary of my birth. As you may have noticed from my zealous counting down, I get pretty excited about my birthday. I know I'm probably too old to look forward to it as much as I do, but I've always felt that way, so why change now? Here's a look back at some birthday highlights of the past 10 years.

I turned 16 and finally got my driver's license. I say "finally" because I was a senior in high school and by far the last of my friends to turn 16. I was taking French at the local university, so I was finally spared the embarassment of having my dad drive me to and from my college class.

Freshman year at Lawrence. I was trying to keep it on the downlow that I was a young 'un, but my Best Friend and my Gay Husband ruined that by posting signs that said "Happy 17th Birthday, Louisa!" all over campus. Everywhere I went I was greeted by multiple posters and strangers jeering as they wished me a happy birthday. Thanks, friends.

In honor of my 18th birthday, my friends bought me a copy of Playgirl, which I couldn't look through without dying laughing, and a pack of cigarettes, which I didn't smoke (I was a good girl and a voice major, after all). My best friend from high school was visiting, and we had a huge party in my dorm room and all the surrounding rooms. Underage drinking may have taken place. I can't remember.

I was taking the term off and interning at Seattle Opera. My parents drove up to take me out. I ate multitudes of shellfish in the rotating restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, and got a much-coveted Razor scooter just as that fad was going the way of the pashmina trend.

Senior year. I was only turning 20, but we went to the bars anyway, told bartenders it was my birthday, and hoped they weren't looking too closely at the date of birth on the fake ID I gave them. Ahem.

In my year off after undergrad. I was stage managing Equus and dating a highly inappropriate man. We had a party at my parents' house after the performance, despite the fact that it had to start around midnight. Turning 21 felt pretty anticlimactic because of aforementioned underage drinking. Don't judge.

My first year of grad school, and one of the lovely times that my Best Friend and I happened to live in the same state. She came over and we baked pumpkin pie and had girl time.

My boyfriend threw me a Sesame Street-themed birthday party. We made cupcakes, blew up balloons, and gave out treat bags at the end of the party.

My first year in Houston. We all went out to dinner at Ninfa's on Navigation, went salsa dancing at Sky Bar, and played pool at Cecil's, where I got to be a first-hand witness to random boy-girl drama that I was happily not a part of.

We had a party at our apartment. All my colleagues got me alcohol-themed gifts. Hmmm. Much cheese was consumed.

And this year? Well, there was a fantastic party on Sunday night, and today has been wonderful. Lunch with my coworkers, cake with candles, much singing, phone calls from friends who aren't here, a good rehearsal, and presents! Now I'm off to dinner with Nathan at one of my favorite spots. Happy birthday indeed.

Something tells me it's all happening at the zoo

On Monday I had a lovely afternoon at the zoo. Of course my brilliant plan to go on a weekday and have the place to myself failed to take into account that it was Columbus Day, so it might as well have been a Saturday based on the number of screaming kids in attendance (God, I sound like a bitter old lady, and I'm only a quarter century old...for another couple hours, that is). It was also so hot and sticky that I almost hopped into the elephant area to get hosed off with water. The baby elephant just celebrated his 1st birthday. We're both Libras.

I'm choosy about which animals I see at the zoo. No birds unless they're really weird-looking (see picture at left), no lizards unless they're large enough to ride, and nothing that I could just as easily see on the grounds of Wolf Trap. The only nocturnal animal I care to see is the koala bear, mainly because it's cute and fuzzy and looks like it would be snuggly to have as a pet. Otherwise, I don't need to see a bunch of animals lying around sleeping. I can do that at the pet store.

The animals I love the most are the monkeys, mainly because they're usually doing something active and entertaining, like picking bugs off of each other and eating them, or playing with garbage, or swing from trees. I also enjoy the giraffes. Their building has these incredibly tall skinny doors for them to walk through, and they crack me up every time I see them. There was a baby giraffe, too, but she was indoors with black netting over the window, so all you could see was her profile. As you can see, there wasn't a lot of netting separating us from the adult giraffes.

The other big highlight of the day was looking at the flamingos. I ended up taking more than a dozen pictures of them. I think flamingos are sort of eerily beautiful. Their colors are so gorgeous, and I love the way they fold themselves up to sleep. A the Houston Zoo, they're in an area where you can lean right over the fence and take pictures of them (taking care not to drop your camera, of course).

Sometimes I think zoos can be a little sad, with all the animals so far from their natural homes, looking somewhat neglected and just too...caged, but I didn't feel that way at all this time. CameraMan wondered whether the animals get annoyed by their neighbors, like if the koala bear is saying, "If that sea lion doesn't stop barking, I swear to God...." or the tigers are complaining about the smell of the "Wortham World of Primates" next door, or the anteater is putting in for a transfer so it doesn't have to live next to the warthog anymore. I'm tickled by the idea of this, love picturing animals doing things that people do. That's why I adore Creature Comforts so much. Also this.

Tomorrow is my birthday—call me!

Sing out, Louisa

As you may or may not know, I was a singer in a previous life. A real, honest to goodness, scarf-wearin', water bottle-totin', throat lozenge-suckin' singer. Oh, yeah. I discussed fachs and aria lists ad nauseum. I spent way too much time trolling internet forums where singers ask each other about who's gotten a rejection letter from which company, and which competitions are totally unfair, and whether it's too late to start a career when you're 38 and have never sung in public. I even (gasp) considered using one of these.

But all that's in the past now. I left grad school, sang one last oratorio gig, stopped singing, and haven't looked back since. And I honestly don't even miss it. I wasn't a great singer. Oh, I was okay, with occasional fleeting moments of potential, but never great. Positive feedback about my singing always focused a lot on musicality and stage presence, rather than the natural beauty of my instrument or my flawless technique, but I think what held me back the most was that my heart just wasn't in it. I started voice lessons when I was 8 years old (let the flaming begin), and I always thought I would regret it if I stopped singing, so I kept going with it even after I knew I didn't want to make it my life. When I finally made the decision to stop and accepted the fact that I belong on the other side of the footlights, it was the easiest decision I ever made.

I don't sing in the shower, because I'm really not interested in being heard. I do, however, sing in the car. Constantly. At the top of my lungs. I don't sing opera or anything classical. When I'm driving Frankie the VW Bug, it's all musical theatre all the time. I've gone back in time, not to when I was a singer, but way earlier, to when my dream was to be a Broadway star (an era only slightly more recent than my Supreme Court Justice/ballerina period). I have a playlist on my iPod called Beltin' with the big girls. I put it on shuffle and go to town. The best part about it is, I've actually gotten much better at singing musical theatre as a result of my automotive crooning. I can belt pretty successfully, and my knowledge of the style has improved as well. Haha, easy for me to say, since nobody's ever (and I do mean ever) going to hear me. Frankie's good at keeping secrets. Here's a little taste of what I rock out to:

My birthday's in 2 days. Don't even think about getting me a karaoke machine. Buy me one of these instead! If you do, I might have to take a break from belting while driving, but it will be so worth it.

Clap your hands

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes me happy. It seems like a simple enough question, and this week when someone asked me, I gave a simple answer: Spending time doing things I love to do with people I care about. Figuring out exactly how to live that is, of course, somewhat more difficult. So, in the interest of research, here are a few things that made me happy on this lovely 3-day weekend.

  • The fact that I had a 3-day weekend
  • New clothes!
  • Milkshakes at Amy's
  • Independent movies
  • Beer
  • Six Feet Under Season 3
  • The indescribable cuteness of my kitten
  • My birthday party
  • Frozen mojitos
  • The hooks I put up in my bathroom to hang my necklaces
  • Yummy birthday cake
  • Brunch
  • The awesome setting I discovered on my camera today that picks up one color in a picture and makes the rest black and white. It's very Schindler's List.
  • Flamingos
  • The baby elephant at the zoo
  • Margaritas and a movie with CameraMan and The New Oregonian
  • A clean apartment
  • Cheese. This is pretty much always on my list.

Pictures of flamingos, etc. coming soon to a Flickr page near you.

My birthday's in 3 days!

America the beautiful

Remember last week, when I told you that Little Ms. Bossy had reached a milestone? Well, as of today, exactly one week later, the number of visitors has doubled, thanks in large part to the lovely ACB, who added me to her blogroll.

I use a handy tool to track who's visiting the blog, how much time you're spending here, what you're wearing, etc. It's much more complicated than I need, but I enjoy looking through the oodles of statistics, pie charts, and maps. Besides the map above, I can also look at a world map, which tells me that I've got a smattering of international visitors, including one regular reader in Latvia. Sveiks!

So, let's take a look at the map of the USA, shall we? Little Ms. Bossy is doing especially well in all the places you'd expect: Texas, because I live there; North Carolina, because I have lots of friends and in-laws there; Maryland, because of Wolf Trappers; and California, because Brangelina, Bennifer, and TomKat have been spreading the word, obvs. I'm clearly popular with well-educated, liberal Commies New Englanders, as well as with artsy, pseudo-intellectual New Yorkers, many of whom are probably shocked to hear that there is opera outside of Manhattan. The Midwesterners like me, too, but mainly in metropolitan areas like Chicago and Minneapolis. My parents have taken care of the Pacific Northwest.

But what about the rest of the country? Well, this is where you come in. Of course I'll be doing my part, traveling through Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Alabama giving speeches, signing printouts of my posts, and kissing babies. What can you do? Call your friends in key states like Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, and Maine (make sure to calculate the time difference). Tell them what's happening here, and invite them to be a part of it. While you're at it, tell your friends in the rural areas of your own state. You may think one person can't make a difference, but you're wrong. Spread the gospel of Little Ms. Bossy!

Or if you don't feel like it, come to my birthday party tonight instead! 4 days to my actual birthday.

Bad medicine is what I need

Everyone I know has a different way of handling a hard day or a stressful situation. One of my friends believes that free days are sacred, and very rarely spends time with people from work on her days off, instead using the time to recharge. Others do just the opposite and plan lots of group activities. Others drink a lot. (Don't give me that look.) My friend The New Oregonian has discovered that if she sits for 5 or 10 minutes and watches a video she really likes on her iPod before rehearsal, she’s calmer and happier when she gets there. At the moment her favorite is Feist’s 1234, otherwise known as “the woman in the blue sparkly suit.” I have to say, I tried out the iPod video therapy last night on my dinner break when I was about ready to tear my hair out, and it did take the edge off. So much so that I downloaded the video to my iPhone today. We all do what we need to do to show up to work 6 days a week and do our jobs well.

Oh, I know, boo hoo, making opera is soooo difficult. No, it is not the most stressful job in the world by any stretch of the imagination. Lives do not hang in the balance, and chances are pretty good that if the schedule isn’t quite right on a given day, or the set is taped out on the floor incorrectly, or someone forgets to tell the supers that their rehearsal was canceled, everyone will survive. However, there are certain aspects of the job that can cause a fair amount of pressure/stress/teeth-grinding: the amount of money being spent to put on the operas, the tight schedule to rehearse and mount enormous productions, and the, how shall I put it, creative personalities of many of the key players. Most days I have a lot of fun at work, and when I have a moment to sit back in rehearsal, I still pinch myself that I get to listen to some of the best singers in the world all day long and get paid for it. I love my job, but there are days when I have to use every tool in my arsenal to stay somewhat sane.

My weapon of choice? Retail therapy, baby. Tonight I went to the Rice Village and bought a new top that can only be described as boobalicious. I’ll be wearing it at my birthday party tomorrow night. Hope to see you there! After all, my birthday is in only 5 days!

Brown paper packages tied up with string

I’m in a terrible mood. I’ve had a bad attitude all day, one of those days where nothing goes right and the slightest thing sets me off. So, I’m spontaneously making today List Day, on a topic already on my mind.

20 Slight things that set me off (in other words, Pet Peeves):
  • Grown men who say “little boys’ room.”

  • Opera singers singing musical theatre. (Dawn, if you’re reading this, I don’t mean you. You’re lovely.)

  • People who pick their nose while driving. You’re not invisible, you know.

  • Directors who find it impossible to make a schedule. Ahem.

  • The way jeans never fit quite the same after you’ve washed them.

  • People who forget the difference between a blog and a personal journal.

  • Reduced fat cheese. What’s the point?

  • Name dropping. Ugh. Save it for your résumé.

  • Visible panty lines. There’s really no excuse.

  • The way women’s sizes run differently at every store, so you’re forced to try things on even when you’re not in the mood.

  • Cliques. Unless I’m in them.

  • People who are obsessed with their weight and try to bring you along with them.

  • When you go to a movie and realize that all the good parts were in the trailer, and some of the best parts of the trailer didn’t even wind up in the movie.

  • Flaky friends.

  • People who make every conversation a competition.

  • When Kroger is out of Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked ice cream, so I’m forced to buy the lowfat frozen yogurt, only to discover that it totally sucks... Well, I guess that only happened once, but it’s fresh in my mind.

  • People who are far too aware of how good-looking they are.

  • Frozen dinners. I don’t know why, but I can’t get on board with these.

  • Being hot during the night. I would much rather crank up the air-conditioning and burrow under a down comforter.

  • People who don’t know when to shut up. Hmmm. Is it bad when you’re your own pet peeve?

I’ll shut up now. 6 days to my birthday, 2 to my party!

Talkin' ‘bout freedom

I have 3 consecutive days off this week. And they happen to fall on an actual weekend. It’s difficult for me to put into words how very unprecedented this is. It never happens. Ever. So unprecedented, in fact, that I am utterly at a loss for what to do with the time. Not that I’m complaining, especially since my colleagues on Ballo don’t get a free day at all this week. That’s them glaring at me now, in fact. I just don’t know what to do with myself for 3 whole days. Suggestions? Here’s what I’ve got on the docket so far:

  • Cheering on husband and friends as they race for the cure. I'll be the one standing still.
  • Brunch with them after. I’ll be the one who isn’t drenched in sweat.
  • Greek Festival (or something) with Nathan. I’ll be the one stuffing my face with feta.

  • My birthday party! (Did I mention my birthday is coming up?) 10pm at The Flat. Frozen mojitos and flatbread pizzas! Yum. If you’re in town, I’d love to see you! I'll be the one working the room.
  • The rest of the day? I’ll be the one snuggling with my kitten, eating chocolate, weeping over Six Feet Under, and primping for the party. Maybe buying a new outfit. Yay!

  • Going to the zoo. I’ve been dying to take arty pictures of the animals, and a free weekday is the perfect time. I'll be the one grinning like a monkey. Ideally not as much as the actual monkeys.

Okay, that’s all you get today. It’s time for Grey’s Anatomy. One week (7 days) to my birthday!

Everyone is beautiful at the ballet

I’ve never been what you might call a “gym rat,” or a “health nut,” or even “moderately fit.” Oh, there have been brief stints of gym attendance, but they are generally combined with much longer periods of paying for a gym membership in lieu of actually using it. There was, however, a brief period in my life where you might have called me a “dancer.” To be clear, this brief shining moment occurred a good 15 years ago, back when I depended on my parents to ferry me to dance classes and recitals, all to prepare me for my future career as the first Supreme Court Justice/ballerina.

My career ambitions might not have turned out quite the way I hoped, but this fall, when I happen to have a free Tuesday evening, I can be found donning a leotard and tights, throwing my hair back, and taking my place at the barre in ballet class.

There’s something incredibly comforting about ballet class, despite the fact that as an adult I sweat glow in ways I don’t remember from dance classes at age 10 and that I can’t lift my leg higher than 45 degrees even when the step has the word grand in front of it. I think it’s partly to do with the universality of ballet. You could go to a ballet class anywhere, just drop in, and it would be pretty much the same as every other ballet class you’ve taken before. Sure, teaching styles differ, of course, but the barre portion of the class will always consist of plies, tendus, degajés, and lots of other delicious French terms. Every class will do adagio in the middle of the floor and leaps across the floor. Each class will end with everyone applauding and curtseying to the teacher. And it’s amazing how much I remember. Not just the terminology, but the position of the arms, the slight tilt of the head, turning to the barre rather than away from it. All these details were ingrained in me from the age of 6, and apparently my (much larger and less graceful) body still remembers.

The class draws a mix of women who have been in the class for years, people coming back to ballet after some time away (like me), and (much to my chagrin) the occasional young ballet student looking for extra classes during the week. I’m not at the top of the class by any means, but I’m not at the bottom, either. It’s the perfect place to be.

I don’t think there’s any hope of the Supreme Court Justice thing panning out, though. Bummer.

8 days and counting!

She works hard for the money

Last week it was time for the annual company breakfast at HGO, where the General Director welcomes everyone back after the summer and tells us all about the company’s recent successes and big goals, all while we munch on breakfast tacos (oddly delicious, despite my first response to them). The Company Events Committee in charge of throwing these things always adds some kind of get-to-know-each-other game to encourage interdepartmental mingling. This year, instead of the standard “Find someone you don’t know and ask them these 5 personal and/or ridiculous questions,” we each got tagged with a “Hello, my name is…” sticker on our back as we walked in the door. Each sticker had the name of a celebrity on it, and we were supposed to ask people questions about our celebrity to figure out who it was. It was surprisingly entertaining, although I don't think I talked to a single person I didn't already know.

I helped the friend to my right (we'll call her BrandNewMiniCooperGirl for now) figure out her celebrity: “Ummm…okay, her couple name is Bennifer.” CameraMan was being equally helpful to the person in front of him: “He’s a designer…with the initials C.K.”

Of course it took me forever to figure out mine, despite multiple people chiming in with helpful hints. Annoying, considering how many times I’ve been called “smartass” and “Little Miss Smartypants.”

“Is it a movie star?”
“No, way more famous.”
“More famous than a movie star?”
“Yeah, she’s been very famous for the past 7 years.
“Is it Laura Bush?”
“No, she's especially been famous the past 7 summers.”
“This is boring. I give up.”

My friends were getting exasperated with me. And, I think, amused to see my true (not so bright) colors.

“What is your current obsession?”
“What is your current online obsession?”
“Uh, Facebook?”
“No! Okay, okay, what would you do if you couldn’t be a stage director?”
“What? I have no idea.”
“If you could have any other career, what would it be?”

I was stumped. I couldn’t think of any other career I would want. Just then The Intern from Wisconsin came up, singing “Dum da da dum da dum dum…” It was the theme music from the Harry Potter movies. I still didn’t get it.

“I’m…Harry Potter?”
“Aargh. Before there were the movies, what else were there?”


“I’m J.K. Rowling!”

Apparently, if I wasn’t a stage director, I’d be writing fantasy novels. Who knew?

Other recent highlights from work:
  • Amidst the mixture of French, Italian, and Spanish being spoken in our rehearsal room, the director used the English word travestite [sic] 4 times on the first day of rehearsal. Good times.
  • Today I was cold in my sundress, so I went to the parking garage to get a jacket from my car. The only thing I had was a blazer, so I tried it on and looked at my reflection in the car window to see whether it worked with the dress. From across the garage came a voice: “You look great! You don’t need to check!” Yes, folks, today was the day I got busted by a total stranger for being vain.

9 days until my birthday. Seriously.

Nice work if you can get it

It’s October 1, which means it’s time to start sending out resumes for summer work. Sounds crazy, I know, but most summer companies hire during November and December. Last year I had to take my name out of the running for one job because they weren’t making decisions until after January 1. So now is the time to troll the websites of summer companies, polish up the old resume, and wrack my brain for which names to drop in my cover letters.

It’s difficult to find exactly the right summer situation. The past two years I have been amazingly lucky to be able to be at Wolf Trap, and if it were only up to me I would spend all my summers there until the end of time. I don’t want to go to a company just to assistant direct, because that’s what I do all year long. Ideally, there should be a combination of assisting and directing small projects, although I would be more than willing to forego assisting altogether in favor of directing all summer. Already one place I would have loved to go is being crossed off my list because they no longer have a scenes program directed by the assistants. And so it begins. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that my career is a neverending job search and probably will be until I’m in my dotage. Every year it gets a little easier as I meet more people in the business who give me advice and support. Just yesterday I got a voicemail from a director I had worked with at HGO, asking if I could do a job she wasn’t available for (I can’t, unfortunately). I’m hoping those opportunities will happen for me more and more.

I am (finally) at liberty to talk about one incredible opportunity I’ve had, now that I have a contract (signed by Anthony Freud, no less). In May, I will be directing The Refuge at Miller Outdoor Theatre. It’s a really exciting, somewhat indefinable project, and I can’t wait to get started on it. The icing on the cake is that I get to assist my good friend (let’s call her The New Oregonian) on the premiere in November.

Tonight I’m making fancy mac & cheese for dinner. Nothing like comfort food with a gourmet twist to make a job search go better.

Oh, and 10 days until my birthday.


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