Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Head Exploding Adorableness.

May I remind you that half of this duo was in Richmond for THREE MONTHS this past fall. Was it really too much to ask to stumble across JGL strumming a guitar and singing a charming ditty in say, my backyard, or at the very least a public park?

I guess it was.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Billy Elliot.


I saw Billy Elliot The Musical at the Kennedy Center last night, and it was just so lovely and kind and joyous. It exceeded all of my expectations. I tend to get very weepy at anything that features children excelling at some form of artistic expression, whether music or dance. I babysat for a couple of young girls a while back, and I went to one of their dance recitals. And I literally almost started bawling during a jazz/hip hop number set to like Rhianna.

There's something so affecting to me about talent in young people. Because no matter what your personal thoughts are about religion or God, there's no denying that a form of expression like dance reveals something transcendent inside a living body. And when it's a young person, it's in its rawest, purest, most innocent form. Humans can be so miserably sad and ugly and cruel, but as I watched the immensely, ridiculously talented young cast of Billy Elliot, for those three hours in the theater, I was reminded that the human form, silent and alone on a stage, can be capable of the most shattering beauty.

And at the end of the day I'm just a sucker for a dance themed story. Footlloose, Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Step Up, etc. I love them all. I think it's because I have literally no dancing talent or coordination. And I'm not being falsely modest. I am not the girl in the movie who starts off "bad" at dancing but after a few lessons and a zany montage ends up like break dancing and doing back flips at the big school dance. 

I am the girl who starts off bad and is bad in the middle and then ends bad. Usually somewhere along the way I injure myself. But I do it with spirit.

But while I can't dance, I do understand the transformation behind it, which I think is also why I so connected to Billy Elliot. Because whether it's dance or singing or playing an instrument or the lowly work of writing, anyone who loves any of these things, knows there's a moment when literally everything else disappears. The character Billy describes it like this in the gorgeous little song, Electricity (the lyrics of this song + Billy dancing his little heart out in front of his coal miner father =blubbering):

I can't really explain it, I haven't got the words
It's a feeling that you can't control
I suppose it's like forgetting, losing who you are
And at the same time something makes you whole

And if that isn't just the most perfect, succinct little description of what art can do to a person then I don't know what is. 

Billy Elliot works because it gets this truth. And it's an exceedingly sentimental, even sappy idea. But it works, because it's honest, because as this musical reminds you, sometimes life can be bleak and sad, which makes art and the expression of art all the more valuable, because in it's best form it can just be pure light. And it presents all of this in a very British, non-goopy fashion. It perfectly creates and maintains the contrast of a working class coal mining town covered in black dust and Billy's exceptional, rare dancing ability.

I know I've rambled, but I hope I've at least gotten across how much I thoroughly enjoyed this musical. I didn't even touch on the production value because 1) I do that enough in my legitimate reviews and 2) because it's a touring Broadway production at the Kennedy Center so DUH, of course it's professional and wonderfully staged. 

I saw White Christmas this time last year and it was aiming for that warm, up-lifting feeling that a musical like Billy Elliot so effortlessly creates. But it failed because it was artificial and saccharine. To use college creative writing speak, it "told" instead of "showed."  Billy Elliot is all sentiment without even a trace of artifice, because it does the opposite.

It gets that there's nothing more affecting or beautiful than the sight of a kid with rare and special talent discovering that talent and then learning how to showcase its full depth. It's just pure, divine, unfiltered expression. And it wrecks me, in the best possible way. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


I know a lot of people complain about air travel. Everyone sighs and mutters mutinously when talking about it. You're supposed to hate it. You're supposed to hate the security checks and the cramped airplane seats and the bad food. And sometimes I play along, because well, like I said it's expected. Saying you love air travel is like saying you love to pay taxes. It's just not a thing people admit in polite company.

But after flying to Atlanta last week, I just have to come out and admit it. I whole heartedly, enthusiastically  love to fly. I don't find the experience perfect by any means. My butt gets tired like everyone else's, and I think flight attendants (usually only the American ones) can sometimes be the meanest, and I always get that brief moment of panic when the plane first takes off and I realize, "Holy shit, I am in a giant metal coffin hurtling through space!"

But I love it. I think it's exciting and romantic. I think airports are swell-all of those places to eat and shop and clean bathrooms with everything automatic. I like knowing there are uniformed adults around me who are professional and competent and who will taser a person if they get out of line.

But mostly I am hopelessly nostalgic about my past travels, and from that first moment in an airport and especially in an airplane, I'm just whoosed right back through time and space into all of those moments. Sense is the strongest tie us to memory, and those sights and smells and sounds are always the same, no matter where you're flying. And so even though I was just making a two hour flight to Atlanta, as soon as I heard the engine roar and smelled the pressurized cabin air, I was hurtled back to my first international flight, when I was 20 and going to study abroad in Paris without knowing a single soul, all of that terror and exhilaration.

To the 14.5 hour flight to India after college graduation, when I was bumped up to business class and got to spend those hours in style, with champagne and warm towels and warm nuts (they like things warm in business class), to chatting with the friendly, whiskey swilling Texan man beside me, to watching movie after movie and relishing the comfort and luxury of being able to fully recline and sleep, to knowing that the next two weeks in Asia would be unlike anything I'd ever experienced in my pampered life.

To the (many) flights it took to Thailand. I held it together until I got to Chicago and then for some reason on the flight from Chicago to Los Angeles I lost it. Maybe it was because it was the farthest West I'd ever been, because there was no turning back and I really was going to spend the next six months living and teaching in Thailand. All of my fear and anxiety and worry were released and I cried silently as I watched out the window. And then when I got to Los Angeles it was like the worst had passed. I was still scared shitless, but being that far away released something. Instead I felt that prickling, hairs on end excitement that comes when you're going somewhere completely and totally new.

To the flight back from Thailand, and the tears I shed that time, only now tears of grief for the life changing experience I was leaving behind.

To all of those layovers on various travels, being dirty and sleep deprived and red-eyed. To running through the airport at Tokyo to catch my flight back to Chicago, loaded down with bags and my giant tube carrying a painting from Bali. To brushing my teeth in airplane and airport bathrooms. To the layover after Haiti, when everything I had seen pressed on me like a giant weight that wouldn't release.

To the hours I spent at the airport bar in Kuala Lumpur with a random Australian man who asked if he could share my booth. We were both waiting for delayed flights and so we drank and we chatted about a million random things, and even though we knew we'd never see each other again, it was still this wonderful, unlikely, tiny little connection.

To the goodbyes and hellos I've experienced at airports-trying not to cry when I left for Paris and then Thailand, keeping my legs steady as I walked away from my parents into the complete unknown. To coming home and seeing my family at the arrivals area, their big smiles mirroring my own, the strange rush of suddenly being back home after all that time away.

The thing is, people complain about airports, but the memories I have from airports and airplanes are some of the most vivid and electric in my life. They are the bookends to these incredible experiences I've had while traveling, and whenever I'm in an airport I feel all of that, all of that color and life and happiness and fear and sadness and excitement and acute awareness of being young and alive just exploding in my memory.

And I just love it all, good and bad. All of those details are so intrinsically tied to my memories of some the best experiences of my life and so I love it all- the newsstands with all of their glossy magazines, the bars (especially in the Chicago airport, for some reason I always connect there and I've spent many happy layovers with a large beer and a stack of tabloids), snuggling up with my favorite wool scarf on planes, the drink carts and the in-flight food (yes I'm serious), the calm PA announcements made in a soothing voice. I love being in a terminal at some God forsaken hour, going on almost no sleep, waiting to board a plane. To me that is life at its fullest volume.

I've been beyond lucky to be able to go to all of the places I've been to so far.

But every time I fly, I feel myself itching to do it again, to head to an airport, board a plane, and fly off into something radically new.

Monday, December 12, 2011


One more final. One more final and then I am off for a week that will include:

-Visiting my bestest friend in Athens, GA. Oh how I have missed my friend. Not only has she been my best friend since I was a wee, little seven year old, but she is my WINE FRIEND. You know? Everyone has one, the person you meet up with after a long day and you don't have to do anything at all or talk about anything important and you can just drink some super-chilled Pinot Grigio and watch bad TV on Bravo. She moved after her wedding in October, and I've missed her terribly. And it makes me so thrilled that I get to go hang out with her, her husband, and our good friend, Sir Winenington. 

-Charleston. My lovely Charleston. I haven't been there since August, and I'm at that point that comes whenever I go more than a couple of months away from the city, like I've stopped exhaling. I feel fidgety and anxious and just in desperate, desperate need of my beautiful city on the coast. I will spend Thursday through Sunday there. Thursday night will be spent in a snazzy hotel in the historic district with my aforementioned best friend, and another best friend and former college roomie, who also lives far away and whom I also miss (isn't it terrible how no one lives in the same place anymore when you grow up? what gives with that life?). And I have no idea what we will do and I honestly don't care. I could sit on a street corner and watch tourists and horse-drawn carriages go by and that would be enough. Granted what we actually do will probably involve less sitting and more rooftop bars, live bands, and alcohol (I've missed you too Wet Willies and your Everclear slurpies!), but the point is,

the point is I'm going home :)

It's been a long semester. Hell, it's been a long year. I haven't had a real break since last January. I've completed a year and a half of nursing school, three semesters, and 51 credits in twelve months. It's been an incredible and for the most part absolutely wonderful year, full of beautiful new things and new starts. But I'm burnt out, and so, so tired.

Which is why as always in moments when my soul needs to breathe, I head south.

And GOD WILLING, there will be a Lincoln cast member sitting in the Richmond airport tomorrow. I was close enough to filming on Friday night that I could practically smell Spielberg (haven't you heard he has a signature scent? or that might have just been the smoke wafting over the entire Capitol grounds). And by the power of Thor he, or Mr. Day Lewis or Mr. Lee Jones or any of the other varied Lincoln cast will be sitting next to me as my plane takes off.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I am so burnt out right now from this semester and finals that I'm at the point where the tiniest little thing will set me off on an epic crying jag. Like if I burn my toast tomorrow morning I may just sob for the rest of the day. And I should be studying for my Lab Practical, but my brain exploded sometime this morning, and I can literally not concentrate on anything for longer than 60 seconds. So I just needed to share two things.

First, when I was putting together my gift guide for (my THIRD holiday gift guide this year, yes I am Santa Clause), I came across THIS from Quirk Gallery.

First of all, it's name is Clocky. Second of all, if you press snooze, it LEAPS off of your bedside table, RUNS AWAY and HIDES. I'm sorry, but I feel like this should have been on the news and the front pages of papers world wide. That is how monumental an invention this is. I have been known to snooze for hours on end. I annoy myself with my alarm snoozing. But if I had Clocky, I would not snooze, because you know what I would be doing? I would be CHASING my alarm clock around my room. I. just. can't. Will someone please get me Clocky for Christmas? I want it more than a hippo this year.

Second, this.

So I was watching Glee last night (I know it's gotten horrible but I just can't stop). And the episode ended with a rousing version of a song I didn't know. A quick Google search later and I found out it was the newest song from the band fun. (lower case, period) And I just about burst with joy. If you don't know, fun. is band formed in part by the Nate Ruess. Nate Ruess just happens to be the former lead singer of my favorite band of all-time, The Format, which after two insanely good albums, broke up, breaking my heart in the process. I loved this band so much, and they never got the attention they deserved. So to see Nate and his new band get this kind of recognition, on this kind of platform, well it just makes me feel like a proud parent whose child just won first place in the school's talent competition (or something like that, my brain can't really come up with an apt metaphor at the moment because it is missing). And the song is so good, and they are so wonderful, and it just makes me so very happy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A summary of the week.

Yes, that is my hair and not a dead animal I just killed.

Oh what a whirl of wind this past week has been. I wish I could give the kind of attention each of these moments deserves, but then this blog would be as long as Haruki Murakami's latest novel (pretentious literary nerd moment! in plain speak very long). So some brief summaries:

-On Tuesday morning I did my final medication administration simulation for my nursing competencies course. There is just no way to do justice to how bizarre an experience this is. Basically it is half nursing/half acting, yet my acting "partner" is a giant, life-size, creepy as f*&k plastic mannequin (or Sim Man if you're feeling fancy). Even though I've given honest to God humans shots in the hospital now, I still had to go through the whole procedure in front of my instructor to be "checked off." And while I can give injections of Lovenox to a real person's belly without breaking a sweat, this simulation was basically a train wreck. And it's all the dummy's fault. I went in all prepared, but before I could get my bearings, my creepy, blinking dummy asked me in its robo-voice, "Is that dirt on your hands?" Now in hindsight I know this was a suggestion from the dummy (or really the person controlling the dummy's words in a a hidden room) that I had forgotten to mime washing my hands. But in the moment, I stopped, stared at its creepy, lifeless and yet all too lifelike, grinning plastic face, and found myself both confused and offended. My response should have been "You're right, I should go wash my hands immediately." But because I was so thrown off and baffled, I answered "No, there's no dirt on my hands. I just washed them," in a defensive, bordering on angry tone of voice.

Y'all I got into an argument with a DUMMY this week. And honestly that was not even the weirdest thing I did that day. I also catheterized a dummy. Luckily this one did not speak.

-On the same day that I argued with and catheterized a dummy, I also interviewed Chad Coleman from The Wire (and also one of the stars of the new Fox show I Hate My Teenage Daughter). He's from Richmond, and so his PR people got in touch with my editor, and my editor very kindly offered the gig to me. And I tried not to think about it too much prior to the interview, but this was a slightly huge deal for me. He is by far the biggest interview I've done (although Bill Persky, the creator of That Girl was also pretty freaking huge for me), and it is just pure adrenaline to do an interview like that. I was a big ball of nerves before hand, because hello, I get star struck by Jim Duncan, but the phone interview went really great. I reminded myself to listen first and foremost and that really helped. It also helped that Chad (I call him Chad now) was incredibly nice and open and generous with his time. He exuded positivity. And well if I write anymore I will no longer have any journalistic integrity left, because it will be one big gush fest. But here's the finished piece. I'm really proud of it. I'm proud of the fact that a year after I "gave up" my dream of being a full time journalist, I am against all odds a journalist. And you know the best part? I write and I work as a writer for no other reason than I love it. It doesn't pay my bills. It never will. Nursing will do that. And taking the pressure off of writing to support me was the best decision I ever made. The second I did that it all get easier and since then these opportunities keep coming. Life can just be so weird and unexpected and wonderful, you know?

-I saw Paul Simon in concert on Tuesday night and he rocked my world. First of all he is the most adorable man on the planet. I mean he is tiny. Like an absurdly small human being. I want to put him in my pocket. The concert was just so good, and he played a great mix of old and new songs. But holy moses were there a lot of drunk Richmonders at this thing. Like drunk to the point where I almost wanted to lock the doors and stage multiple interventions. These people were so inebriated by the mid point of the concert that they could no longer be constrained to their seats. They had to DANCE! Not the standard, bopping and swaying and arm waving in place that most people do at concerts. This was dancing as I have never seen it. It is almost indescribable. One particularly drunk woman just ran down the aisle. Like the running man, but not in place. She just booked it, and sprinted from the middle of the orchestra section to nearly the stage and the back again. And then she did it again. And again. And again. It wasn't even dancing really, but more calisthenics. She might have actually just been trying to fit in her daily cardio, only in a skirt and high heeled boots. Other drunk people saw her jazzercising in the aisles and thought they'd join in so soon the aisles were just a giant mass of drunk people dancing like there was no tomorrow. This was violent, seizure like dancing dancing, violent enough that finally a security guard tried to corral people away from the aisle and back to their seats. But I kid you not, every time this man went away, these fully grown adults, like children when the teacher leaves the room, went sprinting back to the aisle until he came and herded them away again. I don't know why there was so much sprinting this evening. It was very strange and confusing and I just tried to concentrate on Paul.

-I got a massage today at Salon Vivace-a lovely post-half marathon gift courtesy of the boyfriend. And I think I may have blacked out and seen Jesus. Buddha could have been there too. I don't know. It was that good. After my massage lady left the room I had to get dressed and anyone who saw me would have sworn I was high. I was just grinning and stumbling and knocking into things. I had to steady myself before I could be around people again. I feel like my muscles, who I abuse mercilessly, don't even know what happened. They are starving, neglected orphans who were suddenly given free reign in a candy store. And they are just having a party right now. I do have to comment on one thing. When my lady showed me to my room, she said she would leave and  I could "undress to my level of comfort." Now for someone as neurotic at myself that is a horrible thing to say. If I was truly undressing to my level of comfort to be around a total stranger I would have lain down on the table fully clothed. But that would be weird. So does it mean naked? But what if that is weird too? Do I really want to be that one weird client who got totally nude when everyone else just undresses to a modest level of undergarments? Would I be sexually harassing my massage therapist if she came in there and I was hanging out in the buff? See a normal person would hear that statement and think nothing of it. Me I debate furiously inside my brain for a few minutes before I decide on what level of undress would be the least weird. And that is precisely why within minutes of starting my massage therapist said my neck was "full of knots." Because I carry a lot of crazy in those muscles.

-I also got my hair cut today, as you can see in the picture at the top. I have been growing my hair out since Thailand, so more than two years. And in one fell swoop it was all gone. But honestly there was never a freak out moment, and I think it's because I knew the hair was going to Locks of Love. It's hard to be vain enough to freak out about getting your hair cut, when in the back of your mind you know your hair is going to people who are sick and have no choice in losing their hair. So bon voyage my ten inch ponytail of hair. My hair stylist kept saying it was going to make some little girl really happy, and honestly that would just be the most awesome thing in the world. 

-One more thing. I got my hair cut by an apprentice at Nesbit Salon (translation: I got my hair cut by an apprentice because it would cost the least). There was a brief moment where I thought, "why am I letting basically a student cut my hair?" And then I mentally slapped myself. Because as a student, I am frequently in a position where nice people are letting me poke them with sharp needles in their bellies. It is nothing in comparison to let a student cut your hair. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I've been MIA on the blog for a few weeks, because life has been particularly insane. But I read this tonight on and laughed for about ten minutes straight. Out loud. Hysterically. By myself. It could be my burnt out brain finally blowing a gasket or this could just be that awesome. I'd thought I'd share it regardless:

"How much coffee is safe?" the BBC wonders, before letting us know that "the advice is much less clear-cut." Psh! We can tell you how much coffee is safe.
"The general advice," we're told, "is that four or five cups of coffee a day is safe." Sure, that's good advice... if you are literally a two-week old baby. Here's our official "coffee chart" to tell you how much coffee you can drink if you weigh...
  • 90-110 lb.: six to seven cups per day
  • 110-130 lb.: eight to ten cups per day, plus six lines of ground coffee
  • 130-150 lb.: 12 to 14 banana bags of coffee a day
  • 150-170 lb.: drink every cup of coffee you see, even if it belongs to someone else
  • 170-190 lb.: one cup of coffee per day, but the cup is the size of a bathtub
  • 190-210 lb.: three syringe-full injections of coffee into your tear ducts every 20 minutes
  • 210-230 lb.: fill a telephone box-sized chamber with coffee and spend all your time in it
  • 230-250 lb.: use a urinary catheter and a feeding tube to ensure that you are constantly cycling coffee through your body
  • 250 lb. and above: fully merge your being with coffee through meditation
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...