Collision

In my pre-teen to teenage years, there were very distinct “worlds” I was part of. Actually, let’s call them “universes”, for all you comic book nerds out there. They were:

High School Universe (High Schooliverse)– mainly my friends in drama club, plus a few non-drama kids

High school graduation. This Adam, one of the non-drama friends, and still one of my closest friends to date.

Kids On Stage Universe (Kids on Stageiverse)– my friends from the kids company I was in

…I have no idea why we did this.

Community Theatre Universe (Community Theatreverse)–  friends I had met from various theatre companies around NJ.

Performing the role of Kim MacAfee in “Bye, Bye Birdie”

And more recently:

Westminster Choir College (Westminsterverse)– my music conservatory undergrad

My mom and I at my graduation from Westminster!

Emerson College (Emersoniverse)– my graduate school

Look how far I’ve come. See me being an adult? See it? Please give me Masters degree now.

Sometimes, people from these universes would overlap. My friend from High Schooliverse would carpool with me to Community Theatreverse rehearsals; my Community Theatreverse boyfriend would get to know my High Schooiverse friends, my Kids On Stageiverse friends would do shows with me in Community Theatreverse, etc.

I remember this being absolutely fine, until it came to the issue of who to invite to parties; my birthdays, sweet 16, graduation, etc. Sure, I loved all my friends separately, but would they get along with each other when brought together? Should I only invite my high school friends to my graduation party? But what about my close friends from Kids On Stage? What, mom? There are too many people on the invite list, and I have to cut people out? Oh, the agony. The agata. The stress. These things caused me much pain and suffering in the ever so dramatic world of my teenage years, but I’m glad to see that things are much more simple now.

What? They’re not more simple? Oh.

Thanks to the magical stalker-y nature of Facebook, it’s very easy to see when our friends connect with other people, and usually it’s fun to ask them how they know each other and find out the story. But there have been a couple of recent interactions between my two universes that leave me thinking “No. No no no. Please don’t talk about your mutual friend”. Not because I’m ashamed or have anything to hide, but maybe because I want people to preserve the image of me they might already have. I was a considerably different person in college than in high school, so when I saw that my high school boyfriend and my college friend were in a show together, it just felt weird. Like a “don’t blow my cover, please. My college friend doesn’t know I plastered my bedroom walls with Backstreet Boys posters, and cried at their concerts. I’ve sung at Carnegie Hall in college, dammit. Maintain my facade!”

Of course, I know it’s not the worst thing in the world if that happes. I just know that I personally want through a hugh change between high school and college, and now college and grad school. I’ve worked very hard to become the person I am today, and there are memories that should just stay private.

Inspirations

It’s amazing to me how quickly inspirations can come and go. As an artist, musician, educator and choreographer I’m constantly searching for inspirations to help me become the best teacher and performer I can. However, I find that if I don’t act on that inspiration at the moment it happens, it can disappear at a moment’s notice, leaving me in a frozen state of “wait, what I did get up to do?” When you get struck with a thought or a feeling, write it down the second it happens. You’ll want to remember it.

Take last night, for example. I went to see “Fela!” at the Majestic theatre. This was a great day for me because I was pretty sure I was never going to get the chance to see it again after seeing with Russ on Broadway a few years ago. But there I sat, surrounded by loud music, gorgeous dancers and colorful costumes, watching the extraordinary actor playing Fela hold the entire audience in the palm of his hand. It was like being at a concert, except for one thing- the dancing.

Oh. The dancing.

The energy and passion that radiated off that stage was unparalleled. These dancers were dancing for their lives, they were dancing to tell a story, to seduce, to celebrate, to grieve. And while I watched, I could literally feel my mind expanding and working, creating new moves for “Once On This Island” and thinking about my middle schoolers.It was a great collaboration.

My philosophy as an educator and choreographer is simple: I believe in treating everyone like professionals. I hold my students to the same standards as any college age or professional actor. And they always meet my standards, and they feel proud to be a part of something important. Just like I do. To me, it doesn’t matter if we are in school or not- you will learn how to act professionally and be treated professionally. It’s as simple as that.

I’m heading to rehearsal in a few mins to teach my choreography to “Mama Will Provide”- I can’t wait to see what Fele-esque ideas come to the surface!

Reflections

At the beginning of my first year of grad school, I made a promise to myself that I would keep up with this blog ‘o mine. I would journal all the fun experiences of this new, adult-like chapter of my life, write about it eloquently and share it with the curious people of Internet-land.

Turns out, that was an unrealistic goal. I’m not sure where I thought all this extra time would come from, time I could spend editing and proofreading my posts. However, in looking back at the 14 posts I’ve done, I noticed that I managed to squeak out a few entertaining and even helpful posts….mainly recipes, but who doesn’t like a good recipe? I also couldn’t help but notice the light-heartedness of my earlier entries, which hit me hard as I sat down to write this current entry. My, how things have changed.

With the looming fear and excitement of graduation, layered on top of endless job applications, I’ve noticed myself feeling more and more anxious. Sleep doesn’t come as easily as it used to, my stomach turns when I check my bank statements, and the question “what are you doing next year?” automatically puts a lump in my throat. On top of all that, I’m watching my friends (my age and younger) get engaged, get married and babies. I am extremely happy for all of them- please don’t misunderstand me. I am very happy and supportive of all my friends…and yet, the happiness is always accompanied by a slight sting of a jealousy mixed with “will I ever have that?” I can’t help but feel like I’m getting to old, or that I’m “stuck”, or that my time is running out. When I mentioned this to a friend, they replied with a rather thought provoking statement:

“If you ever feel stuck or that your life isn’t going anywhere, look at where you were this time last year. I guarantee, it will put things into perspective.”

Hm. Interesting. Let’s see:

THIS TIME LAST YEAR, I:
* was struggling in a horrible living situation
* was in the beginning phases of a relationship
* weighed more
* wasn’t in shape
* didn’t know how to write a lesson plan
* didn’t know how to structure a unit
* choreographed two shows
* directed a play
* was looking at apartments
* didn’t have to worry about the job hunt

THIS YEAR, I:
* am deliriously happy in my relationship of almost a year and a half
* am in good shape and a good weight
* live in a beautiful apartment with great roommates
* am student teaching and choreographing middle school 5 days a week
* can create curriculum, lesson plans, and units
* can successfully execute a lesson for different grades and time constraints
* have picked up my cap and gown for graduation
* finished all the necessary paperwork for graduation and student teaching completion
* attended a theatre education conference in Chicago
* spent 10 days with my boyfriend and his parents in Colorado for the holidays
*  am actively on numerous job search website
* have a professional CV, website, and portfolio

Alright, maybe I’m not as bad off as I once thought. Maybe we can all take my friend’s advice: start appreciating how far we’ve come, and stop dwelling on how far we need to go.

Reflect. Breathe. Appreciate.

Progress.

If  someone had told me a year ago that I would move to Boston, survive my first year of grad school, direct a play, choreograph two musicals and finally experience what a happy and supportive relationship feels like- I would have told them they were insane. Certifiably insane.

I tell everyone up here that they wouldn’t have recognized me a year ago. Hell, even when I moved to Boston I was still an empty shell of the person I am now. I was nervous about relocating, unsure of my choice, and physically and emotionally drained from the spirit-sucking drama that awaited me back in Jersey (and on the road). My energy was spent texting, arguing and crying. Not good for studying or focusing.

I was afraid I wouldn’t find a core group of supportive friends- I found them.
I was worried I would fail at teaching- I succeeded.
I was terrified of escaping the emotional abuse I had dealt with for years- I escaped.

I wish I could write out all the hurtful and unsupportive things I had to listen to for the past 2 years, but that’s a waste of energy. I will say that making the decision to come to Boston made me stronger, which in turn gave me the strength to escape my bad situation, which in turn led me to the amazing people/person I found up here. Someone who respects me, appreciates me, thinks I’m talented, listens, makes time for me

Accomplishments.

Alright, so I’ve been living up here in Boston for a little over one month. Since then I’ve:
– sung at karaoke with people other than Jacob, Rachel and Aaron from the coffee bar
– started to learn how to cook
– learned a crap ton of interesting things in my classes
– gotten a phone number (no, I did not call it)
– been invited to a party with BC law students (yep. Joan the theater kid and LAW students)
– picked apples off a tree
– made some wonderful new friends
– found the Boston equivalents to Triumph Brewery, Central Park, Menlo Park Mall and McCaffreys
– suffered, but currently making it through, a heartbreak
– received all good grades on assignments so far
– seen three incredible shows (Laramie Project, Laramie sequel, Fraulein Maria)
– fell in love with Boston

Most of these things are relatively minor, I realize that (apples? really?). But if you knew how nervous I was to move up here, you would know how relieved I am to find that I’m doing ok up here.

Fall In New England

I'm climbin' in yo' orchards, snatchin' yo' apples up.

Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite season. Even though it means that winter is right around the corner (my LEAST favorite season), I just love fall-related things too much to let it get me down. Last year, which was my first year in Boston, we all went apple picking at Smolak Farms in North Andover, MA, and it was so lovely that I had to do it again this year. Despite the misty, foggy, humid weather, we managed to grab a crap ton of apples, and even enjoy some cider and cider donuts. After closing the trip with the annual lunch at Bertucci’s, I drove home and reflected on the day. I realized how much I miss my friends who I never see anymore, and how comfortable I feel when I’m around them. I’m also really grateful for the new ones I’ve made this year. Too bad this is my last year at school! But I do have a feeling that these are the kinds of people I will stay in touch with for a long time.

Baby deer at Smolak Farms!

Carmen Sandiego

Little Red.

Elissa and I!

Another thing I love about fall- food. Which means I’m about to post a recipe. YUP

JIM’S APPLE PIE (aka: Schubipie)

On our second date, my boyfriend and I made dinner and dessert at his apartment. I made chicken cacciatore, and he made this absolutely incredible and impressive apple pie. I remember being ridiculously impressed by him, and I’m fairly certain he made this pie just to get me to like him. Anyway, it worked, we’re still together, and last night I attempted his recipe with the apples I had just picked one day prior! I used a 9 inch metal pie pan for this recipe:

Here’s what you need for the crust:
– 2 cups of flour

– 1 tsp salt

– 2/3 cups shortening

– 4 tbsp cold water

Here’s how you do the crust:
       – Mix together the flour and salt

– “Cut in” the shortening, which means taking two knives and slicing the shortening until your mixture looks like coarse cornmeal (if you have a stand mixer, you can just throw it in and put it on the lowest setting)

–  Once those are mixed, sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of cold water, gather the dough into a ball, and divide it in half

– Take one half of the dough, sprinkle your surface with a LITTLE bit of flour, and roll the dough out  so it will fill your 9 inch pie pan and hang over the sides.

But wait….what about the other half of the dough?

– Roll that guy out, brush it with melted butter, throw some cinnamon and sugar on it, and bake it. You can eat that as a snack while your pie cooks.

Here’s what you need for the pie filling, and the french crumble topping
– ¾ cup sugar

–  ¼ cup all purpose flour

– ½ tsp. ground nutmeg

– ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

– 6 cups thinly sliced pared tart apples (about 6 medium sized ones)

Annd here’s how you do the filling: 

– Heat oven to 425 degrees

– Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon

– Stir the apple slices in the dry mixture, making sure they’re all coated. I sliced mine relatively thin so they cooked more.

– Place coated slices into pastry lined pie pan.  Cover with crumb topping (see CRUMB TOPPING at the bottom)

– Bake 40 minutes, cover with aluminum foil last 10 minutes of baking to keep topping from burning.

CRUMB TOPPING

       – Mix 1 cup all purpose flour, ½ cup firm butter and ½ cup brown sugar until crumbly

If it all goes well, it should look like this!

Side view

 

Sooo I Forgot a Had a Blog…

…after vowing that I would not forget about my blog. Typical me. You love it.

In another post, I’m going to write about the amazing summer I had, but for now I’m going to focus on the fact that HOLY CRAP, I’M A SECOND YEAR GRAD STUDENT! And I stick by it- grad school and Boston were exactly what I needed to jump start my life. I do not regret a single moment.

So far, the year has gotten off to a great start. I got a whole boat load of choreography offers, which was a nice ego boost. Classes are great so far- I’m taking a class where I get to direct a miniature version of a musical, and one where I get to work in a classroom and write plays with children!

One of the hardest things this semester, surprisingly, is how much I miss seeing my second year grad friends. I’ve met some really lovely first year grads and undergrads, but I didn’t realize how attached I was to those I’ve known for a whole year. It’s been very jarring, feeling strangely alone in a room full of my peers. Which is odd, considering I’m a pretty independent person. Luckily, I’ve met a few new people who I really enjoy talking to, and the feeling of loneliness is quickly fading.

Ok, enough moping around. You know you’ve missed my recipes.

The greatest thing I’ve discovered as of late is the crock pot in the my cabinet. It belongs to my roommate, but I’ve used it too many times to count, especially now that the cold Boston weather is upon us. The recipe I’m going to post is insanely unhealthy for you, but delicious. Enjoy!

QUICK AND EASY RECIPE TIME: SOUR CREAM AND BACON CHICKEN
Serves: 2 

Yes, I said “sour cream and bacon”. Trust me.

What you’ll need:
– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 2 slices of bacon
– 1 10 oz can of garlic and mushroom soup
– 1/2 cup of sour cream
– Little less than a 1/4 cup of flour

Prep:

– Wrap a slice of bacon around each chicken breast, and place in the crock pot
–  In a medium sized bowl, combine sour cream, soup, and flour. Stir with a wisk, and pour on top of the chicken in the crock pot
– Put crock pot on “low” for 6-8 hours. Come back and enjoy.

You all know I’m a fan of “throw stuff in a pan/pot and cook”. This recipe is no exception. Enjoy!