Saturday, February 27, 2016

Gratitude Saturday: #112-134

Hello, all!

Welcome to Gratitude Saturdays.

I recently listened to a fantastic podcast on Your Daily Worth called "Screw Gratitude, It's Ruining Your Career!" You can listen to that HERE if you want. It wasn't really about gratitude per se, but about how that quality with which women have been indoctrinated in our culture to take 70 cents on the dollar compared to the average man... that quality of not asking for enough.... is linked to being too humble, too grateful. Great. Just when I was using gratitude to pull me out of my crabby moods!

But, actually, it's like anything in life. Any characteristic can be a boon in certain instances but a bain in others. For example... my crabbiness. I am so crabby. I am the crabbiest person I know. Largely, I keep it to myself, because I want to keep relations between, say, me and my partner, on good terms. But I am SO crabby. And I think that very crabbiness and curmudgeonliness fuels my comedy. When I'm doing standup, or writing a sketch, or just chilling with my girlfriends, most of my jokes are related to my inner bitch. Also, I play a mean power-hungry bitch very well as an actress. In my heart, I'm a nice girl from small town Minnesota, but on Sex Sent Me To The E.R., I played a power-hungry b**** to rival any strong woman.

Bear in mind, I am reclaiming the term Bitch. I love powerful women. I look up to powerful women in real life as well as in acting characters. I just happen to live and breathe the arts, so my favorites are, say, the kinds of characters Glenn Close might play... or Kim Cattrall or Sharon Stone.

So. While perhaps we should remember when to hide the Gratitude Card and pull out the B**** Card, I still maintain that I am FAR more pleasant at a party if I have done a gratitude list that day!

Here's this week's Gratitude List.


112. Antibiotics

Oh, trust me, I have a healthy sense of condemnation for the overuse of antibiotics. I was on antibiotics almost every month from age 3 until about 12, and it really messed a lot up for me. But having just been diagnosed with pneumonia (the walking variety... I thought I had the flu, but I was wrong! It was pneumonia. :( My voice is just now coming back to me!) I am SO grateful for the medicine which saves lives (and in my case, voices!)


113. That moment when, after a long illness, you start to feel markedly better.

It's like after a dark and wet storm that seems to never end, and you fear you will never see the sun, but then all of a sudden there is a peace, and then a springing to life. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and all that remains of that storm are a few dew droplets on the grass. You feel ALIVE again.


114. The discipline of the mind through meditation that leads to serenity.

I used to be addicted to exercise. (True! I also used to weigh far less than I do now, but as I haven't weighed myself since I was about 21, I don't need to fret over the exact numbers. The doctor will let me know if I'm too far over or under.) I haven't been able to exercise in about a week and a half now, and I haven't even batted an eyelash. In the past, I would have freaked out or secretly exercised to make up for it. But I realize that my body needs all the rest it can to truly heal from pneumonia, and instead, I am meditating or just lazing about (haha, not really. Have you noticed I have been blogging every day for the last week?) knowing that everything will take care of itself and when I am ready, I can exercise again.

Why did meditation give me this peace and not my logic?

My logic is linked to my thoughts, and along side my very practical logical mind is the illogical, impractical mind that hyper-obsesses. (But I'm filming something and I need to look good on camera!)

My meditative mind, however, knows how to watch. It knows how to be still and have faith in something greater than myself, my mind, my fears. It has access to love.



115. My name, Erin.

It has several meanings but one of them is "peace."

In my younger, wilder, crazier years full of angst, I laughed ruefully at that. I would never know peace.

Now, in my not so young, not so old, still crazy but with devotion to love and compassion years full of artistic endeavors and drive, I laugh at my younger, dumber, presumptive self.



116. Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery

The 'Nilla Wafers are IN the pudding already. OMG OMG OMG. And all this time, I've been going there for the cupcakes!?



117. The intention to replace a meal with a green juice and then never actually doing it

In my mind, I'm a raw food green juice kinda girl. In real life, I'm a recovered anorexic-bulimic. None of this really has meaning anymore in practice. I am free!


118. This guy:

*I don't care if I have counted him a million times. Look at that face.


119. And this guy (the one on the left.)






120. My sister (who snapped the above pic!)


121. My brother in law (who nodded encouragingly and makes everything fun! Kev truly brings the party.)


122. My set list for March 11th

Which includes "You Go To My Head," "Come Alive" (an original), "Too Much" (another original, the one with the famous music video with Marko from So You Think You Can Dance), and "The Girl in 14G."





123. Date nights with my sweetie!

I'm hoping tonight we go see "Triple 9" and then tomorrow we watch the Oscars.


124. Rehearsals at UCLA

Makes me feel fancy


125. Researching for the Web Series I am writing for me and Carlo


126. Creating a syllabus for myself to write said Web Series, incorporating books and exercises, making it feel like a college class. Once a nerd, always a nerd, I guess.


127. Insurmountable challenges, such as having to come up with 2016 things to be grateful for when I'm only on number 127 and yet we're about 10% of the way through the year.


128. Creative problem solving, as in, perhaps Gratitude Saturdays will start happening on Sundays as well!!!



129. People who read these lists!!!!!



130. Barbra Stanwyck

I'm watching "The Lady Eve" right now and, boy, she was skinny! But I love how smart and strong she was as well.



131. Learning about the history of romantic comedies and why the strong women of the 1930s disappeared from the movies and became much tamer, and to be tamed by the late 40s, 50s and 60s. (Hint, men returning home from war.)



132. Watching the whole mess of humanity swirl around like paint brushes on a canvas, hoping that the randomness will still result in a beautiful portrait and not some mess.... but then again, Jackson Pollock's work comes to mind and something that was both random and purposeful. Forgive me, art aficionados, for I know so little.


133. The word afficionado


134. Hot showers, which is where I am headed right now.


Friday, February 26, 2016

An Essay: Why We Dream of Acting

It's the weekend of the Oscars (that final religious celebration during the acting holy days) and I awoke with a familiar dream, full of scenes from favorite films ("Holy Smoke" and "The Departed," this time,  although the movies themselves change in these dreams of mine), a little regret over not having made better choices earlier in life, and this yearning that has been with me since as long as I can remember: That is, the yearning to be an actor, to sing, to make movies, to create. To tell stories and move people and be moved. To make 'em laugh. To make 'em cry. 

The desire has never left me. In fact, it only gets stronger. 

And I do what I can. I learn. I study.  I grow.  I dedicate my life to mastery. I audition - an art unto itself - and sometimes it goes brilliantly,  sometimes it straight up sucks, but I pray for the best and let it go.

Now, as an adult... no, truly, I'm a grown up now. It happened over the last few years with an awakening to the fact that I am responsible for my happiness. Despite the fact that I am far more responsible AND pragmatic than ever I was in my teens and 20s, I want more than ever to act, to sing, to write. 

And I ask myself, why?

Not with judgment.  I approve of my desires. That's a far cry from my teens and early 20s, when I was afraid to reveal my secret to others, afraid of the shame in my heart and derision in their eyes when I would say, "I wanna be an actor." Today I know not only I want it, but that I deserve it and I'm great at it. If you've never gone through a creative crisis,  you may not realize how paramount those beliefs are. They are everything. 

No, I mean, I ask myself "why" as in, what is it about a dream like acting and singing and writing,  a dream to truly pursue art and talent, that is so powerful? So powerful that people are willing to leave their homes and families and travel across the world to enter a city that is a sea of sharks and jewels, praying for just a glimpse of a jewel, making friends with the sharks but trying not to be one yourself? 

People have asked this question since the dawn of adventure,  I suppose. Aristotle's "On Poetics" comes to mind.  So do the cave paintings.  

I think it has something to do with a search for deeper meaning. What does it truly mean to be human,  to be alive? Where is God? 

And those questions are the ones secretly explored when we ask the other questions. What is the inciting incident that launches Act Two?  What does my character want? Is a G7 chord better here than a Bminor? 

I get to inhabit many lives in this one life of mine. Through these connections to story, I connect to myself and to humanity and to the team in whatever we are doing. The people in the casting office,  my agent, the musicians in my band for March 11th, the audience, the movie theater employees, the actors, the composers, James Stewart,  Kim Novak, lions in Africa. We are all weaving our story into the tapestry of humanity, vaulted into the stars in the night sky for some distant ancestor in another time and space, looking for meaning in their own painful dramas.

And in the meantime...

I'll try to make 'em laugh.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Music Monday on Wednesday: of Renaissance Women, Time Management, Filling in the Blanks on Monday's blog and Mahattan School of Music 2012, Why I Keep Going

Hey everybody.

 I'm writing a lot this week! I'm sick- oh, don't worry- my Doctor assures me with full confidence I should be able to sing by my rehearsals this weekend for my gig March 11th! (Yeah, I know. My health? Pshaw. But my voice? Anything to preserve my voice!)

Which is a bit about what I wanted to write about.

I want to fill in on some other pieces of the puzzle left from Monday's blog about serendipity.

For a lot of you who have read me or known me a long time, you know that my life as a singer has been a very wild and zig zaggy adventure. Trust me. I didn't start out in life thinking I was going to be a "classical pop crossover Broadway jazz singer songwriter with some country and some rock and roll." I wanted to be Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand from the get go! But what HAPPENED ALONG THE WAY, SO FAR? Well, that was why I wrote a one woman show called "StandUpera." And as a songwriter, I still want to be Tori Amos and Leonard Cohen as well as Harold Arlen and Diane Warren.

I WILL share pieces of StandUpera here, but for those of you new to me, my blog or my story (as a singer, actress, novelist, screenwriter, playwright. I have no problem claiming all my Renaissance Woman capabilities, including correctly spelling Renaissance on the first try) because I'm tired of branding and marketing and pretending I'm smaller than I am just to make other people understand where I'm coming from. Oh, I understand it's like, wait, Tori Amos can also sing like Broadway and opera and she can also do standup?

Yup, I bet she can.

Just like Barbra Streisand is an amazing singer, actress, writer, director, and who knows what else.

Just like Bette Midler did standup as well as sing like that.

Just like Beyonce can sing and dance and act and market and who knows what else.

Just like Madonna and J-Lo.

Just like Lady Gaga.

And who knows where else things might transpire? Look, if ever I actually "make it" with one field or another, I will be so grateful and let the unfolding of my career happen in the arena, of course! But until then, I will focus all my energies on being my Renaissance Self.

Time Management? I really love it. It's like that quote:

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." - Gustave Flaubert

Some day I should post my daily schedule up here. It's not a daily schedule like, from 7 am til 7:45 I walk Henry, then from 8 am until 8:30 I study Italian while eating breakfast (although that is what happens every day.) It's more like, I have ordered them in priority, and then I set a timer. So most important things are accomplished first, but worked around any appointments I have, readings I give, etc. That way, every day I practice, although it might happen at 11 am or 3 pm or 5 pm depending on the day. But every day it happens! Maybe, if people are interested, I'll share it someday. But since I DID set a timer on writing this blog, I want to get to filling in the blanks on the rest of the story from Monday!

SO!

A little bit about Manhattan School of Music 2012 and what kind of singer I am (hint: more like Linda Ronstadt.).

When I was in high school, I studied opera. Not because I wanted to be an opera singer, but because that was what was available to me. I had a few wonderful teachers. They all happened to be in the classical tradition. I was also writing songs, sort of a la Jewel, the kinds of songs you would expect a smart and talented and melodramatic teenager to write. I had some heroes, odd ones, though. Nina Simone. (My Dad gave me some of her CDs and a life long love affair was born. Years later I discovered we shared a birthday!)

I had terrible eating disorders in high school and college and was surrounded by an atmosphere of oppression. I don't mean to say that my peers and friends and family were oppressive to me because they meant to harm me. I was simply too much. Too emotional. Too bursting. Too ambitious. Too smart. Too weird. Too different. Too easily influenced by other people's fears. Too needy for people's approval. Too needy. And so I made a series of rotten choices, like turning down a full scholarship to NYU to go to Saint Olaf. Like getting deeper into an eating disorder and that led to a whole downward spiral into depression and then pushing away friends and family and dating total a$$holes (you know who you are, you lovable lumps!) (like attracts like. I was an a$$hole in my own way, too.) And then it just got worse and worse until I found myself in an abusive relationship with a controlling international businessman confronting the fact that I had woken up and wasted years not being myself.

Oh, trust me. my real self was still calling out. I was singing, writing songs, touring, singing in cabarets and rock bands. And some of it I loved and a lot of it didn't feel right but I didn't know what else to do.

I moved to LA, wrote a beautiful album that the producer then had me record in not MY voice but a voice that had nothing to do with me, and after years of bulimia and singing too low and improperly, I wrecked my voice and started getting sick all the time and was just lost.

Then I started working with voice teachers. Like, really. Like, listening to what they actually said. Like, trying it. Like, not thinking I know everything (can you believe THAT?)

And I started piecing my voice back together.

And then I started dabbling in Broadway songs and opera again.

And then I thought, I want to be Andrea Bocelli.

I want to be Kristen Chenoweth.

I want to be Barbra Streisand.

I want to be Erin. I want to be ME. Whatever and whomever that is.

So, I thought about being an opera singer. Could I do it? Was my voice too damaged?

And I started applying to all these different young artist programs, summer programs, companies, having no idea what would happen. No one wanted me. No one. Until one place did. Manhattan School of Music. They invited me to be a part of their Summer Voice Program and I started working with some of the best in the WORLD.

Which brings us up to Monday's blog and Rose. She was the other person interested in me.

A few months after that program at Manhattan School, by the way, I was visiting my parents in Minnesota and going through a box of old high school stuff. That's when I found that prospectus from MSM all those years ago.

Do I want to be an opera singer?

Honestly, at this point in my career, I want to be a concert singer a la Andrea Bocelli who does musicals a la Kristen Chenoweth and who sings on the Ellen show and on her own TV show a la Glee. ha! I know. I'm still a dreamer! But why not me? That's why I keep singing and writing web series and auditioning and auditioning and auditioning. Eventually, I will get so undeniable I MUST get hired, or, I will be old and lose my teeth and say, "Can't say I didn't try." ha.

But that's not why I keep singing and writing and acting.

I keep singing because I am a singer.

I keep writing because I am a writer.

I keep acting because I am an actress.

I keep creating art because I am a woman, a creative, a child of God, a member of the human race, and because stories are how we hear and heal one another.

I love you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Music Mondays continued on Tuesday: Filling in the Blanks: What I wrote for 88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life.

Please buy the entire book... it's full of great stories and proceeds go to help keep music in public schools!


If you read yesterday's blog... here is what I wrote for the book that is central to the story.


 
I am a singer.  When people ask, “Oh! What kind of music do you sing?”  My answer causes a lot of confusion. This is because, in reality, I am a classical – pop – crossover – Broadway – jazz – singer – songwriter. “Wait.  So, you do… everything?” they say. Yes.  Sometimes I try to explain it like, “I’m like if Andrea Bocelli and Bette Midler had a baby who hung out with Leonard Cohen”. That’s what I do.  Sort of.

So, Mr. Love Songs is putting together a book about the ways that music changes lives.  Music has changed my life - kept me alive - and helped me change other peoples’ lives so many times, that it's hard to narrow things down!

I could you tell about the time when I sang operatic arias and Dean Martin and Connie Francis songs at an Italian restaurant.  I’d stand on top of a table in the middle of the whole place, and if I hit a high note, the manager would hide in the kitchen and shatter a plate to make it sound like my voice was breaking glass.  The whole place would erupt in applause and forget that the kitchen was running behind or the service was slow.

Or once, in India, I went and volunteered at an ashram for lepers. They didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Hindi, but I sang for them and they chanted for me and we got along just fine.

Or maybe I can tell you about a friend of mine, a young man with cerebral palsy.

I’m not gonna lie.  My 20's were really rough.  I got kicked out of Music School because I tried to commit suicide.  They told me I could keep my scholarships if I went to rehab.  But, after the hospital, I didn’t go back.  I moved back in with my parents.  And during that time, there was a TV show that I watched. It made me laugh and laugh.  It was one of the only things I looked forward to during that time of my life.  It was called "Just Shoot Me."

Flash forward to years later - that friend of mine with cerebral palsy I just mentioned?  I met him because I was singing with another friend, a pianist, at this mall in the Los Angeles suburbs.  This young man with CP would come hear us perform and it was months before I learned that his mother was the star of that TV show I loved.  One day, after performing at the Westfield Topanga Mall, she approached me and said, "Just so you know, my son listens to your music on YouTube everyday.   Sometimes 5, 6, 7 times a day!"

I didn’t have the courage to tell her then.  Like most important things in life, I just wait ‘til I’m onstage and then make a joke about it - about how amazing is it that SHE HERSELF gave ME so much joy at a time when very little made me happy.    Now, it was an honor for me to give back to her son.

I almost didn’t make it in life.  And this?  This was one of the most divine gifts from the universe: a connect the dot from her heart to my heart to her son’s heart through music.

How wondrous these unseen events, this blue orb in the heavens spinning with so many delights!  If only we could stay a little bit longer than we think we should, just to see the light dazzle in another’s eyes, the song linger in all our ears and hearts.  For if I had done the deed and I had not lived, I would never receive THIS moment, this "proof" that it was all for some very important reason that each of us was put here on earth.

Erin
Los Angeles, California – U.S.A.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Music Monday: Serendipity in the Strangest forms, My Birthday and the Flu, What is Self Love Really, My Birthday and Facebook and Allowing Others Their Opinion of you (whether it's accurate or not) while maintaining that self love...

Happy Music Monday!

There is a LOT I want to write about in this blog without knowing entirely how to organize things. The title of the blog is going to be the order in which I write things, but I imagine that it will circle around like a beautiful figure eight, returning and reinvigorating each theme of today, the full moon, the day after my birthday, and George Washington's birthday. 

THE TITLE IS:
Music Monday: Serendipity in the Strangest forms, My Birthday and the Flu, What is Self Love Really, My Birthday and Facebook  and Allowing Others Their Opinion of you (whether it's accurate or not) while maintaining that self love..

If one of these sections is more interesting than another, please feel free to scroll down. This is a bit of an epic blog because of so many wonderful cosmic, bright and shining stars being connected as dots of GodShots in my life, and for those interested in Divine Intervention, Hopeless turning into Faith, and Never discounting an experience because of the beautiful unfolding of life which may reveal more to you than your small singular mind can hold on its own...... then, read it all!




SERENDIPITY IN THE STRANGEST FORMS

But isn't serendipity always strange?

It is, and even when we experience it, the next time we experience serendipity once again, it is still an utter delight and shock. At least it is for me. I am never dulled to the mystical pleasure of:
   
    serendipity:

ser·en·dip·i·ty

/ˌserənˈdipədē/

noun
1. the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way "a fortunate stroke of serendipity" synonyms: (happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke, luck, good luck, ...


So, Wednesday evening I had the distinct pleasure of hearing a new friend sing blues and jazz at the Catalina. She's an amazing lady, singer, person. In every / any order! Rose Kingsley. She has had several incarnations as a singer, and incorporates them all into her life without disregarding any other incarnation, and I think she's just great. She has been an opera singer at the Met and many other world class venues, and she is now reinventing herself- or rather- inviting a new shade of herself- as a jazz singer.

I met a lovely gentleman who was celebrating HIS birthday (the next day, but celebrating a day early.) He told me he was turning 78 and had some lovely things to say about life and getting older. He was just a sweetie. But then, he's a Pisces... if you haven't guessed at my sign or my affinity for my fellow fishes, well, have you noticed the title of my blog?

(Note: my first love of being a Pisces actually has nothing to do with me, but with my Grandmother on my mom's side. She's the fantastic lady who taught me to find four leaf clovers. She's the one who would stay up til 3 am playing poker and watching the black and white classic films I still love and study. And SHE was a Pisces, March 14th, and she used to root conspiratorially with me, leaning and saying with her raspy Kathleen Turner smoker's voice, "Pisces is best!")

But at the gig, I started piecing a few things together that were just a plain shock to me.

I'll admit, my memory is not so great. It used to be a steel trap. Now, not so much. I can remember things in incredible detail. Entire passages from books and poems from 5th grade can spring to mind, but only when I need them, and not when my conscious mind deems them necessary but when the sudden appearance of the memory actually makes sense, such as when writing a blog. ha!

But I began to piece together something wonderful.

Let me scroll back to how I met this wonderful singing lady.

Last year, I contributed a piece of writing to a book called "88 + Ways Music Can Change Your Life."

I will post that writing here, I hope, tomorrow. I would add it into THIS blog but it would be too much for everything I need to write today, and it really deserves its own space. I have shared it here before, but at the moment, I'm not organized enough to provide the entire link. So, if you want to read my piece, I encourage you to buy the book, as part of the proceeds go to a charity to help keep music in public schools, or stay tuned.

Anyway, the authors of that book are a great couple who decided to put together a music performance in Santa Barbara last fall while they were in town. See, more than 88 musicians contributed to the book, including everything from famous folks to professionals to amateurs to students. (88 is because there are 88 keys on a piano, in case you were wondering!) They invited a number of Southern California contributers to perform as part of the event, and I was one of them!

I almost didn't say yes to the gig. It wasn't because I didn't want to perform! I love the book, I love performing, and I love Santa Barbara. It was a charity event and so there was no money to be made, but money is not my first consideration, for better and for worse, or at least, it has never yet been, when it comes to my art! I'd love to make it MORE of a consideration in terms of making smarter business and marketing decisions, but sometimes, performing at a charity event can lead to untold commercial opportunities as well. You just never know.

At the time, I was working with someone who was a potential manager. This was a person full of great ideas, but for other reasons that I will probably not share out of respect for the time that person DID give me, it wasn't meant to be. Whether or not I should perform at this event became the catalyst for the beginning of the end of that professional relationship. In hindsight, this is a very good thing. It isn't just that I wanted to perform and this person didn't want me to, but that it shed light on the very issues at the core of my uneasiness with the potential business relationship and forced me to stop ignoring them.

In the end, that relationship didn't work out. I know this part is vague, but like I said, for now, out of respect for all the help and work that person DID give me, I want to be as respectful as possible.

While I was deciding whether to work with this person or not, and whether to perform at this gig or not, I had a big bounty of four leaf clovers show up.

Those of you who have been with me a long time know I find four and five leaf clovers often, and in abundant numbers, but especially when I am in trouble or very vulnerable or in desperate need of guidance or lost. So, while I have found fewer lately than normal, I am okay with it, I trust that Mother Earth is guiding me and I am listening!

I got scared, though, when I found this patch of four leafies, because I worried it meant I had to work with this person that made me really uncomfortable in so many ways all the time. (Hint: nowhere near what is happening with Kesha, but of that variety.)

See, I may not be famous, but what happens at Kesha's level has happened to so many artists I know at all levels. It's not just Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Kesha, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, etc. We talk about it, or don't talk about it, as if it's just normal Hollywood behavior, which is total bullshit, and yet look at me not wanting to go there. Why?

Well, not today. Today I want to talk about the positive serendipity of what happened.

Looking back, I see the 4-leaf clovers were NOT FOR HIM. They were for ME... and possibly for the Santa Barbara gig.

I'm sorry if this is a circular, winding story. There is no way to tell it succinctly or shortly.

Stay with me!

So, flash forward a month, I go to perform in Santa Barbara. The roster of performers includes Mr. Love Songs AKA the author of the book, another great indie rock style songwriter, Victoria deMare,  me, and Miss Rose Kingsley.

I had a great time. Everyone was so talented! It was a true pleasure to hear everyone perform. I kept in touch with everyone, and months later, five months, in fact, was invited by Rose to hear her perform at the Catalina Jazz Bar.

Which brings us up to this week.


She gave a great concert. Her band was simply beyond amazing, her performance was awesome, and she is just at once adorable and powerful. I just love her.

That night, I came home, and got the flu.

But more about that in a minute...

Yesterday, Rose called me and we chatted for a bit on the phone. We talked about a potential gig together and we brainstormed a few ideas. She wished me Happy Birthday, and, knowing that I had had the flu (I told her that was why my voice was so husky! I was sounding like Kathleen Turner myself!) she told me to feel better soon! After all, I have a gig March 11th. I don't have time to get sick. I have rehearsals to reschedule and voice lessons to attend.

But I realized... I KNOW Rose. I KNOW her. I remembered a little bit at her gig something I hadn't remembered at ALL at Santa Barbara. Maybe she knew it and didn't say anything. Maybe she didn't remember at all. I haven't said anything to her yet, because it sort of all connected up in full after we hung up. But.

In 2011, when I was healing my voice and rebuilding my voice after years of singing way too low with bad technique in loud rock clubs with crappy sound and years of being a bulimic and nearly completely damaging my voice, I was considering going back to Grad School for opera. You all remember my summer program at Manhattan School of Music. Well, at that time, I was applying to all kinds of summer programs. No one wanted me... except Manhattan School. Ha! I couldn't get into the neighborhood community opera program to save my life but one of the best programs in the country wanted me. One of my voice teachers told me it was just because I could come up with the money, but I don't choose to look at it that way. I choose to look at it as a sign from the Divine. A few months later, I was at my parents' house in Minnesota, going through a box of stuff from high school, deciding what to keep and what to toss, and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the ONE COLLEGE PROSPECTUS I had kept.... you know, when you're a junior and senior in high school, and colleges send you their brochures to try to get you to apply.... I had received hundreds.... and guess which ONE I kept? MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC.....

Well, back to 2016, I'm talking to Rose about opera and singing and she mentions a teacher she once had who

I HAD in THE SUMMER OF 2012 AT the Manhattan School Summer Program

and it came back to me, but as we were in conversation, I didn't bring it up because there was a specific trajectory to our convo that I didn't want to interrupt.

Back in 2011, one other person who was very interested in me attending her program was

ROSE.

Rose ran, or maybe still does, I don't know, and private conservatory program in Palm Springs. Students live in PS and study with her every day. She brings in coaches (SUCH AS PEOPLE I WORK WITH HERE IN LA AS WELL AS IN NYC) and over time, they perform once a month, and depending on age and readiness, she starts getting them to audition for managers, Young Artist Programs, whatever is appropriate for people.

I remember thinking that wasn't the program for me because I still wanted to do this Andrea Bocelli thing, because I wasn't sure I wanted to leave LA for Palm Springs (although if it had been NYC or London I probably would have been game.) I didn't want to not be available for Hollywood, and I still think I am meant to be somewhere between Bette Midler and Josh Groban and Adele rather than a real opera singer....

But it just opened this space of light and song within my heart to see that

I was meant to meet this woman, possibly sing with and perform with this woman, all along.

Whether I had gone to NYU or MSM right after high school or not.... whether I had gone at age 20 when this guy heard me sing at Macaroni Grill in Edina MN and gave me the number of a very famous opera singing teacher in NYC who happened to be one of his best friends but in all my fear and unreadiness I threw the number in the trash.... whether I had worked with her then, or now....

Maybe this story impresses you, maybe not. I really hope I get to perform a gig with this wonderful singer and person, because I believe in her talent and mine. I just think,

Wow,

Life is really FOR you and if you just open up to possibility, magic will connect on your behalf. It really will.


MY BIRTHDAY AND THE FLU

So I got the flu Wednesday night. I pretended it wasn't happening on Thursday so I could do my radio show and go do a fun audition I had for a feature film, by the way, one of the best auditions of all my life. Haven't booked the job... yet.... but it was a mystical experience for me as an actor. I fell into this woman's life, and let her talk and walk and work through me. She is so unlike me it's ridiculous. And it was an incredible experience. In no way intellectual! I give a lot of thanks to a new acting teacher I've been working with, James DiStefano of the Actors Studio (not AT the Studio, I'm not a member there, but I work with him privately. I just like pointing out that he's a teacher there for the obvious talent by association assumption you might make. Haha.) James has been pushing me, sometimes literally, into the BODY a la Marlon Brando style which is such an amazing way to get me OUT of my head. He has given me so much freedom!

Anyway.

Then the flu happened. I had to cancel appointments, a rehearsal with my music director for my March 11 gig, a voice lesson, a dinner and spa with one of my besties. My actual birthday was Sunday and I decided that if I didn't have a fever, my sister and I could keep our Korean Spa day in tact.


WHAT IS SELF LOVE REALLY

So, I don't really know all the time what is really self love. But I decided that as long as I couldn't spread my virus to others, I would hop myself up on DayQuil.

I would give myself the full experience of life.

MY BIRTHDAY AND FACEBOOK AND ALLOWING, etc.

See, for years, I have hidden away. Normally, I would have stayed home on the sad sick sofa, because I always spread myself too thin. But yesterday, I thought, spending an afternoon with my sister, who happens to be my favorite person in the universe alongside Carlo, Henry, Gary my voice teacher and Miss Piggy (and Henry and Miss Piggy DO count as people!) and Anne of Green Gables and Gilbert, anyway, I'm stretching now, anyway, going to a spa and letting the steam and the sauna and the eucalyptus knock the last of this toxic flu cold chest cold thing outta me? And really engaging with her, and then later at dinner with my brother in law and man, that was self love.

In essence:

Having fun.


I also did something I haven't done in YEARS.

I made my birthday public on Facebook

and

I removed the timeline approval security I had going so that people could say Happy Birthday.

I needed attention, but moreso, and actually more honestly,

I wanted to celebrate my damn birthday for once.

I wanted to celebrate my life.

I wanted to share with people that I was happy.

Why? Not for attention per se. Not to be braggy. But to say,

for years I hated myself.

Then, for years, I hated those years I hated myself.

For years I felt too old, too fat, too Minnesotan, too opera, too not opera enough, whatever blah blah blah.

I have had a few people mention to me that I have celebrated myself way too MUCH for years. These people largely are family members of friends who have said the proof is that I don't have children, or I don't know real sacrifice because I don't have children, or because I spent my years traveling to India and performing rather than going to every wedding and funeral that came my way.

That's their opinion, and they have every right to it, and they may be right or wrong or somehow both all at the same time.

Most likely, we are all equal measure right and wrong at the same time about the same thing and guess what?

I'm cool with that.

I'm gonna live my life.

I'm gonna be me.

And I love you, all of you, in my way, as I get that you wanna do your life your way.

So,

Here's To Life,

Here's To Love

and

Here's To You.

And Me.

For I am you and you are me and....

Here's To Us.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

GRATITUDE SATURDAYS: #109-111

I have the flu. :(


So.




109. NYQUIL


110. My sweet partner who has been taking care of me since I came down with the flu on Wednesday night but didn't really accept it til Thursday.


111.  The sofa, which is where I am going now. More gratitude tomorrow. xoxoxoxo

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fiction Fridays: My Life As A Phone Psychic The Novel, version NYC 2012, Part One, Chapter 9

 
Chapter Nine
            The phone is ringing. Lily awakens, propped up against the sofa pillow, drool on her chin. The licorice has fallen to her lap. There are doves cooing just outside her window.
            Another client calls. Lily wonders how long the phone has been ringing as she clicks to answer.
            “Hello, this is Lily, muse to your fortune and voice to your spirit guides. May I be of service to your highest good and therefore the highest good of the universe. How may I help you?”
            “Ha…Hi.” A girl with a southern accent, but not totally southern. Maybe like southern Ohio.
            “Hello, how are you?”
            “Well, you’re the psychic, you tell me.”
            “Lost and lonely?” That? Anyone could phone in. Lily feels a pang of guilt for not centering into this girl just because she is a bit triggered.
            I am tired. This girl is a ‘prove it to me’ girl. I don’t want to deal with her!
            Lily hears the girl sigh, a deep, sorrowful sigh, across the lines.
            She might be the sting operation, though… she might be from the TV show.
            Lily sighs, too.
            Okay, let’s go.
            Lily realizes she doesn’t really have a choice, anyway, because she respects the gift she was given… and she cannot but help give it her all… and this girl is calling a psychic phone line, she is most likely desperate and she needs something and maybe Lily can help her with that something, whatever it is, in a healthy way.
            “Baby doll,” Lily drawls, surprising herself, wondering where on earth that accent came from, and at once feeling very maternal toward this young girl, “what do you need?”
            Something shifts in the atmospheric pressure of the room. Lily feels her heart race, her hands get warm and tingly. And they’re in. And they’re off and running.
            “I need to know if I…” She lowers her voice to a near whisper. “I need to know if I’m pregnant."
            “Oh, my, my, my. My sweetheart,” Lily says, still with that crazy southern drawl. “You are. But I think we had better get to point zero. Don’t y’all know ‘bout safe sex? What are you? 13? 14?”
            This is no sting operation. This is not a girl calling on behalf of the producers, or one of the producers pretending. This is a young girl, catapulting into becoming a young woman, in trouble. And Lily has a job to do.
Once Upon A Time
Lily sits in bed, phone in hand. No one else called. No producers. No actors. No fakes. No Jones. No clients. No real people. No friends. No nothing. No no one.
It’s late and she has a gnawing searing growing headache. She knows she needs sleep, but she is waiting for something.
            Moments go by. She is lost in non-thought. Then. The phone rings. A 310 area code. West Los Angeles. Not the psychic line, which always comes up as the same Caller ID. It is no one she has talked to on the phone before. It’s someone she should respond to.
            Why am I nervous?
            “Hello?” she answers, tossing those feelings aside.
            “Lily, it’s David Farrar,” says a man on the other line.
She feels as if she is sitting in his living room with him. She can see him sitting on his sofa. She stands across from him, looking at him.
Then she shakes her head. She does it again, then knocks on the side of her temple and beats her chest three times. She must stay present… she does not know this man know him know him know him and yet she knows him, therefore, since
there is no such thing as time or space and i leef that gnikaw and sleeping, i must know him in the future all past present future occurring now and still future sometimes zooms in and is now won now won now won one one one for me or something because I instantly know him intimately.
Knowing a person deeply, immediately, on a soul level? For any human living in the mess of human culture, especially American human culture? It can really mess up the social aspect of the relationship. It’s like playing piano all one’s lifelong and then sitting down with a cello and being so frustrated because… the understanding of the music is absolutely there and yet there is no matching skill level. And so one is at once excited and stunted.
            “Hi, David,” she answers, her voice breathy.
In a Land Far, Far Away…
            Her voice sounds sexy to David. He wonders if her voice always sounds like that? Or just on the psychic hotline.
            A thought begins formulating in his mind, and then he finds himself wondering if she has done phone sex, and he begins to fantasize about her… almost… but then brings himself back to his task at hand.
            “I’m sorry to call so late, but it seems you weren’t working on the lines, and Jones seemed to think it would be alright to call you on your personal line like this?”
            “It’s fine,” Lily says.
Did I just hear a yawn?
            “So, I would like a reading. And… I’d love to watch you and listen to you do some readings. Since we’re going to be branding you as the show, I need to know who you are and how you work.”
            “I find it interesting that you’ve made a business call rather late at night,” she says.
“I’m sorry…” David is surprised at this. He called so late because he figured psychics were up late. Like musicians. “Is it too late?” he asks.
            “No, it’s just interesting,” she says. “David, I can give you a reading, but right now you aren’t in a place where you will allow yourself the vulnerability to receive it.” Lily speaks these words so quickly.
            David is a bit offended.
            “I didn’t mean to offend you,” she continues.
            “You didn’t… okay. There’s no use lying to you, is there?”
            Lily laughs.
            “I’m impressed you got that,” she says. “And I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to offend you.”
            David laughs, an odd combination of ruefully and heartily.
            “Well, see, and yet. Now you’ve sold me,” he says. “So, please, yes, I would like a reading. Because now I am closer to thinking you’re at least good at reading people, if not psychic.”
            “Well, are you sure you want it right now? It’s a little late… 12:15.” Lily sounds surprised.
            Yeah, girl…
            And then… David blushes.
            “Where do you live?” he asks.
            “Melrose and Fairfax area,” she answers.
            “Me too…. near there. I live at Hayworth and Melrose.”
            “Very close,” she says.
David feels the intrigue at going and meeting her in person.
            “Would you do tarot for me? Maybe at Swingers?”
            “In public? Are you sure about that? And if so… maybe… Over at Canters?” she asks.
            “Definitely, I’d prefer Swingers to Canters any day. But I’ll play by your rules.”
            “Swingers is great,” Lily says, “I can meet you there in ten minutes.”
            “Oh!” David finds himself surprised again. Why would she switch it like that? Women. “Okay… See you in … I need twenty.”
            She laughs and sounds relieved. David wonders what she’s wearing.
            “Alright,” she says. “I’ll see you there.”
            They hang up. David catches his reflection in the window of his office. He’s smiling. He sort of half laughs.
            What the hell kind of show am I doing?
            He taps the piece of paper with her number written on it, where he wrote it down while her boss had been reciting the number. This chick is… different. Psychic? He doesn’t really know about that. But she is definitely… one of a kind.
            He gets up from his desk.
            “Time to move,” he says aloud, to no one.
Mystic Charms
            Lily brushes her teeth. They don’t really need it, and she’s sure she is just going to have coffee anyway, if she even drinks it while she meets with him. She may forget about it as she is doing the reading. God only knows what will happen once they both actually get there.  Lily smiles as she thinks about how cute David is and suddenly she is frozen, staring at herself in the mirror, toothbrush angling into her mouth, body rigid.
             She is now hovering above her body, watching herself on the floor.
Shit.
The timing on this one is not so great.
She watches curiously.  Her body is frozen; her eyes, waxen, fixated on the mirror in front of her.
Then something new happens.
She is hovering behind herself and she sees a wisp of something- an energy? A force. Something. Was that her? Did she just see… her ghost? The ghost of herself? In the mirror? Her arms and hands freeze in a claw formation quite rapidly, and the toothbrush drops to the floor, and she watches her body flail and hit the floor. She calculates: I think I am actually having a seizure- or- her body is- as she hovers above, out here above the violet and white tiles of the cold bathroom floor, watching and…
A Dream I Could Speak To
            Choking gasping for air the water infiltrates her lungs and a broad strong hand pulls Lily up out of the water squeezing the back of her neck the scruff of her neck and by her hair as if she was a drowning cat a cat not a girl
god this man is drowning her an adversary to the continuation of her life a strong and powerful forearm plunging up and then down again the water swirling round and round and
Of the Valley
            “Haaaaaaaa!” Lily is awake. She breathes in sharply. The light is so bright!
“Goddamnit!” she whispers. She sprawls across the floor, head hitting up against the bear claw bathtub, hands clutching nothing. She drools.
            Stand up, Lily, stand!
Fuzzy, synaesthesia, lights, blur, hyperventilation.
“NO!” She can move her mouth; she can say these words. Who says these words? She wills herself…
            …to…
            …stand.
            Okay. You’re okay, Lily, she thinks, looking into the mirror. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
            She rinses her toothbrush. She is trembling. But it’s over. She knows it’s over. It’s over now. It’s over it’s over it’s over.
            WHAT THE FUCK.
            She looks herself square in the eye in the mirror.
            “You have GOT to stop that,” she says, pointing at herself sternly, “Or else…” she sighs. “I guess I’d better get to a doctor, eventually.” She wipes her mouth and hands with the hand towel. “I mean it,” she says to her face in the mirror. She is pale, mirror her. Pale and scared. She leans in and looks at herself.
            “I may be fucking nuts,” she says, “but I will promise you this: I will take care of you. I promise.” She smiles at herself. Like Charlie Brown.
            Resolute, she walks out of the bathroom and into the living room, grabbing her purse, her keys, and a jacket; and then she walks to the front door. She thinks about it, then runs back and grabs a deck of tarot cards, then a second deck, and then a third deck: Thoth, Angels, Rider Waite.
Traditional and new age. Whatever. New age. That’s some bullshit someone made up. It’s all some bullshit someone made up and so is the theory of relativity, let’s get to the inside of all that now….
            And. Off. To. Swingers. And….

…that old snake…


Monday, February 15, 2016

Music Mondays: technique, set lists, rehearsals, believing in yourself, and not warming up during the Uber ride to UCLA

Over the weekend, after going to a cafe in LA to root for NAPOLI'S ill-fated soccer match against Juventus (boo,) I had a rehearsal at the UCLA School of Music with James Lent, who will be my pianist/ music director on March 11th. As I wandered the halls of the Schoenberg Music, also bearing the name Herb Alpert on the front, I felt a rush of nostalgia. The practice rooms were full of students singing, playing piano, playing oboe. I have spent so much of my life in rooms like these, in hallways like these. I miss it- my piano at home isn't a real piano but a keyboard with weighted keys and a damper pedal that is in reverse and I can't get it to work properly.

I'd love to go into the nerdy singer details of my rehearsal- I know not everyone knows or cares about this stuff, but for those of you who are among my singer friends, I will share a few details!

I hadn't warmed up at all- it seemed like it would have been a bad idea during the soccer match, and I didn't drive myself to rehearsal, I Ubered over and so it would have seemed rude. "Excuse me, but do you mind if I warm up during this ride instead of inquire after your day? Me may mah moh moo. Oh, your brother's having open heart surgery? Me may mah moh moo. I will pray for him, if you like! Me may mah moh moo." Yeah. No.

We ran through some of the songs to get a feel for our combo- I'm doing some originals, some pop, some country, some classical, some Broadway. You know,  "Erin" branding, as in, if Josh Groban and Adele had a baby who hung out with Bette Midler. We decided that the combo will be drums, bass, piano, guitar; and some of the songs will likely be just guitar and voice, if we can find the right person. We will also try to find musicians who can do some harmonies.

Who is paying for all this?

Me.

Gulp.

Meanwhile, James and I started talking about learning to belt years after the fact. I am learning to belt properly, as opposed to in the unhealthy way I belted for so long. James shared a few techniques he uses to get sopranos to belt- he calls it "hailing a taxi," and reminded me that the human body is actually built to belt as well as other kinds of singing. I smiled and tried it... I'm a mix belter, but I hope to graduate into real belter soon. Sometimes it happens on accident, you know, when I'm in the moment during a song, not doing technique but truly in the spirit of the song itself......

Also, since I have the distinction of coming from singer-songwriter and rock band land moreso than Broadway land, I have had to completely rework my singing technique. Thanks to Gary Busby at UCI, I feel my voice is only just now coming into its true sound- in my 30s! Oh, who knows what would have happened to my singing career if I had received the kind of support in my teens and 20s I am giving mySELF now in my 30s. We'll never know, and I didn't know how to give myself the strength and courage (and money and time and belief in my talent) to really go there until now. Maybe I'll never make it, so to speak, and maybe I'm the next Andrea Bocelli or Susan Boyle. No matter what, I feel so lucky to be able to sing whatever I want, to book gigs at venues I love, to sing with incredible, world-class musicians and study with great teachers.

Life is good.

Singing is good.

 A few of the songs we are considering for March 11th, veering more pop and songwriter, but with some Broadway and classical as well:

Come Alive (original)
You Go To My Head (jazz standard)
Hell on Heels (country)
Too Much (original from poet's lovely daughter)
Girl in 14G (!!!!!!)


of course there will be much more.... this is just a list to entice you all to come, or stream it live

https://www.concertwindow.com/erin



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday, St. Valentine's Day, of Philomena, Mary Magdalene, broken hearts, Fiction Fridays, Gratitude Saturdays #95-108

It's St. Valentine's Day, 6 in the morning. The sky is dark outside in the cool Los Angeles morning, the concrete forest of my city awakening with singing birds and a random car speeding past now and again. I couldn't sleep. I've been dreaming of old loves- not just lovers, but things I loved in the past. Friends I've lost. Boyfriends I left. Books I traveled the world with but haven't thought of in ages.

And it's St. Valentine's Day.


SECTION A: ST. VALENTINE'S DAY

I've made a big deal of Valentine's Day this year. Apparently I do every year. I told my beloved partner that I was gifting myself the sort of Valentine's Day *I* would like to have because he thinks (as ALL my boyfriends throughout time have said) that it's dumb to have a commercial Hallmark holiday to have to be romantic.

By the way. Literally every boyfriend I have ever had, with the exception of J___ and J___, whose birthdays happened to be Valentine's Day- oh!- Happy Birthday, boys- (early college years, crazy years. I doubt either of them read this blog and if they do, well, boys, forgive me for my crazy years. I wasn't well.)But back to the literally every boyfriend I have ever had thing- they have all said the same singsong complaint about not needing some Hallmark holiday to be romantic.

Let me tell you.

Yes. Yes, in fact, you do.

Oh, not that you weren't all incredibly romantic. Some of you were. Some of you were incredibly romantic- J___ (V-day birthday boy) wrote love letters. The other J___ made CD mixes (old-fashioned playlists or mixed tapes after tapes but before playlists.) One of my J's, a third college boyfriend whose name also confusingly began with J, was an incredible artist who made a hand-crafted, hand painted kama sutra for me.

Never on Valentine's Day.

Why do we need Valentine's Day?

Well, the reason I love it and celebrate it as an adult is not because I am some dumb consumer blindly being led by marketing.

No, it is for the same reason that I think things like prom and graduation ceremonies and baseball games are important.

I didn't really go to prom, by the way. I think I went one of the two years, with a group of girls, without a date, because even though I was pretty and thin by my senior year (after years of being a chubby, broken glasses wearing, funky short-haired girl sometimes mistaken meanly for a pretty gay boy) I was undate-able in my small town high school. Aside from one sweet boy a few years younger than me who is still a very good friend, no boy would ask me out. Still burns, although not in a way that I'm actually hurt or care. Years later, several boys from school told me they always *wanted* to ask me out. I suppose we all carry wounds from stupid high school, except for those of you lucky enough not to.

I also didn't go to my college graduation, even though I graduated with honors.

And a lot of things. Over the years, I have missed all sorts of baby showers, weddings, funerals. For years, I missed them because I was on the road as a musician, or performing. After a while, I just wasn't invited.

My biggest regret in life, after NOT going to NYU on the big scholarship they offered me (I know.) is not going to my childhood best friend's wedding because I was in India. At the time it seemed a good idea. Now, I feel sorely the lack of that particular friend in my life- frenemy, really, and I suppose years later, time passing, all things turn to dust, as will she and I.

But this is about St. Valentine's Day, and love, and love letters, and remembrances.

There's rosemary,
that's for remembrance.
Pray you, love, remember.
And there's pansies, that's for thoughts.
There's fennel for you, and columbines.
There's rue for you, and here's some for me.
We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays.
Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.
There's a daisy. I would give you some violets,
but they withered all when my father died.
They say he made a good end.


--Ophelia
 Hamlet Prince of Denmark
 Act IV Scene V

St. Valentine's Day is important because it gives us a collective opportunity to remember the ones we love and celebrate that. I don't care about the flowers and chocolate and sex. I mean, of course I do. I have all sorts of plans involving tiramisu and champagne and lingerie. But if I were alone this year, I would be doing the same damn thing, actually. I'm done skipping out on things that might connect me more deeply to my own humanity.

For years, I lived life David Foster Wallace. Not as famous, successful, or brilliant, perhaps, but the basic template of my being is in that man with whom I share a birthday (along side Anais Nin, Nina Simone, W.H. Auden, Ursula LeGuin, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. It all starts to make sense, right?). ...  as lonely, isolated, able to see through the bullshit of culture but without a community to share that with. As disappointed in both the inhumanity of humanity as well as the stupidity of humanity. Frustrated by the simple lack of caring, if not elegance. Where was Jesus now? Where was beauty? We reduced ourselves, at least in this nation, to cave-men, although at least we have maintained Venus of Willendorfs via selfies by Miss Kim Kardashian, that berated symbol of fertility that we mistake for celebrity...

But that's a story. Partially true, partially untrue, varied year by year, filtered through the lens of this moment now.

You see, that's a belief system as poisonous and dangerous as one that says that God sends natural disasters to punish nations for allowing gay marriage.

It is.

And so while the answer is not, in my mind, to hook up and believe in culture, aka marketing, aka a series of agreements that we agree too agree upon about the way the world is, whether we realize we are agreeing or not-

At least, while I'm alive on this earth, this lifetime, whatever time I have left, I'm looking to find beauty and humanity and possibility and goodness everywhere I can.

I'm old enough to know how the world works, and I'm even older than that. I'm old enough to look beyond its transgressions to find its renewal of hope.

And so,

Valentine's Day.



I WHISPERED, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.




SECTION B: RECOVERED OPHELIAS- PHILOMENA 

There's a wonderful book I read whilst in rehab for eating disorders years ago in college, "Reviving Ophelia." Can't get into the details now. Google it. But know that it is about reclaiming young women from the brink of demolition in the forms of eating disorders, sexual abuse, sex selfies, low self esteem, revenge porn, cutting, bullying, etc. Modern day witch hunting.

I thought of it so often while watching- for the second time in one month- the film Philomena last night. This was my second viewing, this time with my partner in life and crime. What a beautiful film. Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench in the true story of a jobless, broken journalist helping an Irish woman find her 50 year old son after-














SPOILER ALERT



















the nuns at the Abbey where she had given birth in the 1950s had sold the baby for adoption to America.





The first time I watched the movie, I wept, as I wept last night- but that first time my blood BOILED over the Catholic church, and organized religion in general, and its crimes against people, humble people especially. Oh, there's other blogs for me to talk about how so often our establishments stray so far from what Jesus would actually do it's down right farcical, if not evil. But.

Last night I wept also for everyone. Because the nuns who did those things, they were no better nor worse than the rest of them. They were simply surviving and operating so as to survive the best they could under the circumstances as well. Yes. It was wrong. But then I started thinking about the way the world thought of- and often still thinks of- women and sex. And we simply were and often still are downright medieval in our thoughts and beliefs about women and the rights of women. And I wept for all of us. 

Then I thought of Mary Magdalene, one of our earliest Ophelias. I suppose at this point, if you are reading my blog, you are most likely familiar with what I will call a reclamation of Mary Magdalene. You are most likely someone who venerates her despite the most likely false reputation she has been given over the centuries as a way to control and manipulate people. You may even be someone who looks up to her legend for answers to your own broken heart.

And she is hear to show you, as is Philomena,

Let your heart break,

Because it will.

Your heart will break.

Speaking of prom and high school, this is something that should be taught in schools that isn't, at least not outright. It is something that classes like English literature get close to, but something you should all know about life:

You Heart Will Break.

And you can let it break open.

Do not let it break shut, crumbling to dust at your feet. Death will do that for you.

Let it break open, bursting with pain into a thousand soaring skies.

You will discover not only that you have a choice to do so-

Philomena did- watch the movie- a stunning ending-

I did- and do, and practice doing so at every chance-

And that opening is where miracles live.



SECTION C:

FICTION FRIDAYS?

There is simply no excuse. I have been busy, yes. Busy with Monologue-a-palooza at Samuel French Bookstore (so fun! Amazing talent! Especially Brittny Roberts, hope she doesn't mind me citing her. She's the woman who put the whole thing together and she is incredibly gifted as a writer and actress. In fact, what I am about to say reveals my own high esteem I have for myself, haha, but, I wish she and I could have a TV show or something together. I have been part of two of her events and am really a fan of both her writing AND her acting.) I WILL return with Fiction Fridays, perhaps today, even, Fiction Fridays on Sunday? I have been rehearsing for my gig March 11th as well as writing my next project, a web series I will share more about later- and pitching my script with Carlo and all the little intricacies of coping with rejection and getting cautiously optimistic about potential opportunities and all that. 

So. It's nigh on 7 am now, and so soon I will have to walk the Henry Monster and bake the croissants (they are proofing right now... let me just go see how big they have gotten overnight- 

oh- oh, yes, oh, my. They have doubled in size, maybe even tripled, and they smell yeasty and buttery and they are FULL of marzipan and in an hour I will bake them and I can tell already they will flake perfectly. They won't be as good as the real real deal, as in, like, from Paris, real deal... but they will be AWESOME.

I got so excited about those croissants just not that even Henry got excited- the possibility of food thrills him- he IS a dog, after all- and he just came in the room to let me know he is definitely awake and ready to play, eat, or pee, or all three. So I gotta wrap this up asap!)



SECTION D:

GRATITUDE SATURDAYS

I missed gratitude Saturdays because I didn't wake up at dawn to write. I woke up just in time to feed the boy, walk the boy, and do my Italian lesson with breakfast (something I do every day, my Italian lesson with breakfast. Yesterday was a revisiting of one of the past tenses... ho studiato italiano, etc.) And then it was time to do ballet and then I had to get ready to put on my jersey and go support Napoli (we lost, 0-1 to Juventus) (my partner's team, but I *did* get to meet a GENIUS director who is also a supporter of Napoli) before rehearsal at UCLA with the pianist/ music director for my gig March 11th before coming home to clean the kitchen and the bathroom (we still have a hole in the ceiling in the bathroom because there is a leak from the upstairs neighbors which caused a crack in the walls to become, well, a big hole that then the plumber had to make even bigger, and the bathroom is covered in crumbling wood and paint and dust and I am simply tired of bathing in what seems like the ruins of a bathroom rather than an actual functioning urban apartment, so, I did my best) and then the day had gotten away from me and it was date time. So. 


95. Old fashioned Valentine's cards

96. Red lipstick

97. High heeled stiletto shoes

98. Surprising a group of Italians with an official Napoli jersey in robin's egg blue

99. A mother who knows JUST how to flatter your ego.

I sent her a picture of me in the jersey in our kitchen, where the lighting is PERFECT, and she wrote back, "did you get botox?" I was vainly proud, as I am always, of my skin. What a vain biatch I can be. Really. One of my worst qualities. But Carlo took me down a notch when he said, 

"Your Mom is smart." 

"What?" I asked, not quite sure I had heard him correctly.

"She's smart," he repeated, with an impish grin.

"Why?" I asked, confused.

"She knows how to make you feel good."

The realization swept over me, and my vainglory slapped me in the face.

"Oh." I said. "So, I don't actually look like I have had botox done," (which I have not, for the record, although last week I DID have a microcurrent, microdermabrasion facial done, and I wrote so to my Mother, gleefully exclaiming, "maybe it worked." Oh, how embarrassing.) I looked down at the second half of my pizza, debating whether or not to defy my diet and refuse my slim career game, or if I wilt not, but be sworn to love, and a character actress I will be?... 

The next piece already halfway down my gullet- what was that about a diet? Meh. (Shrugs.)

I continued,

"She was just making me feel better."

Carlo giggled and continued eating his Saturday night junk food as well.

Oh, we are as sick as the secrets we keep.

Pizza, corn dogs, chocolate, wine.

Not too bad. ;-p


100. Pizza


101. Corn Dogs


102. Chocolate


103. Wine


104. Almond Croissants


105. Comfy sofas


106. Strong men with broad shoulders who hold you in their arms


107. Reclaiming heroines besmirched by marketing


108. Allowing life to open your heart rather than shutter it up like a beach house come November


109. The little puppy dogs who are forever loyal but are now placing a paw across your lap. It simply is time to let you go.



LOVE

ALWAYS

OF THE DEEPEST SORT


Erin




p.s.
9:40 am
Here's my sweet Valentine from my beloved.

LOLOLLOLLLOLOL