Friday, August 27, 2010

Week One, Down

I've survived my last first week of school as a student.

Boy that's a mouthful. I keep thinking, "this is the last first (insert event here)!" That's almost as bad as when my sister graduated from high school. It was the last EVERYTHING. We ate spaghetti that WHOLE year because it was her favorite meal AND her last year at home...I couldn't eat spaghetti for about five years after that.

In any case, this week is almost complete with one more class to go for the day. We've been leveling in dance classes which is pretty much auditioning all over again for the classes you'll be in. It takes a while for the teachers to place all new and returning students where they need to be for the semester.

It's just nice to dance again! To move again, stretch the muscles, and feel the body working, that's a wonderful feeling. I mean, I can hardly sit half the time, but I'll be back in the swing of things before too long.

It's also nice to be around this energy. There's something about the hundreds of hopeful performers in the building that just lights your own fire. It's easy to feel as if the spark of passion dies out over time if you're in a rut, hitting a wall, or just not in the mindset. There's something about fresh faces that makes you want to try and suddenly you're more sure of yourself being on Broadway than at any other point in your life. It's nice to be reminded of what it feels like to be passionate and inspired.

My auditions were this week and they went really well! I have my cast for my thesis production, Imagine This! I'm very excited to work with them and work we will! It will be so incredibly neat to see what I've dreamt in my head and written on paper actually up on it's feet, alive and moving. Tomorrow we're whipping out the first piece in a 3 hour rehearsal (Hopefully. I'm optimistic!).

This week has been a growing experience, too. I feel as though my undergraduate classes were akin to learning the A-B-C's of life. Like when you learned what the letters are, what they sound like, and what basic words they spell, I've been learning the basics of my career choice, the basics of adulthood, basic life lessons, yadda yadda. As a graduate student though, I've been stretched and pushed to learn bigger lessons and come across bigger hurdles.

Like my advisor has been telling me, I'm learning what questions to ask, when to ask them, and to whom I must ask them IF I can ask them at all. It's very interesting. When you're six, the world is black and white. When you get older, there are still black and white principals and then there are some gray areas.

But as complicated as it may seem, taking a breath and pausing can clear the air faster than blazing into any challenge I may have before me. I feel as though I've created so many theme phrases for this last push through this semester. "Whatever it takes!" or "Slow down. Take a breath." or "One step at a time." There are plenty more. One that I just learned is actually really neat and reminds me of a post I put up not too long ago about finding the ultimate happy.

You can either put an "e" or an "i" in there. The choice is yours.

I know what my choice is for today and the next day and all the rest of my days. What's yours?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to School

Ah, August. That merry month that sends children scurrying back to their little school houses where they can soak up the knowledge of the world from their little desks.

Or if you're a college student, it means hauling your life back to whatever dorm you live in, unpacking your livelihood once again and prepping your body for the daily jog you have around campus to get to your classes that will be in about eight different buildings. Maybe. I'm in the same building all day, every day, but then again my college experience is vastly different from most other people. C'est la vie.

Back to school. I have so many memories of back to school's gone by (This is starting to sound a little cheesy, no?). I always enjoy the back to school shopping part. So many school supplies are out and that means new pretty pens, fancy notebooks, fresh paper spirals, pencil bags, highlighters, and best of all, calendars. I love shopping for calendars. Must be a sickness because I love to plan out the year and write out to-do's! Ah, it makes my little heart go pitter pat! Color me nerd, but I nothing brings me more joy than to fill in my planner.

Well, I'm all set for this LAST semester, my final time at school. Got my books, my dance duds, thesis costumes, props, etc. Hard to believe I'm almost done with my masters. What's a little more scary is that I'm really and truly finishing up my time in the education system as a student. There's always the possibility of going back, but I'm pretty darn sure a break in order after this last run. I'm as ready as I ever will be for Monday, my last first day of school.

I remember growing up and on the first day of every school year Mom would make Big Sister and I take a back-to-school picture in front of our entertainment center. (I tried to dig up all of them but really, I had other things on my plate so I opted for first two I was able to find. I'm not much for patience on these sorts of things.) Anyway, calculating it up in my head, I started trying to figure how long I've been in school. I started when I was four, finishing up now and I'm 23 = 19 years just about.

Good grief. That's a long time. Here I am, first day of Pre-K--silly girl. She has no idea that she will have 18 more years left to go carrying her lunch to school and hauling a backpack twice her weight.

But darn if I don't just look so adorable in my little watermelon outfit! I loved that outfit, Mom made it for me! I wish I could remember what my first thoughts of school were. I'm pretty sure I had no clue I'd still be dancing this many years later. Nice surprise though!

And for one brief shining year, Big Sister and I were in the same school. Five years apart never really put us in the same place except for my kindergarten year. Here I am, loving on Big Sister in my baby sister kind of way and you can clearly see just how THRILLED she is to have wart like me for a sister.

It's still very much that way.

Ah, sisterly love.

Happy Back to School everyone!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Goodbye Dear Summer

Summertime is over--my five week break has come to an end, but luckily enough I have the excruciatingly hot weather to remind me of the summer season for at least another month or so.

I was trying to figure all the things I did this summer to remind myself that yes, I do indeed have activities outside of school. It was actually pretty fun to think of everything I did! So here is my Summer Sum Up!

I went to Disney for the first time with my best friend, Karley!

It was incredibly wonderful to catch up with her and spend time at her workplace, which is none other than the Happiest Place on Earth! She took me to Cocoa Beach with our friend and sorority sister, Sara! I did get my beach time in there!

I survived my one on one classes this summer and with the help of some caring professors, learned a few life lessons in there as well. I had my first wreck. Wah-wah. That was not so much fun, but now I know and the experience is over.

I worked Mary Kay again this summer, flitting about in the audience and inviting them to conga with me!

I got to spend some time with Pyro Man--I believe we had about eight visits this summer is pretty darn good.

He came to see the Mary Kay show, but alas, he did not work it this year. In fact, bet you didn't know that's how we met just one year ago!

We spent lots of time with each other's family which is always fun! I got to go with him and help on one of his fireworks shows. Almost witnessed him be set a flame...

I'd like to preface that this particular situation does not occur often if ever, but yes. Yes, I almost nearly had a panic attack there on site. Fortunately, I stayed firmly planted where he told me to and just watched as all the blood drained straight to my feet.

He took me fishing for my first time in oh...almost twenty years. I felt the fish bite, but no luck for me. Got better at casting though. He caught a couple which was neat for me to see a big mouth bass up close, but not personal. I'm not to the touching stage yet.

I got to spend time with my best friend, Esther! She was back in town for the summer and fortunately just made the big move to Big D! Yay!

My Grandmother also moved to Dallas and I blogged about the approach of her arrival. It was nice getting to see the family and all say goodbye together.

I got my orange kitty, Honey!!

She's a treat and I miss her much! Right now she's probably terrorizing the rest of family and trying to launch herself onto Mom's dress dummy. She sticks like velcro to the cloth dummy, it's hysterical! I celebrated my precious pup's 6th birthday!

Hard to believe she's already 6! That's 42 in dog years! Good gravy!

What else did I do this summer? Oh yeah! I went to the Michael Buble concert! Ah! Heaven! I about died right there in my seat! Mom, Big Sister, and I all went for Mom's birthday! We had such a good time!

I got to spend loads of time with my family, something I really enjoy. Whether it was having a big meal together, stuffing cowboy cards all day, shopping endlessly for costumes, or watching a Frisco Rough Riders game together, I had a splendid time with all of them. I wish I could have more time.

And last, but certainly not least, I have continually worked on my thesis. I'm on a roller coaster and this whole summer has been like the first five seconds of the ride where the cart takes you up, up, up to the top of the first drop. I'm hanging on the edge this week, waiting to take the first plunge with the audition this coming Tuesday. It's exhilarating, nerve-wracking, exciting, thrilling, a tad bit nauseating, but above all, a wonderful learning experience that I am appreciating so much.

Here's to you, Summertime! You're different every year, bringing new excitements to my life and I greatly appreciate the happy break you give me. I'll be seeing you next year and this time, NO SCHOOL! Yahoo! Happy Hump Day, ya'll!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Power of an Encouraging Word

As I was driving out to Fort Worth last night, I caught a snip-it of an interview with Kenny Chesney, the country singer. He's got some new song out, "The Boys of Fall," and apparently the video is a real tear jerker. Or so I've heard. I have yet to see it, but if you'd like to take a gander, the video can be found here.

Anyway, the DJ asked Kenny how his football coach was so influential in his life. Kenny almost immediately said, "Because he believed in me when no one else did."

Two thoughts crossed my mind when I heard that. One, that the statement was really wonderful and that coach must be incredibly touched. The second, I had to wonder how this man could have only had one person believing in him. Sure, I'm willing to bet he had some family and buddies right there with him cheering him on the whole time, but at the same time I'm baffled. He believes only one person was there truly pulling for him? I found it a bit odd.

I was having lunch with a friend not but a few weeks ago and she was telling me about the happiness in her life. She relayed to me how her accomplishments today were thanks to a very dear dance teacher. I watched her face brighten as she spoke highly of this man and all the encouragement that he gave her during a time when she was unsure of herself. Those are valid grounds for a great mentor, but I myself couldn't think of just one person who has been that for me. She must have read the expression on my face because she explained this teacher was someone other than family and close friends who believed in her. After all, family loves you no matter what and those that know you best will back you 100% (I hope).

For me, I've felt like I've had an army of supporters behind me my whole life. Either that will read as a conceited statement or read as though I'm a very lucky girl. I happened to mean that as I am extremely lucky to have so many people believe in me, supporting me in this crazy business I want to submerge myself in. Heaven help me if I ever win a Tony because there would be a laundry list of teachers, mentors, family, friends, etc. to thank. Ain't no 30 second allotment would get me through a list of those folks.

Take my mother, for instance. Just yesterday she and I were shopping for foam for a large sandwich prop and as I was getting increasingly frustrated with the fruitless search, I blurted out, "Why didn't I become a doctor or a nurse or someone who's job did not entail this?!" There I stood, shaking the giant piece of foam at my mother, being as dramatic as a tired, shopped-out girl could be. Mom gently took the foam from my hand, laid it down while wrapping a loving arm around me. With a knowing look and an easy tone she said, "You're doing what you were meant to do."

Well, I don't know if creating sandwich props is what I'm meant to do, but geez Louise, a lady has got to have a lot of faith in me to help me search all over heck and half of Georgia looking for odd items like swords and treasure chests. Not only that, but she doesn't leave me in a store when I pick up a piece a fabric and start flitting about as if I can't be seen by the public. They see all and they definitely see me dancing around with my scarves.

Here's the thing, 90% of the time I know I'm doing what I should be doing. The other 10% is the lack of belief I have in myself. Pretty sure that's normal--most anyone is scared of the potential they have within themselves. It's not a pity plea, it's a statement of fact. We have doubts. Period.

The nagging feeling of doubt or the question of "what if" is an annoying itch in my mind I don't want to touch for fear that it'll spread to the rest of my thoughts. It bothers me greatly that with all this support around me I would even know what a doubt is. I think or at least I assume that when I do feel a lack of belief in what I'm doing, I question for certainty. In that, I'm hoping to find assurance that what I'm doing is right and "safe," so to speak. Yet here I sit with people in my life who know I'll be successful. They just know. My gosh, what a freeing sensation, like swinging from rope and dropping into a lake. They take that plunge, willing dropping because they know it's right. Except I'm the idiot hanging on for dear life yelling, "what if I get hurt?"

I want so badly to have 100% belief all the time, it sure would free up some headaches. I also have this undying need to show people what I can do, to prove that I am what I say. Equally so, I want people to show me what they can do, prove to me they are what they say. That's not always possible to do--sometimes you just have to go on faith. That right there is believing. Like the mother says in Miracle of 34th Street, "Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to."

On the other hand, I know that doubt has some redeeming qualities. It helps me be more aware, a bit more careful, and perhaps a better planner. In other words (can't EVEN believe I'm going to say this, but), doubt can be a good tool if you use it properly. Tell me this, how do these people JUST believe? How does one rid themselves of doubt to have blind faith in another person?

Last night I had dinner with Pyro Man and over our bowls of chips and salsa, he excitedly expressed his interest in starting a certain business. Immediately I started thinking through questions and wondering about certain possible problematic situations he might encounter. **SIDE NOTE: Please know, I'd support Pyro Man in anything he wanted to do--I think he can do anything he sets his mind to and I want him to be happy with whatever he does.** My way of showing "support" was by playing devil's advocate and somehow it struck me as the wrong reaction to have with this topic. No kidding. *Sigh* For the love, Julie.

I have absolutely faith (and a deal with a gentleman upstairs) that he won't set himself on fire when he goes out to shoot a firework show or fall out of a tree while he's hunting. He knows what he's doing, he's prepared for every situation, he's got all the tools and the head about him so why would starting this business be any different?

Well, with the exception of no actual flames threatening to blister his body or a 10 foot drop involved, there isn't any difference. I mentally wanted to make sure he had sure footing, the safety that I crave when I encounter new hurdles to jump. But it's not my hurdle, not my dream--it's his. So really, why do I need to question and come up with worrying thoughts? What he really needs right now is a little faith. And there, between bites of chicken tacos, I found myself taking the plunge and placing 100% backing belief in him just like what everyone else has been doing in me.

In an instance, I just let go of the rope of worry. I don't need to see business plans. I don't need to see a contract with legal jargon or a budget or see anything at all. One look in his eyes and it was plain to see the man has a dream, probably the same look I have when I talk about my dreams, too. Suddenly it became very apparent to me exactly how it is that people are able to believe. It's not blind belief either, I can tell you that--you have to see the person's face full of passion and excitement.

Perhaps Kenny Chesney and my friend really appreciated about that one person who believed in them was that they didn't question or worry about the road ahead. Instead, that mentor placed a true and honest belief in them without a single doubt. They offered a little faith to give them the extra push to make their dreams come true. That, I suppose, is what people need most.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Let the Shopping Games Begin

Yesterday my costumer and I began the shopping process for costumes. Oh. My.

And yes, my mother is my costumer, but she is one heck of a seamstress! Let me tell you! She's had plenty of years worth of experience working on musicals, dance competition costumes, drill teams numbers, and much more. She even created my sister's wedding dress AND HAND BEADED the darn lace on it, too!

The woman has got some skills. I only feel bad for my future children as I may never learn how to sew their Halloween costumes or even a basic jumper. But I do have a sewing machine waiting for me to test out and some lessons that I want to get in to after this thesis is over. Look out world! Here comes Julie, Seamstress Extraordinaire!

Well, first the thesis, then I'll take on the world. Costuming a whole show by myself has taught me two MAJOR things:

1) Be open to any possibility--in other words, let your mind explore all options before you poo-poo an idea.

2) Leave no stone unturned. Search through EVERYTHING.

Have mercy. We only went to about four different stores yesterday and still have some places to look at today. I should be culling through the entire state, but I believe we came out with a great deal of good buys with the few places we went.

Most of the costumes I've envisioned have been costumes I've hoped to build. In other words, start from scratch, piece patterns together, and create a masterpiece. Now, that's only possible for a few items so today we're hitting up some of my mother's favorite fabric stores down on Harry Hines. If you are from the Dallas area, you will know that Harry Hines is pretty much strippers row, but they've got some great hidden fabric stores down there where a gal can get a lot of good deals. Just bring your pepper spray. No, I'm kidding...sorta.

What I can't build, I create using off the rack buys. It's often suggested to go to outlets, re-sale shops, and thrift stores for some of these buys. However, we happen to get a good majority of stuff from Target, Ross, and Wal-Mart yesterday for pretty dang good prices. I'll also be raiding boxes of clothes we've cleaned out as a family. Hello! I've got 15 people to costume an entire pirate number for! That's a lot of costumes!

My dad just stared at the mass of clothing items I had spread out this morning. "And this isn't all, is it?"

Nope, Daddy. It sure isn't. I've got to get a few more things or else I'll have naked dancers on stage and that won't be appropriate in the least bit.

"Well, dang. That's a lot of pieces then."

Yup, 15 dancers and six dances. That's a lot of pieces. I'm having to guess on sizes for my dancers which is tricky. I won't get their actual measurements until the first day we meet and that's about twenty days away. Yeesh.

It's all good though. This whole process is teaching me a lot. I'm learning how to fine tune my ideas and how to describe what I see in my head to someone who's not in it--believe you me, that's been the biggest thing I've had to work on this whole year. I see a picture and I want everyone else to see it through my eyes. The story of every artist. That's what makes this thesis so darn neat is because I get to bring to life the images in my head, the show I want to share.

I'm learning how to create color schemes that fit each dance for the mood I want. I'm sharpening my skills for picking pieces. It helps that I am a dancer because I won't put my cast in things they cannot move in. I'm learning how to build off old items or self-supplied items the dancers can provide--also saves my wallet. Yeah, buddy!

Even though I've been with my mom on her shopping excursions for costumes, I'm in a whole new role. No longer am I the dancer or helper giving her my opinion, but instead the director saying "this is what I want." Kinda neat having a say-so in what goes on and what doesn't. It's all my designs, all my ideas.

Here's to hoping for another successful shopping day! Costume Gods, please grant me some breaks today! Amen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One Week

One week from today I will be carting all my junk I hauled down here out to my car.

One week from today I will be scratching my head and wondering how the heck I will get said junk into my car.

One week from today I will be tearfully saying goodbye to house, my parents, my pup, and my summer vacation.

One week from today I will walk into my apartment and start running around like a whirling dervish to get everything done.

That's all I've got left. One week. Good gravy, how my mind is spinning now! So much to do which means I should jump off this computer tout de suite! Pardon me while I run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Happy Tuesday!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Pelican is Coming

My dear sweet grandmother is making a giant move from Lubbock, TX to Dallas to be closer to her family! For the past three years she's been in and out of an assisted living facilities and her own home so she finally made the decision to be in a settled place closer to her family.

I'm thrilled to have her here! It will be nice to be able to visit her in her new little home, stop by and enjoy a glass of tea or a cup of coffee with her, and even have her partake in some of our family meals and holidays. As excited as I am for Grandma to be closer, I am going to miss her little house.

See, her house is a special place to me as it is for all four of her kids, their spouses, and the other six grandchildren. I know everyone in the family has their own special memory her green and white house and this weekend as we move Grandma's things out and into her new home, it will be a tad bit bitter sweet to say goodbye to the house that has been apart of the history in my mother's family.

My grandmother is such a neat lady--I know everyone can say that about their grandparents and perhaps I'm a bit biased, but I truly think she's one of a kind. Born in south Louisiana, she grew up along the bayou on the Koulee Kinney, a branch in the Vermilion Bayou. That's right, we're some ragin' cajuns is what we are! At least on Mom's side.

When she got older her daddy gave her two options for a career: be a nurse or be a teacher. He didn't want her looking at naked bodies so she became a teacher and a dang good one at that. She retired as the ripe age of 70 after teaching over 39 years, mainly working with first graders.

When Grandpa got a job teaching at Texas Tech, they packed up their family and moved to Lubbock. The joke in the family is that Grandma started crying when the hit the cap rock! This house is where she's stayed the last 48 years of her life. It's hard to believe we're going to be saying goodbye to it here pretty soon. I have to remember though that home is where the heart is. Still and all, I'm sure she's feeling a little nervous about picking up her life she's made there and coming down here.

In the past few years I haven't been able to visit like I would have wanted. For some reason though, on a mother's day trip to Lubbock back before my sophomore year in college, I decided for some reason or another to take a few pictures of Grandma's house. I'm so glad I did, too, because I can't find any others from the few times I've been back. I spent some time this morning flipping through them and thinking through past visits to Grandma's house.

Grandma's house is pretty special just like I'm sure you, dear reader, have a relative's special house you love to visit. I can see myself now pulling into her tiny drive, trying to miss the poor pecan tree that's been run over about eight times. I can see myself popping out of the car and into the hot summer Lubbock air, just feels like I walked into an oven. I race across the grass, past the white rod iron decorative columns and onto her concrete front porch. I throw open the screen and push through that heavy hunter green front door and step into her living room.

Everything is in place just as it has been since I was a kid. The giant comfy chair is next to the front door although it's different, Grandpa's chair has long since been gone. There's the John Wayne statue still sitting on the floor like always. Her dining room is bright from the summer sun and she has music out of her special piano.

If I keep walking through I can enter her tiny kitchen. The room is the one I associate with the smell of Grandma's house and that's because of the gas stove--I love that thing. I have one in my apartment and I think of Grandma every time I use it. I can hear her turning on the gas with the tick, tick, tick of the ignitor before the light catches. She's got built in cabinets in her walls that hold spices and packages of jello pudding. Grandma once told me she liked to open packages of jello mix and sneak a taste when she was a kid. I think about that every time I see a box.

On her washer she has the mechanical Coke can that dances when you play music. Of course you can hear the radio from the garage that's playing some of her favorite oldies. There's the painted wine glass sitting on her counter top filled with coins to take for bread money. Big sister and I used to take a few quarters and walk down to the gas station on the corner of her street, Preston's, for summer time treats. It's been closed for a few years now.

Her kitchen window looks out of her backyard that's in full bloom with gorgeous roses and foliage like you wouldn't believe. Even though he's been gone a while, I can see Thor, her German shepherd, chasing a ball around the backyard. If I walk out the back door, I'd can see her barbeque pit going and the picnic table just on the other side. Most trips we'd come in in time for burgers or something with part of my family. Aunt D out there ready to visit with us and commiserate with me about getting eaten up by mosquitoes. Uncle B would be there in his wranglers with his white cowboy hat and hopefully a barrel full of their homemade rocky road. I can see their daughter, my cousin, as the freckled face kid running around in the backyard. It's crazy to me that she's already a young woman.

There is a path of stones that lead up to a swing that's covered in a vines. Every morning during our stay I'd wake up and head straight for the swing where Grandma would be in her caftan with the brilliant blue peacocks and the gold trim. She'd have a coffee cup in hand and the newspaper spread out on the wooden coffee table. I'd call dibs on the comics (still do) and we spend the time reading and visiting on that swing, just enjoying the morning.

Her house is the house my mother grew up in. Her house is where my sister and I built our "Kids Club" around of her clothes line. Her house is where I learned to make pain perdu ("Lost Bread" or French Toast). Her house has the beautiful backyard with the hidden swing and apricot tree I love to pick. It's given some wonderful memories to me and I hope to everyone else who has even been there. It's sad to say goodbye, but now we have the opportunity to make some new memories with Grandma here. I know we can make this next home for her just as loving and warm as she made her home for us.

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