Tuesday, February 23, 2010
As Oscar night leers closer and closer, anticipation and buzz about potential winners grows and grows. While the Best Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress awards are all but decided, the Best Actress category still remains a mystery, a three way race (well, technically five-way) between Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, and Carey Mulligan. After this week's viewings of The Last Station and The Blind Side, I can now accurately weigh in on this female contest. Looking at the nominees, we have old pros Helen Mirren and Streep, lauded in previous years and no longer in need of affirmation, as well as newbies Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe, new faces to the American public in their breakthrough performances. And then there's Sandra Bullock. A longtime movie star, noted for big blockbuster hits (of which The Blind Side is also one), her roles have mostly been centered in the areas of comedy and action (think Speed, Miss Congeniality, and this summer's The Proposal). She lies somewhere between an unknown (this is her first nomination after all) and a bonafide star (with box office receipts to prove it). However, let us not forget her ensemble part in Crash, Best Picture a few years back, where she played Brendan Frasier's uptight, racist wife (a reversal of this year's coifed blond socialite) and was actually quite good. An Oscar would seem to recognize her important place and staying power over the last twenty years, but these awards are meant to herald creative ingenuity, not box office appeal. While I am a big Helen Mirren fan, The Last Station seems in a part a courtesy nomination, based more on her laurels than an exceptional film. Sure, she is fun and captivating in the film (as she always is), but even her star power cannot fix what is a pretty clunky movie. Chronicling Tolstoy's last days, Mirren plays his saucy, lusty wife, the Countess Sofya. While most of the movie posters have featured images of Mirren and Christopher Plummer (who plays Tolstoy, also nominated in Best Supporting Actor category) bloodily starring into each other's eyes, it should really be one of Mirren and Paul Giamatti, who plays the zealot Vladimir Chertkov, a staunch follower of Tolstoy who may have intentions of his own. The fillm's conflict mostly centers around their struggle over Tolstoy's estate, one wanting his works to remain in the family (hers), the other seeking to place them in the public domain. Mirren wears a lot of beautiful clothes, cackles, and throws several fits, but I would not put her as the frontrunner in this year's race. Gabourney Sidibe, who plays the title character in Precious, has impressed and astounded the movie circuit with her surprising trip to stardom and relative poise and bubbly personality, so much the opposite of the character she played. I really enjoyed this film (see its November blog entry) and certainly admire her work in the movie, I don't think she has much of a chance in this category. Much of the buzz around Precious has circled around Mo'Nique, an almost shoe-in for Best Supporting Actress, an award she well deserves for a part she completely embodied. As the film's main pivotal character, Mo'Nique tore through her scenes and dominated when onscreen. As the movie's central character, we see a lot of things happen to Precious, but not a lot of action necessarily on her part. The Oscars tend to like women of action (i.e. Erin Brokovitch, Norma Rae, Mary Poppins or even this year's Blind Side and Julie & Julia). Not to mention, the Academy has only awarded Best Actress to one other woman of color: Halle Berry in Monster's Ball. It took an enormous amount of press and buzz for Ms. Berry to secure that award; Ms. Sidibe has not been so lavished. Though I admire her work and that film very much, I wouldn't put her down in this year's Oscar pool. That leaves Ms. Mulligan, Ms. Streep, and Ms. Bullock. While Streep and Bullock each took Golden Globes in their respective categories (one for Musical/Comedy, one for Drama), Bullock's Blind Side outfoxed Streep's culinary character at the Screen Actor's Guild Awards. And while Ms. Mulligan has received a lot of good press and turned in a really wonderful performance, I think her Oscar race has run of steam, lacking both the star power of her two main contenders and any of the major pre-Oscar awards (if the awards were held in London instead of Hollywood, her chances would be much different). So that leaves Streep or Bullock, Julie & Julia or The Blind Side, a battle of the housewives. Both are big stars, both are big films (The Blind Side has already done well over $100 million, while Julie & Julia came close to that number), while both deserve the award, neither "needs" it. For Ms. Bullock, it would be a cherry on top of what has been a career-best year and affirm her as a true movie star and yes, even an actress. For Streep, it would be her first Oscar in more than 25 years, though she holds more nominations that any other actress, living or deceased. An award for Streep would be a culmination of her huge body of work and truthfully would let the Academy off the hook until she wins her lifetime achievement award. So, while Ms. Bullock's story (and not to mention Ms. Sidibe and Ms. Mulligan's) is intriguing and inspiring, I think the Academy will finally give Ms. Streep her second Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Hollywood royalty triumphing over the unknown (as in last year's Best Actor race). I must say, this year has been filled with an exceptional amount of quality films, strewn with wonderful performances, may we be so lucky next year. For now, there are no sure bets, we will all have to tune in on March 7. May the best woman win!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Yesterday, I treated myself to another movie showing. As there were no auditions for me to go to and no other theatrical pursuits on my to-do list, I decided to tick off another film on my Must-See-Before-Oscar-Night List (I have until March 7). Today's selection was Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges, the favorite to win Best Actor this year (sorry Colin Firth and A Single Man). The movie chronicles the over-the-hill years of country singer 'Bad Blake,' an amalgam of Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr. and other senior country music stars. Given to booze (hence today's title), smoking, women, and bad behavior, Blake finds himself touring the Southwest in his broken down Buick, playing bowling alleys and piano bars, a road show of one. The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as a local reporter, whose ho-hum interview quickly turns into a stormy romance. Colin Farrell (yes, the Irish one) plays the Tim McGraw-looking country superstar Tommy Sweet. The movie lives in a world of open roads, warm sun, cold beer, and finding trouble with the boys. I though it was excellently acted, especially Mr. Bridges (I'm betting he wins), singing all his own material, embodying this folksy Falstaff, while still playing the reality of the character. He comes off as a little brash, but mostly charming, equally adept at knocking back McClure's as he is at making biscuits. Again, I found myself in tears by film's end, both from the movie's subject matter, as well as the very familiar chords it struck in my heart. The movie had me thinking of my dad a lot (there is a scene, with the wonderful Robert Duvall, in a small fishing boat after all). At the moment, all I really wanted to do was drink Coors Light, listen to Willie Nelson, and go fishing with my family - what's happening to me? I keep thinking of the deep sea fishing trip we took before sending Jessica off to college and how very glad I am that we went. The many burly, country men had me thinking of my family, especially the Boiles side, and how much my sister always loved those big, gruff looking men (I always seemed to gravitate towards the women and the kitchen - they had pie). Whether it was at a Swine Club meeting or at Gene Hollar's barn, my sister always had these tough guys wrapped around her little finger. It's strange (and wonderful), I found myself sitting in that movie theater, longing for country music, fried fish, and somewhere west of here; how wonderful it would be to escape my gray city. To put away the cheese plate and Pinot Noir, and enjoy the simple pleasures of a cold beer and good company. In fact, the two movies I saw this week were really reflective of the two parts of my life: one set in the city, the world of academia, the well dressed gentleman, the posh lifestyle; the other set in the country, more concerned with folk, filled country music, funny old men, and getting into trouble; both men, at times terribly lonely and heartbroken. If I could go anywhere right now, it would probably be to go visit my family, though I'd want it to somehow be the movie's hot summer, the 4-H fair, the pond shimmering with sunlight, and the Broad Meadow, green and alive and rustling. For now, I will go there in my heart and mind, drawing strength from that 'backwards' place I come from, the place (and people) I call home.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I have become a Monday kind of person. Definitely a Tuesday kind of person. As I sink deeper and deeper into the world of dining and entertainment, I find my schedule a flip-flop of those around of me. After a long Valentine's Day service and the subsequent after-work drinking, I allowed myself to sleep in late yesterday morning, all the way to noon (Jessica would be so proud). After a little breakfast and my cup of tea (it's become a daily routine for me), I snuck over to the gym for some overdue exercise and stretching. Working up a genuine sweat has become of my favorite simple pleasures, a sign that I'm alive, the warmth flowing through my body, my breathing strong. Everyday I am so thankful for the little pleasures I have the privilege of enjoying: a hot cup of tea, listening to my favorite music on my iPod, a cold martini, a delicious meal, a friend's smile. These are the things that get me through the day; each simple gift a know in the rope that helps me up the mountain. Following the gym, yesterday was mostly spent relaxing at home, doing some cooking and cleaning, catching up on my reading, and meeting a friend for drinks. So far, today has been spent much the same way. I got myself out of bed early, in attempts to go to an audition, only to find no Non-Equity performers would be seen today. Finding myself without a set schedule, I took myself to the giant Times Square AMC to catch a movie. Today's feature was A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford and starring Colin Firth. I just love going to the movies. It's not something that I do often, but I find it such an enjoyable, special experience when I finally make my way into one of those dark rooms. I really enjoyed the movie today. It was well put together, well acted, and all together a very touching story. Watching Mr. Firth struggle through his day in the wake of losing his lover, I both sympathized with his character, understood his pain, and tapped into my own. Death seems such a strange, inevitable but so often unexpected, separating us from loved ones while oftentimes seeing us draw closer to the ones we still have. The movie communicates the characteristics of a single person's life (hence the title), the little routines, the comfort and sting of solitude. Ironically, I found myself in a mostly empty theater this morning (after all, it was a pretty early viewing), and couldn't have been happier. Everyday, I wake up, and I am so thankful for my life, for the good things and the bad, for the chance to experience one more day. Having been here for almost six months, it's hard to believe that this is now the city I call home, the city I have dreamed of so often. How lucky I am that I get to live here, even when it is less than glamorous, that I get the chance to live my dream.
The rest of the day's schedule is mostly To Be Decided, as I will probably venture over to the gym at some point, but then have my evening free. Perhaps another movie or a show, perhaps meeting up with a friend, or staying in and reading. There is another audition I could try to crash. I am sure my kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom would all benefit from some attention. Whatever I do, I am going to choose to enjoy it, embrace it for all that it can be. Today the snow has been falling softly, smoothly, big powdery flakes, and it seems I find myself in a similar mindset, not rushing to be anywhere, but rather floating along in tranquility.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Well, it's been a while, and I thought I would actually sit down and write a legit blog. In looking over my entries over the past few months, I realize how much I have done and seen and written and get a glimpse of what my life in New York is like. I feel more at home here than ever. The city has been good to me and good for me, helping me grow, forcing me to face myself, and challenging me to do better. In the past weeks, its boundless energy, ambition, and beauty has carried me through my time of grieving. I am skipping church today to stay at home, in part, because I worked late last night and work this evening, in part to get some things done at home, and mostly because it is really cold outside, and I just don't have it in me today. Mid-February (how can it be mid-February already?) has found me with a case of the sniffles and lots of snot - gross. My scratchy throat has been tested by the ever-long list of specials each night at work. Speaking of work, we are gearing up for one of our (supposed) biggest days of business tonight: Valentine's Day. I have never been much of a fan of Valentine's Day. Now, perhaps it's because I have never had a designated Valentine to devote an entire day to. An entire day devoted to what? Overspending, overindulging, and high-anxiety over the disastrous potential of a poorly planned February 14th. I find I am indeed in the right business for this ill-meaning holiday. As a denizen of the dining and entertainment world (they're in the same category on your credit card bill), I get to cash in on the sentiments of all those straight, square suckers around me. And at $65/a head plus drinks, I'm sure we are going to get 'em for all they're worth (though I'm sure it will be a beautiful meal and the most enchanting experience). I think it'd be funny to put small inserts of lube and Spanish fly into the guest books tonight, though it is probably not the best idea and undoubtedly declassé (a term that haunts and hangs over my being each day). Alas, I am sure I will be a most proper gentleman and host this evening, wanting nothing but to create a magical experience for all involved. Admittedly, I do derive quite a bit of pleasure from making my customers happy, spite them I may do from time to time. I clearly live in a world outside the powers of Cupid's arrows, as I awoke this morning rested, thinking what a lovely Sunday, not a hint of V-Day in my thoughts (V-day has to be the most depraved abbreviation of a holiday, even worse than X-mas. it makes me think of venereal disease infected veterans - disgusting!). I could ask myself, "Why is this?" or feel sorry that I have no supposed-soulmate to spend the day with. However, I find myself being very thankful for the little life I live, a solitary existence all my own, an individual independent and free of mind. While I may not be embarking on a physical/personal relationship at the moment, I find myself deeply wrapped in a very serious commitment: my yearning to perform, my art, my craft, and my deadset desire to have a career on and around the stage. That relationship, perhaps my first love, has brought me to New York City, one of my other great loves. Though I may lack a human companion, these two great powers, the stage and the city, have embraced me and kept me. They get me out of the bed in the morning, and hold me when I am lonely at night. I have been so blessed since I have been here, I have no doubt God is in my favor, and He is taking care of me. So very often nowadays, I look to Him who gives me strength, who has guided me through the storm. This Valentine's also has me yearning for my family. I miss everyone so dearly. My mind travels to Jessica's death more often than perhaps I like, flashbacks of the funeral, the plane ride back, the hospital, keep coming back to me, reliving what will undoubtedly be one of the defining events of my life. As I look over photos of Jessica and her facebook profile, I get a glimpse of the mystery of who my sister was. Her complexities, her beauty, her humor, and her intelligence. It still seems such an unreality for me that she is not coming home again, that I won't see her next time I am in the Broad Meadow. My heart also goes out to all the wonderful friends, the ones I am blessed to be with here in the city and those with whom I have had to maintain more of a text/phone based relationship. Yesterday, I had the most wonderful time brunching with a group IU alum at a hip place called Cafeteria in Chelsea. It was so good to see everyone, to catch up, and indulge in eggs and mimosas (again, drinking before work seems to be the best recipe for a great night in my apron). Who would have thought there was such an IU contingent in New York? I am so thankful that I have still had familiar, loving people around me, even while in this strange city. So, in retrospect, it seems my valentines go out to friends and family, to dreams and far off, fantastic places. This weeks holds more work, more auditions, and attempts to break into the biz. After catching up on a few plays, my reading schedule has returned to classic literature and the Brontë sisters, this time Jane Eyre. After a slow start, I am quite enjoying it, and find myself relating to Jane: the cold, infuriating superiors, less than desirable food (aka family meal), and a yearning for something more. That yearning and hunger has been stronger in me than ever before, that one force which ultimately makes or breaks everyone in this business. Here's to all of us getting lucky today and this week!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
After more than a week's absence, I find myself blogging again. Life has been busy with work, auditioning, reading books/plays, and working out. I feel like I am back to September and where my NYC journey began. Today's huge snow storm finds me back at home, dreading another slow night at work. Nothing of philosophical or creative note comes to mind; I have no particular interesting story. However, one thing that has been on my mind for some time now is health, fitness, and food. Since I have been in New York, I have dropped a few pounds, and I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks with you. Most of them are probably stolen from theToday show, the Internet, or French Women Don't Get Fat (a great read and an admirable lifestyle). Mind you, I am no doctor or dietician, and any weight loss I may be experiencing is mostly due to the abundance of walking and lack of late-night drive-thrus and college bar scene. That in mind, here goes:
1) Water, Water, Water!
Drink to live! Drinking water is the best thing you can do for your body, whether you are trying to lose weight or not. It keeps your system flowing, carrying essential vitamins and nutrients, and flushes out toxins (and sometimes fat!). Drinking water helps you feel fuller throughout the day. It does amazing things for your skin. Water is also naturally calorie free, so consider replacing some of those calorie-loaded sodas, lattes, juices, and cocktails with a big glass of water. Don't like water? Try harder! Get a Brita, buy a large liter bottle every day before work, or try different kinds of sparkling water. For a little pizazz, try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or cucumber. I approach everyday with one mission: drink my 8 glasses of water. And if I am drinking (which I am apt to do), I make sure to have one extra glass of water for each alcoholic beverage I have. Sure this makes me pee a lot, but it helps your body handle happy hour better and leaves you hangover free (well most of the time) come morning. Be sure to add that extra water glass to your next table setting.
2) Get Active!
Move! It's the only way to burn calories and jump start your metabolism. Join a gym, find an exercise you like, try a sports or intramural team. Too busy to commit to 'gym time?' Split up your active hour: take short walks during the day, play with your kids, fold the laundry, vacuum, do the dishes, walk the dog, and take the stairs (your ass especially will thank you for this one). Try yoga, water aerobics, lifting, walking, running, biking, pilates, swimming, dance, it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you get moving. Not only are you burning more calories, but you will rev up your metabolism, making you feel like a fat-burning machine all day. Read that magazine or book on a bike, find ways to sneak in exercise and/or multitask. Take a walk while your kids are at practice/preschool, stretch during the day, if you can, walk to work or school. You don't have to embark on all-or-nothing death marches at the gym, but rather adding any activity is going to help you beat the bulk. And don't forget, Skechers has come out with those new Shape-Ups.
3) Eat Breakfast!
It truly is the most important meal of the day. It jump starts your metabolism and evens you out for the rest of the day. We are meant to eat 3 (or 6 if you are a real health nut) meals a day, not splurge all of our calories at once. Spread out your meals; let yourself get hungry, not starving. This helps maintain a steady blood sugar and fuels you for an entire day.
4) Add a Flourish of Color!
Aim to eat the most colors as possible each day. And I am not talking about snow cones, bubble gum, or cotton candy. A beige, plain plate will leave you feeling blah. A colorful plate not only looks good, but is more than likely going to contain more nutrients and different kinds of food. Experiment with purple potatoes, eggplant, deep leafy greens (my favorite), pink salmon, apricots, blueberries, sweet potato fries, roasted red bell peppers, and tomatoes. Garnish with some salsa or micro greens. If you aim to hit all the colors of the rainbow during the day, you are probably getting all of your essential nutrients and doing well by the food pyramid.
5) Fiber Please!
You've got to get your fiber. Besides, keeping you 'regular,' it helps you feel full, and takes lots of toxins (and sometimes fat!) away from the body. Breakfast is a great place to begin the fiber load. Start the day with a multigrain cereal, homemade oatmeal, or a piece of fresh fruit. Trade out that regular pizza crust for multigrain, white bread for wheat (they even have some brands with Double Fiber or Double Protein), brown rice for white rice, regular pasta for whole wheat, and make sure to serve your potatoes with skins in tact (or serve sweet potatoes). All those 'white' foods add up to white sugar (= bad), a.k.a. empty calories that spike your blood sugar then leave you feeling hungry later. Pack in the veggies and fresh fruits. Fiber helps fill us up, so we don't each as much, and keeps us fuller longer. As a last resort, perhaps go the Metamucil or Fibercon route (though I'd rather get my fiber from real food than a pill).
6) Snack Smarter
You've seen the Emerald Nuts commercial. Afternoon hungry can strike you unawares, and if you are not prepared, your ship is sunk. Replace vending machine purchases and overly processed foods with dried fruits and nuts. These will help you feel fuller longer and actually supply things like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Sure nuts have fat, but their fat comes from plants, not factories or animals. Most nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, pack major antioxidants. Try adding nuts or seeds to your next salad. Create your own trail mixes with your favorite nuts and dried fruits (there's more than just raisins and prunes out their nowadays). Veggie sticks make a wonderful snack. With virtually no calories, you can get those lips a smacking without spoiling your dinner. Pull out a small apple or baggy of grapes. And don't underestimate yogurt. Ask Jamie Lee. Yogurt comes in all varieties, goes great with fruit or granola, and is usually low(ish) in calories and high in nutrients. Its digestive and probiotic properties have also been shown to aid weight loss. The important thing is to find foods you actually like that are at least somewhat good for you. Doritos, cookies, and candy are not going to get the job done.
7) Daily Vitamin
Just pop one in! It helps to guarantee you get all your essential nutrients. There are some vitamins even catered to weight loss, men's/women's health, or with additional herbal supplements. Choice wisely, take often.
8) Become a Wino!
Well, maybe not a wino, but if you are going to drink, drink smarter. Wine, especially red wine, has been toted for its antioxidant power, supposedly lowering the risk of heart disease. Enjoy it as part of your meal, equally important as the things on your plate (and that big glass of water). Opt for dry red and white wines, and if you must, go for light beers and clear spirits. Steer clear of sugary mixers: one margarita can ruin a whole day's good work. Opt for club soda, straight up, on the rocks, or with just a splash of juice and soda (if you think the juices bars are serving you are good for you, think again). Experiment with cooking with wine. It'll make your food taste better and create more satisfying dining experience. And remember, wine is meant to be sipped and savored (it's encouraged to even discuss its flavor, how it makes you feel, etc), not chugged.
9) Veggies, Veggies, Veggies
You have to eat your (fruits and) vegetables! They are your greatest weapon in weight loss! Say you don't like veggies, try again! Experiment with different cooking methods and different types of vegetables. Swap out pepperoni and sausage for veggies on your pizza, fill your omellettes with spinach or mushrooms and peppers instead of cheese and bacon, load up your Chinese order with veggies, and pile them high on your sandwich. When going out to eat, opt for a salad (don't go crazy with the dressing) and a vegetable side dish, instead of potatoes (since you are probably already dominating the bread basket). Roast them, steam them, sauté them, put them into soups and salads. Instead of just settling for mashed potatoes every night, experiment with cauliflower puree, smashed sweet potatoes, or mashed celery root, parsnips, or rutabagas. One of my favorite meals is a good helping of black beans & rice, a side of kale, swiss chard, collard greens, and a glass of red wine. A package of frozen spinach or can of mushrooms (fresh are better of course) can do wonders for a casserole. Veggies are very low in calories, carry huge amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and aid in digestion (they are a good percent water). As long as they are not overburdened with cheese, butter, or dressing, you cannot go wrong with vegetables and not eat too much of them. Hungry for dessert? Experiment with fruit-based desserts. Pears poached in wine are a delicious end to the meal without packing on the calories of a chocolate cake or coconut cream pie.
10) Tea, Tea, We Love Thee!
Although we don't drink much of this baggied beverage in this country (unless it's chilled and highly sugared), tea is an excellent addition to your diet. Coming in a myriad of varieties (black, green, white, herbal, red, darjeeling, oolong) and flavors, tea boasts a plethora of antioxidants and health benefits. Most teas, especially green and black, are loaded with antioxidants, and green tea has been known to boost your metabolism (i.e. help you lose weight). Try to swap out a cup of tea for your morning coffee, or better yet, replace that afternoon soda, juice, latte, or milkshake with a nice cup of tea. Most teas can be enjoyed solo or with a bit of milk and honey, avoiding the huge calorie punched by sugary sodas or creamy lattes. Most teas act as a diuretic and help cleanse your system. For a great way to end the day, try different herbal teas (no caffeine) before bedtime for some peace of mind (getting ample sleep is extremely important in order to lose weight).
Bonus: Take your time.
Breath and Relax. Rome was not built in a day. Instead of focusing on drastic changes, find little things you can do to improve your health. Create time for both eating and exercise. Enjoy and savor your meals. Dinner table conversation is actually good for your waistline! Finding one thing you can change week and actually stick with is worth a hundred you'll never be able to adjust to. And just one more note, though it's been said before: fish and chicken. You can't go wrong (well battered and fried, yes you can), these lean proteins helps you feel full without all the fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol of beef and pork. Especially in the case of fish and shellfish, the ocean provides us with so much variety, there is no need to settle for the same old boring things (you all know how I feel about a good steamed mussel or fresh oyster). Good luck, be brave, and bon apetít!
Monday, February 1, 2010
Since I have been back in the Big Apple, much of my time and focus has been on getting things done. Finishing the run of my show, returning to work, paying bills, picking up headshots, going out on auditions, pushing myself to go to the gym. Some days are filled with exciting things, like new restaurants, movies, family, old friends, or plays. Today, while I was standing in line for a not-so-exciting audition, Brooke Shields walked past me in the hallway. She is taller than me and so skinny! I was equally surprised to see her as I was surprised by the group of 12 year olds (Billy Elliot brats) oooing and ahhing, scrambling to get a picture. I guess some things never change. Others are more concerned with simpler tasks like taking out the trash, washing dishes, visiting the bank, mailing bills, and cleaning my room. Whatever the agenda, it has been important for me to keep somewhat busy each day, both for my own sanity and the satisfying feeling that I have accomplished something that day. Monday, I woke up early, headed into the city, and got lots of errands done around the house before heading to work. Just getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed, and stepping out of the house makes a huge difference. While I had some free time this weekend, I made sure to occupy it somehow. I had a most delicious brunch with my good friend Carrie form IU, a fellow IU graduate that I have neglected to see until now (she does live in Brooklyn you know). Our reunion took place at Essex on the Lower East Side, home to super trendy crowds, long waits, and unlimited mimosas. My manchego macaroni and cheese and chicken sausage hit the spot just right. Earlier that day, I had a failed attempt at going to church. Running late (as usual) and venturing to an unfamiliar part of town, I arrived at the church about fifteen minutes late to find the doors locked. The doors locked! Apparently, they share a building, and this is for security purposes. I guess things are indeed a little different here! (I long for the days when I went to Union Missionary Baptist [read: Black church] in Muncie, and we never started on time) I instead ventured to the nearest Starbucks, calming my nerves in a grande café latte and an attempted private devotional I mostly sat there and cried and listened to songs that remind me of Jessica. Cracking up in public may seem a strange thing to you, but in New York everyone looks a little off, so it's totally fine. I fit in right next to the man clipping coupons, the sleeping man, the babbling man, and the Hassidic Jews. Like I said, I am getting things done, and indeed grieving is one of those that I know awaits me for many days to come. Though it is hard and strange, I am trying to embrace this season of my life, to allow myself to grieve, to feel pain, to be angry, to be completely mad at the world, yet see its beauty all around. I am back to work, back to blogging, my reading, auditioning, and struggling to live the dream (or at least fulfill my own dreams). Who knows what awaits this spring and summer? I am hoping and praying for good things, for something to help with the pain, as well as career opportunities. I could easily be in New York this summer or anywhere in the country, performing summer stock. And who knows when the wind will blow me back to Indiana. For now, I am trying to see the things directly in front of me clearly, praying for prosperity, direction, and protection.