Monday, January 31, 2011


So today was my first full day back in NYC for classes, and as I walked down the sidewalks in 20 degree weather, hurdling snowbanks to get to buses and wondering if my earmuffs were too brightly colored, I realized something amazing.

It felt wonderful to be back in Connecticut. I love my family more than anything else in the world. I already miss my cats. But I quickly realized that the feeling deep inside of me, and the warmth that made me not care how cold my fingers were or whether my eyeballs were freezing, was a pure happiness I have not felt in a long time, or ever realized I was feeling. I could only describe it as being a puzzle piece and having finally slipped into the correct place. This city, with all of its madness and stress and noise and grime, is truly where my heart belongs. It felt so good to just be alive and young and going about a new routine, walking the streets I know so well. It's good to be home.

I had my first voice lesson of the semester today, which was interesting because it was the first intense vocal session I've had since my surgery. Doc says I can sing and dance, so I'm gonna try. Nora said I sounded very good, and that sometimes a break from singing is actually a good thing. My resonance is still there, I still have to work on breathing (but that's not a surprise, I suck at proper breathing), and I can sing for short periods of time without it bothering my ear too much. The resonance in my head did end up being a lot at once for my ear, so we called it quits a little early and grabbed coffee across the street.

No matter how much I want to jump right back in, I need to make sure I take the time to fully heal and let my body readjust to the way it has been fixed. As small as it is, it is still a brand new part of me (Gentleman, we can rebuild her. We have the technology...), and I still have to get used to how I'm hearing and how my eardrum works while it's still repairing itself. Eventually I won't even be able to tell it was ever damaged, but for now, my body's focus is healing my ear and adjusting until it is repaired. So I'm going to take it easy with vocalizing, along with dance. The heart rate speeding up and pounding blood through my head and ear might be a lot while it's healing, so I'll do as much as I feel comfortable with. It should be so much better by next week, and I don't want to unnecessarily damage it or hinder the healing process.

I also had my first Contemporary American Playwrights class, which has the potential to be one of the best courses I have ever taken in college. My professor is Steven Drukman, the epitome of excellent teacher. He's extremely intelligent, extremely articulate, extremely interesting, and creative and funny. Aside from the subject matter being very interesting to me, he conducts the class and the discussions and lecture in such an accessible way. Incredible teacher. I'd heard great things about him, and now I understand why.

Tomorrow starts up studio again, and I'm thrilled and anxious. How will my ear affect these classes? Have I forgotten everything? How behind am I? Can I fulfill my own personal goals of excelling? I have a positive feeling, now that I'm back, I just want to be able to maintain it. But I know I have an incredible support system among my classmates and professors and family and friends, so let's give 2011 another shot and a better start than I've had so far. :)

Sending everyone following the Spotlight all my love from the Big Apple! Muah!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Art

Momentary musing of the day.

What is it that draws people to theatre? What is it about live performance, or mimicry, or images of life, or that ineffable aspect of the stage that makes people sit and watch other humans enact representations of something for 2 hours?

This is probably the same kind of question as "What is art?" or "Why?" but it stopped me today and made me wonder.

My dearest friend just bought us tickets to see Next to Normal on tour, and this will be my third time seeing the show. I never thought I'd be one of those people to see a show more than once, or twice at most, but there is something that draws me to this one that I cannot get enough of. Particularly Alice Ripley, and then I ask "what does she have that is so compelling onstage? Why would I pay exorbitant amounts of money to have her bring me to tears again and again?"

The very nature of what I do eludes me. The "why" behind it all. I know there is no solid answer - but it certainly is moving to reach inward and find out what about this art form is so inescapable and alluring.

What makes non-actors return again and again? What catharsis do they get, what does it give?

I come back because part of me feels I literally have no choice.

In other news, classes begin tomorrow and I'm so frustrated that I'm still at home. But that was what my last post was about.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Surgery was a success - some subdermal tissue has now been reformed into my eardrum, and as exciting as the prospect of a healed hearing apparatus is, there is a long road in front of me.

I'm staying at home for an extra week to heal and hopefully get the worst of this behind me. My ear does hurt quite a bit, and I'm of the suspicion that my hardcore pain meds are making me nauseous. Either that or the antibiotics are affecting my stomach unpleasantly. It's hard to eat because moving my jaw too much makes my ear hurt more. As much as I want to go back to NYC, as much as it breaks my heart that I can't start my classes with my friends on time, I know that this is ultimately the best thing for me right now.

Even when I do go back, I won't be able to dance for a few weeks, and singing will also be too strenuous on the muscles of my jaw and face to risk it while healing. It's incredibly sad knowing that I'm so limited, but I can only hope that I have a speedy recovery and that I'll be back before too long.

So I lounge on the couch, trying to relax and let myself heal without getting too upset in the meanwhile. I've got lots of love, and hopefully lots of stuff to keep me occupied. I might stop into the city just to put some of my stuff in my room and meet my roommate.

I'm going to cuddle with my ginormous stuffed dog and eat a muffin. Comfort at its finest.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blizzard Benedict

Blizzard Benedict has assaulted the east coast, and, with the five foot snowdrifts created by the plow, I'm creating a snow dragon in my driveway. Hooray for winter and all its loveliness.

This super fun snow has also locked me into my house, since most of town is shut down and the roads are awful. NYC is much better than before, however, so one I get back to the Big Apple things should be just fine. Cold, but fine. I have two pairs of earmuffs. I am prepared.

Update on my poor tympanic membrane; after a few doctor visits, the damage has been determined and the fix has been scheduled. When I was younger I had a buttload (scientific unit of measurement, there) of ear infections, and my eardrum did perforate a tiny bit at one point due to infection. Because of that, there was a weakened point on the membrane, unknown to me, and somehow when I got water in my ear the other night the pressure shift must have been just too much and blew in about 25% of my ear drum. I've lost some hearing in the lower registers, but hopefully it will all be fixed.

Monday I'm having a tympanoplasty, which is very minor surgery, but the recovery period required will make dorm living very difficult for a while. It's not really a big deal, kind of routine surgery, in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't make me feel too much better. I'm nervous, I won't lie. I'm very worried about how I'm going to get along at school, since I'm out of shape as it is and now I'm also slightly broken.

I'll leave you with an article I post without comment. Merely something to observe about the world of international theatre. Hedda Gabler banned in Tehran. Click to read.

Much love from the Harlequin.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Relaxing Bath Turned Nightmare

Everything's a tad muffled and sore right now. I'm contemplating a career with one ear, and how I'll have to start making shifts and adjust to impaired hearing. In a business about perfection, I can only hope that this can be fixed perfectly.

Somehow perforated my eardrum in my right ear. There is a nice gaping hole in the membrane that allows me to listen and interpret music and notes and tones and intervals and words and lyrics and cues and simple conversation.

Mine's about that size. Cleaner looking, but there is for sure a large hole where there should be a sweet little delicate tympanic membrane. I'm getting an appointment with an ENT soon so they can tell me what has to happen next. Surgery, perhaps, to rebuild what I unintentionally broke.

As a performer so engaged in the auditory, I might be overreacting just from fear right now but I'm so scared. I've always been afraid of hurting myself in a way that would seriously compromise what I want to do with my life, and I never imagined it would be my ears. I always imagined having a permanent limp, or somehow destroying my face, or losing an arm, something physical and cosmetically a problem for casting directors. This is just going to inhibit my ability to hear the music or hear a line, or hear myself sing. No big deal. I'm really scared.

On a separate note, I've been reading Don't Be Nice, Be Real and it is extremely interesting. It's counterintuitive sometimes, but it's very, very interesting. If you're into self-discovery and unconventional answers, give it a peek.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everybody Get Out of New York (Or Don't)

First thoughts for 2011? A tribute to my darling new home, New York.

Check it. It's disturbingly accurate and quite funny.

Got an email from the one and only Ken Schatz the other day, asking me about life and school and thanking me for spreading the word about his acting classes and his workshops. Because I do. :) I figure that anyone who cares about their art should at least get a taste of Ken and the amazing stuff he teaches. He also reminded me that I am welcome at his open houses and that he will be happy to give me one free hour of one-on-one time at any point. I do miss him very much. My Tisch teachers are phenomenal, and Ken is on par with every single one of them.