Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birthday Fun and More

Mom and I had a great time in the city. We saw Gypsy with Patti LuPone Saturday night. Wow, what an actress. I love the moments when I'm at the theater and I get a chill up my spine. More like a chill up the neck and behind the ears and then...gone. I wait for that moment. It's when the actor and the music, or the set, or the lights, come together at just the right moment, and this indescribable...thing...happens. What you see is real. Not imaginary, but real. Real life. But better. More powerful. Magic. Patti LuPone made magic on Saturday night.

We had tea at Alice's Teacup. The best scones around. Not me and Patti LuPone. Me and my mom.

We had dinner at Taboon, where my mom couldn't help but tell the waiter it was my birthday, and the waiter couldn't help but put a candle on our chocolate lava cake but to my relief, refrained from singing, and the table next to us couldn't help but start singing anyway, and then the whole restaurant was singing, and then my mom yelled out, "Her name's Amber!"..."Happy BIRthday dear...AMBER!" they all sang, and I couldn't help but bury my face in my hands, and then the old man with shoulder length grey hair came to our table and toasted my youth and my mom for spending it with me, said "his poetry tonight was my youth," (woah - pretty deep stuff there), then he couldn't help but assure me youth doesn't last. Bright smiles. Big toast. Thank you's.

Youth doesn't last.

Thank you for reminding me, dear old man.

I joke about it, but really, is that a necessary reminder?

We shopped at the local thrift stores. I'm telling you, you can score big in these parts.

I got a new pair of running shoes (not at the thrift stores but at the DSW in Union Square) so I no longer have an excuse for not running the park. Ugh. I'm doing it, but I hate running. I'd much rather take a dance class, but wow, it's expensive. My last pair of running shoes lasted me about 8 years. No lie! Obviously, I didn't run in them much.

We killed a roach the size of my big toe - with Pledge and Seth's shoe. The only roach I've EVER seen in this apartment. With Pledge because I didn't have any Raid and it was the quickest solution. It worked! Slowed him down enough for mom to smash him with Seth's shoe while I stood on the couch barefoot. I don't smush roaches. I just can't. I hate that crackling noise when the shoe hits at just the right place.

And my stairwell smells like an animal crawled up the wall somewhere and died. Either that or someone in one of these apartment's is dead and nobody knows it. Creepy. The smell is disgusting. Not in my apartment, thank God, but definitely in the stairwell.

Gross.

Thanks Mom, for a fun-filled (roach and all) birthday weekend. Love you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

29 Years Old


My birthday's tomorrow.

29 years old.

I think I'd rather turn 30.

29 seems blah.

Very depressing.

My mom's here for my birthday, so I'm a bit distracted from the blogosphere, which is always nice once and a while.

Seth's out of town for my birthday, but I'm TOTALLY fine with that because it actually means I can stay 28 for a few days longer. I don't REALLY turn 29 until I celebrate with him.

I made that rule up.

I like it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

American Idol: Memories

OK, as a singer and a theater lover, I have strong feelings about this performance. I'm wondering, before I smear my opinions all over the place, what you thought (or think). Both Randy and Simon didn't like it. Paula, of course, did. You all know the song. Barbara Streisand. Cats. Andrew Lloyd Webber. Whether you watched the show on Tuesday night or not, I'd love to know if you like what you hear or not, and why. Then I'll smear my opinion all over the place. While certainly respecting yours. Cool? Here it is.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Positive Post Tuesday - My friend, Audrey

I have a friend whose name is Audrey. Audrey's 10. Audrey played Chip in the production I was in of Beauty and the Beast in Houston. She's currently singing as a member of the children's chorus in La Boheme at Houston Grand Opera. A professional singer-actress at the age of 10. Wow!

Audrey is my email buddy. She calls it BIFF: Best Internet Friends Forever. She keeps me posted on her life. What's going on at school and what's going on with her "career." She's got boys that won't leave her alone at school, and it really annoys her. I don't blame her or the boys. She's a very pretty girl. And boys get sort of stupid when it comes to pretty girls. But I agree with Audrey. They should leave her alone.

The first time I saw Audrey on stage, she was 7, I think. In Oliver. She was the smallest little tyke up there, but she absolutely glowed. I couldn't stop watching her. She was practically trampled by the other, bigger kids on stage who were dancing like theater-crazed maniacs all around her. But Audrey's smile and the twinkle in her eye were mesmerizing. I knew right then that the stage was where she belonged.

I admire Audrey for that twinkle in her eye. It's there off stage, too. She has the ability to look at every circumstance like it's a gift, and she's just glad she's a part of it. She takes nothing for granted, but delights in the smallest bits of what life offers.

I admire Audrey for her obedience to Christ, and her faith in prayer. When one certain boy wouldn't stop bothering her at school, Audrey (though, of course, very frustrated and annoyed) prayed for him. She said that God would fix him, but that God should fix her first so that she could have the right attitude to pray for him.

Here's what Audrey said after that:

"It is very amazing what miracles God can do. I feel very fortunate to have a great God like I do."

I hope for the faith, love, and fortitude that I see in Audrey. I hope for that ever-so-bright, fear-be-afraid, twinkle in my eye, that unknowingly dares the dead to rise, awakens the worried to a Father's presence, and demands the fearful to face the unknown.

Love ya, girl!

BIFF

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Back to Catholicism

I'm about ready to get back to those Catholic blogs-slash-discussions-slash-questions-slash-readings.

Ya know, the Pope being in town and all.

I thought his visit was extremely positive. I sure like that guy. I admit, I was sad to see him board his plane and leave the United States of America. I even got a little teary eyed. Which I thought strange, but nevertheless, true. I don't know why I got teary eyed. Maybe hormones? Or maybe it was the look on his face and the way he smiled at people. He seems so stone cold until he smiles and then there's such a light and joy and gentleness and humility.

Pope Benedict had a little something to say about illusion. I thought it relevant to our recent discussion and my recent thoughts. Here it is in his address to the U.S. Bishops:

"For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises in the age to come (cf. Mk 10:30). People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with “Christ Jesus, our hope” (1 Tim 1:1)."



If you're interested in past Catholic discussions on this blog, go here first.  Then here.  Then here.  Then here.  And lastly, here, which is ironic because the title of that one is "Beginnings."  Ahhhh well.  All in good time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Question

Is success an illusion?

(I'm really asking.)

I said in an earlier post that success was an illusion. I'm not sure that's right.

Do you think success is an illusion?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Letter to the Man One Floor Higher

Dear Man Who Lives Above Us,

How do you do? My name's FancyPants. How are you liking your place up there? Too bad you don't have a deck like us. But I bet your place is great. We love ours.

I hope you're not bothered by our late night movie watching habit. We're night owls, you see. We're trying to be careful and keep the volume down. It's the least we can do. Don't you agree?

If I could make a request, Man Who Lives Above Us. We have a vent in our bathroom that leads to outside. I'm sure it's some city rule or something. But you see, somehow, because of that vent, I can hear you when you're in your bathroom. I hear when you turn your shower on. I hear when you flush your toilet. I hear when you yell at your wife or friend or partner or whoever. But most disturbing to me,

I hear you fart. And it really grosses me out.

So do you think you could fart a little quieter? I mean, it's the least you could do. Don't you agree?

Thank you, Man Who Lives Above Us, for understanding. Best of luck in this crazy city we call home.

Sincerely,

FancyPants

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Behind the Black and White Dress

If I were to be completely honest with you, I would tell you how, when I was at that fancy shmancy party on Saturday night, I hated walking around by myself. That I felt ridiculous and out of place. That I kept noting how my dress seemed a little tighter, and kept wondering if my purse was too big. It didn't match my outfit.

How I wanted to be the one on that stage, and how when I watched Kristen, a looming sense of doom crept deeper and deeper within my spirit. Thoughts like, I'll never get there. I'm not that good. Am I that good? How did she get there?

I might seem really bad to you, if I tell you all of this. But then again, to some Christians, I was already really bad because, every once and a while, I enjoy a good martini.

And then, some of you will know exactly what I'm talking about. Some of you know what it's like to walk amongst pictures of what you're not, and have *something* tell you that you don't have it and won't get it. Something tell you, lie to you, that it will make you happy. Lies of comparison and envy.

So maybe by me saying all of this we can help each other realize that comparison bites and should be thrown straight to hell. That success is an illusion, that money doesn't make us happy.

Some people believe that pursuing a dream is selfish, self-fulfilling, self-pleasing, especially if this dream is found *in* the world. When in fact, that pursuit requires perpetual self denial, diligent cross bearing, insistent battle with temptation. Specific temptation tailored just perfectly for the targeted soul, exposed and vulnerable. Things are not always what they seem.

P.S. To my good friend, Kathy, if you're reading, please don't stop inviting me when you get to do Kristen's hair. These thoughts in this post are merely one side of the coin. I am honored I was your guest and next time, I'm making myself talk to Aaron Sorkin.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Schmooze City

Well, fancied friends, I have once and for all been introduced to High Class USA. A night of shmooze is what I attended last night. All for a good cause, mind you. But shmooze, none the less.

My friend invited me as a guest to a benefit for ACD research: a cocktail party with hor d’oeuvers and specialty drinks, a silent and live auction, after party lounge with champagne and desert, and drum roll please, a concert by Kristen Chenoweth. You can imagine my glee when my friend texted me and asked me to attend. Kristen Chenoweth?!?! Oh boy. My friend (who does my hair) was doing Kristen's hair for the event. So I texted back Yes! and she said they'd email me an invitation.

I never received an email invitation, so yesterday I called my friend to get the details and to tell her I didn't receive the invitation. She said they'd send it, but she didn't really believe that they would. Lo and behold, at around 4 PM, I checked my email and what did I find? An invitation attached to an email which read,

Our apologies Amber. We thought you had this information..

You are confirmed for 1 seat for the show. The attached document will give you any information you need. Otherise, please email....

Thanks! We look forward to seeing you tonight!


...Well! Thank you! I graciously accept your apology! I look forward to seeing you tonight, whoever you might be.

And then I realized. I don't really know what ACD is, and if I'm attending a benefit for ACD research I better know what it is, right? So I googled, "What is ACD?" , and here's what I found:

"ACD stands for Automatic Call Distribution. It is a service that enables a call to be placed on hold until an employee is available to take the call."

Surely not. Surely I'm not attending a benefit for telephone technology? So I looked again and found this:

"What is a CD? We are all familiar with a CD, but what exactly is it?"

Hmmm. Not very helpful.

The invitation also said "Broadway concert cocktail attire a must." Ohhhh-kaaaay. Broadway cocktail? What the heck does that mean? I asked my friend, and she didn't know either. I searched my closet and found a black and white dress, or I could go with a red dress.... Geesh. Which one should it be? Seth finally said the red dress might look like I was trying real hard to draw attention to myself, so I went with the black and white dress. It was an excellent choice. I would have looked like the last burning flame amongst the ashes in that red dress. Thank God I didn't wear it.

My friend had to be at the benefit hours early to get Kristin ready, so I arrived alone. In fact, I spent a good bit of the evening alone surrounded by very shmoozy people. I didn't know what to do, except just walk around or stand at the bar. Once I perused the silent auction table and pretended like I had a lot of money. That was fun.... Once I sat next to a woman who looked nice and started talking to her. She was a doctor, and then I found out what ACD was. It's a respiratory disease that babies are born with. Their lungs don't operate properly, and they usually die within 2 months from suffocating.

OK, so not a telephone technology benefit. That was confirmed.

These people were at the party.

Actor Bradley Whitford

Writer/Producer Aaron Sorkin

I didn't talk to those guys.

Actor NiCole Robinson

I talked to her but I think I called her Amy. Dang it.

And finally, the lovely, Kristin Chenoweth.

Who is the epitome of effervescent joy on stage, and wow, what a singer.


I took a picture with Kristen and got her autograph. I told her she was lovely. She told me I looked lovely. I told her the story of how I met some of her relatives on a plane ride to Tulsa, OK. She said she had lots of relatives and had no idea who I was talking about.

I think we could be great friends.

Thank you, Kathy, for a wonderful night!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Oprah: For the last time!

I don't really know how to effectively blog on this subject because to give it the fairest listen possible, we'd be listening for HOURS. And I'm personally getting tired of talking about Oprah on this blog. For some reason it keeps happening. Maybe it's because I have more time on my hands these days, and to be honest, I enjoy her show.

Oprah is leading an online class on Eckhart Tolle's novel, A New Earth. I haven't read the book. I've watched about 45 minutes of the first class online at Oprah.com, to see what all the rigmarole is all about. For me it is a tiresome hour and a half, a little man saying what we already know in obscure but lofty language, giving his keys to spiritual awareness and growth, quoting Jesus as an inspired teacher but not much more than that.

Some of it seems like it could be helpful. Some of it seems very dangerous. I wanted to highlight one part, because I think Christian women (and men, but I know most of you men out there could give a rat's buttooee about Oprah) should be informed, and I also have a question. For women and men.

I'll give a summary of this question posed by a Catholic reader/viewer to Oprah, and then Oprah's answer. But you can listen to it here. Just click on Chapter One and then go to about 21 minutes into the video: (Please do go listen if you have the time.)

Kelly: I'm a Catholic. My husband is Catholic and we've decided to raise our children Catholic. Tolle's book, A New Earth, is opening my eyes to a new way of thinking and form of spirituality that doesn't align with the teaching of Christianity. How do you, Oprah, reconcile this spiritual teaching with your Christian beliefs?

Oprah: Because of my experiences at a Baptist Church in my twenties, I have since opened my mind about the absolute indescribable hugeness of that which we call God. In my journey I began to search for something other than doctrine. I believe Jesus came to show us a Christ consciousness...to show us the way it's done...to show us principals and laws to know that way...in my belief, even as a Christian, I don't believe Jesus came to start Christianity. I am a free thinking Christian and believe other paths lead to God than just Christianity.

Again, please listen to her actual response if you can.

First of all, what does that mean..."I don't believe Jesus came to start Christianity"....huh? I'm seriously asking what she might mean by that. Trying to understand where exactly she's coming from here. Christ consciousness. What do you think that means?

Jesus commands us not to judge one another. When Oprah calls herself a Christian, and then describes Christianity in such an unorthodox way, should a Christian warn others that's she's not a Christian, and is in fact, a false teacher? Is that casting judgement? Is she a false teacher? Is she a Christian? Do I have a right to decide whether or not she's a Christian? What is our Christian responsibility here? Where is the line between judgement and discernment?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Untitled

No words, no words, the poet says.
For viewing the visions in blurred form
leaves naught to the keys of inspired thought.
What verse can be made in this shadow, hazed light
When men are waiting, waiting, waiting
Through the near skeptic's eye,
Save only this breath of life and word
I am here.
I am Yours.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Vampire Lestat

I'm reading The Vampire Lestat. Ever read it? I've never read a vampire novel before because, well, they're about vampires! I think I remember Amy saying she really likes vampire novels. My husband is into them. Really he's just into Anne Rice. But he loves any kind of vampire movie. Interview with the Vampire. Van Helsing. Bram Stroker's Dracula.

So we've had these Anne Rice books sitting on our shelf for a while.

Last week I took Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway to an audition to read while I waited...and waited...and waited... And man, was it BORING! I saw the movie, The Hours. It's supposed to be a modern take to this book. But geesh! I mean, reading the book is like decoding a puzzle, the sentences are so convoluted and complicated. And the big deal about Mrs. Dalloway is supposed to be that the author could find something worth telling in the normal going-about-it of one day. Then why tell it in such a complicated way?

I like Hawthorne. I like Steinbeck. I like Charlotte Bronte. I even like Dickens on a good day. They don't write like Hemingway or anything.

But the people around me in my audition room were so much more interesting than deciphering page 2 that I couldn't stop watching them. And people-watching in the audition room's gotta stop. I just get irritated.

So The Vampire Lestat, it is. And woah, am I liking it. It's good! (The drinking blood parts are pretty gross, but so far there hasn't been too much of that.) I'll let you know how it goes. I'm on Part II.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Positive Post Tuesday: My husband

I try to avoid too much sap on the ole' blog here. Mostly because it's just kinda embarrassing, like blog PDA or something. But get ready for a sap explosion, because that's what you're about to get.

Today is Positive Post Tuesday. I'm choosing to lift up my husband.

He never ceases to amaze me. Seth is not one easily understood. A number of paradoxes coincide that make up his existence, and when I think I've got him figured out, I'm left scratching my head and wondering where "that" came from. A few examples come to mind:

When I married him I knew he was a creative genius. I knew he was the most inventive, interesting, and intriguing composer I had ever met, and I knew the songs he wrote were more beautiful and honest than anything I could remember. I had no idea he could write a novel, that he even wanted to write a novel. (Not really a paradox. More like a... surprise.) And now I know that in a matter of time he will be a published novelist. Because he's that good. I even have a hunch he'll be a famous novelist.

When I married him I knew he loved God. He could explain Romans 8 to me, and that's saying something. But I had no idea he could curse like a sailor...and somehow it doesn't sound vulgar.

When I married him I knew he was right-brained. Of course, at the time, I had no idea how many times I would find myself on a mission for his keys. But, he hates more than anything to be late.

It's hard to say why you love someone. I love my husband for the way his eyes light up at the mention of Star Wars. For his absolute delight in making a ham and cheese omelette. For the hope that is inside of him. Sometimes I think I love him because of how much he loves me. He has taught me what true love is. He is the reason I am singing, acting, dancing. He believes in me and allows me the chance. He believes in me more than I believe in myself. Without him, I would be less than what I am.

I thank God for bringing this man into my life, through whom I am eternally changed.