measure your life in love

The Tony Award winning musical Rent is more than just music, dancing, and a cool set. It is an inspirational story of love, friendship and redemption, of following dreams and dreaming of a better day. Whenever I see it, which is as often as possible and over ten times now, my heart beats up in my throat.  Tears flow from the first guitar strum of “One Song Glory” and don’t stop rollin’ until I am sitting in my car after the show.  The music, the lyrics, the characters and their struggles strike a cord in me that is profound and visceral.  And when I watch the actors on stage, feeling their joy spill out into the dark theatre, watching their souls soar as they sing, it fills a void in me.  It lifts me up.  It inspires me.  It makes me smile.

When I first saw it, over 11 years ago, I had been going through a proverbial Valley of Life.  I was mending a broken heart from the year prior (I roll my eyes now in retrospect — I wish I had just read “He’s Just Not That Into You” and been done with it!), I was overweight, drinking a lot, and wallowing in a sea of 2:00am carne asada burritos and beer goggles.  I was desperate for a change, for a light, for a kick in the pants.  Rent was all of those things, and more.

One night, way back in the summer of 1997, my dear friend and fellow thespian/theatre geek, Mike, invited me to a preview of the new hit, controversial musical Rent at the La Jolla Playouse.  I had heard of it from a friend who had seen it on Broadway, and I knew I just had to go.  We had 5th row seats.  We could see their sweat, tears and black nail polish.  I was mesmerized.  They had me at “Rent.”

The show rocked my world.  I was weeping (surprised?), laughing and bursting from the inside out.  I wanted to run up on the stage, hug the actors, ask them to be my best friends, do a little dance and feel the spotlight on my face.  I had not been on a stage for at least 4 years.  I did not realize how much I missed it until that night.

After the show that night I learned of the tragic story surrounding the death of the show’s creator, Jonathan Larson.  He had been a struggling actor, writer, director, waiting tables in New York and he finally landed it big time.  His little-musical-that-could,was headed for Broadway.  After the final dress rehearsal, on the eve of his dreams coming true, he died of an aortic aneurism.  He did not live to see opening day, or any of the gazillion accolades the show went on to achieve over the past 12 years.  Poetic injustice.  Irony to the nth degree. A reminder to enjoy every moment and follow your dreams.  Proof that there is “No Day But Today.”

I went home that night and wrote in my journal for 4 hours straight, scribbling feverishly through my tears.  But the tears were joyful tears, full of hope and new beginnings. Within a week I had seen the show three more times and was enrolled in acting classes.  I had lost a few pounds and found my self-respect.  I had, without realizing it, stopped thinking about the j-e-r-k who had dumped me.   The void I had been feeling was in fact not caused by him. I had been missing myself.  Ding, dong. It was an epiphany. It was powerful.  It was awesome. 

So when I say I love Rent, I mean I LOVE Rent.  I really think it changed the course of my life.  It inspired me to act on my dreams.  To get out of my head and into my life.  To measure my life in love, not loss.  Though I have put the acting thing on hold for the time being, I know I will get back to that part of my life, that dream, when the time is right.  At the moment I am happier than I have ever been playing the role of mommy with my girls as my audience (isn’t it usually the other way around?).

I am writing this post tonight because the Rent Live Broadway Filming DVD came out last week and guess who had a date night last night with her hubby, La Crema Chardonnay, and her dvd player?  (whoa Readers, whoa…this is a family blog).  All of my emotions from 11.5 years ago came flooding back.  It inspired me yet again, this time to keep pushing ahead on my book project. And it re-ignited my idea to turn the book into a play, utilizing the amazing stories I am compiling as the basis for the characters. That way, I can get back to the stage, where my heart beats like wild and my soul sees forever. Stay tuned for that chapter.

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Tonight I am thankful for Jonathan Larson, his inspiration and his light.

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Idol Opener Re-Cap

Here is my real-time, blow-by-blow re-cap of the American Idol Season 8 Premiere.

First of all – OMG – I’m so excited this is about to start!

Okay, I’m crying in the opening flashback sequence – not at Sanjaya and the crazed, blubbering teenie bopper, but at Elliot’s mom in the car and the “Happy Mother’s Day” Sign (she passed away from cancer last year).

Is that shot of the Grand Canyon real?  Holy Crap!

I’m wondering if I’m going to like the new chick..she’s cute and qualified but…standby for a verdict…

I’m already over the first guy with the cliche fro…NEXT!

Emily – Ohh Barracuda – love her and so does Simon – Paula calls top 5 – But I’m not sure I can deal with looking at the ear plugs all season.  That tats and the piercings I can handle but I just don’t get the walnut sized lobes.  Yes, I’m getting old.

What’s with the crying guy?  Hey, Guns n’ Rivers, take your doo rag and your drama and take a hike.

Is that Joaquin Phoenix from “To Die For”?  Is he about to puke?  He’s totally green and sweaty.  Yikes.

Arianna – 16 year old – Adopt a GrandFriend from San Diego pioneer – cute as a button and a community organizer to boot.

Elijah – oh dear – Barry White meets Forrest Gump meets Old Man River meets Lenny…”Tell me again about the rabbits George”

Lea Marie – She’s a self-proclaimed Hillary Duff and Madonna sound alike – Really?  How about Little Orphan Annie meets Mary Catherine Gallagher.  Keep at the song writing sister, but lose the pink and the wink, please.

Stevie Right – Where was she at my wedding 8 years ago?  She could have sung my first dance song.  Love her.

Tough Guy Michael Sarver from the oil rigs rockin’ the Boyz 2 Men – Welcome to Hollywood Babay!

Bikini Idol – Two words, which are not “Brazilian” or “Wax”… How about “Ratings” and “Whatever!”

Brianna – Simon’s best line of the night – “You murdered me with that” after she sang “Killing Me Softly” – Simon I love you.  Brianna, I  like, not love, you.

Deanna –  Blond with a southern accent – LOVE her, could be my favorite of the night.

Horror flick guy – is that voice really coming out of you?  You remind me too much of Sanjaya in a howl at the moon sort of way.

Alex Wagner – Is this Napoleon Dynamite or maybe an American Savant?  But wait, he can SANG girlfriend!  Whoa!  Do we have another Clay Aiken on our hands?

I really can’t stand these montages of bad singers croaking out the same tune.   Wanted: the producers who think these montages are a good idea: Dead or Alive.

Scott McIntyre – The tears are back, the floodgates are open.  Whoosh.   “And So It Goes”, a voice like buttah, and an inspirational story to make me vow to never complain about how hard life is ever again.  Life is not about how many obstacles you have but rather about how you decide to overcome them.  This guy has tenacity and grace.   And I LOVE that he is wearing a “Mind the Gap” tee.

Verdict on the new chick – LOVE her! Hopefully she’ll stop trying to prove herself next week and just settle in.  She’s full of witty, sometimes biting comments to match Simon’s yappy barking.  Not to downplay Simon’s bark, which I happen to love.  This show’s success is based partially on his rude yet entirely accurate remarks.  Glad she’s on board and sooooo freakin’ glad the show is back.

That’s a wrap on tonight’s re-cap.  Not sure how many times I can do this since I really need to be in asleep but I’m just really that excited.

“Ooh whoa whoa”

papa can you hear me?

Well the Season premier of The Bachelor did not disappoint.  Even though we’ve seen it all before – one good looking guy, twenty-five catty, drunk gals in questionable low cut dresses and an amalgam of poem reading, awkward conversations, back stabbing, cat fighting, moment stealing, and streams of crocodile “oh i just know he’s the one” tears – it’s still an entertaining train wreck that I can’t get enough of.  Jason, the Bachelor, is a cutie with a kid so this season all the women are putting their ovaries on the table and talking about kids right out of the gate. Some have kids and some don’t.  Some have brains and some don’t.  Who cares, really?  It’s good tv.

And though I love my mindless, trashy tv, my favorite television event of the entire year, even more than the Oscars, Emmys and the AI/SYTYCD finales, is the annual Kennedy Center Honors that airs every year in the end of December.  It is an awards show in which 5 various legends from the arts & entertainment field are honored by various celebrities through spoken word, song, dance and video montage.

Why I love the show:

  • They still use the opening and closing credit sequence graphics from the 1970’s
  • The speakers use hand-held cue cards rather than teleprompters
  • The clever selection of presenters and performers who pay tribute to each honoree
  • Watching the President and First Lady groove along to the music in the balcony (Well Clinton grooved, Bush, not so much.  Can’t wait to see Barack & Michelle up there next year)
  • The selection of honorees, who are always truly inspirational and legendary – I always feel like I can conquer the world when it is over
  • It always makes me cry!

This years honorees included Morgan Freeman, Twyla Tharp (I considered naming my second daughter Twyla after her), Roger Daltrey+Pete Townshend, George Jones, and the one and only Barbra Streisand.  All of them are inspiring legends in their own right, but Babs…she is a true icon.  She has paved the way for so many women in the entertainment industry and has set records that people only dream to achieve.  And her voice…like buttah.

And I didn’t know her father passed away when she was a little girl. Maybe I should follow her example, dream big and ask her to contribute to the book project. Hmmmm….  She dedicated her performance in Yentil to him…”Papa can you hear me…?” I actually used to make fun of that song.  Now that I know the meaning behind it, it still makes me giggle, but I find it quite touching.

Watching the show is a fantastic way to end one year and bring on a new one.  It inspires, motivates and challenges the viewers to dream big, go for the gusto and persevere through any barriers that might arise along the way.  Take Morgan Freeman, for example, one of this year’s honorees.  He didn’t get his big break until he was 50 years old. Now that is some perseverance and dedication.

The illustrious Queen Latifah was one of the presenters for Babs.  During her speech, QL quoted the Funny Girl herself…

“If it comes from the heart, it goes to the heart.”

I’m going to hang on to that one.

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tis the season

I’m back, did you miss me?  I missed posting but boy did I have a great weekend!

GREAT DATE NIGHT:

When we arrived to the sushi restaurant, Masuo’s, the hostess asked, “Is the back room okay?” with a sideways grimace that made me think, “Oh great, a dingy back room with no windows and no ambiance.  Not what I wanted for a rare, once in a blue-moon date night, but okay.”  But then…we reached the “back room” and my reservations turned to relief then rapture. The dark, dingy back room turned out to be a cozy, majestic bungalow, with twinkly lights, chill reggae music and a partially enclosed ceiling providing a not too cold, fresh air feeling.  And rather than boring, uncomfortable standard restaurant chairs, we were seated at an uber-comfy, oversized black leather sofa with a small 2’x 2′ bamboo table for our food…sweet!  It was the perfect setting for our first date night since Lexi was born six months ago (we’ve had other nights out but they have all been with other people).   And everything was delish, the wine, the sushi and the company.

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GREAT MOM MOMENT:

Singing Silent Night with the family at the Del Mar Tree Lighting tonight.  If you have seen “One True Thing” with Renee Z and Meryl Streep you know why this made me well up.   I can’t sing Silent Night without choking up, partly because of my Dad and partly because of that movie.  Standing with my kids and hubby, all bundled up in our winter wear that gets worn a mere five times a year, singing Christmas carols…it was one of those precious moments that I wanted to have etched in my memory forever.

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GREAT BIG LAUGH:

The Digital Short with Andy Samberg (and cameo by JT) on SNL.  In fact, the entire episode was hilarious.  One of the best in years, next to JT’s hosting gig two years ago.  Enjoy this clip!  (Warning – for mature audiences only)

This weekend I am thankful for twinkly lights, Christmas Lights, and the light bulbs in Andy Samberg’s brain when he comes up with such perversely hilarious song ideas.

shetland ponytails

Okay so I’m back, already.  After watching last night’s Amazing Race episode I felt compelled to write a short post about the top 3 couples.  Plus I realized that I don’t have any posts in my Reality TV category so I need to remedy that.

SPOILER ALERT!  If you are a fan of the show but haven’t seen last night’s episode then don’t read on til you have.

First of all, I am soooo bummed that cutie patootie Dallas and his mom are gone.  I LOVE them.  And how bout the scene at the end when the mom says she’s proud of the man he’s become.  Sniff, sniff.  What a cool experience for a mom and her child to experience together.  It makes me yearn, just a teeny tiny bit, to have a boy.  To have that mom/son thing going on.   Hmmmm….okay. I’m over it.

Enough sensitive crap…on to business…

#3 – Ken & Cougar Barbie Tina – Not a big fan.  I think it’s great they’re working through their issues but, he’s still a cheater…

#2 – Frat Boys – How in the heck are these guys still in it and how are they in second place?  Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re nice guys and great tv, but seriously?  They remind me of Jonah Hill’s character from Superbad and a young Woody Allen, which is probably why I like them.  I actually thought Dan was acting for the camera when he was attempting to march like a soldier last week.  Again, seriously?

#1 – Nick & Starr – Did anyone catch the fact that she doesn’t know what a Shetland Pony is?  But more shocking than that however, was Nick’s reaction.  Or lack of reaction, I should say.  I was surprised, impressed with how he downplayed the fact that she thought the clue was maybe referring to ponytails…I was expecting something like, how could you possibly not know what a Shetland Pony is, you dumb a**.  But I guess that’s why they’re in the lead (and why I could never compete on this show).  They respect each other… on top of being feisty competitors.

Mama Mary is going with Nick & Starr to win it.

And though my Reality TV blogs have been nil…January is around the corner.

The Bachelor – Premiers January 5th (With the cutie dad Jason from The Bachelorette)

American Idol – Premiers January 13th & 14th – OMG!

and although it’s not reality…
Friday Night Lights is coming back to NBC on January 16th.   You can look for a post or two on Coach, that is a promise.

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SYTYCD Live Show Review

To all my fellow SYTYCD followers…Here are my thoughts and photos from the live show the other night.

1) Mary Murphy is beautiful in person (see attached photo) – she was in the audience and posed for photos with fans
2) Twitch and Will (and their abs) are even more AMAZING in person
3) Katee should have WON
4) If you’re a fan of the tv show you must go see the live show- it’s powerful to see them live!
5) Can’t wait til next season

Watching those dancers makes me want to put on my dancing shoes on again.  I’m gonna look into a mommy and me dance class around here.  Stay tuned…