Wednesday, February 27, 2013

E-lim-i-nate the negative

It's a sad truth that no matter how well the rest of your life is going, you feel compelled to complain. I'm going to ignore that urge today and focus on the positive. Good Lord it gets exhausting. I still don't really think of myself as an optimistic person; the majority of my life has been spent feeling sure that something horrible lurked just around the corner and it's only recently that I've tried to ac-cen-tchu-ate the positive. It certainly takes practice and the songs aren't nearly as good. Right now I'm getting kind of tired of keeping the ol' chin up, but I don't want to slip into the Slough of Despond just at the moment, so let's brainstorm.

The weather is lousy...but nice if you're indoors. The grosser weather becomes, the more fun it is to stay indoors with a cup of tea making playlists and doing homework. (Especially when your professors have a sense of humor and put jokes in your exams.) Today I sacrificed breakfast for 15 extra minutes of sleep, so after Chem when I found myself downtown in the disgusting sloppy rain, I went to Woodstar and got a bagel and hot chocolate. They drew a heart out of cream on my hot chocolate, the bagel was delicious (and I think it was homemade), and if I had had a copy of the Times I would have been completely at peace. All around me were folks having late breakfasts: trim older ladies wearing neutral-toned fleece, twentysomething guys with laptops, one or two fellow Smithies, and several people taking their coffee at a leisurely pace over the morning paper. It was very pleasant. I rarely get to people watch in the morning, and in any case people watching at a college isn't very interesting because people have similar things going on and there isn't much to wonder about. I'm far too cheap to frequent coffee shops, but when I do get to one it's a nice change of pace.

Yesterday, a restaurant downtown that's going out of business held a tag sale, and I got a 10" cake pan (no springform, unfortunately--I was so close, but it was already sold.) and a large saucepan that's completely metal and won't melt in the oven! Before you say anything, family: I'm going to enter the Friedman lottery in my senior year, so these purchases are a lot more practical than they seem at the moment. Plus, restaurant-quality kitchenware isn't something you get for $3 every day. In honor of our new purchases, Alice and I are planning a dinner party a few weeks from now (scheduling is tentative). I'm so excited, partly because we haven't had a dinner party since last year's Emily's-going-on-med-leave shindig, and partly because for the first time ever, we don't have any crazy allergies to work around! We can cook whatever we want! More details to follow; I'd hate to give everything away all at once, but suffice it to say that I'm very excited for how it turns out.

Looking ahead, I have a good day before me. Today is ballet class and Dance in the New Millennium, then in the evening I have hours in which to study forever, alone or with my friends or maybe both. Tomorrow I have an exam that I'm bringing my A game for, Leading Ladies dinner, and a run-through of the first half of the show. I get to sing my song and clown around and generally have fun with nice people. It's a great way to end the day.

There we go, I feel much better now. What do you know, this optimism stuff really works!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Hello lovely world! I have had a very long week, despite having the day off today. (Hooray Rally Day!) On Monday I started to feel sort of terrible, and by Tuesday, lo and behold! I had the flu. My friends (but especially Alice) are wonderful and beautiful and took such good care of me, checking in, bringing me food, and just being super nice in general. The fever's gone but I'm still feeling pretty rotten. My friends are all out getting pizza right now, but I'm not sure I could get downtown without collapsing, so I politely declined and am going to bed early. Today in rehearsal, I thought I was feeling better than I really was, so when we learned a dance I did it full-out and promptly felt worse.

Speaking of rehearsal, they're going well! I still can't believe how nice everyone is. Thursdays before rehearsals we have dinner together in Northrop, which is a small, less-frequented dining hall (technically just for residents of the house, but since the cast has several I guess it's chill?), and today was the first one. There were two other ladies there, and they were extremely nice. I quickly got over feeling intimidated and had a great time. Even better, I'm really having fun with the character. Being in Leaf Coneybear's head is awesome: he thinks everything's funny and has his own little world to play around in, even though he knows everything isn't really perfect all the time. It's nice to explore.

I had to miss all my classes on Wednesday because I was too exhausted to move, and now I'm anxious about making up everything I missed in Chemistry. I'm going to speak with my professor tomorrow but it feels like I'm dangling right now. In the lecture I understand everything perfectly, but once I sit down to do my problem sets, I have no idea what to do. It feels like I'm doing everything wrong! I really like/need the class, and it's frustrating to be confused all the time. I think I need to give myself more structure.

Monday, February 11, 2013

New things

I had a red-letter weekend. It started out with a wonderful snowstorm, Bananagrams, chocolate chip cookies and How I Met Your Mother. Then on Saturday, my friends and I went sledding by Paradise Pond. It was frozen solid, but I was still wary of sledding into it. Luckily, that fate was avoided (although Erika gave it a try and wound up in a thicket of bushes). Alice went sledding for the first time, and she wasn't crazy about it, but she tried, so props. After sledding for a while, we walked to the island in the middle of the pond. It had clearly been visited a few times before, as evidenced by various messages scrawled in the snow. I made my mark with "Under Me," but nobody got the joke. Everywhere, people were enjoying winter: there were some people making an ice rink, an older couple snowshoeing on where the path ordinarily lies, cross-country skiers, and Smithies sledding on everything from garbage bags to plastic storage containers. (I like garbage bags; they give you a faster ride with the added perks of distributing your weight and smoothing out the hill.) It was very picturesque.

Yesterday was also an exciting day, but before I describe it, I must admit that I've been holding out on you. I secretly auditioned for the Leading Ladies spring show this week. I decided to do this about a week ago when auditions were first announced, but I decided not to talk about it. I'm a very superstitious person, so partly I didn't want to jinx anything, and I partly wanted to avoid the awkward posts that I made last year when I systematically got rejected from every a capella group for which I auditioned. I figured if I didn't make it in, no one would be the wiser (except for all of my close friends).

The show is 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which I've been in twice before. The first time was in my junior year of high school, and the summer after that I did it again at Unirondack, playing different roles both times. This time I auditioned for the role of Leaf Coneybear, a hippie kid with ADD who's sweet and weird and wears a cape and plays with finger puppets. The first Leaf Coneybear I saw defined the role for me; my best friend, Marty Gartz, lived Leaf. He wore the cape around all the time and carried his finger puppets in his pockets several weeks prior to the show. It helps that Marty is also a very nice and extremely weird person himself, so the part suited him exactly. When I hear the soundtrack to the show, I'm always slightly surprised that it's not his voice on the recordings. I told Marty that I auditioned for the role, and he gave me his blessing. I felt confident. My audition song was "Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear" from the Muppet Show, and I did a bear voice and a sort of awkward little dance. They liked me!

So on Sunday afternoon, I attended callbacks. From 1 to 5 pm, I sang, danced, read, and did improv exercises, trying as hard as I could to be chipper and adorable and just weird enough that I wasn't off-putting. That last part was by far the hardest; I always go overboard when I'm trying too hard to be funny and get just plain weird. Fortunately, everyone else at callbacks was friendly and encouraging, but even that wore me out after a while. The whole thing was exhausting. By 4:30 I was sure I wasn't going to get cast. I was sure I blew it. I left Sage Hall feeling very A Chorus Line.

But I got it!

I'm so excited. Rehearsals start on Thursday, and I'm going to have a great time.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Partying crazy

Starting from 5th grade until graduation, Saturdays meant rehearsals from 1-4. It was really relaxed and fun; we would dance very hard of course, but we also joked and kind of clowned around when we were offstage. In the summer we would creep on the brides getting married at the church across the street and critique all the dresses. A couple times every year, we would have to cancel for one reason or another, and I would be at a loose end all day long. After reading The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright, I had gathered that Saturdays were supposed to be wild times for frolic, but usually it was more fun to be in rehearsal than driving around running errands. 

I still hold Saturdays to a sort of high standard. Maybe I secretly think Saturday night should be a time for crazy partying or something, because I get really excited when thinking about it, but then I don't do anything special. Friday nights are the real occasion for me and my friends. We watch movies and chill out and come down from the week, and it's really nice. Last night we watched Pitch Perfect and Anastasia, which (as usual) gave me a lot of former-Marxist feels that I was commanded to keep to myself. But seriously, in that opening sequence, when the grandmother is going on and on about Imperial Russia's majesty and beauty, who can resist thinking, "while the poor were dying in the streets"? Comedy gold, people. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to see Alison Bechdel and Gloria Steinem speak as part of an archives event about activism. Very exciting stuff. I'm doing all my homework today to free up Sunday for religious services and fangirling.