16 & 17: My Summer MUST List

It’s Memorial Weekend here in the states, which for many people (and especially Hollywood), signals the beginning of summer.  Despite the cooler, somewhat dreary weather here in my part of Missouri today, I can’t help thinking about the things that excite me most about summertime.

My Personal Must-List for the Summer

1. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part II  (out July 15) This is my biggest MUST.  Sadly, this summer brings the official end to all things Harry Potter with the last film of the series.  It’s highly emotional for me because I’ve spent more than half my life with Harry.  I graduated from high school the same year the last book came out, and now the last film comes out the summer after I graduate from college.  I’m not sure how it worked out that way, but it’s really beautiful.

2. Super 8 (out June 10) This film, directed by J.J. Abrams and exec-produced by Steven Spielberg, is going to be the film people talk about all summer long.  The plot has been kept extremely secret by everyone involved, but from the trailers, it looks like the Goonies meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The film has an old-school Spielbergian feel.  I’m digging the trailers and the use of mostly no-name actors (save for Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame).  This is a must-see for me.

3. So You Think You Can Dance (Wed & Thurs 8/7c on FOX) I don’t watch a lot of TV in the summer, preferring to hit the movie theatre instead, but my can’t-miss-it-TV-show is So You Think You Can Dance.  I haven’t missed a season since this show started.  As a dancer, I love the way it celebrates all styles of dance, introduces America to some of the world’s best choreographers, and showcases some of the best, hardest working dancers I’ve ever seen.  Not to mention I love host Cat Deeley and judge Mary Murphy.  All aboard the Hot Tamale Train!!!

4. Mad Men season 4 (on DVD) I usually don’t have time to watch this when it actually airs on AMC, and because of lengthy contract negotiations, season 5 is on hold until 2012.  That being said, I’m using this summer to catch up on the fourth season of my favorite TV drama.  Why Jon Hamm hasn’t won an Emmy yet for Best Actor baffles me, and in this season of change both personally and professionally for Don Draper (and his Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad firm), Hamm is at his most superb.  There isn’t a better-written, better-acted, more stylish show on television.  Period.

5. Born This Way by Lady Gaga (available now) I fully admit to being a “Little Monster,” and I am always intrigued and excited to hear and see what Gaga has come up with.  I admire her not only for her musical abilities but also her dedication to her craft.  No other musical artist out there pushes more boundaries.  She is a true performance artist.  Love her or hate her, you can’t deny she has a complete vision for her art.  The track I’m most digging?  The 1980s saxophone-tastic “Edge of Glory” featuring Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band.

6. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (in stores June 14) At age 22, I am not even remotely embarrassed to want to read this fifth entry in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book series.  This book checks in on the fabulous Tibby, Bridget, Carmen, and Lena ten years after the fourth Sisterhood novel.  The Traveling Pants series has always been one of my favorite summer reads over the years, and though this new novel may not exactly be marketed to my age group, I’m still planning on catching up with my girls this summer!

7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (available now) It’s the book series (and future movie series) everyone is talking about.  I figured this summer is the perfect time to investigate this dystopian novel trilogy about a girl forced to fight for her survival.

8. JAWS (available on DVD) Summertime always makes me think of Spielberg movies, and this is one of my all-time favorites.  Everyone knows it’s all about a shark that terrorizes a resort-town, but it still never ceases to thrill and engage me.  And who doesn’t love Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw chasing down the giant killer shark while drunkenly singing not to mention John Williams’ epic score?

9. Raiders of the Lost Ark (available on DVD) My all-time favorite summer movie.  It has everything: action, adventure, romance, mystery, John Williams music, shirtless Harrison Ford, and Steven Spielberg’s masterful eye behind the camera.  The opening sequence with the idol and the rolling stone ball is absolute perfection and STILL one of the best action sequences ever filmed.  Indiana Jones never disappoints.

10. Now & Then (available on DVD) One of my favorite movies growing up in the 1990s.  I still get nostalgic watching this movie about four friends coming of age in the early 70s one summer.  From Roberta’s first kiss with Scott Wormer and Chrissy getting bird poop in her hair to Sam and Teeny’s treehouse confessions, I think anyone will find it hard not to think back on their own adolescence without laughing and maybe a few tears.

15: Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

I have a love/hate relationship with my subconscious, as I think most people do.  My dreams are often interesting and fairly vivid, showing deep, hidden desires.  This is both wonderful and terrible all at the same time, because in dreams, you usually get what you want, but waking up is like a cruel, kick in the stomach.  The realization that what you experienced is not, in fact, real, is beyond disappointing.  Dreams are like drugs, making you feel euphoric.  It becomes an addiction, that feeling.  Reality, in stark contrast, is like shock therapy: jolting your body and brain back into “normalcy.”  It’s bizarre.

Last night, I dreamed about him.  The person I have feelings for.  It’s definitely NOT the first time this has happened, but it’s the first time in a few weeks.  Interestingly enough, I dreamed about him after a very flirtatious text conversation with my temptation.  I don’t know how that happened, but I think it’s a sign.  A similar thing happened before the end of the schoolyear, and I took that as a sign too that as much as I sometimes want to give in to my temptation, I shouldn’t.  I don’t feel the same way about him that I do about the other.

My dream was so vivid and lovely, and I just wanted it to go on forever.  It made me realize how much I miss him and how much I’ve been holding back from him emotionally.  It’s something I’ve been trying work on, being more open with how I feel about things.  It’s actually something he and I have discussed with each other and yet I still haven’t been completely honest with him about how I feel.  Even in my dream, I felt as though I was holding back.  Maybe I have a subconscious block on those emotions?  I don’t know.  All I know is that I have to confront these feelings head on, and I need to tell him how I feel…sooner rather than later.  I want the dream to be real, and that’s the only way to MAKE it real.

14: Confessions

Since my life has basically become a lot of waitressing, going to the gym, sleeping, eating, showering, rinse, repeat, I’ve been trying to think of something more interesting to write about today instead.  If I were in New York City right now, I’d feel just like Carrie Bradshaw, pondering life questions whilst typing on my Macbook late at night.

Anyway, I think it’s time to make things interesting tonight instead of rehashing my mostly uninteresting day (save for the couple of hours Nicole and I hung out, drank, and watched the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance).  So, to make things more interesting, I think I’ll make a few confessions.  Honesty is the best policy, right?


1) Sometimes, I wish I had grown up in a bigger city where I could have taken really intense dance classes.  My skill-set now would be more advanced, and I wouldn’t feel as behind in some areas.  I get these overwhelming pangs of adoration for dance sometimes where all I want to do is just be a dancer, but I know that for as much as I love it and appreciate it, it never completely satisfies my heart and soul the way music and acting do.

2) It weirds me out that I will be 25 years old in a little under 2 ½ years.  While I know that age is not old, I always have thought I’d have so much accomplished in my career by that time, and at age 22, I’ve yet to have my first professional acting gig.  It doesn’t help seeing other people my age working so much in movies (Emma Stone, Anton Yelchin, Daniel Radcliffe, etc) and onstage.  Or someone like Adele, who is also 22, and has already released two incredibly successful albums.  It makes me feel behind, and I don’t like that.  BUT, I have to remind myself that life is not a race; life is a journey, and we all have our own journey to take.

3) I have feelings for someone.  I’ve had feelings for him for almost two years now.  We kind of discussed it around this time last year when we went on a date-that-wasn’t-a-date-but-kind-of-was.  I point-blank asked him if he was interested, and he didn’t confirm nor deny.  In fact, the way he avoided the question led me to believe he too had/has feelings for me.  Things have progressed considerably over the last year.  We’ve both changed a lot as people, and our relationship with each other has never been more comfortable or amiable.  But along the way, there have been many moments where things felt beyond friendship.  It makes things very confusing.  In fact, there have been at least two moments I can recall that we looked at each other as though a kiss should have happened.  Our body language with each other suggests an intimate bond, yet neither one of us has made a move.  I think he’s attracted to me, but he is too shy to ever initiate it first.  Now we’re apart, and I think about him all the time.  The problem is that I can’t do anything about it until the next time I see him, and who knows how things will be between us then (in a couple of months)?  I have to believe that if there are feelings there, they will still be there.  Right?

I think that’s enough confessing for one night.  Anything else, and I should probably consult a priest (even though I’m not Catholic in the slightest).

13: Stormy weather

I don’t have much to talk about today except for the weather.  That’s all anyone in Missouri has been able to talk about the last few days.  One simply has to turn on the TV and see the devastation in Joplin to understand why we’re all agog.  More severe weather hit the state this afternoon with several tornadoes touching down around the state.  As a twenty-two year veteran of tornado season, I can tell you, I can’t remember a tornado season being this bad so fast.  It looks like it’s shaping up to be one of the worst in recent memory.

Sirens started going off early this afternoon: the kind of sirens you hear in movies signaling an apocalypse or alien invasion.  I’m used to this sound; I’ve heard it my whole life during the spring and early summer.  While I’m used to it, sometimes (especially lately given what’s happened in Joplin) it still makes me a little unsettled like something even worse than a tornado is coming.  Even so, my dad and I didn’t take cover since nothing had been spotted around our area, and it was just pouring down rain.  Thankfully, the rain ended in a few minutes time, and the skies cleared up.

Seeing all the destruction in Joplin is just so heartbreaking.  Hearing the stories of people who lost family members and friends not to mention their houses just makes me so sad.  The damage is estimated to be in the billions of dollars and rebuilding everything will take years.  It really puts things into perspective.  Some people lost everything and yet I worry about telling a guy that I like him or what songs to put in my audition book.  It makes all of that seem unimportant and trivial.

Love.  Charity.  Family.  Friendship.  These are important things; things that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  We never should miss an opportunity to tell people we love them.  Carpe diem.  You never know what the weather and LIFE will throw at you.

12: Old Habits Die Hard

We all have habits, good and bad, that we fall into whether it involves behavior, exercise, relationships, or anything in between.  Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own habits and the habits of others; not just habits I need to break but also ones I need to keep or start.

Habit to Keep:  Going to the gym

I used to loathe going to the gym just as recently as two or three years ago.  I couldn’t stand the idea of being in a room with a bunch of machines to keep me in shape, having to run and possibly be judged by other gym-goers.  Looking back on it, I think I was just being lazy.  I finally caved and started hitting the gym regularly this past year, and you know what?  I actually like it.  It feels good to sweat out everything, like I’m erasing all the crap I’ve put my body through.  It actually makes me feel more focused too.  More than anything, I like the way I feel afterwards: energized and more fit.

I hit the gym this morning pretty hard, hoping to put myself through my paces after a weekend where I felt I ate a lot of crap (it was delicious, but unhealthy).  I walked out drenched in my own sweat, and I didn’t even care.  I felt better instantly, and there’s nothing like instant gratification to keep me on track.

Habit to Keep:  Dancing and dining with my BFF Nicole

My BFF Nicole and I met up today to go over my choreography for her tap auditions, and it was like old times: dancing together, laughing, and working out ideas for choreography.  She and I have been close friends and dance class partners since we were five.  Somehow, we’ve managed to stay super close all these years even when we were at schools in different states.

Anyway, inevitably we also wind up going to Jalisco’s, our local Mexican restaurant, for food.  I’m not sure why we always wind up there, but it’s become our “thing.”  It doesn’t feel like I’m truly home for the summer until she and I have gone there together.  Tonight, we started talking about people from high school: who’s engaged, who’s pregnant, who’s still around.  We both get annoyed by how those people’s habits never seem to change; they’re still stuck in the prejudices and preconceived ideas they had in high school.  Our five year high school reunions are next year, and we both laughed at the idea of going, especially since no one has changed enough for there to be anything to laugh at or be sad about.  Maybe I’ll go to the ten year reunion, but frankly, I’m more interested in where my career is going.

Habit to Break:  Eating crap while at home

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we do better about eating healthy at my house, but not as healthy as I eat when I’m not living in my house here.  I can’t be eating pizza or things covered in cream sauces and butter.  I can’t have bacon (something I truly LOVE) every weekend.  I shouldn’t eat ice cream every night after dinner no matter how much I crave it.

Habit to Start:  Eating healthier

I have to try to make my family understand that I actually need to eat more vegetables and vegan options in order to shed some extra weight, tone up more, and just FEEL better in general.  I also need to drink more water to hydrate and flush out my system.

I’m not sure where my relationships fall within these categories, but that’s something I’ll save for another post another day.  For now, I think I’m going to go drink some water.  God knows I sweat out plenty of liquids today.  Gotta replenish.

11: The Day After

Yesterday was supposed to be the end of the world.  As if me writing this doesn’t confirm it already, we’re all still here.  Nothing happened.  There were no earthquakes; no burning rain of death.  In fact, the sun shone brightly all day here yesterday without a cloud in the sky.  On such a beautiful day, it’s hard to even fathom the thought of anything bad happening, let alone the end of the world.  So yesterday passed without a single event of any importance, and when I woke up this morning, I felt more refreshed than ever.

Makes me feel both amused and also sad for those poor people who spent all that money on such a ridiculous cause and its leader, but this isn’t the first time in history a bunch of people have been duped into believing such egregious things (see Hitler and Charles Manson among others…not that I’m comparing Harold Camping to either of those men.)

I slept late today after working such a long shift yesterday at the winery, on my feet for a solid eight hours running around the restaurant.  It felt nice to just lie in bed this morning staring at the ceiling.  I actually do most of my best thinking just staring blankly at my stark white bedroom ceiling.

Anyway, after my mother made a lovely brunch (homemade biscuits with jam, scrambled eggs, and bacon…yum!), I received a call from the winery informing me I could have the day off since it looked like rain, and they had enough people.  Instead of doing something semi-productive like cleaning out my room and closets (a task I STILL am kind of avoiding, and I’m sure this avoidance probably has a psychological reason I’m not paying someone to figure out for me), I spent the better part of my day watching season four of Mad Men with my parents.  We wound up watching eight out of the thirteen episodes.  It’s just such a fantastic piece of television: the writing, the design, the acting.  I would kill to work on a project like that.  It really inspires me when I watch it.  I think about how lucky Jon Hamm (a fellow Missourian!) was to land that project.  It was really his big break, and he’s just incredible to watch.  As a young actor, I learn so much from just watching, especially with this show, and seeing those actors make discoveries and change beats and tactics.  Every episode is like taking an acting class.

In other news, I feel fat today.  I know I need to stop obsessing about my weight and image, but every time I put a piece of pizza in my mouth or eat even a bite of dark chocolate, I feel guilty.  When did that happen?  It’s like I can feel the calories adding onto my body and weighing me down.  That’s probably a really unhealthy mental thing, but that’s how I feel now, especially at home.  We eat better here than we used to, but I still feel this pressure to eat more and the meals are not always as balanced as they should be.  I know my mother just wants to make sure I’m taken care of (she’s like Molly Weasley), but I don’t want or need to eat everything on my plate, and I don’t think she or my dad understand how much my eating habits have kind of changed the last year or so.

(Sigh)  It’s just something I’m going to have to communicate to them better, especially when summer means lots of barbecue (which I love, but I just don’t eat a lot of meat anymore) and sweets like pie (which I also love).  The Broadway Body does not just happen on its own overnight, you know?

Enough body talk.

Maybe I just need an Old Fashioned like Don Draper drinks on Mad Men.  After all, the world didn’t end.  I’m entitled to a celebratory drink, don’t you think?

10: Dancing ‘Til the World Ends

Obviously since it’s past 6 pm on every coast of the United States, and we’re still here, the predicted “rapture” did NOT happen.  However, I’ll still dance til the world ends if Britney Spears asks me to join her.

In lieu of going to the gym on Friday, I decided to change up my schedule and head to the dance studio.  My friend Nicole teaches classes at a local dance studio and asked me to choreograph a tap audition combination for her older girls because in her words, “tap is not my forte.”  I’ll admit I was a little bored with my usual elliptical/treadmill/abs workout this week, so dancing and choreographing sounded completely appetizing to my body and brain.

Though I had a specific project to work on, I also decided to fool around with some modern/contemporary choreography too just because.  After a nice warm-up of stretches, cardio, and abs, I put on some music and just started playing around with some steps.  It felt so wonderful to just dance how I wanted to dance without someone telling me what to do in some specific style.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed choreographing and dancing for myself until yesterday afternoon.  Choreography is really something I love putting together, because it challenges my brain and my body to do something different and interesting.

After fooling around a little bit for myself, I threw on my tap shoes and put some music on.  I wasn’t sure what exactly I was looking for with the audition piece for Nicole, so I tried freestyling to several different things from Lady Gaga to Motown to Cyndi Lauper.  Finally, I put on Christina Aguilera’s song “Candyman” from her Back to Basics album (one of my all-time FAVORITES).  It’s very 1940s with a great beat.  Almost immediately, steps started clicking into place, and within a matter of 20 minutes, I had mapped out a short, fast combo for Nicole’s students.  It just goes to show how the right piece of music can really inspire the choreography.

Later in the evening, I wolfed down quite a bit of Mexican food with my family and some family friends, topping it off with four margaritas (well, two JUMBO ones, which are actually the equivalent of four smaller margs).  I got a little tipsy and started texting my best friend, Hassan, in Tulsa.  The banter was fast, furious, and funny, and thanks to the alcohol I had consumed, I started getting a little sad at the absence of his presence by my side (because we always wind up drunk together).  After I went to see Bridesmaids, which was totally hilarious, we texted until nearly 2 am: me from my bed and him from a drag club.  The fact I wasn’t with him at the drag show, the kind of place we frequented weekly together for the past two years, made me a little sad.  When he texted, “Well, when you come to visit, we will have to come back here and bask in the glory of this trashy mess,” I laughed, but it was tinged with sadness because it will be at least two to three more weeks before I see him.  We haven’t been apart this long since Christmas break, and it’s weird.  We saw each other every single day at school, and now to be apart again just feels unnatural.

Ah well.  Such is life, I suppose.  There are worse things that could happen…like the end of the world.

But I’m not too worried about that.  hahaha.