12.26.2006

year in review

0 comments
Done with school forever. Now what?

Lesson learned after Month One post-college: being unemployed is the WORST thing ever. Although, I now know a large portion of the Friends episodes by heart.

I accept Job Number Three, as a Program Assistant for the Center for Human Development in Pleasant Hill. Deep down, I know this job isn't for me, but compared to the other two offers I received, this opportunity was by far the best.

Enter Lucy, my brand new 2006 Toyota Rav4 and the love of my adolescent life.

Save money, eat less, go to the gym. To provide some variety and keep my sanity, Danielle and I visit Target and Barnes & Noble on a semi-weekly basis. Damn, Antioch is boring.

Despite the eating less and going to the gym, the weight creeps back on. I need to get out of here.

Have you ever been stranded by a snow storm? I have.

I love AiR. I hate AiR. When will this be over?

So I fell. Hard, at that. A year and a half later, reality mixes with fantasy and I can't believe what's happening. But because I am stupid and immature and desperate and naive, I mess it all up in one swoop with my terrible timing and poor choice of words. I let everyone believe I wasn't the one to blame, only because the truth hurts too much. But let it be known for now and ever more: I made the mistake.

AiR Concert: a personal disappointment. AiR Tour: a certifiable nightmare. AiR, Generally: one of the things that will always hold a place in my heart.

I move out of Antioch to live with friends from Cal in Oakland and to combat the rush hour traffic to Pleasant Hill. I hope this is the beginning of something good.

Angelina Malfitano, 12.12.83 ~ 5.30.06

More car accidents, more head trauma, more death. Summer feels like hell.

Fed up with my job, I secretly apply to new ones. I score an interview with Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs for the position of Assistant Public Affairs Representative. According to the job description, I would be paid to do everything I have ever enjoyed doing. Dear Lord, I think I've found my dream job.

Three months later, I'm an ETP employee.

Chocolate, one of my childhood pups, 3.1.93 ~ 8.29.06

Alameda Civic Light Opera's Aida, my first musical, opens to rave reviews on my 22nd birthday.

Since high school, I've wanted to be a singing teacher. Musically directing AiR was one of my life's most fulfilling experiences, and I planned on continuing teaching after I left the group. I didn't think I had what it took to privately teach lessons, so I offered free lessons to a friend who was looking for instruction. From there, things took off, and both my student and my teaching are improving. I can't wait until the day when I can have my own studio.

I am invited to perform in ACLO's 10th Anniversary Show as a featured singer. Small ensemble singing is what I love best. Having your picture in the paper isn't all that bad either.

Resolutions came early this year with the help of the Kaiser Permanente Personal Best initiative. Kaiser encourages employees to achieve their "personal best" by participating in physical activities for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The more often you do so, the more chances you get to win an iPod. Kaiser also hosts rallies and exercise groups once a month to help keep you on track. The 13-week program concludes with a 5K/Half Marathon event in Golden Gate Park on Superbowl Sunday. Thus far, I've lost six pounds in a month. I'm sticking to this.

ACLO hosts its annual Awards Dinner, where Aida takes home 16 of 20 awards, including Best Ensemble and Best Show.

Precious, my other childhood pup, is given up for adoption.

This year, seven people I know got engaged. WTF???

This Christmas signified change. I have officially been classified as an adult by my entire extended family, each of my cousins has grown up and there are no longer any babies, and my parents prepared themselves for their last Christmas in Antioch. In the car on our way to church, my dad said he believed something big would happen next year: perhaps a promotion, an early graduation, or something of that nature. I'm crossing my fingers for our something big.

...

Next year, I resolve to:

  1. get to goal - it's been long enough.
  2. save at least $1000.
  3. consider more permanent living situations for the somewhat distant future.
  4. go on a vacation.
  5. meet new people.
  6. audition for at least one hot shot professional performance job.

Happy 2007!

12.18.2006

somber endings

0 comments
My parents put Precious up for adoption. She had been staying with my grandma so that she could have more face time than she did with my parents, but my grandma is not equipped to care for an ailing dog. She recently injured herself when she didn't notice Precious skidding along beside her. Aside from that, she doesn't have the energy to keep up with her, so she had been keeping Precious confined to certain areas of the house. We've come to realize that she needs more than we can offer her. My dad took her to the animal shelter a few days ago, and he says that from the minute he walked in the door, people were fawning over her. She is great with people and makes a wonderful and loyal companion. And as heartbroken as it makes me feel, I understand that this is what is right. She will be with a family that can provide her with all she needs, and she will do the same for them. Come Christmas, I'm certain she will be gone from our lives forever.

And with her go the last vestiges of my childhood. Everything I once had to remind me of it has since disappeared, moved on, or grown up.

Goodbye 12, goodbye 13. Hello love?

...

2007 can't come soon enough. This year has officially been the worst of my life.

12.13.2006

morals of the story

1 comments
Two good friends and a couple shots of tequila make for an amazing pre-party.

I'm proud of my chickies. They should be too.

I might have gotten over it, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten.

I am officially a groupie. I don't believe he understands the magnitude of my admiration.

Seriously, being on stage is the most incredible feeling in the world. Seriously.

Being not too old and not too young is the perfect place to be.

...

I think I've reached a whole new level of performing. It's called, "bullshitting your way through a gig that isn't yours."

I'm more angry at my non-friends than I am at my actual friends. That's always a good thing.

Things I've learned from being in a sorority: how to network, how to charm, how to handle your alcohol, and how to take care of those who are clueless when it comes to their own limitations.

Please don't pretend like you understand my grief, especially when you admit so from the beginning.

And please don't invade my personal space.

...

That dress is a winner.

Even after 15 years of performing experience, there is still so much more to learn.

I struck gold when I accepted that role.

Despite the fact that this may be fleeting, I believe I have found a genuine group of friends.

...

And as a side note: Happy Birthday, Angelina! Party it up with the angels. We're wishing you all the best down here on Earth.

11.29.2006

life's latest chapters

2 comments
thanksgiving. This past weekend was the first time in a long time that I went home to visit the family. And it was the longest time I had been home since I moved out in May. As expected, the holiday visit was wonderful.

I came home Wednesday evening, just a few hours before my sister. That meant I had dibs on the twin guest bed, which is currently living in my old bedroom. She had to spend her first night home on the family room couch, until my dad and I could fish out the old mattress from the garage. As we went to complete the task the following morning, I noticed that my parents had decided to get a head start on their packing, in preparation for their move sometime within the coming year. A lot of their stuff was in boxes in the garage, and the house was emptier than it had felt in a long time.

Thanksgiving Day was not as over-indulgent as I had feared it would be. I ate just enough and didn't take any leftovers home with me. I slept a little, partially because of the turkey and partially because I was gearing up for Black Friday. My mom, sister, and I shopped from 6:30 in the morning to about 5:30 at night. We got some great deals and finished a good portion of our Christmas shopping. Most importantly, we had an amazing 11 hours together. That hasn't happened lately, so it was nice to have the time for just the three of us. Feeling bad about leaving my dad at home all day - though he was happy to have some peace and quiet - we ate dinner together, something I hardly ever remember us doing when my sister and I were growing up. I guess that as the years move on, you realize there are some things you can't ever take back, but it's always worth a shot.

I spent Saturday looking for a new phone, since my current one is falling apart and I am planning on switching to Verizon from Cingular because of my employee discount. After nabbing a new Motorola Razr, I met up with Danielle for dinner and gossip, as usual. A trip home isn't complete without some time spent with the best friend.

On Sunday, I made a last-minute decision to cancel my singing lesson (more on that later) to spend an extra couple of hours with my family. For the past few years, I've always missed out on decorating for Christmas because of some term paper or exam or something or other. I expressed my intent to decorate my parents' house for what was sure to be their last holiday there. It was as much fun as I could have hoped for, regardless of the fact that my parents opted to skip the fresh Christmas tree this year. I took their four mini fake trees, set up a tree forest of sorts, and themed each tree: red/gold, angels, toys, and Disneyland. Corny, but that's Christmas for you.

Who knew I had so much to be thankful for?

...

moving on. Seeing my parents' house slowly being packed away brought on an unexpected feeling of nostalgia. I never considered their house my house because we had moved there during my senior year of high school, and much of my time since then has been spent outside of and away from the house. But knowing that they would be leaving Antioch, the place that shaped my childhood and adolescence, made me just a little sad. And I realized that their next home wouldn't be my home. I wouldn't have a bedroom there. I'd have to make arrangements to visit. I'd have no place to store all the stupid things I don't want to keep but just can't make myself get rid of. I'd really be on my own.

I'm officially moved out.

...

puppy love. Precious is... well, just that. I've come to love her more and more in her old age. Despite her loss of hearing, she still is as eager as ever. Granted, the change has been hard on her. She has always had a companion since the day she arrived, and she has required more attention since Chocolate's passing. We let her play with us inside the house, despite having raised her as an outside dog. We fawn over her, buy her new doggie confections, and shower her with treats.

But the time I spent at home really showed me how much of a burden she's become on my parents. They are rarely at home, spending most of their days at work, and she needs more attention than they can offer her. Coming to this realization, my family decided it would be best to permanently move her to my grandmother's house. She doesn't leave much, and since she lives alone, the companionship will do them both well. It's a nice and comfortable place for Precious to spend the last part of her life.

For the first time in 12 years, there are no signs of a dog in my family's house. It breaks my heart a little.

...

all work, all play. God, I love my job. There are probably a large handful of people I know who despise me for constantly saying that, but it's true. It's so much fun, I don't even think of it as work most of the time.

My supervisor talked with me briefly the other day about how I've been progressing. She expressed her satisfaction with my work, and that makes me really happy. I'm hoping to stay here for a while, and things are looking good.

I'm currently on the Community Benefit division holiday party planning committee. For the next few weeks, I'll be getting paid to spend a portion of my time planning for the year's biggest party. How great is that?

...

moonlighting. I've just started teaching private vocal lessons, and it has thus far been an incredible experience. I currently have one steady student and another more sporadic one. Both have been progressing exceptionally well, and I am so proud of the work they are doing. I've always enjoyed teaching; when I tutored math in high school and college, it was the greatest feeling to see my students achieve their goals. This, though, is a thousand times better because I'm teaching something I love and feel so passionate about. Not only are my students getting a better grasp on technique and style, but they both seem to be gaining a self-confidence that will surely assist in their stage performance (I have yet to see either of them perform solos on stage, but I will get to very very soon!).

I hope to acquire a few more students in the coming months. It will depend on my availability with work and soon-to-come extracurriculars, but I believe this is something I will continue to pursue. It's sort of like a dream come true, in a smaller kind of way.

...

personal growth and education. McRatha and I just signed up for an introductory conversational Spanish class at Laney College. I'm hoping to acquire new skills for work, particularly because many of the communities we serve are Spanish-speaking. Plus, one of my goals in life is to be bilingual. This is one step towards that aspiration of mine.

I'm also planning on enrolling in an beginning tap dance class at Diablo Valley College. First of all, I want to get some more dance training under my belt. It would really help when auditioning for musicals. I hope to someday get cast in A Chorus Line, one of my all-time favorite musicals, and I need some serious dance training for that. I've got to start somewhere. Secondly, the physical benefits of a two-hour dance class are pretty much amazing.

Speaking of physical benefits, I've finally got back on track with the weight loss and exercise program. Success is surely on its way. Five days after Thanksgiving, and I'm already a few pounds lighter. Go me!

...

significant others. Pshh, as if this is actually happening to me. As of yet, this chapter is unwritten. I suppose it will continue to stay that way for a long time, considering I have limited opportunities to meet guys - straight guys, that is. I've made plenty of new gay boy friends in the past few months. This part of the blog is just to vent, really, because lately, I've wanted to talk about some things regarding my non-existent love life, but I feel like my "problems" are too petty for anyone to want to deal with. Even my best friend (who is currently experiencing the relationship drama of all dramas at the moment). So boo to being stuck in a rut.

And no, I am nowhere near considering online dating. Not even close.

...

end scene.

11.14.2006

fits like a glove

0 comments
Last Thursday, ETP went on an all-company off site to Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero. The scenery was beautiful, and our rooms were so comfortable I think I could have stayed there forever. Most of Thursday was devoted to a team survival trek, which encompassed a handful of survival-style tasks that were dispersed within a square mile area of wild vegetation. We were instructed to complete as many tasks as we could within three hours, with only a few shoddy supplies (tarp, duct tape, a single sock, etc.), a map not drawn to scale, a compass, and our own limited survival skills. Our team was only able to complete three of the six tasks, but damn, we did them well. The first consisted of transporting water from one location to a distant other, using the small stock of supplies we had on hand. With a lot of improvisation and transforming plastic into lining, we managed to bring back enough water to have successfully completed the task. After that, we had to create a compass in two ways: one with just a 3-foot stick and another using a cup, water, wax paper, a needle, and a magnet. After picking our team's random store of knowledge, we actually figured both compasses out and were the only team to successfully do so. Finally, we had to find an injured "rescuer," which was actually a 65-pound dummy, diagnose and attend to his injuries, and evacuate him from the site. All the while, we were hiking through tall grasses, led by dirt trails, and desperately trying to avoid poison oak. One of my team members was wearing a pedometer, and we clocked in about 7 or 8 miles that afternoon. Needless to say, it was an extreme test of intellect, physical ability, and teamwork. So fun, and so exhausting.

Later that evening, after all the showers and food, we had the annual ETP Cabaret, a showcase of employee's talent that extends beyond the usual performing we do at the workplace. Several people did skits, most of which were original and all of which included the humor and topics not entirely appropriate for school-age assemblies. There was some dancing, rapping, musical instrument playing, and singing, of course. I took this opportunity to perform, especially because my personality outside the workplace differs so much from that within the workplace. At work, I'm quiet and diligent, keeping to myself and focusing on the task at hand. I wanted to show people that there was a side of me that was fun, entertaining, and really quite outgoing. As nervous as I was (I still get stage fright after 15 years of performing), I pulled off my song, "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey, really really well. Though, throughout the performance, some of my more inebriated colleagues were cheering rather exuberantly for me, which made me break out in a fit of laughter during the second verse. At least I know they were enjoying it.

Before heading off to bed, a few co-workers and I decided to venture off the grounds and try to find the beach. In the pitch-black dark, led only by two small flashlights, we walked toward the coastline and pondered things such as the beauty of nature and the power of music. It was one of those kind of nights. We never ended up finding the beach; the path we took led us to a cliff overlooking hundreds of rocks and the crashing waves below. Regardless, it was a fitting ending to an incredible day.

The following morning, we did a three-hour time line activity intended to highlight the connections among the different generations of people in our company. It was interesting to see others' interpretation of the world's events and the different effects on people such things can have. Similarly, we had the opportunity to share some of our lives' most significant moments. I learned that I work with some amazing, well-travelled, and adventurous people. I became inspired by people, both in and out of my generation, that had the courage to explore, and often change, the world around them, and it made me happy to know that I was working with people like this - people who could challenge me to take that next big step.

At the end of it all, I came to more firmly believe in something I had known all along: this job truly is a perfect fit for me. I feel so fortunate to have found such an amazing place to begin the adult part of my life. A place that not only incorporates all of my interests, passions, and strengths into one job, but also a place with people I enjoy being around. Sometimes I can't even believe it's real.

I'm happy to say that I love my job. Really, it's amazing!

10.29.2006

past and present

2 comments
It's curious how one weekend can provide so many moments of refreshing clarity.
...

I attended the West Coast A Cappella Showcase on Friday night, mostly to see how AiR was doing. I thought the group was progressing very well. This year, their style and character differs from any of the years I spent with the group, and it was interesting to see how the personalities of this year's group members influenced their overall look. They sounded good for it being their first concert, and I really enjoyed their performance.

On the whole, the Showcase was not as great as I had hoped it would be. Perhaps I'm being overly critical as a former Music Director. Perhaps not. Eh. At least it gave me something to do for the evening.

...

I've always considered the Showcase as a sort of a cappella reunion because so many alumns come out to watch. I ran into many people I had known from the a cappella circut while I was in school, and we all did the usual and requiste "how are you, and what have you been up to lately?" questioning. Hugs were exchanged, both false and genuine, and some broken relationships began to mend themselves.

I wish we could have talked more. Who knows when we'll see each other again?

She's nice, and I hope to run into her again sometime.

Maybe I shouldn't have talked to you. But I'm kind of a push over, and I believe that in time, things will be okay between us.

Remember that thing that happened? Well, it's done, and I'm done dealing with you.

Others, not so much.

...

After Friday night's show, I ventured over to one of the current AiR member's apartments on Southside to hang out with the group for a while. As people discussed the performance, the stresses and joys of being in the group, and college life in general, a comforting realization came over me. Though I still felt detached, it wasn't in that sad or angry way I was feeling earlier in the year. This time around, I am happy and comfortable with the direction my life is going.

I grew up. I guess that means I'm a grown-up now.

...

Last night, I attended a Halloween Party hosted by some of my co-workers at ETP. I debated for a long time whether or not I should attend because it would be on the same night as the West Coast A Cappella Showcase after party, which I had previously planned on going to with AiR. But when the time came to get ready for the evening, I chose to put on my Halloween costume and MapQuest my way to the party in the city. Having spent the previous night with AiR, I didn't feel like recounting my post-collegiate experiences to 50 more people. And though I know many of the people who would be going to the after party, the level of understanding that lies between me and them has shifted, and we have much less to relate to these days.

Circling the block of my co-workers' apartment and searching for parking, I began to feel nervous and question whether or not I had made the right decision. Though many of my co-workers would be there, I had not seen most of them outside of work, let alone in a social environment. I also felt kind of stupid since I had arrived by myself. But then I thought of how much more stupid I would feel if I just went home, considering I spent so much time getting ready and driving all the way out to San Francisco. I parked, sucked it up, and put on my smiley face.

I timidly entered the apartment and was surprised by how many people were excited to see me. I was given a tour and ushered to the refreshments table. As soon as I got settled and explained my Hogwarts student costume (which, tonight, came complete with a bookbag, wand, and two text books - Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), I was pulled into the living room, where my co-workers and I danced, sang, and laughed the next two hours away. I had a blast and a half and congratulated myself on my excellent decision making skills.

10.23.2006

boo bash

1 comments
The Halloween party went well, desipte the complications - housemates MIA, low attendance, broken glass, locked doors. It really was not as bad as it seems. The decorations were stunning (if I say so myself) and a good time was had by all. There isn't much more to say, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.


The decor


Roommates: Me, as a Hogwarts student; Joe, as a Ninja Turtle in disguise; and Ratha, as a goddess


Rosette gives our shots her blessing


Group shot


The entertainment of the evening: Pete, playing DDR in a tutu


Matt, as an Asian Austin Powers (thanks to the fake gross teeth), and me, either slightly intrigued or highly skeptical


Rosette "I'm a 70's Superstar" Diaz, Nathan "It's Not Halloween Unless Someone Dresses in Drag" Rossi, and Michael "This IS My Costume" Pourshalimi


The Pi's: Ratha, Kendra, and me

10.10.2006

in the spirit of the holidays

0 comments
As the weather changes and the air picks up a chill, I can't help but be excited by what the next few weeks will bring. I've always loved holiday season, which for me includes Halloween because, well, it too is a holiday. For the first time in about 5 years, I'll have the opportunity to enjoy Halloween to its fullest. It's repeatedly been dampened by impending midterms or papers. But this year, with no homework in sight, I'll be able to dress up and party like the rest of them. Not that I intend to party, really. Our house will be hosting a party of sorts next weekend, a tad early for Halloween, but I may decide to dress up anyway. Sunday afternoon was spent decorating the apartment - the first time I've ever had the opportunity to decorate a house since I was little (my parents gave up on Halloween years ago, when they decided they were too old and not scary enough to give out candy). Ratha and I plan on getting a pumpkin or two to carve, and I will certainly be handing out sweets on Halloween since we live near three elementary schools.

Just yesterday, I deviated from the usual high-energy pop tunes that I use to accompany my evening workout and opted for Christmas music, which got me just as pumped up as any Kelly Clarkson single could. For me, much like any other person who loves this time of year, the holiday season is equated with long and aimless chats with friends, baking and hot chocolate, TV specials, time spent with the family, and lots and lots of singing. Wonderful diversions to pass the time away.

Along with all the holiday trimmings comes the trimming of everything that comes with the holidays, namely in the form of New Year's Resolutions. And this time around, I'm starting early. Like most people in the world, one spot on my list of things to accomplish is always devoted to the task of losing weight. Last year, I was quite successful, actually, shedding a substantial number of pounds and shrinking down a few dress sizes. However, the outcome was short lived due to a tragic and tumultuous summer that brought back old and unhealthy eating habits. But after seeing photographs after the close of Aida, I was dissatisfied and resolved to start my resolutions early. Granted, I'm not anywhere near where I once was: at a size 14 and on the larger half of the 100s scale, it's a wonder how I managed to maneuver in my 5'5" Pacific Islander frame. At least after having lost a lot of weight and gaining some of it back, it doesn't fill in the way it once did. My body has adjusted to its new form, and I don't look overweight like I did a year and a half ago. Anyway, the photos brought on a reality check, and since then, I've gotten back into the swing of things, which includes more healthy eating habits and sticking to a regular work out schedule. I'm proud to say that I have gone to the gym for the past 9 out of 12 days, and the results, though not grand, are nice. Things are progressing much slower than before, and I suppose that has to do with the fact that I'm used to the regimen. But I feel like this time around, the weight will stay off because I know what works and what doesn't. The ultimate resolution is to reach my weight goal sometime within 2007. And when it does, I plan to mark the occassion with before and after pictures and who knows what else.

All in all, things are good. And come this weekend, they will surely get better - rehearsals with ACLO are starting up again!

10.04.2006

new things, old places

0 comments
I've recently discovered the vast collection of musical theatre soundtracks at the Oakland Public Library, located a short four blocks from my office. In the past two weeks, I have made frequent visits and expanded my own personal knowledge of showtunes. In addition, I received iTunes Music Cards as a birthday gift from our friends upstairs, which have also contributed to my musical collection. I think this marks the newest phase of my performance life quite nicely.

ACLO's Grand Masquerade has been cancelled. Though I was disappointed, I consoled myself with the fact that my weekend could now be devoted to the trip to Lake Tahoe that my best friend had previously insisted I come on with her family. The last time Danielle and I went to Tahoe, we were seniors in high school. It was fantastic then, but now that we're 22, I'm sure we will find many more things to be interested in.

I'll soon be rehearsing for ACLO's 10th Anniversary Show, which plays one night this November. I'm excited to see and work with my newfound friends once again. Aside from ensemble work, I'll be performing as Ronette in a Little Shop of Horrors medley. Yeee, solos! It will be really nice to have something to look forward to, once again, after work, aside from my regular time at the gym. I miss performing, and I've promised myself to jump on every chance I get to do it.

Speaking of work, it's still as great as ever. I participated in my first Parent Night event last week, and it went smoothly. It's fun to be out on the road, touring with the troupe, and meeting the people of the communities we serve. Tomorrow, we're headed to Fresno for my first out-of-town. Supposedly, the school we're at this week is very enthusiastic about the program, and tomorrow's Parent Night is expected to host quite a large audience. I'm not as worried as I think I should be, but I suppose that's a good thing.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and Miss Saigon. Since I've been calling the box office so much about group tickets and show times, I've made friends with the box office manager, who once referred to me as "Kim's sister" and insists that we meet come Saturday. I was more than happy to oblige. In the world of theatre, networking is the way to go.

9.27.2006

same old story, not much to say

2 comments
Now that Aida is done, I've returned to a normal work and play life. Though our evening Parent Night performances for P.E.A.C.E. Signs begin tomorrow, so my weeks will be interrupted by late hours and out-of-town trips. My gym routine has gotten back on track, and my body seems to be very happy about that. I'm starting to give singing lessons this Friday, to a current AiR member, who is willing to tolerate my first try at being a singing teacher in exchange for dinner. I think it'll be okay, and it will give me something to keep my self occupied until I can start regularly rehearsing and performing again, on a full-time hobby kind of basis.

Rehearsals for ACLO's Grand Masquerade have begun, but I don't have my first music rehearsal until next weekend. This is ACLO's first annual fundraiser dinner, and it's pretty high profile. I feel very fortunate to have been invited by our Artistic Director to perform because not everyone gets to participate. I'll be singing two choral pieces - "Masquerade" from The Phantom of the Opera and "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen - and a duet with a fellow Aida cast member - "Lady Marmalade" from Moulin Rouge. We even get our own little dancing entourage for the duet. I'm excited to have the opportunity to continue working with ACLO. I really enjoy the people and have made some great new friends. And everyone is extremely talented.

Other than that, it's been the same old, same old. Cathy's performing as Kim in Miss Saigon once again, and a whole group of us are going to watch her next Saturday. It'll be a nice mini Aida cast reunion. Here are some of my favorite pictures of my cast mates, by the way.


Me and my dressing roommates: (L-R) Judy, Matt, Jaye, and Martha


Virgos! John and me


Alex as Mereb (center), Nick and Mike (L-R) as Nubians


Josh as Zoser, the creepy bad guy, and me


Kelsey, my first ACLO friend, and me


Me and Lisa at the Aida cast party


Spencer and me at the Aida cast party

9.19.2006

p.e.a.c.e. signs

0 comments
The show I'm in charge of booking, P.E.A.C.E. Signs, opened today. It's about four elementary school kids and their student teacher, who uses the Stoplight Model to teach them about conflict resolution and violence prevention. The model encourages the kids to follow five steps in order to make better and healthier decisions when conflict arises: Stop, Feel, Think, Choose, and Act.

The show itself was amazing. I know that I might be a little biased because it's my troupe, but I'm not lying when I say that P.E.A.C.E. Signs is my favorite Educational Theatre Programs show that I've seen thus far (I've watched 4 of 5). The set is elaborate, colorful, and eye-catching; the acting was superb; and the singing (which I had the opportunity to help with) and dancing was solid. It was such a great feeling to see my work in action. I had spent most of the past month and a half trying to finish booking shows for the fall semester. Finally, I got to see the results of my endless phone calls and faxes, orientations and consultations. The students in the audience responded incredibly well, particularly to the difficult topics presented in the show - gang and domestic violence. They absorbed all the information and provided positive alternatives to violence when asked by the Performer Educators. It was enlightening to see how much of a difference our one-hour performance made on these children. And it was exciting to know that we have the opportunity to reach out to so many of them this year and help to improve the quality of their lives.

In summary, I love my job! And almost unbelievably, I feel like it's going to get a thousand times better in the weeks to come.
















ETP's P.E.A.C.E. Signs troupe on opening day at Cleveland Elementary School (Oakland)

9.12.2006

weekend review

0 comments
Today was the first day I took off from my job at Kaiser. I didn't want to because I love my job and because I know there are a lot of things that need to be done at work, but having survived last week's rigorous rehearsal schedule, I reasoned with myself in the early hours of this morning and decided that for my health, it is necessary that I take a day off to rest and recuperate. Besides, if I didn't take a day off, this cold would only get worse, and the rest of this week will be spent traveling and doing site visits for work. I'll be needed in the office.

Though I've been stuck at home with a headache and a sore throat all day, I've been feeling really happy otherwise. My birthday weekend was incredible, thanks to a handful of new and old friends alike. I spent most of Saturday cleaning the apartment in preparation for the mini birthday party I was planning for Sunday evening. Though it might not sound all too appealing to others, I really enjoy cleaning and didn't mind having to do some of it on my birthday. I went out to dinner with the family at Jack London Square, then proceeded to Alameda High School for the opening of Aida. When I got there, I was thwarted by castmates and their birthday greetings. They all sang me "Happy Birthday" during vocal warm ups, and I was surprised with a cake constructed of brownie bites and strawberries, topped off with a candle. I learned that my dressing roommates had gotten brownie bites, cookies, and strawberries for the entire cast. Our room also brought bottles of champagne to celebrate my double deuce and the opening. At intermission, I was taken upstairs out of the dressing area and into the hallway adjacent to backstage. I was surprised with a Finding Nemo birthday/show opening cake that read "Break a Leg, Gina!" and had candles spelling "Happy Birthday" along the edge. I blew out the candles and served cake to the cast, crew, and orchestra right before the second act. After the show, which was amazing BTW, I headed out for margaritas with the cast. Certainly one of the most memorable birthdays I've ever had.

Sunday's matinee was followed by a Target-sponsored backstage tour for youth. I stuck around to see the tour and watch kids get tattoos painted by cast members. I greeted my grandma, aunts and uncle, cousins, and friends, all who came to watch the show and take the tour. They took me out to dinner, which was nice because it had been a while since I saw them all. I then made my way home to a small party with some friends and my housemates. I got Apples to Apples as a gift from my roommate Joe, and we broke it in by playing a couple of rounds that evening. Unfortunately, I had to cut the party short because the cold that was threatening to arrive all week had finally hit me. Regardless, I had a great time, just as everyone else at my party did.

...

Here are some pictures from the Sunday matinee, thanks to my cousin Sheryl. I'm really bad at taking pictures to commemorate things myself, so I'm happy that I had her around.


Backstage Tour


Demonstrating how props work


Lola and me


With the family

9.09.2006

not an ordinary day

2 comments
Aida opens tonight! Finally! After a torturous week of 6-hour rehearsals (immediately following 8-hour work days, mind you), the show has really come together. We fully intend to rock the house for the entirety of our run. This evening will be met with excitement and celebration, to commemorate all our hard work and effort.

Oh yeah, and the fact that it's my birthday.

8.30.2006

unconditional love

1 comments
In the early hours of the morning, one of my beloved miniature poodles, Chocolate, passed away. He was nearly 14 human years old. Lifetimes, if you think in dog years.

I spent much of the morning in tears. When I found myself alone, I would sink into my own thoughts and my eyes would blur as I recalled the state he was in the last time I saw him two weeks ago - perfectly healthy, endlessly happy. I called my mom in the evening and asked her to retell the past night's events to me, so I could piece together the mysterious puzzle of his passing. He had fallen ill quite suddenly over the weekend. After years and years of suffering no more than playful scratches, it was strange to see him immobilized by pain. My dad took him to emergency, where the veterinarian gave him two options: spend thousands of dollars on surgery to save our dog, procedures which might have only stalled death for a few days or weeks because of his age, or leave him to die peacefully. My dad took Chocolate and brought him home. Upon arriving, he laid him down gingerly next to Precious, his life-long companion. And in the morning, he was gone.

Earlier today, I struggled with the irony of it all. With as many good things that have happened to me this summer, I feel like there are a thousand more bad things that have come my way. In the span of two months, I lost two of my life's sources of pure unconditional love. Great beings who had so much to give, so much to care about. I know that shortly, I will lose another: Precious, who herself is in her last phase of life and who, I am certain, will be wanting to find Choco again soon. I know that I have every reason to feel angry and hateful and bitter. But what I am finding is that I feel more accepting, understanding, and open to love.

I had always joked that it was difficult for him to comprehend things, and I often called him "Chococat," in reference to the Sanrio character and his cat-like, attention-seeking tendencies. But for all the reasons he irked me, he gave me two more to make me adore him. He was such an explorer and had this boundless energy that affected everyone in the room. He was never afraid to stand up for himself despite his tiny size. I remember once, when I was much younger, maybe 10 or 11, I was taking him and Precious out for a walk when he scared off a dog, at least 20 times his own size, who was threatening us. Such a big bite for such a small dog. I loved the relationship he and Precious had: he, always the trouble-making brother; she, always the overprotective, mildly-irritated but wildly-amused sister. I will miss that dynamic incredibly.

The most important lesson I learned from my tiny 10-pound dog was forgiveness. There were so many instances during our time together when I made mistakes, some of which took years for me to forgive myself. Despite all the times that I messed up, he continued to love me, honestly and unconditionally. From him, I came to understand that things happen, intentionally or not. We use the strength from our relationships to get through them and move on. They are one of life's greatest assets.

Now that he is gone, I will try my best to incorporate his qualities into my own life in order to preserve and honor his memory. It is amazing to see how much of an effect my dog had on me. We grew up together, and we learned a lot about life together. And though we never spoke the same language, I am certain we understood each other 100%.

Rest in Paradise, Chococat. And make sure to give Angelina a kiss for me.


My favorite picture of my pups, Chocolate and Precious (circa 2002)

8.28.2006

running, running

0 comments
Although it might seem that I have fallen off the face of the earth, I am indeed alive and well. Just very very busy. Too much to explain, too much to understand. So I guess I'll leave it at that.

Today at rehearsal, I was startled by two incidents of self-realization. First was a brief discussion with a fellow cast member, who I don't know too well but is nice enough to say hello every rehearsal. The contents of this discussion are irrelevant, at least to my general reading audience, and the point that needs to be made is about the personal epiphany that resulted from the conclusion of this conversation. Moral of our two-second story: the only person who has a disagreeable opinion about myself is myself.

The second incident of self-realization happened during vocal warm-ups, with me standing by the upright piano, sipping my vanilla latte, and seeing my reflection in the mirrors that line our dance space. The thought that came to my mind: "I've lost weight." YES! For the first time in months! It has been difficult, struggling to shed the pounds I accumulated from the all emotional eating that occurred in the beginning of summer when tragedy so relentlessly struck. But in recent weeks, I've been happier than I've been for most of the year, given everything that I've been through - post-collegiate transition and the inevitable bout of depression that accompanies it, departure from home, streamlining of friends, re-evaluation of various relationships and their status, loss after loss after loss, and the horrifying gain after gain after gain. I was so angry at myself; I worked so hard to shed nearly 20 pounds last summer and kept most of it off throughout my last semester in school. Then, not even six months later, I gained half of it back, citing my life's events as the evil perpetrator but secretly knowing it was my own self-discipline I had to blame. So with my new job came a new start. And after just three weeks, I've slimmed down. Granted, I'm nowhere near where I was in December, and this time around, the weight is ridiculously difficult to lose because I'm not putting my body into a physical state of shock like I did last May when I dramatically changed my eating patterns and lifestyle. But like the tortoise, I am certain that slow and steady progress will help me win this race, for good.

Rehearsals are challenging. I feel like crying all the time. Not because I'm sad, but because that's what I'm supposed to do while in character. And sometimes, I actually do it. It's kind of draining, really, and weird at the same time. I've never really dealt with emotions in this way as a performer: physical, rather than just an inflection of the voice. It's kind of cool, being able to push myself to this new limit. Fun. Effective, yeah.

I've been spending my time outside of work and rehearsal working on a Business Manager handbook for AiR. It's amazing how much stuff I kept inside my head and never told anyone about. Tasks to be completed, contacts for services, tips on how to get around all the red tape. Once I got it all on paper, I realized how much work I actually did each year. Large amounts of work, to be completely honest. Most of it, though, was setting everything up to make managing easier for years to come. Now, I've got all these pages written, detailing all the responsibilities and things that need to be taken care of week by week, month to month. I hope it can be a good resource for the group. It's a nice goodbye present for AiR, I think.

I feel kind of bad about not keeping in contact with my friends. I do that when I get really busy, shut myself off from the world. I don't call my friends who are nearby because I figure they'll still be here and available to hang out when I'm done being busy. I don't call my friends who aren't nearby because I assume they're as busy as I am and will understand, when I actually do call them weeks after I initially intend to, that I myself have been quite busy. I don't respond to emails, voice mails, or text messages. For now, there are more important things to do.

But before I continue to rush through my progression of work-work-work, I feel the need to apologize to all the people I care about. To all my friends in school, best of luck your first day back. Please take pictures and recall stories for me sometime soon because as much as I love the "real world," I do miss college. To all my friends who work, I'm certain that there will come a time when you too will be so overwhelmed by your responsibilities that you will forget that anything else exists in this world. Please provide me with your unconditional understanding because I promise to do so when you are in my shoes at your designated place and time. To my long-distance friends, I think of you often and I'm so sorry that I don't tell you often enough that I do. I hope life is treating you well in your respective corners of the world. When I have more than just a moment to breathe, I will try my best to call you.

Virtual hugs to all of you. Sometime soon, we'll have to do the real thing.

8.18.2006

flash // bam

2 comments
Aida is going well. Rehearsals are getting tough; I can expect to spend close to four hours in the studio every night. As tiring as it may seem, it's fun because of the challenge it presents me. The last week has been dedicated to blocking the two huge ensemble numbers and they're quite the emotional roller coasters. We're expected to call upon all these feelings of hopelessness in relation to the extinction of a nation, things I've never experienced myself. Our actions are supposed to be infused with urgency, as our Artistic Director constantly reminds us. To do that, I've been calling upon the memories of my most intense emotional experiences to guide me through the music. For "The Gods Love Nubia," I think of Angelina and the time we spent together learning our parts to that song for Show Choir in high school. I think of our lives in the aftermath of tragedy, and I can slowly feel myself beginning to relate to these fictional characters with a pain that's so real to me. It's like that for everyone in the cast: struggling to find a place deep inside ourselves and flip it all inside out. Draining. Exhausting. By our fourth or fifth run of the song last night, people had tears streaming down their faces because of the emotional exorcism. I ended each run feeling light-headed and empty, but driven by the thought of how incredible the outcome would be. If we could move ourselves to tears, the audience will have no hope for stability.

I'd recommend Kleenex with aloe, personally.

...

The job is going well, as expected. I love everything about it: the work, the people, the environment, the culture. As a bit of an introvert, it can be difficult to deal with a large number of performers, most of whom are extroverts, on a regular basis. But I think of it as a way to improve my communication skills and self-confidence. There is always more to learn.

I begin meeting with teachers next week. I'm excited to see how I present myself as a representative of Kaiser Permanente's Educational Theatre Programs. I really enjoy acting as a representative because of the opportunity it provides to bridge the gap between provider and client, teacher and student, person and person. Plus, it means I get to upgrade my wardrobe.

I learned today that much of the population we serve is Spanish-speaking and requires a translation of our performances. Only two people in our department are fluent in Spanish, and that motivates me to learn the language. Not only to help lessen the work load but to provide myself with incredibly valuable skills as an employee. Learning Spanish will most likely be my next project.

Socially, I am thrilled by the fact that most of my co-workers are from my generation. My biggest fear about leaving school was not being able to make friends as easily because of the lack of association. In this environment, that won't be the case at all. Everyone is friendly and supportive of each other's interests and goals, which are all very similar, given the performance aspect of the work. ETP will be a wonderful place to make my post-collegiate friends.

Words can't even describe how happy I am to be here.

...

On the way home from work, I was staring idly out the bus window when POOF, there he was. Or at least what I thought was him. I did a double take, but by the time turned back for a second glance, the bus was far down the street and he was no longer in my line of vision. Immediately, my heart jumped into my throat, like it always does, and I could feel my breathing shift from regular to shallow. But maybe that wasn't him. Maybe my mind was so distracted by my post-workday thoughts that I had conjured up an imaginary image of him to slow myself down for a minute. It could not have possibly been real.

When I arrived at my bus stop, minutes later, I walked up the street and stumbled because a hummingbird flew right into my line of vision. I thought to myself, when was the last time I saw a hummingbird this close? It was years ago, when my family and I still lived in our old house on the other side of town. Across the span of time and distance, I can remember what that experience felt like: happy, calm, serene.

Here I am, months, and maybe even years, from where we started. And I still feel the same. Though you may have been imaginary, it is clear that what I'm feeling is not.

I don't know why I've been lying to my friends. I guess it's because I initially left so much of the story out. It's easier to fabricate than to unravel it all and reveal the truth. Because the truth, especially this one, hurts. Regardless of what they know, it's pointless to keep on lying to myself. Some part of me wants the rest of me to accept the reality of the situation.

I just wish there were an easier way to let you know about it.

8.10.2006

becoming a workaholic

1 comments
So I've decided to quit Rapid Transit. After reflecting a bit on yesterday's rehearsal, I've realized that I'm really very very tired of the a cappella scene. I had auditioned because I wanted to keep singing. What I should have done was find a new medium for singing. When comparing last night's rehearsal to tonight's musical rehearsal for Aida, I had a far better time tonight because I was doing something completely new and exciting. Also, the level of difficulty of the music in Aida is more aligned with my own personal capabilities. Rapid Transit's repertoire... well, not so much. I think they're a fairly good group, especially for only being a year and a half young, but there are a lot of things that are still missing.

The other and more pertinent reason for my decision to quit the group is the fact that I have henceforth committed myself to becoming a workaholic. I can't get enough of my job. The tedious training sessions - which consist of looking at computer screens and being talked at for hours on end - excite me more than they should excite any normal functioning human being. Hearing about all the components of production and performance is enthralling, and I can easily visualize the entire thing coming together. I've woken up every day this week feeling more happy to be a working adult than I ever have. And it's surely going to get better.

Today, I learned a bit about life as a PR representative. I knew from the beginning that I would be spending some of my evenings traveling to school sites to hold parent meetings. What I didn't know was the actual frequency of those events or the fact that some of them would be held so far away that I would be spending a handful of nights in all-expense paid hotels. I was intrigued by the amount of participation I would be having in these performance components and simultaneously excited by the opportunity to be so closely involved with the people we will be serving - something that was definitely missing from my previous job.

As a result of these findings, I realized that my social life will have to be compromised. Hence, quitting Rapid Transit. But this is a sacrifice I am more than willing to make if it means being happy and satisfied with the work that I am doing. Singing will always be there for me, whether it's in my Rav4 or playing around with recording equipment or at a karaoke bar. Summer is also our down time at the office, which gives me the opportunity to do musicals on a regular basis.

I really want this job to work, and to do that, I've got to put 100% of myself into it. I know that I need to take advantage of the opportunities and time I have at Kaiser, especially because I am young and have so many resources available to me. Now's the time to push my way through the metaphorical door, when I don't have to deal with the responsibilities and consequences of mature adulthood.

Yes, I'm turning into one of those 9-to-5-ers. But I'll bet I'm going to be one of the happiest you've ever seen.

8.09.2006

old, new, borrowed, blue

0 comments
I had my first rehearsal with Rapid Transit today. We were supposed to be auditioning for a vocal percussionist today, but two auditionees dropped before the audition (one of whom was Miguel, who decided work would be too much of a conflict) and the remaining two did not show or offer any explanation why they were not present. So instead of auditioning, I learned close to half of the group's small repertoire. It was difficult not having accurate sheet music; most of which was on paper was handwritten, hard to read, and nothing like what the group sang in performance. People were not referred to as parts but rather as syllables (for example, "you sing the ja da's" as opposed to "you sing the alto line"), and most parts simply repeated a four-bar phrase for the entirety of an arrangement. Blending didn't seem like a top priority, but perhaps we'll get to that in a later rehearsal.

I found myself biting my tongue a lot. I didn't want to be THAT GIRL, you know: the one who's been singing forever so she thinks she knows everything there is to know about singing and everyone should listen to her because of that simple fact. There were lots of mini organizational crises that could have easily been remedied with some AiR tactics, but I kept my mouth shut. Well, for the most part. This is a new place, and the old me will have to get used to it. I am the newbie, in many senses of the word (I am the youngest group member - though my singing experience, when written on paper, led the Assistant Music Director to believe I had to be at least in my early 30s). I have to keep myself in place.

The cool thing - I hit a high C with supreme ease. Yeah for range expansion!

...

I love love LOVE my new job! I've learned a lot about Educational Theatre Programs in the last two days, and in that short amount of time, I began to see what my role would be as a part of the division. I was assigned my own show - PEACE Signs, which focuses on violence prevention and conflict resolution - and I am responsible for contacting schools, booking performances, and handling all the logistical components in between. In addition to my regular workload, I have been invited to join a the domestic violence task force at Kaiser, a combination of select divisions of the corporation, and help plan for an employee-directed fair. The responsibility is piling up, and I love it.

I got to watch a script analysis today, executed by the actors of my assigned show, and while it was happening, I thought to myself, "I should always feel this happy when I come to work. And if I stay here, I think I will."

It also helps that I have ridiculously amazing employee benefits.

Over the next few weeks, I'll have the opportunity to learn more about my job and attend trainings that will help me become a better public affairs representative. In about a month, I will be giving my first presentation to my acting troupe. So exciting.

The great thing is, as I learn about Kaiser and my co-workers, there are more opportunities for me to ask and answer questions. The more I inquire, the more people want to know about me. Within my first two days, word has gotten around that I really like to play around with graphic design, and it's been suggested that I work with the leadership team to redesign the department newsletter and help update a few things on the website. I also let slip today that I have spent many years in vocal performance training, and one of my co-workers suggested that I see if I can help coach some of the actors in singing, all of whom are required to sing in their performances but many of whom have never sang before. That would be an amazing opportunity for personal growth, and I'm really considering looking into it.

This, friends, is what real life should be like.

...

McRatha is in the process of reading the Harry Potter series. She just borrowed #4 from me and is well on her way to better acquainting herself with the trials and triumphs of the boy who lived.

I borrowed this idea from Star 101.3's nighttime talk show to start a gratitude journal. It's supposed to help me find happiness by documenting the things that make me happy. We'll see how it goes.

...

I really need to wash my car. Lucy's Pacific Blue Metallic is starting to look more like Atlantic Blue Tarnish. Meh.

I am totally going to burn a CD with the "I Love Lucy" theme song and play it anytime I roll up to a friend's house. How awesome would that be?

8.04.2006

blur

2 comments
Last weekend was spent at home-home. As much as I used to despise that place, I find myself missing it more and more as my life begins to establish itself away from there. The majority of my time was spent in the company of my parents, which may have been like swallowing gravel years ago, but now it's more enjoyable than anything else. When we laugh together, I realize that they miss me as much as I miss them. And that's nice.

Sunday evening, I ventured to San Francisco, once again, to watch a musical, once again. Rent has found its way to the top of my "Favorite Musical" list. The cast was incredible, and the music was as touching as ever. Cathy and Sheryl had never seen it on stage, and Jessica had never before known what Rent was. I'm happy to have shown them the wonders of Larson's masterpiece.

Monday night, we threw Rafi for a loop with a Pirate-themed surprise party. His shriek - yes, shriek - upon entering was priceless, as was the picture of him covered in silly string and confetti. I ate way too much, but on occasions like those, I don't suppose calories should count.

Tuesday, unbeknownst to many of my friends, I auditioned for Rapid Transit, a Bay Area a cappella group, not because I missed a cappella but because I missed singing on a regular basis. The audition consisted of a brief warm up then listening to and learning their arrangement of George Michael's "Freedom." It was a little eerie, but fun nonetheless. I kept inadvertently incorporating AiR's version into the one I was learning, but by the end of the evening, I had my part down. They asked me to do a demonstration of the menial amount of vocal percussion I know just because I said I could if they wanted me to, and then I sang my sure-fire audition solo, "Over the Rainbow." It scored me my place in AiR, as well as many many other things, so it has become my default go-to song. It was very casual, as I learned the group was (they rehearse once a week and perform only a few times per year), and it was a nice change from the growing professionalism of my former a cappella group.

The following day, I received a phone call from the audition manager who offered me a place in the group. I quickly accepted and referred my fellow a cappellian, and accomplished vocal percussionist, Miguel. He'll be auditioning this coming Tuesday. Who knows? We may just get the chance to sing together once again.

Last night, I got off work a few hours early to make my way to Shoreline Amphitheatre to compete in the final round of Kelly-Oke. I was delayed an hour by an accident on 880, and I arrived on site with 10 minutes to spare. I was told that each of us would be singing one verse and one chorus of the Kelly Clarkson song of our choice and that we would be narrowed down to a final four based on standard methods of judging by two of Star 101.3's radio hosts AND audience response. I felt my heart sink as I thought of my friends, making their way to Shoreline an hour behind me, and realized I had no way of winning this contest because I didn't have a single soul in the audience cheering for me. The sinking feeling only lasted a minute though, as I reminded myself of how much fun it would be to sing on the Glaceau Vitamin Water stage, located right outside the main entrance, regardless of the outcome. Besides, I had just won free tickets to see Kelly Clarkson! That in itself was good enough for me.

After all of the contestants gave it their all, the final four - which clearly did not include me - were invited to come back onstage to perform part of a Kelly Clarkson song at random, chosen by the DJ. Audience response determined the placement of each of the four, and I was happy to see that the best singer of the bunch was awarded the grand prize of front row tickets and backstage passes to meet Kelly. The second and third place winners were surprised with backstage passes as well, and the fourth place winner was awarded special edition Kelly Clarkson merchandise. I won a free case of Vitamin Water - Focus flavored, Kelly's supposed favorite - and an autographed "Breakaway" CD. Upon receipt of my two tickets, I was thrilled to find Ratha and I would be sitting in the lower center section, about 15 rows away from the stage. Yeayuh!


The Addicted Tour


We were so close!


Two fans wanted to come up on stage - so Kelly let them


Singing in a swamp, I think

Today is my last day working as a Program Assistant for Center for Human Development. Overall, my experience was a great one. Though I may have been dissatisfied at times, I've come to learn, in retrospect, that everyone has to start from the bottom. And admittedly, my bottom was much better than it could have been. I spent most of today finishing up various assignments and projects, and I composed a heartfelt goodbye letter to send to the staff and board at CHD. I'm looking forward to keeping in touch and informing my soon-to-be former co-workers, as well as myself, of my progress.

I've got a lot coming my way.

7.28.2006

seriously?

2 comments
I don't like Justin Timberlake's new single, "Sexy Back." He does not sound human. It is not at all appealing to me. In fact, as a singer, I feel kind of offended knowing that crap like this is making countless recording artists lots and lots of money while I am desperately searching for somewhere my own natural voice can be heard and appreciated for all that it is. Bah.

And yes, I have heard that Lance Bass is gay. My friends seem to want to inundate me with the latest celebrity news because they know that as a teenybopping adolescent, he was my favorite member of *NSYNC. Being that I had chosen him as my favorite above all the other boy band heartthrobs all those years ago, I think can call myself a bonafide flame dame. Not that it really surprises me. Over the years, many of my friends have come out to me, and it has started to lose its shock value. So much so, that I have started to assume that men are gay until proven straight. Even then, you can never really know.

What is happening to the scene?

...

On Monday, I wrote about my loathing towards creepy crawlies. Yesterday, Karma decided to give me what I deserve and cover - literally COVER - my Rav4 with baby spiders, which I discovered during my lunch break. Dammit.

Okay, I get it. Be kind to all of Earth's living creatures.

But I'm still keeping my can of bug spray.

...

This is, without a doubt, the summer of love. So many people I know have recently gotten engaged and are on their way to wedded bliss. Several women in my office are pregnant, and everywhere I go, I see soon-to-be mothers with that prenatal glow.

The one thing on my mind: will that EVER be me?

...

My boss gave me the opportunity to review cover letters and resumes that prospective employees have submitted for my position. It felt kind of weird to have me pick and choose my successor among these faceless hopefuls, but she insisted that I would have a better knowledge of what skills are required for my position, especially since I have made it more technology-based during my short time here. I consented, mostly because I didn't have anything better to do and partly because I was curious to see what was out there. I found that some people were clearly over qualified, including a man who had several years teaching and counseling experience and a fellow Cal alumni who graduated with honors in Political Science. Others were ridiculously clueless, failing to complete their resumes or customize their cover letters. My favorite applicant was one I actually didn't review but that my boss told me about, whose materials she received via email. It was a Brazilian native looking for a job - any job - in the States. He insisted that he could bring an "international flair" to our agency and cited his years working on a Tobacco farm as his work experience. It did not even occur to the man to remove that bit of information from his resume when applying for Center for Human Development, a non-profit agency committed to anti-Tobacco education for youth. Brilliant, really.

A note to all job-seekers: please do your research. You're more impressive when you don't look like a fool.

...

Speaking of work, I received a phone call today from a satellite office requesting that I shred a misdirected fax. 90 seconds later, I received a phone call from the same office just to make sure I actually did it.

What?

I really can't wait to start my new job.

7.25.2006

i'm looking for attention, not another question

3 comments
About a week ago, I was driving in my Rav4 and listening to Star 101.3 FM. They announced a contest, titled "Kelly-Oke," which required entrants to submit a two-minute MP3 of themselves singing a Kelly Clarkson songs. Finalists would receive tickets to her upcoming concert at Shoreline Amphitheater and compete that day for an upgrade to front row seats and the chance to meet Kelly.

I am one of those finalists.

I received a phone call from Lisa Foxx yesterday around 3pm, and she informed me that I was the day’s selected Kelly-Oke singer. I was awarded two tickets to the show, the second of which is going to my roommate, and I will be receiving a handful of Kelly Clarkson memorabilia and a case of Glaceau Vitamin Water from their sponsor. She told me to tune in to 101.3 at 4:15pm to hear my name on the radio. I frantically text messaged my closest friends to tip them off about my big win.

I have never won anything from a radio station before. Hearing my name on the airwaves was exciting, to say the least. But my excitement quickly turned into mortification as Lisa announced, "Let’s listen to her!" I could feel myself blushing as I heard a 20-second clip of myself singing "Walk Away" being broadcast to the greater part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Immediately after the announcement, I was inundated with numerous text messages expressing my friends’ reactions, ranging from congratulatory to shocking. Surreal.

So I’ll be heading to Shoreline on August 3, with my roommate and good friends in tow for some encouragement and luck, and hopefully I’ll get to meet the American Idol herself. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

7.24.2006

over and out

0 comments
Karaoke Wednesdays are my new favorite thing. This past Wednesday, we arrived at the Captain’s Chest greeted by a large crowd of young and old crooners alike. Miguel and I put our names in right away to get into the rotation early, in the hopes of having the opportunity to perform more than once. But as the crowd continued to grow, it seemed unlikely that we would be able to perform two songs before 10pm. Though, with the energy that was quickly filling the room, we weren’t too disappointed. As performer after performer took their turn at the microphone, we began to utilize the space in front of the staging area as a dance floor. I did a modernized version of the Jitterbug with one of the bar’s older patrons, and Ratha and I salsa danced to the sounds of Santana. We clapped and sang along throughout the evening, and Miguel and I offered to help cheer for a nervous performer singing "Always Something There to Remind Me," one of our favorites. As we whooped and hollered, he shot a thankful glance in our direction and gathered up the confidence to finish the song with style. The rest of the evening progressed nicely, and a room full of strangers quickly became friends over their shared love of song.

I thoroughly believe that music is good for the soul.



The weekend alternated between being utterly exhausting and loads of fun. Friday night was spent in the company of the roommates and old and new friends over a rousing game of Apples to Apples, which I love love love, at Albatross. Nothing beats word association games in an alcohol-induced haze.

Saturday was my first full-day rehearsal for Aida, during which we did staging and music review. After doing a few run-throughs of the ensemble numbers, I began to get chills from the intensity of the music. It will surely be a great show.

I spent a warm Sunday afternoon in the city shopping for birthday gifts with Miguel, scoping out the Metreon, and stopping by the San Francisco Theatre Festival at Yerba Buena gardens. Sitting on the grass and watching performers on stage reminded me of the summer of 2004 when I visited my friends in New York and stumbled upon a band playing in a park somewhere between here and who knows where. It was lovely and reaffirmed my love for the performing arts. Later that evening, we met up with Maegan and Ratha to usher for the "adult night" performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It was incredible. The production was flawless, and the adult humor had me laughing throughout the entirety of the show. Racial stereotypes, countless sexual references, and an Asian Jesus: what else could we have asked for? I’m interested in seeing the original version of the show for comparison. I might just have to volunteer again.



Living on my own equates with independence in all sorts of forms. There’s the good, like planning an evening schedule that accommodates all the things I want it to, having the time to learn new things like cooking and how to plant a garden, and generally learning how to be a productive adult. Then there’s the bad, like paying more bills than I knew existed, fixing things that I didn’t know could break, and getting rid of bugs.

I don’t like bugs.

I like to think of myself as a kind-hearted person. So having to become my own bug exterminator doesn’t agree with my personality. On the other hand, I am an extremely clean person. And having bugs around leaves the possibility of contamination.

Bugs are dirty and gross, and I hate things that are dirty and gross.

I know they do good things, like pollinate flowers and protect plants from other, more infectious bugs, but can’t they just stay outside where all their business is?

Over the weekend, a handful of bugs experienced my wrath. Or fear of infestation. One of the two. The creepy, crawly, multi-legged, winged, and generally unappealing creatures saw their bitter ends with the help of two types of bug spray, a fly swatter, a shoe, paper towels, and a vacuum. Okay, I might be more than a little vicious, and I’ll probably be attacked by a swarm of angry wasps someday because Karma’s a bitch, but I have to get the message across somehow.

To all bugs everywhere: Stay the fuck out of my house.



My cut in hours is proving far more difficult than I thought it would be. So much so, that I am predicting that I may have to live off my small supply of saltine crackers for the next few weeks. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. I ensure you that this is not at all an exaggeration.

So if you are inclined to hang out with me, I would request bringing a loaf of bread or some fruit to my house, since I cannot afford to buy my own at the moment and gas is too expensive to be spending on anything other than my commute to work. Either that or you’ll just have to wait until next month when my paycheck will be receiving a major boost thanks to my new job.

Mid-August can’t arrive soon enough.



Two weeks have come and gone. That means we’re over, right?

My friends tell me I’m doing the right thing, that I’ll be happier, and that it wasn’t worth it anyway. I tell myself they don’t know how it feels to be rejected too many times to know what acceptance feels like anymore.

I also tell myself that they didn’t know how to comfort me when my life fell to pieces. Surprisingly, you did by saying all the things I was thinking but could never fully articulate. They sometimes scoff at my sense of humor. You got it so well you finished all my jokes with me. They don’t understand my compulsive behavior. You didn’t leave until you helped put everything back neatly in its place, without asking, just knowing.

I guess you’ll never really know how happy that made me.

I love my friends. But sometimes they just don’t get it right.

7.18.2006

momentum

2 comments
I GOT THE JOB!

Beginning in August, I will be working for Kaiser Permanente's Department of Educational Theatre Programs as an Assistant Public Affairs Representative. Ask me about it because I would love to tell you.

This is the break I was waiting for. I'm all sorts of happy.

...

Rehearsals for Aida have begun. And though the musical process is much slower and much less complex than anything I have done with AiR, I'm overwhelmingly happy to be singing again. During those hours I spend in the studio, I forget about everything that's worrying me and focus on breath support, articulating lyrics, and infusing the music with emotion. It's just so wonderful.

I spoke with Andrew the other night, a fellow cast member who will be joining our rehearsals late due to the production of Guys and Dolls immediately preceding our show. He voiced his concern about having to learn the music in such a short time, especially because he is not a singer. I offered to help him learn on our nights off, allowing the Music Director in me some time to play. I also volunteered to give him some tips on vocal technique.

This could just be the start of Gina's adventures as a singing teacher. And that could just be a lot of fun.

...

Maegan, Ratha, and I volunteered to usher for Ray of Light Theatre's production of Seussical the Musical in San Francisco this past Sunday. I had never seen it before, and I was more than willing to stuff programs and show people to their seats if it meant I would get to watch for free. The ushering part wasn't so bad, but the show... Dear Lord. Not only am I not a fan of the musical, which lacks a coherent plot, but the music grated on my nerves and the production was shoddy, to say the least. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, unless you have children under the age of six and are willing to tolerate two hours of nonsensical rhyming.

I'm looking forward to next week's ushering adventure. Miguel will be joining us for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Post Street Theatre in Union Square. Moreover, we're ushering for the "adult night" performance of this award-winning hit, complete with dirty language and off-color humor. That should be entertaining.

The last weekend of July is devoted to Rent, my all-time favorite musical, which I'll be watching with Cathy, Sheryl, Danielle, and Jessica.

That's a lot of musical theater.

...

Wednesdays will henceforth be known as Karaoke Wednesdays, thanks to one of my co-workers who introduced me to a dive bar in Concord that has a superb collection of karaoke music and wonderfully cheap cocktails.

I think I'll break out the AiR stuff tomorrow.

...

Best 10-second home video EVER!

7.10.2006

best weekend ever

3 comments
It started off with a game of baseball. Let it be known that I am not a baseball fan. I don't have anything against the sport itself, but I'm not really a sports-going person in general. However, with four great friends and an ice cream bar in tow, good times are guaranteed. We laughed over random stories and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch. After an exciting home-team victory (the A's beat the Angels 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth with a home run after two outs), we sped over to In 'n' Out for some post-game grub. It was a fun night, overall.

Friday marked the opening night of the Brentwood Cornfest. Although its title might lead the unwary to believe this is a ridiculously corny (hah) event, it is the highlight of the summer for many Brentwood area locals. The festival celebrates the town's claim to fame: its signature corn crop. My sister, my cousins, and I have henceforth decided to make our annual visit a tradition for years to come. This year's festival featured a slew of rides, ranging from tame to tremendous, vendor booths, live music, and of course, corn. We immediately purchased cobs upon our arrival and took silly pictures posing with the festival's keynote feature. We perused the streets, pausing here and there to investigate some interesting displays. As the evening drew to a close, we found a spot near the rear of the festival, right underneath the fireworks display. We craned our necks back as far as they could go to watch the show taking place in the sky directly above us. In my opinion, these fireworks are amazing, second only to the pyrotechnic wonders of Disneyland. I tried snapping some shots, but photographs of fireworks can never do justice to the real thing. I gave up after my third try and resolved to enjoy the rest of the show, and the rest of the evening, with my family.

On Saturday, the housemates and I hosted the long-awaited Housewarming party. I woke up early to clean and run errands, which proved to be quite enjoyable in the company of the roommates. We spent the sunny day together shopping, eating, preparing, and learning a lot about each other. As we finished prepping the house, our guests arrived fully prepared to eat, drink, and sing merrily along. The kiddie pool was a hit, as were the Jell-O shots, which disappeared in a minute. The views from the balcony and roof were spectacular, thanks to a sunny-skied forecast, and all of our guests got along wonderfully with one another. I was grateful for the opportunity to see so many of my friends, especially due to recent events which have caused me to keep to myself for the past few weeks. It was really nice to see my friends from Berkeley, some of whom I hadn't been in contact with since before the AiR Tour, and my friends from home, who came all the way out to the Bay to help break in the new pad and celebrate the endless possibilities of summer.


Me and my best friend, Danielle


Jeneille, the Fashionista, and me


Heidi, the Scene Queen, me, and the cool lighting effect of my mirrors


As the evening progressed, so did the general level of drunkenness. Though I had promised there would be no a cappella singing, I somehow managed to forget about that while under the influence and when my friends were requesting a song from me and my fellow AiR alumni. They seemed to enjoy it, particularly when I transformed "Hey Jude" into a sing-along. A few more "Wicked" and Kelly Clarkson renditions later, the evening was spent. Most people trickled out of our home around midnight, bidding their thanks and saying goodbye. The few of us that remained shared gossip over a late-night dinner of Domino's Pizza and endless glasses of water. Our first house party proved to be a success. It was a night I'm sure I won't easily forget.

Sunday morning found half of us in high spirits, myself included, and the other half hungover. I helped to rally the crowds for Thai brunch, a wonderful remedy for post-party illnesses. We ate to our hearts' content in the shade of a canopy at the Berkeley Thai Temple and contemplated what to do with our Something New Sunday. Miguel and I decided to venture over to Downtown Oakland and visit the Oakland Museum, a collection of artifacts dedicated to the history and culture of California and free on the second Sunday of every month. It was a lovely way to spend a few afternoon hours. The exhibits were well put together and very educational, and the outside sculptures were fun to look at.


"You feel so small sometimes"
- Miguel -


This one is called "Cartwheels"


Bears!

After we completed our visit to the museum, we stopped by Gregoire for dinner and introduced both Ratha and Joe to the amazing goodness of the Crispy Potato Puffs. So good. The weekend concluded with a 8pm showing of "X-Men III: The Last Stand" at the Parkway Speakeasy Theatre, complete with reclining chairs and couches to allow patrons to watch movies on the big screen while feeling like they're in the comfort of their own home.

Most definitely the best weekend ever.

7.05.2006

a perfect fit

4 comments
If you have seen me sing at any time during the past three years, then you will understand why I just HAD to buy this t-shirt.



The caption on top reads, "Hallelujah." A perfect fit, indeed.

6.25.2006

bits and pieces

1 comments
When the best you've got just isn't good enough, you have to seek the kind of help you've never sought before.

...

Lunch with AnnMarie was positively delightful. I've just recently been making efforts to fall back into the swing of things and contact friends I've been out of touch with for the past weeks or months, in her case. We dined at La Mediterranee for my first time ever and spent the afternoon catching up and filling in. We talked a bit about how it felt like to grow up, and she asked me, "What does being a real grown-up mean to you?" Certainly stability. The transition I've been going through for the past six months has proved far less than stable, and it's prevented me from feeling like I would ever get a grip on the things that are supposed to compose my real grown-up life. And though I believe I still have a long way to go, slowly but surely the pieces are falling into place. For the time being, I can be a real kid pretending to be a grown-up. And I'm okay with that.

...

I took two of my Pi's out to the city last night to party with some high school friends of mine. We had a great time making introductions over $2 Chuck and sharing stories over shots of vodka. On our way to the Bubble Lounge in North Beach, I had the chance to talk to Daniel, a friend from years ago whom I maintained contact with due to the fact that his youngest brother was dating my little sister. We discussed the recent tragic events of late, and at the end of it all, looked at me and said, "It's so sad. But life goes on, you know." Hearing it from him, someone who felt what I felt, made me realize that yes, it actually does.

...

The hours wore on, and the effects of the alcohol I consumed were starting to take hold. We danced the night away to 80's tunes, and as much as I thought I was tired of AiR music, the minute "Love Shack" came on, I flipped out. It was fantastic.

It felt so nice to be in the presence of so many of my friends, and for a good reason this time around. As we danced and laughed and sang along to the familiar music, I felt all my worries melt away. Though there was one thing - or one person, rather - that never managed to escape my mind.

And I realized, I'm not quite ready to give up yet.

...

Driving back to Noe Valley where we would be spending the night, I allowed myself to partake in one of those conversations that I so steadfastly avoid. But in the presence of two people who knew exactly what I was talking about, it was easy to let down my walls.

Through my slurred and stuttered speech, I insisted upon the fact that being single means being better. Observing others' relationships has taught me that strength comes from the individual, and dependency, which so often reigns (something I know from my own experience), can be alarmingly detrimental. It is important not to settle when it comes to love; do we ever let ourselves settle for anything less than perfect in other aspects of our lives? Not at all. My most interesting and fulfilling relationships have been with people who have a strong definition and understanding of themselves. They're more enjoyable that way.

True, it's difficult to battle feelings of inadequacy, especially when you're faced with a seemingly constant stream of rejection. But just like everything else, we have to learn to pick ourselves up each time we fall. Eventually, something amazing is bound to happen.

...

I lay on the floor, curled on my side, in the position that always brought me so much comfort. But in the early morning hours, it seemed as though no comfort could possibly be found. My insides churned, my head pounded, and my conscience said, "You really didn't need that last drink. And you knew it."

This only goes to prove that I still have so much to learn about myself.

...

Best hangover remedy ever: blueberry muffin, potatoes, eggs, cheese, more potatoes, and bread, bread, bread. Oh, and you can't forget the bajillion glasses of ice cold water.

...

SF Pride 2006. Free love and general debauchery for all.

Total naked person count = 12. That's a lot of naked people.