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In my Musical Theatre class, we're learning how to act through singing. To accomplish this, we use a procedure called "the approach to a song." It's a multi-step process that helps us to analyze a song musically, lyrically, literally, and figuratively, all within the context of the musical which it comes from. A key element of this process is creating a parallel situation to help you, the performer, better identify with the character. Sometimes, characters are in such unique situations that you have to make up your own story (consider Sarah from Ragtime or Javert from Les Miserables). But more often than not, musical theatre songs are about love. All kinds of love: romantic love, familial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love. And most people can relate to that in some form or another.

My first song, "I Will Be Loved Tonight" from the musical review I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, is about the excitement of love. And it was easy for me to relate to because of a significant person I met here in New York City. However, the song is two fold. It also talks about the somber acceptance of being alone. That was where I was having trouble. While rehearsing the song, I had felt something was lacking, that I wasn't conveying the true sense of being in love, which can include both joy and sadness. I picked the song apart, revising pages and pages of analytical work I had done, and then one day, something clicked.

I do not allow myself to feel. Before I left for New York, a host of things happened, one of which was completely unexpected. And it was strange and complicated and, worst of all, unresolved. I felt a whole lot of things about it after I left home, wallowing for weeks on end, dreaming about how it could have been different. I was afraid of my emotions, upset that they make me feel so powerless. So instead of dealing with them, I simply stopped feeling them. But after working at this song, I realized that reliving that particular experience could bring humanity and honesty into my performance. I sucked it up and wrote about everything that happened and everything I felt and everything I continued to feel. A huge weight lifted from somewhere inside me. Allowing myself to be vulnerable made it easier for me to emotionally connect to the story I was working on. And I realized that in order for this whole thing to work, in order to be completely invested in the journey I am taking, I must accept myself and how I feel, regardless of how embarrassing or hurtful or ridiculous those feelings may seem.

Because, after all, that's what makes me human.


While I was at Berkeley, it was really important for me to do well. I had this sort of complex about school, where I believed my self worth was reflected in the grades I earned in class, at least in the eyes of my parents. I worked and worked and worked for A's, and in the course of three and a half years, I only earned two solid A's.

This time around, grades are unimportant to me. What I strive for most is understanding and getting each and every concept thoroughly ingrained in my mind and body. So far, so good.

Last week, we had our first demonstration during which we presented proper vocal technique to our instructor. I practiced for nights on end, making sure I really understood what was going on, how I reacted to various alterations of the technique to know when I was doing it right and when I was doing it wrong, and to ensure that I wouldn't be nervous when the day of the demonstration came. That dedicated effort got me an A- on my first try. And considering this is just the beginning, I'm sure to improve in the next few weeks and months.

Wanting to understand taught me the more important lesson, rather than simply wanting to achieve.


I am broke. The kind of broke that is almost unbearable. My weekly budget for food is $15 a week. And that is the largest allowance I am giving myself. Having spent two years working for a large and successful corporation, earning more money than I needed, kept me comfortable, especially since I was so close to home, where I had all the resources I needed to feel secure. I knew that moving to New York would mean making a lot of sacrifices for the sake of the pursuit of my dreams. I didn't know it meant I would be wondering each and every day how I would make it through without much more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a pack of fruit snacks.

I've been trying to work my way around this. I pick up shifts at work when I can, which isn't often because of my class schedule, but I try anyway. I've requested to work longer on weekends, giving up what little free time I have to make the money I need to pay bills, feed myself, and save up money to fly home for Christmas. I'm considering picking up a tutoring job when the fall comes to make a little extra cash on those evenings I get out of class too late to work at the restaurant.

I lamented about my struggles with Lexie the other night, and she kindly redirected my focus to the big picture that lay in front of me: "You have an old soul, but you're not old. You have to remember that. You're a 23-year-old starving artist. Comparatively, you're doing really well."

She's right. And 20 years from now, I'll look back, laugh with my friends and family, and say, "Remember that time I moved to New York with nothing more than a little bit of money and a pocket full of dreams?"


Finally, a shout out to my Auntie Marie. Becky told me you read this, so I thought I'd make it extra special for you this week. ;)

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