Revisits: November 27th 2017

I started doing “Revists” when I ran across two documents that I was working on in 2017 to gain consistency in writing. A good chunk of the entries are light and funny, but some of them are very heavy, particularly entries from November 2017 onwards. I tried making two promises to myself to stick with the daily writing project, both of which I fell short on. This post is from the midst of a show week and a deep “blue period” for me. When I first read this post, I cried when I realized how much hurt I was dealing with at the time that I didn’t fully grasp. This was at a point in my life where I was refusing to get help or to deal with issues that needed to be addressed. Point of reference: writing in bold is the original text, writing in italics commentary. 

 

11/27/2017

I’m so thankful to past Abby for not putting a quantity goal on this project if mine, because as this semester comes to a close, I’m not going to have any extra time to even breathe. Oh just you wait until the spring semester, Abby. I was PISSED last night when Kelsey emailed us saying we had Short and Sweet rehearsal, because I was going to use tonight to try and get ahead on some homework. It was a huge sigh of relief when she sent an email this morning saying it was a false alarm, but I was quite irritated still to say the least. Kelsey, if you’re reading this, I love you, Grandmama. Receiving that email from you was awesome.

Trying to get everything organized is going to be the death of me. I’ve got three giant projects to finish for my studio classes, and I think I’m biting off more than I can chew. Ha. Yes, yes you were. You’re gonna be doing that for another year and a half. Oh well. Trying to get that freaking portfolio together so that maybe the art department will give me more money next semester. Man, I am glad that I dropped down to an animation minor and that I don’t have to deal with applying for scholarships for my Bachelor’s anymore.

***

Oh my gosh, I literally have no idea when I’ll get these art projects done, I’m going to die. You made it through, it’s okay. Why are my projects always so elaborate? Because you like to challenge yourself. Why can’t I be a bum and just BS my work like half my peers do? Well… Because I’m a freaking over achiever and if I don’t push myself to do my very best I feel like a loser. Let’s try and rephrase this: I give my best effort in every area of my  life, but if I fall short of my personal expectations, that doesn’t mean I’ve  failed.

I know I’m not a perfectionist. Eeeeeeh wondering if that isn’t the case. I most definitely slack off on some stuff. I wish there was a term for a person who wants everything to look great.

I guess there is a word for that…

“Overachiever”

Which you already used, Abby

Dummy Oh sweet girl.

Ugh, I need to be kinder to myself. I guess I sort of did something for myself today. I made a sheet of photos and “illegally” printed them in the office. It’s technically not illegal, but they would probably be mad if I used company time to make a sheet of scrapbook photos. Oof, I remember this day. It was a really slow day, but I felt really bad about it.

I’m the worst.

Oh well.

I have found recently I am giving less-of-a-crap for a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t. Having to work my ass off constantly is exhausting; I don’t have time to give a crap anymore. Side bar: adding a Sabbath to my weekly routine has been the best thing I have done for myself over this past month of my life. Hopefully this isn’t how I’ll always be. It’s not: now you care almost a bit too much. I want to “give a crap” about stuff. I want to care. I just feel like I’ve turned into a robot of negative emotions. I’m a Tin Man. I don’t have a heart.

That’s a huge hyperbole, because I do care. I obviously do; I cry on my boyfriend all the time.  Which that needs to change ASAP, Abby. You’re an annoying hot mess who needs to get their act together and stop being a Debbie-Downer all the time. You’re afraid of everything and it’s dumb. Snap out of it. WOW WOW WOW. I wish I could say I didn’t talk to myself like this anymore, but sentences like this come out of my mouth often. God bless my life allies who are good at helping refute negative self-talk.

I should never be a counselor.

In other news, I’m gonna stop taking birth control. I think it’s one of the reasons I’m an emotional pipe bomb all the time. Ah yes, a choice that was influenced by people who don’t believe in medicine. Granted, there are other factors, but I am thinking the additional hormones being added to my body aren’t really helping. Maybe my period will be normal now, I dunno, but at this point, I’ve gotta fix my brain for the good of everyone around me.

I don’t have a cute little button for this post. To be quite honest, two different drafts are sitting on my desktop that I got half way through this week but abandoned for the time being. It’s okay to admit to yourself that you’re not alright. At times, you’ve gotta take a step back, breathe, and do what you need to take care of yourself. That can mean spending two hours with your Disney Princess coloring book while watching “The Office.” Or, it can mean blasting a T-Pain album while beating up bad guys in your Spider-Man video game. Sometimes, it means sleeping through the day.  

As stated before, I wrote this original post during a very low period of my life. Full disclosure, I’m in a much lower valley now than I was on November 27th, 2017. I don’t write this post to say, “Oh, woe is me, everyone should feel bad for me.” I share this very vulnerable part of my brain in hopes that someone else can be helped by hearing my story. So, in absence of a button-ending, I’ll leave you with this: take care of yourself, not for the benefit of other people, but for *you*. You are important and worth the effort.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Advertisements

Top Five Scenic Painting Jobs

For someone who has always enjoyed painting, getting to move to larger projects via theatrical sets has been a great challenge over the past few years. Here are my top five favorite projects I have worked on thus far!

 

Honorable Mention- “21 Chump Street”- I was not on the official design/construction team for “Short and Sweet,” which is a collection of short plays and films that my college puts on once a year. However, a friend of mine was directing Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 15 minute musical, “21 Chump Street,” and for her set, she was using the chalkboard from our scene shop. I was asked if I could add some graffiti to the chalkboard, which resulted in me spending an hour in the theater blasting Taylor Swift and going to town on the board. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

56887088_2099023193551605_2377438593619591168_n

 

5) “Schoolhouse Rock Live!”-This one doesn’t technically count as I really only painted one part of the set. “Schoolhouse” was the first show I ever did in college, and is still one of my favorites. While I was an actor in the production, I found myself wandering into the scene shop a few times to help on set construction. The first time I went in, I was told to finish putting together a set of stairs. After a few visits, I ended up painting most of the Lolly House, which ended up as the homebase for the band that was playing for the show. It was during this project I learned how to mimic the look of cinder block via sawdust and a hudson sprayer. Not gonna lie, it was pretty cool to be on stage every night with a set I had helped to create.

22045748_1733664363352831_6544234951154072818_n

 

4) “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” –This is another one that I only did part of the painting process for, but it was because of “Schoolhouse Rock Live” that I was able to teach others some helpful techniques. Over the winter break of 2017, I was home in KC while my paint shoes were safe in their locker in St. Joe. “Surely I won’t need to take these home over break!” (Famous Last Words) Some of my dear friends were in a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” at the time through the theatre program I grew up participating in. I offered to come in and help gather costumes and assist in painting the set. Due to the limited amount of rehearsal time though, cast members filtered in and out of their rehearsal space and the warehouse where the brick walls were being painted. Since I had just worked on a brick project a few months beforehand, I was able to guide the process with students who hadn’t put a hand on scenic painting before. I came back into town a month later to see the show, and let me tell you, those brick walls looked super spiffy. Side bar: my purple converse ended up becoming my secondary set of paint shoes.

26805173_1842353942483872_4778784108912977837_n

 

3) “Blithe Spirit” –Ah, the biggest love/hate/mostly hate experience I have had thus far with a painting project. Let me preface this with the fact that “Blithe Spirit” is my favorite play that I have gotten to perform in thus far. British humor cracks me up, y’all. The whole play takes place in the living room of the Condomine house, so since there was only one location, we had a lovely, elaborate box set. God bless our Technical Director, Scroggs; his carpentry skills were off the charts for this project. There was so much math involved in creating the staggered walls of the set, and I am forever envious of those who have a natural knack for drafting. Those gorgeous walls needed a pattern though, which is where I came in. I spent about ten hours going up and down a ladder stenciling the massive set. The little paint roller I was using had a wonderfully frustrating habit of falling off the handle every five minutes, and I looked like I had leprosy every time I finished a painting session. Proud to say though, there was only one part of the wall that I messed up math-wise while painting. My stage husband enjoyed pointing it out to me every other day. It helped fuel our arguments during the show.  

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 9.33.46 AM

 

2) “Spring Awakening”-I live in the Midwest, and in the Midwest, there’s this thing called snow that likes to throw off everyone’s lives. The winter of 2018, we didn’t have as much snow, but goodness sakes, we had a ton of ice. We had so much ice that our campus closed for three days. Oh, did I mention that those three days were right in the middle of tech for “Spring Awakening?” Yeeeeeeeeah not the greatest timing. However, the show must go on, and the set must be finished. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Brett Carlson on creating 128 square feet of our “Song of Purple Summer” mural. Learning how to make canned paint look like watercolor was a fantastic skill to learn and led to a gorgeous end result. Replicating the process for KCACTF51 was terrifying because I wasn’t sure if I could measure up to what was made the year before, but I surprised myself by my recreation. (Fun fact: this show was one of the main reasons that Sweet Ben and I became good friends. It was a long process, but it was good to have a partner for the project.)

28795468_1894563110596288_6816186126080933888_o

1) “Antigone”-Woohoo for my current project! This design was a collaboration with Ben and our professor Jeff for our set design independent study. There was an afternoon where Ben and I were cleaning out the paint kitchen, and stumbled upon these banners that had been used for a show years beforehand. We were in the midst of brainstorming what we wanted the set to look like, and he had the idea to have some form of banners as part of the design. Ben’s got a knack for creating symbols, so together, we created runes for not only each character in the play, but also runes for characters that were part of the other plays in Sophocles’ trilogy about the line of Oedipus. From there, we ended up creating 14×5 foot banners that hang on either side of the stage. After Ben did the math, we drew out the symbols in a what we lovingly refer to as the “Death Tree.” I then spent a few hours filling them in with black paint (shout out to Ted Dekker for writing spooky books that are fun to listen to while painting for a Greek tragedy).

IMG_5945

The next day, I tea-stained the giant banners to tone down the brightness of the muslin we had painted on. We attached them to one of our batons so we could fly them out to dry. While looking at them, I was so anxious about the next step. Our idea was to make blood stains on the banners, but I loved how nice they looked up to this point. I didn’t wanna screw up the hours of work we had already put in! I spent about an hour mixing and testing different washes of paint to try and great the right color for the job. I ended up soaking the ends of the banners in a gallon bucket of the wash mixture I landed on. My hands were stained red and I looked like I had just committed a horrible crime. Following this, I went a little nuts with splatter painting, creating some pretty sick looking “blood splatters.” This technique only added to me looking like a psycho murderer, but dang, did those banners look awesome. It was a fun adventure to wander around the building while covered in the paint; I’ve never heard our costuming professor laugh as loudly as she did that afternoon.

 

While there have been moments of frustration and self-doubt while working on each of these projects, all of them led to really gratifying end results. Overall lesson from these experiences: don’t doubt yourself. Even if you make mistakes, you’ll always end up learning something new from each assignment you take on. Don’t be afraid to make a mess; the messy projects are usually the most fun!

 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Revisits: Dark Lipstick

In this installment of “Revisits,” I commentate on how I viewed make up a little over two and a half years ago and where I am now. For point of reference, the original piece of writing I wrote back in 2017 is in bold, and my additional commentary is in italics. Enjoy! 

January 2nd 2017

Let’s talk about dark lipstick. Over the past year, I’ve become more interested in actually partaking in the social norms of being a girl. Oof, we are off the the races, aren’t we, Abby? Oh you pretentious writer soul, you! By social norms, I’m referring to styling my hair, creating fashion combinations that aren’t just t shirts and jeans every single day, and wearing more noticeable make up. Fun fact: I once had a  person in my life (whom I love dearly) who was talking about how they used to wear only t-shirts and jeans everyday before we started class.  I expressed, “Me too!” I was quite proud of my graphic tee collection. Right after my exclamation though, they said they weren’t really proud of that fact. I was twelve, and it was the first time I was self conscious about my appearance. I’ve liked this one tube of lip gloss an awful lot since the summer. It was one my mom didn’t use anymore and had somehow ended up in my stage make up bag. After wearing it for Anything Goes, I found that I actually really liked the color. God bless that lipstick that made my bartender character look like a woman. I would wear it more often, and if I was seeing someone I wanted to impress, you could bet that lip gloss was in my pocket. “Someone?” Who are you kidding? You wore it around that boy you liked who didn’t give you the time of day and you know it!

About a month ago, Mom introduced me to this fancy new lip stain that stays on all day. LipSense: the gift from the make-up heavens. Currently wearing Blu-Red, which I fell in love with when I saw Taylor Swift in Tampa this summer. It’s truly magical stuff. I never wanted to be a girl that redoes her makeup when out with guys, but I still wanted them to think, “Hey, she actually looks like a girl.” Oh my gosh, sweetheart, you’ve always looked like a girl, you poor thing. I’m about 95% positive that this insecurity came from the fact that I have played so many male roles on stage. With my stature, it really is easy for me to look like a boy with the help of costumes and stage makeup. Whenever you get repeatedly cast in male roles to the point where it becomes a running joke, it can be rough on the still developing mind. When I auditioned for “Beauty and the Beast,” I blatantly went after the role of Lefou, not only because I thought playing the role would be fun, but also because I didn’t think I was the type of girl to play a princess. Granted, I tried really hard to claim the joke for my own, but no matter how much I made cracks at my own expense, it still hurt at least a little bit every time. I’m not very good at it yet though. I miss parts of my upper lip or put too much gloss on almost every time. But last night, when I went to see my friends in a show, one of my girl friends said, “Wow, that dark lipstick looks great on you!” Ah yes, the validation of other females. More often than not, much more impactful and/or scarring than that from men.

Now, I don’t usually carry comments around about what people say about my appearance. While this is true, the comments I do carry are HEAVY. For example, one that still creeps into my thoughts every now and then is when a guy kept making lesbian jokes at my expense when I had a pixie cut and was wearing a flannel. Granted, that first pixie cut was not the greatest thing in the world, but goodness, that messed with my head for years, especially when I was still dealing with gluing my heart back together after my first break up. This is quite the sidebar, but hey, can we all choose to not use sexual orientation as a way to tear another person down? K thanks. Sure, when a fella says, “You look nice,” it boosts my confidence for a bit, but I don’t often have a comment from a fellow female floating around in my head for almost 24 hours. Yet, here I am, wearing my pjs with my mismatched socked feet on my desk with dark red lip stick on. Fun fact: I am SHOOK on the days I accidentally match my ankle socks. I didn’t leave the house once today, yet I still put the stuff on. Why? There was no one to impress. The only people I had interactions with were my family, my dog, and a few snapchat exchanges. Abby, you did have someone to impress, and you know darn well who you were snap chatting with that A+ lip stain.

I never used to care. I went through a phase where I wore this wool newsies hat EVERYWHERE. This hat currently resides on my “CYT Shrine,” resting on top of the wig I “styled” for Scottish Play and a styrofoam head that I think I accidentally stole. It didn’t matter what I was doing, I wore that freaking hat all the time. In a sense, I feel as though that hat was a shield. I didn’t like my hair, so I covered it up. Puberty was ROUGH. Keeping thin, blonde hair clean is quite difficult. Can you blame a girl for wanting to cover it up? With that logic in mind, I sometimes wonder where or not I used makeup to cover up the face I’m not particularly fond of. There was a day my parents gave me the green light to start using the stuff, so I did. I wasn’t very good at it then, and certainly not super great at it now. The difference now though is the mindset. Looking back, I don’t think I was covering up a face I didn’t like. With or without makeup, I didn’t feel pretty at all. I was friends with the girls in elementary school who grew up to be the “popular girl” stereotype. I was always surrounded by people I thought were pretty. I tried to have what I thought they had, but it was a lot of effort and after a while, I chose not to consciously care (at least for a little while).

Full disclosure, yes, I do put in more time on my make up when I see my guy friends. Ah, there we go. There’s the true honesty. They most likely don’t even care, but I do. In the back of my mind, I want to thought of as a beautiful person, like the girls who get asked out to dances and on dates and are pursued. OOF. This was a BIG deal for me: dances. I wanted so badly for one of my guy friends to ask me to a dance in high school and would be very upset when one of the girls I viewed as being super gorgeous got asked instead. But that’s not the only reason, and definitely shouldn’t be the only reason. I like looking in the mirror and thinking, “Dang girl, you look good today.” I enjoy feeling confident in the sense that I don’t need a boy to tell me I look nice; I can do it for myself. Yes, HOWEVER, it is good to surround yourself with both men and women who will unapologetically build you up.

It’s fun to be pretty. Yep. It’s okay to spend time enhancing your features. Hmm, let me rephrase this. I feel it’s okay to enhance the features God has given you if you are doing it for the right reason. Calling attention to yourself for selfish reasons instead of wanting to reflect the Light of Christ inside of you: not the right reason. While it’s not something I spend hours doing, I like fluffing up my “puff” and putting on makeup. *snickers* “Puff” is what I lovingly referred to my mop of hair as I was growing out my first pixie. I feel as though I had once had a stigma against being “fancy” because I wanted to be ready to goof off and horse around. Hence why I ALWAYS wear booty shorts underneath skirts and dresses. You never known when you’re gonna get into a snowball fight while walking across campus. Also, WIND. Where does it say though that you can’t hang upside down from a tree while wearing dark red lipstick? I’m sure someone said that somewhere, and whoever did it has no imagination or joy in their life.

There’s a reason why I’ll never be a Beauty Guru on YouTube: I still don’t know how I truly feel about the stuff. Okay, now I know how I feel about it. I like it. It makes me feel more confident. Do I need it to feel confident? Heck no! But I have found on days that I feel sick or unmotivated, putting on at least mascara and eyeliner does a world of wonder for my mood. While I’ll never be a girl to spend more than ten minutes doing their face in the morning, I have come to have an appreciation for my little bag of products.

To the kid who feels insecure with how they look: you’re not alone, Dear One. To the teenager who doesn’t feel like you’ll ever fit in because of how you look: you are valuable beyond measure, Dear One. To the young adult who feels ugly: you are not defined by your outward appearance, Dear One. To anyone who has ever been torn down by the negative thoughts from others or yourself: you are not defined by the words of flawed human beings, Dear One. Everyone is uniquely hand-crafted in an absolutely wonderful way: relish the fact that there is no one on Earth exactly like you.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

21 Life Lessons

Last year when I turned twenty years old, I had an existential crisis in a Starbucks in St. Joe. I have wonderful memories of that day, and also some not so great ones. I have to say, my year of being twenty was a lot like my birthday last year: full of wonderful memories, along with some not so great ones. The past 365 days have been some of the most character building days of my life. On this day of starting up a new year of life, I’d like to share twenty-one life lessons that I have learned over the course of my time here on earth thus far.

Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay. However, that does not give you an excuse to not be kind.

Breathe. It’s something I don’t do nearly enough. Breathe to support yourself when you are singing. Breathe when you’re on stage delivering lines. Breathe through the stress that will at some point pass.

You deserved to be treated like a queen; settle for nothing less. 

You can’t take words back; think before you speak.

Learn to apologize, but do not apologize for things that are not your fault.

Your casting in a show, your position in a job, your grade on a math test or your GPA do not define who you are as a person.

Being a Christian is not easy, and anyone who tells you that all your problems will go away when you accept Jesus is a big old liar.

When you’re frustrated, take ten seconds to step back and think as to why someone else is thinking differently than you.

Meekness is not weakness. Meekness actually shows are strong you are.

Know where your personality flourishes and find a work environment that best suits you. I do not belong in an office setting. It makes me go bonkers and I feel so unproductive when I am trapped behind a desk.

The arts are so important and no matter what others tell you, never stop creating.

Do not hold onto your plans with tight fists. Instead, hold them with open palms, allowing them to be remolded or tossed out if needed.

God wants you to be happy and enjoy life. He created so much awesome stuff; He wants us to enjoy it!

There is no shame in seeking help to improve your mental health.

Not everyone is going to support you. Listen to your opposition, but do not allow it to sway you. Instead, listen to the people who are in your corner rooting you on, and encourage them to succeed as well.

Sometimes, you have to be the bad cop. When you do so, do it with grace and understanding. No one is perfect; deliver correction with gentleness.

Practice makes permanent.

Sometimes, you need to do a better job of trusting your gut feeling.

Reading out loud is one of the best ways to share community with another person.When someone walks into your home, offer them a beverage. If they’re sad, offer a hot one, making sure to add an extra spoonful of sugar.

No matter how badly I mess up, I am still loved beyond my own understanding.

Never stop learning, my friends. Whether you’re eight or eighty-eight, there’s still so much to life that is left to be discovered. I look forward to seeing what all I’ll be learning over this next 365 days of life!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

I Remember

I remember the first time sitting in a college class, wishing I didn’t have braces.

I remember the first time I walked into the art lab in the humanities building.

I remember the first time I was in love.

I remember the first time I was kissed.

I remember the first time my heart was broken.

I remember the second, third, and fourth time, too.

I remember the first time I knew I truly loved performing.

I remember how it felt to be labeled incorrectly.

I remember the first time I thought about him in a different light.

I remember the first time I drove a car.

I remember the first time I felt the utter shock of paralyzing fear.

I remember the first time my heart skipped a beat when he said, “I love you” for the first time.

I remember the first time I got a C in a class.

I remember the first time I realized that my grades don’t define me.

I remember the first time I felt the shame of sharing my darkest secrets.

I remember the first time I felt truly empty and broken being touched by a guy.

I remember the first time I felt truly safe while he held my hand.

I remember the first time I felt worthless.

I remember the first time I felt like I mattered to someone else.

I remember the first time I let go of my plans.

I remember summers of coffee runs and jam sessions.

I remember matching converses and sunglasses.

I remember throwing up in Applebee’s from stress.

I remember the thrill of being cast in my first college show.

I remember the first time I wandered into the scene shop and learned how to build stairs.

I remember saying no in the doctor’s office.

I remember saying no again.

I remember caving and getting a little bit of help.

I remember the argument that followed.

I remember the first time I felt the guilt that plagued me for almost a year.

I remember the first time I cried under the tree outside of Potter.

I remember the first time I thought, “You have to tell him about Jesus.”

I remember the first time I went up to the prop loft.

I remember the first time I saw myself on screen as a film actress.

I remember the first time a person told me I had a beautiful soprano voice.

I remember the second time I felt blindsided by heart break.

I remember the first time we got snowed in.

I remember the first real hug I received from him.

I remember the last time a gospel conversation occurred.

I remember the first time I was truly honest with my doctor.

I remember the first time I wrapped a pill bottle with washi tape.

I remember the first time in years I felt truly in love with the Lord.

I remember running around the house with the pure joy of celebration.

I remember the sound of Taylor Swift and the smell of burning polaroids on New Year’s Day.

I remember the first time we held hands while walking across campus.

I remember the first time we talked about Potter Prayer.

I remember the first time I felt scared to continue.

I remember the first time I thought about swallowing all my antidepressants in one go.

I remember driving down the highway blasting “Smoke and Guns.”

I remember joy.

I remember pain.

I remember both the good and bad.

I remember the countless times that people have told me that everything happens for a reason.

There are times I have wanted to give up, but then I remember that my mission is not yet complete: there are still more memories to be experienced. For better or worse, God is not finished with me yet, and He is a Father who remembers His people.

 

“For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”

Deuteronomy 4:31

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Revisits: Coffee Shop Romance

Do you ever have those days where you think, “Man, I’d really like to be lazy today and plagiarize the writing I did as a self-reflective exercise back in 2017?”

…is that just me?

*shrugs*

tenor.gif

I’m currently working to get a stockpile of writing together so that I can have time to have intentional rest one day a week. I’m trying quite hard to make Fridays my Sabbath, but wouldn’t you know, Abby posts her blogs on Fridays. And by, “post her blogs on Friday,” it means she is often finishing said blog close to 11:59pm on Friday evenings (and sometimes posting them a few minutes after midnight).

tenor.gif

I decided to get a bit of inspiration (and possibly a ton of material) for future blog posts by digging through my Google Drive. I had two writing projects I tried to complete my senior year of high school into my first year at Missouri Western: one document titled, “2017” and the other “365.” The point of these projects was to write every day, and I found that by the end of both documents, I was dealing with waves of depression that stole my joy and motivation. In honor of the rediscovery of some light hearted and not-so-light hearted pieces of writing I found, I have decided to start a new category on my site called, “Revisits.” In these posts, I will be doing a sort of commentary on my younger self/older pieces of writing. This first tidbit of writing was done January 3rd, 2017 at a coffee shop called Black Dog, which is one of my favorite places in the KC area. For point of reference, the original writing is in bold, and my additions are in italics. Enjoy!

giphy

 

January 3rd

Coffee shops are one of the most calming places I find myself in these days, second only to used bookstores. Man, I wish we had more bookstores in St. Joe. Can I just pick up my college and drop it in the middle of Kansas City?  Not the chain stores like Starbucks or Caribou, though my Barry Road Starbucks is still a place I frequent often. I’m talking one of a kind coffee places, where you never find the same decor in another place. Places that welcome visitors with one of a kind experiences and flavors to try. Places that are crowded with people from all walks of life, whether hipsters, business men, college students or old couples enjoying the afternoon together. Places that you can plop down in a nice leather chair, sit back with a house cup, and enjoy the atmosphere. I’m sitting in the coffee shop I wrote this in, and I can confirm, there is a table of hipsters directly in front of me, a bar stool that is being occupied by a businessman, a girl doing some sort of medical homework across the room, and an older couple just ordered two black coffees. I also am indeed drinking from a house cup and am enjoying the organized chaos. However, I am sitting in a metal chair and that’s a little disappointing.

I like going to these places to people watch. Strangers can be truly fascinating things. Please tell me other people do this. I’m not crazy, right? Before I started this monologue of coffee shops, I was sitting in a corner facing away from all the people. What’s the fun in that? You can’t observe the life going on around you. Granted, now I’m in a corner room where the subjects I can watch are the ones going to and from the bathroom and the guy who is most likely a college student sitting about 10 feet away. Currently sitting at a table right outside this corner room. It was full today, so I couldn’t claim my favorite chair. He’s very interested in his phone instead of his computer and he’s thrown his head back in frustration a few times. Maybe he’s in a fight with someone. He’s smiled at me a few times; I hope he figures out his problems.

I feel as though coffee shops have the potential to be one of the most romantic places on the planet. Imagine: you sit down across the room from a beautiful stranger. *snorts* I’m sorry, I’m sorry. They glance up and you share a smile. You leave your things to go retrieve your beverage, only to trip and spill the stuff all over the ground just inches away from your destination. Why is everybody always tripping in romantic stories? Anytime I trip, people usually laugh. The stranger jumps up to help mop up the mess as you mutter how much of a klutz they must think you are. They laugh along with you at your situation. Oh okay, there’s the laughing.  As you wipe up the coffee, you lock eyes. Both hearts skip a beat. A little spark has been lit. After the napkins have been tossed and the damage is cleared, they insist on replacing the drink. Bravo, fantasy guy. Even though you’re in college, you ain’t cheap.  You sit and talk, getting to know each other. You learn they’re at university not too far away from your own, and that they’ve seen you every now and then at this place drinking out of one of the red house cups. Total sidebar: I NEVER get the red house cups at Black Dog because those are only for their normal bottomless coffee. HOWEVER, whenever Sweet Ben and I go to our Monday morning coffee shop in St. Joe, I ALWAYS ask for the red mug. You explain how you want to travel, and exchange stories about your global travels with high school youth groups. Ooooooooo fantasy guy loves Jesus, nice detail, Abby. They laugh at your terrible jokes. You giggle at they’re (their, Abby, come on) awful puns. As weeks go by, you see each other more and more frequently. A bond had been made; a match made in a coffee shop. I know for a fact I was probably thinking of the song, “Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop” while writing this. Go give it a listen, it’s cute.

Oh what a life that would be if romance were started by my habit of spilling things. Right? Sorry 2017 Abby, that usually only happens in film. I know it wouldn’t be with this guy across the room. Big oof.  He just cursed and pocketed his phone. He did ask how I was doing though before he took out his notebook. I’m trying not to be nosy, so I can’t tell if he’s drawing or writing. I’m assuming it’s the latter, as he’s mouthing something and leaned his head back again. Poor fella. At least he has a cool jacket in a heap on the chair next to him. Life is better with cool jackets. I wish it were a little less cold so I could wear mine. …apparently I was doing stream of consciousness writing at this point.

I think I accidently snapped Leather Jacket Guy back into reality by my cup clattering back onto the saucer. In about 20 minutes, I’ll be walking out the doors into reality once again. It’s too bad my friends couldn’t join me today, (Ah, this was a CYT rehearsal day I guess) but then again, if they had come, I wouldn’t have been able to get my coffee shop prince fantasy out onto paper. Is fantasy the right word? HA apparently so, as even now 2019 Abby has used that very same word twice. Goodness, I just laughed too loudly in this very crowded place. Also ugh Abby! Why did you end on that sentence?? Heaven’s sakes, this is pure, awkward gold.

Apparently, early 2017 Abby was a hopeless romantic. Then again, the current version of me is still a sucker for romcom thoughtful gestures. I will hold true to the fact though that local coffee shops truly are the sure fire way for me to get major inspiration. I look forward to exploring more of this pile of once forgotten compositions. There’s something oddly therapeutic about revisiting my past self. Who knows? It has been enlightening for me to see just how far I’ve come in a little over two years, not just as a writer, but as an overall person. Never stop changing for the better, my friends.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

My Top Five Stage Injuries (As of March 2019)

I have found throughout my experience of almost twelve years doing live performances on stage year-round that I am a very sturdy human. More often than not, I end runs of shows with multiple bruises and a few good stories. Most recently, I closed “Little Women,” in which I got to portray Amy March (check out my most recent post for more insight). Out of all the roles I’ve played, I didn’t expect the scariest injuries I’ve ever gotten on stage to come from this one. After almost losing my right eye in the middle of Act 1, I thought it would be fun to go back and tell some my “battle” stories. So, here are my Top Five Scariest Injuries in my Acting Career (thus far).

Honorable Mentions:
“Narnia”: While doing a stage combat workshop for the giant battle at the end of the show, little Abby got smacked in the face by a very thin, metal pole of a sword.

Stage Combat Punches to the Face: One when I was playing Fred Weasley in a combat workshop, one when my scene partner was on top of me and did not aim well (or aimed a little too well I suppose), and once when I was 18 and a 14 year old uppercut my jaw. The 14 year old cried more than I did; it was funny.

Sword on hand: I don’t remember what summer it was, but one year, the skin between my thumb and pointer finger on my right hand got nipped by a sword during a rehearsal. I’ve still got a scar.

5) “Alice” – Abby’s Head vs. the Concrete
Middle school was when I really started getting into stage combat. We were doing a reimagined/modern version of Alice in Wonderland, and I was playing the Unicorn. Now, the Unicorn and the Lion come on stage while fighting each other, and the main character interrupts us. We help her figure out how to get home, blah blah blah…that’s not important.
My dear friend Brooke and I were trying to figure out a cool fight to do for our scene. Our dance room in the church we rehearsed in had very hard concrete floors, so everyone was pretty careful when they were in there. However, while trying to work out a lift, Brooke accidentally flipped me backwards, causing my head to crash super hard into the ground. This is the first time in my life that I’m pretty sure I got a concussion, but didn’t go to the doctor for it. Hindsight…probably should have. I had quite a large lump on the back of my skull for about a week. Thank goodness this was not on stage.
4) “Mulan”- Abby’s Shin vs. the Mountain
This next memory is one that happened on stage, but not during a performance. During my junior year of high school, I got to play my favorite/the best Disney princess ever. Our set was absolutely incredible: it was basically a huge mountain. It was about eight feet tall and had a bunch of levels so that we could have a lot of variation in blocking. Shout out to the parents who put together that beast.
During one of the first tech rehearsals, I was running up the mountain to save Shang from dying, as princesses do. This was at a time in my life where I was a lot more klutzy, and my foot slipped on the edge of one of the levels. My body went flying forward, and my shin connected HARD with the step. I still have a scar from the dent that was put into my leg, and I was always slightly nervous about staying on my feet during that scene.

3) “Little Women”- Abby’s Head vs. the Couch
These last three incidents were things that happened during a performance. In other words, large crowds of people witnessed these occasions. Imagine if you will; it’s opening night of the first musical you’ve performed in for over a year. You’re playing a very dramatically bratty character who often throws temper tantrums on stage. During one of these fits, you are blocked to fling yourself backwards onto a couch. Well, during the first time you have an audience to watch the show, your head connects very hard with the wooden beam of the arm rest on the couch. And let me tell you, the THUD is quite loud.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have actually heard an audience collectively exclaim, “oooooo” all that once. I could see the eyebrows of my music director, who was in the pit, almost fly off of his forehead. It is by the grace of God that my head hit at the fluffiest part of my wig and right where my braids were hanging out underneath my wig cap. If I had hit my head a little bit lower, things could have been a lot worse and much, much scarier. Good thing I have a thick skull!
2) “West Side Story”- Abby’s Foot (and the rest of her body) vs. the Fence
If you don’t know me in real life, let me paint a picture for you of what I look like: I’m five feet tall. That’s about all you need to know for this story. During my senior year of high school, I was playing a dream role of seven years: Anybody’s in West Side Story. Hanging out with some of my best bros, getting to dance and fight was extremely fun. Another thing that I got to do as this character was scale a 6 and a half foot chain link fence. While this was fun, it also was kind of terrifying every night, and sometimes impossible for me (which was SUPER embarrassing).
Whenever we jumped off the fence, we were told to jump forward a bit so as not to land on the “sidewalk” (a six inch platform on the stage). On one of the nights that I actually got over the fence, the arch of my foot landed on the edge of the sidewalk, causing a shock of pain to shoot up my leg. Luckily, it was a scene where I was supposed to be scared to death, so I was able to sort of play it off. At intermission, Officer Keary (one of my friend’s dad who is a police officer as well as a parent who is supportive of their child’s theatrical experiences) wrapped my foot, since the shock had left my ankle really sore. There was no visible mark left over, but man was that ankle sore for a bit.

1) “Little Women”- Abby’s eye vs. the Ice Skate
Again, I didn’t think that my scariest injury on stage would be during a show like Little Women, but alas, here we are. It’s the second to last show, and I am going through the scene in which I hit my head the week before. For some reason, my shoe is slightly loose, and for some other reason, I have a very difficult time getting the ice skates out of the box that they are set in. You would think that this would be the moment that an ice skate would fly up and hit someone in the eye, but oh no no, that’s not how my life works. I run over to my pal Libby, give her my sister stage hug, and then dash over to the coat rack that has my cape and bonnet. As I reach up for these props, the back corner of the ice skate swings up and smacks me in the eye. I half stumble off stage, dropping off the props as nicely as I could while also grabbing at my throbbing face. I feel a slightly squishy thing in the palm of my hand, and my first thought is, “oh man, is this part of my eye in my hand?” It wasn’t. It was just my contact. So, over the course of three minutes, the backstage team gets me contact solution, I miraculously get the tiny piece of plastic back into my eye, and get carried on stage for a scene in which I am crying after a near death experience. My mom just thought I really connected with the character that evening. I’ve never seen my peers that shocked on stage while still staying in character. It was super helpful to be able to actually cry during the scene, and you’d be amazed what performance energy can do for you when you have to do a happy-go-lucky production number.
After finishing my Act 1 scenes, I go downstairs, peel off my wig and curl up in Sweet Ben’s lap, waiting for one of the amazing ASMs, Elizabeth, to show up to clean my war torn eye. At this point, I’m laughing and making jokes already, and I think some of my peers thought I was a nut. Miss Elizabeth has excellent bedside manner and did a great job of doctoring the cut that was just below my eye and on my eyelid. Again, it is by the grace of God that injury was not so much scarier than it could have been. The next day, our stage manager asked me to keep cleaning the mess over the course of the day so as to prevent infection (because you can’t really put a bandaid on an eye). Me, trying to be tough or whatever, tried to clean it by myself, but ended up getting alcohol in my eye, which was quite counter productive. It was because of this that Ben ended up with the job of not only cleaning my eye every day, but also remembering/talking me into doing it. You can’t blame me for “forgetting”…it stung, okay! I didn’t like it. (However, it’s a week after that scare and the cut is almost completely healed. Huzzah for modern medicine and kind souls who are gentle and helpful.)

 
The biggest thing I have come to learn from all these injuries and every other bump and bruise I’ve gotten as a performer is to always get back up. You can’t let a misfortune scare you off from doing your best at your craft. To be completely honest, I’m sort of glad in a way to have dealt with these situations. They have made me stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. While I hope to not deal with anything more serious than I’ve already dealt with, I am grateful for the painful times that have helped me grow into a more resilient human being.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

In Defense of Amy March

52913877_393988021393058_494394256673210368_nLittle Women is one of my favorite musicals. Though the writing of the show can be weak (and very frustrating) at times, the show is near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen the show a handful of times and have always wanted to be a part of the production. When I found out that my college was doing the show last year, I was over the moon. The idea of auditioning was so exciting to me, and a few close friends in my life told me, “Ah man, you would play such a great Amy!” Here’s the deal though: I used to hate Amy March. Oh goodness, her track made me want to bang my head against the wall; the character was so irritating to me! Low and behold though, when auditions and callbacks ran their course, I found myself with the wonderful opportunity to bring this girl to life on stage.53267019_533478970513424_9212348036921950208_n

Since I’ve been involved in the performing arts, I’ve often been cast in “presentational” roles. In other words, I’ve had a lot of practice playing very silly and outlandish characters. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I started to get the opportunities to play more grounded-in-reality characters, and even then, most of them have had some sort of quirky trait to them. Because of this, I have a tendency to be overly-punchy (punchy: v. to be very extra on stage) with my character choices. Recently, I’ve been working with my professors to become a more honest actress, which involves being pretty vulnerable on stage. This can be extremely scary at times. The best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re standing naked in front of people who are expecting some amazing feat from you. At first, you feel small, nervous, and like you want to burst into tears (and sometimes you do). But the more you do it, the more confidence you gain in yourself, and the more you realize you actually do have clothes on and that you are in control of what the audience sees from you.

53160175_364347857484983_1562172531467616256_nThe biggest challenge with Amy is seeing past her bratty nature. This girl is the youngest of four and looks up to her three older sisters. She especially idolizes Jo, but does not have a healthy way of expressing that, nor is she receiving the gentle, redirecting love she needs from an older sibling. Instead, she is harshly told her interests are silly and that she can’t come along to things she’s too young for. In a moment of frustration, Amy takes out her anger in a very destructive way. There is a reason she does the things she does. There is a reason she talks the way she talks. There is a reason she reacts the way she reacts. There is a reason she is the way she is: it is due to the influences of the people in her life.

Through this character study, I have come to better understand how to deal with not only hard-to-love roles, but also hard-to-love people. Everyone is the way they are due to the 52902829_2274365536220205_8833550887990329344_n
thousands of influences they have had in the span of their life. Via friendships, work, schooling, family dynamics, trauma, triumphs and so much more, we are shaped by the people and events that we encounter everyday. For example, I write the word “and” in a certain way because when I was six years old, a high school-aged girl was teaching a lesson in my Sunday School class and I saw her draw her “ands” in a way that my six-year-old self thought was really stinkin’ cool. The same goes for how I react to stressful social interactions, especially with other women. Because of multiple experiences going back to elementary school, I have had a hard time feeling like other females actually want to be my friend. It’s a really hard thing to deal with, especially when I’m constantly paranoid that ladies are gossiping about me behind my back. While in my head, I know that most of the time, this is not the case, due to previous experiences, I have been conditioned to be weary.

52895342_177495873133735_5806673484998246400_nBy walking (and running, stamping and dancing) in Amy’s shoes for the past two months, I feel that I better understand how to interact with hard-to-love people. When you play a character that you constantly feel that you are sticking up for, you find yourself saying the sentence, “They are the way they are for a reason,” an awful lot. While there is no excuse to treat people poorly, it is helpful to have the understanding that people don’t just lash out for no apparent reason. We are complex human beings who want understanding and love. Little Women will continue to be a show I hold near and dear to my heart, but now with a much deeper appreciation for this story. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Morgan Mallory and Dr. Paul Hindemith for giving me the opportunity to bring Amy March to life in our production. Getting to work on this show was one of the most educational experiences I could have gotten as a college student and I am so grateful for the many ways I’ve been able to grow while working on this process. This show has taught me once again to put my preconceived notions of people aside and truly look at the core of other broken, multilayered human beings.

 

Thank you, Miss March, for working on my heart with your story.

 

53150249_2185240694869571_9095378120193605632_n

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

52874833_993789507487086_1954525503423512576_n

Learning to be a Support

One of my favorite superhero films is the most recent Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot. I’m a huge fan of movies with strong females as the leading characters. I feel that girls everywhere need to be able to see powerful women in stories on screen, stage and in literature (and yes, I include comic books as a kind of literature). Something about this movie that I really love which often goes overlooked is the partnership between Gadot’s and Chris Pine’s characters. Pine’s character, Steve Trevor, serves as the secondary hero of the story, as well as the love interest to Diana. What I love about their dynamic is the two need each other throughout the film. There are clear moments when they both in danger, but they work together to save one another. While Wonder Woman is the obvious hero of the film, she does not save the day single handedly. The screenwriter could have easily taken the story in that direction, but they made the refreshing choice of showing a woman and a man exhibiting a healthy partnership.

I’ve always been a pretty independent gal. I’m one of those stereotypical first-borns with that “natural leader” curse, which is a nice way of saying I have a tendency to be bossy. I tend to find myself in positions of leadership, and to be quite frank, I really enjoy it. I like taking care of other people, solving problems and getting others to unify. However, there have been times where it has gone to my head. I became more focused on the title rather than the responsibilities I had to others. I wanted to be important, but lost sight of what leadership is truly is about. Over the past six months though, I feel as if I have discovered the key to effective leadership: knowing how to be a support.

A prominent example of this in my life is working in the scene shop at my college. Backtracking a little bit: I used to work at a wedding venue as a server/dishwasher. This required a lot of heavy lifting, and I went out of my way to do as much of the lifting as I could without asking for help. It made me stronger, and at times, it was kind of fun to surprise the boys I worked alongside. Jump forward to about three years later, I have found myself working in set construction and maintenance in Potter Theater. When I first came in, I felt the need to prove myself. I also felt like I needed to show I didn’t need help with tasks that other workers (mainly the guys) were asked to do by themselves.

Here’s the deal though: I did need help. Like, a lot of help. I still do! And it’s not just with heavy lifting. Sometimes I have no clue what I’m doing on a construction project. Other times I need an extra set of hands to hold things in place while I try to drive in a screw. And don’t get me started on how many times I’ve had to ask someone taller than me to reach something on top of the lockers.

I found myself in a work environment where I had to acknowledge the fact that other people were just as capable, and oftentimes more so, than I was. One person in particular who was (and still is) far more versed in the technical aspects is Ben. My first impression of him came from me wandering into the shop to help with School House Rock: Live! and seeing him putting together a flat by himself (“Okay, that took me about an hour and a half and it was the WORST”). Over the course of the rest of that school year, I picked up new skills as I worked on different projects. The most valuable of these skills wasn’t how to put together a platform or a set of stairs. It wasn’t how to sweep a stage or how to properly clean a paint roller. No, the greatest thing I’ve come to learn is how to be a support (bet you never saw that coming from the title of this blog).

Ben and I have been working together on various odd jobs for over a year now. More often than not, he has been the one to lead the projects due to the fact that he is more knowledgeable and is a lot stronger than I am. I’ve had to accept the simple fact that being a helper to someone can be just as satisfying as being the leader. From that partnership in the shop, we formed a strong friendship that stretched its way outside of the theater and has been a wonderful constant in my life.

To the people who don’t go to school with me, I ought to probably mention that Ben is also my boyfriend. After a rocky year of relationship and personal drama, the two of us came closer together and realized our partnership could possibly work at a deeper level.  A major change in myself that I have noticed is that I don’t feel the compulsive need to be in charge of everything 24/7 anymore. It’s an odd feeling, but also a relief as well. It’s more fun to share the load with someone rather than trying to pile it all on yourself just so you don’t have to rely on another person.

I won’t claim that I’ve lost my drive to lead. Quite the opposite actually: I feel that the more I have learned to support people like Ben, the better understanding I gain on how to effectively serve others as a leader. The past few months in particular have been full of really hard life lessons, but I am thankful to have the support of friends who truly want the best for me and the opportunity to support the people I love and respect. I believe that the best leaders are the ones who don’t think of themselves as above the ones who follow them, but the ones who are willing to get down into the thick of things to work alongside those they lead. Learning how to do this well is going to be a life-long journey full of screw-ups, but I am eager and expectant to grow this vital skill. Isn’t it wonderful though, that we never have to stop learning?

43162261_2254920821203600_1721798517191606272_o.jpg

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Things to Stop Saying to Yourself

I’m my own worst critic. There are times in my life where I struggle hardcore with how I feel others think of me. To be quite honest, it’s more common that I’m slightly paranoid about my relationships with people. Unfortunately, often times it is my own mind that makes situations exponentially worse than what they actually are. When you are filling your mind with self-induced negativity, you begin to believe that everyone else around you believes the same lies you are feeding yourself. These are some common phrases that can cross our minds, along with possible alternatives that could be used instead.

 

“I’m so stupid.”  Replace this with -> “I’m doing the best I can with the knowledge I have at this point in my life.”

 

“I’m annoying; nobody wants to be around me.” Replace this with -> “I am unique and the people that matter love me.”

 

“I look so ugly today.” Replace this with -> “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, even on my off days.”

 

“I suck at *insert something you love doing.*” Replace this with -> “I’m never gonna stop learning and improving.”

 

“I’ll never be as good as so-and-so at *insert a task that you want to excel at*.” Replace this with -> “I am not in competition with the people around me; life is about improving yourself and working with others.”

 

“I’m a failure.” Replace this with -> “I didn’t expect or want this situation to go this way, but it does not define me.”

 

“I’m not good enough.” Replace this with -> “I may not have all the skills I need now but I can get there.”

 

“I’m unlovable.” Replace this with -> “I am loved beyond my human understanding.”

 

“I don’t matter.” Replace this with -> “I am capable of making a huge impact in my world.”

 

“I wouldn’t be missed if I was gone.” Replace this with -> “I am connected to and loved by so many people that care about my well being.”

 

It is so easy to believe the lies we feed ourselves and allow them to affect our overall life experience. My challenge to you is to start catching yourself whenever you start to tear yourself down. As you work on building yourself up, you will find that building others up as well will come much easier to you. There’s a verse where Jesus talks about the two greatest commandments, which are loving God and loving others like ourselves. In order to love others fully, you need to love yourself as the wonderful creation God created you to be.

Full disclosure: I have been so hard on myself for as long as I can remember. I hold myself to impossible standards, and when I fail to meet those expectations, I beat myself up mercilessly. A handful of my professors are helping nail down the idea in my heart that I am loved, valued and capable, which means I can let up on myself. So do me a favor: join me in being kinder to yourself. I promise you, it’s gonna do wonders for your soul.

 

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby