Thursday, March 31, 2011

I want Van Gogh plastering my walls next year.


I went to bed at ten o'clock last night and slept for almost ten hours. I am not sure that has ever happened on a weekday before here at Mount Holyoke. Success! Although nothing particularly huge happened today, I did manage to finally wash about three weeks' worth of laundry. Now all my clothes are clean and I will actually have garments to wear when I go out in public (finding things to wear today was harder than it should have been). I go home Saturday morning and I know my parents would absolutely kill me if I were to bring my dirty clothes home with me. I always avoid bringing laundry home if I can. (Not to mention it hogs so much space in my weekend bag.)

Even though nothing very exciting has occurred today, I am in good spirits. Noreen is letting me borrow her bike for my Skin rehearsal tonight and I could not be more thankful. Walking across campus every weeknight, both to Rooke Theatre and back to Ham Hall, has become a huge pain. Despite how safe the college is at night, walking by myself in the dark sometimes gives me the heebie jeebies, so being able to cycle to and from rehearsal will be so lovely! I am planning to bring my bike back with me to school when I return on Sunday. Then, once it gets sunny out (did you hear me, Mother Nature?), I can ride it to my classes and just bask in the general wonderfulness that is Spring!

Happy last day of March, everyone!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Easy Lovin'

 The picture above is a shot from Puerto Vallarta. When we ate our sunset dinner, we sat right on the beach and we were told to take our shoes off. The sand felt so cool against my tired soles, and I squished my toes between the grains with the same level of enthusiasm as a toddler playing in the mud. Rachael thought our bare feet were the funniest things and so she insisted on taking a picture of my feet. I just like the way this came out, although it makes me laugh a bit because of how strange my toes look. I think feet in general are just weird though.

Today was a lovely day, all things considered. I actually slept last night, for about seven hours, and thank goodness too, because otherwise I would be a walking zombie right about now. The weather was wonderful today! Cold but not chilling and the irises planted outside of Talcott Greenhouse are finally budding, all purple and yellow and full of charm! I braved my French exam and I think it went relatively well. The English prospective majors/minors tea was today and after having Professor Quillian (the chair) sign my declaration form, I turned in my statement and here I am, a declared student! I feel so much excitement about such a little thing. Later this afternoon I went to my history class and received my graded first paper, on which I worked incredibly long and hard and on which I earned an A+! Needless to say I emerged from class extraordinarily giddy. It is reassuring to know that all of my hard, butt-busting work does pay off sometimes. 

Rachael and Olivia were both away for dinner, so I ate dinner by myself. This was fine - I just read The Quarry Wood for my Scottish Lit class - but after a while this really nice junior from my floor asked to join me and we had a really nice conversation. She is so sweet! She always says "hi" to me when we run into each other in the hallway or bathroom. Tonight she asked if I was from Paris. I nearly fell out of my chair in laughter. When I explained that, no, I live about ninety minutes east of South Hadley, but that I do study French, she realized her confusion and everything made sense again. It was funny, though, and I was flattered regardless of how ridiculous an idea it was. (Me? Giving off Parisian vibes? I wish!) Rehearsal tonight was pretty good. I have been starting to talk more with the upperclassmen and I really like that. OH! Around nine o'clock we were rehearsing Act I and Bryna started freaking out and pointed to this gray blob moving around on the floor. Turns out it was a domesticated centipede, or at least that's what Bryna called it. We just stared at it in horror for a minute and finally I asked, "Should I step on it?" I did and then shrieked when I realized the dead bug, with all of its little arms and legs or legs and arms or just legs, was stuck to the bottom of my left sneaker.

So that was funny.
But yes, even though I have yet to begin writing my English paper (the draft of which is due tomorrow at 8:35 AM), I am in relatively good spirits. All I need now is a bit more persistent sunshine and I think I can fully recover from the funk I have been stuck in lately.

I have just sold my soul to Mount Holyoke College.

And by that I mean I just returned from the registrar's office. I am now an officially-declared double major in English and theatre. I know we do not have to decide our concentrations until the second semester of sophomore year, but I have known that I want to spend my life writing, reading, and performing for over eight years, and I decided that now - today, when the sun is shining and the flowers are budding - is as good a day as any to make it official.

It feels good knowing something with such certainty.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My "aha!" moment of the day.

I just researched the side effects of Adderall, only to discover that in rare instances, continuous chewing and/or teeth clenching may occur. That is basically the description of the weird problem I was having with my jaw last night! My teeth felt so pressured and I could not focus on anything else but the sensation persisting in my mouth. I have never had this problem before, which concerns me slightly. But at least now I know why even now, hours after I "woke up" (read: saw that the time was 7 AM and decided that I could finally stop trying to fall asleep), I am still clenching my teeth subconsciously.

I need to stop but I do not know how! The medicine has to run its course, which takes hours and hours. Booooo.

Also, I had a cup of coffee this morning. Gross, gross, gross. Caffeine has no effect on me anyway, but I downed a cup on the off chance that it might miraculously wake me up. No such luck. I do, however, have a stomachache now. I am officially never drinking another cup of coffee in my life.

Scratch that.

It is 7:00 AM and I officially did not sleep a wink last night. I can feel my head and my body turning sluggish now but try as I might I could not coax myself to sleep at all, even after I finished writing that last post. The alarm clock on my cell phone is set to go off in thirty minutes, but I just turned it off since there is clearly no way that I will fall asleep between now and then. Watching the sun ascend was sort of cool, I suppose, since our dorm room has an entire wall of huge windows. Still, though, I would have much preferred to sleep for five hours and catch the sunrise another day.

Caffeine has no affect on me (thanks, ADHD) and I therefore have absolutely no idea how I am going to function until five o'clock, which is when I will finally return to my dorm room. The only good news that comes from this whole mess is the fact that I will be exhausted by the time tonight rolls around, and (hopefully!) should have no problem falling asleep. I just hope I do not drift off before I have finished all of my work.

What do people do to stay awake without drinking coffee or tea or those terrible energy drinks? Hit themselves? Slap their faces with cold water any time they have access to a bathroom? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe I will just wear a t-shirt and a skirt without tights and freeze to stay awake...

Early Morning Narrative

I have not written in quite a long while, and so much has happened since my last post. Spring break was last week, and I went to Puerto Vallarta with Olivia, my best friend here at Mount Holyoke (and also my roommate for next year), her mum, Rachael, and Olivia's friend from Chicago, Kelly. Rachael and I flew out in the early hours of that first Sunday morning; our flight left Logan at 6:55 AM and so we were in the car and driving to Boston by 3. We had a lengthy layover in Dallas-Fort Worth, but we arrived in Mexico around seven o'clock in the evening. The weather was absolutely beautiful all week! It did not rain once and only on one day did I spot a single unhappy cloud (and it seemed to dissipate after only a few hours). The sun was so bright and it felt wonderful on my skin, so used to jeans, long-sleeved shirts and puffy winter coats have my legs and arms become. Of the five of us, I stood as the only person not only incapable of tanning (my body seems to much prefer burning), but also the only person who constantly required sunscreen (my vitiligo makes my skin drink up vitamin D in copious quantities). But the massive amount of sunscreen that I slathered onto my skin aside, the sun made me so incredibly happy. Living in New England, one becomes so used to the frequent snowfalls, frosts, rainstorms, and bone-chilling winds characteristic of the wintertime that the concept of sunshine is largely forgotten. How nice, then, to spend six days basking in such welcoming rays. My shoulders freckled slightly, my face freckled quite a bit (my own version of the tans that Olivia, Rachael, and Kelly all brought home), and my hair started to lighten up to its summertime red.

Puerto Vallarta was absolutely breathtaking and I wish I could share all of the five-hundred plus photographs that I took on my trip. Olivia's family owns a time share in the city and the condo they have is located on the 24th floor of the building, with only the penthouse sitting above it. The view was absolutely incredible and when we first arrived, Rachael and I both had a hard time believing that it was real. The ocean was so blue and so close - literally right outside our windows- and the mountain ranges for which Puerto Vallarta is known were also in plain sight, usually shrouded in a light mist that only heightened the surreality of everything.

The views from the balcony (with Rachael).

We went to the beach rather frequently and I was surprised at how warm the water is! We went swimming in the ocean for about twenty minutes one afternoon and the waves felt so pleasant, lapping against our backs and pushing us gently forward with each pulse. The water was warm on the surface but toward our feet it changed dramatically, and if we pushed our bodies down toward the ocean floor our ankles and calves were instantly swathed in a cold bath that felt immensely refreshing. On our last full day in Mexico, we went on a day cruise out into the ocean and went snorkeling off the coast of the city. I have never snorkeled before but I have always wanted to, so I am so ecstatic to have finally had the chance to do so. The fish were swimming in hoards beneath us, among us, next to us, through us. I am sure that I accidentally touched them multiple times, though I was cautious not to intentionally touch them. (I supposed I could have but I guess I felt that would have been harmful? I also just did not want to get in trouble with the cruise managers, although I doubt they would have noticed.)

 Snorkeling in the Puerto Vallartan bay.

The most amazing thing, though, was that moments after we all climbed back onto the boat, a huge humpback whale burst forth from the water just feet away from where we had been swimming. It was incredible!

 Our humpback whale sighting.

The whale jumped out of the ocean eight or nine times before finally leaving the bay, and a boat full of stunned and enchanted vacationers, behind. We also had the opportunity to hug a sea lion in the marina. The South American sea lion, named Flash, was so huge and wet and so friendly! Although I am typically wary of such tourist traps (they take your picture with Flash and then offer to sell you the photo), I saw no harm in hugging him, since I figured I might not have the chance to do so again. As soon as I walked up to him, Flash threw his fins around me and placed his head on my shoulder before giving me a huge kiss on the cheek. I remember wrapping my arm around him to complete the hug, and feeling how simultaneously wet and dry his skin was. His fur was so soft and he smelled like salt water and fish. His whiskers tickled and I walked away feeling so genuinely cheerful. (At the end of the day, I could not resist buying the photo. It was too cute to pass up!)

Getting a kiss from Flash the sea lion.

We spent the afternoon of our cruise hiking up the mountains of a small island off the coast of Puerto Vallarta called Yelapa. The buildings were all made of stone and cement and terra cotta, painted vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. We hiked far inland and eventually reached a gorgeous, crystal blue waterfall hidden among a large mass of high rock formations. The water was cool but I have never swam in the pool of a waterfall before, so I did not mind very much.

The rest of our time in Mexico was divided between lazing around the condo, traveling into the heart of the city for dinner each night (I did not eat a single thing that was not absolutely delicious) and passing an afternoon at the market, where there was such beautiful craftsmanship on display. I discovered two things that day: that I am rather terrible at bartering with the natives (Even though I know that it is the whole point, I feel bad when I disagree with their pricing!) and that I am capable of carrying relatively substantial conversations in Spanish. I studied Spanish for five years prior to college, but I had no idea that everything I had learned would come back to me so quickly!

 My first time trying fried plantains. They were delicious and did not taste anything like what I had expected.

 The marketplace, mid-afternoon.

 With Jesus, a vendor in the marketplace who decided to become my "Mexican boyfriend."

My last comment about Puerto Vallarta is about how stunning the sunsets are! The colors streaked through the clear skies were breathtaking and the sun always took its time setting beyond the blue-watered horizon. One evening we ate dinner on the beach in order to watch the sunset, and even though that evening a cloud cover prevented there from being any manner of terrific displays of color, the declining sun still looked wonderful.

 Two separate sunsets, both fantastically colored.

Kelly, myself, Olivia, and Rachael at our sunset dinner, before the sun began to go down.

Despite a terrible layover in Dallas that lasted three hours longer than originally planned due to a lengthy delay of our flight to Boston, Rachael and I both managed to keep high spirits on our final day of travel. After spending over twelve hours in Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, however, neither of us is particularly eager to visit the airport, or the city, any time soon. Which is silly, of course, since I am sure Dallas is a lovely place. Twelve hours in an airport, though, is enough to drive anyone crazy.

I am so incredibly grateful to Olivia and her mother for inviting me to share in such an enchanting trip! I felt so relaxed and at ease the entire time we were there, and the city was a welcomed departure from the hustle and bustle and vat of stress that is Mount Holyoke College. We have only been back at school for a week and already I feel stifled, overworked, overtired, and stressed out beyond comparison. I have been working on two different shows simultaneously for the past month, and this weekend the first of the two finally had its performances. The show, Play Dead, was written by a fellow first-year, Bailly Morse, and was twenty million times better written and more clever than I ever imagined it could be. The show was frothy fun but I had a great time getting to know a bunch of new Project: Theatre actresses and developing my very first southern accent for a show ever! (I was not so sure that it was very accurate, but a number of audience members came up to me after the shows to ask where in the South I came from, so I suppose I was more convincing than I thought.)

The cast and crew of "Play Dead." Writer and director Bailly Morse is the red-sweatered cutie pie in the front.

My family came up to see the play on Friday and even though I had only been back at school for five days, it was so nice to see them. I miss them a ton, all of the time. I also saw Leanne twice on Friday, first for a belated birthday dinner at Blanchard and then later in the evening for her Nineties/British birthday party at UMass, which was low key and fun. I have not been to UMass in over two months, so it was good to get over there again. (Leanne came to the show on Saturday and brought Jessie and Sasha with her. She is amazingly supportive and has come to every single one of my shows here at MHC. She is such a wonderful best friend!)

Now I just have one show to worry about. I am in the theatre department's Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder, and I play both the stage manager, Mr. Fitzpatrick, and a variety of small ensemble parts. Though I have already performed in another Wilder play (I was Emily in Our Town sophomore year), Skin is so extremely different that the two do not seem as if they could possibly be accredited to the same playwright. The rehearsal process for department shows is obscenely rigorous. We have rehearsal five days a week (Monday to Friday) from 7 to 10 at night. Our show goes up April 14-17, and our tech week starts two weekends from now. Though I know tech rehearsals are vital for any show, I cannot help but feel bummed since I had been planning on coming home that weekend (April 8) to see Wachusett's production of Footloose. Alex and Leanne are both going to be home and I have yet to catch a single WRHS performance this year. (I have my fingers and toes crossed for Spring Blitz.) My director, Roger Babb, is growing on me, and by that I mean that he has gone from being a terrifying presence that I preferred to avoid to a slightly less intimidating oddball that I try not to attract negative attention from. For all of the uncertainty and caution that I feel, however, I will say that he is a brilliant man with fascinating ideas, and that watching him sculpt and mold the script into a visual spectacle has been and will continue to be amazing.

It is five o'clock in the morning and I am STILL not tired! I slept for ten hours last night because I was so exhausted from the show, and then this afternoon I accidentally fell asleep for two hours while reading The Quarry Wood for Scottish Literature. I do not know why I cannot fall asleep, although I do know that I cannot seem to find a comfortable way to hold my jaw, and my teeth are bothered whether they're clamped together or not. This is bizarre, I know, and I have never had this problem before. I do not know what is wrong with me but I would love for it to cure itself so that I can at least get two and a half hours of sleep in before I have to wake up and spend nine hours outside of my dorm room. Tomorrow (today, actually - how sad is that?) I have Scottish Lit, an hour to frantically try and get a head start on my English readings due Wednesday, French class, the prospective-majors theatre department tea, a lunch shift in the dining hall, rehearsal for a partner scene in my Acting I class, a one-hour costume fitting for Skin of Our Teeth, and hours of additional homework. I have a huge English paper due next Monday (it is technically due this Tuesday but my professor, being the goddess that she is, allowed me a week's extension) and a weird history midterm during which I must "interview with Colbert" for a spot in Louis XIV's court at Versailles. I would be much happier completing the take-home exam of essays that was originally going to be our midterm, but I guess I have no choice.

I also have to do all of my laundry from vacation, which has been sitting at the foot of my bed in a large white trash bag since I came back to school on Monday because I have yet to have had any time to devote to washing my clothes. Since I am running low on socks and have depleted my supply of jeans, however, I think it is about time to finally deal with it.

I have to do so much today and I am going to have only two hours of sleep to help me do it. Insomnia could not have picked a worse time to plague me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Milk and Honey

Today I witnessed a girl get hit by a car. It feels completely surreal to me now, with so many hours separating me from that moment, but it was terrifying. I remember it relatively clearly: as I walked toward my first class of the day - Acting 105, all the way across campus in Rooke Theatre - I passed by Blanchard, the campus center. Around this time was when I thought to myself, "Today is going to be a beautiful day." No sooner had I finished deciding this than I heard a blood-draining thud and a muffled scream. Ahead of me, a girl in a light blue North Face was on her hands and her knees on the ground, and a regular-sized pick-up truck had lurched to a halt a few feet from the scene of the accident. Next thing I knew, the girl was up, bouncing around proclaiming she was "alright, alright" and hurrying toward the health center. The truck driver seemed completely shell-shocked. "I didn't even see you," he kept saying, as if he needed to hear the words more than she did.

My acting professor told me that her friend once accidentally hit someone with his car and was subsequently traumatized by the event. "He said he never felt the same after hearing the noise of a car hitting a fellow human."

It's enough to make my stomach flip a few times.

Disregarding the unsettling start to my morning, today was, indeed, lovely! I had a great time in my theatre class and I think my French quiz went all right. I didn't make a ton of headway on my history paper - in fact, I realized after class today that I did half of my research incorrectly - but I am somehow not freaking out about its impending due date. Both rehearsals, for The Skin of Our Teeth and Play Dead, went very well, although my voice will likely be shot in the morning from projecting so much while I'm still sick. Nevertheless, I am here, at my desk at twelve in the morning on this Wednesday in March, and I am in a surprisingly good mood. I have taken some Nyquil and I'm off to go try to pound out a rough draft of this research paper in the common room. Olivia said she'll join me since she has practically an entire book to read for an exam tomorrow.

Midterms are fun! Not really.