Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quiet Time

I love television.

I'm not ashamed of that.  In fact, now that acting is my only job, I am pretty much required to watch TV.  It is literally research, and our cable bill is tax deductible.  (Side note- lots of cool stuff is deductible in this business, including getting my hair done, gym memberships, and makeup.  Acting is awesome.)

But every now and then, we need a little quiet time.  I say "we" because Dean is much more comfortable with silence than I am.  If I find myself at home during the day, working on a task, 99 percent of the time, the TV is on, providing comforting background noise.  Like a chatty friend.  Or a visiting parent. (Side note #2- my mom has the TV on a lot, too.  I noticed this when she visited recently. It's in my genes.)

Poor Dean even gets up before I do in the morning, leans over to me and whispers, "you stay sleeping," and then goes upstairs to supposedly walk the dog and make coffee.  OK, he actually DOES do those things, but when he's finished those two tasks, I lie awake in bed, listening, and I hear...nothing.  Maybe I hear the occasional "thunk" of his Sportsman's Lodge coffee mug on the dining table, or the flutter of a magazine page turning, but essentially, I hear...silence.

Which is probably the real reason he gets up so early.  It's the only time he can claim a few minutes of total silence, total Dean time, for himself.

And who can blame him?

When I get up, I immediately barrage him with every thought I've had since we went to sleep:  My dream about forgetting to feed the baby (Side note #3- this is a recurring dream I've had my entire life.  Only it scares the Hell out of me now that we're expecting a baby who will likely want to be fed.), ideas I have about paint colors for the Baby's Wall, items to add to today's grocery list, what Perez Hilton said about RiRi and Chris getting back together, and the overly realistic conversations I carry on with the pets.

They go something like this:


Dixie:  Meow.
Me: Not that great, how did you sleep?
Dixie: Meow.
Me: I beg to differ. You were walking all over my stomach last night.
Dixie: Meow.
Me: That is just rude.  You know I'm pregnant.
Tater: Meeeow.
Me: No, Tater.  You're just big boned.

Tonight, however, we were quiet.  Quiet-ish.  We had nice conversation about all kinds of creative things as we ate dinner.  Real-life artist things, that made me feel smart and thoughtful, and not at all like a Crazy Housewife About to Have a Baby.  We talked about travel and theatre and his trip, and artistic collaboration.

And then, we did something really nutty.

We sat on opposite ends of the sofa and read.  Books.  Not the internet on our phones, not status updates, not the new J. Crew catalog...books.

It was quiet and comforting and I loved looking over at Dean, who looked especially adorable wearing his reading classes and jeans with the torn knee, reading a book about parenting.  Our beagle lay snoring between us, and Dixie lay curled at my side.  The baby was kicking, surprising me, making me smile.

It was pretty great.

I should be quiet more often.  Especially since there won't be much silence around here in about 112 more days.

MW

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random Observations from a Day in the City

I've seen and heard some good things on the street lately.

Yesterday, a pack of teenage girls walked past our apartment on their way to school (I'm assuming they were en route to school, as it was 8:30am.  Unless they were on their way HOME from a late night....but I digress), and one of them said, "I want to go to Vegas SO bad."  The others replied, "Me, too!"

What in the world would a vibrant, beautiful, teenage girl want to do in....Oh.

I guess they could have a decent time.

Later, on the train, I heard a female twenty-something talking (a LOT) to a male twenty-something, about her fantastic new apartment, and how awesome her Lower East Side neighborhood is.  My favorite part was when she said, "But I feel like everyone on our floor is like, forty."

I put "forty" in bold and italics to emphasize the disgust in her voice as she said it.  As if people who are (ugh) forty are dusty, boring old crumbs of people who couldn't POSSIBLY appreciate that fabulous neighborhood, or remember what it felt like to stay up past midnight, or know who any of the cool bands are.

Honey, people over 40 are the only ones who can AFFORD that neighborhood without having to share a bedroom with another adult who they're NOT having sex with.  People over 40 not only remember watching the sun come up, but many still do, and SOME of us will be seeing the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis, as we are HAVING BABIES.  Finally, a goodly percentage of your cool bands are COMPRISED of people over 40.

So, suck it, Skinny Business Girl With Lots of Roommates and a Bad History With Men and Drinking (writer's elaboration.)  You should be so lucky.

Other cool things I encountered were a blues saxophone player on the corner of 77/Columbus, in the middle of a Monday, almost playing just for himself.  And I had a doorman sing part of "Pretty Woman" to me as Hank and I walked past.

And the BEST thing that happened yesterday was spotting a really handsome man on the opposite side of the street, doing a double take, and realizing it was my husband.

Surprise Sidewalk Kisses are the Best.

And so is living in NYC.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thank GOD She Didn't Tell Stories.



There are some friends you can go for years without seeing, and then pick right back up with again, like no time has passed.  As if it were just yesterday you watched that friend get a haircut on a Charleston porch, under the influence of mild hallucinogens.

Mary Thomas is one of those friends.

She and her husband Mat are in town for a geography conference, where I imagine them poring over maps, venomously debating whether Istanbul should be called Constantinople, and exactly where the Mason Dixon line really is.  They joined us for brunch during their break today, and we had a great time expounding on where we are in our lives now, where we are going (they have lots of fantastic baby advice,  though I never imagined I'd be A) needing it or B) Getting it from Mary), and- surprisingly- NOT sharing "remember when" stories.

Mary was one of my beloved college roommates, and a dear friend to me throughout many phases of my life, both during and after college.  She's seen the worst of the worst, the best of the best, and probably has photos of both.   She was certainly there for both, in the best possible ways.

Some highlights from our 23-ish years of friendship include:

*  The time Mary woke up to find ________  and _________on the green sofa bed, wearing ________.

*  The time Rachel got married and Mary ________ too much _______ and ended up in ____________.

*  The time Tasha came over and there were haircuts and then we _________ and went to __________ where we _________________________________________________________________________.


OK, the things that immediately come to mind are not completely appropriate for sharing.  Not that they're so racy (but I'd be lying if I said none were racy), but a lot of them are personal, more confidential.  They aren't tawdry, but private.  Whether intentional or not, we have found ourselves with each other in some very trying times--and some that are really tough to remember because we were having too much fun.  A LOT of fun.  Tasha was there, too, so ask her what she remembers.

It's been about 5 years since Mary and I last saw each other, and though we have no idea how long it'll be before we see each other again, Dean and I walked Mary and Mat to the corner today and put them in a cab without overdoing the hugging, without promising to keep in better touch, without planning future visits.

Because we know we're just an email away.

And we know we have a TON of dirt on each other.  So we'll be staying on each others' good sides.

Love you, Mary!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Saturday Back

Whoo-Hoo!  Saturday Fun Day!

Quick run-down of our day:

Homemade brunch, courtesy of Chef Dean
Tackling the baby registry
Sorting through Rwanda notes
Lunch at Shake Shack
New Harness for Hank
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf mocha
Visit to the funky Swedish baby shop (where they sell clothes, not Swedish babies)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at the movies
Visit from Fenny and Sean, who helped move the Damn Bookcase downstairs (Sean, not Fenny.  Fenny is a dog.)
Leftover lamb burgers and cupcake brownies
Catching Dean up on the TV he missed while he was away


Tomorrow, my dear friend and college roommate, Mary Thomas, will be in town, and we get to see her!  I'll probably have a Sunday Fun Day post after that. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Priorities

Dean is home now, and doing this blog is harder than ever.

In fact, I'm only writing this because I skipped yesterday.

I had a commercial audition yesterday that went well, and I met a family who moved to NYC from North Carolina for their 7 year old's career.  The little girl has already been on Broadway, several TV shows and commercials, and it looks like she'll be in the upcoming revival of Annie.

I thought it was brave and cool and supportive for this family to make the move- and the kid "has it."  She was articulate and laid back and not a stereotypical child actor at all.  And it was nice to hear the Southern accent on the dad (Mom was at work.)

I hope that girl got the gig.  I'll let you know what I hear.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Overheard Today

No lie.  These are actual things I heard people say today:

Mom to Kid:  Nobody wants a BOOK.


Woman talking to Husband: Please! $50 isn't going to keep some guy from diddling his kid!

I saw actor Matthew Rhys in the Juice Generation today (he played the gay brother, Kevin, on "Brothers and Sisters"), and he said to his pretty friend, "Hello Darling, did you get any sleep last night?  Me either."  You should say that in a British accent, because he's British.  And we both ordered the medium Supa Dupa Greens.

Dean is finally home from Rwanda, and arrived bearing gifts (Yay!) as well as being a little turned around by time zones (Awww.)  So, we're going to sleep at 8:30.

Goodnight.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At a Loss for Words

I'm at a loss for words.  Literally.

I'm out of things to write about today.  I'm spent.  

I stood all day long in long lines, playing an immigrant coming through Ellis Island.  My lower back hurts.  Two little boys made me question parenthood.  An old man with sour cream breath would NOT stop talking to me.  Joaquin Phoenix smells like a cigarette.

Dean comes home tomorrow after two weeks in Africa.  I have to pick up clothes off the floor and file paperwork and sweep and lint roll everything before he gets here.  And he misses wheat bread and bourbon, so I need to go to the store.

I just ate a giant hunk of brie because I found it in the fridge.  I'm not even hungry.  I ate it because it was there.  And I was watching The Biggest Loser while I ate it.

That's all I got.  Thank you and goodnight.








Monday, February 20, 2012

Leavin' on a Jet Plane



Mom left this evening to head back to South Carolina.

And you know, I'm a little sad.  I'm surprised I'm a little sad, but after 10 days with someone, I guess you get used to sharing the same space.  You become accustomed to the extra paper towels wadded up on the counter, and the bathroom light being left on.

You get used to teaching someone all the cool things the iPhone can do, and come to enjoy the singing of random, original tunes throughout the apartment.

You find there are similarities between two of the people who love you the most, as they both make the coffee in the morning before they take Hank out for his first walk of the day.

You feel overjoyed when you see her face light up at your ultrasound appointment, and go to sleep smiling as you listen to her in the next room, negotiating for couch space with the dog.

You're incredibly proud when your friends meet and love her instantly, and are reminded of all the reasons you love her, too.

Mom may have left to go home today, but she's still here.  At least as long as I leave her last wadded up paper towel on the counter. :)

Love you, Mom.  See you in April.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dim Sum and Then Some



Mom has been here for 9 days.

We've done a lot of home improvement, more baby shopping than we probably should have, and have dined out repeatedly.  We've slept in, watched TV movies, seen a play, gone to a doctor's appointment, walked Hank, and have had a fun-and rather normal-visit.

I was a little worried Mom may be bored, and wracked my brain to come up with cool things to do.

I'd envisioned taking Mom to Ellis Island, and finding a Minogue or a Quinn signature on some passenger list, Mom pointing at it with tears in her eyes, grateful that I brought her to this special place to make this special discovery.  It was going to be A Moment We Remembered Forever.

That didn't happen.  It was kind of cold for a boat ride.

I thought we could take a Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, seeing the city from an entirely new vantage point, Mom beaming with pride that we'd moved here, a la Mary Tyler Moore, and are Making It After All.

That didn't happen either.  Cold.  Boat.

I was Hell-bent on Mom having a definitive New York Experience, so today, her last full day in NYC, we ventured to Elizabeth Street in China Town for dim sum.  Dean and I have never been for dim sum since we got here, and my last attempt a year or so ago was thwarted, so TODAY was the day.  Like it or not.

Dim Sum is like a brunch of Chinese tapas- little plates of (mostly) delicious goodies, brought around to your table on carts and trays.  "Would you like some sticky pork buns?"  Yes, yes I would.  "Shrimp and seaweed?" Yes.  "Sticky rice?"  No, thank you.  Mom is still mastering chop sticks.  "A giant plate of bok choy?"  Indeed.

The thing about dim sum is that one waits outside on a crowded sidewalk for what feels like a really long time, before being called inside to finally eat.  You're given a number by the hostess, and they'll hopefully eventually call you before "One Hour" has passed (the standard answer for "How long will it be?"  And if you're clever, you can go to the other dim sum place next door, get a number there, and straddle the invisible line, straining to hear which place calls which of your numbers first.  Which is what we did.  In fact, another girl got called by one place first, and gave us HER number, so we doubled our chances of getting called.  But I digress.

Aside from a weird bite of something pork-like, we had great food, and a memorable New York Experience.  Waiting on the sidewalk, reading (not REALLY reading) all the Chinese signs, watching the array of people pass by, being offered fine counterfeit bags and watches on the street, smelling those little balls of fried dough for sale at street carts...it all added up to a fun afternoon.

Now, to finish all this leftover bok choy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Joy is Contagious

(Note:  I'm aware I missed a day of our blogging challenge yesterday.  I'm human.  In fact, I'm currently a human and a half, and I make the occasional mistake.)

Planning for a baby is supposed to be fun.  There's nursery decorating, and clothes shopping, and registries to complete... so much fun stuff to do.

However, there is a little teeny damper put on that stuff when you live in a teeny, one-bedroom apartment in NYC.  Space is an enormous issue (or a small one, as the case may be), so decorating a nursery isn't really an option or concern.  Instead, we will select a shade to paint the "Baby's Wall," and do our best to find SMALL pieces of furniture that complement what we already have going on downstairs.  (That sounded bad.  To clarify: our bedroom is downstairs, and when I refer to what we have "going on" down there, I mean in a decorating sense, not...you get what I mean.)

We've been working hard to get rid of things we no longer need or use, because every little thing takes up precious space.  Consequently, we've not bought a ton of baby things just yet, for fear of not having a place to put them.  Many people have insisted we NOT go on a shopping spree just yet, because other people will give us things for the baby, either in the form VERY welcome hand-me-downs (Fletcher and Michelle, and Tasha and Amanda) or shower gifts (anyone else who is so inclined.)

But with Mom in town, there has been some baby shopping.  I mean, we can't disappoint a grandma-to-be, can we?  We can't deny her that pleasure.  And today, we had brunch with our friend Stefania, who is ALSO pregnant.  Stefania knows where all the baby sales are (not actual babies, but items for babies), so naturally, we had to do a little shopping after we ate.

And you know what?  Baby excitement is contagious.  Although we went to just two stores, we all had the baby fever, picking up outfits for tiny people we've not yet met.  Showing each other what we thought was the most adorable thing in the store, sharing suggestions, and asking other shopping parents for their advice on strollers, snow suits, and hats.  (Note: new parents love to share advice, and I welcome it.)

And we had a great time.  Even though I've kept my shopping to a minimum, the baby joy is contagious.

Now to paint that wall...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Little Bit of Magic

Lately, I've been feeling the baby kick a lot.  Mom is in town, and she's bought lots of cute clothes for the little guy.  Every day, things are becoming more and more real.  Dean and I are going to be someone's parents.

I get a lot of ultrasounds because, A)  I'm pregnant, and B) I'm taking part in a Columbia University study that not only pays be $80 in American cash, but ALSO gives us occasional 3D ultrasound images, in addition to the regular, grainy kind.

Today, I had another ultrasound.  Dean usually goes with me, but since he's in Rwanda, Mom got to go (can you say excited?)  It happened to be a 3D ultrasound day.

And things just got a little more real.

(Photo to follow, once I clear it with My Baby Daddy.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Matinee Beef

Today, Mom and I saw a matinee of the play, "Seminar."

The script was good, the actors were good, the set was pretty...all of it.  Good.

What wasn't good, you ask?  Why, clearly you know what to expect from MY blog, don't you?  You, Gentle Reader, recognize that complaining about something is infinitely more entertaining that talking about how much we liked a play.  So, thank you.  Thank you for reading- and becoming familiar with- my blog.

On to the griping.

1.  The seats at the Goldman Theatre are teeny tiny, which is fine spatially, because we are not "great big ol' fat people," to quote Silence of the Lambs' Jame Gumb.  What stinks (literally) about them is the proximity you are to your neighbor's smelly air.  This smelly air can come in many forms.  Today, I thought it was old lady farts, but it might have been horrendous rot breath.  Mom thought it was the stench of preteen B.O. from the kid in front of us.  In any event, we were close enough to smell air coming out of another person.

2.  There's a cute pre-show recording reminding people to not only turn off their cell phones, but to take a moment to check to be sure they're off.  What the announcement doesn't say, is "unwrap your freaking candy NOW."  What is about a play that makes people want to suck on hard candy?  This play wasn't "Oh, Calcutta," and it didn't take place in a lollipop factory, so nothing about the play itself would inspire people to rummage in their purses during the quietest part of the show and ssslllooooowwwllllllllyyyyyy unwrap a candy to suck on.  Awhile back, we produced a play where my character handed out candy to the audience, but I was smart enough to buy candy with soft, noiseless, paper wrappers.  I'm no dummy.

3.  Akin to the hard candy eater, there was the Plastic Bag Rustler.  Maybe his noisy candy was located deeeeeep in a noisy plastic bag, but again- make your noise before the show starts.  That sound carries, prompting strangers -whether or not they are former teachers- to "shush" you during the show.  You know, these bags are outlawed in Rwanda.  They are illegal, and will be taken away from you at customs if you try to bring them into the country.  Why can't we search people on the way into the theatre?  In college, I worked security at several concerts, and once got to search purses for pot and other contraband at the Metallica show.  I walked away with a pipe and a little weed...which I promptly turned over to the proper authorities.  Because at the time, we were all authorities on something.

There were other mild complaints: too many (very) late arrivals,  a handicap stall in a restroom whose main doors were too skinny for wheelchairs, and $21 double glasses of wine (overheard, and sadly, not ordered.)

But all in all, the show was great.

It's the audience who brought too much drama.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentines

I'm so lucky.

Even though my Valentine is on the other side of the world, I am feeling the love today in lots of ways.

My Mom is in town, channeling Betsy Ross, hemming curtains and making our apartment homier.



My sweet dog Hank is here, wagging and whining with delight when I get home from a long day of work.



My email inbox is filled with sweet messages from Dean, sent all the way from Rwanda.



My father has mastered the art of texting, and sent me a sweet message this morning.



And all day long, our little bundle of joy has been kicking and wiggling, reminding me that he's in there, telling me he loves me.



It bears repeating.  I'm so lucky.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Seeing Myself on TV

Every commercial has a target audience.

You can tell when a commercial is made for you, can't you?  I know Dean gets especially quiet and focused when luxury car commercials are on.  While we don't drive luxury cars (we don't drive ANY cars these days except the ones from Hertz), Dean sees himself as the potential driver of one, and therefore sees himself in those commercials.

I have a harder time seeing myself adequately represented in TV ads.

Here are a couple of commercials that don't represent me:

- The Chanel spot with Kiera Knightly, where she drives away on a motorcycle.  I think I could handle the motorcycle- it's the tiny, square bottle of perfume she tucks into her bra at the end that makes me uncomfortable.  I try to keep pointy things away from my breasts.

- Any of the Kay Jewelers spots where a soldier or a work-a-holic gives his wife a Jane Seymour Open Heart Pendant.  Or one of those Pandora/Persona Add-a-Bead bracelets that also serves as an airport conversation starter.  I would rather have the lady at the Korean nail salon dig out my ingrown nail than receive either.  (If you personally like those jewelry items, then THAT commercial is for you!  Congratulations, you found yours.)

Here are some spots where I DO see myself:

- That pasta sauce commercial where the red-headed lady flashes back to her hair and fashion choices in the 80's.  It reminds me of goofing off with my friend Kelley McDonald in 1986.  Or 1987.  Either one.  We were rad and had a great time, despite our hair.  Or because of it.

- Anything with a baby in it.  Lotion ads, detergent spots, diaper commercials (NOTE:  Not that animated "Poop, There it is" diaper spot.  That is disgusting, and I would never buy those diapers, even if I could remember what brand they were selling.)  I'm not drawn to spots with toddlers or older kids.  Just babies.  One step at a time.  Baby steps, as they say.

There's one spot where I'm on the fence.  I haven't quite decided if I love or hate the Garnier hair color spot with Tina Fey.  I adore her, and love that she's a sexy spokesmodel now, but somehow I see less of myself in her now that the glasses are gone and the goofy is rubbed off.  I like a fresh hair color, but I don't like adults in tutus.  I like Awkward Tina, but don't know if Shiny Tina and I would be able to polish off a box of Cheezits together.

So there it is.  I wish you happy commercial watching, and hope you see yourself in there somewhere.

Just not in that one where the kid gets the wedgie, or the spot for Beano.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nesting

In the past two days, I've spent a lot of money at Ikea and The Container Store.  I haven't bought things that I personally want, but instead have come home with things that I think our home needs.  

Apparently, I'm nesting.

I typically hate shopping.  It takes me months and months to finally break down and buy new bras.  I have a 90 minute tolerance for places like Ikea.  Bed Bath and Beyond has too many choices, too many decisions to be made there.  It's akin to the reason Dean and I eloped.

But lately, I've been struck with the undeniable need to make the most of our space.  To store things we need to keep but don't daily use.  To have pieces of furniture that serve double, if not triple duty (though I'm not sure what that might be.)  I've debated basket colors and picked out a bright orange throw to match the new pillow I suddenly HAD to have.  I mean, the sofa needed it.

Our spices need to be on those stairs.  Under our kitchen sink needs to be organized.  A tiny curtain must go up in front of the shelves that house the tools.  Because tools need curtains.  The cat food needs a new plastic tub to be stored in.  Our nightstands need to match.  And this is just the beginning.

I think it's worth it.  Getting our space together, getting it organized before our baby arrives makes me feel good.  The less chaos the better.  

Because I don't want anything distracting that little guy from our new orange throw.



Doh!

Pregnancy Brain is a real thing.  Look it up.

My mom is in town, and we went to Ikea yesterday, and I spent most of last night putting together drawer inserts for a bookcase we have.  And in my focused state, I neglected the blog challenge.  

I hate that phrase that has become so popular lately, "I fail."  It bothers me when I see people use it on FaceBook, and I'm not exactly sure why.  Homer Simpson's "Doh!" seems a much kinder alternative.

So, "DOH!"

But here are the drawers I built.  They are much more impressive in person.  You'd be proud.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Where I Get It. So Get Used to It.



My friend Sam Pancake did a one man show called, "Sam Pancake and How I Got This Way."

This blog installment should be called, "My Mom is in Town, and That Explains a Lot."

Mom arrived this morning, and spending time together is like...well, spending time with myself.  Meaning, sometimes I see qualities in her that I realize -in that very moment- I possess myself.

These are typically wonderful qualities like generosity and care for others and helpfulness and adorableness, if I do say so myself.  And sometimes they are qualities like asking lots of questions and interrupting.

You may say, "Monica?  You don't ever interru--," and I'd say, "Interrupt!  I know, right?"

Or maybe you and I have hung out and I've asked pressing, important questions like, "Why would anyone buy a PT Cruiser," or "What did my cat just say?"  And perhaps, though highly unlikely, you rolled your eyes when my back was turned, or responded with an exasperated and non-commital, "huh."

Well, I am here to tell you...get used to it.  It's genetic.  And since my mom is awesome, these qualities are also awesome.  In time, you will find them endearing, just ask Dean and my stepdad Mike.

Or ask my kid in about 30 years.

By then he'll have stopped rolling his eyes behind my back.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sharing the Love.



Yesterday, I gave my wedding dress away.

Even though there were tons of opportunities for me to wear it again (to our romantic beach getaway, to a renewal of our vows, to the grocery store), I made the supreme sacrifice and gave it to someone who could use it more than I could.

In fact, I think I gave it to a whole lot of someones.

A few years ago, Dean saw a blurb in a church bulletin in Columbia, South Carolina, asking for used wedding dresses. It turned out that there was a wedding dress rental business in Kibungo, Rwanda, and this South Carolina church was taking ongoing donations of dresses to send there.  The rental business is woman-owned, and provides employment opportunities for women who alter, clean, and store the dresses, as well as a valuable service for women who want to rent a traditional Western wedding dress for their special day.


Dean was intrigued, and saw the beginnings of a fascinating play in that blurb.  There were lots of questions:  Why Christianity, why the white dresses?  Why did these SC women feel such a passionate connection to this cause, and what made them travel multiple times to Rwanda in an effort to help?  How was Rwanda different after the genocide?  And there were lots of less serious questions, like what to pack?  And will there be a chance to hold a baby gorilla?

We learned that getting the dresses to Kibungo is prohibitively expensive, and the best way to transport them is to send them with someone who is already traveling there.  So yesterday, Dean left for two weeks in Rwanda with an extra suitcase filled with donated dresses, including my own.

It's neat to think that someone else-lots of other women, potentially- will wear it on such a special day.  My dress can help some women make a living.  Make a life.

My little dress served its purpose here.  I had a great time in it, and even got to wear it TWICE- once at the wedding and once at the party two months later. And I have lots of photos to remind me how happy I was wearing it on those days.

Passing it on to lots of women I may never meet is a pretty good feeling.

And since I couldn't travel to Africa, at least my dress could.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stop Your Whining. OK, Stop MY Whining.

So, I've had a couple of whiny blog posts about reevaluating my current place in the NYC Actor world.  Lots of "woe is me, I'm so pregnant, I can't audition for anything, wahhh wahhh, wah."

Yesterday, the universe said, "Shut up, already.  HERE."  And it handed me the coolest day I've had in a long time.  What happened, you ask?  Allow me to elaborate.

I had an audition with a kick-ass company called Exit, Pursued By a Bear (the name is taken from a stage direction in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale), led by director Ed Iskandar.  The show is written by Jeff Whitty, who musical theatre people may know as the writer of Avenue Q, Bring it On- the Musical, and the upcoming Tales of the City, with music by The Scissor Sisters.  Yeah, that guy.  And not only did he write this show, he's in it- and...he was my scene partner for my audition.  So, that was pretty cool.

I had to walk through Times Square to get to my next auditions (details below), and it was a beautiful, sunny day.  It was kind of magical, and I really felt like an Actor on the Move.  Or, more accurately, Pregnant Actor on the Move with Sore Knees.  But it still felt a little like an episode of "Smash."


I recently re-joined Actors Equity Association (that's a story in itself, but the lesson you should take away from it is: read the fine print, and don't be dumb), and yesterday I finally got around to heading to some auditions at the AEA Audition Center on 46th Street.  Non-union actors are permitted to sign up for auditions on a waiting list, and are required to wait in an adjacent hallway with benches.  They're not allowed to use the AEA restroom, and instead must go to the nearby McDonald's or Times Square Visitors Center to relieve themselves.  To make matters worse, most Equity actors walk through the Hallway of Hopefuls to get to the slightly nicer, union waiting room, restrooms, and dressing rooms.  I've been one of those non-union actors watching the fancy actors stroll past, not making eye contact with us.  It was like we were asking for money on the 1 Train.  And yesterday, I was the one walking through the HoH, avoiding eye contact with the younger, hungrier actors.  And it felt good.  And a little bad.  But mostly good.

(For the record, I tried a new-ish monologue for one audition, and it was just so-so.  For the other audition, I went back to my tired-and-true, pick-me-up of a monologue from a play called Frozen, about a murdered kid.  It went great.)

After some dog-walking and snacking, I headed to the last meeting of my commercial class at One on One Studios- the class where we audition for some commercial agents.  I just typed this whole description of who the three agents were and what they were like, but I deleted it.  Instead, I'll say that after my audition, they were kind and complimentary, and THEN I told them I was pregnant.  I could see one visibly deflate and make a note on my resume.  One (whom I already knew) was politely congratulatory.  And the third, the only male (and French, apparently), asked how far along I was, then told me he has a client who just booked a spot and was VERY pregnant- they just put her in a big coat.  He said, "Oh, you have time still to work," and right then and there I decided he was my favorite.  

To top it all off, on the train home there were four older men singing "This Magic Moment," complete with harmonies and snapping.  I totally gave them a dollar.

So, it was a great day.  The Universe had grown tired of my whining, and showed me that I'm still talented and smart, and that there are still opportunities out there for a gal like me.

And then, in an effort to keep me humble, the Universe made my shins, knees, and ankles start to ache, reminding me that the cutest shoes are not always the best shoes.

I'll still take it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Heading to Rwanda

Tomorrow morning, my husband leaves for Rwanda for two weeks.  He's researching a play, and I will miss him very much.

I had so many awesome things happen to me today, but cannot devote the time to blog about them right now, because spending time with Dean is most important.

After all, the theme is "Relative."

MW

Monday, February 6, 2012

To Share or Not to Share?

I had a costume fitting today.  Two fancy movie costume designers were measuring me, pulling beautiful vintage dresses and coats for me to try on, and making idle chit chat while I stood there in my underwear.

And NO ONE asked if I was pregnant.

Apparently, my waist is still the same size it was pre-pregnancy, although my hips have gotten a couple inches...more ample.  My chest has gotten "healthier" too, but I'm not hearing any complaints about it.

Here's my question:  Do I have to tell people I'm pregnant?

I recently met with two lovely agents, who told me they'd seen my reel on my website, the very site you're reading right now.  To me, that suggested they'd read the TITLE of my blog, and already knew of my condition.  Last week, I asked a commercial casting director what his experience has been working with pregnant women, secretly hoping he'd say, "It's the BEST!  We can't get enough!  It's so hard to find real pregnant women for the LOADS of commercials that call for someone with a huge belly.  Putting a pregnancy pad on a really beautiful, talented actress just doesn't cut it."

But that's not what he said.

He said, "It's a problem."  And went on to explain that CDs want actors who can work NOW, not in 4 months or 6 months or a year.  That made my day!  I didn't want to cry AT ALL!

Tomorrow morning, I have an audition for a theatre's upcoming season, and the shows I'm interested in are in the fall, after the baby is born.  If I wear something to the audition that conceals my growing belly, do I have to say anything?

On the flip side, I have another audition tomorrow afternoon, with some very cool people whom I already know and respect.  I DID tell them, and explained I wouldn't audition if my pregnancy wouldn't gel with the vibe of the show, because I didn't want to take an audition slot away from an actress who might be better suited for the role.  And they said, "When would you like to meet? That sounds VERY intriguing."  Which really WAS cool, not the sarcastic kind of cool from before.

I don't have a wacky answer for all of this.  No funny tagline for this blog entry, no clever way of working it back to whatever I said at the beginning (hallmarks of my blogging.)  It's just a "hmmm" moment I'm sharing.

The bottom line is this:  I'm so excited and proud (I almost typed "round") to be having this baby, I feel a little strange NOT telling everyone, like I'm doing the little bundle a disservice.  But Mama's gotta work, and if somebody wants me to play Liz Lemon's mom in a flashback on "30 Rock," then mum's the word.

Pun intended.

(Examples in this post are purely hypothetical.  I am not on "30 Rock."  Yet.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Take THAT, Overcommitment!

Sometimes, we over commit.  I overcommit.

I have the best intentions.  Typically, I overcommit because there are just so many cool things to do/people to see/projects to work on, it's hard to say no to any of them.

This Commitment to Blog Every Day in February is one of those things I've agreed to, but am- in this moment- swearing about.  It's been a Liz Lemon type of swearing, with lots of words like "Blerg," rather than crazy lady on the 1 Train swearing, with lots of words that would bother my mother to see in print.

My friends Amanda, Jenny, and Ami have all made the commitment to do this same thing, but when we said yes, did we think about the Super Bowl?  Did we think about how much time we'd want to spend with our husbands before they go to Rwanda in three days?  Did we think about all the plays we have to read by Tuesday, and the monologue we need to learn?

No.  We did not.

We just thought about being good writers.  About getting in the habit of sharing our thoughts.  About not letting the other three women look better than us.  We.  Will.  Not.  Fail.

Which explains this rather thin blog post.  But you know what, bitches?  I did it. :)

(Sorry about the "bitches," Mom.  I meant it to be sweet.)

MW

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What's a Pregnant Actor to Do?

I'm in a pickle.  And right now it's the size of a cantaloupe.

So, I'm this New York actor now.  I'm in all the unions, I have some good NYC credits on my resume, a decent reel, relationships with some popular casting directors and agents, and a flexible schedule.

And I'm not able to work.

See, I also have a bun in the oven.  If you've been pregnant lately, you know that all those pregnancy websites describe your baby in terms of fruit.  Early on, it's the size of a poppyseed, then a blueberry, then an orange, a pineapple, and finally the size of the ever-popular jackfruit.  (All these fruits make me think about frozen cocktails, except the jackfruit.  If memory serves from my time in Australia, a jackfruit is incredibly stinky when you cut it open, not unlike a baby's diaper.)

You may say, "What about roles for pregnant women?  You could do those!"  To which I'd reply, "Oh, it's you!  The same person with the useful advice about not drinking too much water before I go to bed!  Why didn't I think of that?" And I'd smile sweetly at you, because you mean well, but there aren't a whole lotta roles like that.  Also, rehearsals (for plays, anyway) take a lot of time- my shape would completely change from the first day of rehearsal to the last night of a show.

You may say, "What about TV or movies?  That girl on 'The Office' was pregnant, and they wrote that into the show.  And those soap actresses just stand behind plants or carry a big purse!"

Believe me, I've been carrying some large tote bags lately, but my Window of Concealment is closing.  Hell, it may be closed by Monday.

Back to the question:  What's a pregnant actor to do?

Friends have made suggestions, and I have some ideas of my own.  Here they are in no particular order (Try to guess which ones are mine):

--  Befriend Tina Fey.  Have her write a sitcom about a pregnant 40-something year old woman, starring me.  Eat brunch together every weekend, and take sailing lessons together while the wind whips through our hair and we drink champagne.

--  Write a play.

--  Go on a quest to find the best frozen dessert in the city.  Leave no neighborhood unexplored.  Go back for seconds, just to be sure.  Then blog about it, and get Pinkberry, Ben and Jerry's, and Tas-T-Delight to sponsor the blog.

--  Take another improv class.

--  Teach Hank to say, "I love you."  Create a blog for Hank, and have him be discovered by network bigwigs.  Enjoy watching Hank's blossoming acting career while I stay at home with the baby, raking in the doggie paychecks.

--  Organize the data bases on our computers.

--  Experiment with a new hairstyle.

--  Shoot a series of videos wherein Pregnant Me tackles some very NON-pregnant situations, like auditioning for The Lion King, getting a part-time job at UPS, or learning the fine art of Japanese Massage.

If you have any other ideas, pass them along.  I've got about 20 weeks to fill until it's ShowTime.

And by then, Junior will be the size of a watermelon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's a Baby, and I'm in Charge!

Today I got to babysit miss Bailey Bennett, and we had a grand time. She taught me a lot again today, and we did just fine without other adult supervision.

Here's the video to prove it.  It's also a pretty good example of what I'll be like once our baby is here.  :)

video


It's a baby, and I'm in charge!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pee and Blame

I woke up a little grumpy this morning, because I didn't get enough sleep.  Again.

Pregnant women pee all the time.  It's a stereotype, but it's true.  Some nights, I'll get up 4 or 5 times to pee, which really screws with what normal people call "sleeping." You may say, "Well, don't drink so much water before you go to bed."  To which I'd reply, "WOW!  That is a BRILLIANT idea!  Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me.  Problem solved."  (Then I would roll my eyes, because I'd be saying that sarcastically.)

There's science involved, my friend.  I have about 50% more blood coursing through me, and this makes my bladder fill up more often.  There's also pressure on my bladder from our little bundle of joy, and I just read something about the extra fluid in my legs having something to do with it too.

But I digress.

Our bathroom is two steps from my side of the bed.  I can take one step out of bed, pivot, take a half step, and be sitting on the toilet.  (New York apartments are tiny, not like what you saw on "Friends.")  I've perfected the middle of the night pee, and I've managed to perfect this maneuver to the point where I barely have to wake up to do it.  I keep my eyes closed the entire time. (Which reminds me of an unfortunate incident in kindergarten, when a classmate shoved me into a cinderblock wall, splitting my head open- all because I wouldn't open my eyes after a rousing game of "Let's Go to the Bathroom Like Blind People."  It was Montessori school, so it was a totally normal game.)

But I digress.  Again.

Keeping my eyes closed allows me to hang on to the dreams I was having before the Urge to Go struck me.  It makes it easier to get back to sleep, which is really important for pregnant women and humans who are alive.  But LAST night, my Sleeping Pee was foiled- nay, sabotaged- by an EMPTY ROLL OF TISSUE!  I reached for it, and nothing was there but a cardboard tube.

I swore out loud (a no-no when you're Sleep Peeing), but kept my eyes closed, and felt for a fresh roll under the cabinet.  I took out the little spindle, placed the roll on it, went to lock it into place, and...the whole thing dropped on the floor in the total darkness, the toilet paper and spindle rolling away in opposite directions, just out of reach and behind the door.

I swore again.  And had to open my eyes.

I felt around for the roll, hit my head on the corner of the open door, knocked my makeup bag into the trashcan in the process, and swore again before finally locating the roly-poly roll of paper and...using it.

I climbed back in bed wide awake, with a burning resentment for the only person who could have done this.  Dean had been the last one in the bathroom before bed, I remembered it clearly.  He was to blame, and if I was awake, then he should be, too.  I leaned close to his sleeping ear, and recreating the voice my mother used when she caught me smoking in the shower in middle school, I said, "Replace.  The.  Toilet.  Paper."

He was a little taken aback, but I felt mildly vindicated as I yanked the covers towards my side, sighed extra heavily, and tried to go back to sleep.

This morning we both woke up grumpy.  And then my grumpiness turned to horror, for I had been WRONG.

In my midnight bathroom frustration, I had lost count of how often I'd gone prior to the Toilet Paper Incident.  Yes, Dean was the last one to go before bed, but I had already gone 2 or 3 times before the TPI.  I was the saboteur.  I was She Who Should Not Be Named.  I had been (whispers) wrong.

The bed is the best place to be embarrassed, because you can just pull the covers up over your face while you wail your apology at the loved one you wrongly accused.  And if you're lucky, the Loved One will accept your "I'm SO SO SORRY," and still make the coffee and take the dog out.

Which is exactly what happened.

We've both learned a valuable lesson from all this.  Mine has something to do with jumping to conclusions, and his has something to do with earplugs.

It's a win-win.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Learning Up Close and Personal

Today, I learned a lot.

I learned (from experience) that workout pants with elastic waistbands aren't as comfy as they used to be, and I now recognize the importance of those big, stretchy panels in maternity pants.

I learned (from Real Simple magazine) to call a plumber immediately if you have a leak, no matter how small.

I learned (from Dean) that a good logo is all you need to get really inspired at work.

But the BEST things I learned today were learned up close and personal from Meredith Moseley-Bennett.  Meredith is the mother of 4 month old Bailey, the sweetest baby girl in all the land.  I spent a couple of hours with the two over them, over lunch today, and learned LOTS of things about being a new mom and living with a tiny, tiny person.

In a nutshell, I learned:

Babies can entertain themselves for longer than I thought.
Dogs love babies.
Poop can be projectile.
Babies can go through 14 diapers a day.
Breast feeding is pretty much what you think it is.
Vaseline serves many purposes.
Generous friends give you clothes.
Doulas cost $1000.
A doula is a person.

There was more, but I should save something for future blog posts.  And you, gentle reader, are in for a treat- 30 straight days of blogging from yours truly.  I've got some great ideas, too- blog-within-a-blog, video blog, pig latin blog, Hank's own blog...It's gonna be a great month.

But first, I need to get this poop off my shirt.