1

And Lingo Was His Name-O

I like lingo.

Not just the ridiculously easy 1990s game show, but the actual process of lingo.

Allow me to explain.

Last night was the APO Q & A for the new semester’s incoming potentials, and I was there. The lingo was flying all over the place; buzzwords that you just have to know, to know. You know, like nationals, fellowships, toast song, all those things. There’s something about using lingo that makes me feel like an insider, like I know stuff, like I belonged.

This afternoon, I was talking with Syl on Facebook, and I was all ATHE lingo: AAP, pre-con, all those things that bring me good memories but mystify outsiders.

Ya dig?

I dig.

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1

Things I Get Excited About As An Adult

Last week, Jenna Marbles made a video about things that get her excited as an adult. She is only a year older than I am, so I can identify with her, most of the time. When I started the video, I was convinced that she had officially gone over to the dark side…if there is a dark side…of adulthood. But then, I realized that I get excited about a lot of things as an adult too.

Here’s her video:

And here’s my list for comparison.

  • Recycling. I don’t just mean bottles, cans, and paper (though that is exciting too), but recycling things like notebooks, even post-it notes, until the stickiness is gone. As a kid, I used to want brand new school supplies every single year. Now, I get excited when I get the chance to reuse anything, from a notebook to a plastic bag. I feel like I’m doing my part for the health of our planet.
  • A new checkbook. I just bought some new checks, with Wizard of Oz prints. I’ve never been more excited to spend money.
  • Staying in bed. As a kid? A curse. Now? The more I can do there, the better. That’s why I love hotels; you can watch TV from bed.
  • Hot baths. Again, yay for hotels. And my parents’ house. Well, until I get an apartment with a tub instead of a shower stall.
  • Delicious vegetables. Growing up, I hated vegetables, like most other kids. I thought that everyone hated them, and even adults just tolerated them. Then, I learned that my mother boiled the shit out of all the vegetables she made for us, so that they all tasted rubbery. Now, properly-prepared vegetables can leave me wanting seconds or even thirds.
  • Singing the birthday song. As a kid? Embarrassing. But on my birthday, these days? I love it. I feel like everyone’s got at least one thing that they absolutely need on their birthday. For example, one year, my dad forgot to pick up my mother’s birthday cake from the bakery before it closed for the day, and she got so upset. Now, every year since, we have at least two cakes for her birthday. Not to mention a backup cake in the fridge.
  • Corncob holders that look like corn on the cob. Self-explanatory.
3

Things I Like and Don’t Like About Cleaning

Much like Carol Channing’s famous monologue from Free to Be… You & Me, I hate housework.

 

Well, most of the time.

So of course, instead of spending last night and today on my homework, I spent the majority of the day cleaning my apartment.

Things I Like About Cleaning

  1. I like doing laundry. Like…I really like it. The smell of dryer sheets and clean clothes. The joy of watching stains disappear. The fact that I can fold clothes and watch TV/listen to music/talk on the phone/read at the same time. Feeling like a champion with a freshly organized closet and/or drawer.
  2. I like the pristine look of things the second that they are clean. Of course, then you have to stand, sit, spill, stain, and shove stuff on it, but for a second, it’s like a catalog.
  3. I like giving (and having) the illusion that my apartment is that clean, 100% of the time.
  4. A clutterless counter or table top is perfect for all kinds of ACTIVITIES.

Things I Don’t Like About Cleaning

  1. Dishes. Everything about them.
  2. Folding fitted sheets. We send a man to outer space and make a phone that’s thinner than a slice of bread but no one has figured out a foolproof way to fold a fitted sheet.
  3. Looking for things that were easily found in the mess, and having to wreck your whole apartment to find them ten feet away from where they were when your apartment was a mess.
  4. Resisting the urge to redecorate. Every time.
  5. WHERE ARE MY WOODLAND FRIENDS?

5

Sleeping On A Couch

If you’ve been wondering where I am and what I’ve been doing for the past few days, the answers are still in Madison, and attempting to keep my parents fed, watered, and entertained while doing the grad student thing as well.

Oh, and sleeping on my couch.

My parents coming to visit me is a wonderful thing. They are two of the most wonderful people I know, and that’s not just because they made me.who I am today. 90% of the time they are agreeable and not super paranoid or weird or obsessive like some other peoples’ parents I know. Well, my dad is obsessed with baseball and my mother with talking with her friends about how great retirement is, but none of those hobbies involve criticizing me, my life choices, or asking me where their grandchildren are (Answer: In time out like all of the rest of the naughty children). Also, they trust me most of the time, which is good, because they should.

I could go on about this, but the main gist of the story is that there are also some bad things about their visit. Usually imaginary, but they’re there. I become a nervous wreck. I have to hide everything in my apartment that could be perceived as a questionable object or risk them asking about it (why do you have a rotary cutter, Jacob?). I have to make sure that they are watered and fed the appropriate amounts at the appropriate times or they get crotchety. Usually my dad more than my mom, but he is also four years older. I usually clean, but my mom cleans it better so I should just remember not to clean for next time. My mom understands, though, that when we are in Madison, we go to Target and Kohl’s and Metcalfe’s, and that we can walk places. She actually does exercise, walking every morning for at least an hour and swimming later in the day. Unlike my mom, my dad hates anything having to do with shopping and will complain whenever his legs or feet start to hurt.

Of course, since this week is the Epic company’s medical conference, just about every hotel room in Dane County is booked, and even my friend who works at a hotel could not override the system. So, when my parents told me that they would just stay with me, I was like…

And that’s why I’ve been sleeping on my couch.

Now, this is not to say I dislike my couch. I actually really like my couch, and it is quite comfortable for activities such as sitting or napping or cuddling. Sleeping one night on it, not too bad. But sleeping multiple nights on it? Yeah, not so much. I know that it’s petty and a small price to pay, but three consecutive nights on the couch is not fun for my back, which must go in weird, spasmodic positions. Two nights ago, I actually slept fairly well. Last night, I think I tried to pry my arm off in my sleep because it was getting in my way, which took a surprising amount of energy.

In general, though, I dislike sleeping on couches. I would probably rather sleep on a floor, unless it is a couch actually made for sleeping and not sitting on, like my sister’s sofa sectional in DC. That sentence had too many letter “s”es in it. I used to be much pickier about where I could and could not sleep, but somewhere along the line, I began to fall asleep in weird places. This probably merits a future entry, but started in high school (face down, sprawled out at an airport), college (under a table in a conference room at a hotel), post-college (in the waiting room of an urgent care center), and in several different hotel lobbies in Houston.

Anyway.

Two nights down, one to go.

But then my parents will go home, I’ll miss them, and my apartment will never be this clean again.

10

Five Songs That Make Up a Happy Morning Playlist

Goooood morning from Madison. It’s the first day of school, and instead of sleeping in like I have been all summer, I actually beat my alarm clock up at 7:45 AM despite going to bed at 1:00 AM – if you know me, this is a miracle – and had the energy to emerge from the bed about 30 minutes later. Since then, I’ve showered, had an omelette and an iced cappuccino, played too much Secret Society, watched a podcast, done the New York Times Crossword, and read about 10 blog posts.

But back to today’s topic:

Waking up early is a treat, for me at least. It means I have the whole day ahead of me, and I want to start it right. Usually that’s the last thing I tell myself before opening my eyes again at 1:37 PM that afternoon, but you get the picture. Behold, this list that will get you up and at ’em on the right foot.

Five Songs That Make Up a Happy Morning Playlist

1. Zooey Deschanel, “The Fabric of our Lives.”

Yeah, it was from a commercial about cotton, but it’s just so peppy and morning-like that you can’t not smile. It actually sounds like it could be an actual jingle from the 1950s or 60s, sung by Brenda Lee or Little Peggy March. Zooey Deschanel is kind of annoying, but this song made her grow on me a little bit, like antique moss on a plastic potted plant.

2. Lena, “What A Man”

Lena Meyer-Landrut is one of the few talented progeny of Eurovision, and this acoustic morning-show rendition of En Vogue’s “What A Man” has just the right coffeehouse vibe for a low key morning. I used to listen to it while driving to the University of Houston, with hopes it would dispel any tzurris in my immediate future.

3. Corinne Bailey Rae, “Put Your Records On”

This song hearkens a summer morning with it’s opening words: “three little birds.” It’s like a gently flowing breeze to wake you up, rather than a harsh alarm clock. Honorable mention goes to Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You,” but CBR’s got a little more soul to enrich that morning java. Plus, there’s an awesome studio version on YouTube somewhere where she’s singing it while doing other stuff like directing the sound check and writing stuff down, showcasing her vocal talent and giving AutoTune the middle finger.

4. Oren Lavie, “Her Morning Elegance”

You can read most of the specifics about the song in this Masterpiece YouTube from about a year ago. If you don’t want to click (even though you totally should), I’ll give you the short version. The lyrics, combined with the bells, strings, gentle percussion give this song its morningness, plus the fact that it has the word “morning” in the title. Listening to this song brings back memories of misty mornings in Jerusalem, mornings in autumn and winter with a bit of crispness to the air and maybe some fog. Add some shoko b’sakit, corner makolet Israeli-style cappuccino, or one of those awesome breakfast trays, and it’s heaven on earth.

5. Dolly Parton, “Nine to Five”

You knew this one was coming, it’s pretty much unavoidable. Dolly Parton’s working-woman anthem is for those mornings when you just can’t drag yourself out of bed. The horns and typewriter sounds are just enough jazz to steer your ass to the kitchen for your cup of ambition.

Honorable Mention: “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray. Works best if you are actually in Baltimore. Or Ecuador.

So, enjoy the rest of your morning, as it’s almost afternoon here in Madison and my first class is in an hour.

I should probably put on pants.

0

Things I Like About Acting

I don’t exactly know when it was that I wanted to be an actor, but it was probably sometime around grade school. Probably because my sister was doing a play and I wanted to be exactly like her. From 6th grade onward, I participated in every school play and musical. I never had a starring role, but I always got a character with a name and a few lines here and there. Most of the school plays were terrible. I was also in a teen acting troupe, and spent many summers at theatre day camps around Baltimore, which usually culminated in some sort of performance.

In college, I realized (well, in a sense) that acting wasn’t for me. Not that I shouldn’t act ever again, but that as a career choice, I had more options and better ones, options that would challenge me more and make me feel more fulfilled. I had a few bit parts here and there, but it wasn’t until I moved to Israel that I was in a full-scale production again, and for the first time, a lead – ironically, the one time that I wished for a smaller role since I was also dramaturging the show and doing stuff at the theatre during the day.

Tonight was the closing performance of Lights Out, the first play that I have appeared in since December of 2009 in Israel. It is an ensemble piece (as everything seems to be these days) but I spent the most time on stage, probably had the most lines, and was one of only two actors to appear in all three scenes. Lights Out was quite the journey, from volunteering for the role to getting formally cast to six weeks of rehearsals to six (well, seven if you count open dress rehearsal) performances. It was a huge time commitment. Mostly, I had a great time, but there was more than one night I went to bed angry/sad/upset (and on one occasion, didn’t even make it home before bursting into tears) and a lot of general frustration. I know I frustrated a lot of people, and though I try not to let stuff get to me, sometimes I got frustrated with others as well. Hopefully I made more friends than enemies among the people in the cast, but seeing as I probably won’t see many of them again until next semester, I guess their reactions to seeing me again in January will be all I need to know.

I had to sacrifice a lot for this show. I really, really wanted to do it, and was told that I was good in the role, but it meant giving up other things. I haven’t been to the gym or to dance class in a month, and I missed two consecutive weeks of Friday night services and dinner due to performances. Plus, I got way behind on schoolwork, self-care, and socialization. Every time I talked with my dad about it, with some complaint or another, he always said “you’re doing them a huge favor,” which is a true statement but kind of irked me after the first few times he said it because it felt selfish to hear and to imagine, and was the cause of a huge blow-up between us one night. I contemplated quitting, but the further and further along I went, the less prudent it seemed to leave the project in the lurch and make enemies of a group of people whom I considered my friends. I’ve never quit anything in my life and I guess now wasn’t the time to start. So I stuck with it, and suddenly it spit me out at the end of the semester, stressed but relieved that it’s over. Now, I have some time to reflect, take stock of myself, and really break down how I feel about things.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Things I Like About Acting

  • I like being a part of something. Whether it’s big or small, just knowing that I’m a cog in the works of a production is a warm and fuzzy feeling for me.
  • I like when I receive praise. During The Comedy of Errors the praise was pretty much nonstop, from everyone, everywhere I went. I played Dromio of Syracuse with all the energy that I could muster, sometimes putting it over the top to compensate for some of the crappier parts of the show and to distract the audience from realizing how low-budget and messy the show actually was.
  • I like receiving gifts. Tonight I got a cocktail shaker, since my character sometimes takes a while to mix drinks. Getting flowers is always nice too.
  • I like when I know I’ve done a good job. I’ve done some really bad jobs in some great plays, but when I can take a bad play and do a good job performing my role to the best of my ability, even better. Case in point: a play I was in during senior year of high school. I had a very small comic-relief role, but I milked it for all it was worth every night, making my exits with a flourish and listening for the laughter and applause to stop so the scene could keep going. A lot of the comments I got were along the lines of “you saved the play” and “I wasn’t interested in anything except for the moments when you were onstage.” That just about made my day.
  • I like the feeling after the show, the afterglow, the rush you get when you realize that your next costume will be your pajamas and your next production will involve lying in bed for several hours.
  • I like saying, “yeah, I was in that show.”
  • I like wearing costume and makeup and getting to be someone else for a little while, kind of pulling a fast one on the world (“Hey, where’d Jacob disappear to for two hours?)
  • I like the satisfaction I get by adding another show to my resume.

Things I Don’t Like About Acting (AKA Why I Will Never Become a Full-Time Actor)

  • I don’t like memorizing lines. I’m just plain bad at it. For this show, I don’t think I had all my lines down until opening night. I was freaked out at the thought of having to go on while on book, which I’ve seen done before in community theatre and know that it does not work well. A lot of little lines are preferable, in this case. Long speeches – yeah, like that’s going to happen.
  • I don’t like the drama within the drama. It’s hard to act with someone whom you dislike in real life, especially if/when that person is Public Enemy No. 1. It’s never a nice feeling.
  • I don’t like having to help out at strike. I get really sad when I have to take the set down, it’s so final, like I’m destroying my character’s home.
  • I don’t like the constant comparisons. A good director can get through the whole process without comparing one actor to another. I’ve dealt with productions where there has been blatant favoritism by the director, or where the director is constantly comparing everyone’s performances. Leave the actors alone for a minute before opening your mouth. Fortunately that did not happen for this show.
  • I don’t like when there is nobody I know in the audience. Due to the limited seating and the short run, we had fewer than 100 seats available all told, and only 1 of them ended up being a personal friend of mine. It was really, really sad. Everyone I knew either a) said they wouldn’t come for one reason or another, b) said they’d come and then didn’t reserve tickets in time, or c) said they’d come but didn’t do anything at all.
  • I don’t like the disruptions to my body clock. I am that rare type of person who can get by on very little sleep and food, but there was one string of days when we had rehearsals less than 24 hours apart, giving me little time to process notes, decompress, and freshen up. One night I came home straight from rehearsal, went to bed, and then woke up to find that I had one hour to get to rehearsal again. I haven’t cooked myself a decent meal in ages – it’s all been in restaurants or on the go, wrapped in plastic or in a box/bag/can.
  • I don’t like facing barrages of criticism. I can take it usually, but sometimes it’s just…enough, let me live my life not in fear.
  • I don’t like it when actors tell me what I should feel or what I should be doing. If I’m wrong, that’s what the director is there for. Usually, I’ll figure it out by myself, but I would never tell someone else what they’re doing wrong.
  • I don’t like it when the techies act like all the actors are idiots.

There are probably more things on this list but I’ve been typing for almost an hour.

It’s been great being Oscar in Lights Out for the past six weeks, but I’m ready to turn the lights out on him.

0

At The End of The Day, You’re Another Day Older

That pretty much sums up how I feel about my birthday.

Which is tomorrow.

As in less than an hour from now.

Freaking. Out.

Birthdays mean different things to different people. To me, it means that the other 364 days of the year aren’t.

And that bothers me.

It seems like some peoples’ birthdays go on forever, with tons of parties and events…and mine never does. It comes, twenty-four hours pass, and then it’s over, and the only thing that’s changed is my age. Some people count down to their birthdays. I can’t really fathom that. Last year, on my 25th birthday, all anyone could say to me was “wow, you’re a quarter of a century old!” Well, thanks, that makes me feel a lot better about the biological process of aging and the fact that I’m still single, childless, jobless, and pursuing a degree which may or may not help me in life. This also is the beginning of the end of me being in my mid-20s. Soon I’ll transition into my late 20s…not cool, not cool. Well, I mean, cool in the sense that I’ve made it this far in life and many others haven’t, that I’m alive and free and in control of all my faculties, but not cool in reminding me that hey, you’re getting further and further from being able to date a teenager anymore.

Creepy aside. Anyway.

What bugs me the most about birthdays is that they’re so final. Like, you only get one a year. Then you have to wait another year to go through the same experience. And the day after is the worst – it’s like everyone else in the world gets a birthday before it’s your turn again.

And then, there’s the added pressure of how to spend your birthday. Treat it like a normal day? Take the day off, eschew responsibilities, and commit yourself to pure, unadulterated fun? Eat crazy amounts of chocolate and cake and drink copious amounts of alcohol? Spend it largely alone, with your thoughts to keep you focused and sane, or have a big party with as many people as you can?

Looking back on past birthdays is something that I tend to do around this time of year. Most of the time, the memories are disappointing. Like in 7th grade, when I had a huge test on my birthday, or three years ago, when I got into a huge fight with my parents the morning of my birthday that soured my entire day. Some birthdays were relatively successful, like in 5th grade when my teacher gave me a poster of endangered species, or my junior year in college, when I turned 20, saw a Rosanne Cash concert, and ended up at a house party that turned out to be a surprise party for me. Israel was another fun birthday – a group of us went to Maale Film School and watched some short films and met up with the filmmakers, followed by dinner with Dayna and Abbie in Talpiot, and later bowling with Dayna and Anya. My last two years of birthdays, in Houston, were mostly just blah and upsetting.

But enough negative.

I enjoy that feeling of weightlessness when I wake up, and I can say, “Today is mine. No one can take it away from me.” I like the random “happy birthday” greetings from people I meet up with, and blushing when people say, “it’s your birthday, isn’t it?” I like it when people go out of their way to do something nice for me, whether it’s a present, a card, or a hug, but just a greeting and a big smile can make me happy. I like it that even if I stay up tomorrow past midnight, it’ll still be my birthday until I go to sleep (according to some birthday rules).

That’s not a lot of things to like about birthdays.

Now I’m sad again.

But it isn’t yet my birthday, so I can’t do too much worrying about it being a bad one; it’s a blank slate, a mystery, a day of promise.

Just keep yourself in check, Jacob – you’ll get through the day, one way or another.

And hopefully, it’ll be a happy day.

🙂