Thursday, March 26, 2015

Constellations


A few weeks ago my mom took me to see Constellations on Broadway. We started the night at Joe Allen with lobster rolls and wine. Then we made our way to the theater for some delicious Jake Gyllenhaal viewing. Gyllenhaal was looking especially beardy and handsome. He also adopted a British accent for the play which was convincing and crazy attractive. His acting? Fantastic. What blew me away, though, was Ruth Wilson's performance. She was spectacular. 

Constellations stars just the two actors: Gyllenhaal and Wilson. There is no intermission. The two performers are on stage for the duration of the dialogue-heavy play. In a word? It's impressive. Both actors show a wide range and make the subject matter, albeit depressing, spring to life. The show's storyline is sad; it deals with relationship issues, disease and more. But the acting is phenomenal.

The one downside, besides the deflating subject matter, is the audience. Of course, the audience isn't always an issue. But it was at this performance. I was seated next to two chic-looking middle-aged women. The one directly beside me kept whispering to her friend, "Aren't they amazing?!", "OMG, did that just happen?" and so on. Chatty Cathy nearly ruined my play-going experience. I would start to get lost in the story, but then I'd abruptly be yanked back into the disappointing reality that my sixty-something year old neighbor needed incessant attention.

Everyone in the theater is so (rightfully) concerned about cell phones going off during performances. I think there should also be warnings about audience commentators. How can viewers get lost in a performance when some rude theater-goers are creating disturbances? Fortunately, Gyllenhaal and Wilson are such talented storytellers that they made the great lasting impression of my evening. Chatty Cathy is fading into the distance, and even Gyllenhaal's dreamy accent is no longer on the top of my mind. 

A

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Love at First Date

[Woo Central, Circa 2009]
I recently read Emily Schuman's blog post describing her first date with her now husband and baby daddy. They ended up seeing a movie neither of them was all that interested in, but the two lovebirds wanted to do something, anything to spend more time together. 

This reminded me of my first date with my husband. Justin and I had been friends for years, so while we were comfortable in each other's company, we still had to make the leap from friend zone to romance. There was much wooing involved.

Justin proved himself to be quite the romantic. He recommended we see 500 Days of Summer. Little did I know at the time that he had already seen the movie with a friend and deemed it date appropriate. He knew I'd like it, and then perhaps like him (Spoiler alert: it worked). 

We made casual plans to see the movie after I took a yoga class at my beloved, and now closed, studio Om in USQ. Justin picked me up outside the yoga studio and escorted me to the theater down the block. I loved 500 Days of Summer. And maybe that's when I started to love Justin, who knows ;) It was a perfect first date, and well worth Justin's reconnaissance work. He's been wooing me ever since. 

xo A

P.S. Another blogger's first date story, here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Riding the Wave


The older I get, the more of a scaredy cat I become. I'm terrified of cats, for one. Flying, something I've been comfortable with my whole life, is now scary -- especially during moments of turbulence. And big waves in the ocean? Let's just say I cannot hang ten.

My newly developed wave phobia is devastating because I love the ocean. I yearn to be by the sea at all times. I'm happiest on the sand, listening to water lapping up against the shore. Actually, that's a lie. I'm happiest in the ocean, dunking my head and feeling free. My newfound problem is that I can only enjoy the sea when it's wave-free. And nature doesn't always cooperate with my neediness.

The best solution, of course, is to conquer my fear of waves. People swim in wavy waters all the time, unscathed. The key is to swim into the belly of the wave. My instinct, however, is to 
panic and flail in the other direction, until I'm undoubtedly swallowed up by the water and spit out panting, scared and sometimes hurt.

I know the answer to my conundrum. I know I need to face my fear and get out there and just swim into the waves. I know this, and yet I wallow in fear. In Tulum recently, the water cooperated with my neurosis for most of my trip. I contentedly bobbed in and out of the pristine water on most days. On my 31st birthday, however, I was tested by God or The Universe or Poseidon or something... A big wave came and I freaked out. I tried to escape but of course I got pummeled. I emerged from the water topless and scared.

The rest of the day I only dipped my toes in the ocean. I didn't dare enter in far enough to risk having to face a menacing wave. When I moseyed up to the hotel to use the ladies room (No, clearly the ocean is not a suitable option for me) I met a stray cat. The feline blocked me from proceeding. I recoiled and waited for it to pass. Yup, like a true p*ssy.

I didn't check my phone often on that Tulum trip. I typically like to disconnect on vacation. I did check my email at some point on my b-day, though. I opened my "daily inspiration" email from Martha Beck to find these words of wisdom:
The only way to the Place beyond Fear is to do the thing you fear most. This is how to surrender to your best destiny.

Whether it was a coincidence or a message from my fairy godmother, I'm not sure. But I decided to finally heed Beck's advice, the advice I'd been telling myself but not acting on. The next day I would claim the walkway from cats and claim the sea from my scaredy cat self. I was determined but terrified. The next day, however, much to my relief, the water was calm like a bathtub. Still, I floated around and felt free.


A

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

An easy antidote to the blues


How do you relax? When the weather allows, I relax by jogging along the Hudson River, going to yoga classes or meeting friends for a glass of wine.

However, during this particularly harrowing winter trekking anywhere has seemed more stressful than reaping the benefits from participating in such calming activities.

So what did I do to fend off those winter blues? My saviors have been taking tropical trips, watching The West Wing on Netflix and tuning into the occasional old movie.

I've always had a soft spot for Turner Classic Movies. TCM shows old films that are generally heart-warming; even if the movies don't always have happy endings, the black and white tones and dialect from earlier times is nostalgic and uplifting. 

When I came across this "letter of recommendation" in The New York Times Magazine I was instantly intrigued. Author Leon Wieseltier extols the virtues of the classic movie channel in a passionate ode. See below for an excerpt:

"Some people turn to psychopharmacology when they are blue. I prefer Turner Classic Movies... I switch on TCM and find swift transit beyond the confines of my position. Alongside my reality there appears another reality — the world out there and not in here. One objective of melancholy is to block the evidence of a more variegated existence, but a film quickly removes the blockage. It sneaks past the feelings that act as walls."

Wieseltier praises TCM for providing not only an alternative reality but also beautifully made films created without computer interference. Wieseltier adores old movies because they have integrity. Back then, acting was a craft performed on a set and not before a green-screen. Movie stars actually performed stunts. It wasn't all pretend. 

Wieseltier is in favor of finding a real outlet for help in facing reality. Old movies don't remove us from our present scenarios, but they may make them more tolerable. As he says, "We watch movies because life must be faced."

A
 

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