Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm lovin' it.

Darling Lil Sis (in the sorority sense) came to visit me.  We did things that you do in New York City.

Liiiiiiike...


 Shots!


 And air guitar!



Followed by more shots.


I swear, I'm an adult now but sometimes it's nice to surround yourself with NYU College Students in a bar that features 5 shots of anything for $10.  And since I'm an adult now, I stopped in plenty of time to avoid the dreaded hangover and go on enjoying the rest of my weekend.

Because everyone knows you can't go ice skating hungover.  I mean, you can, but I have a bad enough sense of balance sober.  So off we went to join the throngs of tourists in Bryan Park, where skating is "free" but you still have to pay $13 for ice skates and $10 for personal item storage. 




 

See the man in yellow?  He spent a lot of time trying to make sure we didn't take pictures while on the ice.  We did what you do to authority in the Big Apple, and defied it.  Badasses.

I'm not a very good ice skater.  I tried.  Just like in every other aspect of life, trying too hard tends to be my kiss of death.  It's true.  And now I've ice skated in public in New York City which is an unofficial Bucket List item that I made up after I typed up the New York Bucket List. 

Following ice skating, a long search for a public restroom (Reason #97 why it sucks to be a tourist) and a stop for coffee, we headed over to do one of my ultimate favorite Things to do in New York City.  Rush for a Broadway show.  Typically speaking, $20 or so buys you a front row seat for whatever your heart desires, providing you have good enough luck and/or karma for you name to be drawn.  Lucky for me, Megan's name is VERY lucky in these lotteries and she scored me 'n Sarah seats for...yup.


 Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.  Because if Sarah was only going to get to see one show, this was the one.  We enjoyed it immensely, especially the part where AJ himself (Benjamin Walker, aka BDubs) gave Sarah a lap dance.  Yup.  That happened. 
If you're going to rush for this show, pray you get BB102 or BB103.  Just sayin'...

And then, it was time for Italian food.  Nom.  Followed by laziness today.  Phew. 

It was the perfect weekend.  Exactly and precisely just enough quintessential New York with a little bit of real life mixed in.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tales from the inside.

Yesterday, while I was deep in conversation with a couple of guests from Texas, a woman approached my desk.  She looked at my sign, which reads "Concierge Desk" and then lists some of the helpful and delightful things the concierge is responsible for.  As I was mid-sentence with the Texans, she piped in with a "Is this the Concierge Desk?"  I nodded and smiled, and then she proceeded to attempt to make a sales pitch to me.  Through gritted teeth, I let her know I was currently with guests and that I would be happy to speak with her momentarily.  The Texans scampered away. 

The interrupter then spoke again.
"Happy Hannukah!"

I responded.
"Thank you.  Same to you.  How can I help you?"

As if I'd just stabbed her with a blunt pair of scissors, she looked mildly hurt, mostly baffled.
"Oh, I'm not Jewish.  I'm a CHRISTIAN."

I assured her I had not been out to offend, I was merely returning the greeting that had been extended to me.  She then informed me that I just "looked Jewish."  And then tried to talk to me about her new salon and ask me to send her my "clients."

Note to people forced to solicit and cold call: probably not best to make broad, sweeping generalized comments and potentially offend would be business partners.  Also, get the lingo straight.  I work in a hotel, therefore I have guests, not clients.  Lucky for her, being told I "look Jewish" doesn't offend me but I still doubt she'll see any of my guests darken her door.  Pure silliness, y'all. 

File this one under "I love people."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I've been shot!

And I don't know what I'm good at
but I'm better at wrong than at right
but come my turn, baby like bourbon I'll burn
under the stage's bright lights...

My heart is a little heavy lately.  I'm not entirely happy and some days, I'm not at all happy.  I'm not particularly fond of this side of me, so I'm working to fix this.  There will be some major changes taken place soon.  (Most of you can probably guess precisely what that means.  It's true.  It's time.)

But you know what makes me obnoxiously happy?  Having had the opportunity to work with a photographer whose work I've admired for YEARS (and who I'm lucky enough to call a friend).  The shoot was incredible and I am blown away by Valerie's talent, abilities, and artistic eye.  So to commemorate 4 years in the City That Never Sleeps, and to freshen up my headshots in the event I step back onto the stage anytime soon...








File this under "One of the coolest things I have ever done."  And check out Valerie's work - she'd be happy to "shoot" you too!  Valerie's Website / Valerie's Blog

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New York, quit callin'. New York, leave me be.

I’m leaving New York.
Not (necessarily) anytime soon.  No immediate plans have been made.  Plenty of notice will be given and tears shed when it’s time.  But it’s inevitable.  One day, I’m leaving New York.
Recent life events do make me think it might be sooner rather than later though, so I think it’s high time to make a NYC Bucket List.  Because there is a LOT I have done in my time here, but a few very important things I have not.
In no particular order…
1)   Camp out, secure tickets, and get into a taping for SNL.  (Or at least the dress rehearsal.)  This was attempted once, about a year and a half ago.  It was the season finale, with Justin Timberlake.  It poured rain all night and I absolutely cannot remember ever being so miserable.  To top it all off, only the first person in line got in that night.  I’ll camp out again in a heartbeat but NEVER if rain is predicted.
2)   Go to Ellis Island / Statue of Liberty.  Correct.  I tell tourists how to make this happen every single day and yet, I’ve never been.  What?  I’m a local.  Locals know to ride the (free) Staten Island Ferry instead.
3)   Attend a show in every single Broadway house.  I just checked.  I’m only missing two.  Which means I’m going to be seeing Addams Family (Lunt-Fontanne) and A Free Man of Color (Vivian Beaumont) sometime in the future.
4)   Go to the Opera.  Because I am very classy and sophisticated. 
5)   Go to a Yankees, a Knicks, and a Rangers game.  Because I’ve already got the Giants and the Mets under my belt, and since the Giants and Jets share a stadium, I only have to go to one.  (Roll Tide.  Sorry.  That really is the only team that’s important to me.)
6)   Take a trip to the Adirondacks.  They’re close(ish).  I should get on that.  I like nature. 
7)   Buy something at Tiffany.  Even if it’s “only” a keychain. 
8)   Frequent at least a few more top notch restaurants and order off the Chef’s Tasting Menus.  Partially because Le Bernadin proved it’s OH SO WORTH IT and also because the more $200 meals I partake in now, the more I’ll squeal with delight over prices when I’m safely back down in the dirty. 
9)   Spend a night at The Plaza.  Attend high tea at the Palm Court AND order room service for breakfast.  (And look for Eloise. I love her.)
10)  Take at least one more acting class.  Or at the very least, a workshop or intensive.  Remember acting and how it was why I moved here and then found a hundred other reasons to stay, instead? 
New Yorkers and New York lovers…is there anything I missed?
It’s kind of fun and terribly exciting to think that this time next year, I could very well be living somewhere entirely different…


 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Van Buren, why do you have to be such a MOTHER F*CKER!

Holy. Crap.

I have a tremendous new crush.
On this man.

And the entire cast, crew, and anyone touching anything having to do with the musical in which he is currently starring. 
  
Sexypants, indeed.  And sexy lead, sexy supporting cast, sexy set, sexy lights, sexy props, sexy script, sexy music, sexy costumes, sexy musicians, sexy ideas, sexy levels of complete and total utter ridiculousness.  Sexy sexy sexy.  I have never in my life been surrounded by so much sexy.

See?


Most are calling it emo, but I'd consider it almost gothic.  Broadway's newest Emo (Gothic) Rock Opera about America's 7th President, presented with not entirely true factoids and haunting parallels to modern-day government.  How could this possibly go wrong?  In a world where American Idols, fallen has-beens and remakes of ridiculous Hollywood triumphs and flops seem to rule the Great White Way, it is SO REFRESHING to see and hear and experience something entirely new.  A contemporary look at early American history - I likes it a LOT.   

Because it all works.  Every second is beautifully scripted, brilliantly directed, effortlessly acted, and yet somehow nothing feels contrived or rehearsed.  This is a show that is literally bursting at the seams, every moment, every move, every second full of something new and absurd.  Just like every show I've ever raved about before, this is one that knows its audience and appreciates, but never apologizes for, its place.  If I had to complain about anything, it would be the unmemorable music and often lackluster lyrics, but I was too busy loving everything else to let that bother me too terribly much.  (Oddly enough, I recognized some of the chord progressions and a quick check in my playbill revealed why - it was written by Michael Friedman who also penned Gone Missing which is probably one of the other best shows I've ever seen.  Take THAT, musical snobbery!  pwned!)

I plan to groupie the hell out of this show.  And hopefully, eventually, work up the courage to stage door Benjamin Walker.  Yum.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby you'll be famous, chase you down until you love me

I "ran" a 5k this weekend. 
I came in 2038th.  Or, 8th from last. 
Now's the part where I try and soothe my bruised ego and remind myself that I didn't exactly try my hardest or give it my all, that I walked when I could very well have run, that I sat on top of the cargo nets and stared down in fear for too long, that I barely broke a sweat, that I found it more important to cross the finish line with Megan than cross it alone.  Could I have done better?  Yup.  Is that an excuse that doesn't matter because in the end, all that counts is what actually happened instead of what you say should have?  Uh huh.

But was this my last 5k? 

Not in the least.  The good news is, the whole point of training for the course was to knock my weight loss out of its 3 year hiatus and get things moving again, which I feel I did.  And.  I kind of WANT to keep running and not out of obligation or dread, but because I might be starting to like it.  Weird, right?

Doing this 5k taught me that if I could change anything about myself, I wouldn't be such a 'fraidy cat about not at all scary things and I especially wouldn't be so afraid of doing things alone.  And that if I'm not careful, I'm going to quickly become one of those people that receives eye rolls and hears "you're all talk, no action."

I don't want to ever be a spectator in my own life and spend all my time thinking about what could have been or should be.  This weekend, I remembered once again that I really to need to learn how to be presentBe here now. 

Thankfully, this weekend was so much more than the course.  I needed to get out of New York City and away from work and rudeness and neediness and the noise and the rancid trash and the subway and my life and everything else that was giving me the urge to throw punches and hissy fits.  I spent too much money at Wal*Mart.  And Target.  I didn't fix my hair or put on makeup for 3 straight days and oddly enough, didn't mind.  I played with puff paint.  I had a lovely night in (near) Boston with Kim and played Phase 10, and then followed the race with an entirely spontaneous trip to Maine.  Why?  We had a car, 2 more days off work, and a free place to stay.  Why not go eat lobster and wear sweatpants and get to see stars?

Y'all.  I miss seeing stars and feeling grass between my toes and Wal*Mart and roadtrips.  I miss a lot of things that NYC can't exactly give me...
Then again, NYC is still very much my present so perhaps I'd best learn to appreciate it for what it is instead of resenting it because it's not what I wish it could be which is basically a metaphor for my entire life, really.    (There were a lot of unnecessary words in that last sentence.  Forgive me?)

Friday, September 10, 2010

And if you're gonna love me, you're gonna deal with my fire

Dear God,

I know we don't talk nearly enough, so it might be a little gauche to do so now in so public a forum.  But it worked pretty nicely for Liz Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love and now she's got a movie about her life experiences and she's played by Julia Roberts so I guess it can't be all that bad.  But I'm not asking for a national bestseller, or an A-list celebrity to play me in a C-grade movie or anything.  I just wanted to address something with you, and I kind of wanted anyone who visits my corner of cyberspace to be fully aware of my awe for you right now. 

Today, I worked (and I mean WORKED) for 11 hours straight.  I ate nothing but a luna bar and went 8 hours without peeing.  (Hey.  My corner of cyberspace, my talk with God, I get to share what I want to.)  I left work nearly an hour and a half after I was supposed to, and about 20 minutes after I intended to.  And when I got off the subway I ignored the serious hot melty cheese craving attack and went to Subway, because I am on a diet afterall and pizza period but especially on an empty stomach with a crashed metabolism probably would have been a bad idea.  (I'm not apologizing for the Doritos instead of Bakes Lays, though.)

As I left Subway and rounded the corner towards home, I was greeted by a police van and 6 cop cars, with about 15 cops detaining 2 men against a Mustang.  (The car, not the horse.  Like this blog needs to get any weirder.)  And because it's New York, the streets were lined with onlookers, all mumbling about whatever rumble had apparently just gone down.  So thank you, God, for keeping me nice and occupied in Manhattan and safely out of harm's way in Queens.  And thank you for letting me go hungry today and then giving me the will power to make the right food decision instead of the wrong one, because not only will the 5k be that much easier, but I'm kind of glad as much time as possible was placed between me and the cops' arrival.  And thank you for letting me see the end of whatever meltdown that was so that I could once more be reminded that time and again, I am saved by your grace. 

And while I'm on the thank-you tangent, thank you for the drunk men in plaid pink suits that danced around and hugged me and sang Christmas jingles in the middle of the crowded hotel lobby, and then tried to coax me into the limousine I had called for them so that we could all go to the shooting range I was able to locate for them.  I hope they're safe and happy tonight.  New York City truly is a magical place filled with ridiculous people and every day is an opportunity to live more stories to share.  Thank you for leading me here.

Also, thank you for knowing underneath all the sass in this blog and angst currently in my heart, I really do love you. 

Yours forever,
Alison

Sunday, September 5, 2010

At times I feel myself smiling, at times I'm not. Doo doo doo doo.

The calls for a new blog post have started to roll in again.  Ah, to be popular. 

So I guess the first bit of big news is I've signed up for my first 5k.  And not just any 5k.  Allow me to walk you through it (pun intended).  First, there will be some running through the wilderness, followed by cargo nets.  More running, then some "island hopping" through cold and muddy water.  Running.  Mud.  Running.  Cold muddy water.  Running.  Tire jungle.  Running.  7 foot barricades.  Running.  Tunnels.  Running through the forest.  Running.  Tunnels.  Running.  Running up a large hill.  Running.  LEAPING OVER FIRE. 
Finish line.

My training has turned from mmmm, doesn't yoga feel good? to mmmmyeahyoga plus serious cargo plus things that make my arms and shoulders go OW.  OW OW OW OW OW OW OW.  Megan and I have started Couch 2 5K which is helping a LOT.  I still just don't think I'm ever going to be "a runner" but I do think I'll survive this course without dying of a heart attack.  Nothing to kick-start my dormant metabolism like training for (and executing) a course designed by Navy Seals, right?

Sigh.  Now that I've led with the big news, anything else I say is going to seem pretty wussy and weak.  In short: work crazy, cat cute, Autumn arriving, diet succeeding and FOOTBALL SEASON IS HERE.  Basically, I couldn't be anymore giddy over this time of year.  Between the new Broadway shows to look forward to, the better weather, and Saturdays filled with the best sport (and team) ever, I have a lot to look forward to.  And then, without time to recharge, it'll be time for holiday season and all the chaos (and joy) it brings.  I am literally breathless with anticipation.
Or perhaps, just breathless from all the running. 

And now, I'll leave you with some pictures from a lovely Monday spent at the beach.  Adieu, Summer.  I am SO glad to see you go. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I wanna go back to my room and find a message in dry erase pen on the door.

Dear Baby Bro,

I don't like to make pointless guarantees and empty promises, but mark my words: today is a Very. Big. Day.  First and foremost, congratulations on making it 18 years without choking or being choked by our darling parents.  No one else on the planet understands this feat quite like I do. 

Ten years ago, we parked cargo van in our front yard, and loaded it with suitcases and yaffa blocks, coordinating sheets and throw rugs, communal bathroom supplies, an 8 year old you and an 18 year old me.  I can't believe it's your turn, though something tells me your move to college will be much simpler and less dramatic.  (But that's pretty much par for the course, and a key difference between you and me.)  Speaking as the elder sibling, I'd now like to load you up with some advice that will help you navigate through the next four years (and probably beyond) successfully. 

1) Parties are great.  DDs are better. 
2) Speaking of drinking, the myths are true.  Tequila is always bad, but especially if the night began with Natty Light.
3) Speaking of Natty Light, always spend the extra money for better beer.
4) Enough about drinking.  Go to class.  Seriously.  Go to class.
5) No one works best under pressure.  It's just a lie we all tell ourselves so we don't feel quite so pathetic for procrastinating. 
6) Make new friends.  Don't forget about the ones you already have, but make new ones, too. 

(Sidebar: Mom just called as they drove home.  They're child-free for the first time in 28 years.  Let the celebrating AND the empty nest syndrome set in.)

7) Speaking of Mom calling, call her.  She won't hover, but she will be curious what you're up to and it would be nice if you'd update her.
8) I am deeply jealous of you for going to a big university.  Make the most of it.  Promise me you'll go to as many football games as possible, when you're not busy running circles around the other track kids.
9) Please don't let your room, or especially your bathroom, smell like dude.  Trust me, it's not manly.  It's just gross.  And for the love, change your sheets regularly - has Dad ever told you about his first college roommate?
10) Find the perfect greasy spoon, open 24 hours a day diner/coffee shop/whatever.  Visit at least once a month, preferably between 11 PM and 3 AM.  Some of your loudest laughs and happiest moments will take place inside. 
11) Roadtrip.  Best idea ever.
12) Remember your roots, but don't be afraid to grow new branches. 
13) Take at least one class a year that has nothing to do with your major.  And audit something that does but you don't necessarily need - you'll enjoy it more and apply it better.
14) Keep playing bass.  Chicks will dig that.
15) Go to concerts but never, EVER wear a tshirt for the band playing, or a band you saw playing with the band playing. 
16) Take complete and total advantage of being a student.  Things are cheaper and easier because the world feels bad that you have to spend hours a day studying instead of working.  Truth is, most of us no longer in school wish we still were so no pity should be involved.  That being said - go on the trips offered, and take the discounts available. 
17) Don't fall in love in the first 2 years. 
18) Don't be afraid to ask for help.  In life, in class, in any challenge you encounter.  No one expects you to go at this world alone and people are generally willing to help if they know you need it. 
19) Life never ever ever works out like you planned.  Stop putting energy into planning it and start being ready to just live whatever is thrown your way. 
20) You are loved.  

And above all else, study hard and have fun.  Blink and it will all be over.  These will be some of the best years of your life, but only if you never take yourself all that seriously. 
Of course, to me, you will always be my little Evie-Boo-Boo, lover of M&Ms, fly-feet, Trains Planes and Automobiles, and Buzz Lightyear. 

Roll Tide Roll,
Your Big Sis

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rock on, rock on with your fashionable frown

Despite what my previous post may have suggested, I'm fine.  Not crushed or depressed or in a bad place or anything.  I mostly just needed to vent and to remember cliches are overused for a reason and that I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way and that I (hopefully) won't feel like this forever.

Oh and also, that no man is worth the tears and the one who is won't make me cry.  Whoops.  Sorry.  Had to slide one more in.

I've rejoined both match.com and okcupid recently.  And this time I think I'll be a little more open to dating for the sake of dating than dating for the sake of sensing immediate sparks, getting married, and having babies.  Safer approach, yes?

Work is insane right now.  Not bad, just busy.  (And if it's like this now, I'm a little terrified for November/December.)  I have a 60 hour week waiting in the wings, and at first I was nervous but if I just focus and take it day by day, I'm pretty sure it won't be the end of the world.  Instead of eating like crap and not exercising enough, I've decided to up the yoga to twice a day and try a new diet.  Don't worry, nothing quick, no fads.  Just a really basic, simple, common sense approach.  You see, I went to the doctor and she recommended a little something called the Rainbow Diet.  The key thing to remember?  White isn't anywhere in the rainbow.  So, no white bread, sugar, salt, etc.  She also recommended I cut back on my dairy intake which...well.  I refuse to ever stop eating cheese but ok, I can eliminate a little milk and yogurt if I have to.   She wants me on rice or almond milk, neither of which I'm crazy about, so we're compromising on one serving of soymilk a day. 

Best part?  She told me, specifically, to eat a lot of pineapple.  Confused?  Please direct your attention to the web address of this very blog.  Yup.  Eat a lot of pineapple?  I got this, Doc.  I'm a little concerned that the diet is relatively fruit heavy and lacking in veggies, protein and carbs but...we'll see?  I'm pretty sure eating lettuce, fresh fruit, and chicken all week isn't exactly going to make me gain. 

For the first time in my life, I have been silent for over 24 hours by my own choice.  (I've done it several times before due to necessity, or double-dog dares.)  It's been lovely.  I think I'm going to enforce one Mute Sunday per month, in addition to the No Pants Sunday rule already very much present each week.  Mmmmm.  Good idea, me. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I could really use a wish right now.

In the wake of my most recent boy-crazy fueled disaster (seriously, why do I even bother believing anymore?) I've had a whole slew of words of wisdom, friends' advice, song lyrics and cliches running rampant through my head.  Of course, seeing that I'm the one home alone with my cat on a Saturday night, wearing a t-shirt I've had at least 10 years, eating Chinese takeout, watching chick flicks and brooding over my stupid mouth, I guess I'm the real cliche here.

And now I'm going to put all these words and lyrics out into the world in hopes they're true and I'll listen next time.   Hell, here's hoping I'll listen THIS time, as I'm not exactly out of the woods just yet.

love hurts 

love bites

I find a fatal flaw in the logic of love
  
Love is never having to say you're sorry

Everything happens for a reason

How many times can I break till I shatter?

Time heals all wounds

But time takes time, you know?

You're better off without him

Boy, you're better off with me in your head.

He doesn't deserve you

It'll happen when it happens

I just haven't met you yet.

He's just not that into you.

Shit happens

I'm tired of being alone.  So hurry up and get here. 

Whatever will be, will be 

Let it be.

It is what it is

Let it ride.  Let it roll, let it go.

Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.
 
love conquers all
Love conquers all
   
Love conquers all.

(Never say never.) 

And when you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small. 

The funny thing about hope is that it's inextinguishable.   

You see, sometimes I'm a woman and sometimes, a mess. 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

So this old world must still be spinning ' round - And I still love you.

I've done practiced yoga 5 times in the past 3 days. This clearly makes me an expert, so now I will share what I know with you.

1) I don't like Kundalini Yoga because it appears to be everything non-yogis use to make fun of yoga. I dunno. "Fire breathing" doesn't really make me feel like I've accomplished anything in my day, or workout.

2) Yoga by candlelight? Awesome idea right before bed. I fell right asleep without my usual wandering mind, slept soundly up to my alarm, and woke up easily and well rested with good intentions for the day.

3) Do people have good bodies because they do yoga, or do people do yoga because they have good bodies? I mean, even though I sweated and shook the whole time and I'm sore afterwards...did I get a workout? Is this going to work?

4) Apparently, all I needed for motivation was a hot pink yoga mat with lotus flowers. Observe.  Why in the world does this pretty thing excite me so?




 5) Post yoga, I have the flexibility, durability, capability and desire to sit entirely still and reflect for up to 10 minutes.  And I think 10 minutes of Alison-time is easily like 30 of most other peoples'. 

But really what I mostly know and like about yoga is that you practice it.  Everyone, every time.  Whether you've been a yogi for 30 years, or 3 days, you practice yoga.  You're not doing yoga, running to yoga, stressing over yoga, working out with yoga, taking care of yoga or any other verb which suggests something difficult is being done.  You're just..practicing.  So you can't fail.  It's almost entirely foolproof, which makes it like a big comfortable hammock, begging for company, ready to sway and surround you.  I wish I could practice more things in my life.  I wish if I messed up at work I could say "that's ok - just practicing!" or if I accidentally offended someone I could respond "sorry!  practicing!" or if (when) I made myself look like an ass I could soothe me with "it's ok!  you're only practicing!"  Because everyone knows when you're practicing something, you're allowed to make mistakes.

And though it sounds entirely hokey, my other favorite part of yoga is a message I've read many times and ways in the past week - be compassionate with yourself.
 (Which I am currently practicing.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm in the wrong story.

Something that makes me giggle...

Megan and I name articles of clothing after the foods and beverages we spill on them. (Even long after we've washed and de-stained them.)
Actual conversations in our apartment go a little something like this:
"What should I wear tonight?"
"Sweet tea vodka dress? Or soy sauce shorts?"
"Hmm. Maybe. Are you going to wear your pizza pants?"
"Only if my cacciatore top is clean."

This post has no point or relevance. But it sure beats the whiny, is anybody ever going to love me and am I ever going to change my abundance of flaws? post that's been simmering between my brain and fingertips for days now...

I think I'm about to start investing in yoga classes because I need balance and a relatively secure location to spend a couple hours a week not being a spazz. Except I'm terrified to actually go take yoga, because what if I accidentally fart while in downward facing dog? It's a truly logical phobia.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tell me how to win your heart, for I haven't got a clue.


Earlier this week, John Mayer posted a blog.  My darling friend Jenn read the blog, thought me of, and brightened my day with it and some kind words.  And it got me thinking, so now I’m going to blab to you.  Well, first I’ll let Mr. Mayer babble and then I’ll take over.

I wish that when I was younger I could have met my current self. We would have sat down at a coffee shop so that I could explain life to young me in terms that only we would understand. It would have saved me a lot of hardship…

People want to be liked. We all crave attention and affection and we all reject shame. When we get embarrassed we send a thug version of ourselves to the forefront to do our fighting for us. We’re at the top of the food chain just under fear.  We don’t want to be in a relationship to hear the words “I love you,” we want to be in a relationship to say the words “I love you.” We want to feel needed, and exceptional and we hate feeling insignificant. We want to ace a hearing test. We are binary creatures; if we’re the plaintiff, we want to win every dollar. If we’re the defendant, we want guard every penny. We want to make more money than last year. We don’t want to get cancer or die in our cars and we want the same for our loved ones. We go out on weekends to try and have sex while trying not to get punched in the face. We drink so we can be ourselves and not mind it so much. We’re desperate to be understood. We want to know someone else has felt it, too. We hate being judged unfairly. We want to make the person we heard wasn’t all that into us change their minds and admit they had us wrong. We want sunny skies with a chance of killer tornadoes, just to keep music sounding good. We take hours upon hours to admit to self consciousness. We don’t know exactly how to pleasure each other. We just want love. In any and every form.


Last weekend, I went down to Birmingham for my 10-year high school reunion.  I’ve been planning on going to my reunion since before I even graduated from good old Mountain Brook.  Somehow, I knew I’d be a better Alison with some age and wisdom, wardrobe tips and makeup tricks.  I realized a couple years ago that my friends and I had all begun to magically grow into who we always were and just didn’t quite know how to be during those awkward teen years.

I wish that when I was younger I could have met my current self.  I probably would have slapped myself silly.  Reminded me that there really is something to that whole “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” talk.  I would have tough loved the crap out of myself.  Buck up, little chippy.  It’s not so bad.  STOP POUTING.  BE HAPPY.  I think one of the absolute truths about life and the world and people is that misery, shame, unhappiness, and things bad, dirty and grungy all manifest from self-loathing and doubt.  I wish that when I was younger I could have met my current self because that’s the one major lesson younger me could have stood to learn much earlier in life.  Those boys weren’t making fun of my weight; they were burying their own flaws.  Those girls weren’t picking on my clothes; they were apologizing for their own inabilities to find looks not spoon-fed from magazines and billboards.  Those people weren’t being cruel because I was an awful person; they were being cruel because they were afraid they might be awful people. 

I wish that when I was younger, I could have met my current self.  Current me could have reminded younger me that if someone is being mean, they probably just need a hug.  (Or some chocolate milk.  Maybe a nap.)  Current me could have reminded younger me that the hardest but most worthwhile thing to do is love someone through the flaws and in spite of the pain.  Current me could have reminded younger me that broken hearts do in fact heal and are often times stronger and more capable than they were before.  Current me could have reminded younger me that energy is best spent living life instead of planning it.  (Because plans do fall apart, but life typically keeps on moving.)

But perhaps it’s best that younger me had to muddle through on her own because we all know that no one actually listens to their elders and lessons are best when experienced instead of taught.  The funny thing about life is you can’t ever really go back; you’re here, and eventually, you’ll get there.  And if you’re lucky like me, you’ll get there with an abundance of friends and some really funny stories sprinkled in.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So here I go with all my thoughts I've been saving. So here I go with all my fears, weighing on me

So here we are.  27 coming to a close, 28 ready to begin.

For the past few weeks, I've been mourning the change from a "mid-twenty-something" (shut up, I'm on a cusp) to a very official "late twenty-something"and I can't say I've been coping with anything that resembles grace.  I just didn't feel ready.  Frankly, I don't feel like I accomplished much of anything as a 27 year old, so I didn't find it all that fair to be pushed to the next phase with neither medal nor merit.  And until about 3 hours ago, I had banned the use of the words "Happy Birthday" or "28" from my friends' vocabulary on or around July 2nd.  They were to call it Alison Appreciation Day and they could celebrate my existence but not my birth.  (Because let's face it - when am I ever going to give up an opportunity to be center of attention??)

And then today it hit me.  What in the world am I clinging to 27 for?  It wasn't exactly a stellar year.  Why not give it up, move on, embrace 28 and the hope and change it will certainly bring?  Let's review.
While 27 years of age, I did NOT:
Fall in or out of love (or have my heart broken)
Receive a promotion (though I did get way better at my current position)
Pull myself out of my continuing financial black hole (though I didn't make it worse, either)
Visit Birmingham (yet there was time for ATL, CLT, and Italy and Paris)
Lose anyone especially close to me (but rest in peace, Cami-dog)
Audition enough (but I did get cast in one thing!)
Get any smaller, healthier, or into better shape (at least I didn't gain much, either)
Make any major life decisions or changes (seriously.  I did well to get out of bed some days)
Or learn, grow or create enough.  (That's what 28 will be for)

Ok, so the year was a bit blah and mundane.  Great.  That much easier to move on and say, HEY, LIFE.  SPICIER, PLEASE.  MARINATE MY SOUL IN AMAZING THINGS.  And for some reason I'm actually still crazy enough to believe, just like every year, that this time next year things will actually be different.

Friday, June 18, 2010

You can't stop the motion of the ocean or the sun in the sky

Since I have a super cool job, our Manager of all things Internet-related asked me to compile a little opinion essay on the Tonys.  Keep in mind this is toned down a little bit for a mass audience read, but here are more or less my opinions of last Sunday night.


The Tonys are my Christmas and my New Year’s and my 4th of July Fireworks. They’re my Super Bowl, my World Cup, my World Series. They’re the hot fudge on my sundae, the sizzle on my steak, the apple of my eye, the skip in my step, the bee’s knees and the cat’s meow, whiskers and pajamas. I’ve loved the Tonys since somewhere around age 8 and have looked forward to that faithful Sunday each June when I could tune into a national broadcast focused entirely on theatre. And now here I am, living in the middle of it all, seeing these shows in real life, formulating informed predictions and opinions.
 
I love the Tonys.

Until this year. Producers, you let me down, both in execution and insistence upon roping Hollywood into our night. But enough about that. Let’s focus on the good, shall we?

Production cracks aside, the opening number showed off the talent to come, and I appreciated the concept. (The screeching 14 year old inside me probably loved Green Day’s appearance. Probably.) Sean Hayes gave an adorable opening monologue, helped along by the even more adorable Kristin Chenoweth and it was onto the first award of the broadcast.

The bad: Scarlett Johansson somehow managed to win the award and oust Broadway darling Jan Maxwell from Lend Me a Tenor. Cue panic and shrieking.

The good: ScarJo’s camera moments also provided ample face time for Ryan Reynolds AND co-star Liev Shreiber. Cue much more, but seemingly calmer, shrieking.

Before I could wallow into a pool of too much ScarJo success scorn, the men of Million Dollar Quartet took the stage began to wail (in a good way) and I was happy again. And then Eddie Redmayne won a Tony for his performance in Red, so I was happier still. And then Katie Finneran of Promises, Promises and Levi Kreis of Million Dollar Quartet joined the winner’s circle and I sat on the couch positively beaming. Performances from the casts of Fela, Ragtime, La Cage aux Folles and Memphis brought on more beaming, clapping, and shrieking. (My poor roommates.)

And then Football star Mark Sanchez took the stage and again, I groaned in the producer’s general direction for being so transparent in their attempt for ratings but then actual theatrical people like Angela Lansbury and David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammar, and much later in the show Bernadette Peters and Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane all made me happy once more. And then, more groaning, as Catherine Zeta Jones not only butchered a Sondheim classic but somehow wrestled the Tony away from Memphis’ deserving Montego Glover. Then hit TV show Glee's Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele reminded American they were Broadway Babies before being TV's newest darlings.

And though I’d picked Alfred Molina for Best Actor in a play, I knew it would be a close race between him and Denzel Washington, so I cannot claim surprise or disappointment. At least I pegged Viola Davis for Fences and Douglas Hodge for La Cage aux Folles correctly.

Before I knew it (and after the American Idiot cast delivered yet another phenomenal performance and Spiderman graced the stage) it was time for Red and Memphis to take home the evening’s final Tonys. I’m not sure what made me happier: the fact that two deserving shows brought in so much recognition, or the fact that of the 26 categories up for grabs, I correctly predicted 19 winners. But seriously, next year let’s leave the West Coast out of this, hire new sound and camera crews and have a better go, ok?

And in honor of our big winner, Memphis: HOCKADOO!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's not over till you're underground.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year.
TONY AWARDS SUNDAY. (I really am a gay man inside. I'm convinced of it.) Apparently I'm all aboard the Memphis and Red trains. Which is funny, because I thought I'd be more on board the Million Dollar Quartet and American Idiot trains, but when you break out the components of each piece, I do think Memphis has the majority of votes. Also, I'm finding Memphis a harder sell, so I want as many Tonys as possible behind it so I can be all see, EVERYONE loves it! You should buy tickets and keep its music going!

Hard to believe that a few years ago, the Tonys were a chance for me to look through a window and get a faint pulse on Broadway and now here I am making informed predictions. Oh life, you're funny.

So. I'm going to post my predictions (and let's face it - some explanations and rants, too) and we'll see how I do tomorrow night!

Best Play
In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Next Fall
Red
Time Stands Still

Best Musical

American Idiot
Fela!
Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet
(Ok. Every year I hate at least one musical nominated. So totally not the case this year. I love them all like my own darling children. I'm choosing Memphis NOT necessarily because it's my actual pick to win, I just think it's going to be the one TO win. I think Million Dollar and American Idiot are going to divide the committee in votes, and I think Memphis is going to edge out Fela! But GAH - what shows, what talent, what amazingness all around. If I had to pick a personal favorite, I'm going to have to say American Idiot with a Million Dollar Quartet a close close close close close second. But Memphis! Fela! I love love love you two too!)


Best Book of a Musical
Everyday Rapture
Fela!
Memphis
Million Dollar Quartet
(Um. Going out on a limb here. Honestly, Everyday Rapture has a hell of a shot - the other three are fantastic SHOWS but I cannot really commend the scripts for anyone other than Everyday Rapture. Especially not Million Dollar's book. I'm sorry. I can't.)

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Addams Family
Enron
Fences
Memphis
(Come on. Seriously. This one isn't even a competition. Also, ENRON got nominated for something? It is seriously the worst thing Broadway saw this year, if not this decade.)

Best Revival of a Play
Fences
Lend Me a Tenor
The Royal Family
A View from the Bridge
(A View from the Bridge gave it a run for its money, but we all know Fences is winning. Like tickets weren't already hard enough to get...)

Best Revival of a Musical

Finian's Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime
(My heart weeps a little with this answer. I loved Ragtime. LOVED RAGTIME. And kudos to Finian's for the nod, though I hardly agree. But La Cage? Shoe-in. Really pretty high heeled shoe-in.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Jude Law, Hamlet
Alfred Molina, Red
Liev Schreiber, A View from the Bridge
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
Denzel Washington, Fences
(No snark. It's just how I feel. Sorry, Denzel and Christopher and Jude and especially Liev. You're all very pretty and talented. Well, 3 of you are very pretty.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Viola Davis, Fences
Valerie Harper, Looped
Linda Lavin, Collected Stories
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family
(We all know it's happening. Cannot wait for the acceptance speech.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!
(I want to vote for Chad or Sahr, really I do buuuuut....I also want to be right about who wins.)

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kate Baldwin, Finian's Rainbow
Montego Glover, Memphis
Christiane Noll, Ragtime
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music
(Oh Christiane, I loved you and Ragtime so much, but Montego had BETTER WIN. You hear me, girl? WIN.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

David Alan Grier, Race
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences
Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
Stephen Kunken, Enron
Eddie Redmayne, Red
(Because I like it when cute things happen, so I want Red to sweep both actor categories.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family
Jessica Hecht, A View from the Bridge
Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor
(Because dammit, it's Jan's turn. If ScarJo wins...ugh. Gross. I don't even want to think about it.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical
Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian's Rainbow
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime
(It's gross how talented this man is. And we ALL know of my love for CFitz, but Levi, you've got this one.)

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Lillias White, Fela!
(Because all 15 minutes of her performance were the one bright spot in an otherwise blah production. I'm sorry. I really wanted to like it otherwise, but I really did not.)

Best Scenic Design of a Play

John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Fences
Christopher Oram, Red
(Because I love an underdog, so I want Red to beat Fences in as many categories as possible.)

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles

Best Costume Design of a Play
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Constanza Romero, Fences
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles

Best Lighting Design of a Play

Neil Austin, Hamlet
Neil Austin, Red
Mark Henderson, Enron
Brian MacDevitt, Fences
(Red, Red, Red...)

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!

Best Sound Design of a Play

Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Adam Cork, Enron
Adam Cork, Red
Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim

Best Direction of a Play
Michael Grandage, Red
Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall
Kenny Leon, Fences
Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge
(...Red, Red, Red...)

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Bill T. Jones, Fela!

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away
(Because if Bill can win for Spring Awakening but not Fela! I will laaaaaaugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.)

Best Orchestrations
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Every rose has its thorn.

The days keep flying by and I keep meaning to get all introspective on this here page and then poof, another day is gone. Is this what it's like to be a grown up?

I've been running at a non-stop, full-tilt boogie for a little too long now and frankly, I'm exhausted. Spring brings flowers and therefore allergies and it also brings visitors for both me and my fair city, so between playing travel planner by day and personal tour guide by night, I'm a step or two beyond exhausted. Frankly, I need a couple days on the beach complete with day drinking and trashy novels before I'm going to feel anything like "normal" again. But then again, what the hell is "normal" for me anyway? This is the life I've chosen, this is chaos I willingly embraced and walked directly towards. So no complaining, right?


I saw American Idiot a couple weeks ago. I loved it, but frankly I need to see it again. Crissie and Megan have dubbed my ADD the "Oooo, shiny!" disease and being easily distracted does not lend itself well to a show with no less than 3 scenes occuring simultaneously at all times, with a hell of a lot media also happening all over the stage. But the orchestrations and the cast? Spot on. Last weekend brought Promises, Promises. It was fine. I was underwhelmed because Kristin Chenoweth decided to take the evening off (the nerve!) and her understudy was little more than a vocal mimic without the necessary acting chops or grasp of comedic timing to carry out the role. Sorry. I'm usually not an understudy hater. But this substitution definitely broke the spirit of the show.

This weekend, I'm seeing Fela which means for the first year ever, I will have seen all four shows in competition for Best Musical at the Tonys. (Well. In their Broadway forms. A couple of times I'd seen the off-Broadway versions so passed on pouring more money into almost the same show.) And while I loved Million Dollar Quartet and Memphis my money is still on American Idiot.

Yesterday marked exactly 10 years since graduating high school and finally fleeing the tiny kingdom. Tomorrow, little brother will walk the same stage to get the same degree from the same school. My ten year reunion is just over a month away The amount of things that have changed in the past decade blow my mind. I'm a lot further along than I thought I'd be in some ways, and paces behind in others. I'm nervous. I have dreams about the reunion at least once a week, which is so completely silly to admit. I'm going to try really hard to hold my head up high and march in there 100% ok with where I am now, despite it not being quite where I planned to be. No marriage or even engagement ring, no mortgage, no future plans, certainly no kids but hey, I live in New York City on my own dime and found a job that doesn't suck that I'm GREAT at so does that count for something?

I'm so completely frustrated with my weight I can't stand it. The nonstop stress leads to bad food decisions and the pounds aren't coming off this time. Sure, I don't weigh 300 pounds anymore so the weight isn't going to fall off now like it did then. I guess every other time I've put my mind to lose, I have and this time I swear my body is working against me. Size 16 for life? Geez, I hope not. That's mighty depressing.

Everything boils down to this: something big needs to happen. Soon. We all know once I begin to feel stagnant in life I freak out and I'm very much feeling stuck right about now. I pray the winds of change blow my way soon because I'm tired of whining and you're tired of listening.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's you I like.

When I was four, I didn't know much. I especially didn't know there were things in my life I didn't like and didn't treasure and didn't know I'd one day crave. I didn't know that one day naps would become a luxury. I didn't know quiet time could be a reward instead of a punishment. I thought holding hands was stupid. I didn't like green beans. Or pineapple. Or anything not made out of bread and cheese. I had no idea how important family was, and how lucky I was to be born into mine. I didn't know I'd one day cry myself to sleep over flaws I didn't yet recognize. I didn't know I was a drama queen, emotional basketcase, future fat kid, or at all unbalanced.

And of course, I knew nothing of the people I'd one day meet and love or the places I'd see or the things I'd do. Four year old Alison had yet to be tainted with high school or ignorance and wasn't broken by cruel words and ridiculous people and didn't know anything about all she'd learn in college and New York and beyond. She had no idea she should do anything but love and play and imagine.

This week, 27 year old Alison saw Everyday Rapture...the story behind Sherie Rene Scott's rise to Broadway fame. I loved it. (Note: non-Broadway snobs, don't bother. You'll spend much of the show giving the quizzical "huh?" looks my roommate shot my way each time I erupted into peels of laughter over the morsels of obscure theatrical tidbits thrown my way.) And for no real reason whatsoever, other than to pay homage to a great man, Sherie serenaded us with a song I listened to as often as I could when I was four.

That's right...Mr. Roger's It's You I Like


It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair--
But it's you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you--
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys--
They're just beside you.

But it's you I like--
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself,
It's you, it's you I like.



Suddenly I realized, I did know a heck of a lot when I was four. Because when I was four, I knew the important reasons behind liking people. And I hope that every day moving forward, I sing these words to myself to remember again and sink further into that whole "big picture" mentality we late-twenty-somethings are eventually supposed to relax into.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Every time I see your face, my heart takes off on a high speed chase

Ok. Fine. I might never finish the European tales. Surprised? I'm not. There's still Florence and Paris and Volterra and Pisa to discuss and every time I try I get frustrated and abort mission. Pansy.

Anyhoo. Life in this neck of the woods got real exciting, real fast. Somehow, I survived another January and February (and those of you who work in hospitality know what I mean) and now things are crazy busy between work and networking events (ahem...cocktail parties) and the new season of Broadway shows. This week I saw Sondheim on Sondheim and Million Dollar Quartet.

In short:
Sondheim is one funny motherf'er and hearing Norm Lewis sing "Being Alive" ranks as one of my favorite moments as an audience member ever. Great show...if you like Sondheim and know his work inside and out.
Million Dollar Quartet left me pink cheeked from all the squealing. I'd rank it in top 10 for quality of performances. 4 actors portray Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash as they meet in Memphis one December evening to record their greatest songs. Heartfelt and amazing and my God, the talent. Please succeed. Please let everyone go see this and please let everyone love it and please award the talent involved the recognition they deserve.

Enough about that. I'm also here to tell you tales about how I'm becoming a real live New Yorker.
Exhibit A: Subway Behaviors
This week, I took the subway from one of my work locations to my office somewhere in the neighborhood of rush hour. (Then again, when isn't it rush hour?) As the doors opened at my destination, a crowd begin to rush the door. Nope. This is how it works people: I get off then you may get on. So. I stood there, arms folded, smile on my face until a path was cleared for me. There was some grumbling from outside, but certainly some chuckles from within.
The next morning, I boarded my subway car and to my delight found a 3 person bench with two people on it. And one person's bag. So I said hey buddy, wanna move that? He muttered something but obliged.

Exhibit B: The movies
Tonight, Megan and I saw Hot Tub Time Machine. Ridiculous. Hilarious. Definitely NOT this year's "The Hangover" but whatever will be again? The twerps in front of me thought I was too loud. (Yeah. I NEVER get that. So weird.) And when I say "twerps" that's me being polite because they were about 14 years old but in reality, complete little shits. The more they complained about my hearty laugh, the further forward I leaned and the louder I boomed.

Exhibit C: Dry Cleaner's Etiquette
My dry cleaner has a habit of losing my things. Usually it's my skirts. My jacket comes back. My pants come back. My skirts get lost. But last time, it was one of my shirts. And not one of my Filene's Basement $15 shirts. (Exhibit D: I shop at Filene's Basement.) My Calvin Klein shirt (Exhibit E: I also own LABELS and care about them). So I walked in, bitched him out, got my shirt back, and some free dry cleaning for the next go around.


My final tidbit of the evening is to tell you that I'm about to start Alli. Everyone I tell this to groans and tells me they hope I don't poop myself and to be wary of oily discharge and a bunch of other gross but delightfully humorous in a TMI way things. My friend Katie and I were talking it over, and we have decided a new turn for my blog to take will be a section I will call "Ali on Alli." It will probably go a little something like this:
Dear Blog,
Today I pooped myself!

or
Dear Blog,
Today I didn't poop myself!

I'll let you know exactly how it goes.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game.

If you know me at all, you probably know at least a handful of Absolute Truths about Alison. And probably one of the best known Absolute Truths is (was?) my overwhelming fear of being alone.

Since moving to New York, the fear morphed to discomfort, and the discomfort has now settled into a considerably more tolerable "feh. I'd rather not." That being said, when I took off for Italy, I knew there'd be a solo day or two, and I knew my old fears would likely reappear when introduced to a strange new setting. I gave Taryn a preparatory talk instructing her that, under no circumstances, is she to allow Old Alison to seize control of Alison v.2.0. I would spend time alone in a foreign country and I would like it, dammit.

After our Rome adventure, I did spend a day of rest and managed a walk into Ponsacco only to discover everything was closed. But since Tuesday promised pretty blue skies, Taryn dropped me off at the train station en route to work, and I set out solo for Cinque Terre. This involved an hour or so train ride to La Spezia, and then a transfer to the "local" trains that run through these adorably quaint little mountain-on-the-beach towns.

Despite the fact that I hadn't packed proper mountain gear, I decided to take the train all the way through to town number 5, Monterosso, and then hike my way back through to Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. How hard could it be?

Hard.

How lucky am I to have experience it?

Extremely.

There is nothing - nothing - like taking a train from anytown, Italy through a mountain tunnel and arriving in a place that feels like it just may be on a completely different planet from anything you've ever known. And there is nothing (nothing) like a 2 hour hike over mountain cliffs dangling over the sea.


As I hiked, I laid little pieces of my former self to rest along that trail and bid them a long, eternal sleep. I said goodbye to alone-aphobic Alison, because she never would have had the guts to take in this view:













And I gave peace to 300 pound Alison, who never would have made it across the narrow paths and up and down the mountains.

I giggled at workaholic Alison and thanked her for loosening the reigns on her blackberry long enough to take this picture:

And I wished luck to bitter Alison and said a quiet prayer of thanks for the opportunity to stroll Lover's Lane at all, even without my hand in someone else's.
(And I wished luck to future Alison, in the hopes that someday, she'll get the chance to clasp hands, hearts, and clang down a lock over there here bars.)







Cinque Terre ranks high on the list of coolest things I've ever experienced. I'm glad I didn't let fear strap me to the couch that day. And in some odd little way, it's something I'm almost grateful to have experienced alone because nothing can quite touch the feeling of learning something new about yourself while you listen to your feet thud and heart race between the hills and sea.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's got to happen, happen sometime...Maybe this time I'll win.

You know, maybe there is something to be said for this jetlag business. I was pleasantly snoozing by 9:30 last night, and wide awake at 3 this morning. After an hour of fighting it, I tossed back the covers, bid good morning to Maggie (who is still quite upset with me for abandoning her) and started my day. I've already responded to work emails, chatted with Taryn, brewed a pot of coffee, toasted a bagel, done a little light pilates and stretching, showered, and straightened my hair before the time I'm usually even out of bed. So now before I dust off my suit and prepare to fight the elements en route to the subway (there's a blizzard out there, y'all) I'll talk to you for a bit. Several people have asked when the stories will begin, and I can only get away with the "I'm re-adjusting and decompressing" excuse for so long.

So, Rome. After the previously detailed prosciutto-in-the-throat incident, we returned home, reviewed maps, and clamored into bed. We awoke the following morning to a hotel-provided continental breakfast, once again consulted the map, and set off in search of a "Roma Pass," as directed by Rick Steves.


Side note: before you go trapsing all over Europe, get yourself a guidebook. I highly recommend Rick Steves, as he as an uncanny ability to make history and mundane details funny and he does a great job of pointing out strange new customs you'll want to be familiar with before traveling.




So, Rick tells us to go back to Termini, find the Tourist Information (which I never would have found without his directions) and invest in a Roma Pass. 23 Euro, and it covers your public transportation for 3 days, free entry for the first two sites you visit, and discounted entry for all sites thereafter. Being that the Colosseum/Roman Forum are two of the most expensive sites to visit, we hopped on the metro and hit them up first.

Behold, the Colosseum. Glorious, huh? 1500 years old, and still packin' in those crowds daily. We had just enough time to arrive, point and laugh at the crowds waiting to BUY their tickets, scan in with our Roma Passes, walk into the main circle...and then run right back under cover due to a pretty heavy albeit brief rain storm. This happened the entire weekend. Little rainstorms peppered with bits of blue skies and sunlight. Thankfully, we were usually near some kind of shelter to dash under, wait five minutes, and then re-attempt our Roman exploration.




















So after the Colosseum comes the Roman Forum which we mainly used as a way to get even more kickass shots of the Colosseum. Am I right?


Don't get me wrong - ruins are cool, but once you've seen one ruin, you've basically seen them all and I could only gasp "I can't get OVER how OLD that slab of ROCK is" so many times. Although, we did see the place where Caesar's body was burned after his death, and that's pretty nifty. Marching on, we hit up the Victor Emmanuel monument and found a place to stop for lasagna (Taryn) and pizza (me). Bellies full and bodies rehydrated and recaffeinated, we consulted the map a dozen more times and set off in search of the Pantheon. Which looks like this:and should not be confused with the Parthenon, which is in Greece and looks like this:

Right, Taryn?

So the Pantheon is also called "Rome's Umbrella" (at least according to Rick Steves) and as it was time for yet another rain shower, we used it for precisely such before heading inside to St. Maria's Basilica, final resting place of Raphael and home to one incredibly large duomo.

From there, we headed over to Trevi Fountain which was crowded and incredible and we stood entirely too long snapping pictures and listening to the water bubble and the crowds delight in goodness knows what.









Next up, I got us good and lost, Taryn rescued us, and we made our way to the Spanish Steps and Shopping Triangle. As I do not shop at Gucci and Armani in New York, I elected not to in Rome, either, but it was still fun to see. And take too many pictures of.


Back to our faithful hotel, where we cleaned up a bit. After the disaster known as last night's dinner, we decided to consult a more reliable source - yup, Rick Steves. He pointed us to a restaurant not at all far from the hotel and boy hidey, once he once again right on the money. Delicious, incredible, and wonderful, with a kindhearted staff and amazing food. In Rome, it seemed that no one wanted to practice Italian with us or introduce us to their customs. They heard an American accent, and they immediately wrote us off as dumb tourists. But not at this restaurant. I could tell the waiter loved Taryn's anxiousness to learn and to try. I just sat back and smiled. And reveled in the perfect food and wine. And thanked GOD that this place was the polar opposite of the last night's "find" in every way, from the way there was plenty of time between courses to the way the waiter took made polite suggestions to the way we actually wanted to stay for dessert to the way the prosciutto slid right down my throat.

Sunday was a little more tedious and a little less adventuresome. We went and stood in line to get in free to the Vatican Museum. And spent the following two hours battling idiot tour guides who stopped their groups in doorframes and stairwells, all the way up to the Sistine Chapel. Which was beautiful, but also packed with grown-up lunchroom monitors who suuuuuussssshhhhhhed all too often. Rick Steves suggested we exit at a little door to the back right of the chapel, which led us right up to St. Peter's Basilica. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Rick Steves? So we did. And we were greeted with the Pope's voice, hosting his Sunday Papal audience to the anxious crowds gathered under umbrellas inside the Vatican City's walls. Pretty neat, huh?
Onward and into St. Peter's. Which. Is. HUGE. (Thatswhatshesaid.) I mean, this space could easily lodge about 20 of my hometown churches. And even though I'm Lutheran, which is about as anti-Catholic as Christianity can get, I don't know. There was certainly something magical lurking here. I loved every second I spent inside, and it certainly calmed all the frazzled nerves brought about by the idiot crowds of the Museum.

Outside Vatican City, Taryn managed to locate a Chinese restaurant. Being that her favorite cuisine before she moved to Italy was Chinese and that Chinese (hell, anything other than Italian) restaurants are few and far between where she lives, I indulged her. It was bad, but I got some gelato later so I don't really care. Then, it was time to head back to our hotel, grab our bags, and catch a train back to Ponsacco.

Up next: Cinque Terre and Florence!