Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

1st Anniversary Repost: The Best Laid Plans…

Our View From Here is one year old! In celebration of this occasion, we’re reposting our favorite post from the last year! Enjoy!

I’m a planner. When I graduated high school, I had a plan. I was going to Penn State, where I was going to study kinesiology for a few years. After I got most of my general education credits under my belt, I was planning on transferring to Slippery Rock University (yes, this is an actual college) to become a physical therapist.

I diligently followed my plan…for a semester. I learned all about pronation and supination and realized kinesiology was not the field of study for me. To be honest, I’m really not sure where this interest came from initially. I have never utilized a physical therapist; I wasn’t athletic. In fact, I think my sole experience with physical therapy came from listening to my dad grumble about doing his after his hip replacement surgery. After a mini-crisis of trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, I settled on going back to my volunteering roots. I began volunteering with the Red Cross and decided to major in Business Management, like my supervisor did, so I could go eventually be a manager at a nonprofit. Eleven years later and I’m finally a Program Manager at a nonprofit foundation. This is one of the few aspects of my life plan that seem to have come to pass.

Had someone told me back then that in just a few short years, camping and hiking would be among my favorite pastimes, I would be skeptical, but I could concede that it was possible. Had the same person told me that in a few years after that, I would enjoy skiing so much that I would go out and buy my own equipment I would have probably had a bit of a chuckle. Finally, if someone told me that in 10 years I would have started scuba diving and be well on my way to finishing up several advanced certification courses, I would have nodded and smiled politely, while slowly backing away, for fear I was speaking to a complete nutjob who could go postal on me at any moment. But alas, here I am, looking forlornly at the skis I bought this season but probably won’t have a chance to try out. In my work bag is a course book to teach me how to dive with enriched air, rather than regular 21% oxygen air. And I’ve been working with friends to coordinate our schedules for a camping trip in June. I have one person to blame for all of this, my husband, Darren.

Us, several years ago

Darren first went camping before he was a year old. He is an Eagle Scout (that’s the highest level of Boy Scout) and has been skiing for over half his life. The scuba is new, but an interest he’s had for years. He finally convinced me to take the class too, and I have to admit, it was nice to learn something together, rather than always being two steps behind. The point of this post isn’t to pay homage to Darren, the outdoor Adventure-Boy (though I happen to think he’s pretty swell). No, the point I’m trying to get across is that I think it’s important to have someone in your life that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Someone who can challenge you to do things you might not otherwise do. For me, it happens to be Darren, but I don’t think it needs to be a significant other – a good friend, a relative, even an arch-nemesis can fulfill the role. Whomever it may be, the trick is to find that person, and let them push you, because you might find there’s a whole lot of fun to be had once you do.

As I was writing this post, the song from the below video popped in my head. I have no idea if it makes sense, or is completely antithetical to my point. I read comments from others about the meaning of the song and the comments ran the spectrum from “live life to the fullest” to “you’re going to wake up in 20 years and regret your life.” Since no one else seems to know what it means either, I’m just going to go with it. At least it’s catchy.

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Oooh-way-Oh!

When I first pitched a music-themed week for the blog, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get exposed to some different music from my fellow blog-mates. I don’t know if that’s the direction they’ll be going in, but I’d at least like to share some of my current favorites you may not have heard of before.

I love music. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a band geek and spent over 10 years of my life in the theatre, with musicals being my favorite productions. Whether I’m doing chores, driving around in my car or surfing the net, chances are I have music playing in the background, or the foreground. That being said, I don’t really consider myself to be a “music person.” I’m not up to date on the latest hits or album releases and I couldn’t even guess when the Grammies are. I just enjoy listening to a variety of music, which fluctuates with my mood.

Being a child of the Pacific Northwest in the early 90s, my go-to band is Pearl Jam. I was devastated when they decided to come to Penn State the same semester I studied abroad. Sister was nice enough to purchase a recording of the concert and send it with a friend who was visiting me so I could at least hear it. My other favorites are Goo Goo Dolls and Five for Fighting. I’m not sure why – I think at a particular point in my life, those artists came out with an album that spoke to me for whatever reason. My dad was a big fan of Southern and 70s rock, so I have a soft spot for both of those genres. I also was one of the strangest little kids – I listened to Oldies music almost exclusively throughout elementary school.

Two artists I think need more props are Pink Martini and The Puppini Sisters. I learned of both of these groups on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Every now and then, they profile new album releases or artists that might be a bit off the beaten path. The segment is usually several minutes long and includes at least a few song clips.

I don’t even know how to describe Pink Martini so I went to their website for some help. This quote caught my eye:

“Pink Martini is a rollicking around-the-world musical adventure … if the United Nations had a house band in 1962, hopefully we’d be that band.” – Thomas Lauderdale, bandleader/pianist.

I think that about sums it up. On the one album I have, the lead vocal sings in English, Russian, Portuguese and French….and maybe Italian too. It’s pretty crazy, but it’s different and nothing like you hear anywhere else.

When you think of The Puppini Sisters, think of the Andrews Sisters, with a modern twist – beautiful harmonies and tight musicality, except they sing songs like the Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian.” It’s just pure fun.

(sorry for the boring video. It had much better sound quality than the live shows)

And I close with some more thoughts from Pink Martini:

“Americans don’t really sing together anymore … except for church … or maybe the shower. At the turn of the 20th century, every middle-class American household had a piano. And it was the focal point of the house … people would gather around it and sing together. Music was something everyone participated in. Everyone played an instrument or sang … whether it was an American folk song like “Oh My Darling Clementine”or “Home On The Range”or an Irving Berlin song like “What’ll I Do”or Gershwin’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”, everybody knew the songs, knew the words, and could participate. But then the radio came, and then the television … and soon it was all over. For me, Pink Martini is partially an attempt to rebuild a culture which sings and dances.”

ANNOUNCEMENT:

The week of April 25, Our View From Here will be holding its first virtual book club!  We will all be reading, and commenting on, the book Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen.  Read along with us!

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At tonight’s performance, the role of Isabel will be played by Erin

Isabel had to go out of town suddenly for work and will not be able to post for the next three weeks. Fortunately, we have guest blogger Erin to fill in until she returns! Thanks, Erin! Enjoy!

Hi everyone, I’m Erin!  I’m currently living in San Diego and stage managing at The Old Globe Theatre.

A brief personal history: I grew up in State College, PA with Mom, Dad and my younger sister (who is getting married next month!) I went to Penn State with most of these other lovely ladies. I majored in Human Development and Family Studies, which is not my current area of focus, but it sure has helped me navigate the many colors of crazy that one finds in the theatre.  After college I lived in New York City for two years.  I used the time and the city’s vast opportunities to discover where I really wanted to focus my energy.  I stage managed a few fun and quirky Off-off Broadway shows and met some really great people.  I decided to pursue stage management as a career instead of an avocation. So, I moved to the West Coast to get my MFA in stage management at UC San Diego.  I fell in love with the city (oh, the weather!) and these top-notch regional theatres.  For the past couple of years I have been working on some great shows at the La Jolla Playhouse and The Old Globe, and actually making a living doing something I really love.

We’re opening Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound in Rep this week at The Globe. I have such an attachment to these shows.  It’s been an incredible process and the shows themselves are so beautiful. This particular cast is a talented, professional, accepting and appreciative. My favorite kind – and they like to go out together after a show! I think especially for audiences who see the full arc of the two plays in one day, it’s going to be a very moving theatrical experience.  It’s for shows like these that I work in live theatre.

I love the energy on the stage before a performance.  I’m sitting in the theatre now just before the half hour call of our third preview of Broadway Bound. My preset check is complete and the actors have started to filter onto the set for their warm-ups.  We’re all sharing the space and doing various pre-show rituals. Reacquainting ourselves with the space, stretching, breathing, checking their props (the silly house-key works beautifully until he’s onstage in the moment), and my favorite: listening to the totally absurd articulation warm-ups (“What a to do to die today at a minute or two to two”).

At this point in the process of a production (the week before opening), when I’m awake, I’m at the theatre.  Which is why this post has become so much about this play – because that’s the world I’m in right now.

Thanks for the opportunity to guest blog!  How exciting!

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May I Introduce Myself…

I’m Samantha. Of the lot of us, I’m the oldest by about seven months.  I’m also the only one not on the East Coast, though I used to be. I currently live just outside of Seattle, where I was born and raised but have lived very little of my adult life.  From the time I was 16 until I was almost 29, I lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City.  I moved home a few years ago.

I went to Penn State for undergrad, which is where I met many of my best friends.  I served two years of AmeriCorps before deciding to go to grad school at NYU. Career-wise, I am a high school English, Drama, and Special Education teacher. I taught in the Bronx for two years and then in a suburban Seattle school district for two more.  During the second year there, I was told that I would not have a position for the coming fall. Fortunately, this allowed me to go back to school to get my Special Education endorsement. I have recently graduated with my Masters in Education from the University of Washington and now face the challenge to find a job. The employment situation isn’t as bad as it was two years ago when districts were laying people of, but they still aren’t hiring much.  Fingers crossed!

My little guy, Toby

I am the mommy of a two-year-old dog named Toby. He’s a Bichon Frise/Shih Tzu mix, though he looks much more Shih Tzu. Toby makes me laugh, as I have never met a more good-natured, happy little dog. He likes people, likes to go on adventures, and likes playing with his brother (who is owned by my mom!).

Nasturtiums on the balcony

Finally, in what spare time I have, I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, sewing, and I’m getting into cooking.  I have a small garden on my balcony – not that it did much with the weather we had this year.  I am in the process of sewing a comforter set for my bed and I’m almost done.  As for cooking, I am starting to experiment with new recipes. More on that later!  I’m hoping to get more into bike riding. We have a lot of great trails around here and I recently purchased a great new bike.  Now, just as long as the weather stays nice a little longer!

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