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Dear American Idiots: A Rant and Rave Review

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I would like to start this blog with a letter to the people sitting next to me…<clears throat>

Dear People Sitting in Row V seats 103-106 on Thursday evening (2/20):

First, I’d like to thank you for arriving 20 minutes into the play.  I am sure whatever you were doing was more important than being on time.  If we’d known you were going to be tardy to the party we would have asked the cast, orchestra/band, production crew, ushers and theatre staff to hold the play.  Second, thank you for drawing a ton of attention to yourselves from me, the people behind you, and in front of you because I know whatever you were talking about as you sat down was super poignant and needed to be stated right then. Third and lastly, thank you for letting everyone around you know how insanely bored, uninterested, or whatever displeasure you were feeling, it was really no bother to lend one ear while the other was concentrated on the performance we paid to see.  I am writing because I wanted to make sure you were OK. You just seemed like you had a rough evening….I hope you had a better Friday and that your weekend is a respite from the cruel world of elegant DC dinners and theatre subscriptions.

On second thought, you probably should have been paying attention.  The behavior you exhibited – sighing, chatting, resting your head on the seat in front of you, groaning – you were literally exhibiting the characteristics of an American idiot. I’m sure some where at home you have your own disaffected youth.  I have no doubt they’ve received many lessons on entitlement and petulance right there at home.  When you first entered the theater, my guess was that you had enjoyed dinner so much that you were late and slightly tipsy which I can forgive.  However, your behavior became rude and inconsiderate.  If you were disappointed in the performance in any way, that’s unfortunate.  I was recently at a performance of a band that I found to be terrible but I sat there quietly (I probably didn’t look overjoyed) but I focused on the happy people around me dancing to the unbelievably bad music and watched the sign language interpreter who kicked complete ass.  I mention that to relate to you that there are better ways of channeling your frustration.

You didn’t ruin my theater experience…by the time you arrived I was enthralled and emotionally invested…the music grabbed my heart and didn’t let it go.  What you didn’t know was that for  1 1/2 hours my brother was alive in that room and I was flooded with love and more emotion that I can adequately describe.  My wish for you is that you open your heart to different types of experiences….don’t let yourself be limited because you will miss something beautiful if you’re not careful.

Yours musically,

Row V Seat 107

IMG_4067Now that the unpleasantness is over – Seeing American Idiot on Thursday night was a last-minute decision.  The play was on my radar while on Broadway and then when I heard the tour was coming to National Theatre….I must have mentioned my desire to see it 100 times.  However, my elopement, a destination wedding, a reception and a honeymoon makes a girl feel guilty about spending a couple hundred bucks on theatre tickets.  Enter Goldstar – luckily I do read most of my emails for deals around town because they had Orchestra seats for $55 bucks!  I’m glad I clicked that button because Thursday night was one of the most moving performances I have ever seen.

Green Day and I go back 20 years. Dookie came out while I was in high school…when I was at my grungiest…Ok I wasn’t grunge – I maybe wore some plaid while trying to channel my inner Angela Chase.  So as a Green Day fan and musical theatre fan – Worlds collided and it wasn’t a disappointment!  Unless you’ve been in a music black hole for the past ten years you’ve heard Wake Me When September Ends, American Idiot, 21 Guns  and Boulevard of Broken Dreams…they’re on mainstream radio…digestible for the rock god in all of us.  There is no time for recovery once the music begins – you’re pulled in and with little dialogue the lyrical journey doesn’t let up.

The entire cast was strong from vocals to choreography but there were a few stand out performances.  Mariah MacFarlane as Heather stole the show vocally for me.  She was clear and crisp – and the subtle humor of her storyline was delivered flawlessly.  Another outstanding vocal performance came from Casey O’Farrell as Will.  When he opened his mouth each time my head immediately whipped away from whatever else was happening on stage to look at him. AND Andrew Humann (hopefully it’s the right guy) embodied Billie Joe Armstrong – I’m not sure if was intentional or not but that dude has studied the body movement and facial expressions of Billie Joe and it was amazing to watch…Slightly distracting but in a good way.  It really is unfair just to call out these three because it is truly an outstanding cast…and I must give a nod to Dan Tracy – he was excellent as Tunny and liked my picture on Instagram.  There truly isn’t a weak element to the show from the music to the choreography to the band to staging – it’s really incredible to watch.

I have a history of being overwhelmed emotionally at theatre performances – Wicked brought tears to my eyes and I think I got misty during If/Then and I definitely cried during an entire Idina Menzel performance – In fairness to myself on that one, I had just been delivered some bad news.  I don’t cry often – I leave in theatre seat – It’s just musical theatre that does it to me, I swear!  There is no other way to put it – I cried.  I cried like a little girl.  I don’t think that is the general reaction most people will have but – Green Day reminds me of my brother.  He passed away in 2005 – I wanted to play Good Riddance at his funeral but instead I sang Amazing Grace…He was a disaffected youth…his alter ego St. Jimmy won.  So what I saw on stage was in part real life…life I’ve witnessed and life I’ve lost.  For my brother’s would be 30th birthday I had music notes from Good Riddance tattooed on to my foot. The song reminds me of both him and a video montage in college using that song with a picture perfect for an album cover of myself and some friends walking across bright green grass.IMG_4068 So it should come to no surprise to you when I say that I think every musical should end with the entire cast playing acoustic guitar and singing Good Riddance!  That was an amazing surprise and well executed!

While I do think this is a show for adults of all ages to me it probably holds more meaning and connectivity to the late 20s to early 40s crowd…I’m giving people in their late 20s the benefit of the doubt…because I really wanted to say early 30s. Musical purist and theatre snobs – please open your ears, hearts and minds and give this piece a chance to move you – don’t just occupy your subscription seat with apathy.

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Happily Ever After, Romantically speaking

I met her in January 2008…that’s right I said her…at a bar…meeting someone at a bar…is it cliche or is it impossible?  I think there is a division on the topic but this impossible cliche happened to me!

I knew three things were for sure the first night I saw her…

1. My love for argyle was deep. That argyle sweater she was rocking completely complimented her dark rimmed glasses and alternative lifestyle haircut.

2. As she removed that argyle sweater revealing a white t-shirt and tattoo of a daisy on the under side of her bicep…I knew tattoos were definitely not tacky and white trash…they were hot.

3. And I needed to know her.

I think it is important to announce on this blog that….I ELOPED!  Almost three months ago…One thing that was missing from this blog was personality – mine…I was finding it hard to write because I was leaving bits and pieces of my little world out…Namely my wonderful partner and now legally married spouse, Lisa.  With this new revelation and life event…I’d like to renew my vows to blogging about music, being vegan, life and now married life…

It’s hard to say when happily ever after begins, romantically speaking, of course.  Is it the moment you meet the person you’re going to spend your life with or the day you say “I do”?  There are thousands of moments in the middle of those two events that are amazing and life changing…not to mention the pitfalls and broken hearts while kissing all those frogs…Could one of those moments have triggered ‘happily ever after’?…Maybe we don’t need to mark our happily ever after date…In Disney movies, the princesses always lives ‘happily ever after’ at the end of the movie…we don’t get to see it…it begins after the movie ends.

I took some other big steps in 2013 like coming out to my parents – fear had me a holding pattern for a long time.  I didn’t do everything perfect nor did I say all the right things…my only regret is that I missed out on some love and support that I thought I would lose.  So whenever happily ever after officially began, I look forward to sharing it with you!

HeatherLisa (23)

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Doggie Date Night – Dedicated to Stella

Poe and her sista from another mist Malli!

Stella and her sista from another mista Malli!

Wednesday night has been deemed Doggie date night in my house….It started a year or more ago when LC was working most Wednesday nights…The dogs and I would have dinner together, watch some TV and have special treat…just some alone time with my two fur kids…LC doesn’t work too many Wednesday nights anymore so we’ve welcomed her to our special night.

IMG_1326Originally, I tried watching an animal themed moved like Beverly Hills Chihuahua but they felt I insulted their intelligence….so now we watch Criminal Minds and Law & Order SVU.  As I type, I’m listening to Poe drink out of his bedside cup, yes, I typed cup…the dog likes a big cup to drink out of at night…Sasha is piled up in her bed fast asleep no doubt exhausted from her busy schedule of napping on her two different beds and the many rugs in the house…

IMG_1327Poe is a rescue dog – neglected and then tossed aside by someone…for no reason that would ever be good enough to forgive in my eyes…When he arrived at my house…he had no hair, mange and was under weight…Four months old…and didn’t know a day without hunger or feeling afraid…the first few months he and I bonded over warm antibiotic baths…and doses of medicine with meals.  His life is much different…he’s fat, happy and usually sprawled out on a piece of furniture…like he’s king of the castle.  I can’t imagine life without him and Sasha girl…I am lucky to have two healthy fur kids!

The past two weeks I’ve been following the story of my friend Libby’s rescue puppy Stella – a very cute and tiny white boxer baby…Unfortunately, Stella’s health problems cannot be fixed with baths and simple antibiotics…she’s already had one surgery and has had to spend much of her time at the animal hospital…Her young life hasn’t been easy…but Libby has opened her heart, house and wallet for this rescued baby…but the amazing thing about rescue dogs is that they rescue you right back…the feeling looks a lot like when the Grinch’s heart grows…I’m posting the link to Stella’s You Caring site that has been collecting donations to cover costs since last week.  As Stella still fights the good fight the bills are mounting up quickly…I know I wouldn’t be able to afford this kind of care on my own…so if you find yourself reading my blog…check out Baby Stella’s page. You can also now find Stella on Facebook – Help Stella Get Her Groove Back!

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Vegan Valentine’s Day Menu

Schedule a last-minute Valentine’s date with a vegan girl or gal you met last night?  Need a last-minute menu for your vegan Valentine?  Just realized you really want to go vegan today because your heart is so filled with love?  Well have I got a menu for you!

Tonight’s Valentine’s menu stars two new favorites from and inspired by Jason Wrobel’s vegan special on the Cooking Channel – Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta and Chocolate Avocado Pudding. Last night I did some prep work for my Valentine’s dinner – mostly so preparing dinner didn’t take the whole evening and partly because I wanted to post pictures.

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta

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ingredients

 PASTA:

  •  1 tablespoons olive oil
  • One 8-ounce box regular or gluten-free angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted and quartered, plus more for  garnish
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup raw  pumpkin seeds

PESTO:

  •  2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil, preferably cold pressed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced  garlic
  • 2 teaspoons nama  shoyu or  tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon  sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch  cayenne pepper
  • Hemp seeds, for garnish

Directions

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of filtered water to a rapid boil. Add the olive oil and pasta to the water. Return to a boil. Cook uncovered until al dente, 6 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander. Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl and fold in the olives, bell peppers and pumpkin seeds. Mix well to combine and set aside.  For the pesto: Place the basil, olive oil, cilantro, pine nuts, lime juice, garlic, nama shoyu, salt, pepper and cayenne in a food processor. Process until semi-smooth, with a little bit of a chunky texture. Combine the noodles and pesto sauce with your hands and mix vigorously. Top with a sprinkle of hemp seeds, the reserved black olives, basil and pine nuts.

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The above recipe is straight from the cooking channel website – you can click the title and it will take you straight there.  The recipe is perfect as is but because I am me and we all have different tastes – I modify!

Notes and Modifications:

  1. This is a perfect dish for those trying to please non vegans
  2. I don’t add the cayenne (personal preference)
  3. Olives are frowned upon in half of my house so I skip the olives.
  4. Additional vegetables are nice – mushrooms, zucchini, squash, whatever you fancy!
  5. I like to put the entire pasta dish in a small pot just to heat up the pesto – not cook it.  Then Serve!

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

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So Jason Wrobel made an amazing Chocolate Avocado Pudding on his special How to Live to 100 but when i started gathering ingredients I did not have hemp seeds on hand and was impatient to try an avocado pudding…so I stumbled upon a Five Minute Avocado Chocolate pudding on Kirbie’s Cravings.  The recipe on Kirbie’s Cravings is not vegan but with a simple modification from nonfat milk to non dairy milk of your choice – Vegan magic is made!

Ingredients:

1 ripe small or medium avocado 1/4 cup cocoa powder 1/3 cup raw agave nectar 1/4 cup Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk

Directions:

Blend all ingredients into a blender until smooth and creamy. You may need to add more agave nectar depending on the size of your avocado. It’s ready to eat immediately or you can also refrigerate.

Notes and Modifications:

  1. You can easily use Jason Wrobel’s recipe to make your own milk
  2. Top with coconut shreds, nuts, blueberries, etc.
  3. Add a teaspoon of vanilla to enhance chocolate flavor or use vanilla flavored milk
  4. This dessert will quickly become a staple

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and I hope you are spending it with the one or ones you love!

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December Remembers….

Today (12/10)…it has been 7 years…the tears have dried and the sadness waned…but there is an empty space in memories, in pictures, in chairs, at occasions and even conversation…in trips down memory lane the space is filled…but the memories have a cut off date…they stopped for me on Thanksgiving day 2005…some people got a few more days but not much more…It’s amazing how one adjusts to that space…for it can never be filled and it is always there…It has to be…because you’ve lost a person that can never be replaced by another…My brother passed away 7 years ago from a drug overdose…I’ve long compartmentalized parts of my life so I don’t offend people, bring up painful memories, shock and amaze…but I’ve reached a crossroads where I don’t see the point…I’m not saying that I’ll put it all on the table any time soon…However, I wanted to find a way to tie in my other blog with my new blog…so this feels like the perfect segue…I started a blog a few years back dedicated to addiction, grief and all the gunk that comes a long with being related to an addict…but it came to feel like it either would become wallowing or soap boxy…I didn’t think either would be helpful…Below are excerpts from an old entry about the day I found out my brother was gone…

…I hung up the phone…relived the conversation with C…then began speculating the reason for the impromptu jaunt to Columbia…it’s only an hour drive and popular Saturday activity for my mom to shop with me…but I went to far sinister places quickly…Uncle G was with mom – my first thought was that Grandaddy was dead…but then why would Uncle G have driven with mom…someone would need to be with Granny…so then I guessed you were dead…but brushed it off…maybe someone was in the hospital…or these guys just wanted to head down to Yesterday’s in Five Points for dinner…

Mom was sitting on the steps of the apartment building when I arrived…Uncle G was silent except for saying to me…that it was really bad or that it wasn’t good…I knew already anyway…I was just waiting for the words…

“He’s dead,” said matter-of-factly…but really what other way is there to say it…I think I yelled, “no, no, no” or something similar…I remember C’s hand flying to her mouth then immediately backing out of the room…at a loss for words…I hate she was there…not b/c I didn’t want her there but…come on, that’s awkward…

I’m not sure if I lost my vision, my ability to hear (as a result of a mild panic attack and shock), or just immediately tuned out…which apparently is my initial reaction to most things…I immediately wanted to be alone but I couldn’t…they were there and wanted to comfort me…but I needed a minute to breathe…It didn’t come….mom was feverishly packing my clothes…I wanted to do it myself…I know I just needed to control the situation…but I felt like I was watching it happen in slow motion…I was grasping at anything to give myself a sense of control and balance in this chaotic moment…I had to ride with them leaving my car behind and the hope of a desperately needed hour alone to check in with myself…calm myself, make a plan for dealing with two grieving parents and the rest of the family…Mom put her head in my lap and cried most of the way home…we had to make a few calls on that drive some I remember, some I still don’t…

There is a lot that I don’t remember about those initial hours…but I knew our lives would never be the same again…our worst fears had come true…the years of jumping at phone calls that came at odd hours…the wait to see how many days you would go missing hoping that you weren’t in an alley…preparing mentally for the time that the phone or doorbell rang to deliver the news…preparing to help cope…but hoping that the news would never really come…

Years have passed since that day and I look now to celebrating in some small way the life that ended…My brother would have turned 30 this year…and even though he will be perpetually 23…I wanted to mark the milestone with a gift…something fun to remember…so I got a tattoo…I feel that at 33 I have reached an age to finally make lifelong decisions…Music makes me happy…it enters my mind constantly and I can tie a song to most events in my life…so I chose music notes but not just music notes…notes to Green Day’s song Good Riddance…

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Hope you had the time of your life…

There isn’t much you can do about a person sized hole in your life…it’s kind of like the phrase…pink elephant in the middle of the room…there is no way to look around it or ignore it…sometimes it makes other people uncomfortable…even though you’re past the shock of it…but if you’re the person on the path to leave the person sized hole in someone’s life…you can do something about it…If you’re reading this, you still have time…If you think no one cares, you’re wrong…If you think the people you get high with care, they don’t (well not in the way they should)…If you think recovery is hard, you’re right…but it’s possible…being sober won’t solve all of your problems but it could save your life…

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Post Election: Red Face Blue Heart

Exhausted on election night, I fell asleep before the West coast votes were counted, Virginia was won or lost, and before concession/victory speeches were made…I woke up blurry eyed around 3:00 AM…so of course, I wanted to peek to see if the election fairy had come…it took me back to the days of checking grades in law school…All I had to do was log-in to see the results but I was afraid to look…Looking at the screen quickly like the words were going to jump out and bite me!  However, it wasn’t the election results that jumped out and bit me…it wasn’t marriage equality or marijuana legalization that offended me…it was, your word…

DISGUSTED

I’ve been disgusted…over murder, child pornography, oppression, abuse, carnage, images of war, injustice, pain, genocide, violations of civil and human rights…

Your political preferences are none of my concern…your views are your own…You chose a candidate to back and so did I…You have your opinions, your freedom of speech and expression…it’s how we use them that define us…There are probably issues that neither of us will ever agree on…BUT

How do we expect the generations to come to respect the man chosen as leader of our nation when we use such words to describe one…

President of the United States…as a kid most of us probably dreamed of one day occupying that office…it’s the loftiest of dreams…one which only a few manage to hold on to…and only a few ever experience…my dreams never included being disrespected, disgusted and reviled…whether you’re on the right or the left – blue or red – green or independent…that office…that office is always occupied by someone who dreamed and dared to try…even Honey Boo boo knows who the president is…kids don’t have political parties…they have presidents, congressmen and senators…there is no right or wrong…there is only a man or a woman who took initiative…so please be careful with your words…

I don’t have all of the answers to fix the financial, healthcare, job market problems in America…and likely neither will just one man on either side of the aisle…I am reminded of the phrase – e pluribus unum – Out of many, one…out of many beliefs, religions, states, cities, towns – we become one nation…

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Same Love – Video

I saw this video not to long ago linked on a website…I thought to myself then I should post it…but procrastination got in the way as per usual…But today  I saw a live performance while watching Ellen on my Hurricane Sandy free day (because thankfully we were spared the worst she had to offer)…The words, video images, message, story – every part of it…really just yanks at the core of my being.  Just watch the video and be inspired, be enraged, be hopeful, be grateful – just let it move you….

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You Don’t Own Me PSA – Get out and vote…

“You Don’t Own Me” PSA from You Don’t Own Me on Vimeo.

Women constitute more than half of the population. In 2008, 60% of voters were women. It is estimated that 10 million more women than men will vote in this election. Despite this, women make up only 16% of Congress. Women earn only 70 cents to each dollar men make. Women of color and undocumented women make less than white citizens. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party are determined to overturn Roe V. Wade. Romney has not supported equal pay for women (The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act). Romney has vowed to defund Planned Parenthood. Romney has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Romney doesn’t want health care to cover birth control. Romney says same sex marriage should be banned with a Constitutional Amendment.

Women, let’s rise up. Our vote alone can win this election. A vote for Obama is a vote for your health and your right to choose. It is a vote for equal pay and equal rights. A vote for Obama is a vote for our families. It is a vote to marry who you choose. It’s a vote to start a family when you choose. A vote for Obama says that we won’t stand for violence against women and that rape is rape. Our vote ensures that our daughters will grow up with the same rights that we’ve had. A vote for Obama sends a message: This war on women must end. We will not go backwards.

This election is shockingly close. Our safety is at stake. Our silence is consent and our vote is our voice. Let’s get active. Let’s get out every vote we can. Let’s make this election a mandate. A mandate to finally ensure women the respect, dignity and equality we all deserve! This is now. This is our call to action. Once and for all, let’s take back the power that is so inherently and naturally ours!

I have been amusing myself with the binders full of women Tumblr …whilst giggling at other people’s artistic and sometimes silly take on Mitt’s binders full of women.  I ran across the above …to me when it comes to voting it doesn’t matter which side of aisle you find yourself on – you just do it!  Enjoy the video and share it! Vote!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

I just stumbled upon the Weekly Photo Challenge and thought I’d participate….

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Parts v. Junk

I’m late in sharing this on my blog this week but I wanted to do so because I think she wrote something that is open, relateable and above all else respectful to herself and others…Mass media doesn’t give us this too often but Whip Smart seems to get it right all the time…

Whip Smart

I spent countless hours of my childhood with my best friend Michael, playing baseball in the driveway, throwing passes he could dive for in the front lawn, playing Tracy Austin to his Jimmy Connors in ping pong in the basement. In general, playing every bit as hard as he did.

When I was eight, my friend Dave had a football birthday party. As usual, I was the only girl in a gang full of boys. After cake at his house, we walked over to the school field to play football. Close to the end of the game, I ran down the field for a long pass. I caught the ball, dodged several of the boys from the other team and danced into the end zone, elated by my touchdown. As my buddies and I celebrated, one of the boys from other team walked up and said flatly, “That’s not fair…

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