Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Headshots!

So I haven't gotten them developed and I haven't had them retouched but these are my choices for my new headshots. Thanks to everyone who put in their two cents. I forgot to mention- Photography by Jordan Matter. Please visit his website, it's got great pictures and it's actually a pretty good read!
This will be my main headshot. I think it says "Hire me!" without begging too much!

This will be my "I can sell anything" shot.

This is my "I'm intense, hire me to do your intense movie" shot.

This is what I want my postcard to look like. It's a reminder to the people who have called me back or to those I want to call me back. It says, "Remember me? I'm that strangely beautiful, yet fun girl that you mean to hire!"

Mere just suggested that I get that printed on the postcard. I am thinking about it...

Monday, November 19, 2007

My brother John

As many of you know, my brother John has a blog and for my birthday he wrote a piece just for me. You can read it here. And just in case you don't read it I will post the picture he posted with it because I love it so much! I don't have any pictures with me and just my brothers, so this one is kind of cool and unique. It was taken at church during my sister Jenny's First Holy Communion. I would like to add a funny little note to what he said. I remember that John bought me Berstain Bear's and Telling the Truth book for Christmas when I was in first grade. Now I can see that he was really just trying to get me to keep my mouth shut! And by the way, I'm not sure how much of a tattle tale I was, from my perspective I was just telling it like it was...

I am 30

I began a new decade yesterday. I'm 30 and excited! Happy Birthday to me!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A New Day

I am officially a Beck again.

And to quote from one of my favorite books Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it."

1 Day till 30- 2006

I grew up and decided that I would be a participant in my life. I was no longer going to let things happen to me or around me, but I would take an active role in shaping my life the way that I wanted it to look. I sought out an opportunity to get my Equity Card and I went and got it. Actually, Jazmin's mom had a lot to do with it! I was in Florida (at a different theatre outside Tampa) playing Meg in Brigadoon. I had auditioned for Porthouse while I was in Ohio just after New Year's. Terri Kent (who was a friend and mentor) wanted to call me back for Joan in Dames at Sea. The problem was that the callback was Sunday and I was doing two shows that day. I figured that I could make it to Ohio for the callbacks on Monday, but I would have to leave Tampa Sunday night right after the show and then come back Tuesday night in time for the show Wednesday morning. So, in a furry I began to look for flights with only a week to find one. It was spring break and I was in Florida so everything I found was super expensive. I spoke to Jazmin about the problem and her mom booked me on a buddy pass (which means that I would be flying standby), but it would be only 80 bucks. The problem came when she realized that the flight from Tampa to Atlanta was oversold. Basically that meant that there was no chance that I would get to Atlanta to catch my connecting flight to Cleveland. Lucky for me one of the girls in the cast was driving to Macon, Georgia to visit her parents. Zack, another friend in the cast had some friends in Atlanta that were going to come to Macon and pick him up to hang out. I tagged along for the ride and they dropped me off at the airport at midnight. I was going to stay over night in the airport so that I didn't have to inconvenience anyone else to get me there. I figured, I'm a free spirit I can sleep in an airport. WRONG! I slept fitfully the entire night worried that I was a single woman hanging out in a huge airport. I had visions of the movie Adventures in Babysitting when Chris's best friend Brenda is in the bus station all alone and scared with weird people all around her. But, I made the flight and was on my way to my Equity card! I landed the role and my first Equity contract! It also meant that I would be in Ohio close to my family.
I came to a point where I realized putting off the inevitable does nothing but make your stomach hurt and I was tired of trying to make everything okay, when it was not. When I got home at the end of July I packed my things, found a beautiful one bedroom apartment in Jackson Heights and began my life as a single woman...

2 Days till 30- 2005

I gave myself acid reflux. I had a decision to make and I didn't have any idea how to go about it. It consumed me the majority of this year. I am a problem solver by nature, but I had come to a place where the problem to be solved was not mine alone, but the decision to solve it had become mine. It was a lonely place to be. Lucky for me I had wonderful success in theatre this year. Beginning in May I worked almost straight through to the end of the year. I met some amazing people during my travels and once again learned a tremendous amount about myself. I played Laverne in Sisters of Swing upstate New York near Lake Canandagua. It was a beautiful place to spend the early part of the summer. It was the first time that I had ever lived with a host family. I had my own room in this beautiful pre- Civil War home. It sat on the edge of town right next to a winery and I would wake up early in the morning to jog past all the grape vines. It was good to clear my head and begin my day like this. I came home for a month and then set off for Florida to do La Mancha again and a Christmas show. This was a crazy time that was a ton of fun, but with its own set of obstacles. We had two people leave the cast of La Mancha within the first two weeks of opening and then we had Hurricane Wilma. The apartment that I was in lost power for over a week. We spent that time all crammed into the few apartments that did have electricity. In crazy times there is an opportunity to bond with those around you and that's exactly what happened. Karrah Tines and I became great friends and we had such a great time together. I was spending Christmas away from my family so it was important that I had the support of good friends around me. We had two sold out shows on Christmas day and then we packed up to leave the next morning. I was heading to Ohio to be with my family. The new year came without the problem being solved, but I was closer to making a choice...

Friday, November 16, 2007

3 Days till 30- 2004

It was the morning of November 3rd and I was crying. John Kerry had lost the election. I was working in Florida doing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (it was the first time I had voted with an absentee ballot). The owners of the theatre I worked for were contributors to the Democratic party and I had been invited to see John Edwards speak that summer at a breakfast fundraiser for John Kerry (Kerry was the obvious Democratic nominee, but before John Edwards was chosen as the Vice Presidential candidate) and then later I saw Edwards as the official VP candidate at a big rally in Ft Myers. I also worked for the campaign a few times on my day off. I had participated for the first time at a level beyond just voting and sharing my opinion. It was crushing to know that morning that George W. Bush would be the president for another 4 years. Honestly, I was in shock. I sat out on the porch of the cast apartment with Leann (who was playing Millie in the show) and I just couldn't stop crying. Really, I was disappointed that it wasn't obvious to more people that we were on the wrong path. I firmly believe that no matter what party you are in, you really do want what you believe to be the best for the country. I can't fault anyone for that, but I couldn't understand how so many people chose George Bush. And more importantly I couldn't understand how people chose not to vote (just under 40% of eligible population)at a time when our soldiers were dying in a foreign country. We were at war and often the only voice we have is our vote. To borrow the mantra of the 1980's fight against AIDS,
Silence= Death
How can you chose not to vote no matter which party you vote for?
That's why I was crying that morning, I lost some of my faith in my fellow Americans.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

4 Days till 30- 2003

I started auditioning again and it was exhausting, but I loved it! I was non union at the time so the morning looked like this. Wake up, shower, run to the audition place, sign up myself and any other people that I might know and then run to the next place sign up and hope that it will be possible to run back and forth without missing my name being called. Once you miss it, you go to the end of the day (which means you can't actually get in before you have to be at work...) So on this early April morning I wake up for an audition with the Prather Family of Theatres. I had never heard of them before, but they have three theatres and what looked like a lot of opportunity. They also payed pretty well (that is, they pay well using actor's standards- you can get by, but truly it has never been about money for me. If it was, I would have left the business a long time ago!) Anyway, like most audition days I worked the night before and I was exceptionally tired. This morning I decided that I would go sign in at 8:30 and then go back home to Astoria, grab an hour more of sleep and then hopefully make it back in time to hear my name, audition, and then run to my callback for the Networks tour of Oliver. My number was somewhere in the 70s so I determined that they would probably see about 30 an hour, which was perfect because I had some time for that nap I so desperately wanted. I came back to the audition at around 1230 and to my surprise this audition worked differently than any other. When the monitor got there at 9:30 he called through the list and only took people who were physically present. OOPS! On top of that the monitor was lining up the last group to be seen. So, I panicked a bit and then realized that the monitor was someone I had worked with before (We had done Evita together). I told Shawn the abridged version of my story and he said "I'll put you last in this group, but hurry you all go in together." See, I was only half dressed. I was wearing my dress over my jeans and sneakers. I ran to the dressing room, threw off my pants and threw on my heels and got back in line just before all ten of us walked into the room. Now, I have to sidebar for a moment. Never do we audition in front of one another. This was a unique experience. They had chairs lined up along the sidewall and each person would get up in turn and go to the piano show their music and then sing. It was kind of cool, but I was last and I had a lot of time to sit there and get more and more nervous. I had decided that I would sing As Long As He Needs Me because I was called back that afternoon for Nancy in Oliver and it would be a good opportunity to try out the material. I had worked with the casting director of Oliver on the song the previous week, so I was prepared. Plus, I had played the role before and I loved it. I knocked it out! I was asked to a callback for that afternoon. Problem was I was already scheduled to be somewhere else for the afternoon. I told Shawn my dilemma and they agreed to see me through their lunch break. I had been called back for Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. I went in and read through a scene, was given some direction and then asked to do it again. Then they asked me to sight read a piece of music. The pianist played through it a few times and then I sang it. The director came up to me and actually shook my hand and told me what a pleasure it was to meet me. Now, for all you business types, this sounds like par for the course, but let me assure you in this business it is not. I figured I must have impressed him. A week later I was called and offered the job. It would be starting in two weeks in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Playing Aldonza was the best theatre experience I have ever known. My director, Seth Reines was so supportive and amazing. On the first day of rehearsal he came to me and said, "There are going to be some difficult moments in this process. If at any time you are uncomfortable or need to stop, say the word." See, Aldonza is whipped and raped in the show. But, Seth created such a safe rehearsal environment that I felt I could put myself in a vulnerable place and be taken care of. It was such a fulfilling experience. I opened my eyes that summer...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

5 Days till 30- 2002

Craig went back to Ohio to finish his Master's degree in May. He had found it difficult to be here in NYC and even contemplate writing a thesis. So, he stayed with my mom and finished out a few classes to complete his degree without the thesis. I stayed here in the big city working at Serendipity, which turned out to be such a blessing in disguise. I made really good money and could pay the bills all by myself. The downside was I was working and going out after work so I barely had any other life. Mere had moved to the city the December before and she only lived a few blocks away so I spent most of my free time with her. When Craig finished in late July (I think) he came home with his friend Mike. This was not an easy time, but alas it is one of those things I feel is probably better left at that. Craig started working as a temping again (but this time for a much better organization) in December which was really good for him. Mere had started working at Serendipity too and we didn't get time off for Christmas, so the three of us celebrated our first Christmas away from home together.
The best part of Christmas that year was Christmas Eve. We had decided to go into the city to St. Patrick's for midnight mass. It has always been tradition in my family to go, so I wanted to continue it here. I had to drag Mere and Craig there. Problem was you needed tickets to get into the church. They don't cost anything , but mass is so popular (go figure?) that they hand out tickets to the first people who show up either the day before or the day of (I don't know, specifically). Anyway, we walked to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and then we headed back to Queens to McCann's Pub. And lo' and behold they happened to be doing a drawing for an all-expense paid trip for two to Ireland. Now, on my birthday (in case you don't know the date, that is November 18th) which was well over a month before I had bought one ticket with the last dollar I had. The raffle had been going on for at least a month and a half. So, Mere, Craig and I are hanging out on the couches drinking beer, lamenting the fact that we got turned away from church and I say, "Wouldn't it be funny if out of all those tickets they pulled mine?" (insert jokey, fake laugh here). And then I hear my name. It was the most exciting thing to win. I had never considered myself particularly lucky before. It was the best Christmas present!

Monday, November 12, 2007

6 Days till 30- 2001

This was a tough year. It kind of sucks that the first year of being married was probably the worst year of my life. Now, I know that sounds melodramatic, especially considering I have led an extremely blessed life and I have very few things to complain about. 2001 was a banner year for difficult things. There are some things (actually very few things) that I am not capable of writing about and I have to say that most of them happened this year. I don't mean to leave you hanging, but even though I have been writing this blog for a while now, there are things that are meant to only be written in my private diary.
With that said, I came to NYC in the spring and lived with my friend Scott for six weeks while I got my feet wet and auditioned in the city. Lucky for me I got cast for the summer. Unlucky for me it was at an outdoor theatre in Galveston, Texas. It was the first time that I had ever done theatre and not enjoyed every moment of it. Just try to imagine the horrible, suppressive summer humidity of a gulf coast community with mosquitoes, red ants and these disgusting flying roaches (yes, I know they are called palmetto bugs). Now imagine being a girl from Ohio never having experienced these things and having a horrible time with bug bites all my life. Not pretty. This was also the first time that no one from my family was able to see the shows I was in. The best thing that happened that summer though, was that I met Jazmin. She has become one of my dearest friends and so that somehow makes the summer worth it!!
While I was in Texas my brother John was sick. It was so hard to be away from home and not know what was going on. I came home in August and Craig and I decided that we would move to NYC in September. Scott's apartment was available because he and his girlfriend Erin had decided to move to Chicago. We packed up and moved to New York on September 1, 2001. I know, bad timing.
You've all heard 9-11 stories, so I don't think that it's necessary to share mine. It just was a very difficult time to be new in a city. I rang in 2002 praying that life might be a bit easier next year....

7 Days till 30- 2000

I graduated from college in May after playing Sonia in Godspell for my final college performance. I remember crying in the dressing room with Terri Kent (my director and mentor) after the final show. I was finished with college and I was about to set myself out in the world. It was a scary, but thrilling prospect. I am the one down front crouching with my breasts hanging out (I thought it was a really cool costume!)

That summer I was back at Cain Park to play Gloria Thorpe in Damn Yankees and then I was off to Carousel Dinner Theatre for Evita. It was the first show that I was an understudy and I actually went on. I played the mistress for two performances and it was so exciting. It was exhilarating to go onstage having never done the role before and only having walked through the blocking one time. I loved it. The show closed in early September which was good because I was about to get married three weeks later...

I couldn't have made it to that day without my sister. She basically planned the whole thing; she was indispensable. Because I was never the type of girl to have my wedding all planned out in my dreams, I relied on my sister for everything. I used the florist, photographer, and the DJ that she had at her wedding. She even went with me to register at JC Penney. I think maybe I should have married her!

I have to admit that this is not an easy subject for me to reflect on (hence the joking). So much of what has happened since clouds the happiness of that day. But it was a happy day. It was a happy first month. November and December were tough that year...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

8 Days till 30- 1999

Well, I was cast for the summer at Cain Park in Bye Bye Birdie and Sideshow. It was a great time and my first professional theatre experience. Both Terri Kent (who directed Birdie) and Victoria Bussert (who directed Sideshow) rank extremely high for directors I've worked with. I played Gloria in Birdie and Violet's understudy and ensemble in Sideshow. This was also the summer that I was nicknamed "The Voice."

After the shows were over Craig and I went to Virginia to visit my brother and my Aunt Betty and Uncle Harry. That weekend he proposed to me on Virginia Beach. I was 21. I knew that it would be happening and I had a feeling that it would happen this weekend. Looking back, I was so sure of myself and thought that I knew my own mind and where I was going that there was no doubt this was the right thing. I said yes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

9 Days till 30- 1998

This was an all around fabulous year. I auditioned for Cabaret and I was chosen to be Sally Bowles. It was such an honor because I was only a sophomore and I had to carry the show (along with Kevin Rees who played the Emcee). We were the only two undergraduates in lead roles. He was fabulous to work with and so very talented. It was tough for me, but I think that I came out on top. I had a teacher in the dance department who was not very supportive of me and I think even though I tried to not let what she said hurt me, it's still with me today. During a warm up in modern class (which I had never taken before college) Darwin was working with us to engage our abdominals while breathing through the exercise. She often walked around the room giving corrections and this day was no different. But what she said to me that day was forever burned into my memory. She stopped and looked at my body (which of course was in a leotard and tights) and said, "You're playing the lead in the musical, right? I can't believe you are going to get on that stage with a body like that." Harsh, right? I tried to stay composed and pushed back the tears that were burning my eyes. She would not have the power to make me cry! I suppose that it's a dancer's way of turning girls into anorexics. She even offered to help me with a diet plan. I didn't take her up on it, I couldn't imagine sitting in a room alone with her talking to her about not only my eating habits, but those of my family (she always said that it was important to understand where your eating habits come from) I worked really hard and did the best job that I could and I think I looked fabulous (as a side note, I was not overweight, I was just not built like a dancer). Sally Bowles is one of those roles that I have been trying to get again. Because I loved it so much, I really feel that the time that I've had away from the piece could really allow me to do so much more with it. Plus, I'm a much better actress now and I have a better idea of what I need to do onstage. It was thrilling to be a part of this show.

That spring my mom and I came to NYC for spring break. We had caught the NYC bug after our previous trip and so we had to come back. I had never been anywhere on spring break, so this was quite a treat. Mom had bought me tickets to see Ragtime for Christmas and when we got here Cabaret had opened. Getting tickets for that is a fabulous story that I wrote about in a previous post. We had such a great time! Coming to NYC with my mom was a much better spring break than those fools who go to the beach and get drunk! Guess that proves that I truly am a nerd...

10 Days till 30-1997

I completed the first year of college and began my second. I had auditioned for the B.F.A. (big f*&king acting degree) acting program and got in. I also auditioned to be a dance minor and a voice student and was accepted into both of those programs as well. And the biggest audition I did that year was for the musical Little Shop of Horrors, and I was the only freshman cast! I played the medium plant. It was so much fun to be inside that costume dancing away with my arm as the tongue to the song "Feed Me!" It was really hot inside that plant though, so I sweat a lot. I also got to play Mrs. Luce which is normally played by the dentist, but because it was a college show they wanted to spread out the parts. It was a small cameo appearance with a brief solo. Still, I was very proud of myself.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

11 Days till 30- 1996

I came to New York City for the first time. I applied to NYU and I had to come for an audition. I scheduled it and then told my mom. Kind of sketchy on my part, but I knew she might not go for it. John had wanted to go to school for theatre and my mom told him no. I think the official word was something like this, "If you want to do theatre, fine, but if you're living under my roof, you have to double major." She was a bit wary of an artist's life for her kids and I can see why. So, I told her I scheduled an audition and I wanted her to come with me. She called my cousin Tasha, who was a travel agent at the time, and booked us two flights and a hotel. Yeah, I guess the others warmed her up for me! I think she was just as excited to go to NYC as I was. The flight out of Cleveland Hopkins was awful- it was also my very first time on a plane. It was definitely an experience coming to audition at Tisch. It was also one of the first times I was rejected. I was accepted into NYU, but not into the program, but I loved the energy and the people in the city and I knew I would find my way back here.

After playing Adelaide in the spring all school musical, I graduated 32nd in my class without a college to go to. I only applied to three schools and I didn't get accepted to any of them. I thought about moving to St. Louis to study voice with my uncle. I also thought about moving straight to NYC. I had met a boy, Craig, who encouraged me to apply to Kent State University and try it out. Got in- no problem. So I would start college in the fall right near where I grew up with a new boyfriend, and without my best friend, Erin (it's a long story, but it involves a boy and my often too big mouth- we never regained our friendship after that and it makes me sad)...

I went to Europe that summer with ETC. It was an amazing experience and it wet my appetite for overseas travel. I left Paris wondering when I might ever be able to get back. We started in Scotland, took a bus tour to London, and then took the Chunnel to Paris, singing all the way. I was in heaven! Coming home was hard. It meant the end of my childhood and the beginning of something completely different.

Shortly after coming home my Gramps passed away. It was the hardest death I have ever had to experience. We had all gotten to know him so well in the few short years we had after Grandma died. I loved him dearly. He was buried next to my Grandma and I sang to him at the cemetery. It was my way of saying goodbye.

Letting Go
lyrics :Leslie Bricusse

Letting go of a hand,
That I've grown so accustomed to holding,
Letting go of that hand can be so hard.

Letting go of a hand,
That was there to protect and defend me.
Letting go of that hand,Can be so hard.

There was bound to come a time,
I had to find my way,
Our time has come,
For letting go.

Moving on in my life,
There's so much about me I'm unsure of.
I must find my own way,
On my own.

You will always be with me,
I will always need your love
And it's so hard to let you go.

Even now,
though we know,
Now my heart wants to hold on forever.
It's the hardest thing I know.
But now it's time, for letting go.
It's the hardest thing I know,
But now it's time, for letting go.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

12 Days till 30- 1995

I choreographed the All High School Musical South Pacific, starring BJ Taylor and Marie Willis (Taylor) as Emile and Nelly. They were fabulous and as for me I undertook a huge project and came out of it okay. I was really proud to have someone believe that I could take this on and succeed. I really appreciated Mr. Stephen for all that he did for me through high school. I had some rough spots and he really was always truly supportive.
During the summer on June 29th, my nephew Danny was born!
At the other end of the year, 17 days before my 18th birthday I was on my way to school driving my stylin' 1984 two-tone brown Ford LTD that had been my great Aunt Mary's. The car was kind of embarrassing, but it got me where I needed to go. It was huge and it only had an AM radio and an eight-track player. Anyway, as I turned the corner to head on to the main road to school I slipped on some ice and headed into oncoming traffic. I was hit head on by someone going close to full speed. Thank God for the huge car! I remember before he hit me that I thought I hope I didn't kill someone and then all I saw was the hood of my car in the windshield. I unbuckled my seat belt to check if the other person was okay and realized I could barely stand. A man came up to me and asked me if I was okay and I started crying and asking for my mother. I gave him my driver's license and he ran down the street to the house to get her. The worst part besides being injured was the fact that all the school traffic had to be rerouted because the accident was blocking the street. I was put onto a stretcher and taken to the hospital. It was awful. And on top of that a boy named Brian who had liked me for a long time started a rumor that I had gotten in the accident because I was fiddling with the radio. Don't worry, I set him straight when I made it back to school! So, I totalled a 1984 Ford LTD, quite a fete I'm told. I was saved by my seat belt and the enormity of the car I was in. The other driver was fine. I pulled the muscles between my shoulder blades and I was on muscle relaxers for awhile.
The end of the year ended extremely well, though! I went to Disney World in Florida for the first time with ETC All American Youth Show Choir. I was so excited to see palm trees for the first time and to hug Mickey whose birthday is also the 18th of November!!! And to top it all off we got to perform and I got to sing a solo. I sang Let's Hear it for the Boy. After we performed we were going to spend the rest of the day in the park, but I had forgotten to pack a pair of shoes. It was funny to walk around Magic Kingdom in character shoes and shorts and looking for any place that sold shoes. I had to buy blue, canvas Reeboks and I remember them being the most expensive thing I had ever bought for myself. It was a great trip and a fabulous way to end the year!

Monday, November 5, 2007

13 Days till 30- 1994

So I think this actually happened in 1993, but I didn't think it was right to include this with the previous post. What I remember was that it was cold outside and my brother John was with my mom and grandpa at my grandmother's bedside. I don't remember who sat with Jenny and I that night, but John called to say that grandma had died. It was the first death that I had ever known. And it was hard. I always had dreamed of having a grandma who would smile at my silly stories and bake me cookies. I didn't get that type. She wanted to be cremated and she was also a devote Catholic- two things that do not go hand in hand. The reason I bring this up is two fold. First, because she was being cremated we viewed her body as a family as it was when she died, not embalmed and pretty, but cold and dead. It was awful. And second, because she was cremated her remains were not allowed in the church. I have to say that has to be the dumbest, most arbitrary rule ever (I'm sure it's steeped in a lot of history, but really it's just silly). It was hard to watch my mom sob so hard during the funeral that John held her up. I was in ninth grade at the time and I was reading A Tale of Two Cities. This was one of my very favorite books partly because it helped me understand death in a new way and also because of the parallel I drew between Sydney Carton and my grandmother. He was characteristically flawed, but in his death he gave life to others. His death was the most selfless thing he had ever done. I think that it was hard for my grandmother to face her death (I don't imagine it could be all that easy for anyone), but her death gave us all a chance to get to know Gramps in a whole new way. It also made me realize that it was probably the first chance she had ever really had to rest and let go of all the anger and sadness she carried with her. I know that with all her faults, I wouldn't have had the mother I had without her. Dickens's last words in the book are the thoughts of Sydney Carton. When I read them the first time shortly after my grandmother's death, I thought of them as her words and I imagined that she was in heaven reciting them to me as I read: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

14 Days till 30- 1993

My mom graduated Summa Cum Laude with her Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I think that my mom is one of the most amazing people in the entire world. She overcame a lot of diversity to put herself in a place she wanted and more appropriately she chose to be. She took her life by the reins and directed it where she wanted to go and she did it all while raising four kids pretty much on her own. She showed us all that anything is possible if we put our minds to it (and switch around a few credit card balances to keep the money coming in!). The story of my mom's journey is for her to tell, but I will say that she surely didn't have it easy. She could have taken the easy route and accomplished nothing and blamed it on the horrible childhood and the horrible mother she had. We all knew that it had been hard for her. There were nights that I could hear her cry herself to sleep. She would smoke by the window in her room with the smoke going out the fan turned on exhaust while deep in thought, crying, and rocking herself in her rocking chair. But she took the high road. She decided what she wanted her life to look like and although it was a tough journey she set out on it and never looked back. She showed me what attaining a dream looks like, it's hard work, but worth every moment of it because it's yours.

15 Days till 30- 1992

It is only fair to mention that this is the year that my sister Jenny graduated from high school. The memory that I have from this year though is about my grandma and grandpa. My grandma had had a stroke and was in a nursing home. My grandpa would wake up in the morning and drive to the nursing home and sit by her bed everyday until visiting hours were over. The only time this routine was different was if he had a doctor's appointment or someone came by to take him to lunch or dinner. We always went down every week to visit. I would ride in the car with gramps and ask him what he had for breakfast- it was a favorite topic of ours. He'd say, "Well, I had some shredded wheat (the big biscuit kind) and for a little natural sugar I crumbled some chocolate chip cookies over it." My favorite part of the tradition was the "natural sugar," it always made me smile. Gramps was a gentle soul and seemed so different from my grandma. She was very sick for a long time and seemed to linger as if she was afraid of dying. When she was first in the home she would speak, but very poorly and not that often. One day when we went to visit, my mom told her that I was captain of the cheer leading squad (something I do not proudly admit, I must add- I hated it, but that's another story...) and that I was doing very well at it. My grandmother who could barely speak, let alone put whole sentences together, said clear as day, "Well, good, maybe she'll put that big mouth to use." I was stunned and really hurt. My mom said that I should go sit out in the TV room. Now, I know you're probably thinking wow, that's really harsh, but she was sick and she probably didn't know what she was saying, and you would be wrong. There was some history there and it all began for me in 1988. Unfortunately, the story of my grandmother's meanness goes back a lot further, but this was its beginning for me. We always went to a really early dinner at a restaurant called Hex's (you know the kind of early dinner that occurs at three in the afternoon because your grandparents are really old and they go to bed at 8 or 9). Well, this particular dinner my mom was having a lively discussion with her parents about the coming election (George H.W. Bush vs. the Dems, my grandparents were Republicans and my mom (and I) were Democrats). I thought that I would be able to add a bit to the conversation and I felt that mom could have used some support, so I chimed in, "You know what grandma, if I were old enough to vote I would vote for Jesse Jackson!" See, the first biography I had ever read was about Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition and my grandparents loved biographies. They would go to the library every week to get a new one. And if I could have gotten a word in edgewise, I would have told my grandma this, but I had started a screaming fit to end all screaming fits. I specifically remember my mom telling my sister and I to get under the table. While under the table, Jenny questioned my logic for even bringing this up. Honestly, it just came out. I knew my grandma was racist. I also knew that my best friend in the whole wide world wouldn't be allowed in her home. I think it was my silly 10 year old mind telling this old person she was wrong. Unfortunately, my mom was forced to bear the brunt of her tirade. And I sat under that table wishing that I could take it back. From that day on when I would go to say goodbye to grandma she pretended I didn't exist. She would actually turn her head from me when I would lean in to kiss her cheek. I was never addressed directly again, unless you count the big mouth comment. Grandpa came out to the TV room in the nursing home a little while later and sat down next to me and took my hand in his and said, "I'm sorry your grandma said that to you, but you know where it comes from don't you?" I nodded my head and he said, "That Jesse Jackson comment." Of course the person that should have apologized couldn't and he knew that. In his own sad way he was trying to apologize for a woman he had grown to love even through all her anger, abuse and sadness. I loved him for trying, in his own way he did make it better, I learned to love him more that day and all the days that followed.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

16 Days till 30- 1991

I ran for President of the sixth grade and lost. I was 6th out of ten contenders and the highest ranking girl. I can't remember what I ran on, but it surely wasn't popularity. I think this was the first time I realized that having two first names was a liability. It was also the first time that most people knew that my real name was Joyce. And why might they have discovered this, you might ask? It was because Joyce rhymes with choice and what better campaign slogan than to have VOTE for JOYCE she's the right CHOICE! I also had posters with Jodi on them, but I can't remember the slogan we used. When we gave our speeches during an assembly I probably could have used the name thing to my advantage, but I didn't mention it. We had put on the bottom of the Joyce posters Jodi Beck for President and we figured that covered it. Obviously, you can't reiterate enough when it comes to name recognition. It was a real flaw in the campaign.

17 Days till 30- 1990

There was a secret in our family, and the secret was being kept from me. I knew it and I hated it. I remember conversations that would end when I came into the room and I remember being very upset that Barb was in on the secret and I wasn't. Now, I loved Barb, but it seemed unfair that my brother's fiance was allowed in, but I, who had been a part of the family since my birth was not. The worst part about it was that I knew the secret, but I just couldn't be positive because no one had told me. My brother John was gay. Now how I came to this conclusion I'm not sure, but I was a smart kid and I'm sure that I could figure out that he brought boys home to meet the family and not girls. So, while watching Dan Rather's 48 Hours which happened to be about some gay topic with my mom and sister, I finally put it all together and asked my mom, "Is John gay?" And what is the worst response a 12 year old could hear came out of my mom's mouth. See, she was studying to be a therapist and I don't think she was talking like a mom. She said, "Now, Jodi, that's something you should speak to your brother about." How awful! John was living with dad at the time and so the next Sunday I went to him and said hey, so mom told me I had to ask you if you were gay. He laughed at her silliness and said yes. Thus, the end of the secret, but the beginning of mom taking us to her class to discuss our feelings about it....

18 Days till 30- 1989

So this was a good year. I had Mr. Heid for my fifth grade teacher and I thought he was great. I also met my best friend Erin this year. The school district was remapped before school started and Erin and also my friend Jackie were redistricted to Indian Trail. What was really cool was Erin didn't live all that far from me. The only problem was that I had to cross Graham Road to get to her building. Erin's mom Janet was awesome too and I was always over there or Erin would come over to my house. I remember being very nervous for the start of sixth grade because we had to wait to find out if we would be on the same team. We ended up on different teams. Erin and Jackie were together, but I was on my own. The end of fifth grade was fun. Mr. Heid made it possible for us to put together a musical during the school day. It was somehow worked into our History and English lessons. It was called Let George Do It! I played Betsey Ross and the third narrarator. I loved it and it was a great way to end elementary school.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

19 Days till 30- 1988

John graduated this year and what I remember is that my mom was thankful that it happened. I don't think high school was John's cup of tea. John and I were never that close while we were growing up: not for any reason in particular, but we just weren't. I wonder if it is true in most families with four kids that the youngest and oldest are closest and then the middles pair off with one another. I have always thought that Jenny and John were a lot closer than I ever was to John. They get each other's corny, but wonderful sense of humor. I was in the fourth grade that year and I was in a split classroom with 4th and 5th graders. I loved Ms. Monroe. She was from Scotland and an environmentalist. We used to play this board game about saving the dolphins and she always said that if you are cleaning in the bathroom it is best to use elbow grease instead of too much Comet. It took me a while to realize elbow grease wasn't some British product I'd never heard of. This was also the year that I had Ohio history with Mrs. Bland. She knew my dad and one day in class when we were talking about what our parents did for a living I said my dad was just a janitor at the high school. She told the entire class how much we should appreciate our custodial staff and what they do for us often goes unnoticed. Then she told me that I should call him a custodian because it was a profession. I was totally embarrassed, but kind of proud at the same time. In this same class I sat next to Domenico Cavellero. He was from Italy and all the girls thought he was so cute. I will forever remember him because of what he said to me one day during class. My mom had cut off all my hair because I had broken my arm roller skating and she wanted to make it easier for me to get ready in the morning. Plus, I think she has always loved short hair and it was her way of giving it to me without too much of a protest. Anyway, one day when I was particularly swooning over this boy, he leaned over to me and said, "You know, if you had a better face and better hair, I would date you." Ouch! Take that Domenico Cavellero, where ever you are!!

20 Days to 30- 1987

So this is the year we went from five members of the family at home to four. It was the first big shift in the family home since my dad left. And it didn't happen in the best of ways. This is also one of those things that everyone remembers differently. This is my blog, hence my memory. I remember some arguments between my mom and my brother about varying topics including school, work, and chores. Mom's rule was you could live at home rent free as long as you were going to school full time. It also meant that your chores didn't go away just because you were in college. Not much changed in that department over the years and I was given the same rules as everyone else. Jim's weekly chore was always mowing the lawn. I remember what I think was the final argument between them very well. Jim had told me that he thought mom was going to kick him out and I of course didn't want that to happen. I think it's probably typical for the youngest to have a hard time with change in the family dynamic, but over time it became easier for me because from this point it was always changing. And as a nine year old I don't think I quite understood. I sat at the top of the basement stairs with the stair light off. Mom and Jim were at the bottom of the stairs arguing about the chores and about school. I remember being frightened because they were both very upset. He raised his hand to her and she put her finger to his face and said don't you even think about it. Looking back I think it was an awfully brave thing to do considering Jim is 6'3" and mom was 5'3". I also had never thought about that part of his personality, because he never acted that way toward me, but it was obvious that he had lost his temper. Mom stopped him before he could make a big mistake, but she also ended it. He had to leave. I love them both so much and I know that it was a difficult time for them. I think that it is even difficult now. Basically, I learned that there are consequences to your actions. And the one person you have to follow through with is your mom. She has always been really aware of what she expects of us and whether or not we come through. She'll call you out, it's kind of her job. "While you're under my roof,....."

Oh No!

I've gotten so far behind in 30 days to 30 posts. This week has been crazy. I finally got my headshots done, I went out on Wednesday and celebrated Halloween and then I had class, which went really well on Thursday, and then I went out with my new friend Sarah Jane last night. Whew, I'm tired. You can view my headshots here. There are a lot to look at and they are really good. I am so excited! The ones labelled best and very best were chosen by my photographer, Jordan Matter. Please do not star anything, but leave any comments on my blog comments page. I would love to have your opinions. And when I get the proof sheets next week I will post some of my favorites here.