I’m Going To Disney World

Yesterday morning I woke up to an email saying that I’d been accepted to the Disney College Program. For the record, this is the best thing to wake up to. I called my dad, I called my sister, I made a Facebook post.

Not only is Disney a dream come true–I’ve wanted to be a cast member since I was old enough to know they were called cast members. I grew up in a theater and thought that Disney being a huge, well-orchestrated show was so cool. But it’s also the only thing I applied for in the Spring. I’m graduating early just to work there. If I hadn’t gotten in, I don’t know what I would do.

The girl part of the family at  Pooh's Corner in the Magic Kingdom.

The girl part of the family at Pooh’s Corner in the Magic Kingdom.

I know that I’ve gotten “Attractions,” which means I could be operating any one of the rides in Walt Disney World. (Which is really cool just by itself.) The only other job I would have wanted was working at the boutique, but it’s probably a good thing I didn’t get that. I never even put on lipstick before college.

So in the Spring, I’ll be working in Disney World. Hopefully on a really cool ride, like the Jungle Cruise (other people who worked at the Jungle Cruise include John Lassiter, the director of Pixar movies like Toy Story and A Bugs Life. Now, I think he’s the executive producer for all of Disney/Pixar. He’s not a huge idol or anything.) Or the Great Movie Ride. What can I say? I love talking to people.

Now, to clarify, getting into the College Program wasn’t a given. I didn’t get in last year when I applied. One of my best friends, who’s also a Disney junkie, didn’t get in this year when she applied for the third time. They receive a lot of applications and can take their pick. So it wasn’t a shoo-in. I probably should have applied for more places in the Spring, but I was hoping to go to Orlando because it’s Disney and also because it’s only four hours away from my friends who will still be here in Tallahassee. Hopefully they can come visit me, I can go visit them, and the post-college separation will be easier to take.

Christmas with the Mouse

Christmas with the Mouse

For the second time in four years, I’m getting the amazing opportunity to, as my mom put it on the phone last night, meet “all new people.” Which is really exciting, because I love meeting new people. But it’s also really scary, and sad. In high school, I thought I had the best friends I’d ever know in my life. In college, I’ve added to that group of people, witch more of the best humans on the planet. If the trend continues, I’ll meet even more funny, intelligent, amazing people. But I keep thinking there’s only so many times someone can get lucky.

Every time I remember that I got into Disney, I get incredibly happy. I can’t believe college is almost over and I have to leave my girls, but I get to receive MFA rejections in the Happiest Place on Earth. I get to work for a company I’ve always admired. I get to have a job that’s literally designed just to make other people have the time of their lives.

This hasn’t been the easiest week. The work of applying to ten graduate programs while writing a thesis is starting to get to me. Friendships that I thought were solid seem to be slipping through my fingers and I don’t know why. I’ve spent a lot of time crying and eating chocolate and taking my frustrations out on the gym. But whatever happens, I’m going to Disney World.

I’ve been blessed with having an amazing college career. It started with eight months in London and three months in Florence. I’ve had ten wonderful girls as roommates. I’ve had two years of Girl’s Nights and too many nights of Netflix. I’ve been published, and invited to participate in a graduate workshop, and told that “I’m not kidding myself” for thinking about getting into graduate school. And I get to top it all off with this new experience, with all new people.

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we are curious, and that curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." --Walt Disney

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we are curious, and that curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney

Workshops and Womanizers

Let’s start this story with the funeral.

Last week my friend Ari texted me and said that a friend of hers died. He was a little older than us. She knew him for a summer. She needed someone to drive to Georgia with her for the funeral. I love road trips, figure any adventure is a story, and so I said yes.

Friday night I made a playlist and we drove through the most beautiful Georgia countryside you can imagine. I saw my first cotton field. There were horses and hills. We talked about life on other planets, and what existed before the Universe sprang into being 14 million years ago, and whether or not we had this conversation before in a different lifetime. And then we got to the funeral.

Rain at a funeral. Cliche, but true.

Rain at a funeral. Cliche, but true.

I won’t bum you out with the details. There were hundreds of people and one casket and a crying fiance. We cried in the car and the rain pounded on the roof. We went out for drinks, because it was the fiance’s birthday, because of course it was.

I wore a black dress and we drove to Steak and Shake and ate our feelings and I stole Ari’s pajamas and fell asleep in her bed under piles of blankets. For some reason, neither of us could get warm.

Saturday morning I was at Ari’s house. She made me breakfast and we chatted with her roommate and they complained about their thesis. I promised to be an extra set of eyes for Ari, and I’d swing by the film school on Sunday. But first we had Game Day.

If you didn’t go to a big Southern Football school, then I don’t know if you can imagine home football game atmosphere. The game was at 7:30 and there was no parking by noon. You could hear the game from half a mile away, which is where we were to “watch” the game.

It was raining or else we would have gone in person. We thought we could stream it, but apparently there’s a blackout of the game if you’re in the same city the game’s being played in. Which meant we could see the stadium but we couldn’t watch the game on ESPN. Whatever. We were playing Citadel and it was a boring win.

Pause for Feminist Stuff: (skip ahead if you’re not in a feminist mood)

We were at our friend Jules’s apartment. She was excited to have us over, so she could set us up with these boys down the hall. She met them at a bar. One was “nice.” The other kept hitting on her after she said she had a boyfriend.

They came over during the game, with Cards Against Humanity. And one was nice. Intense, maybe, but generally harmless and occasionally funny. The other was not harmless.

It’s strange to see harassment acted out in front of you. This particular douchebag zoomed in on our friend Erin (only after he hit on Jules so hard core she had to actually push him away from her, and remind him over and over that she was in a serious, committed, long-term relationship.) So this guy started pushing drinks on Erin, who had gone to the game and was in that post-game flush and drank one shot, two, and when he handed her a third and she said no, both he and his friend said, “go ahead, you know you want to, don’t be that guy.”

To which me and Kat immediately responded, “you don’t have to drink anything you don’t want to.”

Erin, trying out a new look to repel assholes.

Erin, trying out a new look to repel assholes.

Erin put the cup aside.

We played the game. Kat and I had stopped drinking hours before, but the others were “drunk,” which is of course no excuse for this guy putting his arm around Erin, even though she scooted away, and telling her she was cute and pretty and he could walk her home even when she had made it clear she wasn’t interested.

Anyway. They left (after giving out hugs and soliciting our numbers and generally being slimy) and Jules turned to us. “What do you think?”

“They came on strong,” I said, diplomatically.

“I didn’t like it,” Erin said, and now with the lights on and just us it was obvious she was drunk, too drunk to have been able to string the right words together to have told the asshole no any more firmly than she had.

“You should have kicked them out,” Kat said.

“I didn’t want to make a scene,” Jules said defensively. “You should have said something. I thought you guys wanted boyfriends.”

We left.

I won’t go into the long conversations we had about this. It may not sound too bad when you see it written down, but seeing my friend be made so uncomfortable, to see this guy call and text her, to see how persistently he was pushing drinks on her, made me sick.

End Feminist Rant

On Sunday, as promised, Erin and I went to see Ari’s short film and gave critiques on it that were apparently “helpful.” More on that after the film airs in a couple of months.

Oh, and I went to this Harry Potter thing and got sorted into Ravenclaw. Because of course.

Oh, and I went to this Harry Potter thing and got sorted into Ravenclaw. Because of course.

On Monday, I decided to apply for graduation. Because I have to apply before the 12th. I wanted to see if there was any information on my Disney College Program Application. They said they’d be making most decisions in late October, but I thought…hey. Why the hell not.

So I checked my dashboard and my application is gone. The 2013 application (which says “no longer in consideration” which gave a heartattack) is still there, but 2014? Gone. After an hour or so of freaking out, I found a phone number to call and was put on hold. The hold music? The Twilight Zone. Do do doo do. For someone who’s already feeling incredibly anxious, you can imagine how this made me feel.

I finally talk to a person and they say, “don’t worry, this happens all the time.”

All the time.

Awesome.

(turns out I had the wrong username. Oops. My application now says “in progress.” When I know, you’ll know.)

Also on Monday, we had people over to watch the Giants play the Lions. I’m a Giants fan, and I made food to bribe people to watch it with me. Because I made a big deal out of it, of course they lost. We drank beer and ate chicken dip and Girl Talked through the evening. Patricia met Liz. Everyone gave opinions on the Asshole. It was a good night.

And then I had to go get workshopped. Basically, someone who isn’t emotionally attached to the story (or, in this case, seven someones) reads it and then rips you apart. “We’re not saying it’s bad, it’s just not good.” Unfortunately, they’re almost always right. Points can be belabored. Things can be repeated. Overall, you get the idea that you’ve written the trees and forgotten about the forest. Back up and try again. Always a useful and humbling experience.

So now I have to stop talking about myself and start getting my characters in order. They’re more interesting, anyway.

Senior Stress

So a couple of big things happened this week. We’re going to start with Sunday.

Last Sunday, I filled out the application for the Disney College program. Basically, at any point during your college career, and for up to a semester after you graduate, you can go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland and work in the theme park at a store or an attraction or character or janitor and you get almost no money and you get to be at Disney and say you worked there. I’ve wanted to be a Disney Cast Member since the first time I went to Disney, when I was maybe four years old. Mostly because they’re called cast members. I’m a sucker for a good show.

I planned my college career around this. I’m graduating a semester early so I can go to Disney World and be in the Happiest Place on Earth when I get rejected from graduate schools. This was a smart idea, except I have to actually get in first.

(i can just imagine mom interjecting here with of course you’ll get in and I say I didn’t get in last year. It’s not a shoo-in kind of thing)

I applied on Sunday–fill out your resume, your general information, have you ever been arrested. By Sunday night, they sent me an email asking me to fill out an on-line questionnaire, which was fifty of the usual suspect questions. Are you cheerful? Are you usually a happy person? Would your friends say that you’re generally optimistic?

I’m a happy person, so I passed the questionnaire. On to the phone interview, which was scheduled for Wednesday. Which meant I had to talk to Patricia before Wednesday.

(for those just joining this story, I met Patricia during my first semester in London. She’s a year older, and when we got to London she had just come from the Disney College Program, where she was a skipper on the Jungle Cruise, which is basically my dream job. We became instant best friends. If everything in our lives go to plan, we will end up living like those old guys in the Muppets, heckling school children from the back row of the theater.)

On Tuesday, Patricia and I went out to lunch, and I bought her onion rings and picked her brain about the phone interview for about ten minutes before we devolved into Girl Talk. We had a whole summer of gossip to catch up on, after all. But she was helpful, and I went back to my dorm with a notes on a napkin with suggestions of how to make a good impression.

(to tell this story in chronological order, or just logical order? I feel like this is my constant struggle.)

On Wednesday I had my phone interview. It went well. I assumed, because everything else had gone so fast–progressing from stage one to stage three of the application process–that I’d get an answer relatively quickly. This is not the case.

ME: “When can I expect to hear about the job?”

NICE WOMAN WHO INTERVIEWED ME: “Oh, definitely by the end of October.”

ME:

NICE WOMAN: “That’s okay, right?”

ME: “Sure. Yes, of course.” Lies, all lies, I hung up and hoped that she’d call back immediately and offer me a job.

So now I get to wait! I guess this is practice for the Spring, when I’ll be checking my email constantly and biting my nails.

Other cool thing that happened: on Tuesday night, late, we were sitting around drinking wine and watching Dexter when my phone rang with a number I don’t know. No one calls anyone any more. I communicate with my friends through texts, with my teachers through email. The only calls I ever get are from my family. So I answer the phone. It’s 10:00 at night.

It’s my creative writing professor. I took his workshop a year ago and he’s my thesis director and he’s a very straight-forward person, which is the perfect person to be looking over your writing.

PROFESSOR: So Katie, I was wondering if you’d be interested in taking my graduate-level creative writing course instead of sitting through the undergrad course again.

ME:

PROFESSOR: It’s on Wednesdays at 6:45. You’ll be with some students in their second and third year of their MFAs, but I think you can handle it.

ME: Wow. Thank you. I would love to join your graduate class.

Internally, of course, I was screaming. I want to go to grad school (I hope I’ve made that clear by now?) and this will give me some idea as to whether or not I can hack it on that level. Plus, I took it as a huge compliment that my teacher thought I could do the work and took the trouble to single me out. (He also, very sweetly, called me on Thursday after the class to make sure I wasn’t too intimidated. I was, but dad always said to fake it til you make it so.)

Those were my big life moments from last week. Lesser ones include a really awesome guitar teacher, a Senior seminar in history that is going to give me nightmares (crimes against humanity. If anyone has a favorite genocide tell me about it, because I need to pick a topic ASAP) and a head start to tutoring.

We spent the holiday weekend playing mahjong, watching movies, and having sleepovers so that it feels like last year (Erin hasn’t left the apartment.) And The Last Word is getting our act together. If you want to read an article about the FSU football game against Oklahoma State (the one we tried to lose) then just click the link here. TLW is a huge part of my life here at school, so I’m excited to jump back into that tomorrow.

But now I have to write a paper about the Bataan Death March. I have a feeling I’m going to need chocolate for this.

Running Out of Gas: A Typical Tallahassee Story

A lot has happened in the past few days, most of which was instigated by me getting on a plane and flying a thousand miles South. I don’t remember the actual ride, because I was lucky enough to have a first-row seat (thanks dad!) and really sleep-deprived so I curled up like a kitty and woke up in Orlando. Technology is wonderful.

How to have a good college experience: make awesome friends. I couldn’t tell you how to make friends. I think I must have bribed mine in the past and forgotten about it. But right on time, my friends Kat (who I live with) and Julianne (who I practically live with) picked me up in the little VW Beetle and we were on our way to Tallahassee, me stuffed in the backseat with boxes and luggage and my guitar across my legs. And we talked for the next four hours.

There was a lot to catch up on. My musical. Kat’s job. That cool musical I wrote. Jules’s boyfriend and her weird class schedule. The awesome people in my musical. My internship. Their trip to Disney. Back to me. 

In retrospect, I may have dominated the conversation. 

Everything was going hunky-dory until we got into Tallahassee, and then the car sensed the city limits and promptly decided to start working. So we were out of gas, twenty minutes away from school, in 100 degree weather.

(Oh, I didn’t mention the heat yet. You know how New Jersey was beautiful and cool and damp and grey all summer? It’s because Florida was hogging all the heat.)

Luckily, we’ve all made friends just so we can use them in tight situations like this one, so Kat called up some high school buddies and they came out there with gas. And then we went to the gas station to really fill up. And the car died again.

Fixing up the dorm so it looks like girls live here.

Fixing up the dorm so it looks like girls live here.

So at this point, it’s 4:00, we’re all hot, and there’s no transportation. Call in the dads. Not one of our fathers–the dads taking their Freshman sons to FSU for the first time, who saw three (sweaty, cursing, smelly) girls doing excellent impressions of damsels in distress. They got the car into a parking spot and jumped it, which gave us enough juice to get to the dorm.

Hooray! Our dorm! The same one from last year minus our stuff because that was still scattered around Tallahassee!

In order to un-scatter our stuff and get, you know, a change of clothes and our bed things, we needed a car. If I had a car, I wouldn’t have hitch-hiked into Tally. We called in further favors (seriously though, why is anyone friends with me? I must have paid them in a past life) and got a rather large car from Ari so we could rescue everything in one trip. Awesome. Cool. Except now it’s 9:00, and moving everything into the dorm took until 11:00, and we hadn’t eaten all day, so of course that’s the best time for grocery shopping.

On our way out the door, Liz, who’d helped up store the stuff, said, “Settlers of Catan after you go to the store?”

“Yeah, okay, whatever,” Kat and I said, too hungry to be tired. Plus we had the car for the night. Might as well use it.

So we shouldn’t have been surprised when she got to our apartment at 1 am with her boyfriend and Catan, but by then the exhaustion was setting in. Other people dropped by to welcome us back to school. We gave them cookies we’d picked up at the store and offered them seats on the floor, as the couches and chairs were buried under piles of boxes. Sometime after that, I fell asleep on a bare mattress with a borrowed blanket, because my stuff was still trapped in the basement of our dorm, a room that wouldn’t open until Monday.

THAT WAS ALL ONE DAY

Kat knows I'm about to mahjong with crap hands and she's pissed.

Kat knows I’m about to mahjong with crap hands and she’s pissed.

Sunday was infinitely more relaxed. After a trip to get command strips and soap and other essentials, we started decorating our dorm, unpacking boxes–only after we’d hooked up the tv so we could blast Pandora. It’s been too long since we’d listened to the musical station on high volume. 

There was a loose idea that we’d go to a movie that night, so Kat and I had the afternoon to kill. It was too hot to think about going outside (another 100 degree day) so the only alternative is obviously mahjong. She trounced me while making up harmonies for Hairspray.

We got the girls together for the movie and spent too long making dinner to make the early show, so we moseyed over to a late one. The movie itself (If I Stay) was not nearly so interesting as the fact that we had the whole theater to ourselves, so we did commentary. It was a good night.

(Notice that there is no mention of class-related activities yet. I will stress about that in an hour when I have to go to class)

By this morning, our apartment looks like a place people live. I got my sheets and my teddy bear, so what else does a girl need? Ari came over early and I spent the morning with my musical playing over the speakers, acting out all nine parts for her and Kat’s entertainment. Maybe we’ll write a one-woman show next.

After one of the most thoroughly fun summers of my life, this last semester can only possibly be awesome. As long as cars stop breaking down, and I can stop talking about my musical.

When You’ve Done All That You Can Do

We casted for the musical in the last week of May. By mid-June, we were rehearsing three times a week. In July, it was four times a week, five if schedules were bad. The days before we recorded no one went home, which meant a 72-hour crunch filled with games and points and no sleep.

Catching some sleep during a graveyard shift rehearsal.

Catching some sleep during a graveyard shift rehearsal.

Not since marching band have I felt this–relief that everything is over and a little…restless? Like, there should be a gradual process of getting out of these long days, like we gradually worked out way into the show. Instead, it’s quitting cold turkey. So of course I’m making sure the pictures turned out okay and uploading the videos and generally not letting go at all.

I wrote the book version of the play. It’s getting sad. 

But let’s start from the beginning, which is three days ago. On Friday we invited the families to come watch the play. The reason for this was threefold: 1. Our family was bugging us about wanting to see it, 2. We wanted the cast to be able to prove to their parents that they’ve had a productive summer, and 3. We wanted to see if our jokes were actually funny.

"My mother thinks you're a good boy."

“My mother thinks you’re a good boy.”

It went off well. We performed on the back porch, which felt very elementary school, like when you invite kids to watch your little skit on the playground. It also felt totally awesome. It was a nice day–we’ve had a summer of nice days in New Jersey–and after an hour or so of Michael having a conniption (we were supposed to start a little rehearsal at 10 am and most of the cast didn’t show until 11) we settled down to a crazy productive hour of costume checks and scene transitions before the parents came at noon.

And then we started, and went right through the whole show. Honestly, I feel like we got off easy. Like, there should have been a freak rainstorm or something. I’d been having nightmares of the cast forgetting how to sing, so when everyone remembered their lines I was so excited.

24 hours before we record, everyone meets for the first time.

24 hours before we record, everyone meets for the first time.

(side note: I don’t understand performing. I was in plays when I was little, four or five, always in the ensamble. I can’t act. I laugh at my own jokes. I can’t sing. When people stare at me I freeze up. On Friday, everyone seemed to thrive on the attention, which is just baffling. But the funny people were funnier, holding out for jokes. The serious parts gave me goosebumps. I give the credit to Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway. If you can say your lines backwards, you can do anything.)

Cool parts included Maggie hitting Michael in the stomach with a prop and a girl coming up to be at intermission to tell me that one of the characters was “kind of mean.” “Well good,” I said, “he’s supposed to be.”

Also, people seemed only minimally confused by eight people playing four characters. 

Afterwards, we lazed around for the afternoon while everyone ran home to kiss their moms and change clothes and grab bathing suits. Because we were leaving at 6 am on Saturday, we decided to just have a sleepover. Mostly to save Michael’s sanity. 

So we spent the evening in the pool. You’ve probably had nights like this one: everyone talking more than swimming. Secrets revealed. Stories swapped. There’s something about darkness and stars and hot tubs and fires that brings out the chattiness in people, that makes everyone okay with being up close and personal. 

Waking up for a 6am call.

Waking up for a 6am call.

Because we were getting up so early we wanted to be in bed by midnight. Which really meant that Michael and I were in bed by midnight and everyone else–the ten people sleeping in the basement–stayed up talking. What else can you expect? 

We split into two cars for the drive up. Everyone fell asleep in mine except for dad and Amanda until we hit Wawa, at which point we were given the order to “sing gently” to warm up the voices. Which meant belting show tunes.

What’s a recording studio like? Ours was a big room hung with black curtains. In the hallway leading into it were posters for about a hundred different shows that had been recorded there. (None of them were Anything For Love). It took about an hour to set everything up, to put the mics at the right height (there’s a full twelve inches of height difference between the shortest and tallest people in the cast, so that was fun.) We did eight takes of the first song and then caught the rhythm of the thing.

Smiling at the recording studio? Must be early.

Smiling at the recording studio? Must be early.

It was a long, nerve-wracking day. My palms were sweaty. That has never, ever happened to me before. I thought it was a description for characters in books. I wasn’t even singing and my palms were sweaty, afraid once again that everyone would forget their lines. 

By four o’clock everyone was so hungry it hurt, but we needed to get a two hour show recorded in six hours, which is harder than it sounds, and we had another three songs to go. Everyone was on edge. We’d left the solos for last, which was probably pretty stupid because voices wear down if you sing for hours at a time.

It got to the point where everyone was so nervous that I told Dylan, who’d done marching band with me and Mike, to lead everyone in tai-chi, which we’d learned for one of our shows. It’s kind of a meditative warrior dance, and it used to work to take the edge off before performing with the band. And it worked here. We got a second wind for the last three songs, blew through them in forty minutes, and went home with a flash drive full of our play.

(It’s not the final cut, that’s still in post-production, but I’ve already listened to it all the way through three times.)

Then? Dinner, the drive home. We put the songs we’d just recorded on and had the distinct pleasure of hearing a voice come out of the speakers and the same voice start singing right behind you. And then that was it. A wrap. Curtain. End of show.

Michael pacing like a nervous father.

Michael pacing like a nervous father.

In band–I can’t stop talking about band, maybe because that was the last time I was a part of a group of people making something big and musical and creative–we had this thing called the Cry Fest. It was the day before Nationals and everyone would talk about what band meant to them. And everyone ended up crying. It was cathartic. We’re planning our cry fest for Christmas, when hopefully time and distance will make the event less teary.

Now I have to pack for school (for my LAST SEMESTER. How crazy is that?) And I can’t stop listening to the play. Hopefully I’ll hear it enough this week that I won’t annoy my roommates with it in Tally. Probably not. It’s hard to get over something you created.

Not that this is the end. We already have a performance planned for next year. A real one with a set and theater and everything. And I’m already tweaking the script in my head. It’ll be quite a year. And who knows? This could go somewhere. I want nothing more than to driving through a random town and see posters for people doing Anything For Love. That’s the dream, for when our Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through.

 

Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway?

The thing is, the musical Anything For Love has four main characters who are gay, so one the inaugural games was literally trying to guess which one of the gay characters said which line. We branched out from there. I’m sure most people are familiar with the tv show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Michael had the brilliant idea to basically bribe people to rehearsal by enticing them with a chance to win points.

Processed with Rookie

Ah, competition. The four main couples in the show were willing to throw each other over to win points. Team building took a back seat to getting the scene to have as much movement and as many jokes as possible.

Here’s how to play Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway, in case you wanted to follow along at home:

1. Write a musical (or appropriate one, in a pinch)

2. Make sure to recruit a cast who are completely okay with cursing up a storm, because some of these games can drive the players to swearing. One player (*cough* Brady *cough*) almost came to blows with the Game Maker.

3. Have them off-book before playing these games. Improve is easier with a solid foundation to stand on.

Easy games include: Interpretive Dance (only to be done with songs. Looks corny with dialogue) Backwards Scene (yup, say all the lines backwards) and Props (get a prop, like a lamp or  a jar of peanut butter, and explain why the character has it. Bonus points for getting rid of the prop by the end of the scene.)

Weird artsy photo of Zach and Juliana playing Quick Change

Weird artsy photo of Zach and Juliana playing Quick Change

Medium games include: Quick Change (when the GM buzzes an actor, they have to change the last line they just said. This is the game that causes the most swearing and fist fights, especially when coupled with a trigger-happy GM) Film Noir (my personal favorite, where the actors pause ever few lines to narrate their own scene, or interject side comments, breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience) and Tempo Change (once again, only to be played with songs. Works well when you have a wicked awesome piano capable of changing the tempo of songs with the push of a button.)

And then there were the hard games. Three-Headed Broadway Star (most of our songs were too fast to really do this one without ending up with a lot of “uh”s and “um”s) Song Lyrics (get through a scene using only lines from the songs in the musical) and…oh, I’m sure there was another one, but after a few times being burned our cast got gun-shy of the hard games.

HARMONIES!!!

HARMONIES!!!

Okay, so the idea of playing Whose Gay Line Is It Anyway instead of, you know, doing serious rehearsal of scenes and especially songs when we’re days away from a professional recording might sound silly. But when the cast is popping in and out (because, you know, it’s a Wednesday and people have to work) and you end up with the same people doing the same scenes three, four, five times, you need to change things up a little.

The popping in and out of rehearsal thing annoyed Michael so much that we threw over the old schedule for the week and squeezed in a Graveyard Shift on Wednesday. Instead of acting like we’re normal people, we had a report time for practice set for 9 pm. The usual suspects were all there by midnight. At 1 am we did an interpretive dance of “Anything for Love” that was the most energetic, exciting performance of the song I had yet to witness. By 2 am, moms were calling about not seeing their teenage kids for hours. At 4, there was a group of us on the back porch, laughing over a board game and trying not to think about the fact that there was rehearsal in six hours.

Kramer's inserted himself into every scene

Kramer’s inserted himself into every scene

(I don’t do anything at rehearsal. I should probably emphasize that. I rewrite lines and try to figure out if something sounds weird but it’s not like I’m moving or acting or anything. So.)

But despite the goofing off (Michael would like to say because of the goofing off) we seem to be in a good place coming up to the home stretch (goddamnit, I jinxed it. Never mind. We’re doing terribly. Knock on all of the wood.) There’s harmonies for all for the songs, at least.

It’s weird to think that in three days all of this will be over. It’s been so many years since I was creating something with a group of dedicated, talented people, like when I was in marching band or in drama myself (always an extra.) It’s an amazing feeling to come out of a good rehearsal and feel like you accomplished something. I hope I am fortunate enough to do this again next summer. I believe in this show.

Because, really, if you don’t believe in your dreams, who will?

 

One Year Later

Can I get people caught up on a year in 1000 words or less?

I can certainly try.

Okay, so in Tallahassee: I’m managing editor of The Last Word (link to website here if you want to check it out. We’re pretty awesome.) I love TLW and all the editors, who work so hard to put out amazing writing and so rarely get credit. I’m giving you credit. Huge kudos.

Erin, Christina, Gaston, and me at Disney in April

Erin, Christina, Gaston, and me at Disney in April

I also got a new roommate. Erin. In the past year, she’s become one of my best friends, and is now moving out. If anyone’s keeping track, I’ve had 11 roommates since I started FSU. All of them have been wonderful people who have helped me in a lot ways, so I’m hoping that the last in this succession, who I will meet in two weeks, will continue the tradition of epicness.

In no particular order: I went to New Orleans for Spring break and roadtripped to Disney, twice. My laptop broke and got replaced by a Mac, meaning I caved into peer pressure and superior technology. A new cousin was born in January, named Maggie (Margaret, like my mother) I took two workshop classes and got published again in our undergraduate literary magazine, Kudzu (booyah!) FSU won the BCS national championship (football, for the non-Southerners out there.) I watched entirely too much Netflix, learned how to make fondue, adapted mahjong into a two-player game, and stressed over getting an internship.

Except I got the internship.

Yeah, we’re going to skip the whole school year and get to the fun part of summer. So what I really wanted out of this summer was an internship, preferably in publishing because 1. I really love books and would like to see how they got made 2. If I have to have a job, I’d like to get paid/credit for reading and 3. I want a recommendation letter for the MFA creative writing programs I’m applying for in the fall.

Visiting Laura in Chicago after the school year ended

Visiting Laura in Chicago after the school year ended

It is ridiculously difficult to get a publishing internship.

I told myself it’s because I don’t know anyone in the industry. I sent out 72 cover letters and resumes to anything that looked remotely like a publishing house. I got one definite reply. Hey, if the one person who calls you back is your dream job, who cares about the 71 no-shows? Erin (the aforementioned awesome new roommate who roadtripped from Pittsburgh to see me in the first two weeks of summer) and I went to NYC for this huge book expo, which means advanced reading copies and authors and an interview with the Sarah Jane Freymann literary agency.

I got the job. For absolutely no money (but tons of tea and lunch) I get to travel into NYC once a week and answer phones/do random stuff for the literary agency. Every other day, I’m reading mountains of submissions and helping to influence the fate of new authors. People get drunk on less power.

So I landed the internship of my dreams, with the nicest people ever and the coolest submissions. I just had an inordinate amount of stress about it from January until June.

What I wasn’t stressing about was Anything for Love (formerly Bat Out of Hell. You know–the musical my brother Michael and I were writing based off of the music of Meat Loaf?) That’s because I didn’t actually think we could pull it off. Boy, was I wrong.

A typical evening in early June. Michael addressing the AFL cast at the end of the night.

A typical evening in early June. Michael addressing the AFL cast at the end of the night.

We held auditions the last weekend of May. What we wanted was twelve solid kids to do a play with. We could offer them nothing but the opportunity to be a part of a work-in-progress. “No one will show!”I told Michael a we drove to the stage we had appropriated for the day.

“Sure they will. If they don’t–well, I guess we can fill in for the parts.”

“For EIGHT PARTS?”

“Think positive.”

We had eleven people try out. We took all of them. I cannot say enough how fantastic these kids have been.

First of all, they can really sing. And they can act. And if you’d seen my high school’s drama shows, you never would have known that. Second of all, we swapped people’s roles for about a month and they just went home and learned new lines. Oh, and we re-wrote the script daily, giving them hand-written inserts, crossing-out lines, saying, “Say this here instead!” We try out jokes on the cast. They suggest comic bits. And rehearsing four days a week for seven weeks has never been more fun.

Simon (played by Dylan) tries to break up with Jamie (played by Maggie) and can't seem to get the words out. Walter (Alex) isn't helping.

Simon (played by Dylan) tries to break up with Jamie (played by Maggie) and can’t seem to get the words out. Walter (Alex) isn’t helping.

During a typical rehearsal, I routinely have to remind people to stop smiling (most of the play is a series of arguments, like that episode of Three’s Company that’s some kind of misunderstanding.) Most of the time, people laugh halfway through a scene and it takes ten minutes for everyone to collect themselves. One time we made people cry. Cast members will come in with thoughtful questions about their parts.

In short: if you ever want a fantastic experience, write a play and get cool people to act it out. Sometimes it feels like grammar school all over again. Sometimes it feels like this could be something really cool.

So where are we now? This time next week, we’ll have recorded the songs for our play (which will hopefully be used to get it…somewhere. Like New York somewhere. Huge gulp.) Two weeks from now, I’ll be back in Tallahassee. And in a couple of months I’ll be graduating (oh yeah, I decided to graduate early, because that’s not a stupid idea at all.) And then? Maybe and MFA program. Maybe teaching. Who knows? If there’s one thing life after high school has taught me, it’s that you have to roll with the punches. Sometimes you wind up in London, or in the stands as your college wins football games, or watching as people work hard to get the words you wrote to sound like a story.

It’s a hell of a life. I can’t wait to share it with you.

(994 words. Holla)