Rome Highlight Reel

Hello, 2020! Woof, we’re only two weeks into this year and life is C R A Z Y! However, it’s the best kind of crazy. It’s only 43 days till the opening night of my final performance at Missouri Western, 73 days till my 22nd birthday, 108 days till graduation, and 217 days till I marry my best friend. Life is bonkers, y’all. 

I was blessed to end 2019 and ring in 2020 in Italy with my future-in-laws. For those who don’t know, Sweet Ben’s mom is at the Nato Defense College in Rome and will soon begin her next assignment in Naples, Italy. Ben’s sister and dad are also abroad with her, so this trip right after Christmas was the first time we had all been together since August when Ben and I sent them off at the airport. Over the course of eleven days, I got to have so many wonderful adventures in a country I had always dreamed of visiting. Here is an abridged version of the eleven days I got to spend with Ben and his family in Rome! 

Day 1 (12/27)

Highlight: After three flights (one of which was eight hours long), we landed in Rome and got to hug Ben’s parents and sister. Once Ben and I had a nap after lunch to battle jet lag, we took the Metro to a cozy little pizzeria. Little did I know that the first thing you see once you exit the station that leads to the restaurant is the Colosseum. Yeah, that was a pretty nifty sight to behold before dinner. 

Favorite Taste: Salami Pizza. Honorable mention goes to the shot of Limoncello after dinner. 

Fun Fact: It’s super common for Europeans to have coffee after dinner. This is a cultural norm I can totally get behind. 

 

Day 2 (12/28)

Highlight: Sant’Eustachio is said to be one of the best coffee shops in Rome. Judging by the crowd that was crammed into this relatively small space, a lot of people thought it was really good. If you’re ever in Rome, go check out this place. While it was a bit overwhelming, my Romeo e Giulietta was delightful. 

Favorite Taste: Gnocchi and Mozzarella in Tomato Sauce at this little corner restaurant we found by wandering down the wrong street 

Fun Fact: In 609, The Pantheon was the first temple that once honored Roman gods to be transformed into a church. This saved this brilliant piece of architecture from being destroyed during the Middle Ages.

 

Day 3 (12/29)

Highlight: On the first Sunday of the month, it is free to enter into Vatican City, which causes a TON of people to come out to visit. After going through the museum (which includes the jaw-dropping Sistine Chapel), we found a shortcut to go into St. Peter’s Basilica. Wandering through the gigantic church and praying with Ben for our future marriage was a beautiful experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

Favorite Taste: Cappuccino after visiting Vatican City

Fun Fact: Michelangelo, the artist who painted the Sistine Chapel, originally said “no” to painting the massive room because he reasoned that he was a sculptor, not a painter. The Sistine Chapel is considered to be the greatest masterpiece ever created. You aren’t allowed to take photos of the chapel, so enjoy this doggo statue that we found. 

 

Day 4 (12/30)

Highlight: Enjoying a lazy day and taking Star and Carebear on a walk. 

Favorite Taste: The richest hot chocolate I have ever tasted with the espresso I mixed into it because mochas do not exist in Rome

Fun Fact: People take their dogs EVERYWHERE. It was so funny to see so many different dogs out and about, including in the malls and some restaurants!  

 

Day 5 (12/31)

Highlight: We spent the last day of the year exploring an apartment complex that has sixteen murals on the sides of the buildings. There were so many moments throughout this trip where I would turn to Ben and say, “Can you imagine looking out your window every day to see *insert amazing sight*?” My personal favorite was the wall with rainbow squares. We were also able to find a coffee shop that put a bit of chocolate in coffee, which made me quite happy. 

Favorite Taste: French champagne with apple juice to ring in the New Year

Fun Fact: Many Italians wear red underwear to ring in the New Year. It’s said to bring good luck!

 

 

Day 6 (1/1)

Highlight: There’s sight called the Aventine Keyhole on a hill in a village in Rome, where you have a breath-taking view of St. Peter’s Basilica. We waited in line for almost an hour to take a look through this keyhole, and boy, was it worth it. (Photo credit of the view goes to Google, as my little iPhone wasn’t able to do the view justice)

Favorite Taste: Mini tiramisu at a 95 year old coffee shop 

Fun Fact: The keyhole is part of the property owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious order of crusader knights that was formed in the 11th century. It is the oldest surviving chivalric order in the world and is a sovereign entity under international law.

 

Day 7 (1/2)

Highlight: Climbing to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a TRIP, y’all. The climb is worth it though for the amazing view you get of the city. 

Favorite Taste: Lemon and Strawberry Gelato in the train station 

Fun Fact: Keith Allen Haring was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work was inspired by NYC streets. One of his works can be found in Pisa, Italy! 

 

Day 8 (1/3)

Highlight: Ben and I took a walk with his mom in search of coffee. Afterwords, I played Monopoly for the first time in about eight years. The game took three hours, and because of my stubbornness and negotiation skills, I somehow won. Ben was proud. 

Favorite Taste: Chicken dumplings at an Italian Chinese restaurant 

Fun Fact: Monopoly was first published in 1935. It’s been causing fits of rage and strain on every sort of relationship around the world for 85 years. 

 

 

Day 9 (1/4)

Highlight: Van Gogh and Monet are two of my favorite painters ever. We got to have a VR experience where the viewer got to tour through the world of the some of the works created by these two artists. Not gonna lie, it was a bit emotional for me to get to be immersed in paintings I’ve admired my whole life. 

Favorite Taste: Fresh bruschetta mmmmm so good. Know what’s not good? Green Apple Limoncello. It’s like drinking battery acid. 

Fun Fact: You can trace the origin of bruschetta back to Ancient Roman times. It’s popularity has spread a lot since then and is still a classic favorite in Italian restaurants. 

 

Day 10 (1/5)

Highlight: While we were wandering around the ancient ruins of Ostia, I saw a large black cat just doing his thing. I followed him to take a picture and, naturally, he ran away because some weird American was being annoying. When we went through the bookstore, we found the same cat and his friend just chilling out in the shop! We saw a few other cats when we were leaving to head back home, which was probably the largest population of cats we saw on the whole trip. We happened to see another cat during our night tour of the Colosseum. It was quite funny to see people be more interested in the cat living in the ancient architecture than the stunning building itself.  

Favorite Taste: Marble cake at the café in Ostia

Fun Fact: Ostia was a port and commercial center of republican Rome. The ruins of the city include an amphitheater that could seat up to 4,000 people. Bonus fact: there are signs outside the Colosseum telling guests to not disturb any cats that are on sight. Apparently, there is a kitty colony in the stadium! 

 

Day 11 (1/6)

Highlight: There were some ridiculous seagulls we encountered during our final day in Rome. It’s almost as if they were posing for people as they took photos of them. Ben and I spent a lot of time trying to translate what these weird birds were squawking at each other. 

Favorite Taste: Bubble Toffee from my La Befana stocking

Fun Fact: The story of Pinocchio originated in Italy and the character is a common souvenir you can find on just about any corner. When we were walking through the city, we found a real life Geppetto!

 

I have always been of the belief that everyone needs to leave their home country at least once in their life. Traveling expands your worldview, reminding you how much bigger this planet is outside of your hometown. I am so thankful that I got to satisfy my travel bug urge in Rome with the Smiths, and look forward to more travels in the future!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

The End of the Decade Post

Huzzah, it’s another end of the decade/year post. Woo. So original. Bet you’ve never seen one of these before!

Anyway

During one of my flights on the way to Rome to visit my future in-laws, I looked back at the start of the journal I have been on-and-off writing in since December 3rd, 2018. It affectionately was nicknamed, “Break Up Journal #2” (thank you for the purchase, Mom.) It is astounding to see how quickly life changed over the course of those first few months of that journal. Beginning a relationship with my best friend from the scene shop was not in the plan. But as I have said before, God always has better plans than we do.

Throughout the course of this decade, I have learned so much about life. Sometimes, there are people who are only in your life for a short season, and that’s okay. There are times where it is best to stay quiet and do your job, even when you work with difficult people. There are times where you must stand up for yourself. There are times where the right course of action is the unpopular one. People change, and so do you. You must know when to apologize. You must know when you are at fault, but more importantly, you must also know when you are not at fault. It is okay to protect yourself. It is vital to love yourself. Your health is more important than pleasing others. Just because you fail does not make you a Failure: it makes you human. You are blessed with gifts in a unique way. No one can live your life for you; do not waste it.

There is so much more I have learned, yet there is even more I have yet to discover. I am eager for this new decade, as there is so much to come already. I’ll be getting married. Lord willing, I will begin grad school. Maybe even have kids, who knows. No matter what happens, life is never boring. No matter what comes my way, I look forward with hope and joyful anticipation.

As far as goals go, my main writing goal is to spend more time creating pieces that I actually am proud of. I got close to my goal of posting a blog every week in 2019, and even though I fell off the wagon over the last few weeks of this year, I’m still happy that I mostly stuck to my goal. However, posting weekly is not practical with the life I am living at the moment. I’m about to begin my final semester of undergrad. I’m planning a wedding. I’ll be applying for grad school. Life is bonkers. So, instead of hurriedly scraping together a post every week to hit a deadline, I will be posting on a bi-weekly basis in 2020. Twenty-six posts during a year of massive life change seems like a pretty solid goal. Perhaps 2020 will finally be the year I successfully complete a year long personal writing challenge!

First post of 2020 will be up on January 12th! I look forward to sharing about my trip to Rome. Fun fact: this entire post was written while waiting in line to see the Vatican. My feet are numb and there is an insane amount of people. Life is bonkers. Best wishes to all as you begin this next decade!

 

Until next time,

Abby

 

Processing

My best friend proposed to me on Tuesday night. As I type this, I keep glancing down at the perfect token of love that he offered to me and I accepted in front of some of our dearest friends. I didn’t think it was possible to love a person this way, but as I write, my heart feels as if it’s going to burst. 

 

Life is weird. 

 

I find myself crying happy tears randomly throughout the day.

 

Dumb things that pop up throughout the day don’t bother me. 

 

I want to show my left hand to everyone I know and let them know what a good man my future husband is. 

 

Even though we’ve been talking about marriage for months and I’ve known that a ring had been purchased, I thought I knew how I would feel in this moment. However, things are so much different than I ever thought they would be. I feel as if the relationship has started over with a fresh joy. There is an extra bit of magic around this Christmas season. The outpouring of love we have received is encouraging and makes me so excited for the future. 

 

I cannot pinpoint an emotion other than joy at this time of life. I don’t know how long it will take to figure it out, and honestly, I don’t know if I ever will. It is astounding to me how much the Lord has turned my life completely upside down in the best possible ways over the years. This time has truly opened my eyes to how God loves us. It is humble, passionate, gentle, zealous and bigger than we can ever understand. I am so grateful to be blessed with Sweet Ben, who reminds me who I am everyday: a cherished daughter of the King. 

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will do my best to not be distracted by this gorgeous ring while I take my Spanish final. 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

When You Feel Like You Are Letting Everyone Down

Hi, my name is Abby, and I deny the fact that I am a perfectionist and a people-pleaser. But alas, I am both of these things. On the enneagram scale I am a 3w2, which is a combination of “The Performer/Achiever” and “The Caregiver”, as well as being an ESTJ on the Myers Briggs scale. If you look up basic traits of these personality types, you find these major points across the board.

  • Basic Strength: leading and serving other people.
  • Basic Fear: failing and being unworthy of love. To avoid this, they set and accomplish goals to feel successful and worthy. They also fear having a bad reputation
  • Basic Desire: to be admired and accepted. They seek value through accomplishment, which may push them deeper into their work, which sometimes leads to being a workaholic.

Now, you may not subscribe to personality theory, but over the past five years of learning more about various theories, I have come to better understand myself and others. The biggest thing I have learned about myself is that I am my own worst critic. Seriously, I am probably one of the most self-critical people you will ever meet. However, my mindset tells me that I must be hard on myself in order to achieve and not let others down. This ends up being horrible counterproductive and a hole that I have a hard time escaping.

No one is perfect. There are times when you will mess up. You will need to ask for forgiveness, and 95% of the time, if you truly communicate your remorse, the other party will forgive you. I have found though that often times it is easier to forgive another person than it is to forgive yourself. Sure, the other person can say, “What you did upset me, but I forgive you.” But with me, the fact that I have upset another person destroys my soul. I feel that I need to keep punishing myself, even if I have already dealt with the consequences.

Here’s the kicker though: I am saved by grace. The God of the Universe came down from heaven to die for my sins so that I didn’t have to pay for them. Jesus took all the blame so I don’t have to suffer the eternal consequences. The fact that we are commanded by God to forgive one another is to be a representation of His love for us. If God forgave all of mankind, then we are supposed to offer that same kind of love to others. Just because God forgave us though, doesn’t mean the task is complete. It takes the other party to accept forgiveness to make the transaction complete.

When you beat yourself up after someone has forgiven you, you have thrown that person’s grace out the window. More often than not, people move on. When you dwell on the fact that you messed up two weeks ago on something, you are hindering yourself from moving forward. You cannot expect yourself to be perfect. It is foolish to think that you will never let someone down. But when you realize 1) that you are not a disappointment to everyone in your life, and 2) that you must give yourself grace when you mess up, you are able to be a much happier person.

I’m currently about to begin finals week. I am stressed. I’ve shed many tears over the past week. I have felt like I have disappointed every single one of my professors and that I’ve been a bad friend and a crappy girlfriend. But to anyone who feels this way (myself included): STOP. These are lies. You are not a failure. You are not a disappointment. You are not a bad person. You are not defined by your mistakes. You are human. Every person that you feel you are letting down? Yeah, they have all screwed up in the past too. Give yourself some grace. Dust yourself off and keep going. More often than not, you learn more from your mistakes than your successes. Embrace the chaos, remember to breathe, and keep moving forward.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

Things Change

Things change. 

“Yeah, duh. Come on, Abby. We all know this, what the heck are you getting at?” That’s what I’m guessing you’re saying at least. But you know what? I just watched “Frozen 2” and I have T H O U G H T S, OKAY?

*deep breath* Sorry y’all, I’ve been going through an emotional roller coaster over the last week and a half. Watching this gorgeous movie has made me sit down with a cup of coffee and process the jumble of thoughts I have been pushing aside for the past ten days. 

 I am not the same person I was a year ago. To be honest, I am not the same person I was at the beginning of the summer. And as I have changed, the people around me have changed as well. Some of those people have stayed in my life while others have drifted away. Along the way, new faces have entered into my life and friendships have grown that are now divine blessings. Others have left deep wounds in my spirit that have left scars. While healing as happened, there are still reminders of pain that have come from change. 

A year ago, I was mourning the loss of what I thought was my future. The “ideal” that I had created in my mind was gone. But, praise the Lord, I was surrounded with good people. While I was struggling with my grief, I was presented with opportunities to let my burdens to be carried by others. I also was given the chance to pour into the people I cared about most. I was able to witness miraculous life changes that I might not have seen if my life hadn’t been flipped upside down. 

Without giving away the plot of “Frozen 2,” let me just say that this is a great example of showing how even when things seem to be the worst that they can possibly be, you can still choose to move forward. When you accept the fact that change is a normal part of life, it allows you to be on the lookout for the good things that are coming. Life often does not turn out the way that we think it will, and more often than not, it’s for the better that things change. 

Over this past year, I have learned to loosen my grip on plans. Slowly but surely, the grip is becoming an open palm. I strive to let my life be an offering, regardless of whether or not my plans go the way I think they should go. So, as I travel deeper into the unknown, I will be holding on tight to the thing that never changes: the love my Heavenly Father has for me. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

Writing Q&A

Woooooooo Abby is drowning in homework and studying and memorizing scripts, so she decided to do a Writer’s Q&A she found online. Enjoy! 

What type of writing do you do? I used to want to be a novelist. Like, that was my dream career. While I still would love to do that, my favorite thing to write at the moment are plays! I also am an avid journaler. 

What genres and/or topics do you write about? In this season of life, I have been writing a lot about mental health. However, I used to write an insane amount of Star Wars and Marvel fanfiction. I plan to get back into the Star Wars storylines I was working on at some point soon. 

How long have you been writing? Last time I cleaned my room, I found a “book” I wrote in second grade. 

Are you published? On the internet? Yes, hello, this is my blog. 

What was the first story you ever wrote? I think it was about an island girl named Maya or something about Thomas the Tank Engine. 

Why do you write? A lot of the time I feel like my brain is spinning with a billion words. I write to get them out. 

How do you find time to write? At the moment, panic procrastination is how I have been writing. Ideally, I would like to spend time in the mornings writing after I spend time reading my bible. Hopefully we will be able to get back into that routine soon. 

When and where are the best times to write? When: when I don’t have Spanish homework. Where: give me a local coffee shop with decent wifi and we’re in business. 

Favorite food/drinks while writing? See above (just give me hot coffee and I’m set)

Your writing playlist? The “Monsters Inc.” and Star Wars scores are my long time favorites, but I recently got into Alec Benjamin’s work. 

What do family/friends/loved ones think of you writing? I think they like it? 

Parts of writing you enjoy the most? I love writing fight scenes and witty banter scenes. 

Parts of writing you find challenging? I hate writing transitions, man. 

What do you write with and on? I prefer writing in a notebook, but I have recently become addicted to Google Docs as my saving grace. 

How do you overcome writer’s block? Ha ha. 

How do you motivate yourself to write? Freaking deadlines. I thrive on deadlines. 

Writers who inspire you as a creator? John Green, JK Rowling, Stephen Edmond, Christine Riccio, David Auburn, Alex Hirsh, Rachel Hollis, W.T.R. Shaw (Sweet Ben) and Nathan Gonder

Books that inspire you as a writer? “Winter Town,” “Again, But Better,” “Turtles All The Way Down” and the Harry Potter series. 

Best advice you’ve gotten as a writer? Never stop writing, even when you don’t like your work. 

Writing goals this year: In 2020, I want to write a new short play and have a friend at Missouri Western direct it. 

 

Life is crazy, but writing is always a wonderful escape, even if it’s just a self-reflection on the craft. 

Thank goodness for Fall Break. 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Hard Days

There are mornings that I don’t want to get out of bed. I lay burrowed under my blankets and stare at the alarm on my phone. I know all of the things that I have to be responsible for and wonder who would notice if I didn’t show up for those responsibilities. I pull myself up and sit on the edge of my bed, looking down at the floor as I try to decide if I want my feet to touch the floor. I look back at my pillow one last time, wanting to head back to blissful sleep. But I don’t, because I know there is joy to be awake for, even in the hard days.

 

There are afternoons when I find myself wondering why I am doing what I am doing. I feel as if everything I am doing is absolutely wrong and that everyone around me thinks I am a huge idiot. I feel that I will never move forward because whenever I make progress I seem to also take steps backwards. I often times consider giving up on the plans I’ve made and the dreams I’m chasing. But I don’t, because I know I am capable of pressing on, even on the hard days.

 

There are some nights when I just stare at my open pill bottle. I hold it as I stand barefoot in the bathroom and I glance up at my reflection in the mirror. I sigh. I look back into the bottle wrapped in washi tape and begrudgingly take a dose. The whole time I’m thinking, “I don’t want to take this. I shouldn’t need to take this. I hate taking this.” There are nights I want to dump all the little white pills into the toilet and send them swirling away. But I don’t, because I know they help with the hard days.

 

There will always be hard days. I accept that there are periods of life where there will be more hard days than easy ones. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself on hard days is remind yourself that they will pass. It may take time, but our hard days show us how great that easy days are. To anyone dealing with a difficult season: keep pushing forward, even if it means just taking one step each day.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Revists: What Else is Good?

We have reached the point in the semester where I am starting to give less of a crap about passing my classes, which is quite dangerous with my Spanish class. When this starts to creep in, I have learned that I must snuff it out quickly before it destroys any chance of me being productive. One way of doing this has been writing. However, I have no creative energy to spare. So I started going through my old blog posts. I found an entry from 2015 where I talked about a faculty advisor who would always ask us, “What else is good?” So, in the spirit of my other “Revisits,” I decided to look back on my list from 2015 and make a new list for 2019 to compare what was good then and what is good now. The items in italics are from 2015, and the items in bold are from this year. 

 

  • I haven’t gotten lost yet in my math class.
  • While I am frustrated in my Spanish class, I have a solid 75% as my overall grade right now and that makes me super happy.
  • While my meteorology class is super boring, I have over 100% in the class because my teacher gives so much extra credit.
  • I love my Directing 1 class. It’s such a solid group of students who are going to put on a fantastic showcase in December.
  • I am growing as an artist in my Drawing class this semester.
  • I have lined up two projection design jobs outside of school.
  • Cinderella opens next week and this show is gonna be awesome!
  • Right now, I am stage managing for five short plays and today our technical director said I was doing a good job.
  • I made the Improv team again! This summer, I get to travel to San Diego with nine other super awesome, talented funny CYT students to compete in a comedy competition called Improvaton.
  • I have dates set to visit Lubbock, Texas to check out the grad school I will hopefully be attending in Fall 2021.
  • My car works in the snow, thank the Lord.
  • My dear, temperamental car is still running.
  • Walking Dead starts again on Sunday.
  • Sweet Ben and I have started season 4 of Yugi-Oh!
  • I got four new piano students!
  • Over the course of five years, I had the opportunity to teach 25 kids music. Right now, I currently only teach my professor’s daughter on a weekly basis, but it is still so rewarding to be able to pass along musical knowledge.
  • My Mac doesn’t restart every ten minutes anymore.
  • I have figured out how to make my iPad keep a charge.
  • Art Club at school is going great! It’s been so much fun so far, and I can’t wait to see what this awesome group of people do this spring.
  • Our pledge class for Alpha Psi Omega this year is so stinking big and it’s awesome.
  • One of my paintings sold at the Juice shop that I sell art at this week.
  • In a few weeks I get to go back and work at Songbird.
  • While I love doing shows, after next week, I’m going to have a month and a half off from rehearsals. I’ll be able to catch up on school stuff and get a handle on my big research project.
  • Ha, what is a break? However, I love all the scripts I am working on right now and all the peers I get to create with.
  • I have a free drink to go get at Starbucks tomorrow.
  • I have kept a promise to myself and have not had Starbucks for 40 days. It sucks but I am proud of myself.
  • I have a warm home, food in the fridge, running water, a toilet, wifi, and a wonderful family to come home to everyday.
  • I love my suitemates, my dorm is cozy and fun to be in, and have a trusty coffee machine.

 

What else is good in your life? Don’t forget to take time to remember what positive things are going on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have 26 Spanish verbs to go memorize. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Reflecting on “Crazy for You”

Ever since I can remember, I have been a theatrical person. When I was younger, my parents had me try sports but nothing ever stuck. My mom and dad didn’t want to force me to do activities I wasn’t interested in, so I was never a top athlete by any means. However, in elementary school, I always had a blast with our yearly musicals. From kindergarten to fifth grade, I participated in the class musical. I would usually get some sort of featured roll, but it wasn’t until fifth grade that I got a “lead.” Around this time, I also started participating in a community theater group called Christian Youth Theater. My family was originally only going to participate in one show, but by the time I graduated from high school, I had over thirty acting credits under my belt via CYT. 

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If you had told me when I began my time at Missouri Western that I would be playing a role like Polly Baker in “Crazy for You,” I would have laughed. While I have had the opportunity to play major roles in musicals, I had never been a leading lady. More often than not, I was the goofy sidekick character who would be the comic relief for shows. I had done extensive dancing in shows before, but long duets with a leading man? Nope, not me. The only time I ever got close was with “Beauty and the Beast” when I read for Belle at callbacks and was ultimately cast as Lefou (which was an absolute blast). In high school, it seemed like only a handful of girls were cut out to being the leading ladies, and I wasn’t one of them. I was a funny girl, which was just fine with me. 

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Fast forward to my second to last semester of undergrad. I had just come back from a summer of recovery after a rough semester. I was a little wary of auditioning for a brand new director, but I had been told by multiple KC friends that Sarah Crawford was an amazing person to work under. I continued my streak of flubbing the words on each of my Fall semester audition songs (which horrified and astounded several freshmen). Callbacks were a nerve racking blast, and I must say, I have never left a dance call more confident that I did a good job. Waiting for the cast list was awful. When that list went up on the call board though, I was shocked and over the moon to see “Polly Baker” next to my name. 

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Sarah is unlike any director I have ever worked with. She is larger than life but still down to earth. She exudes confidence with grace and humility. She’s the kind of person who demands respect without ever having to verbally ask for it. I wanted to please her, but not in a way that I just wanted her to like me. I wanted to please her because I knew she knew what she was doing and if I got a thumbs up from her, that meant I was on the right track. 

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Getting back into the “musical theatre” actor mindset was a bit difficult for the first few weeks of rehearsals. I had received amazing technical training from a previous professor that truly helped me get grounded in straight play and film acting. Sarah was constantly telling me to raise the stakes with my character work. She even once said, “You’re too ‘on camera.’ This is musical theatre; I need BIG!” There was almost a bit of fear in going bigger. In the past, I’ve had certain people tell me that I was not believable on stage. I was worried that I would be too much, but Sarah promised that she wouldn’t let me look foolish on stage. She instilled a trusting relationship between the two of us right off the bat and I knew that she genuinely wanted to make me a better performer. 

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Working with Dr. Paul Hindemith is always a joy, but this show was extra special. I have been studying voice with Paul for almost two years now and it is astounding how far I have come over our semesters together. The techniques I have learned have helped me produce music that I ever thought was possible to come out of me. During this show especially, I learned how to maintain consistency in performances, even if I was exhausted. Before college, I didn’t know how to properly take care of my instrument, but now, I have gained the confidence that I could take care of myself for multiple weeks of shows. Anytime I can make Paul smile because of my singing is a blessing. I cannot thank him enough for the skills he instilled in me to do Polly’s track every night. 

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I worked opposite a transfer student named Ray Clark. My first impression of him was him wearing a full Scottish get-up to the TCD Meet & Greet, kilt and all. I thought he was a dork. When we got cast as Polly and Bobby, I was keen on becoming pals quickly. Full disclosure: I was stupid nervous about kissing him on stage and was a bit of an awkward potato until after we finally got it over with for the first time. As the weeks progressed, Ray and I established a strong bond between each other that made us wonder if we were long lost siblings. We would yell and whine about our dance steps while we practiced together. After an hour of practicing, we would rejoice together at the progress we had made. He was a trustworthy scene partner and someone I knew who would take care of me on and off stage. Now, he’s become one of my best friends! Funny how things work out.

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There were other moments throughout the process of this show that will make it unforgettable. Libby Denny and I were able to bond more than we ever had before. I got to invest in the new freshmen by showing them the ropes of our department. I got to aggressively kiss Sweet Ben in Act 2 every night. It was a bop. Above all though, playing Polly Baker showed me that I am not limited as an actress. I am capable of playing the roles I told myself I wasn’t pretty or talented enough to play. I am so proud of myself for not giving up. Walking in Polly’s shoes for six weeks helped me gain back the confidence I once had as a musical theatre performer tenfold. While the show was full of obstacles, it is a show I will forever be grateful to have been in at Missouri Western. 

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On our second to last performance, I left the stage after bows knowing that the previous two and a half hours had been the best performance of my life. All of the struggles, nervousness and juggling of homework and rehearsals was worth it. I was reminded of why I chose this path of study. The arts help us express our human experience. Even with a show as silly as “Crazy for You,” we are able to express childlike hope that making art will fix our problems. While that may not be the end-all-be-all solution to the world’s struggles, I full-heartedly believe that there is a special kind of joy that only theatre can bring. Being a part of this cast and crew made me realize this, and because of that, I will never look at the performing arts the same way again.

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Until Next Time,

 

You Might be a “Mom Friend” if…

Me: “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t climb over the room dividers on the balconies in this hotel.”

Friend: “Okay, thanks MOM.”

 

You ever deal with conversations like this? Well my friend, you most likely can be categorized as “The Mom Friend.” This special type of person possesses abilities that can be both a blessing and a curse. Over the years, I have found myself in this category, and I have identified ten traits that might help you too realize that you indeed are “The Mom Friend.” 

 

 

  • You know other people’s schedules better than they do. You know when they’re free to hang out because you know when they have classes and what days they work late. When making plans, you’re the one to remind people not to double-book themselves. Bonus points if you have a color-coded planner for your own schedule. giphy (6)
  • You’re usually the sober one. I’ve only gone to four parties over the past two and a half years and have sober at 75% of them. Most of the time, the Mom Friend can also be known as the “DD,” aka, the Designated Driver. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with college pals who don’t make me feel like a loser for drinking my Diet Coke at a get-together. tenor (1)
  • You check in on friends when they have a long drive home. Oh Lord, I cannot tell you how many times I have stayed up waiting for a friend to text me that they have gotten home and have freaked out irrationally that they have died when they don’t tell me they are indeed safe. Y’all, just send me a snap so I can go to sleep.  giphy (5)
  • You’re the one to get the phone call. On the flip side, if a friend is in distress, you best know that the Mom Friend will be the one to get a phone call. Whether it’s letting someone vent over the phone or coming to show up when someone needs you, you’re the one who will always pick up the phone to lend a hand. giphy (4)
  • You take on the weight of your peoples’ problems. And here’s the thing: you’ve also got a ton of problems. However, you more often than not will set aside your own issues to help others work through their struggles. You gotta be careful with this though, because you will often forget that your problems are just as valid. giphy (3)
  • You experience burnout about once a month. When you inevitably forget to take care of yourself, you experience a phenomenon called Burnout. You’re overly tired, lack motivation to be your normally chipper/organized self and end up snapping at people you love. This is when you take a step back from everyone and have a magical thing called, “Me-Time.” I spend my Me-Time scrapbooking, watching cartoons and/or reading something that does not involve school. It is so helpful and needed to avoid burnout. tenor
  • You don’t understand the term, “Letting Loose.” See #2. ‘Nough said. In all seriousness, it’s not just at parties involving adult beverages I’m referencing. I’m talking about going to the movies with pals, playing games or just sitting still for 30 minutes. It’s hard to relax when you feel like you always have to be taking care of other people.  calm-down-gif
  • You have a really hard time not telling people that they are making stupid choices. When your friends are being dumb, most of the time you just want to smack them and tell them to fix their life. While it is needed at times to call people out when they are making bad choices, sometimes, you have to let people learn from their mistakes. You can’t fix everyone else’s problems. *GASPS* I know, right? giphy
  • Your friends ignore your well-thought out ideas. And then they end up doing your idea in the end after they spend 30 minutes trying to figure out a plan. source
  • Your go-to question to ask when people walk into your home is, “Can I get you a *INSERT HOT BEVERAGE*?” Literally whenever any person walks into my dorm room whether it’s to study, watch Gravity Falls or play rowdy card games, I will offer them some form of hot beverage from my super cute coffee bar. This especially comes into play when someone walks into my dorm room with a sad look on their face, though there are many other reasons someone would need a hot drink. I follow the Sheldon Cooper Beverage Social Protocols, which are as follows: 

 

Upset: Tea

Upset about an unannounced house guest / Outraged: Cocoa

Angrier than ever and filled with despair: Hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks

Drunk: Coffee

For Jewish guests: Chicken broth

For Indian guests: Chai tea. If cardamom seeds are unavailable, English breakfast tea.

(See https://the-big-bang-theory.com/sheldons_beverage_protocols/ for more details on how to properly serve hot beverages) 

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We all need at least one Mom Friend in our lives, even people who fall into the category of companionship. Take time today to encourage the Mom Friends in your life; they’re probably the reason you’ve eaten, had enough water today and have a smile on your face. As the cover photo shows, Mom Friends are Superheroes! 

 

Until Next Time, 

 

Abby