Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Wicked Review

Let me first say: it's always hard I think, not to be a WEE BIT disappointed by something when you have been submerged in hype for, say, 8 years.  I am not a huge "broadway fan" to begin with, and after years of theatre-going, studying drama theory and criticism, and analyzing all of the work I'm doing, you're doing, everyone is doing... it's also hard not be become a bit jaded.  In addition, I love Kristin Chenoweth and think is has a fabulous knack for comedy and creating original characters.  So I knew... I knew that seeing this show without her would hurt.  However, I also knew that it would be an experience much like flying through a good book you cannot put down, and one for which I was eager and excited.

As we were leaving Wicked - my first time seeing it ever - I had both of those feelings.  I was both slightly disappointed, and yet still very entrapped in the story.  Happily, I think the Hubs felt the same way.  He spent a lot of money, and got us amazing seats, because he knew how long I had been waiting to see this particular show, and how exciting it was for me to have an evening of professional live theatre.  Excited is probably an understatement.  I had been talking about it for several weeks, I spent about three hours getting ready, we left over an hour early to make sure "we got there on time."  In fact, our whole conversation in the five minute car ride (putting us there at 7:05pm for an 8:00pm show), was about how EXCITED I was.  Even after we'd gotten cookies and wine and sat down to wait... for 45 minutes... I just kept talking about how EXCITED I was.  Finally, Tim informed me he had noted: just how excited I was.

So you can see how all this excitement set that whole show up with a WEE BIT of hype.

The spectacle of this show is simply stunning, and doesn't disappoint.  The costumes, sets, lighting, special effects... all tremendously done, and with such fluidity and consistency, it is in a word: seamless.  The singing and dancing is fantastic.  Sometimes the harmonies in this particular musical make me want to swoon, and the leading ladies did not disappoint.  The scripted humor is spot on, the wit is bright and takes you by surprise.  And the story is both dark and serious, and whimsical all at the same time.

The story.  The story is powerful.  In seeing this show, I realized something about this story.  It has to be made personal, in order to be as powerful as it can be... as it should be.  You can see clips on Youtube of the originators of the leading roles in performance.  Their absolute love for the characters and affection for each other is so deeply evident... even in a terrible pirated video clip on someone's not-so-smart-phone.  That was the one thing missing from the production we saw.  On the outside, everything was perfect, smooth, and seamless.  It was a tidy package.  But there was that deep investment in the two women's friendship that was absent.  In reality, you can't expect anything else.  Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth truly originated these roles.  They created them, with bits of their own personalities and their own relationship.  No one else had played them or sung them before.  All of their personal touches and intimate quirks have now been copied by replacement cast members.  While it is a compliment, a testimony to their talents and perfectness for the roles, it can never be QUITE as good as the real thing.

I think my review ends there.  It's a good show.  I never once lost interest, I never wondered what time it was, I didn't check my cell phone.  (I did wonder things like "why is that guy wearing a dress?")  It was just missing Kristin Chenoweth.  She is so funny.

Hubby, thank you for a wonderful night out, a fantastic evening of entertainment that I will never forget.  I love that you love me enough to sit through three hours of bright green witches and men dancing around in skirts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Entreaty: on behalf of Shop Girls everywhere

Working retail you see the best and worst of people.  Mostly, I think you see the worst.  It's quite hard to maintain a cheerful disposition when 9 out of 10 people ignore you when you greet them.  Even more so, it's infuriating when people treat you like a lesser human being, simply because you work in the store that doesn't seem to have a fountain pen in the EXACT shade of indigo their heart desires.

What it amounts to is: people who work in retail have a really good grasp of "first world problems."  I spent half an hour with a (very nice) older woman who was trying to pick the perfect place-cards for her Thanksgiving dinner.  She agonized over matching the color of the paper with a pen color that would "compliment the italian vase" she was using as a centerpiece.  Really, it was agonizing for her.  She was stumped.  She needed my counsel, my guidance.  At one point I thought she might need to sit down she was so overwhelmed with the decision.  I helped her, as best I could, because that is my job.  She was one of the "nice" irritating customers.  Meaning, she was kind and her heart was in the right place... but she was still infuriating.

I work at a paper store.  I happen to love paper, and I happen to love paper goods.  Most of the time, I really like what I do.  I get to help people design invitations and announcements for their life's milestones: weddings, birthdays, holidays, soirees, graduations.  Some of those people are simply delightful and it is my pleasure to be at their service.  What I hate are people who are so unhappy they feel like you should be as unhappy as they are, and they set out to make it so.  I really have to put a cap in it when someone unloads on me about how difficult it is to choose between "peach" and "champagne."  Sometimes I want... well, sometimes I want to say a lot of things.

Sometimes... I think these people need a little perspective.  Daniel Tosh, of Tosh.0, has a great stand up comedy bit about how we Americans have a game show called "Survivor" in places around the world where native peoples have had to survive "for real" for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  We reward people for staying alive for our own entertainment.  We give them a million dollars, actually, for doing what other people have to do because that's their way of life.  Perspective.  This is a random statistic, and I don't know that it's entirely true, but supposedly the amount of money that Americans spent on Black Friday 2011 was very near the amount needed to provide clean water for all impoverished nations.  Is your life so very awful, being that you can't have exactly what you want when you want it?  Is the despair you feel when you hear the words, "No, I'm sorry, we must be out of that..." really worth a tantrum?  Can you remember the last time you might have been less than polite to someone in my shoes?

I understand that I need these people in order to have a job.  I understand that they feel like they need things to fill up their empty lives.  I understand that we "need" them to buy things to keep the economy from collapsing.  But I'd be a lot more understanding if the next time you need my help selecting a color of pen, picking out stickers, or finding the right wording to announce your marriage, that you bring your BEST side with you into my store.

Think about your attitude the next time you shop somewhere.  Anywhere.
I know, I complained on Valentine's Day.  But Shop Girls are people, too.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I Love You to Pizzas!

Inspired by a fellow blogger's weight watcher's pizza recipe (found here), I decided to try my own.  Holly's was sized for a personal pan pizza, but knowing I would be feeding 2 1/2 people - because Tim eats enough for at least half of another human being - I decided I need to go full sized.

I guess I should share, perhaps the obvious: I am "sort of" doing weight watchers.  I paid for 3 months of the online membership at a discounted rate, and February is my second month.  I'm easing into it, and it's been very hard for me to not only follow it to the number, but do the daily tracking.  I find it much easier to just count calories, but that doesn't always help you eat healthier.  I do think that it's helping me plan more meals, cook more at home, and think more about what's being put into my mouth.  Some days I've done really well, and others I've literally said "screw it" and driven myself to Sonic for happy hour.  And I haven't lost any weight and kept it off.  Clearly, Happy Hour is happening much too often.

I'm determined to do better in February.  This will probably also be aided by working out, which the Hubs and I are also determined to do regularly.  I purchased a one-month unlimited boot camp deal off Living Social, and we figured we couldn't show up for that without a liiiiittle preliminary "get in shape" effort.  I know I'll get my butt kicked, but I don't want to kill myself on day one.

BUT.... here is the pizza "recipe."

I used H-E-B brand everything, so this was also super cheap.  And I have enough ingredients left over to make at least another one, possibly two more, which is awesome because the crusts come 2 to a pack.  I layered the spinach in between two layers of cheese, to help it cook down a bit.  The rest of the veggies I just sprinkled mostly on top with the pepperoni.  It bakes for 12-15 minutes.
1  Ultra Thin & Crispy Whole Wheat Crust (11 points)
1/2 cup  Spicy Pepperoni Sauce (3 points)
2 cups  Fat Free Shredded Mozzarella (4 points)
16  Lower Fat Pepperoni Slices (2 points)
Add Veggies, as desired   (0 points)
(I used: fresh oregano, spinach, green pepper, and portobello mushrooms.)
Total Points: 20

Twenty points seems like a lot, especially since you might only get 26 points for your daily allowance. However, two slices - or a quarter of the pizza (5 points) felt like a full meal to me.  If you know about WW, you know that fruits and vegetables don't count towards your daily points, so you can add as many as you like and not change the total number of points.  I used mostly what I had on hand, but definitely could have loaded more on.  Also, you could easily cut the amount of cheese in half, and do without the pepperoni, thereby saving 4 more points.

The best part of this was it really did taste like thin crust pizza... but I didn't feel bloated and lethargic afterward, like I usually do after commercial pizza.  Yum!  

For dessert we had sugar and white chocolate-chip chocolate cookies with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, at Bass Concert Hall, while we waited for the doors to open to WICKED.  More on that experience later.  Yes, I shall be serving up a full review of the performance.  

I can sense your excitement already.  Wait, maybe that's about the pizza?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Good Things

photo by Brian Lambert

Good things come to those who wait... sometimes.

In a matter of weeks, the lives of the Whites of Austin, TX have changed pretty drastically.  I have a really good feeling about this year, and no doubt it has to do with the fact that so far 2012 has been pretty much marinated in awesomeness.  yep, I said it: marinated.

As many of you know, we moved back to Texas from the District in November of 2010.  We moved in with my parents in New Braunfels, "for the holidays."  Our plan was to be employed and housed in Austin by late January. At. The. Latest.  That is, January 2011.  Little did we know.... 

By the time we were married in March, we still hadn't found a house and, despite my parent's unwavering generosity, our patience with the situation was wearing thin.  Since the wedding was also at my parent's house, it really wasn't so bad living there.  In fact, it made sense -- we had so much to do to get ready, that living in Austin and commuting to work on things in New Braunfels would have been a headache anyway.  However, after the wedding nonsense was over, it was time for us to have our own place and start our own lives, together-forever type thing.

Finally, by June we had found the perfect house in a wonderful neighborhood, and within our targeted price point.  Of course, we had established that "price point" back when we expected to be employed.  We decided to take the risk, use our savings, and rent this little home, because it just seemed too good to be true.

From June until August, we searched high and low for employment.  Nada.  Finally, the Hubs got a job working nights, but the salary was terrible.  He took it anyway and suffered through for four long months.  Actually, we both suffered.  Our newly formed marriage suffered.  Our savings account still suffered.  In December, he accepted a new job that started in early January, that paid much much much much better.  

Since January 1st, our lives have been like Night and Day difference... and I'm not just talking about the schedule.  Yes, finally, we see each other in daylight!  Finally, we sleep in the same bed at the same time.  But what's that you say?  We can pay our bills?  Hallelujah!

We finally are both happy in our jobs, even if they aren't "careers."  We love where we live, and even though it needs a lot of love to be perfect, we have that love (and energy) to give.  We are so excited about this year and all the crazy things that are happening, which we will now be able to share in (weddings, trips, travel, etc) thanks to a little extra cash flow.  Yes, 2012 has been a long time in coming.  We have waited, and finally good things have happened to us.  We don't take credit for any of it.  We waited, but we weren't necessarily patient.  We had no choice.  And it was very, very humbling.

You don't realize how much stress, worry, and burden money can cause.  Until it does.  I didn't grow up having everything I wanted; I just had everything I needed.  I've never owned a new car, and the car I do own I paid for myself.  I didn't have an overflowing wardrobe as a teenager.  I rarely have the latest and greatest in technology.  For the last few weeks, we've constantly been talking about how content we are, how "rich" we feel (in comparison only), what a relief it is not to have to worry all the time... about everything.  

And then tonight as I was driving home from shopping at Target for things we don't really need, I passed a woman standing at the corner of the intersection, holding a sign that simply said:


"Money's only important when you don't have any." --Sting