Other Peoples’ Kids

When I told Husband I wanted to get back into acting, I don’t think he (or even I, really) realized that would lead to 2014 being The Year of the Neverending Rehearsals. I was cast in a show early on in the year, beginning rehearsals in February, and damned if I haven’t actually had a break from rehearsals since then (three shows later, and no, there haven’t been breaks for performances because all three shows have overlapped because life). I begin new rehearsals at the end of this month, only two weeks after my current shows closes.

Because choosing the arts means a lifestyle change. Because artists are passionate and fickle and obsessive and so self-conscious that it would make even a tween cringe inside.

And it’s been crazy and fun and so anxiety-inducing that I’ve forgotten how to sleep or frankly what sleep is, instead opting to lay in bed, with the puppy snoring at my side, wondering just how we’re going to get ten clown characters in and out and back into their clown makeup with five minute breaks between scenes, one makeup palette between the entire group, and the utter idiocy of some certified makeup artist insisting upon basic corrective otherwise (oh wait, that would be me, and I’m mad at myself). [It's my blog, I'll run-on sentence if I want to.]

Community theatre is a weird animal. I’m just going to go ahead and say that with no segue because it’s a standalone statement that will forever and ever be true, amen. First of all, it’s entirely volunteer-based, and if it’s a city, chances are the money for set builders and stage crew and painters are extremely low, which leads to a bunch of artsy fartsy people getting together and trying to use tools and, like, measure stuff.

Barnum stage

Laughable, by the way.

But it’s rewarding in a way that semi-professional or professional theatre simply is not; you build this rapport with your fellow castmates you couldn’t have otherwise because you were hunched over a platform for several hours in the blistering heat painting everything black, because you hauled props from literally every random place props could possibly be to an outdoor theatre space,  because one night at rehearsal things were abruptly ended because the rare but indomitable Utah monsoon hit and your lights and mics went out. You went through stuff.

Because I am Lucy IRL.

Because I am Lucy IRL.

It also carries with it challenges that make you want to gouge your eyes out. See also: other peoples’ kids.

Having done two shows thus far that involved only adults and being cast in another that’s the same, I’d kind of forgotten what it was like to perform with a bunch of little humans who 1. you can’t swear in front of and 2. want to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and 3. occasionally carry with them stinky attitudes.

Scratch that — who always carry with them stinky attitudes.

The thing about theatre of any kind is that no one’s really above it. And if someone thinks he/she is above it, then either he/she is Idina Menzel or hasn’t bothered auditioning for any shows or roles deemed unworthy because ain’t nobody got time for that. And yet you get those brilliant kidlets who, for whatever reason, determine at some point during the rehearsal process that they have somehow been duped into the whole ordeal. That their initial decision (by their own volition) to audition was actually forced upon them because NO WAY would they stoop so low as to perform in the ensemble of a community theatre production.

Or maybe that’s not what they think. Maybe they think something entirely different but lack the human capabilities to express anything other than that sentiment because they’re like puppies or babies, unable to intimate their feelings, so instead they whine and cry.

My current director tells us all the time that we’re “always auditioning,” even through the rehearsal and performance process. The kidlets remain unphased. She calls them out during scenes because they’re talking or giggling or touching their hair or breaking character. They smile and keep on keeping on. They even decide to make snide comments to those around them (including me, which, go ahead honey because I can be snide all day erry day, and if you ask me “Is your cat dead yet?” one more time I WILL CUT YOU, and for pete’s sakes leave the other kids alone when their faces get red during the dance numbers because sometimes faces get red during dance numbers), and the littles take note of it. It’s like we’re breeding a generation of Regina Georges in the theatre community.

Regina George

And it gets tricky for a person like me who is child-free but still a full-fledged adult. Because do you say something? Do you just let it go? What about the underdogs who can’t stand up for themselves against kids like that? Do you just stand back and watch it happen and feel bad about the world? I know some parents who say, “I’d want to know if my child were acting like that,” but would you really, guys? I don’t think you actually would, especially from a person who refers to her cat and puppy as her children.

Other peoples’ kids, man. Other peoples’ kids.

“Les Miserables” – the Utah County premiere

DISCLAIMER TO ALL READERS: this is kind of a show review, which I typically don’t ever attempt because I’m not a reviewer of things besides food, and even that is probably debatable for most foodies. But I’ve got a lot of friends who were interested in what I’d think about the show I saw tonight, and rather than regale them with the longest Facebook status update in the history of all time, I decided to bring it on over here. If you’re not interested in reading non-low point stories from yours truly or musical theatre, go ahead and skip this one. I seriously won’t mind.

FOLLOW UP DISCLAIMER: I’m friends with a few cast members and have performed with several. I am going to do all I can to keep my opinions as objective as possible under the circumstances, but when you’ve worked closely with someone and know his/her strengths, weaknesses, and tics, it’s hard to not hone in on them.

FINAL DISCLAIMER: I don’t like to hurt feelings or step on toes, but I’ve got opinions about stuff, and I’m pretty willing to share them. I’m not really qualified to be a good reviewer of theatre since I’ve only done six shows in my life (on my seventh), many of them ensemble, but I did take professional voice lessons for several years, and I know when things suck. But if you’re interested in any qualifications I may have, they include a ton of singing, choirs, performances, vocal competitions, a few shows, and certified makeup artistry (which will come into play later).

 

Tonight I saw “Les Miserables” at the Scera Shell in Orem, which is their outside stage. To start off, I really don’t care for any performances in the Scera Shell for several reasons: I don’t like watching a show partially in the daylight (actually I hate it), I don’t like bugs, I don’t like heat, and I don’t like the feeling of a broken coccyx from sitting in a hard, plastic chair. I also find the stage too enormous for truly great blocking/staging to take place, regardless of how great the set, direction, and actors may be. Seriously, it’s the size of a city block, and I’ve never felt like any show I’ve seen there benefited from that. Les Mis wasn’t really any different for me — the set was beautiful, the direction good, and the actors generally phenomenal — but by utilizing the entire stage, certain scenes were pretty cut off from the majority of the audience or felt extremely cramped. I also found some of the blocking choices to be poor, and I wanted to yell at several actors (several times) to cheat out! Due to my being smack in the center of the audience, I could see pretty much everything, but I felt for the audience members to my left and right who were staring at the backs of heads for most of the night (every scene between Cosette and Marius was probably boring to 2/3 of those in attendance).

The lighting was fine — I don’t typically notice lighting unless it’s really, really good and enhances the performance as though it’s a character as well, but there weren’t a lot of technical aspects of the lighting that bothered me. A few times they simulated lightning, which would have been fine in an indoor theatre, but with the lighting exposed to the audience, I found it far more distracting. There were, unfortunately, quite a few small sound issues throughout the show, and several entrances were missed, especially from ensemble members, and I was disappointed they didn’t get their full opportunity to shine. They also used sound effects that ended up louder than the music at certain points, and that was distracting and had a “Three Stooges” effect on what should have been serious scenes (Thenardier breaking someone’s neck, Marius punching Thenardier, a bubbling stream before Javert’s suicide were amongst the greatest of offenders).

Costuming was fantastic — having performed at the Scera in the past, I know the costumers and their capabilities, and I was pleased to see them have the opportunity to really shine. The only issues I had throughout the entire show were: a red revolution jacket Eponine wore during battle and a white top Valjean wore, which were all fantastically clean and pressed to the point of drawing away from their performances. As a  makeup artist, I was terribly disappointed in the entire show’s makeup. Javert and Valjean were aged slightly, but by the time they died, it felt like they were more or less on the young end of middle aged. Both actors are young to begin with, and I needed them to look older and harder than they did — after all, Valjean was a hardened “criminal,” who served a 19-year prison sentence. He’s going to look like he was rode hard and put away wet, and this Valjean was almost dashing. The ensemble got the worst of it, with bad, messy contouring (one female ensemble member looked like she had a beard — FOR SHAME — and another looked like a cross between someone who just finished the Tough Mudder and Snooki), too dark brows, and inconsistent dirtiness. The prostitutes during “Lovely Ladies” had such thick, red makeup on their cheeks that I had difficulty watching their faces. I certainly understand the need for extreme makeup in that case (if you’ve seen the Broadway version, you know it exists), but the color was so off-putting that it ruined their faces. I teach stage makeup classes, and I believe very firmly that makeup should only enhance a performance and never take away from it (even in instances like Hedwig — it’s really, really extreme, but it’s also consistent with the storyline and the show as a whole). I saw several cast members with very straight lined brows, most too dark. The leads fared better, although poor Eponine’s face was so filthy that from where I was sitting, it appeared that she didn’t have a nose, and Gavroche’s dirtiness seemed almost pre-planned, rather than looking like actual mess. In fact, the only characters whose makeup I didn’t find appalling were Cosette, Marius, Fantine, and Enroljas (basic corrective) and the Thenardiers because in their case, more is more.

The stand-outs for me were: Fantine, Eponine, both Thenardiers, Valjean, and the ensemble (yeah, you heard me). Under no circumstances did I find any of the actors bad, but there were a few leads that left much to be desired for me for several reasons — we’ll get to that.

Fantine, played by Kelsey Thacker, was a sympathetic character whose plight made you heartsick. Her vocals were extremely strong, and she performed with a great amount of passion, so you felt like an engaged audience member during every one of her scenes. When she passed away, I shed a couple tears because the scene was so moving. I particularly loved her quiet moments — her belt is extremely strong, but when she’d back off, you’d feel the hurt, the anguish, the worry and fear, and it made for a very personal experience.

I’ll admit it right now: I auditioned for Eponine because it’s my dream role. Well, sort of (I couldn’t come to auditions, my conflicts sheet essentially said “due to the show I’m currently in, I’ll be able to make it to tech week and then perform”, and the director ended up with an email with my YouTube channel link and a pdf of my resume, so … I guess if you want to get technical, I auditioned, but if you want to really face the music, I totally did not). I find myself filled with a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to nearly every Les Mis character because the 10th year anniversary concert ruined us all FOREVER. This young woman, however, was such a pleasure to watch, that I was almost glad I wasn’t cast so I could enjoy her performance. Portrayed by Kira Knorr, Eponine was kind of the quintessential young woman in love with a young man in love with another young woman. She held her own vocally, with a strong belt and great control for excellent dynamics. Her lower range wasn’t quite what it needed to be, but when I discovered she is only seventeen, I applauded her for being able to accomplish what she did with a voice that won’t fully develop for another ten years. Her characterization was a sweet girl trying to be strong despite having a truly tragic life, turned away by the people she needed to love her, and I found myself wanting to rally the troops and get up on stage to give those who shunned or abused her a piece of my mind. I’ve seen Eponine portrayed as a weaker female role, and I was very pleased to see that Knorr did the exact opposite, giving her strength but showing her vulnerabilities.

The Thenardiers were exactly what you would hope for in a performance of the show. They were brash, filthy, not entirely all there, lewd, but both Allison Books and Benjamin James Oldroyd had such incredible control over their characters that they never went too far. They knew exactly when to step back and let others on the stage have the limelight and stepped right back into taking over at the appropriate times. Their vocals were very strong — I think Books was the strongest vocalist of all the leads, never hitting a sour note, and Oldroyd had the perfect amount of dirty belt and growl that it kept the vocals, well, grungy. While I absolutely enjoyed him as Thenardier, I found myself wishing he’d been cast as Javert the entire time, however (more on that later). Due to it being performed in Utah, there were several language/content edits during the entire show (the most distracting being “bum” instead of “butt”), however they left most of the language in “Master of the House,” which (and this is going to sound weird) made me remarkably pleased. The ensemble did tend to cheer or shout during each swear word, in what I assume was a feeble attempt to censor it for the primarily Mormon audience, but I found it less irritating and cheesy than I anticipated beforehand. All uses of Deity were removed, replaced instead with “Geez,” and when I initially heard that was the plan, I was mortified, but the actors played it off extremely well, and there were times when I didn’t really even notice the change.

If you’ve seen Colm Wilkinson perform Valjean, then you’re ruined for life. It’s just simply how it is — much like Michael Crawford was the Phantom, Wilkinson was (and frankly still is) 24601 for the vast majority of musical theatre junkies (actors and audience members alike). The role is vocally taxing — he growls in one line and jumps to falsetto in another. Many of his lines need to be delivered quickly and with precision, or else they become a jumbled mess, and on top of it, his humanity has to shine through. I felt as though Matt Krantz accomplished all these things almost flawlessly, with a strong performance both vocally and emotionally. But there is a but. Krantz is a 22-year old junior at BYU, and though they attempted to age him throughout the show, his falsetto was a young one, and he played the character overall much younger than originated (think Gerard Butler as the weird 30something Phantom that never should have been). This unfortunately distracted me throughout the entire show — I don’t have anything negative to say about his performance aside from his being so young, which he can’t much control, but it was fairly glaring for me. However, I feel very confident that if Krantz continues on the path he’s on, in about twenty years, he will play a remarkable Valjean that audiences will take note of.

This was undoubtedly one of the strongest ensembles I’ve ever seen in a community theatre production, and in many instances, they almost upstaged the leads. The vocals were extremely strong, with tight harmonies and incredible dynamics, and I tip my hat to director/music director, Jeremy Showgren, for producing such an incredible cast. The featured men’s ensemble during numbers such as “Do You Hear the People Sing” and “Drink With Me” could have probably all been cast as any of the lead roles, and they added a depth to the musical numbers that’s difficult to find in many community theatre productions. “One Day More” sent chills down my spine, and it took nearly all I had within me to not stand up and cheer during the song because I was so moved by their heart and passion. [Right here I have to give special props to to Stephen Tullis, who was undoubtedly the strongest ensemble member, for planting himself immediately during "Do You Hear the People Sing" -- my eyes went directly to him, and I wanted to encourage the rest of the ensemble to follow his lead. I feel pretty strongly about planting since I am generally not very good at it -- I notice when someone does it absolutely right.]

Unfortunately, I did not find strength in all the characters, and I wanted more from both Javert (Jeffrey Smith) and Marius (Christian Jones). Javert unfortunately lacked any passion at all, and I didn’t find him walking with a purpose across the stage, and during the Confrontation, he was quite possibly the least confrontational individual I’ve ever come across. What made me love Oldroyd as Thenardier was completely lacking in Smith’s performance, and I found “Stars” uninspiring, which is a disappointment for me, as it’s one of my favorite songs of the show. That being said, his vocals were very good — he could sing all the notes and hold them out till kingdom come, but it was a very passive performance of Javert, and even his suicide felt anti-climactic. I thought Jones’s portrayal wasn’t particularly bad but neither particularly good, and nothing stood out for me as an audience member. The staging of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was some of the best in the entire show, however, leaving Marius caught up in a dream, surrounded by all of his fallen friends, and when Thacker (as Enroljas) stood, planted firmly, staring at Marius, it was extremely powerful. That song has often been a throwaway for me, and it left a rather lasting impression for me tonight.

Cosette, played by Morgan Flandro, was fairly forgettable, but I personally find the character as a whole to be forgettable — she’s there so Marius has someone to love and for Valjean to redeem himself with, but there’s nearly zero character development throughout the entire show, and her songs are entirely duets/group numbers. A graduate of AMDA, I wanted her to be Broadway good, and while she was excellent, I enjoyed her character the least (which again is not entirely her fault — let’s just blame Schonberg and Boublil). She had an excellent range, however, and hit all the high notes with ease.

The children characters (Gavroche, Young Eponine, and Young Cosette) were about what you’d expect from child actors in community theatre. Young Cosette sang “Castle on a Cloud” very well, but her inability to keep a straight face was distracting.

I noticed both Kelsey Thacker and Jones were used as ensemble members at certain points of the show, and the tactic to make them less obvious was to cover their faces halfway with their hair, which I found very “Mahana you ugly” (if you’re not Mormon, you probably won’t get that reference). I’d have rather had them look normal or not been in the ensemble at all (or disguised better than with emo hair). The ensemble was large enough, that it certainly wasn’t necessary for them to be in it, so I imagine it was simply a chance for them to be onstage a little longer, but having been an ensemble member in the past, sometimes you’re in shows that leave you backstage for 90% of a show, and you just have to go with it. Bring a book, it’ll make the time pass by faster.

This is an incredible show that proves the Scera is on the upward path to better quality productions. Despite Utah going a little gaga over Les Mis, this performance was a standout for me, and I’m thoroughly pleased I ended up attending.

The Day Statistics Were On My Side

Statistically speaking, I was kind of screwed from the beginning healthwise. I’m almost always in that 1-5% of people who end up nearly dead from medications — with side effects so rare, doctors sometimes don’t even mention them because there’s just no way I’d possibly suffer dire consequences.

That might be kind of an exaggeration, but seriously I’ve had those side effects more times than I can count, so … you know. I’m jaded.

Anyhow, this is where this blog gets real personal (Mom is cringing already, I can just picture it). The other day, I found a lump.

Like, the kind of lump that makes a person with anxiety and OCD start imagining dead-in-a-ditch type scenarios over and over again. And luckily Mom was in town, so I didn’t go completely crazy, although the thought crossed my mind again and again (and again and again because, duh, OCD). When I told Husband, he immediately hopped on the computer, and said to me, “It says here 85% of breast lumps are benign.” He told me over and over how I was fine, how it was nothing, how I didn’t need to worry.

As it turned out (yeah I wasn’t going to leave you hanging for a long, meandering blog post, don’t worry), he was actually right this time around. The stats were on my side: it was nothing (well, unless you consider naturally occurring lumpy breasts at 30 years of age to be something, which … I’m kind of on the fence about).

So, yeah, I still have a medication-controlled seizure disorder and OCD and major depression (that comes in cycles) and TMJ and carpal tunnel and SI joint problems and chronic sciatica BUT I don’t have cancer. And that makes for a pretty good life.

Guess what guess what guess what

SPEEDING TICKETS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE IN SALT LAKE COUNTY THAN UTAH COUNTY!!!

And, of course, the reason I know this is because, sandwiching a rear-ending that was 100% my fault, I got a speeding ticket in each county. #YOLO

Also, it remains the case that if you rear-end someone, it’s your fault and your insurance has to cover everything.

Kind of I’ve been busy doing really productive things, obviously. Sometimes when you’re an adult, you have to confirm the things you were told as a child/teen to be Life Truths … or something like that. Incidentally, I’m one of the most paranoid drivers on earth these days, and I’m just waiting for the day I get a ticket for not driving fast enough (haha just kidding, I at least drive the speed limit everywhere I go).

I think this is what happens when I don’t work and feel house-trapped by a puppy who pees on all the things (update, however: she only pees in her crate when I leave, so I guess count your blessings, though the correlation between peeing and leaving continues to make me feel, you know, house-trapped). We did get the mail the other night, though, so things are looking up. And, I’m sorry to say, but my dishwasher is either really dismal or the hard water of my city doesn’t rinse worth crap, and the end of this story is: I have a dishwasher except I don’t. And hand-washing dishes is the least fun of my entire life.

But! Light at the end of the tunnel. Mom’s coming into town tomorrow, and I’ll bet she’ll feel sad about a lot of dirty dishes and do them for me. Because that’s what moms do.

The Worst Flight of My Life

Before I get started, let me just say that when you’re in a tube devoid of fresh air and ventilation at 35,000 feet, with a nose that rivals only a bloodhound or a pregnant woman, Bubble Yum is one of the most wretched scents in the world.

Not that I’d know or anything, Vivian. Yeah, I’m talking to you.

Image courtesy of soap.com

Image courtesy of soap.com

To be fair to the airline, the flight itself wasn’t actually that terrible. The flight attendants were nice, the captain didn’t crash or get us killed, and at no point did I have to discover whether those little oxygen masks actually have oxygen in them or not, even though they may not inflate. I even had a window seat, which at the time was my absolute favorite thing (it was a combination of boredom and motion sickness that led me to want the window, despite there not being a whole lot to look at during most of the flight. I’ve since changed my mind and determined the aisle seat in the first three rows, opposite the door side, are actually the best because you can get off that plane right quick.)

Photo courtesy of science.howstuffworks.com

Photo courtesy of science.howstuffworks.com

The problem with the flight actually occurred before I even stepped on the plane, eating a quick dinner with my mother in a restaurant of the John Wayne airport, which has since gone out of business for what I can only imagine are obvious reasons. I ordered a blue cheese burger, and at the time it was really rad. It was good enough, in fact, that I determined I needed to take the rest with me on the plane to finish there. But I was tired, and there are some instances in which tired trumps beef, cheese, and bread (they’re rare, trust me), so I decided to slip into a quick airplane nap, though not before turning to my mother and saying “I want cranberry juice.” About a half hour later I awoke to, not surprisingly, cranberry juice on my pull-down tray, and I took one sip and suddenly realized I was going to be remarkably ill. And instantaneously.

Here’s the thing. I don’t do sick people things in front of strangers, and I especially don’t do them on airplanes, so the wait for one of the rear lavatories to become available was a particularly terrible one, during which I began to sweat profusely and probably freak the passengers sitting in the back of the plane out something fierce. You can indicate with hand gestures that you don’t intend on puking on them, but that generally doesn’t really appease them much.

 

Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

Photo courtesy of cntraveler.com

I won’t go into detail about this foray into food poisoning at 35,000 feet, but I will say the airplane lav is even smaller than you think when you’re using it like a normal person and not on your knees, I made about four visits to it during that not very long flight, I upset a few women in the PDX airport restroom outside the baggage claim, I made my dad feel sick on the way home, and I woke up a couple times that night just to finish what was only the worst evening I’d had in a very long time. It took me a couple of years before I could eat beef again.

The only thing I might fault the airline for was not letting me stay in the lav for the remainder of the flight after making it abundantly clear that one trip wasn’t going to be enough (particularly since there was a second one for people to use, so it’s not like my being there kept them from peeing or anything, and anyways, who wants to use a tiny bathroom after someone doing what I was doing? No one, that’s who. But despite all that logic, the flight attendant kept rapping on the door, telling me I had to get out.

We’re not friends, she and I.

A Perspective on Puppies from a Cat Person

They’re not awesome.

I could leave it at that and generally call it good because that’s a perfect overview of how I feel, but divulging all the small fantastic details is really what will make this post worth reading (in my opinion — I realize that probably sounds arrogant, but let’s all just face the fact that I started a blog by my own volition because I assumed I was funny enough for strangers to read what I had to write and enjoy it).

When Husband and I first got married, I knew a dog would be in my future — after all, he was raised in a dog loving family. When I met his parents for the very first time, I also met five fully grown Golden Retrievers. When I met his oldest sister and husband, I also met another Golden Retriever, a Chocolate Lab, and a fluffy white thing whose breed I don’t know. When I met his second sister and husband, I also met a little Ewok dog and White Lab.

Like, seriously dog people.

I felt like I’d be up to the challenge, however. I’d been around dogs that I found quite tolerable, and though I am a cat person through and through, having never lived with a dog in essentially my entire life (there were these three days when I was two years old during which we had some enormous dog that chewed up all my tub toys and was then transported to another family down the road who was apparently okay with that sort of thing), I had it in my little head that it wouldn’t be that hard.

It wasn’t till we bought a house and I didn’t have a full-time job, however, that we felt as though we could reasonably have a dog, so we waited a bit and then the day came, and we went to a no kill adoption extravaganza at the fairgrounds and met dozens of really cute, sweet, fluffy dogs and cats who were adult age and house-trained and crate-trained and then came upon this cracked glass eyed Leopard Catahoula named Gracie.

BAH SO CUTE

BAH SO CUTE

It didn’t matter that she was only four months old and we had no clue as to whether or not she knew any sort of commands or had any training. It was kind of love at first lick (she licked me … not the other way around). And she tested well with cats, and she had dem eyes, and I found out she’d been picked up by Animal Control, meaning she either ran away or was abandoned and no one cared to find her (rude), and my bleeding heart, you know, bled, and it was settled. She was going to become a member of our family.

First things first, we had to do something about the name, to which she didn’t even respond at all, so we decided upon Ruby J (and I think she was happy with that because it only took her one day to realize that was her). And for a time, I thought, “I could totally get used to this having a dog business.” We went to Petsmart, bought a crate, bought dog food, bought chew toys, bought eating dishes and treats and a dog bed and even the cat was totally fine with the new addition.

AS IT TURNS OUT, this four month old puppy, with frost-bitten ears and some of the most incredible abandonment issues and separation anxiety I’ve ever encountered, was neither house-trained nor crate-trained. Ever. At all. No indication she knew how to deal with either.

A cat mama whose cat baby is litter-box trained is not a human person equipped to deal with ten pee accidents and two diarrhea accidents in the space of three days. I’m just going to let you know that right now. Ten. In three days. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW SOMEONE COULD PEE THAT MUCH (total exaggeration. Of course I knew that because probably I pee at least ten times in the space of three days — the difference, however, and this is a big deal, is that I don’t do so on the carpet.) And then I didn’t give a rip about how cute this is:

Ruby J sleeping

or how funny this is:

Ruby J sleeping funny

All that mattered was I was spending a vast amount of my time at home cleaning up urine and not, say, relaxing with Elliott Stabler and Olivia Benson.

That harshed my mellow, you guys.

And over time, that continually grew less and less cute, as did the fact that she could not bear to be away from me under any circumstances (and when I say away from me, I don’t just mean not in the same room or even upon the same piece of furniture — I mean not touching my body in some way because apparently personal space is not a thing with dogs.)

In short, cat people should never have puppies. They just shouldn’t. It’s miserable and awful and then you feel like the worst person on earth for feeling that way about a cute puppy but then it bites the cat and pees on the carpet and you immediately retract any bad feelings about being upset and wallow in your self-pity because you realize having a puppy is too much like having a baby which wasn’t really in the cards.

I sound complainy. I keep reminding myself that it’s really not as horrid as I think it is, and when Husband is gone, and she’s being the best guard dog on earth or it’s late at night and she’s being the best snuggle bug ever

Ruby J snuggling

maybe I kind of like it a lot. Maybe I could grow to love this peefaced dog.

I dunno. It feels futile at times, it feels plausible at others. Mostly, I dig this scene:

Stella Selfie

As does she, clearly.

On Getting Older

There will come, at some point in your still relatively young life, when you will inexplicably become a “ma’am.” This is devastating, trust me, and there’s little you can do to stop it. After all, you’re apparently older than all the people, and if you’re married, that really seals the deal. Obviously all the married women are “ma’am”s because what else could we possibly be? YOU COULDN’T USE OUR NAMES OR ANYTHING.

I just found out tonight, for example, that Tom from “The Blacklist” IS ACTUALLY YOUNGER THAN ME IN THE REAL LIFE. How did that happen? How did actors portraying grown up adult characters become younger than moi? When was it that actors in my age demographic started pushing eye cream in commercials? What’s next — Depends? Poise pads for those little leaks?

I don’t want to talk about it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong — there are some definite benefits to getting older. You’re completely content sitting in the back of a concert, for example, and enjoying the music from afar while wearing earplugs. You finally feel comfortable in your own skin, and you care very little about what other people might be thinking about you (this occurred for me in the last year, and it’s been thrilling). People stop carding you at bars (which I realize is pretty moot for me since I always order virgin beverages … if I even order anything fancier than, say, flavored lemonade, but still. It’s nice). It’s okay for you to not have a completely flat stomach because the vast majority of society accepts that, barring the circumstances of you having a personal trainer and nutritionist because you’re famous and always on screen, you’d have to do unthinkable things every day to maintain such a physique. You know, like giving up bread or exercising multiple hours a week. Hours without bread. I mean, that’s just the worst ever. So a little bit of softness is acceptable.

But then the cons are pretty obvious — you can’t eat fast food at midnight and not suffer really terrible consequences the next day (and the next day and the next day and the next day). You can actually somehow gain five pounds in a week just like dark magic. You can run for three miles a day a few times a week and your ankles will get a little thinner. And you tell yourself it’s okay that you have a soft middle because society accepts it. You even write it in your blog like maybe it’s actually the truth.

Your body will start to degenerate in an alarmingly quick fashion, and you’ll be like, “Holy crap when did I become my parents?” Your knees will just never be the same, you guys. And also, it’s amazing the number of pills you can ingest over the course of a day. You look at your grandparents’ prescription stash with shock and awe, but let me tell you, that’s just around the corner for you. I have a flipping pharmacy in my house. And sometimes I actually find pins on Pinterest about great ways to store medications in the bathroom closet, and I RE-PIN THEM. Whatever, it’s cool.

But this getting older business: it appears that almost everyone does it. The (un)funny part about it is that no one makes it out alive (#tastelessjoke), either.