christmas: gifts and goodies

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It's 8 a.m. on New Year's Day, and I'm finally heading to bed — Colin and I have our own little New Year's Eve tradition of choosing a season of TV to marathon, and then parking ourselves on the couch all day to get through it all. Today (yesterday?) we started at 4 p.m. with the last four episodes of Chuck, season 1, and then moved on to season 1 of Dexter.

(We have a thing for death on New Year's Eve, apparently — the last two years have been seasons one and two, respectively, of Dead Like Me, and we also have Pushing Daisies, which we didn't get to tonight, but which we'll be watching in the next couple of days.)

But today, it was 16 episodes in 16 hours, almost to the minute — including food and bathroom breaks.

Sounds like a pretty perfect New Year's Eve to me.
The letter A

LJ Idol Topic 5 -- Bearing False Witness

I can't think of that ninth commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," without my mind jumping to "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." Two separate commandments, but they go hand in hand, to me.

More than just an admonition against swearing, particularly blasphemous utterances, that third commandment is a reminder that, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we literally take the name. Whether it's identifying as God's Chosen People or as Christians, something about our very identity invokes God's presence.

So when I take that name, do I take it in vain? When people associate me with Christ, in whatever way, have I taken that responsibility and privilege lightly? When I identify as a faith-based theatre artist working from the Christian tradition, and I carry with me the baggage of centuries of religious art and cheesy Christmas pageants, is there something about me--about my work--that rises above that and bears the name of Christ, rather than only bearing the history and tradition?

It's bigger than simply uttering, "Oh my God!" or "Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" in moments of surprise or panic.

It's a matter of taking a name, taking an identity, bearing a witness.

In one of my classes right now, I'm in the process of writing my aesthetic and artistic statements, finding the words to describe my work and how my faith impacts it, both in the general terms, and in the specifics of what I will or won't produce. I came in with that document on Friday, and presented my class with a list of works--faith-based or not--that inspire me, and certain criteria for work that I want to do. It was more about the attitude and underlying themes of the work than the story content, and I think that it surprised some of them that I didn't come in with my "WILL NOT TOUCH" list.

As I took the name of faith-based theatre artist, did I bear witness to the fact that we're not all working from a list of taboo subjects, but that my context determines the work I do, just as much as the content itself? Did they see that I want to tell good stories, just like the rest of them, and that I refuse to pigeon-hole a script that I haven't even read based on its perceived content?

I bear witness as an artist, as a Christian, as a person of faith. I take these names--do I take them in vain?
gg:  rory and jess / polaroid

LJ Idol Topic 3: Smile

I smile big in photos. Closed-mouth smiles, half there, look silly on me. My eyes are big, and they get bigger, somehow, when I smile. I look like a goof when I try to smile with my lips together.

He smiles small. His favorite pictures of himself have his mouth closed, and he looks like he's got a secret that he's not telling the camera. He doesn't like photos where he smiles with his teeth showing.

When we smile--and I mean really, genuinely, deep-down smile--I sparkle; he glows.

I'm still waiting for a transcendently beautiful picture of the two of us laughing together, but whenever someone takes one, one or the other of us has our eyes squinched up funny, or a huge double chin.

At first glance, this is the best description of the two of us. I'm more outgoing, more verbose, more likely to be the one heard across the room. He's less likely to talk for the sake of making noise, more likely to think before he speaks, less brash, more likely to back up what I'm saying and distill my ramblings.

And maybe the fact that those first impressions are as one-dimensional as a photographed smile is why we complement each other so well. It's a clear, accurate picture, but it's far from being the full spectrum of smiles that either of us has.

Maybe the squinchy-eyed, double-chinned, weird-angled laughing photo is transcendently beautiful after all.

For the visually impaired: There is a photo of Colin and I standing in front of a Christmas tree. We're both looking straight at the camera. I'm smiling a wide, full smile. He's smiling more gently, with his lips together. It's one of our favorite photos of the two of us together.

This has been an entry for therealljidol. Other entries for this topic can be found here.
narnia: children / lamppost

LJ Idol Topic 2: Uphill, both ways, barefoot

Gotta say, I'm not really a fan of winter. It's not my favorite season--that distinction is reserved for summer. (Ah, summer, with your long, long days; your lazy lethargy; your warm sunshine... but I digress.) It may not have been the main reason I moved to L.A., but the weather has certainly been one of the biggest perks of living here for the past two years. For the past few winters, I've gone back to Calgary for 3 weeks in December, and that's enough time to get my fill of snow and cold--and, more importantly, to drive on icy roads long enough to not become a wimpy driver who can't handle winter.

That's the thing. I may not love winter, but I can handle it. I come from hardy, Canadian prairie stock. I know what to do when it's -40 degrees Celsius out, but I love the Chinook winds that invariably mean that I don't have to deal with the -40 weather for very long. I know how to drive on ice, and I don't freak out if there's a skiff of snow that doesn't even stick to the ground, and thankyouverymuch, I plan on keeping those skills.

I have yet to wear a winter coat (or gloves, or a toque) while living in Southern California, because it has yet to get cold here. I see people around here get all bundled up when the temperature hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Canadian part of me laughs at them for being such wimps, while the American part of me gloats at my family and friends who live where they really have to bundle up. It gets chilly, yes. It gets cold enough that I don't want to sleep with my window open all winter, cold enough that I'm not wearing sandals all the time, cold enough that I can actually use my sweaters and fall jackets--but it doesn't get cold, and that's one of the things I love about this place.

One thing I don't love, however, is the assumption that just because I'm Canadian, I've never experienced hot weather before. I could do without all the comments about how this must be the hottest weather I've ever experienced, and I must be so out of my element, and isn't it just so different from the frozen north, and it must be freezing up there. (My favorite is when that last comment comes in August.)

Winter and I have a complicated relationship. I may not like it, but that doesn't give others who have never lived with it the right to knock it. When Calgary's weather doesn't cooperate with the season, I feel like the city is a misbehaving small child, embarrassing me in front of all my friends, even though I know it's not doing it on purpose. But that doesn't mean I won't defend it. "It's not always like this." "This isn't really seasonal." "Wait a few days; a chinook will hit and the temperature will jump 40 degrees overnight." "At least we're not like some places, where winter doesn't leave until spring."

And, you know, there are things about it that aren't all that bad. While it's all well and good to curl up in bed with hot chocolate and a book on a windy, rainy, chilly day in Los Angeles, it's even better to do it on a blizzardy, blustery, freezing cold day in Calgary. And if you've never experienced a midnight snowfall on Christmas Eve, you don't know what you're missing. And just like any other season, it's the change that's the best part. The first crisp, cold day; the new sweaters, jackets, and corduroy in stores; the first snowfall; those bright, cold, sunny days that are still good days for a walk outside. As long as those days don't come before December first.

When it comes to winter, I'm picky. I want it on my terms, when I want it. I'd be happy with a winter that lasted for the month of December. No more, no less. Give me a winter that goes with Christmas, and I can handle that. But by February? You and me, winter? We're so over, and while I still may not like other people smack-talking you, I reserve the right to badmouth you all I want.

This has been an entry for therealljidol season 6. Read the rest of the entries for this topic here.
theatre: stage

LJ Idol Topic 1 -- Empty Gestures

I go to a lot of performing arts events. A lot. Not as many as I'd like to, but I average at least three to four plays, concerts, dance shows, or other events a month; often (usually) more--and that's not even counting the shows I'm working on.

Needless to say, I've seen a lot of good and a lot of bad work.

I've seen a lot of really good work that's not given the credit it's due, and I've seen some pretty mediocre work that's praised to high heaven, beginning with the thunderous standing ovation.

Well, okay. Maybe not "thunderous." In some standing ovations, it's more a sense of obligation and peer pressure than anything else. When the people around you start standing, you feel like kind of a jerk if you don't. Or maybe it's just that you can't see the curtain call any more. For whatever reason, that kind of ovation--the slow, kind of reluctant kind--is what I see most often. For as much live performance as I've been a part of, either as an audience member, a performer, or a producer or director, it's rare to see that spontaneous moment when the entire audience jumps to their feet the second the curtain goes down.

Even so--even if you can distinguish a reluctant standing ovation from an enthusiastic one--it's sad that it's expected, for the most part, that an adequate performance will receive one. The power of that collective moment of awe that drives the audience to its feet has been lost.

As an audience member, the automatic expectation of an ovation takes away my power to respond in some way to a performance that deeply moves me or is in some way excellent enough to be acknowledged beyond simple applause.

As a performer, the ubiquity of standing ovations takes away that heightened level of connection with the audience. It removes the breathlessness of knowing that this show garnered a reaction above the ordinary.

When standing ovations lose that power, what’s left? Standing on the seats to elevate the praise to another level?

This has been an entry for therealljidol. If you like it, please vote for me (a link will be posted when voting opens).
random: blog typewriter

LJ Idol Topic 0 - Introduction

I feel like I’m sitting in a new class, trying desperately to think of unique, creative answers to the command to "Tell us your name, your favorite color, and an interesting fact about yourself." What interesting facts haven’t I used before?

Well, we’ll start with the easy ones: My name is Alida, otherwise known as being_fulfilled. I’m going to skip the favorite color question, since that’s just ridiculous. And as for an interesting fact…

How about this: I’ve been blogging for nearly 1/3 of my life.

Wow. That makes me sound like I’m about 12 years old. I promise, I’m not. I’m much closer to 30 than I am to 20, but I’ve been blogging for almost 9 years—since the spring of 2001—which, yeah, at this point, puts it as not-quite-1/3 of my life. I started out on, then spent a couple of years on blogger before moving to livejournal about 3 years ago, and these days, I’m also spending a fair bit of time on my own website and blog, which is a bit more of my academic and professional web presence. Really, the only thing that translates to is a lot of words; some meaningful, some very mundane.

The best way to introduce myself is to tell you what’s going to change over the course of LJ Idol. How much of that change happens while I’m in the competition… well, that depends on how long I’m in the competition. Regardless, this year (summer 2009 through summer 2010) is a year of incredible change in nearly every area of my life, and some pretty significant things are happening in the next 5-6 months.

In just over two months (December 18, to be exact), I’ll finish the final semester of my MFA in Producing. Over those next two months, I’m working on my final grad project, the first draft of a book exploring the faith-based theatre community in North America (thus introducing two of my greatest passions: 1) theatre, and 2) the intersection between Christianity and the arts).

Come December 18, my boyfriend and I will officially be finished with the 2+ years of long distance that started in September, 2007, when I started grad school. We’ve had some reprieves of a few months each summer, and as many shorter visits as we can fit in, but we’ll be so glad when we’re not living in different countries anymore.

That means that around Christmastime, there will also be a move. I live in Southern California right now (just outside of L.A.), and will be moving back to Calgary when the semester’s over. Where I’ll be moving, I’m not sure yet. Likely either to my parents’ place or Colin’s parents place for a few months because...

Chances are very good that within the next few months, we’ll be getting engaged, and it looks promising that we’ll be getting married next summer, so we won’t be finding a place until then; we’ll be living temporarily with parents (most likely) in the meantime. We've started planning a lot of the wedding, even though we don’t have a date or anything yet; we're just working on the general ideas and overall aesthetic of the day right now.

Graduating and moving also means finding a job, so I'll be searching for a job in my field and (hopefully) starting a position during the course of this competition. Come January, I’ll be starting part-time at my church as the theatre arts coordinator, working as a producer and doing some long-term strategic development and vision-casting for the program, as well as overseeing the theatrical productions and the overall arts presence in the church (minus music).

I think that covers the basics (and see what I mean about a whirlwind few months?!). So, in no particular order, I am: Christian, Canadian, an artist, a producer, a theatre junkie, a girl who loves a boy, a temporary transplant to California, a student, and somewhere in the middle of one of the most defining years of my life so far. There are a few other things in there, too (reader, walker, bibliophile, movie-goer, critic of all things cultural, grammar snob), but I’ve got to keep a few surprises up my sleeve, right?

Oh, and I’ve been blogging for a really long time, but I’m not internet famous yet (nor have I started making money from my blogging, but one of these days, that'd be pretty cool).
books: bedside table full

Here I go...

Well, after following along for pretty much all of last season (being made aware of its existence by witchofthedogs), I think that I need to do therealljidol myself this year.

I wrote a few of the challenges as home entries, but I think it'll be great to have something other than my thesis (and my professional blog on my website) to focus on writing for the next few months, and this poor little lj needs some love and attention before it atrophies into nothing.

Yes, it's a busy few months as it is, but there's always time to fit something else in. Sleep? Pfft. Sleep is for wimps.
new york: brooklyn bridge

Culture takes time

I still need to get a second job, but I really don't want to. There's so much going on in this city that it kills me to think of eating up my evenings with another job. I don't take advantage of nearly enough of the stuff that Calgary offers, but with this job (the Calgary Arts Development one), it's coming across my desk constantly. When I'm more aware of what's happening--and around people who are more excited about it--I'm reminded that I need to be out there, seeing and doing more. I want to be doing something cultural at least every week, and there are that many opportunities (and more!), if only I didn't have to work evenings and weekends elsewhere.

travel: road trip

On my way

And we're off!

The trailer was packed up yesterday, and I had everything down in the car by 8:30 last night, which was great. I had the end of the evening to spend on the phone with Colin and just chill on the couch. (My bed is gone, so I slept on the couch, which is fortunately not going anywhere.)

The place looks oddly half-empty. I mean, my room is totally cleared out and the living room has half the furniture gone, but the dishwasher is still full and there's stuff in the kitchen, but not nearly as much as usual. It's odd to move out without having to do the whole "get the place to the completely clean bare bones so the landlord can inspect it" thing.

In any case, I'm hoping to make the trip in two days. We usually do it in two (a 15-hour and a 9-hour) when there are two of us driving; I'm hoping to split it more evenly and do two 14-ish-hour days on the road, giving myself lots of time for stretch breaks and so on. The upside to getting awful gas mileage while pulling the trailer is that it forces me to stop for gas about twice as often as I would on a road trip without it. We discovered that it's about 3 1/2 tanks of gas from Calgary to L.A. with no trailer, and about 6 tanks with the trailer. Icky.

So anyway... I have to stop at the U-Haul dealer to drop off the dolly, and then I'm on the road. That'll take me about 20 minutes out of my way, but I should be going for real by about 8:00.

I'll post tonight from somewhere in Idaho!
random: is that you're you

Title? Right.

I'm supposed to be working on my thesis database, but I'd rather be doing anything but. It's not that I mind the research, because that's interesting. It's the data entry into Access that's dragging me down. I know it's the best way to keep everything straight, because otherwise, I'll never remember what belongs where, but still... I'd rather have a photographic memory and not have to document everything. ;)

Man, this Starbucks is freezing. I should really go home, where I can control the A/C.

(And now, I'm home.)

The internet here is being ridiculously slow tonight. Just sayin'.

I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I plowed through Chuck in the past couple of weeks. I've been busy with so much other stuff, and yet I kept going, and I watched both seasons within about a week and a half. It's one of those shows that I've now caught up to and I actually miss. I haven't felt the need to rewatch episodes or random scenes from week to week with any show for a while, but I've been doing that with this one since I finished it. Colin hasn't seen it, so I've already told him that this will be added to our "must-buy" list. He'll like it, and I'll gladly rewatch it with him.

We have so much TV on DVD to get through, though. There are at least 5 shows that we need to watch all or part of (or have a season of and need to watch to see if we want to watch more). That's definitely where more of our entertainment budget has been going lately. We both used to buy a lot more movies (especially him), but in the past year or so, most of what we've purchased has been TV. Somehow, it just seems like a better value to get 14 hours of viewing for not much more money than a movie's 2 hours. Also, we love having the excuse of working through a show to spend a quiet night at home. We get so busy that when we do have time to spend 3 or 4 hours in front of the TV, watching a few episodes of whatever show we're working through, we love it.

Not that we don't watch movies, because sometimes that's just what we're in the mood for, but for whatever reason, it's been more about TV lately--but we so rarely watch TV live that it's all about the TV on DVD.

I don't have a desk right now, and I haven't had one while I've lived here, but when we have our own place and I have a desk again, I've found the one I want. I really like the IKEA Mikael desk, either regular or corner, depending on the configuration of the room. Sunday after church, I had lunch at IKEA and spent some time wandering around. Bad idea when I'm packing and putting things in storage. Heh. There are always too many things that I want.

New blog entry up at the other blog. As an artist evaluating your work, whose opinions matter most?

Four more days until I leave. Fortunately, there's not too much left to do around here. I'll have enough to keep me busy for the next couple of days, but I shouldn't be too overwhelmed and stressed out. And then, I have next week off, since I'd planned to start work a week later when we were hoping to take next week as a vacation week. Hopefully I can get together with a few friends and get some errands done--maybe even take care of transferring over my license, the car registration and insurance, and my health care right away. We'll see.

And... it's bedtime.