Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Eve of The Trip

It's almost midnight and I'm working on packing for a very well deserved 2 week vacation in Europe. It's a daunting task.

This time tomorrow Ken and I will be flying on an Airbus 333 heading to Rome, which is where our adventures will begin and end.

I'll try to keep you as updated as I can.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Stunning Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis, Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, Iceland (Joe Photo)
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' and are clearly a stunning spectacle.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Hope Ahead

The 22nd annual American Airlines Celebrity Golf and Tennis Tournament took place last weekend in Carlsbad, California, raising more than $250,000 for the Susan G. Komen Young Investigators Grant Program, which funds research for metastatic breast cancer, an incurable form of the disease.

American honored 16 employee survivors and co-survivors at the event.

“It was such a memorable and beautiful weekend. I was so honored to participate and share my story,” said DFW-based flight attendant Lenard Blackwell.

(From left) American honored Lenard Blackwell, flight attendant,
DFW; Erin Frey, manager on duty, CLT; and Gabby Oviatt, flight
attendant, CLT.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why do I bother?

What is it?
What is it about him that makes me hang on his words?

He told me to believe.
He asked me to believe.

I want to believe.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Book Review, "Leave Me"

I can check one off my BookMarks goal list! I finished reading it last night.

I've been in Maribeth's shoes. No, I didn't have a heart attack, but due to perimenopause I'm experiencing anxiety bordering on panic attacks. There are those days when the weight of the world is such that I want to grab some cash and just keep on driving.

Unfortunately real life doesn't work out as neatly as Maribeth's story.

But that's exactly why I liked this book. I was swept away, but only on the surface. There wasn't any depth. I wasn't too immersed or bogged down in the deep and I didn't lose any sleep due to complicated characters or plots.

I enjoyed Leave Me for what it is. Simply, a good book.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

‘Sully’ Flies High With $35.5 Million Opening

Sully made a much a bigger splash at the box office than was initially expected, touching down at an estimated $35.5 million for the No. 1 spot in its opening weekend.

Playing on 3,525 screens, the Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow drama made $12.2 million on Friday, boosting three-day estimates that were previously set at $24 million for the weekend. The Clint Eastwood-directed film stars Tom Hanks as hero pilot Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger.

With an 84 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, reviews are solid for the movie about Sully's crucial call to glide an imperiled US Airways jet for a water landing on the Hudson River just minutes after it took off from Laguardia Airport, a decision that saved 155 lives on board in 2009.

CinemaScore polling said opening night moviegoers gave it an A grade on average.

What I'm Currently Reading

An Evening At The Theatre, "Sixty Miles To Silver Lake"

Last night Crystal and I attended Theatre Alliance's staged reading of Sixty Miles To Silver Lake. Ken, who played the father Ky, had alerted me to some of dialogue so I could prepare Crystal.

The material was very mature, allowing both uprorious laughter and some scratchy, ewww moments. The real power of the show is in the lighting and scenic transitions. Although Jamie Lawson read the stage directions, much was lost as just a staged reading.

Ken always does an outstanding job and this reading was no different. Spencer Absher, who played Ky's son, Denny, also did a great job.

I'd love to see this as a full production.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

BookMarks 2016

I don't think it's any surprise that one of my favorite festivals is BookMarks. Winston-Salem is indeed very lucky to host this free event.

There's always a $2.00 book table and I purchased 3 books, all by Melinda Rainey Thompson.

  1. SWAG: Southern Women Aging Gracefully
  2. The SWAG Life
  3. I've Had It Up To Here With Teenagers
I attended the NC Book Club Picks talk and was introduced to 3 new authors: Leigh Himes, Megan Miranda and Susan Bishop Crispell.  Each talked about their books. I was so impressed and interested that I left the talk during the Q&A and bought: 
I went to the Booksigning tent where Leigh and Susan both signed their books. (Susan also offered a mini pie with a tiny heart in the crust!) I talked with Megan and apologized that I'd missed out on buying her book (they'd sold out very early). She did sign her book card for me and it's on my Amazon wishlist.

I was really looking forward to seeing Gayle Forman. I've read two of her books (If I Stay and Where She Went) and have been waiting to read the just one day series. As I was making my 4th or 5th trip through the book sale tent (anyone who knows me understands that I just can't stay away from books!) I realized she had written an adult novel, Leave Me. It sounded interesting so I bought it and then waited 30 minutes in 100 degree heat to get it signed. (I think it's less dedication and more addiction!) She was so very nice!

While I was fine by myself, I really missed Sam. Sam is very much like me in that we love books and have no problem standing in the heat waiting to get our books signed. We both always want All. The. Books. Lol.

In between all the book buying and book signings I had my first ever fish tacos from the Taqueria El Azteca Taco Truck (delish!) and cooled down with Angie's Italian Ice (refreshing orange creamsicle). I also picked up some Pokeman balls and added a Pokeman to my Pokedex.

Six books got added to my library. I'm making it my goal to read all 6 of these new books before I acquire any more. It's a lofty goal, but I'm going to do my best!

Friday, September 09, 2016

A Book Review, "Killing Maine"

Wind power is the use of air flow through turbines to mechanically power generators for electricity. Wind power, as an alternative to burning fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, consumes no water, and uses little land.

That's according to Wikipedia.

According to Mike Bond, it's Killing Maine. I know this because he spent a great deal of time educating the reader on this serious politically corrupt issue.

Between his soapbox sessions, Mike attempts to weave an interesting whodunnit. Unfortunatley the reader is stuck with Pono Hawkins, the main suspect, as he tries to solve the murder mystery and clear his name. While it seems Pono does have a heart, he's more lothario than anything else.

Killing Maine didn't do much more than Kill My Precious Time.

Monday, September 05, 2016

I Won!

From: Cody, Katie
Sent: Monday, September 05, 2016 1:16 PM
Subject: Congratulations! Sully Employee Screening Tickets!

You have been selected to receive tickets for you and a guest to attend the special American Airlines employee advance screening of “Sully.”

Here are the details for CLT:

                Where: AMC Northlake 14
                                7325 Northlake Mall Drive
                                Charlotte, NC 28216
Date:     Wednesday, September 7

Time:    7 p.m. Showing
                Check in Begins at 6 p.m.
                Theater Doors Close at 6:50 p.m.

Additional Info:
Each attendee will receive a $10 concession gift card upon arrival to stock up before the movie. As a reminder, Check in will begin at 6 p.m., and the screening will start promptly at 7 p.m.  Theatre doors will close at 6:50 p.m., and guests will not be permitted into the screening late, so please give yourselves plenty of time to get settled. The movie is expected to run approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes.

The name of the attendee must match the winning employee. We will check identification upon arrival.  

Katie Cody
Corporate Communications Manager – Charlotte

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

American Airlines Celebrity Golf and Tennis Tournament

No, I don't golf. (After all, you know what "golf" stands for right? Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden. Get it?) I don't even particularily like Putt-Putt.

Now, I have swung a tennis racket. I think it was the summer of my senior year when I was thinking about auditioning trying out for the NDSH tennis team because I wanted a letter. Let's just say that I realized my talent was in the performing arts and not tennis.

Despite the above, I've accepted an invitation to be the "plus one" for a guest of honor for this benefit tournament.

American Airlines goes pink during the month of October for Breast Cancer Awareness month. This annual celebrity tournament raises funds for the Susan G. Komen foundation. The guests of honor are American Airlines employees who are breast cancer survivers. Crystal has survived breast cancer 3 times (!) and she shared her story with the company last year. She was chosen to attend the beneift and asked me to accompany her.

This is just a little snapshot of the event. You can read more about it here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Book Review, "Beautiful Maids All In A Row"

We are all flawed human beings chasing our own demons. I am drawn to that type of main herione in desperate need of redemption. 

This book satisfies on all levels. While a little light on the actual mystery it makes up in thrill. It's face pace and a definite "can't put it down" kinda book. 

Oh yes, and a great ending!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Book Report, "The Heart of Henry Quantum"

"In the bestselling tradition of A Man Called Ove and the beloved film Love Actually, a quirky, socially awkward man goes on a quest to find his wife a last-minute Christmas gift and encounters several distractions—including bumping into his ex-girlfriend who was the one who got away."

It's less Love Actually and more Hector And The Search For Happiness. And I loved the Hector trilogy!

Like Hector, Henry is loveably quirky. His mind is constantly whirling! He realizes that it's 2 days before Christmas and he's not yet gotten anything for his wife, Margaret. He decides to get her a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume. The book details this day in the life in the mind of Henry as he travels all over San Francisco in search of the perfume.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It's a cute, sweet love story that made me smile.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pick Me Up

I came home tonight and this was waiting for me on the table. I had a particularly difficult week and Allan thought the flowers would cheer me up.
He was right. The pretty flowers brought a smile to my face!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Book Review, "Out: A Courageous Woman's Journey"

I wanted to like this book, I really did.

I applaud those who have the courage to come out and live their true and honest lives in spite of an ignorant, bigoted, judgemental society. I appreciate the heartache Ms. Smoot endured and am very thankful she is helping to educate by telling her story.

I had a difficult time following Lou Anne's journey because I was so damn mad! My dislike of the book had less to do with Ms. Smoot and more to do with the so-called "Christians" who turned their backs and all but thumbed their noses at her. I just wanted to throw the book at the heads of the lot of them!

Friday, July 08, 2016

I Love My Employer!

American joins amicus brief related to N.C. House Bill 2
American has signed onto an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s motion seeking to block the enforcement of North Carolina’s House Bill 2. HB2 mandates that, in all state and local government owned buildings, including public schools, airports, and agencies in North Carolina, individuals must use the restroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. Laws that allow this type of discrimination go against American’s core beliefs of equality and inclusion – values that are crucial for the success of our company. So we have joined with more than 60 other leading corporations to express why HB2 is bad for business and will negatively impact our ability to recruit and retain employees in the state of North Carolina. Visit the Human Rights Campaign for more information and to read the full amicus brief.

Monday, July 04, 2016

A Book Review, "One Was Lost"

Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

On a mandatory senior field trip, a flash flood cuts Sera and three classmates off with no way to call for help. But they’re not as alone as they thought…

Someone is stalking them through the woods: drugged them, stole their supplies and wrote on their skin. Is it a judgement? A warning? And if Sera doesn’t find the truth, it’s only a matter of time before the hunter finds her first.

I received an invitation to download an advanced reader's copy of Natalie's lastest book. The email promised me "a new pulse-pounding psychological thrill-ride" and I was not disappointed.

It's been a while since I've read a page-turner. If you like YA novels, this one needs to be added to your list!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Cruise Updates

From: Ken
To: Cheryl Ann 
Sent: Fri, Jul 1, 2016 1:57 pm
Subject: New cruise dates

October 19-26
Same stops as before but it starts and ends in Rome

Monday, June 27, 2016

From Words Of A Wildflower:

So, if you're like me, and you're heart has been hurt by someone you used to know, by a heart you used to love, I hope you're brave enough to allow your heart to be light instead of bitter. I hope that instead of thinking about how your heart was broken, I hope you remember all the reasons you cared and loved for so long. The way your name sounded in their voice, the way they made you brave, the late nights, the random acts of friendship, the adventures. Please know there is a reason you loved the hearts you loved, and it's okay to still care. You are not weak, you are not stupid, you are human, and sometimes we can't help the hands our hearts fall into.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Do Crew: AIDS Care Services

When Larry advised he'd set up a Pride Do Crew event I was eager to volunteer.

Of course Larry waited until I'd signed up before telling me that we'd be responsible for cleaning out a koi pond. A koi pond. It sounded gross to me and every time he mentioned it my skin just crawled.

As you can see, it was gross.

My alternate job was pulling weeds. Now, the group did have to point out what were weeds and what were fine to leave. Here I am, hard at work.

At the end of the day, Holly Haven residents had a cleaned pond, some new flowers and a vegetable garden.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Book Review, "Dark Matter"

The book blew my mind! But in a good way!

I mean, we all have those moments when we think about the "what ifs" in life. What if I'd stayed with my ex? What if I'd accepted the other job? What if I'd never gone to college, gotten married, had kids, etc.

This book allows you  the opportunity to step into some of those "what if" scenarios via Jason Dessen.

Now add the terror of being well aware of your "normal" life, the one you are happy with, the one you are desperate to return.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Juicy Shaker

I've been wanting to try Lancome's Juicy Shaker ever since they released teasers about it. I got a 20% coupon (that also included free shipping) in the mail, so last night I ordered the Mangoes Wild.

Today I got an email that it's been shipped and should arrive by the end of the week. I'm a tad bit excited and somewhat embarrassed by that. I mean, it's lip gloss fercryinoutloud!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fifteen Things for When the World is Shitty and Terrifying.

1. Open your closet. Find one warm piece of clothing that you haven’t worn in awhile. Bring it to a place that will give it away, for free, to someone who needs it.

2. Go to a public park or playground. Sit on a bench. Watch some kids running around playing. Don’t get up and try to engage with them, don’t depress yourself further, don’t go down a sadhole if you want kids but don’t have them, or if your own relationship with your kids/parents isn’t perfect. Just… sit and watch. Turn your brain off for a bit. If your brain has to work, picture the way that kid’s body works: the air filling the lungs and expelling laughter, the tiny heartbeat pulsing and racing, the immense amount of neurons firing to process the information that keeps eyes blinking and ears listening and skin tingling and lungs expanding and contracting.

If you see a parent looking stressed out, give them an encouraging smile, as if to say, “You’re doing a great job.”

3. Google a small-business florist near the site of any recent tragedy. Call and explain that you’d like to pay for flowers to be sent. When you leave a note, don’t make it about you, or your political or religious beliefs. Leave it anonymous, or simply say, “From a stranger who thought you might be sad today.”

4. Think of a song you love, preferably by a non-super-famous musician. Even if you already own it, download it again. Think about how that 99 cents is actually telling that musician that their work has value.

5. There are several Dunkin’ Donuts within the general area of a school. It’s probably a tough week for teachers and students both. Buy an e-gift card. Send the link to the faculty. Tell them a stranger bought them coffee.

6. Leave a copy of your favorite book in a public place. Trust that the right person will find it.

7. Locate your nearest animal shelter. You don’t need to adopt a pet, and you don’t need go in and volunteer, although that’s a really nice thing you can do, too. You can just look at the puppies and kittens playing for awhile, or feel what it’s like to hold a tiny, furry, purring creature in your arms for a bit.

8. Go to Amazon and buy a ten-pack of socks for $9.99. When you are asked for your shipping address, find the address of a homeless shelter in your community.

9. Think of the kindest person you personally know. Then write her/him an email, letting them know that you thought of them and hope they are doing well.

10. Buy an extra box of tampons the next time you’re out shopping. Leave them in the ladies’ room of your workplace for anyone to take.

11. Think about the people that you frequently interact with in your daily life but know very little about: the barista who works at your coffee shop, the janitor in your building, your mailperson. Introduce yourself. Call them by name whenever you see them again.

12. Go to a diner. Order a milkshake. Tip ten dollars.

13. Get a pile of index cards and a sharpie. Write down, “You are Important,” or “Breathe.” Carry them with you as you go about your day, leaving them in waiting room magazines, on car windshields, in elevators, in bathroom stalls. Keep one for yourself. We all need the reminder sometimes, too.

14. Dig up an embarrassing photo of yourself from your teenaged years. Post it online. Laugh gently at the person you were, and celebrate the human you are now. If you’re still in the process of living through your teenaged years, take lots of pictures. You’re doing great.

15. Think about the fact that the world can feel like a flaming cesspool of dog shit, over and over and over again.Think about bodies being blown up over insignificant cultural and political differences, think about blood being spilled out of human limbs for reasons that you will never fully understand. Think about everyone in your zip code who is homeless and hungry, cold, terrified, and lonely. Think about global warming, handguns and assault rifles, violence on television, rape statistics, domestic abuse. Think about terrorism, both domestic and abroad. Think about petty cruelty. Think about your childhood schoolyard bully. Think about the times that you won the argument but lost the friendship.

Think about all the times you got busy, and didn’t visit your relatives like you said you would, or didn’t give the dollar in the checkout line because times are rough and who even knows what the March of Dimes is. Think about how you don’t want to think about who grows your food or makes your clothes or pieces your iPhone together, because in the world we inhabit, it’s virtually impossible to exist without making some kind of ethical compromises. Think about how you were a turd in some small, stupid way this week alone to your partner or sibling or parent, because it was simply easier to be a turd than to be selfless or kind in that moment.

Think about seven billion people out there in the world. Think about the statistical three hundred and eighteen thousand births today, or the one hundred and thirty-three thousand deaths.

Think about how enormously complicated all of this is.

Think about how Mother Theresa accepted funds from corrupt embezzlers, how George Bush is an oil painter, a husband, a father, and a war criminal. Think about Princess Diana’s life’s work of charity and goodwill; remember also that she was depressed, lived through bulimia, self-harmed. Name five celebrities, and then imagine them in the morning, with horse breath and red-rimmed eyes, stumbling to splash water on their face, wiping their ass with toilet paper, just like you and me.

Acknowledge that you’re probably going to just close this browser tab without actually doing any of those things. You’re probably not going to drop your clothes off at a homeless shelter, or donate to a struggling artist, or buy coffee for teachers. I get it. I probably won’t, either. You’ve got limited funds and bills to pay and a life to live. I know. I do, too.

Accept that there are tons of incredibly easy ways to make the world a slightly less shitty place for everyone, and that you probably won’t do any of them, or at least not very many of them, and that while it’s not ideal, it doesn’t make you a terrible person. It just makes you a human.

Take a deep breath of gratitude for the people out there who actually do make the world a better place. Challenge yourself to be that person, in whatever small way you can manage right now.

Close your browser window. Shut down your laptop, silence your cell phone. Just for a minute, before you go back to Netflix, before you text someone, before you answer more emails or meet friends for drinks or order a pizza or whatever it is that you’re doing tonight: just for a second, take a moment to remember that the world is also pretty fucking magical, and you’re really lucky to be alive in it.

Do what you can.

Oh, and: return the shopping carts in the parking lot that others have abandoned, or mop up the spilled creamer at the Starbucks. It takes like ten extra seconds and it’s not that big of a deal.

Katherine Fritz

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Winston-Salem Music Festival

One of Chad's favorite bands is Drivin N Cryin so when he found out they were going to open the Gears and Guitars Music Festival with a free concert he asked me to go. I wasn't at all familiar with their music, but I figured it'd be fun.

We started out the day with Kevn Kinney performing an acoustic set at Underdog Records. Chad thoroughly enjoyed the performance, me not so much.

After that we headed to Fourth Street Filling Station for dinner. We both got the crab cake dinner special and it was delish.

We took our time and then headed over to Trade Street where the concert was. He brought a chair and we set it up fairly close to the stage. It had rained earlier and threatened to rain again so we also brought our umbrellas. It was a bit chilly, so I decided to walk to the Mast General Store to kill some time and warm up. (By the way, they have some very cute clothing. I vowed to return later in the week to try on more outfits!)

By the time I walked back to the stage the opening act was just beginning. Chad was annoyed since there was no mention of an opening act and he didn't really care for them. (I didn't really either.)

At about 8:30p Drivin N Cryin finally hit the stage. While I wasn't familiar with them, I did find myself toe tappin along to their songs. Chad was very excited and sang along to several of the songs.

It did rain on us for about 20 minutes, but the rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits. Drivin N Cryin gave a good show and Chad and I had a good time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Braces Buddies

Cade and I both got braces today. It's hard to tell from the pictures. If you look closely, you can see a few of Cade's blue bands around his metal brackets. It's even harder to tell with me, which is exactly what I wanted. I have the clear brackets.

Right now we've both only got them on the top teeth. Other than feeling like the world's oldest teenager, I'm good. Cade is being a trooper as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prop Card

Here's the birthday card Britt made for the show. My line indicated I'd purchased a card that showed "a pony with a pipe." Britt added the inside sentiment.

Monday, May 09, 2016

An Evening At The Theatre, "Heathers"

Ken had purchased several tickets to Queen City Theatre Company's production of "Heathers." We had seen it off Broadway several years ago, but he wanted Jamie and  Gray to see it for the possibility of Theatre Alliance to produce it. Since it was Mother's Day, Jamie and Gray couldn't go, so I tagged along.

I didn't much enjoy the show when we saw it in NYC. I think it was mostly because we were sitting in the front row, center, so I saw the wig netting, etc. I wasn't able to concentrate on the show because I kept being reminded that it was theatre.

In any case, I loved QCTC's production. KC Roberge was a fantastic Veronica Sawyer and Matt Carlson was wonderful as JD.

The set was very simple, the choregraphy was outstanding and it was directed beautifully by Glenn T. Griffin.

On the way home from Charlotte, I was surprised at how many songs I was quietly humming. "Candy Store" and "Our Love Is God" were two standout numbers.

Overall the production was stellar and I enjoyed the show quite a bit more than I had anticipated.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

A Very High Compliment

The Review Is In!

Nothing is as it seems in this office

Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016 11:04 pm
By BILL CISSNA Special Correspondent

In the world of Adam Bock’s play “The Receptionist,” everything in the Northeast Office seems normal, business-like, maybe even mundane. Or at least it does for a while.

Spirit Gum Theatre Company opened its production of the play Friday night at The Actor’s Group on Reynolda Road. In the compact space (it seats 30 patrons), a cast of four held the audience spellbound for 80 minutes.

At first, attention is drawn with recognizable characters and humor focused primarily on the receptionist (Cheryl Ann Roberts) and her co-worker Lorraine (Britt Cannino). The later action, which enters into a different universe, more directly involves the office’s boss Mr. Raymond (Gregg Vogelsmeier) and the Central Office’s representative Mr. Dart (Latimer Alexander V).

The hyper-organized Beverly rules over her front desk roost with opinions for the romantically-challenged, narcissist-inflicted Lorraine. Part guidance counselor, part mother, Beverly rolls out advice despite her own marriage and child-raising issues.

Beverly, at the center of this story in more ways than one, is the kind of woman who collects expensive tea cups with her husband, but reacts with “ewww” at the thought of collecting coffee mugs.

Into the midst of the phone ringing and phone call avoidance strolls the initially-pleasant Mr. Dart, who wants to see Mr. Raymond whenever he returns. He plays friendly with Beverly but, when Beverly goes out for a bit, his approach to Lorraine sheds a darker light.

At last, Mr. Raymond does return, and something of the true nature of both the Northeast and the Central offices begins to surface.

We’re given a clue when Beverly talks about her transition two years earlier to her current location. For some unknown reason, she was the only one to be transferred from the office in which she earlier worked.

Spirit Gum is a small company that has gained a well-deserved reputation of doing more with less. In the limited space, the basic set represents a standard type of office that disguises a very special kind of business. First-time director Sarah Jenkin has done a fine job of casting and lent her actor’s knowledge to making the cast’s solo moments and interactions believable even as things change drastically.

Vogelsmeier, Cannino and Alexander all bring strong support, especially as they transition from people with the normal concerns of office workers to fear or ominous threat.

As the heart and soul of the office, however, Cheryl Ann Roberts — a stage veteran of many a show in and around the Triad — presents a very natural, warm, concerned individual who nevertheless has a great “cold eye” to share with Dart. Her transition from relatively innocent front desk person to finding herself in shocking and uncertain circumstances is a joy to behold.

If you decide to catch this shape-shifting play, reservations are recommended. Seating is definitely limited — but the price is right to see a fine cast in an intriguing show.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Rehearsal Notes

To: Britt, Latimer, Cheryl Ann, Greg
Sent: Tue, May 3, 2016 12:41 am
Subject: rehearsal things

Hi guys,

Thank you again for all your hard work on the show. Tonight started out pretty frustrating (what with the malfunctioning Bluetooth, no sound cues and a late start due to same), but I was really happy with how things were going during the second run. The pacing was good, and I got caught up in the story, not in taking notes.

That being said, please please continue to not just study but DRILL your problem scenes. From Tuesday night on, no calling for line. Michael has told me he will be at home and available tomorrow before rehearsal from 6 p.m. on, if anyone wants to meet and run lines. I am happy to be there and do the same. Text and let us know if you're interested. As I mentioned, there was quite a bit of paraphrasing and adding/subtracting from lines, so please review.

I am very proud to be your director and excited about this weekend! See you tomorrow night, and try not to eat any paste in the meantime.


Monday, May 02, 2016

Prop Picture

Here's a prop picture. It's for the bulletin board behind Beverly's desk. 

This is me and "Bob" on one of our teacup hunting vacations.

This picture makes me smile so much!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Journal Preview Article

The Receptionist ranges from humor to provocative questions
Posted: Saturday, April 30, 2016 10:30 pm
By Bill Cissna Special Correspondent

Since its founding in 2013, the tiny Spirit Gum Theatre Company has quickly built a reputation for excellent play selection. Often, the picks haven’t been produced often or they are little-known gems that are hard to find in the Triad.

The company’s latest production, Adam Bock’s “The Receptionist,” is no exception.

Bock’s play, which will be presented at The Actor’s Group in West End, starts with an average morning in a company’s “Northeast Office.”

In that office, Beverly Wilkins (Cheryl Ann Roberts) holds court at the receptionist’s desk. As Spirit Gum’s website says, “She’s the first in, the last out, makes the coffee, manages the office supplies and, of course, answers the phone.”

She also, as on any other day, finds time to gossip with her co-workers — including Lorraine (Britt Cannino) — about their lives and her own.

The routine takes a significant shift when a charming representative appears from the Central Office. Mr. Dart (Latimer Alexander V) has dropped in for a talk with Beverly’s boss, Mr. Raymond (Gregg Vogelsmeier).

Sarah Jenkins, Spirit Gum’s newest company member, is also directing her first full-length play with an adult cast. She studied directing in college, though, and worked with children on two different productions of “The Little Mermaid” last summer.

“I definitely learned a lot about thinking creatively on my feet with 6 to 13-year-olds last July,” she said.

Jenkins said that the show takes a turn partway through the script.

“Without giving too much away, it starts out like the TV show ‘The Office,’ then takes an abrupt turn into ‘1984’ territory. It’s really funny, but with a creepy edge.”

Jenkins was introduced to the script soon after joining Spirit Gum.

“I really love the natural flow of the language and the humor,” she said. “And I find the darker second half of the play to be really, distressingly pertinent, considering some of the current social and political goings-on in the country of late.”

She also decided that the characters were equally interesting. “I found them all to be compelling.”

Roberts, portraying the title character, had read the script, which in turn compelled her to audition. “It’s very much an ensemble piece that challenges the actors,” she said. “It’s not what we say; it’s also what we don’t say that adds a level of intrigue.”

Roberts has acted with a number of the live theater companies around the Triad. Her favorite roles have been Willa Dean in “The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife” at Theatre Alliance, Maureen in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” at Open Space Café Theatre, and originating the role of Ellie in “Conversations in a Café.”

She also sat in the director’s chair for a Greensboro production of “All About Faith.”

“I’m finding that the script made it easy to bring Beverly to life,” she said. “She’s a very open character, in the sense that she’ll tell you what’s going on in her life and provide her opinions and advice about everyone else’s lives, too.”

“Sarah’s an actor’s director,” Roberts said. “She allows that freedom of character discovery in rehearsal, and her notes are spot on.”

Roberts worked with Alexander on “Beauty Queen of Leenane,” and she sees some similarities. “Our scenes for ‘The Receptionist’ have a ‘Beauty Queen’ quality.”

Though it’s her first time acting with Cannino and Vogelsmeier, she thinks the ensemble works well together. “I’m really excited to be working with Britt and Gregg. She cracks me up at every rehearsal, and I’ve seen him on stage several times in the area.”

Jenkins is bringing her extensive experience as an actor to her new role as a director.

“It has been very weird to switch my brain from ‘actor’ to ‘director,’” she said. “I keep trying to remember exactly how I’ve been directed in the past in ways that were helpful to me. I do think that being an actor helps me. I know what little things drive me crazy in rehearsal and try to avoid them.”

Having each ensemble character hold an important position in the story helps, too. “I want to tell the overall story, the big picture, not take on an individual role,” she said.

“The Receptionist” opens on Friday for two weekends. If past Spirit Gum shows are any indication, reservations for the small space are recommended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


This is an x-ray of my mouth.

As you can see, I have slight overlapping of my top two front teeth. There's also slight crowding of my upper teeth.

There's quite a bit of crowding of my lower teeth, such that two of my teeth are turned almost 180 degrees.

I can't wait to see what an x-ray looks like in 21 months!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cheryl Ann's Back On Stage

At the start of a typical day in the Northeast Office, Beverly deals effortlessly with ringing phones and her colleague's romantic troubles. But the appearance of a charming rep from the Central Office disrupts the friendly routine. As the true nature of the company's business becomes apparent, 'The Receptionist' raises disquieting, provocative questions about the consequences of complicity with evil.

"A twisted comedy that ripples with creepy currents" - NY Times

 After being away from the stage for almost 2 years, I’m excited to be returning in this show. I’m playing the role of Beverly, the receptionist.

The show opens a week from this Friday and will run 2 weekends. With tickets only $10.00, it’s a very affordable night out with your spouse, significant other, mother, father, sister, brother, non-immediate family members, friends, even a stranger on the street! I don’t judge and everyone could use a good laugh! Plus, it runs less than 90 minutes so there’s plenty of time to grab a(n adult) beverage after the show. (Or even one before the show!)

The venue is small, so if you would like to attend, and I’d love to see you there, please reserve seats (You still pay at the door.)

There should be a preview article about the show in Sunday’s Journal and you can visit Spirit Gum Theatrefor more information on dates and times.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Preview Article Questions

From: Bill Cissna
To: Cheryl Ann
Sent: Sun, Apr 17, 2016 5:49 pm
Subject: RE: Preview article questions

Cheryl Ann, thank you so much. I believe these answers will work out fine, but if I run short when I get to the final draft, I will let you know!

I especially like, of course, your answer on past performance/directing credits. Those are definitely four of my favorites, too. As you know from seeing lots of shows as we do, some of them are memorable and a number slip into the slippery sands of forgotten memory. “Leenane” and “Trailer Park” are two that have stuck with me since the time they were done, and will continue to until the dementia sets in.

Thanks again, and be well. Looking forward to seeing the show!


From: Cheryl Ann
Sent: Sunday, April 17, 2016 2:31 PM
To: Bill Cissna
Subject: Fwd: Preview article questions

I answered on the questions below. Let me know if you need more or have questions. 

Cheryl Ann
Sent from my iPhone 

Begin forwarded message:
From: Spirit Gum Theatre Co.
Date: April 17, 2016 at 12:48:09 AM EDT
To: Cheryl Ann Roberts
Subject: Fwd: Preview article questions
Hi Cheryl Ann -
Apologies for forgetting to get this to you before.  These are the questions Bill has for the Journal article - if you'd just send him a quick response when you get a minute, that would be great.  Thank you!
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Cissna
Date: Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 3:38 PM
Subject: Preview article questions
To: Spirit Gum Theatre Company
Hello! Here are some questions for Cheryl Ann to help with writing a preview article for the Journal. It would be helpful to have answers, via e-mail, in approximately one week (end of day Friday, the 15th). As usual, anything anyone wants to add to the prepared questions is welcomed.
1). Had you encountered this script before auditioning? What about “The Receptionist” appealed to you?
I read the script and then decided to audition. It's very much an ensemble piece that challenges the actors. It's not what we say, it's also what we don't say that adds a level of intrigue.
2). What’s your character’s name? What work or research or discussions have you had that helped you know her better? 
My character is Beverly Wilkins. The script made it easy to bring Beverly to life. She's a very open character in the sense that she'll tell you what's going on in her life and provide her opinions/advice about everyone else's lives! Sarah and I did discuss a few choices and I still have a couple of decisions to make. It's been great working with Sarah as she allows that freedom of character discovery.
3). Some of your past roles in the Triad have included
Ohmigosh, so many! Favorite roles: Willa Dean in Theatre Alliances The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, Maureen in Open Space's The Beauty Queen of Leenane, originating the role of Ellie in Conversations in a Cafe for Log-Inn Productions (and having that script published!), directing All About Faith for Log-Inn Production (and having that script published!). (I'm really not sucking up! These are my favorite and proudest moments! Lol.)
4). You know most of this stuff better than I do – anything else you’d like to add about the experience, the cast, the script – anything that doesn’t give away the story?
Lattimer and I worked together in Beauty Queen and our scenes for Receptionist have a Beauty Queen quality. I'm really excited to be working with Britt (she cracks me up every rehearsal!) and Gregg (who I've seen on stage several times). Sarah is an actor's director and she's doing an outstanding job for her directorial debut. Her notes are spot on.

Thursday, April 07, 2016


On March 23rd, the NC General Assembly signed into law House Bill #2, now known as HB2. As you may know, this bill was a significant step in the wrong direction for civil rights but most importantly, for the rights of LGBT citizens in North Carolina. Although it has been some weeks since the passing of HB2, several businesses, organizations, and entertainment companies have decided to end their ties with the state. 

The push to repeal HB2 continues and the Adam Foundation encourages you to continue your support during this critical time for LGBT rights here in North Carolina. It is critical for us to continue this conversation with our friends, family, coworkers, associates, and acquaintances, as we do not want this fight to move out of the spotlight it deserves. 

Saturday, April 02, 2016

These 9 Mental Habits Will Make You Bitter

By Andrea Bonior, Ph.D

Over the course of our lives, we run across all types of people—and the fact that we're prone to classifying them as "types" shows just how much we tend to believe that people are certain ways by nature. But the truth is, many aspects of our personalities and emotional make-ups develop over time through the psychological habits we have adopted—the ways we interpret events, the thoughts that run through our heads like clockwork, and the explanations we give ourselves for how the world works. Few people want to become bitter and negative, and yet it's not uncommon, especially for people who have experienced more than their share of tough times.

Want to have a more hopeful and optimistic outlook on life? See if you can diminish these mental habits, and go from there:

1. Not forgiving others.
Many people equate forgiveness with forgetting that something happened altogether, or with saying that it was okay that it did. That's not what forgiveness is about. And many people claim that they have forgiven someone for something, while in reality, they have not. What real forgiveness means is allowing yourself to be free from the resentment of having been wronged, to accept that something has occurred and to believe that you deserve to move on from it. It is letting go in its healthiest, truest sense. Forgiveness doesn't minimize the wrongness of someone's actions. It just allows you to no longer be hurt by them. Forgiveness is associated with reduced depression, stress, and hostility, and improved self-esteem and even physical health. When you look at its benefits, you'll see it's about being kind to yourself, not doing a favor for someone else.

2. Not forgiving yourself.
Even more kind is allowing yourself to move on from your own mistakes. Regret, embarrassment, shame, and guilt from a single mistake can haunt you for years. And the ensuing negative thoughts, stress, and pessimistic outlook can create a dynamic in which you view the world in a bitter way—all because you feel that you are unworthy of feeling okay. In fact, forgiving yourself has been shown to help reduce feelings of depression. If you find yourself plagued by thoughts of past mistakes, start noticing and exploring them: When are they at their worst? What feelings do they bring on? What makes them go away? If you are locked in a never-ending fight with the thoughts, trying to "reason" your way out of them, see if instead you can learn to accept their presence without endorsing their meaning.

3. All-or-none thinking.
It is amazing how frequently all-or-none thinking seems to underlie such a variety of unhealthy psychological states. From panic to low self-esteem, from  perfectionism to hopelessness, it is not uncommon to uncover hidden and not-so-hidden patterns of this dysfunctional thinking in my clients when they are struggling with a negative worldview. What all-or-none thinking does, by its very definition, is make your outlook on life more rigid. It magnifies negativity by making it appear bigger than it really is. It keeps your mind focusing on what's gone wrong rather than what's gone right, and it sets you up to see the bad in people, things, and life more often than the good. See if you can catch yourself making this mistake in daily life: Are you inherently uncomfortable with shades of gray, and do you prefer things to be more black-and-white? That might be good for organizing a closet, but when it comes to how you process bad things happening, it can hurt you.

4. Holding others to a higher standard than you hold yourself.
When you are constantly disappointed and annoyed with people around you, it could mean that you are having an unlucky break and not being treated the way you deserve. It could also mean that you are choosing ill-fitting people to accompany you throughout life. Or, more likely, it could mean that you have a set of overly rigid standards for other people's behavior that you don't apply to yourself. In fact, sometimes we are hardest on others when we see our own traits in them—things that we don't like to admit or examine. Seeing them in others makes us uncomfortable. Like the classic hypocrite who crusades against sins far smaller than the ones he or she commits in their private life, it's bound to create a disconnect within us that causes stress, hostility, and negativity. Examine what's really going on when you're chronically frustrated with someone, whether it's the stranger in the left-hand turn lane or your messy roommate. Are you looking at the whole picture? What if, instead of bathing in the negative energy, you chose to reflect on the last time you made a mistake and the way it may have looked to others? Sending empathy to others, even when you least want to, can be a surprisingly powerful tool to take away the anger.

5. Believing that things will never get better.
Severe hopelessness can be particularly dangerous, putting people at increased risk for depression and even suicide. But even milder beliefs about how things will never improve can do significant day-to-day damage: "My sister will never get her act together," "I'll never be able to pay off my student loans," and "The world is a bad place and getting worse" are all beliefs that show hopelessness and can blind a person to significant evidence to the contrary. A lifetime is, for most of us, a decades-long ride that sees many highs and many lows, and many ebbs and many flows. Believing that there is a downward trajectory obstructs the beauty of everyday things and keeps you hopelessly and inaccurately believing negative ideas—giving them a staying power that they don't deserve. Imagine how much peace you can feel simply by allowing yourself to believe that harmonious and beautiful things are out there in the world, yet to be experienced. It takes practice to see them, but they are there and always will be.

6. Believing you have less control over your life than you really do.
Learned helplessness, first identified by Martin Seligman, involves the belief that we don't have control over our situations even in cases when we do, and so we convince ourselves we shouldn't even bother to try. This mindset has been shown to be correlated with depression, and for some people it follows a period of time when they really did not have much control over their lives—perhaps while suffering from abuse or neglect, for example. But when the belief that we have no power persists after we, in actuality, have gained power back, we're denying ourselves the potential to make our lives better. And we increase the likelihood that we view the world as an inherently demoralizing place, convincing ourselves that we can't make a difference. The more we can feel that we steer our own ship, the more we can build a life that suits us. Are you underestimating your ability to get out of that dead-end job, find a partner that treats you well, or develop a peaceful resolution to your years-long fight with your brother? If so, you are doing yourself a great disservice—and increasing your chances of letting your mindset harden into a bitter one.

7. Believing the myth of arrival.
The myth of arrival refers to the idea that once you have "arrived" at a certain point in your life, everything will fall into place and the life you have waited for will finally begin. But sometimes this belief—that things will automatically get better once a certain thing happens—can be nearly as damaging as believing that things will never improve, because the former sets you up for a devastating letdown when things actually don't get better. "Once I finally meet the one/get my promotion/lose those 20 pounds/live in a bigger house/get my kids settled into independent and successful lives...then I'll be happy" are common ways of thinking. But putting our happiness on hold—and in the hands of a random life event that may or may not have any effect whatsoever on our happiness—is giving way too much power to an external situation and not nearly enough to ourselves. It robs us of the ability to find joy on our own terms. It makes us miss the proverbial journey because we're so hyper-focused on the destination. Worst of all, it sets us up for a crash when we realize that it wasn't those 20 pounds making us depressed—it was the fact that we were depressed, for different reasons entirely, that made us put on 20 pounds in the first place.

8. Overgeneralizing.
It was one of the "cognitive errors" that Aaron Beck first identified as putting people at higher risk for depression, and it often manifests itself in believing that if you fail at one thing, you will fail at everything. The tendency to overgeneralize—to turn a molehill of a setback into a mountain—also underlies the thinking patterns of a lot of people who have pervasive negative views of the world around them. Sometimes this type of thinking can even look like paranoia: "Give anyone an inch, and they will take a mile" or "Just about everyone will take advantage of you if you let them." It's true that not every person is a paragon of virtue, but it's also true that there is a lot of goodness out there if you just let yourself look for it. And just because there are scammers doesn't mean that you should stop helping those who aren't. After all, helping others gives us a mood boost. So examine your beliefs to see if you are—against all available evidence—overgeneralizing the world into a dangerous or hostile place, which may show hostility coming from within.

9. Not practicing gratitude.
Being grateful for things big and small brings big changes to your mental health. It is much harder to be bitter about your late-arriving dinner and have it ruin your whole night if you allow yourself to acknowledge how gorgeous the blooming trees outside the restaurant window were while you waited, or the fact that you are able to afford to pay someone to cook you a meal at all—or the fact that you were with someone who could make you laugh, no matter how much your stomachs were growling. Some people may think that gratitude, meditation or keeping a list of things that you're grateful for is hokey. But would you rather be a little hokey or be the person who goes their whole life without the mental and physical health benefits—lessened depression, improved immune system functioning and heart health, among many others—that gratitude brings?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Got A Callback!

From: Spirit Gum Theatre Co.
Sent: Tue, Mar 15, 2016 10:22 am
Subject: The Receptionist

Hi folks,

Thank you for coming out to audition, and we'd like to see you at callbacks on Wednesday night! There will be some actors auditioning for the first time that evening, so please come at 7:30 rather than 7.
Thanks again, and see you tomorrow evening!

Sarah and Spirit Gum Theatre Co.

Friday, January 01, 2016

2016 Motto

This is my motto for 2016. I work for the world's largest airline. The. World's. Largest! It's time to put my travel benefits to good use and fill up my passport!