Little Miracles...

Lately I have been feeling immensely aware of God's love.

As someone who suffers from depression, there are moments that often seem hopeless, pointless and even unworthy of Divinity's attention. But I believe that God works in mysterious ways, often times through other people.

New York City gets an unfair stereotype. It's assumed that people living here are rude and impatient- too busy to deal with others. I know I am a little biased, but I've found this could not be further from the truth.

To the Elderly Woman who lives in my building, but spends all her spare time sitting on the front steps people watching: Thank you for always greeting me with a resounding "hola linda!"  (which means hello pretty) I look forward to seeing you and your bright pink lipstick stained smile, every day. You are an immediate reminder of love, never failing to put a pep in my step.

To the Women on the Subway last Sunday: I had returned from a day of helping a friend with an event. I had been allowed to take the flower arrangements home with me, and although I could only fit 2 in a huge box, it was a struggle to hold it up on the subway.  You reached out and touched my hand, telling me to place the box on your laps for the remainder of the trip. After much protesting you insisted, and then were kind enough to talk with me the rest of the ride. Your small act of kindness was a sweet reminder that little acts of Charity sometimes make the biggest impact.

To one of my customers last week: You were on a date with your wife, sitting next to a family of 5. They were from North Carolina on a trip to visit their son/brother who was enlisted in the army and home for his birthday. Upon overhearing this you requested that I buy them all dessert, and place the cost on your bill. It was a small $10 gift, that brought tears to their eyes as we sang happy birthday to the soldier. Thank you for showing such love for a complete stranger, and reminding me that you don't have to know someone to truly love them.

And lastly, to Dave: a complete stranger who approached me as I sat in Central Park after my run this morning. He parked his bike right in front of me and began telling me that it was important to want change, and sincerely be open to what it means. He told me to be open to the possibilities of living, and to never close myself off to life. It was the most random interaction I have had in quite sometime, and with a burly tennis teaching/bike riding hippie, nonetheless...but it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

I'm thankful for life. For the opportunity we have to interact with each other, and be one another's little miracles. We truly are a beautiful part of this earthly existence.


Hard Questions...

"I've been feeling really mortal lately" - Frank Ocean

There's nothing that can cause you to question your own mortality quite like death. Really, it can be the loss of a person, a dream, or even the ending to a period of life. There's something about losing that makes you examine what you ever gained.

Along with all these thoughts comes a quick panic sponsored by the idea of time. Time and Loss have always seemed to go hand in hand for me, especially when I feel as though I'm not working hard enough to make the most out of the gift of the time i've been given.

One of my best friend's mothers passed away recently from a long battle with breast cancer. My friend lost his Mother at the young age of 23... so heart breakingly unfair.
Along with this, my Dad casually texted me that in 15 years he would be 70. The text, although meant to be an odd realization shared, sent my heart into my stomach. I suddenly began thinking of all the time i've wasted.

I seem to have woken up today, as if from a deep slumber, only to realize that death is becoming more prevalent in my day to day dealings. Although I believe that there is life after this, that we have the opportunity to be reunited with our loved ones after passing through the veil- it still leaves me to wonder:

"am I wasting this one life? am I appreciating all the pain, beauty, excitement and devastation that this world has to offer? will I be satisfied, looking back on this mortal experience i've created for myself?"

"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"
I read this beautiful Edgar Allen Poe quote the other day and it caused me to think even further: perhaps i've already conceded that I will be a failure, and accepted a life of living as if I were dead? How sad a life void of living could be, and yet- I'm guilty of that very idea. After all, isn't the idea of numbing our pain, doing just that?  

I don't know that I have any real answers. As I sit here in the dark room contemplating my own mortal existence, I am at a loss...

Is living harder, better, and with more intent the key? Do those who say 'seize the day!' or 'eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die' have it correct? Or rather, perhaps it's living in a way that will be devoid of regrets? Is it having the courage to dream? I guess what i'm really asking is...
What makes us living


I am a child of God....

I had a really rough night, for a lot of personal reasons I won't go in to; but let's just say that it included 2 hours of sleep, getting sick and a whole lot more.

When I woke up before my alarm there was only one place I wanted to be: church.  I just knew that it would help me feel so much better, however I didn't foresee the few little ways that God would show me he loved me today.

1. I had been waiting for the bus for 20 minutes, in 19 degree weather when a lady approached the bus stop. I asked her what the time was, and then we continued waiting for a few minutes.  She hailed a cab, turned to me and said "would you care to join me? I'm just going down to Penn Station and I can drop you off on the way... and don't worry about paying a cent".  I was shocked (this never happens in New York City) and thankfully agreed, thus getting to church on time.

2. I found a dollar bill in my pocket as I sat down on the church pew. As I unfolded it, there was a little message on the end of it the said... "Have a great day :)"

3. As I left church and went down into the subway, there was a man with a keyboard singing a beautiful rendition of one of my favorite songs... "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered". It brought a tear to my eye and a prayer of thanks in my heart.

I know these seem completely minute, but to me~ it was a quiet reminder that God was aware of me, that I am His Child, and that He loves me.


Les Miserables Review

I won't bore you by spending the first 3 paragraphs of this review convincing you of my ardor for the musical Les Miserables; however, let it suffice to say, that if there is anyone who knows this musical up/down/backwards/and forwards- it's me. It should simply be enough for you to know that I have a double  BFA in Musical Theatre and Professional Acting, and I know what i'm talking about.

Now that we've established that i'm somewhat qualified to write a review, let us begin.

I went into viewing this movie with extreme trepidation. After hearing Anne Hathaway's vocals in the trailer, I just knew I was in for serious disappointment. But I tried to keep an optimistic outlook.

It was wonderful to be able to attend the movie with my Dad, who had never heard the musical, read the book, or seen the Liam Neeson film version. He allowed me to witness a first time reaction to this bold and beautiful story, which is always exciting for me.

For those of you who LOVED this movie--- I can understand why.  I have a theory about Les Miserable and West Side Story.  I feel as though their foundation is so immaculate, that little can be done (or not done) to dissuade the audience from being deeply moved when it's completed. In other words: If you've ever gone to see a crappy high school version of either of these musicals and still been weeping at the end of the show, it's because the material is amazing enough to transcend lackluster actors.

 I refuse to be impressed by the fact that the actors were singing live. I feel as though the whole world has been put under some kind of spell and I'm the only one standing here saying... since when is it impressive that a person actually sings live!?  Has this not been done since the beginning of the arts during the Greek and Roman empire? I'll save you the energy it will take you to look this answer up: Yes it has.  I understand that it's never been 'done' in a movie musical before, but trust me, singing live is not a difficult task for people that can actually sing.

Now let us move on to the actors. Let me go ahead and preface these critiques by saying that every single one of these people acted their faces off. They all did a fantastic job with their acting, and should be commended for at least that much.

Hugh Jackman- I actually loved his performance. I thought he could have focused on the singing a little more in the first quarter of the movie, but over all he was fantastic. I know several people think his version of 'God on High' was a little too much, and i'll agree that it could have had a little more variety, but no one can deny that by the end of the movie he had us in the palm of his hands. He took us on a beautiful journey with Jean Valjean, and his singing matched his acting.

Russell Crowe- Shame on Tom Hooper for casting such a pivotal role solely based on looks. He certainly appeared to fit the part, and was even able to somewhat act it, but this man was so apparently scared stiff about hitting the right notes, that he made us miss a vital layer to this man... his relentless conflict with himself. Please take a moment and watch Philip Quast sing the suicide of Javert. It isn't a timid moment that Russell Crowe struggles to portray, but in fact a heart wrenching ballad of internal hatred.

The Factory Girls and Anne Hathaway- I was very confused by the choice to keep all the singing in the factory quiet and speech- like. Why wasn't it fully sung out like the male ensemble during the revolution scenes? It doesn't make any sense. This is a vital scene for Fantine's character and to keep it quaint served no purpose. Here is what it's really supposed to sound like : from the 25th Anniversary Concert Edition.   Anne Hathaway was extremely disappointing to me, and I am quite confused as to why everyone is singing her Oscar praises. She did a beautiful job acting the role, but this is a musical and her singing was 90 % speaking on pitch, with a few quivering outbursts that were called singing. She failed to recognize the power of her character's songs, and instead of using the music to help her character (like many of her male counterparts) she made it seem like it was hindering her from acting to her full ability. This is one of the most important roles vocally and she completely failed. If you listen to her singing, without watching her, it seems like a really bad youtube singer that Simon Cowell would tear apart. This is how 'I dreamed a dream' is supposed to sound.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter- These two were great, and although some people exclaim they were too 'over the top', to those people I say... it's the director Tom Hooper's fault for trying to make the first half of the movie so "realistic" that the minute we are bombarded by a fun musical theatre song, it seems out of place. These two were great as their characters and I loved them.

Amanda Seyfried- There are no words to describe how much I HATED her in this role. Sure she did a great job batting her eyes, and making us believe she was the innocent and pure daughter of Valjean. I had two major problems with Amanda in this role. 1) Young Cosette shouldn't be a better singer than old Cosette- and in this case, she was.  2) Cosette is the only lyric soprano in the entire musical of Les Miserables, and the reason being, you are supposed to fall in love with her through her lyrical voice. Amanda sounded awful- and the vibrato in her voice made me want to puncture my eardrums. THIS is what Cosette is supposed to sound like.

Samantha Barks- I was slightly disappointed in Samantha seeing as how she was the only female to transition from the stage version to the movie. If you watch clips of her singing in the stage version she significantly toned down her singing in the movie... why? Her acting was better in the movie than the stage, but why does that mean you have to tone down your awesome song?

Eddie Redmayne- One of my favorite surprises from the movie. His rendition of 'Empty Chairs and Empty Tables' was perfection. I wish that Anne and Samantha would have watched him sing this song to understand that you don't have to sacrifice great vocals to achieve even better acting. He was the best combination and example of using your singing to fuel your acting forward. Bravo to him.

Aaron Tveit and Male Ensemble- These men were basically what revived the movie for me.
Their spunk, charisma and beautiful voices brought me back into the game and completely changed the whole disdain I had had up until their entrances. Bravo gentlemen!

Lastly, I wanted to mention what a shame it was that one of the most beautiful characters in the whole show was completely diminished to near nothing: The orchestration.  It is another fault of Tom Hooper, who chose to make the beautiful and stunning orchestrations of Les Miserables, simply background music. They really are a character of their own, and to see them reduced to such a state was heart breaking.

The movie was visually beautiful, and it was neat to be able to observe this story in a setting other than the stage for once, but over all, the movie fell terribly short. I just cannot wrap my head around casting lead actors, in a movie musical that has no more than 10 spoken lines, that cannot sing. There is a difference between being able to carry a tune (which all of them were capable of) and being able to truly SING. I would NEVER want to pick up the movie soundtrack for this version of Les Miserables- and isn't that truly unfortunate? It would have been better for everyone involved if they had pre-recorded or dubbed the majority of them.

In other words, the only thing I found truly Miserable was this version of my favorite tragic, beautiful story.


Oh What A Night~

Tonight, I chose to ring in the new year, working a private party for one of our restaurant's investors. I was blessed to be surrounded by grateful guests, friends, and a DJ playing some pretty awesome music. As I counted down to the new year of 2013, I felt so many things, but among these emotions, I was overwhelmed with excitement for the future... 

I am incredibly thankful to have rung in this new year working hard, dancing, smiling, hugging, observing lovers kissing and skipping down the street,  laughing with my cab driver about the adventures of his evening, and Selena's song "Dreaming of You" (which has been stuck in my head all night).  

If this is any indication of how the rest of the year will be, I can't wait :)