Now with special sauce.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I can't believe I am writing about the Superbowl.

Football wasn't the only lackluster part of this year's Superbowl.  The commercials were absolutely unworthy of mention minus a fun one from Radioshack that - while incredible - really wasn't a "Superbowl Commercial" as we are used to.  Maybe it's because all sorts of Superbowl commercials were released online in the weeks before the actual event - which makes them - NOT Superbowl commercials - since I could release a "Superbowl Commercial" online every day until next year and it doesn't make it one.  Aside from Radioshack - there is only one other that I can even remember - it is, of course, Coke's controversial ad with people singing "America the Beautiful" in various languages.  I have SO many things to say about this yet I feel compelled to spare you - as so much of it shouldn't even need to be said.  All I know is that I watched this commercial in the presence of a room full of family friends who clearly represent the majority of this country's opinon.  And by "opinion" I politely decline pointing out their intelligence or willingness to think beyond their very first impulse of  "How DARE they sing 'America the Beautiful' in another language!".  Honestly - I had a jolt when that reaction struck me - but immediately it was replaced with thought - a productive one that immediately informed me that many people were going to be appalled.  I never expected I was sitting in a room full of them - nor did I expect that so very many would feel exactly the same and be bold enough to admit their ignorance!  A close friend with me quickly reasoned that this might not have been the best choice for a commercial for a Superbowl audience.  He was content with that - to put the fault on Coke for their poor choice.  In many ways - I do not disagree.

When you awaken to the controversy on The Facebook - you realize what a bad advertising choice this was for Coke but a fantastic progressive choice it was for them.  While it may or may not prove to sell more Coke - they took a chance.  They saw the country moving forward enough to create this conversation.  It's a conversation I literally am astounded to even be having - but they truly believed that enough people already "get it" that this might be a good move.  At the end of the day you really have to remember - they aren't here to change minds - they are here to sell a product.  They really thought this would appeal to the majority - or - if not - at least stir an exciting conversation.  And it is.  They actually spent money on this to air during the actual Superbowl and not simply on Youtube the week prior.

I hate to have to type it out but I am writing a blog on it so:

1. America is MADE of people from every country on the face of the earth - we did not all just magically pop up on this land.
2. Several of those people had to learn English and live in a brand new land in order to enjoy the freedoms many of their ancestors fought for - something most "Americans" never will do.  Try moving to a brand new country and lasting more than a few months - especially in countries with less freedoms than USA.
3. People singing about how beautiful America is in any language at all is joyous!  It's testament to their genuine LOVE of America's beauty and it's PEOPLE (wha???). 
4. How many of you are here BECAUSE of your ancestor's coming here confronting much more hatred than these folks now?
5. It is not a threat to you or your "American-ness".  It is a beautiful celebration of it! 



Friday, May 3, 2013

Just call me "Tubs".

Have you ever felt absolutely disgusted with your own body in general and then mortified by what you see when you look at pictures of yourself - only to revisit those photos years later and WISHED you could be that thin again because you are currently feeling exactly the same way or worse?  Were you ever actually as heavy as you thought?  Will you EVER be happy with your body as it is right. now.?  I rarely have been.  I love food too much to be anorexic -- but never really binged enough to need to purge.... but I definitely have a disorder.  A body disorder?  Is that a thing?  Do all women have that here in America?  I apologize as I realize I am just asking a lot of questions -- and I am not examining uncharted territory by any means.  We know the deal -- our culture does not appear to welcome real women's natural bodies for some bizarre reason.  Of course you find out in reality that nearly every body type is desirable to someone - somewhere....and because there are A LOT of someones all over this country and the world -- we are actually JUST FINE.  Two of my most satisfying & supportive relationships have occurred when I have felt "overweight" (including right now).  Realizing this still doesn't help my own body image and that is just silly. 

There was one point in my life I acquired some peace on this issue.  I bought a book, "The Idiots Guide to Yoga".  I read a lot of the book and looked at the pictures -- but didn't really practice any of the positions.  One thing that really resonated with me was the information about it's connection it's Buddhist philosophies of eliminating negative thoughts, words, & actions - to others - but most importantly to yourself.  For the first time in my life I realized how terrible I had been to myself all those years.  If any friend of mine were saying the things that would go through my head every time I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror to me -- I would definitely rethink that friendship.  So I did the same for myself.  That summer was terrific for me.  I had some extra time on my hands and was able to fit in truly mini workouts almost all week (20 minutes a day -- no kidding)....but I definitely was eating whatever the hell I wanted....and I lost 10 pounds in a month!  This was many moons ago -- and I have experienced a few gains and losses since but my happiest moments with myself have been when I did NOT permit these negative thoughts/words to myself about myself.  When I let myself truly enjoy everything I ate -- whether "good for me" or "bad"....and didn't punish myself.  I have maintained a very happy weight with myself using this "method". 

So - why am I writing about this?  I have recently been rehearsing for the brand new Off-Broadway production of "Spandex the Musical".  I suppose that may explain a lot right there, but for those of you who weren't around in the 80's.....aerobics was the fitness craze which swept the nation.  The wardrobe of choice was a breathable -- stretchy fabric called Spandex!  My role in this musical is that of Linda, a housewife/mother in her 40s who has lost her figure - but mostly her confidence and herself.  She finds her power once again through the inspiring friends she meets at aerobics and while competing in the National Crystal Light Aerobic Olympics - Hosted by Alan Thicke - inspired by real-life events!  I cannot tell you the mental ride I have been on with this experience.  From the callbacks to getting cast - to reading the script and realizing my character is referred to as "Tubs".....I have very conflicting highs and lows.  Winning this role feels amazing as a performer -- but terrible as a woman.  What a bizarre dichotomy for an actress.  Now - I am also not 40...and people claim I don't look 35 (which I am) -- but I have been playing that (& older) for several years now!  So I already am aware that casting often isn't 100% true to character descriptions but I can't help finding this experience so bizarre.  While I know my body is far from thin -- it definitely isn't what I see when I envision "Linda"...yet I could see why I might be perfect for her at the same time. 

This experience is unique for me on so many levels -- one of which is the need for me to wear workout clothes in rehearsal 5 days a week - with the end result being in actual Spandex -- something I don't think I OWNED in the 80's because I did not think I would look right in it (even at 8 to pre-teen I didn't think I could pull it off!).  You stare at yourself in the mirror as you rehearse and think terrible thoughts about all your rolls -- and wonder what other people might think of you (who clearly are paying no attention as they are doing the same thing to themselves).  Only this time --  every time I caught a glimpse of myself and thought of how terrible I looked -- all I could think of was how right that made me for "Linda".  I have NEVER felt so justified in this body I have.  Never.  It is exciting and uncomfortable all at once.  I have been attempting to lose at least 10 pounds for the past 2 years....and thought this might jumpstart that crusade.  The day we started rehearsals - I started another "diet" --- and hoped that - come opening night I could do the show without my "sucky-inny-clothes", as I call them --- otherwise known as "Spanx".  I thought this was when I was going to lose that 10 pounds.  How weird it felt though --- as I was now cast as someone called "Tubs"....maybe I shouldn't?  Well -- have no fear --- the hectic schedule has made it very difficult for me to keep up with my diet -- and that weight has not come off and I still despise my belly every time I see it in the mirror. 

I have been dying to share this experience with people....not because I have some incredible insight to share -- but because I feel like most women with similar feelings never get to have this type of experience.  Most American women never feel 100% perfect in the body they are in.  And that is a shame.  I still don't -- but I get to as I play "Linda" - who is taking control of her life and getting in shape.  Sure, she is doing aerobics - but I like to think she is finding her success the only way I think anyone does - by eliminating those negative thoughts which sabotage your efforts and truly loving and being kind to yourself.  It all reminds me of how we do have the power within ourselves to alter those thoughts which hinder our well-being.  If I had lost that 10 pounds 1 or 2 years ago -- as I had been attempting, and my body looked like I wish it did -- would I have booked this show?  Probably not. 

I won't lie -- I am still 100% terrified by any publicity shots that are coming --- or just at the thought of any of my friends and family seeing my imperfectness on display in Spandex costumes in the theatre district just Off-Broadway!  After several years doing some of my best work outside of NYC -- now my imperfections will be the most accessible in whatever press we get and obviously visible on stage every show.  I am uncomfortable with every inch of this -- but doing my best to identify with being so "right" to play Linda -- a sweetheart of a woman who has to learn to love herself just as she is - right now - something we should all be doing - all the time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

  You all know the story.  Girl visits NYC and it's love at first sight.  All she wants is to move to NYC and perform on Broadway.  She just hopes that New York will take her in and be kind.  Well, okay - anyone who saw my cabaret knows that isn't exactly what I had expected.  I knew it would be really difficult - but hell if that didn't excite me even more!  The first time I set foot in NYC a pigeon shit on my head but I didn't care.  I expected it.  So I moved here and started my NYC romance.  Like every exhilarating love affair - I found passion, inspiration, & creativity with just the right amount of hurdles and pigeon shit laced throughout to keep it a constant challenge/chance for growth.  New York forced me to evolve in ways I never dreamed I would and learn exactly what I'm made of.  Though I knew my dream of Broadway would be difficult - I feel a little silly now saying that somehow - deep inside - I never doubted it would happen.  Here I sit - nearly 11 years later and well, let's just say that dream feels 100% as challenging as it did the day that pigeon shit on my head.  People often would ask me in those first few years whether I was thinking about giving L.A. a try - or did I miss Pittsburgh?  My mom, of course, knew me best and could tell within that first year or so that I wasn't coming home - that NYC was going to be my home for a very long time.  She saw my love for the city and continues - to this day - to support me fully in my pursuit of my dreams here.  All I have ever wanted, that I just knew was in my grasp if I did the work, was living in NYC and performing.  That was one thing I was sure of.

  One thing I've never been sure of is whether or not I'd ever find someone to share my life with.  Of course I grew up expecting that "someday I'll meet someone" - because that is just what is supposed to happen - but as I grew older it really felt like that part of my life might never be like it's "supposed" to happen - and I honestly started to just accept this.  I knew I was likely going to live in NYC for the rest of my life and would most certainly be that crazy lady on the train with weird glasses wearing leopard pajama pants and talking to herself.  And that was okay by me.  My, how life can through you for a loop sometimes! Without getting too crazy into the nitty or the gritty -- the important part here is that I did meet someone.  And that someone loves me.  And I am crazy about that someone.  And that someone lives out in New Jersey.  So....guess who's moving to Jersey?  That's right - it's ME!  I know - I am as stunned as you are - which is the point of this post.  It wasn't an easy decision and again - neither the gritty nor the nitty is necessary here but....the EXCITING thing is - I am so giddy to begin my life with this guy without all the commuting!!!  The thing I haven't been as excited about is leaving my NYC.  That is the tough part.  There are so many things I am frightened of as I prepare to make my commute to my city-life sightly more difficult.

  So there I am - the day before I am to move 98% of my belongings from Queens to Jersey --- and I hop on the subway to meet my Jersey boy in the city for a "Final Saturday as an Official New Yorker" dinner type thing.  I am a little melancholy - as I have been with all my recent NY activities - when I hear an accordion player step onto my subway car and start playing/singing "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles.  Now - if you live in the city - you know there are a cast of familiar characters you see on your trains -- every once in a while there is someone new - but generally it's the same folks with the same old schtick.  Well, I have never seen this dude and I have rarely - if ever - heard any of them playing this song.  More importantly - this is one of the FEW songs my Jersey boy sang lead on in his old band.  I couldn't help myself as a smile spread from ear to ear and I heard the comforting words "It's all right.".  I begin to get out a dollar for this guy (which I try to do when they genuinely make me laugh/smile).  He had stopped playing and collected from someone else - but was on his way over to me.  My head was down as I struggled in my pocket when suddenly he is hovering over me and loudly singing directly at me "SUN SUN SUN - HERE IT COMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SUN SUN SUN - HERE IT COMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  I gasped and giggled as he stopped and apologized for scaring me.  I gave him my buck and then he remained there - playing some romantic tune you'd hear if you and your love were being serenaded by an accordion at a little Italian restaurant.  But I was all alone.  It was perfectly ridiculous.  All of it.  It was one of my favorite types of NYC moments - I hadn't had one like that in a while.  And it came just when I needed it.  It felt like my "old flame" NYC was giving the thumbs up to this move with it's blessings - reminding me that it will always be right here and that I will always be just as much a part of it.  Only now it would be my (slightly) long-distance commute.

So that girl moves to New Jersey.  And it's all right....

Monday, December 31, 2012

Yes I Hear the People Sing But What About the Rest of the Music?

 I know you need another "Les Miserables" movie review like you need another Facebook status mentioning someone's gym habits or other menial events but I am compelled to write this.  I am not going to summarize the plot of the movie like other reviews partially because you can google it and mostly because very few people are going to even read this.

  Here it is - down to brass tacks (whatever the hell that means).  I hesitate to review actual performances for a few reasons - the most important of which is that my problem with this film has nothing to do with the many performers who clearly had passion for the project and the desire and some of the talent to pull it off.  The least important being that it is obvious that the casting of this and every musical theatre film (and often Broadway productions) these days has about 1% to do with appropriateness of age/type or vocal ability and 110% with star names. I know the deal.  As a musical theatre lover I am giddy when they make a movie musical but not because I fool myself into thinking it will ever do the actual show full justice.  I expect to be less than thrilled.  But that does not mean I go to the theatre jaded and ready to despise it.  I am giddy they are making them since that means MANY more people may have the opportunity to fall in love with them like I did.  I was raised on movie musicals.  I don't even mean the original ones of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.  I mean the ones like "Annie", "Oliver", & "Little Shop of Horrors", "West Side Story" and all of the Rodgers & Hammerstein too....but also some of the most terribly acted and just barely sung "A Chorus Line" and more doozies! "A Chorus Line" is like that phrase - "A face only a mother could love."  Only a girl who would eventually find her life's dream in those movies of one day performing on Broadway could love that film.  But they knew what was important.  The music.  When I watched "Les Miserables" last night I was appalled at how embarrassed this director was of the music --- the accompaniment was often barely audible and rarely matched what the performers were doing with their tempos in their lyrics.  Sometimes it was as if the actors themselves were embarrassed of their singing - not actually belting (as some here are able) or singing in a full legit sound (as a few here were able) as this music was meant to be sung for fear that audiences there for Wolverine and The Gladiator might not like it.  I do not blame the performers for this at all.  It is clear that someone's idea for this film was not to make it so musical-like which is especially off the mark with a show which is ENTIRELY MUSIC.  The entire heartbeat of the show was 100% missing.  The performers had passion individually but there was no glue holding them all together.  I am aware that director Tom Hooper attempted to utilize a wonderful idea for the filming of these songs - which is not normally used for movie musicals - and had live singing with the live accompaniment fed into their ears to allow for a more natural and real live performance feel.  I love this idea and am horribly disheartened at the end result.  I think this is the key to why this film is a flop.  The orchestrations do NOT match the live singing in tempo or in the physical volume of the audio tracks - ever.  I do not know if an orchestra was conducted to match the film and I can only imagine how difficult that process would have been.  All I know is that it was a necessary part of the process that seemed to have been rushed through.  Either that and/or those who then synced the vocals with the orchestrations in tempo and audio levels dropped all their balls.  As a result, the entire movie was a really slow and boring disgrace.  I couldn't even hear the singing at the very beginning and then I barely ever heard the accompaniment throughout.  If I knew nothing about this show the only thing I'd know when it ended was how happy I was.

  I'd rather not get to detailed about opinions of the cast though I did enjoy Samantha Barks' "Eponine" and yes, Anne Hathaway had some magical moments as a too young Fantine.  While well cast - Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter appeared to have been inappropriately directed to be in a Tim Burton film rather than into the broad comedic relief of their actual characters in this show.  The awful muppet sounds of Russell Crow's singing are the LEAST of this film's worries.

  While I fully expected to be slightly disappointed with this film -- as I am about several movie musicals - the one thing I can always walk out saying is that I am just glad they are making them.  While I hope they continue making them - I hope no one ever makes the same mistakes they made in this one.  Go back to lip synching if you are too lazy to do the rest of the work.  And stop apologizing for the fact that it's a musical --- let it be one.  SCADS of people LOVE them - and more will begin to if you remember this.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I am a Shellac Addict and this is my story.

When I was a young girl I became instantly obsessed with my nails.  It all began when Mrs. Dinapole, my kindergarten teacher would read us stories and I saw her pretty claws turning those pages.  I don't think I knew what any of the tales were about because all I could do was stare at those beautiful red talons tapping the pages and pointing at each corresponding colorful illustration.  I headed straight home to play teacher where I would place the pen caps from my markers on each of my fingers and open up a book to pretend to read to my imaginary students.  As soon as I was able I began purchasing every nail polish color that existed on this planet - and several that appeared to be from others.  My collection was legendary.  My nails were always painted.  Maintaining my nails was one of the most important things to me and I somehow had the time to devote to this.  I remember selecting which musical instrument I was to learn in 3rd grade.  Though I desperately wanted to play the violin - I chose the flute instead - so I wouldn't have to cut my nails to hold down the strings.  Of course when I got older and had more money to waste - I would keep myself in acrylic tips - even learning how to do them myself at home.  Eventually - poor college student life took over and that all fell by the wayside.  In my adult years - I have found it utterly impossible to have the patience to paint my nails on any sort of regular basis - knowing that they are going to chip within a day no matter what type of topcoat I use.  Even when I splurge for a mani/pedi - I am sad knowing in a few days the chipped paint will be catching on something and I will have to spend time to remove it from my fingernails because it looks ridiculous.  It was actually just a few short years ago that I allowed my mother to toss my gigantic tub of nail polishes I had collected throughout the years out - even though I knew most of them probably had gotten gross and unusable - they really represented quite a bit of my funds growing up!  You know my priorities changed when I started playing the guitar and am constantly chopping off my left hand (always longer/stronger) nails in order to be better able to play.  Well something has come along to change all that.  It's called Shellac.  Now I suppose this is a random blog post - since this isn't a beauty blog and especially since it has been a REALLY long time since I have posted one - but I've been dying to share my love of Shellac for a few months now.  So for those of you entirely uninterested in girly nail polishy things - you've probably gotten all you can get from this post.  For the rest of you beauty/makeup on...

  Just in case you haven't the foggiest notion what I am talking about: Shellac is a brand of gel nail polish which is activated by U.V. light (via special lamps for your hands) which cures the gel to a shiny and immovable manicure that lasts for at least 14 days.  Mine usually lasts close to 3 weeks!  The polish dries within a few minutes and you are out of the salon digging through your purse and picking your wedges with not one shred of fear about ruining your manicure.  The removal process is something you can do yourself if you need be.  All you need is to wrap or soak your nails in regular nail polish remover (with acetone) and once you've soaked long enough you can gently scrape it off with an orange wood stick.  This removal process doesn't really damage your nails but it definitely always takes a little longer than they advertise - whether I am in the salon or doing it myself.  Shellac does cost a wee bit more than your average NYC cheap-ass manicure - but the fact that I usually have mine for 3 weeks makes up for that.  I can usually find places that charge about $35 - $40 for a basic application.  It can cost more if you want special designs or a french manicure - as is usually the case.  Salons don't usually charge you anything to remove your last Shellac when you are paying for a new one.  The jury is still out on some of the naysayers who may warn that the time under the U.V.lights may be a danger to your skin.  As a fair-skinned and semi-freckled ghost - I tend to hide from the sun and do everything I can to steer clear of skin cancer.  So I am going to keep an eye on what people have to say about this - but as far as I can learn - this doesn't pose any more risk than driving a car without sunscreen or gloves on.
  So yes, I am literally addicted to it now.  The only problem I have with it is that they really don't have a large range of colors to select from.  They've got the generic reds/pinks/brownish colors covered - and some really neutral tans and whites - but only 3-5 or so "funky" colors.  I dig the funky.  When you are selecting something to look down and admire for 2-3 weeks though - you want to REALLY love it.  How many times can I get my nails painted the same 3-5 funky-ish colors??  Now there are several other gel manicure brands - O.P.I. makes one called Axxium which has tons more awesome colors to select from.  The only problem is that it doesn't last as long as Shellac - and requires a special solution in order to remove it - so you HAVE to have a salon do it.  Plus - they say it is harsher on your natural nails - and you don't want to ruin those just because you are obsessed with long-lasting polish.  So I am presently giving my nails a break from the Shellac - mainly because I am no longer inspired by any of their color options and I have to pay extra to have fun designs created with the boring color selection.  But now I've started trying to apply regular polish again - because I am addicted to seeing something lovely on my nails!  Suddenly I am 12 years old again - waiting for my nails to dry and looking for new colors to dump my money on.  Grrr...I wish they all existed on Shellac!

Here are some shots of my Shellac experiences:

Here was my latest - getting funky because they need more color selections! This was two different colors plus a glitter over everything to make it even more interesting.

I generally like to keep my nails shorter in case I feel like practicing my gee-tar. 

A little glitter over the gray - to make it more fun.

A little hot pink....

One of their few funky colors - purple!

A sexy hooker red...

3 weeks later - left hand FLAWLESS - minus the barely noticeable growth at the cuticle.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"I Clearly LOVE the Smell of This Poop."

Weeee! I am officially licensed as a New York City Sightseeing Guide!!! No - I am not ready to give you a tour of all of NYC yet. I am so very sorry to disappoint. I am gonna need a second - and a script - of my own or someone else's created. Patience is a virtue. Even when I am ready to give you a tour at the drop of a hat - don't expect me to do it. Much as I only sing on demand for my mother - just because I have a skill- doth not require me to demonstrate it like a dog watching a delectable biscuit in yo' hand. I realize you are just making conversation and that is all you can think of to say - but please don't be disappointed when you don't get the (at least) 24 hour walking tour that would ensue if I really did what you asked. My friend, attempting to quiz me on the eve before my NYC Tour Guide Licensing Exam, asked me "So, who in invented New York?". He was only slightly kidding. Today - when congratulating me on FB he said "So now do you know who invented New York?". And it got me to thinkin'. The depth of my study is wide and varied. While not entirely sufficient - I have a greater understanding of how New York came to be. And like any city - no one person "invented" it - someone may have "discovered" the land and possibly swindled the Native Americans who already lived on it - but no city can be created by one person. I realized my friend was being silly, of course, but I really enjoyed where it has tossed my mind. Through this whole process, while I am no huge fan of studying or taking tests - I have almost entirely enjoyed every second of what I have learned. This is due in most part to the fact that New York has always been made up of those, like myself, who were not actually born here but CHOSE to be here - to follow their dreams, to challenge themselves, to begin again. Anyone who comes to New York and stays - is, most certainly, slightly deranged - and therefore -utterly fascinating. So it has been a wild ride! One of the things I love most was watching the PBS special series "New York, A Documentary Film by Ric Burns" - all 8 DVDs of it. This documentary is interspersed with delicious quotes from the literary geniuses who made New York City their home. Not one to be too immersed in literature - these words were all new to me and really helped me understand what it must have been like to live through all of the intense changes the city has undergone. To read about facts and dates in books is one thing - but to hear the voice of real New Yorkers (the truest definition of which does NOT involve those born here) to feel the energy of the city at that time. It made me want to write. It made me wonder where all of our astute observations of our city - and our lives - are now getting recorded - on Facebook statuses. Where will those be for future generations to have access to? We are the ones who are inventing our cities - in this moment. We are who people will be reading about in 100 years - whether or not we make it onto an exam question. It's fun to remember that when you came here to be on Broadway - but this Broadway is an entirely different place than the Broadway you had imagined. It's fun when you find yourself excited to learn as much as you can about the city you have called "Home" for 9 years now in order to become a "Licensed Tour Guide". It's fun to remember that when you are sitting on a subway car that smells like poop. That poop smells the same as it did in 1904 when the subway began. I love this city - and I love that poop. Sort of.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Proud Mary Keep on Turnin'!

What a weekend in NYC!!! Just when I thought all we were waiting for was a decision on whether or not the senate was even going to vote on the issue of Gay Marriage - midnight struck and they had not only voted - but voted in favor of it! Wha??!?! This should not come as a surprise to me as it most certainly should have happened before all of the other states but, well - almost nothing comes as a surprise to me these days. All I know for sure is that I really know nothing for sure. What was most delightful is that this influential decision came at the start of NYC's Pride Celebration Weekend! I was scheduled to work some events during this weekend's festivities and couldn't have been happier that I was going to get paid to go and celebrate on such an exciting weekend in history.

Now, I have been living in NYC for 9 years and out of those 9 years - I would say I might have missed 3 or 4 parade celebrations. I have a gaggle of close gay friends who I was giddy to go out and support for my first few years in the city. Then as I started to pay some closer attention to politics and the issue of gay marriage started to become an even bigger issue - I found myself really taking notice and getting involved. The parade for me as always been about the celebration of a movement that started on June 28, 1969 with the riots at Stonewall. It is many things to many people: a time to drool over all the hot bodies, a time to get naked and don as much glitter as possible, a chance to walk in shoes and outfits no sane person should be able to stand straight up in, and for many - the time to gawk at all of the above - either with pride, envy, or embarrassment. But through it all - at it's heart - are the couples you see proudly holding hands, many of whom have been together longer than most heterosexual marriages. Through it all it is about how difficult it shouldn't be for couples just like them all across the country to be proud of who they are and who they love. Through it all it is about the movement that began in 1969 when they just weren't going to take the abuse anymore and began to fight for their equal human rights.

Just a few short years ago after I had attended some rallies in support of gay marriage in Queens and the city, after I stood out in front of my local representative's office to show that he did not currently support the gay marriage bill and urging him to do so, after years of doing whatever I could to support this movement - me - a "straight" girl...had a startling realization. I was hanging out with some of my close friends - you know, the same ones I had gone out to support and love with every fiber of my being. We were sitting next to an older gay gentleman who brought up the subject of gay marriage - and Prop 8 - as it was all so HUGE in the news at that time. I was excited by this stranger connecting on this issue and wanting to discuss it with us. They seemed mostly irritated by this older gentleman that, perhaps, might be hitting on them. Worse-they seemed unimpressed or moved in any which way. It was as if they hadn't been aware it was even happening. My heart sunk. Why was this more important to me than it was to them?

Going to Pride with my friends always meant drinking in the bar at Stonewall until the parade was over-then hitting a few more gay bars-and most often hanging out until each of them hopefully found someone to go home with. How was this different than what we did when I'd visit gay bars with them on any other night? It wasn't. The fact that 6+ years of this along the idea that they were generally missing the actual significance of the day or those fighting for it = me opting to avoid the hot sweaty/shirtless crowds of the village in recent years.

This year wasn't supposed to be any different -but then I got scheduled to work in the parade. This sounded all the more fun when things went so well in Albany. So I donned my glitter and off I went!

While walking the route with 4 straight men - 3 of which who happened to be topless and hot - our lack of samples to pass out resulted in something strange. First off-I had a conversation with one of them that was eerily similar to one I had just the night before at a bar. These talks consisted of me claiming the importance of the day and them insisting that no one was going for those reasons but purely to see naked men and freaks-and to find someone to "freak" by the days end. These were straight men who insisted that they "have no problem with gay people and (insert weak proof here)."-but who continued to scoff at my notion that this day actually meant something serious to anyone. To say that these conversations bothered me is to say that I saw nary a nipple at the parade (lies...all lies!). By the time I had this talk with my coworker a few times IN the parade I decided it was futile and I would not waste more energy on it.

Unfortunately we ran out of samples to pass out, which sucked, but then something AWESOME happened. I walked half of the parade making as much eye contact as I could with everyone in the crowd as I wished them a Happy Pride - and blew kisses, slapped high-fives, gave a hug when arms opened up-screaming until I thought I lost my voice (something I usually don't allow to happen as a singer). Every so often we were getting verbally abused for not having free samples walking in the parade-but mostly-I connected with people receiving my wishes and my love. I saw the gratitude in their eyes and I knew they instantly felt how genuinely happy I was about it and I often forgot I was there to hand out chips. The best part was-I think many of them did too!

In a time when we are celebrating the victory of NYC finally making gay marriage legal-the fact remains that those marriages still aren't recognized in 40 other states. Living in NYC it is easy to imagine that everyone is open, accepting, and in support of human rights for all. But even right here in the city I continue to experience these politically correct stock responses which clearly do not reflect their truest feelings/assumptions. It's like when people used to say "I have no problem with black people-one of my good friends is black!". If this exists in Nyc-what is it like in the other 40 states?

As I went home. Drained and worried I lost my voice, I also couldn't stop worrying about whether the arguments of those two straight guys had more truth than I had imagined. How can anyone gain a different opinion of this community when many of them appear so blissfully unaware of their own movement/history? When a huge percentage of them are still fulfilling the idea of the "careless homosexual" that so often puts themselves and their very own community in danger.

Perhaps when you are so much a part of something it is hard to step out of yourself and see what is right. Like the feeling that "Well, I've already cheated on my diet-there's no saving me now-may as well eat more." Or, "I am so in debt I may as well max out this credit card because I can't imagine being able to fix it." This can be the only reason I can come up with as to why some folks prefer to remain uninformed and uninvolved while often perpetuating the old stereotypes.

I used to pay little attention to some of these matters and I imagine plenty are still doing the same. I don't always stay involved. I often get discouraged and ignore things for a minute. But I always find myself inspired to some type of action again. I can only hope that you do too. In a world that has this many uninformed people, why not pay better attention and continue being inspired to do something as we celebrate this step so that we will continue to have something to be Proud of?