Saturday, December 26, 2009

Old Year's Resolutions


Instead of looking forward to 2010 just yet, I must attend to some unfinished business for 2009.

1. Paint the exterior door frames after getting new security doors.
2. Finish installing all the new doorknobs and locks.
3. Get all the new locks re-keyed to match so I don't have six different house keys to carry around. I'd like to cut that number to two house keys.
4. Make key copies to distribute to a select number of responsible friends who can come to my aid when I lock myself out of the house or when I need a cat-sitter. Don't all volunteer at once...
5. Hand-wash cashmere sweaters. I think I procrastinate over this task, because I don't love the smell of wet goat and Woolite. However, I do like having my choice of clean sweaters on cold days.
6. Learn lines for New Year's Eve show.
7. Shamelessly plug the New Year's Eve show even though I'm sheepish about people I know seeing these shows. Just remember, it's not high-art, and it's all in good, silly fun.

New Year's Eve at Dave & Buster's in Austin!

hilarious three-act mystery
chef crafted three-course dinner
complimentary power card for games
midnight countdown with champagne toast, dancing and DJ!
doors open at 7:30pm
dinner & performance begin at 8:30pm

Space is limited. Call Special Events at 512-346-8015 today!
$64.99 per person (plus tax & gratuity).
Reservations required.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Open Letter to Santa


Dear Santa,

We got our new security doors and new, sturdier side door installed this week. This is great, except that we now have a lot of painting to do of door frames and the new door. I know it's a busy time of year, but maybe you could spare an elf to help us paint? Please.

Other than help with the never-ending list of home-maintenance projects, the gifts I want this year aren't things that the elves can build. I want more fun times with friends; more travel with Chad to places such as Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, Ireland and Marfa; more moments of discovery and joy.

I apologize that we haven't decorated for Christmas yet, unless you count putting the red & green collar on the dog, but we've been awfully busy. We're gonna get right on that tomorrow!

So, um, what time can I expect the painter-elf to arrive?

Love,
Jenn

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Favorite Things


I'm sure you've all heard that Oprah is not doing a "Favorite Things" episode this year. To fill the void, I'm splashing out with my own spin on "Favorite Things".

I love this necklace. It's sparkly, lovely and handmade.


These condos are my favorite addition to the overcrowded condo market in Austin. They've been designed in an eco-friendly manner, are in a great neighborhood, and each unit has a private balcony and rooftop terrace! I'm thankful for my 1952 house, but a girl can dream.

This scarf adds a little flash to outfits. It's from Martin & Osa. I find that Martin & Osa is my favorite chain store lately.


My favorite local store in Austin, Adelante, happens to be located mere blocks from our house.


Book People earned the title of the largest, independent book store, and features great staff selections for books. While Book People is my favorite book store, Half Price Books is a very close second.



I'm not much of a foodie. A good self-serve salad bar makes me happy. The Whole Foods at 5th Street and Lamar Boulevard has an amazing salad bar with lots of vegetarian selections.


I love me some scented candles. Lights Out Candles are produced locally with soy wax and lead-free wicks. The nag champa scent is so delicious and earthy smelling.


My favorite self-indulgence is a visit to Milk and Honey Spa. I've been to both locations and find the atmosphere and services heavenly.


Readers, I hope this helps with your withdrawal process during the Oprah no "Favorite Things" kerfuffle. Don't bother looking under your seats for any of these items, but you might want to vacuum under there.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Workin' On It


A very nice handyman repaired and reinforced the door jamb and door frame just a few days after the door-kick-in-house-robbery back in early October. However, we're still working on cosmetic repairs. I painted the exterior of the front door frame and door yesterday and today. Chad continues to toil at the task of repairing the drywall and texture around the inside of the front door frame. Then I'll paint that area.

One good thing about prepping the front door to be painted was that I cleaned off a year's worth of dirt, dead bugs and spiderwebs from the entryway. Ewww. It looks much better now.

I've ordered the security storm doors and a new, much sturdier door for the carport entry. All should be installed by mid-December.

After gathering and submitting much paperwork, we got our check from the insurance company (minus the $1000 deductible and depreciated value of our stuff versus the actual replacement cost). We opted not to replace some of the stuff that was stolen. Between beefing up security at the 1952 house and replacing some of our items, it's been an expensive venture.

I still hesitate to leave the house. I have a somewhat irrational fear that if an opportunistic robber sees my car gone or sees me leave with Janie-dog on foot, our house will be robbed again. I'm working on shedding that fear.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Pre-Halloween


We skipped the hosting of the sometimes-annual BYOP shindig this year, but we couldn't skip pumpkin carving altogether. As usual, Chad's is super-arty, masterfully crafted and generally cooler than mine. I'm just the weensiest bit bitter and jealous about his mad jack-o-lantern skills. Love his ode to Dia de los Muertos. I was feeling lazy and did the bedazzled cat face.



And here's our spider-friend. I call him Hector.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No BYOP This Year. Come to a Show Instead!


Sadly, the recent break-in at our house was the final nail in the coffin of this year's BYOP party. Chad and I decided not to host our sometimes-annual pumpkin carving party this year. We're both tired and over-scheduled. Life has thrown too many curveballs of late.


However, if you want to share in some Halloween fun with me, I'll be in two dinner mystery shows for Halloween. Both shows are open to the public. Costumes are encouraged as you will be attending Victoria Van dor Voort's (that's my character's) annual Halloween party in the year of 1929. When rumors start circulating the party of a little dip in the stock market, the accountant better watch his back! (October 29, 1929 -- google it if you need a little perspective.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

ONLY $50 PER PERSON!
(Includes tax/gratuity for dinner, the show and a fun costume contest with prizes!)

DAVE & BUSTERS
9333 RESEARCH BLVD #A600
512-346-8015 FOR RESERVATIONS

&

Saturday October 31, 2009
ONLY $33.50 PER PERSON!

(Not including tax/gratuity for dinner and the show.)

Spaghetti Warehouse
117 W 4th St. Austin, TX
512-825-1253 FOR RESERVATIONS



The Show Must Go On. Twice.


Late Friday night I canceled a movie date, because I felt queasy. Just after midnight, the misery began. Repeated mass exodus of all nutrients out of my body occurred approximately every 45 minutes. By 7:00 AM Saturday I was convinced I was dying, and had almost convinced Chad of my imminent demise. Spoiler Alert: I survived, but still don't have much of an appetite. By 9:00 AM, I drank a Diet Coke, and kept it down/in.

During the violent bouts of dry-heaving, I burst little blood vessels all over my face, and had smatterings of blood-red freckles all over my face. I did not feel pretty - not at all. I could barely stand long enough in the shower to wash my hair without feeling faint and weak. I had to rest for a few moments before mustering the energy to blow-dry my hair.

Then I got to go to Dave & Buster's and perform TWO three-act dinner mystery shows back-to-back for 270 Chi-Omega sisters and their parents. Four hours of delivering lines at the top of my lungs, in constant motion in five-inch heels, wearing a floor-length, jewel-encrusted evening gown that probably weighs in at five pounds. It's called devotion to the craft. (That, and having an understudy who no one likes anymore.)

That which doesn't kill me can only make me feel stronger... or leave me exhausted for five days trying to recover. I'm still so tired.

No, I don't know where I got it if it was food poisoning. If it was a stomach bug, then Chad has an amazing immune system, because he hasn't gotten it. No, I'm POSITIVE that I'm not pregnant.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

We Were Robbed. It Sucks.


Friday I came home from an audition to find the front door of our 1952 house ajar with a dusty footprint on the door. I nudged the door open to see our TV gone from its usual spot and the open cabinet door revealing the dusty outline where the Xbox 360 normally resided. Before I assess the rest of the mayhem, I quickly check all the pets. One, two, three cats, all staring at me expectantly. One, large, apparently not-at-all-menacing dog still in her crate, unharmed.

I wedge the front door closed by placing my purse on the floor in front of it, because that door is not closing back into the shattered frame. I call 911, and they ask if the robber is still in my house. Hmm... I didn't even look, this being my first home robbery and all. I brandish my pepper-spray and ask the operator to stay on the line as I check. Nope. Just me and the pets now. The 911 operator tells me to call the non-emergency number, 311. Um, as Kate D. likes to say, that number is for mattresses in the road. I've been robbed! I accept that my stuff being taken, and rifled through and tossed about, is not a true police emergency. I call 311. A different nice operator stays on the line with me as I walk through the house surveying the mess, debris, damage and chaos. The nice operator gives me a case number and says she'll send a crime unit officer over to photograph the shoe print on the front door and dust for other prints.

Then I call Chad and give my standard emergency assessment speech preamble, "I'm safe and the pets are all safe, but..." followed by the non-standard, "we've been robbed. The front door was kicked in, and I can't get it closed now, and I'm a little scared to be in here alone right now." Sweet Chad makes the two-mile commute home in record time, hugs me, hugs the pets, and we start with the phone calls: the insurance company, several handyman services to see who can make it out the soonest to repair the door frame, the 311 police line again to report more stuff missing. We wait for the crime scene unit police officer to show up. She photographs the scene, takes the foot print, tells me she likes the rugs and paint colors in our house. A neighbor runs over and gives the officer the license plate number and description of two suspicious characters who may, or may not, be the robbers.

Finally, Chad and I are left to vacuum and put things away. Every drawer and cabinet (except for the locked file cabinet -- thank God I locked the 200-pound file cabinet!) has been opened and searched. Eww. Strangers touched our stuff.

I am fascinated by the random things taken such as cheap, fake gold jewelry. Yet my jewelry box sat totally intact. My six-year-old iPod which has my full name engraved on the back is gone with its power cord. My limping-along, three-year-old laptop, with its chipped plastic casing, which has four different passwords to access files or even to use the computer at all, is gone along with its power cord. (Thank God I obsessively back up the computer every ten days to an external hard drive, which was hidden and locked up tight.) The serial numbers for all the stolen electronics are on the police stolen merchandise lists now. Not that I have any hope of ever recovering any of it.

My advice to all of you reading this: get a reinforced door frame or door jamb. You can have a steel door (which we do) with three different locks on it (which we do), but if your door frame is old wood (guilty), it can easily be kicked in. Our neighbors who had their door kicked in a few years ago also advocate a security storm door with shatterproof glass-like material and three bolts that jut into the wall when locked.

Yeah, I'll be adding two security storm doors to my birthday wish list.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Philosophy of Kenji



Other animals are jerks, unless you need a cuddle session. Then they're still jerks, but jerks that you need, *%$#@!!!

When you need a good cuddle, follow your chosen person or dog around and yell curses loudly at them until they sit still long enough for you to drape yourself over them. Promptly start purring loudly. If that *%$#@$$ moves before you're done cuddling, bite them and yell!

Sinks are super-fun places to hang out. Tubs are okay, but sinks are just the right size. Yell curses loudly if those *%$#@$$es try to turn on the water while you're in there.

You should pace nervously and bat at the shower curtain when people get in the tub and start running water. It's like they're trying to get wet. *%$#@$$es!

Q-tips and shoelaces are the best toys. Only bat or chase every third attempt to play. You don't want playtime to be too easy for the humans, or they won't appreciate it.

That dog who lives here is cool. She doesn't have thumbs, but she's really big. When the revolution happens, you want her on your side.

Catnip, especially organic catnip, is awesome. I can stop any time I want to. What?! What's with that look? %@##&^!

Jump off of the bed if you think you might yack up a hairball. No one wants to sleep in that mess.

Run your paws over the edge of a magazine or book to make loud flapping noises with the pages when you need food or treats.

Show love with a fierceness that is both incredibly endearing and a bit frightening.

Phrases to learn and repeat often:
Nooooo!
Yeah!
Jerks!
Sit down and cuddle now, you self-absorbed *%$#@$$!
I said now, %@##&^!
That's stupid!
You're stupid!
Get me a Q-tip!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Open Letter to Birthday Bunny


Dear Birthday Bunny,

Though others doubt your existence, I know you're the real-deal. My husband didn't believe in you, and look what happened on his birthday -- he had to go to his grandpa's funeral. Ever noticed that you can rearrange the letters in funeral to spell "real fun"? Which is weird, because funerals rarely are any fun at all. Despite the circumstances, it was nice to visit with his family, but canceling his birthday celebration and being stuck in a flash flood on I-35 for six hours was not at all fun.

So, for the record, I believe in you, beneficent Birthday Bunny! I offer you a three-week heads-up of what I'd like to find in my birthday basket:


Banana chocolate cupcakes from Delish to share.





Donations to the following charities in my honor:
Capital Area Food Bank
Emancipet
Blue Dog Rescue
Unicef

Most of all, I just want to relax and not do any chores on the day before, day of, and day after, my birthday. Pretty please with carrots on top.

Your ever-faithful fan & friend,
Jenn

Friday, September 04, 2009

Going to "Unfriend" Facebook


About a year ago, I wrote in this blog that I loved Facebook. Scratch that. I no longer enjoy Facebook. It's morphed into an invasive melange of malicious comments and marketing that leaves me feeling pessimistic about the state of humanity.

I don't want to read ugly, nasty, hateful, intolerant comments made by my "friends", or their "friends", or directed at my (real) friends. I already receive plenty of marketing emails. I already see banner ads that may interest me all over the internet. I don't need these things on what should be a polite social networking site. It's not that Facebook in itself is awful. Although there are Facebook privacy policy issues that concern me. It's that some people on Facebook ignore the golden rule (treat others as you would like to be treated), societal norms of polite interaction and any regard to correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

If you've ever commented on this blog, you may have noticed that I moderate comments. I don't allow nasty comments or marketing spam comments. You want that stuff? Log on to Facebook.

Not One of Us


I had an odd moment last season on the set of Friday Night Lights. Well, actually a few odd moments, but this particular odd moment involved my perceived age. Standing amongst a group of fellow extras while we waited to enter a scene that portrayed high school seniors with their parents at a celebration brunch, I was paired off with a TV-husband and TV-daughter. My TV-daughter was only eight years younger than I am in real life, but whatever, since we would likely be out-of-focus background blurs on the show. A group of the other TV-parents asked me my age. When I replied I was thirty-six, a few people stepped in for a closer inspection, scrutinizing my face and figure. One lady told me that I looked like I was in my twenties. (If only...) I laughed and extolled the virtues of getting proper sleep and wearing sunscreen. More fellow-extras started approaching me and formed a loose semi-circle around me. All of them staring at me. The experience was a bit unnerving. I said a silent prayer that these people not suddenly produce pitch-forks and torches and start dunking me in water to see if I floated or sank with my suspected age-hiding witchcraft.

I shared this anecdote with Chad recently. He wanted to know if the crowd started chanting "not one of us" in zombie monotone. They did not, but I think it was implied.

Friday Night Lights started filming its fourth season this week. I got an email for extra opportunities, and noticed they've raised the minimum age of booster parents from thirty-five to thirty-seven. Fine. See you in five weeks. Five more weeks of getting ample sleep and wearing sunscreen.

I maintain that I could be the mom of a high school student if I had the baby when I was young or if I was one in a long line of newer model step mothers.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Got to Get Paid



Ding-Dong, Death Calling!
An interactive dinner mystery show open to the public.
The cosmetic world has never been the same since Terry Fay began her multi-million dollar cosmetic company. Some call her the “Queen of Cosmetics,” and she is ready to crown a new Grand Exalted Omnipotent Superior Leader. Though the position is far below that of Terry Fay herself, it’s so important that one Terry Fay girl is dying to win.

SATURDAY – September 5, 2009
117 W 4th St, Austin, TX
Dinner & Show – ONLY $33.50!
Performance starts at 8 pm.
Price does not include tax/gratuity.
Reservations required:
(512) 825-1253


Come see me play Bambi Kulakowski: a wide-eyed, feather-brained, cosmetic pusher who believes everyone is (or with a little help, can be) beautiful.

Grrr.


This relentless heat and drought certainly contribute to my current crankiness. I have summer seasonal affective disorder. The sky may be blue, but spend a few minutes baking in my yard (a.k.a. the dustbowl). You'll understand why I'm moving at sloth speed and why any activity requiring me to leave the air-conditioning gives me a headache.

Stupid, bright, shiny, hot heat. Stupid drought.

My birthday is October 8. I want gravel for my birthday --lots and lots of gravel to cover this corner lot of dusty dirt that surrounds our otherwise cute house. Maybe some cacti would be good too, because Austin is turning into a desert. May as well embrace the aesthetic (or lack thereof).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breaking Up is Hard to Do


After a trial separation, the blog and I have decided that we just can't live without each other. We've patched things up. We're getting back together. I mostly blame myself for the separation. I think I just needed a little alone-time. Absence made my heart grow fonder. I realized how much I missed the blog.

Here are a few things you may have missed during the separation:

JUNE:
Fox Services installed a brand new energy efficient air conditioner/furnace after the old, very loud electricity-sucker conked out. The new HVAC system was expensive, like trip to Europe for two expensive, but very much worth it as we now enjoy a steady, quiet 78 degrees inside and a 30% lower utility bill. We got a few rebate checks and will also get some kind of income tax credit for upgrading to an energy efficient model.

After completing a challenging acting class that ended with a talent showcase for casting directors and talent agents, I finally signed with a talent agent! Condra Artista represents me in San Antonio and Austin. I've been on two auditions already. Sadly, there aren't many film projects happening in the area lately. Thank goodness Friday Night Lights, the television show, will begin filming the fourth season here in September.

JULY:
Central Texas had the hottest month on record in July. We're also in the midst of the worst drought since the 1950s. Gardening and landscaping at the 1952 House have come to a standstill, except for a bumper crop of basil and these succulent flowers.




Chad and his business partners signed a lease on a small office for their new business. The office is an old house that was rezoned for commercial space. Chad's new commute clocks in at just under two miles. I'm so proud of Chad and his partners. These guys have exceeded my expectations by far! As a result of Chad's new office space, I don't have to share my desk anymore, but also don't find iced lattes waiting for me in the refrigerator.

AUGUST:
Chad and I escaped to Estes Park, Colorado for a few days of cooler weather, a friend's lovely wedding reception and Rocky Mountains scenery. We stayed at the one-hundred-year-old Stanley Hotel. This lovely old hotel is reportedly haunted. Stephen King stayed at The Stanley Hotel and was inspired to write his bestselling book, The Shining after a few ghostly encounters there. Chad and I didn't see any ghosts, but the last morning we were there, someone gently shook my shoulder to wake me. I opened my eyes to see Chad fast asleep on the opposite side of our king-size bed. Our hotel room was locked up tight. I was just a touch scared, and slightly annoyed to get my ghostly wake-up call an hour and a half before I needed to be awake.

I took another fun sewing class at Stitch Lab, which is owned by my long-time friend and former Zach Scott Theatre coworker, Leslie Bonnell. I learned to make reusable grocery bags out of fabric remnants and old t-shirts.



COMING SOON:
Gravel. I'm done with trying to keep grass alive here.
New paint colors on the exterior trim of the house.
Public shows with my mystery dinner theater group at The Spaghetti Warehouse.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Trails



Friends, fans, family and foes,

Thanks for tuning in over the past two-and-a-half years. Chad and I have officially owned (and by that I mean have been making mortgage payments on) our house for three years now. It's been a bumpy ride, and I learned much along the way. The first six months that we lived in this house, I really grew as a person. (Seriously, I gained like fifteen pounds from the stress-eating, lack of sleep and lack of real exercise.) Chad and I have done so much to this sweet house of ours, I'm not sure what's left to do other than basic maintenance.

Besides house projects, I've also shared tales of weight loss, grief, famous-people-sightings, travelogues, philosophical yammer and party pictures on this here blog. Having an outlet for news and personal expression has been both useful and cathartic. That said, the blog and I are starting a trial separation. The blog and I still both love you, and you did nothing to cause this. Sometimes blogs and their writers just drift apart. The blog and I still love each other, we're just not "in love" anymore.

Via con Dios, mis amigos,
Jenn

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Forced Staycation


Chad and I are ill. It's likely a flu bug, but likely not the N1H1 flu, so don't freak out. The Center for Disease Control frowns upon false alarms. Chad started illin' on Thursday. I was still in denial most of Friday, trying to wash dishes, sweep, take out the trash and walk the dog at her usual times. Meanwhile, Chad was napping between business blah-blah.

By Saturday, I had to admit that I only felt okay when sitting very still. Chores made me super-tired, as did walking the dog. Talking and putting words together in a make-sense way was difficult. Same thing Sunday.

I think that Chad has it worse than I do, because he says his skin hurts and his bones ache. I just have a headache. His fever is more sweaty and chilly, while my fever is limited to a slightly warmer than usual forehead.

The upside of this illness is that it's making Chad and I be still and stay home. It's nice to take it easy. I'm cleaning out the DVR. I made some progress on the Netflix list. I'm catching up on my magazines too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Keepin' it Rated PG


That moment many actresses dread happened today. I was contacted by a (legitimate, respected) casting director who I've worked with before to audition for a paid role requiring nudity and sexual situations for a Screen Actors Guild movie. (Screen Actors Guild affiliation lends a certain amount of credibility to a movie production.) I said no. I don't even want to audition for the role. I wanted to audition for parts of more age-appropriate, clothed women; not the early 20s-aged bimbo.

I thought that by getting into film and television work later in life, I wouldn't have to worry about the whole "to nude or not to nude" question. Silly me.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mother's Day at Dave & Buster's? Sure...

Mother's Day Brunch

& Mystery Theater

You supply the family. We'll supply the suspects.


Join us for Brunch and a Thrilling Performance!

MDT_Tickets

When: May 10, 2009

Doors to Showroom open at 11:30am

Brunch & Performance begin at 12pm

Bring Mom out for an afternoon

of fun and mischief!

$36.50 per person

Includes Signature Buffet Lunch,

Iced Tea, Desserts, and Mystery Show!

Dave & Buster's Austin
Call Special Events today at 512-346-8015
$36.50 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Seating is limited. Reservations required.


Come see me play Bambi Kulakowski in Ding-Dong, Death Calling this Sunday. Bring your mom for her special day. She'll find the sentiment behind taking her to a murder mystery brunch show confusing at the very least and disarmingly wacky at the very best. Huh?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

So Sad


On Friday afternoon I was sweeping the kitchen floor while Chad was working in the office, and we both heard a thump and a yelp. Chad called out from the office that a dog had just been hit by a car on the busy street that borders our yard. The dog limped into our yard and collapsed. I went into autopilot mode, running out to attend to the dog. The poor, sweet dog was in bad shape. Making matters worse, he turned out to be Max, our octogenarian neighbors' dog. Max is much bigger than our dog, but is also some kind of Black Lab mix like our Janie. Luckily, Janie was at doggy day care and did not witness any of this sad drama.

I started petting Max's tummy gently and telling him it would being okay. I yelled at Chad to run across to the neighbors' house and get one or both of Max's people-parents. By this time, I'm in tears. Another neighbor has arrived on the scene and is asking me if Max is my dog. I say no. The other neighbor tells me that Max will not make it even as I keep petting his tummy repeating the mantra that he'll be okay. I so don't need to hear the score at that point. I pretty much ignore the other neighbor. Her house is stupid-looking, and we've never met anyway.

Chad walks up with Max's mom. She confirms that the injured dog is indeed Max, that he must have gotten out of their yard. I start barking orders. Get a towel for the back of the hatchback. Help me carry Max. We're taking him to the emergency vet just down the road. I tell Max's mom to ride with us. I run into our house, do a kitty head count to make sure they're all inside and then lock the front door. I sit in the back of the car with Max and keep petting his chest and saying it's okay, though clearly it's not. Max struggled for breath. He made it to the vet's parking lot, but with my hand on his chest, I felt his heart stop just before the vets arrived with the stretcher to carry him inside. I whispered to the vets, "he's gone."

The vets carried Max inside. They talked to Max's mom about final arrangements. The vets very kindly brought her Max's collar, and made a plaster imprint of Max's foot. Chad and I were in shock. We both later admitted that we held out hope for a miracle recovery. Max's mom was probably also in shock. She was keeping it together though.

We drove home with Max's mom. We talked about the busy road we live beside: how narrow the lanes are, how people speed, how curvy the road is, how back in the 1950s when our houses were built that street was out in the boonies, but how today it is considered to be a very central location.

Chad and I both couldn't stop thinking about poor Max yesterday. As I was dozing off to sleep last night, I got the falling sensation like a roller coaster going down the big hill and just as the plummet started, I'd jerk awake and think, "poor Max." This sleep-fit happened at least five times before I finally moved to the living room to watch TV. Janie followed me into the living room and flopped down on the rug beside me. We cuddled, and I kissed her big, bony head as she dozed. She needs a bath. Soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Love You, Ma'am.


Tonight Chad & I met friends out at a popular Tex-Mex Restaurant that has a tiny parking lot. There was a scruffy-looking man in the parking lot, waving people into free parking spots. There are moments when I might roll my eyes at suspected homeless people waving me into a free parking space, but I'm feeling extra sympathetic lately. After we parked, I walked over to the scruffy, unofficial parking attendant and handed him $1 for his entrepreneurial hustle. He said, " I love you, ma'am. Thanks for looking out for me."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Organic Oil Spill


Our sweet dog, Janie, loves to chew on things. It's her very favorite, slightly expensive hobby. Janie chews her way through three durable Nylabones ($5.99 each), one large braided rope ($4.99 each) and one squeaky tennis ball ($1.99 each) in a typical week. For the most part, Janie does not chew on unapproved items in return for this weekly allotment of approved chews.

We ran out of Nylabones two days ago, but since Janie had other chewy things to occupy her, I procrastinated over my trip to the pet store. This morning Janie and Sonic (who have an antagonistic relationship with each other) shared some point of interest out in the backyard nearly nose-to-nose with each other. I investigated, and found that Janie helped herself to a bottle of liquid, organic fertilizer (free sample) from the deck. Janie chewed the bottle open, and made a puddle of fish oil mixed with other smelly liquids. She sweetly shared the stink-puddle with her bully-of-a-cat brother, Sonic.

Luckily, the stuff was organic and non-toxic. I don't think either of the culprits ingested much, if any, of the oil spill. I ushered both hooligans inside and offered fresh water.

Now, I'm off to the pet store for some (cursed, highly addictive, slightly expensive) Nylabones, braided rope and squeaky tennis ball. That'll teach me to try and cut corners on the weekly chewing allowance.

Weekly chewing habit: $24.95; Happy, well-behaved dog who doesn't poison herself or her feline friends: priceless.

Emotionally Exhausting


When I act, I like to refer to the character I'm playing as a separate person, and call the character by name, rather than saying "I" when referring to the character. I know it sounds silly, but bear with me.

I love the movie The Apartment -- a darkly sweet, slightly maudlin romantic comedy released in 1960. I jumped at the chance to work with a film student to recreate a scene from this movie. I'm playing the part of Fran Kubelik, an elevator operator at a giant insurance company who fell in love with the wrong guy -- a married executive who swears he'll leave his wife for Fran. In this scene we're recreating, Fran just got an emotional sucker-punch from the executive's secretary who informed Fran that she's one in a long line of mistresses, and that the executive will not leave his wife as promised. Fran has to hide her breaking heart from a nice guy/pushover in the office named Bud who tries to ask Fran out. His timing couldn't be worse.

So I have to act like Fran, who is trying so hard to keep her cool, fighting back tears and revulsion, trying to be polite to Bud, but also wanting desperately to get away from him so she can go tend to her wounded heart and shattered self-esteem. Acting out this four-minute scene is emotionally exhausting, especially when done repeatedly over a two-hour rehearsal. Imagine your slightly out of shape psyche running a 10K.

Fran is not me. I am not Fran. But sweet, fragile, wants to be tough, wants to be independent, wants to make smart choices, but fails miserably, Fran tires me out.

As rewarding as this experience is, I'll be glad when it's over.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grow Up to Be Food!


The weekend before last, Chad and I were walking past the lovely gardens at East Side Cafe and saw that they used Hastings galvanized metal feed troughs as planters. So out to a feed supply store we went to find some of our own.

I took my sweet time finding enough egg-sized rocks for the bottom of the troughs and raking up dead leaves to layer between the rocks and soil. I'm no master gardener, but I've read stuff about the importance of good drainage and compost. Then I got baby herb and veggie plants along with nineteen bags of good soil from my favorite nursery.

This Saturday I finally completed the plantings: red grape tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, yellow squash, mint, basil, lavender, thyme (three kinds - we use a lot of thyme), lemon verbena, dill and cilantro. Fingers crossed that we'll get some actual veggies and useful herbs.

Oh, and we have grass this spring. Pretty. The yard seems to dig the perennial rye grass seed from last fall. The grass feels nice on bare feet.







Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Ennui... le sigh...


I had a dinner mystery show out in Killeen on Saturday night. Killeen is home to a nice, new civic center. The audience laughed in all the right places and participated when prompted. They clapped at the end. Our director said it was a particularly great show.


I was a featured extra in a music video shoot on Sunday for a local up and coming musician. The video was shot at the new, very nice Concordia University campus. The shoot was very well organized and efficient, even wrapping early for the day.

Despite these positive experiences, and a long to-do list, I am bored and feeling just kind of blah. I am questioning why I feel so lackluster of late. Maybe I need a vacation. Maybe I need to start a new sewing project or home improvement project. Meh... That stuff takes motivation and my needle is leaning towards empty just now.

Here's a list of ten activities I like. Maybe one of these will strike my fancy this week and snap me out of this funk.

1. Kayaking on Ladybird Lake, formerly known as Town Lake.
2. Seeing movies.
3. Having a leisurely meal at Austin Java Company which features lots of veg options in a super-laid-back atmosphere.
4. Planting flowers, herbs and/or veggies. Chad & I even tracked down some unconventional planters this weekend that are now sitting empty in the backyard.
5. Um... sewing. I have two patterns I've been meaning to try.
6. Reading. I'm in the middle of a book now that is supposed to be funny, but that is actually kind of stressful and hitting too close to home. Maybe I should stick that book in the freezer and start one that will be more fun, and less, you know, critically acclaimed.
7. Going out with friends. Anywhere.
8. Riding my bike.
9. Um...

Okay, a list of eight activities I like. Now I just need to get motivated. Woooohooo... Wait, no, sorry, that sounded really insincere. Let me try again. WOOOOhooo... Nope. Still not there. Whatever...

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I Learned in Class Yesterday


Yesterday I took a workshop here in Austin for acting. I won't mention the class name, the instructor's name or any class member's name. Overall, the experience left me feeling bad. You've likely heard the old adage: No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission. Well, one particular class member left me feeling bad about him, not just about myself. The overall experience left me feeling bad about acting as a hobby or profession.

Here are the top things I learned:
1. According to our instructor, no one can make a living from acting work in Austin.
2. Our instructor is now single, twice divorced and bitter about his divorces and his ex-wives.
3. As actors, we should just be ourselves when introducing ourselves to the camera, known as slating, but a more energetic, happier, confident version of ourselves... wait, not that energetic.
4. One of my classmates takes Viagra. He's also divorced after forty years of marriage. He has a habit of dating young, gorgeous and very expensive women. He's remarried now to his high-school sweetheart, but the fantasy does not live up to the reality. His new wife supports his acting hobby. He sometimes stays out until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and tells his wife it's for acting, when by his own admission, he could really be up to anything. (This declaration was accompanied by a smirk.)
5. According to my instructor, I look older than my headshot photos, which were taken ten months ago.

My personal observations from the class were:
1. No one looks good under fluorescent lights on low-quality video tape.
2. Low-end, consumer-grade video cameras really do add ten pounds, especially when one is filmed at an up angle, thus I should probably lose another fifteen pounds if I want to continue on in this particular low-end, consumer-grade medium.
3. My hair looks better curled or with its natural waves on camera, versus the blown-out straight look.
4. When the camera operator implores me to talk faster, louder, and not break eye-contact with said camera operator while simultaneously telling me to be myself, I start to look a bit nervous.
5. I do some good "crazy eyes".
6. Apparently, men (especially older men who take Viagra, bear a striking resemblance to Droopy Dog and have a habit of dating young, gorgeous, expensive women) don't like for women to talk. At all.

I came home and took a long shower to try and wash that day off of my skin and out of my hair. I still feel a bit queasy.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Dad, the Master Squirrel Catcher


Today is my dad's birthday. I wish he was still alive so I could call him and wish him a happy birthday. I miss him.


My dad had a silly sense of humor, cracking corny jokes often, but he was funniest when he wasn't trying to be. Like the time a noisy critter moved into the air ducts of our house. Dad heard this critter rattling around for a few days. He couldn't get a visual confirmation of exactly where, or what type of wee-beastie, the critter might be. After several trips through the attic armed with a flashlight, my dad managed to scare the critter into eventually emerging from an air vent into our fancy, formal dining room. The critter was a flying squirrel.

Since flying squirrels are nocturnal, this critter decided to emerge into our dining room after dark. Since it was after dark, my dad was already wearing his jammies, which consisted of tighty-whities and white athletic socks. The flying squirrel was in a panic when my dad rounded the corner to see the critter gliding to a stop on the dining room chandelier. My dad, in full Quixotic glory, called for me to bring him a butterfly net and a box. My younger sister and I stood with mouths agape as Dad chased the squirrel around the dining room and into the living room, back and forth several times, finally cornering the beastie with the butterfly net and wrangling him into the box. Dad, weighing around 195 pounds, and standing tall at 6 feet and 1 inch, conquered his tiny, nimble opponent. What a sight that was! A sight that our neighbors were welcome to watch since the dining room and living room featured large sliding-glass-doors. (Our proper-Southern mom constantly fussed at Dad, my sister and I to close the curtains at night, but we rarely heeded these particular instructions.)

After a brief celebration and congratulations to our dad for apprehending the furry interloper, my sister and I wondered what fate lay ahead for the critter. After some lengthy, tear-filled negotiations, my dad promised my sister and me that he would drive the squirrel to a wooded-area about a mile from our house and release him or her back into the wilds.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Thanks for the memories, and for accommodating the wishes of two tender-hearted little girls in your battle to keep the house varmint-free.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

File Under Miscellaneous


This Friday evening, check your local listings for NBC's show
Friday Night Lights. I have a scene with principal character Billy Riggings. I got a good 30 seconds of face time!

This past Sunday marked the one year anniversary of Janie coming to live with us. We love our sweet doggie-girl. She recently mastered the new trick roll-all-the-way-over.

Chad resigned from his job. Yes, in this economy. He's striking out on his own, and I couldn't be more proud. We've saved up lots of money, so we've got it covered financially. If worse comes to worse, we can live in my little, old BMW. Remember, you can't drive a house, but you can live in a car!

I'm working with a University of Texas film student to reinterpret a scene from the movie Happy Go Lucky. The student is such a sweet, slightly shy guy. I hope he gets a good grade on this assignment, and that I get a good clip for my acting reel.

I started a new script/show for dinner mystery theater with the first show performed on Valentine's Day. I'm glad to start a new script/show, because the old show featured my dearly-departed friend Phil as my stage husband. While my new stage husband who took over the part did a great job, he wasn't Phil, and it made me sad to do that show without Phil.

I went to the doctor last week for an annual physical. I don't remember the last time I had a physical. I'm quickly approaching the age that my dad had his first heart attack. I wanted to make sure that everything was okay health-wise. I'm happy to report that I'm in excellent health according to the exam and lab results. Phooey to genetics. Yay for regular exercise and healthy-ish eating habits.

After two-and-a-half years of not coloring my hair, I'm itching to go blonder. Thoughts? Concerns? Advice?

That about brings you up to speed. Big hugs to all.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vortex


On those days when I don't have an acting job, rehearsal or class, I find it hard to get myself looking presentable and out of the house. I manage to make it to the gym a few times a week, and usually end up walking to the post office or grocery store in my gym clothes -- not the prettiest picture. Luckily, I'm not a target for the paparazzi. If I were, I'd always be in that section of Us Weekly that insists "Stars Are Just Like Us". I can see the caption now. "This no-name actress wears sweaty gym clothes to grab a half-gallon of nonfat milk and 6-pack of toilet paper."

After a full schedule of classes, shows and rehearsals last week, there were a few housekeeping tasks to attend to this afternoon. I kept thinking that I would make it out of the house at some point today, but between the vacuuming, laundry, dirty dishes and putting clothes away, I didn't manage to get out until it was time for Janie-dog's evening walk. I didn't wear any makeup for that, but at least I wore cute jeans and a shirt with buttons instead of track pants and a t-shirt.

Housekeeping has a vortex effect on me. I think I'll be able to pull away, but keep getting sucked back into the dizzying frenzy. You try putting on mascara and lip gloss in a whirlpool.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Squeamish


During the great dressing room project that spanned 2008 and 2009, I dropped the corner of a giant wardrobe door on my big toe. It took what seemed like an eternity to get the offending door lifted off of my toe, though it was maybe ten seconds. My toenail on that big toe is going to come off. I know that the toenail will grow back. I know that having a naked toe for a while is going to be part of the healing process. My one, big, superficial concern is that my new toenail won't be here in time for the start of open-toed shoe season. Ick. Blast these open-toed and peep-toed shoe trends! And, no, I don't do socks with sandals. Except for that one time I took the trash out late at night, but as a general rule, no.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Encouragement


Remember that restaurant commercial I did back in December with the 5:00 AM call time? Remember how I wrote on this blog that I saw the commercial, and was disappointed to spot a split-second of the side of my hair? Good news! I have seen a new edit of the commercial and I saw my sleeve and right at the end of the commercial, I turn my head so that viewers can see half of my face! Yay! Okay, it's a tiny thing, but it's SOMETHING ENCOURAGING.

A few weeks ago, some sweet friends said they saw me on Friday Night Lights. They gave a glowing review, and gave me a DVD of the episode. It was really weird to watch myself, but also kind of cool. The episode is Season 3, episode 7. In the show, I'm listening to character Billy Riggins talk about a house he's trying to sell. I'm there for a good twenty seconds, totally recognizable. Again, it's a tiny thing, but it's a prime time network television show, and my sweet, admittedly partial friends liked my performance.

I am encouraged.

I <3 Studio Ghibli


I know where I'll be on certain Saturdays at 2:00 for the next few months. Wanna come with?



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dressing Room!


We previously had a guest room with a queen-size bed in it. Only my mom has ever stayed with us, and only for three days out of the nine-hundred-forty-nine days (thus far) that we've lived in our little 1952 house. Chad & I concluded that the guest room was not an efficient use of the precious square footage or of the even more precious storage space in our cozy, old house.

Over the holiday break, we rented a U-Haul and took all the guest room fittings to the Salvation Army for donation. Then we drove up to IKEA and loaded up the truck with PAX Wardrobe Units and an ottoman with a washable cover. (Washable covers are a necessity when you have four furry children.) Behold, the Dressing Room! I can actually see all of my clothes now that they are not stuffed into a tiny, dark closet. My shoes (hi, my name is Jennifer, and I have a lot of shoes) all fit into the wardrobes, and no longer have to live on rickety shoe racks on our bedroom floor. Chad has full use of his closet
, which is also in the dressing room, since I moved my overflowing stash of dresses and theater costumes out of his space. Now we can both get dressed in the (wait for it...) Dressing Room!

As the guest room before:


The cats enjoyed the queen-size bed, but they'll sleep anywhere. Mostly, the furniture just took up space and was very seldom useful.

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As the lovely, useful Dressing Room after:







As you can see in the photos, the kitties still like to hang out in this room. The nice glass doors on the wardrobe units keep their pretty fur off of our clothes.

If you (Mom) ever need to stay with us in the future, we saved a set of queen-size sheets and blanket for an air mattress. You'll just have to let us in to grab some clothes.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Office Organization

Chad and I just can't leave well-enough alone. After two-and-a-half years in this house, we decided to rearrange and completely reorganize the office. Then we decided that since no one (except for my mom) has actually ever stayed in our guest room (and even when Mom stayed, it was only for three nights) that we should make that room a more useful place in the context of our daily living.

The office project is officially done! I'm happy to share before and after photos.

Before: We didn't own as many books back then. The office closet was a complete mess... complete with mini-avalanches every time we tried to retrieve anything.

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After: We rotated the desk so that Chad and I can both use it at the same time. The desk is huge, so there's plenty of room for his-n-hers Mac laptops. We also added lots of storage for files, wrapping paper and office supplies to alleviate the crazy closet situation.



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The guest room turned dressing room project is 90% finished. I hate to show rough-drafts, so you'll have to wait for those photos. The rug I ordered for that room is running late of the estimated delivery date thanks to Pottery Barn and their spotty service record. Plus we still have a little arranging to do.

I dropped a very heavy door on my big toe during the assembly of a wardrobe storage unit. Apologies if you happened to be in the neighborhood and heard my string of nonsensical ravings as I hopped around on one foot wincing in pain.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Who's With Me?

January and February will see some awesome and some awesomely vapid movie releases:

Bride Wars

He's Just Not That Into You

Inkheart

New in Town

Coraline

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Who wants to see any of these fine films with me? Not all at once now. Form an orderly line!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

In Flux


Chad and I used our time during the winter holiday break to completely dismantle the office and the guest room. We're rebuilding and reconfiguring the office to be better organized and more useful than it was before. We're turning the guest room into a dressing room complete with big wardrobe storage units from IKEA, a new rug and a new ottoman. Tune in next weekend for before and after photos... hopefully!

Disappointment


About an hour ago, while watching Samantha Brown's Weekend in Paris show, I saw that restaurant commercial that I shot back on December 15. I was able to pick out two of the ladies I sat with during filming, one of the handsome young men from my day of filming, the chef who made the impressive skillet flames and the side of my hair -- not my the side of my face, just my hair.


My mom keeps asking me when I'll be on TV so she can watch. I'll probably just be a blurry profile in many projects.

I remind myself that I just started doing film and TV projects this summer (after many years of stage work). In only six months, I've been involved in three commercials, four feature-length movies, six episodes of Friday Night Lights and one sitcom pilot. I have high hopes for the future despite the disappointing blurry profiles.