Thursday, March 28, 2013

Question marks

It seems that there are brief periods of time in life that are just question marks. The last big one I had was in the beginning of 2009, when I came back to Rexburg, went to school for 1 semester and then didn't know what to do. I wrote about the "luxury" of the question mark back then. And Jacob and I are approaching another big series of question marks soon.

We're going to be at the Playmill this summer (can't wait can't wait can't wait), and then Jacob has one more semester of school left. And after that...who knows? We've tossed around a few ideas, but in reality, we don't have any solid plan. We could move to southern Oregon to be involved in the Shakespeare festival, we could move to New York City and go for acting, we could stay here and teach, we could go to grad school (which we actually don't really want to do right now), we could move out to the country and have a million babies.

Oh yeah, and we do want to have kids at some point, but we're just still trying to figure out when the right time is for us. We've been married three years, and a lot of our friends were married for a shorter time than that before expanding their families. Sometimes I get baby-hungry, but waiting was the right choice for Jacob and I. We'll keep you posted if that changes. In the meantime, it makes it difficult to make any long-term plans.

Anyway, the possibilities are endless. And sometimes terrifying. Question marks can be scary. But ultimately, I feel like it will be okay.

I've been redecorating our living room, and as I do so, I can't help but think, "What's the point? We're not even going to be here this summer and then we're probably going to move soon after that anyway." And then I remember that we can take all of our belongings with us when we move...the filing cabinet I repainted and the wall decor and the curtains. All the work we've put into our lives together can be carried with us wherever we go. And even if we DID have to leave all of our possessions behind, we'd still have each other. And that makes the question marks okay.

I know that's super-cheesy, but question marks really aren't so intimidating when you've got your best friend and companion by your side.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why My Facebook Profile Picture is a Red Equal Sign, in 3000 words

You may have seen lots of red equal signs floating around the internet today, and that’s because the Supreme Court will be making some big decisions regarding same-sex marriage this week. And I’ve got one of those equal signs as my profile picture on facebook right now.

And I thought I'd take a moment to explain my reasons why.

I recognize that gay marriage is an extremely complicated, personal and sensitive topic, so I've done my best to keep that in mind as I wrote this. THIS IS NOT A DISCUSSION OF WHETHER OR NOT HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY IS RIGHT. This is a discussion on whether or not homosexual couples have the right to be civilly married.

It’s been a long journey for me, and I actually suspect it’s far from over. Remember how I lived in the Bay Area during Prop 8 and how it was really stressful and emotionally taxing? Back then, I did a lot of research and came to some conclusions and blogged about it here.

But my views and thoughts have evolved and changed since then. I still want to be obedient to the Lord’s counsel, and I have a testimony that the prophet leads this Church by revelation. But I also think there’s room for human error in Church leadership. I’m not outright saying, “The prophet was wrong and not led by God.” And I am striving to be a good Latter-day Saint. I know Mormons have historically been anti-gay marriage. But I’ve done lots more research, had a few more personal experiences, and been exposed to many more arguments. And here’s how my views have changed. I’ll list some common arguments against gay marriage, and give my responses to them.

Being gay is unnatural
MY RESPONSE: Homosexual behavior has continued to be common, if a minority, among human beings for centuries, throughout various cultures and social norms. So if human beings have been doing it for centuries, it could technically be seen as “normal” if not as common.

Related to this argument is the idea that it doesn’t happen in the animal kingdom. Which is totally false. Homosexual behavior has been observed in over 1500 species (Bruce Bagemihl, Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, 1999). Birds, especially penguins (who mate for life), have been known to form homosexual partnerships. Roughly 60% of all sexual activity of bonobo apes is between females. Still uncertain? Still think homosexual activity is unique to humans? Want the uncomfortable details? Dolphins have been observed penetrating one another’s blowholes with their penises and each other’s vaginas with their noses, occasionally during sex “orgies” between multiple dolphins. American Bison have anal sex. Giraffes mount and climax with other giraffes of the same gender way more often than with the opposite gender. All of this behavior is present whether animals of the opposite gender are available or not.

I guess if you wanted to be cruel, you could say, “See? It’s so depraved, even animals do it.” But animals also have heterosexual sex too, so your argument kind of falls apart there.

Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay
MY RESPONSE: I’m actually never quite sure how to respond to this. It seems to be based on two assumptions: guilt by association, and that being gay is bad. I reject both of those things. Maybe what people mean is that accepting gay marriage is a signal that being gay is acceptable, to the ultimate harm of society? I disagree that being gay harms society—gay people are no more likely to steal, murder, rape, or otherwise disturb the peace than straight people. They are just as diverse a group as straight people. If you’re worried that your son or daughter will see a gay couple and assume that it’s okay, which you don’t want them to think, then number one, I suggest you examine your own prejudices, and number two, you have the power as a parent to teach your kids whatever you want. Don’t let society teach your kids for you…take things into your own hands.

Legalizing gay marriage will lead to legal polygamy, incest, and people marrying objects/pets
MY RESPONSE: Regarding the objects/pets thing, objects and pets can’t sign marriage licenses. So I don’t think that will be a problem. Furthermore, there’s an implied comparison here that I dislike…homosexuality : bestiality? Not okay. Regarding incest, there’s clear biological evidence that marrying your brother or sister wreaks havoc on the gene pool. The science that supports a brother-sister marriage ban is much more strong than any regarding a same-sex marriage ban. Regarding polygamy…I don’t really know what to say. I suppose it’s possible that legalizing gay marriage will lead down a slippery slope to polygamy, but there’s actually a fallacy called the “slippery slope” fallacy, so I’m not so keen to accept the idea of a slippery slope at all. I don’t have a straight answer (forgive the pun) regarding polygamy, but I do think that there is a big difference between two people in a loving relationship and three or four or five people in a loving relationship. Everything I know about psychology and sociology and relationships tells me that there are too many differences to realistically put polygamy and gay marriage into the same category, and that’s what it seems this argument is trying to do.

Straight marriage is traditional
MY RESPONSE: And thank goodness it’s remained unchanged, right?! Women are still property, interracial marriages are still illegal, and so is divorce.


If marriage has CHANGED enormously over the years, then there really is no “traditional” marriage to speak of. And if it’s been unfair and discriminatory in the past, we probably should move away from it.

There’s also the un-ignorable fact that straight people haven’t exactly been holding marriage sacred themselves…divorce rates are high and co-habitation is common. It seems unfair to call for traditional marriage without also calling for stricter divorce laws or laws prohibiting co-habitation.

Gay marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage…straight marriages will be less meaningful if it’s shared with gay people
MY RESPONSE: The existence of Ellen and Portia di Rossi has no effect on what I feel with my own husband. I’m going to call people out on this one a little bit, but I think this argument actually stems from a complete misunderstanding of the LGBT community. If you think your straight marriage’s sanctity is threatened, ask yourself why? I suspect that sometimes the ultimate reason why is “Well, if they can get married, then what does marriage even mean?” Think about that thought for a while, and ask yourself if it’s fair. Ask yourself if you’d be willing to say it to someone’s face. You may find that you think of homosexuals as perverts, as pedophiles, as promiscuous radicals who have sex with strangers in public parks. While there ARE homosexual people who fit in those categories, there are also plenty of STRAIGHT people who do too. Sexual orientation isn’t related to criminal or promiscuous behavior. There are many same-sex couples who live in committed monogamous relationships that are just like straight people’s. Except they can’t visit one another in the hospital, file taxes jointly, or receive employment benefits.

Also, think about Britney Spears and Jason Alexander’s Vegas 55-hour marriage, Liz Taylor’s eight husbands, and the Hollywood norm of multiple marriages, and take that into account, if you’re measuring your own marriage’s meaning by how other people treat marriage. Like I said, straight people have already been threatening the sanctity of marriage on their own.

This argument seems to be clinging to the past, without realizing how far away we’ve already come from it.

Gay marriages are not valid because they don’t produce children
MY RESPONSE: I’ve heard arguments about overpopulation, but I don’t think those are quite as valid because I believe in the Plan of Salvation. However, I will say this. Old people and infertile couples don’t produce children either. And THEY still get to be married. And although there is an evolutionary imperative towards heterosexuality—it perpetuates genes—there are plenty of examples throughout the animal kingdom—and especially among humans—to point to the fact that sexuality isn’t always used to perpetuate genes.

Gay marriage is not supported by religion, and threatens to undermine the religious principles America was founded on
MY RESPONSE: If we lived in a theocracy, this would be valid. But we don’t. The people giving out marriage licenses are civil leaders, not religious ones. We live in a democracy with freedom of religion (or even freedom FROM religion, if you choose), and it’s unfair to force religion-specific doctrine in the civil sector. For many years, people cited religious reasons for denying women the right to vote, for denying blacks personhood. While I do think that freedom of religion should be protected, where it clashes with civil rights, civil rights should be upheld simply because they are more universal. (This is a complex and totally sticky subject, and I’m still figuring a lot of it out. Cut me a little slack while I do that…these are just my feelings now.) I also worry that we sometimes “myth-ify” our founding fathers…I do believe that part of the reason America was established was so that the Gospel can be restored. But sometimes we as a Mormon culture put them on pedestals next to the prophets, and take all of their words as revelation, when in fact, they were just men. Often inspired, but just men—flawed, imperfect, and if you believe they were all very religious, then hypocritical men. (Remember how the evidence is strong that Thomas Jefferson had several children with one of his slaves?)

Gay people already have civil unions
MY RESPONSE: The problem is that civil unions don’t grant all the same rights. Also, only a handful of states provide or recognize civil unions, and they aren’t recognized by the federal government at all. For example, on your federal taxes, you get a tax break if you get married. But you don’t get a tax break if you got “civilly unioned.” If you have a civil union in Hawai’i, and you get in an accident on vacation in Montana, you could be denied hospital visitation, because your union isn’t recognized in that state. So, until civil unions grant all the same rights and privileges as marriages, they will be unfair. And if they grant all the same rights and privileges as a marriage, legally speaking, you could just call it a marriage.

It will be more difficult, both emotionally and practically, for married gay couples to accept the Gospel and be baptized
MY RESPONSE: So far, this is the only argument I’ve heard that holds much water for me. I love the Gospel with my whole soul, and I want everyone on earth to have the opportunity to hear and become a part of it. It would be so much more difficult to join the Church if you’re married to a same-sex partner. If you’re just living with a same-sex partner, it’s STILL difficult—to sacrifice that committed relationship. But if a divorce had to take place, it would be even more taxing.

But I still feel uneasy about denying the right to marry to thousands of couples based on the possibility that a handful of them will one day join the Church.

You should just be obedient to the prophet, if you truly believe he’s a prophet, and trust him when it comes to gay marriage.
MY RESPONSE: This is a tough one. This was a huge part of my experience with Prop 8 back in 2008—I voted the way I did because ultimately, I wanted to show my faith in the prophet. But just as I did then, I again take Hugh B. Brown’s advice to "exercise your God-given right to think through on every proposition that is submitted to you and be unafraid to express your opinions, with proper respect for those to whom you talk, and proper acknowledgment of your shortcomings." I still don’t know how exactly all of this fits together. I still don’t have all the answers. Right now, in my heart of hearts and in my head of heads, I cannot bring myself to deny same-sex couples the same rights I have, or to support those denials.

I also know that the leaders of the Church are also imperfect men and women. Back in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, the Church was very open about being very anti-communist. And while it’s hard to find documentation, it seems that some Church leaders were overly zealous in fighting communism in their wards, getting all “McCarthyistic.” And there were Church members back then who refused to join in on the witch hunts because of their own consciences. Maybe this is something similar…the doctrine is one thing, but the opinions of men and women are another.

And the Church has come a long way since 2008—just in these 5 years, a lot has changed within the Church in its attitude towards the gay/lesbian community. Policies are clearer regarding what warrants Church discipline, and the Church recently launched a new website, focusing on Mormons and homosexuality.

Again, I still don’t have all the answers. But I trust that I will someday. I’ll just keep learning and loving and praying and studying. And maybe someday it will all make sense.

The Family Proclamation to the World teaches that family is the fundamental unit of society and that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. Gay marriage just doesn’t fit in with that.
MY RESPONSE: I know. And I believe that. And I understand that Heavenly Father has asked us not to act upon homosexual feelings, even though I don’t yet know why. But I also believe that my job is to love people for who they are, without conditions. And I do believe that the family is the fundamental unit of society. I do believe it’s good for children to be raised in a home with a role model of both genders present. But I also don’t think it’s fair to deny gay people family units because of who they are. With gay marriage legalized, I think there will be MORE “family units” in the world, even if they look different from the typical “nuclear family.” But the typical “nuclear family” is becoming uncommon anyway.

This one is a tough one to respond to, and I’m not at a point when I know my feelings well enough to articulate them clearly.

Maybe one of my main thoughts is that if homosexual activity is a sin, it seems to be a sin of love…not of hate. It doesn’t destroy lives the way that drug use or pornography or theft does. And, not everyone believes it is a sin. I don’t know if I can bring myself to support outlawing something that’s not universally accepted as wrong. I saw once a sign that said, “Don’t support gay marriage? Then don’t get gay married.” Part of me appreciates the “Live and let live” attitude of this statement.

I dunno…I believe in the principles of the Gospel and the family proclamation. But I recognize that not everyone does. And it’s only fair to let them live according to their own beliefs.

Gay marriage infringes on other people’s religious freedom
MY RESPONSE: I don’t really see how this is true. If gay marriage is legal, you can still go to church. You can still pray. You can still live your life according to the dictates of your own conscience. Unless you’re talking about the possibility that:

If gay marriage is legal, then churches can be sued for refusing to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples
MY RESPONSE: Here it is. Here’s where I reveal The Ultimate Solution.

Currently, the separation of Church and State is a fundamental part of the United States. But that separation blurs when it comes to marriage. You go down to City Hall to get your marriage license, but you can have it signed by the guy at your church, and then it’s recognized civilly. I think we should separate church and state more fully. Here’s my vision: You can go to your church and have any kind of sealing ordinance or commitment ceremony you would like to. But it’s not civilly a marriage unless you go down to City Hall and fill out a marriage license THERE. Religious institutions can deny people ordinances or ceremonies according to their own consciences, but they’re not denying someone a civil right. City Hall can’t deny couples marriage licenses based on their consciences because they’re civil institutions and don’t have a right to make subjective decisions without due process. Latter-day Saint temples currently do this in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. And I think it would solve a lot of problems if we did the same here in the United States.

I will be the first to tell you that I don’t have all of the answers yet…I can’t see the whole tapestry. But I do know that I want Nathan and Beckah and David and Rachel and Kevin and Curtis and any other gay friends and family members I have to enjoy the same economic and civil rights and protections I have. And maybe this is the wrong choice and maybe I’m totally wrong and maybe God is displeased with me for it. But the God that I believe in is a loving God and a merciful God. I have thought and prayed for a long time about this, and I feel in my heart that civil gay marriage should be legal. You may disagree with me. You may say that God can’t possibly smile on my decision. But I think He knows that I’m making this decision as best I can, with what knowledge I have. And to clarify, I currently don’t think there should be gay temple sealings. I think those are ordinances that require obedience to principles of abstention from homosexual activity. But we’re talking about civil marriages here. And until civil marriage ceases to give civil and economic benefits, it’s only fair that loving, committed couples of any gender have access to those rights and privileges.

NOTE: I'm leaving the comments on this entry open for now, because I'm a fan of respectful discussion and debate. But please note that hateful speech WILL NOT be tolerated. If inflammatory language, personal attacks, or otherwise unkind words are used in the comments, I will disable comments for this entry. And I will be really sad about doing so.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tempest (no teapot)

I just finished a run of The Tempest at BYU-Idaho a couple of weeks ago. It was a great experience...I made some new friends, strengthened old friendships, got to work with different people, and learned more about acting and Shakespeare.

The technical aspects of the show were super awesome...set, lighting, sound, etc. It was a tech-heavy show, so tech week presented a few challenges, but man, was it worth it. Check it out:

The set was inspired by the film sets of early film pioneer Georges Melies:

Lots of fantasy color, a cave opening, etc:

Also note the climbing wall, and a cool cave door with a hidden bookshelf and magical purple crystals! I actually had no idea the crystals were in there until photo call. The cave opening also served as a screen for shadow puppetry (you can see the sailboat in the bottom left picture). And the shadow puppetry was one of the COOLEST parts of the show:

There was also a lot of epic cloak twirling in this show, which I was unaware of until I saw the production photos:

Plus, the shipwreck was awesome...there were 5 girls playing the role of Ariel, and they used a rope to create the shape of the ship, and there was shadow puppetry, and lightning and thunder, and choreographed surges and it was awesome. It took us until about the fifth performance to really get that scene down, and it was really hard to pretend to be tossed and pitched in a skirt and three inch heels and carrying a cane, but it was awesome. I'm totally stealing this idea if ever I direct The Tempest.

And, this is the best wig I've ever worn in a show, maybe second only to the one I wore in Our Town.

The picture doesn't do it justice. It was so awesome. I think I liked it more than the one from Our Town because it took way less work. (I was also gonna post a picture of my wig from Our Town, but when I couldn't find one within about 10 minutes, I got overwhelmed and gave up.)

I didn't have a huge role, so each night backstage was spent in graphic design, reading, grading papers, or just chatting quietly in the greenroom. During one of these chats, a handful of us came up with The Muppet Tempest, starring all your favorite Jim Henson characters. Here's our cast list:

Prospero: sorcerer and ruler of the desert island. Displaced from Italy by his evil brother Antonio.
Sam the eagle

Miranda: Prospero's lovely teenage daughter, who falls in love with King Alonso's son Ferdinand
Miss Piggy

Ferdinand: the King's son

Gonzalo: a wise old counselor, part of King Alonso's entourage
Rowlph the Dog

Antonio: Prospero's evil brother, part of King Alonso's entourage

Sebastian: King Alonso's dodgy brother, conspirator with Antonio

King Alonso: Ruler of Naples, worked out a deal with Antonio years ago to get rid of Prospero

Stephano: A drunken sailor

Trinculo: A drunken clown
Pepe the King Prawn

Caliban: a "savage and deformed slave," left on the island by his witch mother, now servant to Prospero

Bosun: A sailor

Additional sailors:
Dr. Melon, members of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

Master: Ship's captain
Swedish chef

Ariel: A fairy spirit that serves Prospero

Special guests: Elton John, Tim Curry

We actually don't know who Elton John and Tim Curry will play, we just thought they should be involved. There was lots of debate about some of, Gonzo and Pepe the King Prawn could actually switch roles.

We also cast the ship's crew the way we did because of how hilariously unintelligible the shipwreck scene would be.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Winter Blues

The weather is a problem.

Both functionally and emotionally.

It's at this point in the year when I begin thinking desperate thoughts--I mentally "check out" of school (which is not an option this semester, since I'm the teacher), I look up flights to tropical islands, I "clean the house" and end up throwing away half of my belongings. I have a lot of free time nowadays, and I keep thinking of things to do, and then not doing them because the weather is gross, and because we don't have a car.

And, if I'm honest, I also don't do these things because I'M kind of gross. There's both a meeting and a concert going on tonight, but when the weather is all cold and wet, my philosophy is "Why get dressed?" So I'm still in glasses and pajamas and yesterday's underwear. My hair is crazy and I have zit cream on my face. And it's entirely within my power to clean myself up and get out of here, and it might even be good for me, but...

I dunno, I'd rather mope? And I kinda don't want to go do those things without my husband. Just 'cause I like him. And I'm feeling introverted and stuff.

I guess what I'm really saying is, when you have a Playmill summer to look forward to, it's real difficult to live in the moment. I was looking through old blog entries a few days ago, and stumbled on this gem from 2006:

Since coming up to West Yellowstone, Montana
1 Trips to the E.R. since rehearsals began
79 Approximate hours spent in rehearsal
2 Times I've watched Old Faithful go off
9 Times I've cried (happy, sad, in character, and out of character)
8,462 Times I've laughed
1 Compliment I've received that I will treasure forever
2 Parental lectures received since moving to Montana
6 Times I've listened to the song "Come On, Eileen"
4 Cast members that are currently ill
9 Moments I've wondered about a cast member's sexuality
14 Number of times I've fallen while attempting a partnered cartwheel flip
1 Number of times Ben has dropped me on my head while we were attempting said cartwheel flip
0 Times Curtis and I have done our jive choreography correctly
8 Times I've done the "Go Go Joe" choreography correctly
0 Times I've done the "Go Go Joe" choreography correctly while being able to breathe and/or sing
3.1 Harry Potter books I've re-read
7 Number of ferral cats caught in the theatre and have now been sent home to Jesus
8 Times I have been down-right astounded by things that the Merrill children have said
6 Average number of times per day that I sing a high G above the octave
9,742 Number of times I have thought of the wonderful people that surround me and how much I miss those that I'm not with every day right now

It's a good glimpse into what my first Playmill experience was like, and I can't wait to see what this coming summer has in store.

Even though this is what things look like in West Yellowstone right now:

But when you're surrounded by friends, when you're singing, dancing, acting, and occasionally exploring the National Park that you live 1 block away from, it's hard to feel mopey.

I'm just in a funk. A winter funk.

Maybe I'll go on a walk after all. Just to spite you, winter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Road trips, alcohol, Star Trek, and other joys


Life is pretty good around here lately...for lots of reasons. Here are some of the things that are making life interesting and lovely:

1. My bladder is healthy and happy again. The final verdict was YES take a probiotic, but at least 4-6 hours before or after taking the antibiotic. And cranberry pills.

2. I have an iPhone now, and it makes me very happy. Part of me feels like I might have fallen for the ultimate lie of consumerism ("This thing will make you happy!") but so far it's true. Aaaaand it was free, and I can still listen to all 50 gb of my music through iTunes Match.

3. I went to Utah this weekend to visit Carrie, and it was exactly what I needed. I taught her baby where her frontal cortex is and how to Bollywood dance, and Carrie and I sat and talked for about six hours. I love that woman. She is one of the most intelligent, open-minded, funny, creative people I know. It was a short visit, but enough to get a fix of Carrie, and that's what I needed.

4. We had an info meeting for the Playmill on Sunday, and though I am shy and self-conscious in large groups of new people, I'm still very very very excited to get to know them all and spend my summer at the Playmill. And I know that they won't be a large group of new people for long...within a month or two, I'll think of them as a family.

5. I accidentally made alcohol this weekend. Kind of. I've been drinking organic cranberry juice to help my bladder heal, and I dilute it with a little apple juice because otherwise it tastes DISGUSTING. I left a bottle in my warm office over the weekend, and found it again this morning. I took a sip and discovered that it was BUBBLY. I did some research and discovered that my cranberry juice had begun the fermenting process. Ha! So...does that mean I did conferences with my students with a very slight buzz on?

6. Star Trek: The Next Generation is on Amazon Prime Instant Video for Freeeeeee. The whole series. I think I've always called myself a Trekkie for the nostalgia. Like, I love Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and I remember my parents watching TNG when I was little, and the Tribbles episode of the Original Series is awesome. But I was kind of an "ironic" Trekkie...I liked it while knowing how cheesy it was, and kind of scoffing at those who were serious about it all. But after watching about fifteen episodes of TNG over the last few weeks, I've become an ACTUAL Trekkie...not an ironic one. BECAUSE STAR TREK IS SO AWESOME. It's so...philosophical! The Prime Directive creates tricky moral dilemmas, and the show deals with everything from alternate sexualities (Season 5 "The Outcast") to torture (Season 6 "Chain of Command"). Oh, and the end of "Chain of Command"? PICARD IS THE HERO OF THE UNIVERSE. Because THERE. ARE. FOUR. LIGHTS. Seriously. Go on Netflix or Amazon and start watching. That's what I'm about to do.

Friday, March 8, 2013

In which I am candid

Know what SUCKS?

A bladder infection.

I know because I have one right now. I've never had one before, so this is my lucky week, I guess. And let's talk candidly about how uncomfortable this is.

I feel, 100% of the time, like I have to pee and like I have mild menstrual cramps. Of course, I can't pee very successfully, but you're not supposed to hold it, so every second I'm like, "Is this real? Do I really have to go? I feel like I do, but it could just be the infection. But it will be worse if I don't go..." So I spend a lot of time sitting on the toilet, and when I'm not sitting on the toilet, I think about whether or not I should be sitting on the toilet.

I did go to the doctor this morning (instead of teaching class--because I'm the teacher and can cancel it whenever I want to), whom I paid $130 to in exchange for the privilege of peeing in a cup, which is actually pretty difficult to do...just aiming-wise. He also gave me a prescription for antibiotics, which I appreciate, and told me to drink lots of water and pure cranberry juice.

Have you ever TASTED pure cranberry juice? That stuff is NOT GOOD. I don't understand how a liquid can be so dry. I've been compromising by diluting cranberry juice with water and adding about a tablespoon of sugar per glass. Which I guess means I could have just bought cranberry juice cocktail and saved around $8, but whatever.

But I'm taking the antibiotic pills, along with a probiotic, and feel slightly nauseous because of them. Which, the little info card with the prescription says is a common side effect. And then on the other side of the info card, it says to call a doctor immediately if I experience nausea.

I think I'll just go back to reading in bed and drinking diluted cranberry juice. FOREVER.

I'm not in dire pain or anything. But being moderately uncomfortable non-stop gets tiring after a few days and nights, and I'm losing my morale. Any tips on how to speed this healing process up? Or make me comfortable while it's happening?

UPDATE: Thank you everyone, for your advice, cranberry pills, essential oils, blessings, and sympathy! I've been on antibiotics, but woke up this morning with very mild lower back pain and immediately spun into a panic. (Remember how I'm neurotic and how acute kidney failure is a constant fear?) Anyway, I went to the doctor again, and I don't have a fever or dark urine, so he said to just keep taking antibiotics and give it a few more days. I happened to mention that I'm taking a probiotic with my prescription to help me with nausea. He told me to stop, because it's counterproductive. 

I thought about it for a minute and realized that while taking an ANTIbiotic, I shouldn't combine it with a PRObiotic. 

Which I already did this morning, so I guess I'm in for another day of being moderately uncomfortable before the antibiotics kick in, without probiotics to counteract them. I feel sort of idiotic. 

Oh well. Nothing some water and Star Trek: The Next Generation can't cure. (I just discovered the entire series is available to stream for free through Amazon Prime. Last night, Jacob and I watched that one where Q turns Captain Picard into Robin Hood and makes him fight for Vash. Patrick Stewart really is dashing. And Star Trek is super awesome.) 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why go to college when you can watch these all day?

I feel like I don't spend THAT much time watching documentaries, but then I make these lists and discover otherwise. In my defense, they're educational, and I usually watch them while doing something else as well and...

Who am I kidding? I love watching documentaries and I will continue to devote hours of my life to it. Should you care to join me, here are a few recommendations.

The Machine That Made Us
Stephen Fry hosts this documentary about Johannes Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. It's pretty incredible to think how the entire course of human history was changed by this one invention. This very blog entry might have taken me months or years to write before Gutenberg...and he laid the path for typewriters, which laid the path for word processing. Now, Gutenberg, my words can be sent into the ENTIRE world in a matter of SECONDS.

The Lost World of Lake Vostok
So AWESOME! There's this lake in Antarctica, that's covered in over 4 km of ice, and it seems that it's been sealed off from the rest of the world for MILLIONS of years. Could life exist there? Even without light? It does in sealed caves in Romania...the life there produces energy through chemothynthesis (chemical reactions), instead of photosynthesis. And if life exists in Lake Vostok, then it could exist elsewhere, LIKE JUPITER'S MOON EUROPA. Because Europa is similarly coated with ice several kilometers thick, and its patterns indicate liquid water beneath the surface. The universe is awesome.

The Ancient Maya: Tools of Astronomy
Sometimes the host of this documentary irritated me a little bit. But that's okay because the Maya are awesome. I've often thought over the last few years how unaware most of us are of the stars. It seems that their movements, and the movements of the planets, was a big part of life for many ancient cultures, and nowadays, most of us couldn't point out more than two constellations. Because of light pollution, lack of knowledge, or both. I somehow took this as a reminder to look up when I'm outside more often.

Fry and Laurie Reunited
Remember how awesome Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry both are? Remember how they worked together for YEARS on Jeeves and Wooster and A Bit of Fry and Laurie? Well, their careers have taken them on separate paths, and they meet up again in this documentary, face to face for the first time in 15 years. It's a fun introduction to the two of them as individuals, and as a comedic duo. Hugh Laurie can make Stephen Fry laugh harder than anyone. And there's a great story about Hugh Laurie's firstborn son's TV debut. This is also a great watch if you're interested in comedy writing or sketch comedy.

PBS Life on Fire: Icelandic Volcanoes
This doc is part of a series about volcanoes that my mom recommended. This one happens to be narrated by Jeremy Irons, so that's a plus. It's also really cool. Volcanoes are so epic. And Iceland is such a hip place.

The Pyramid Code
I watched this one about a year and a half ago, but I think about it a lot still. It's changed the way that I see history. A lot of this documentary is pretty out there, from conspiracy theories to New Age philosophy, but having my own views challenged has helped me become a better critical thinker when it comes to history. There's something exhilarating about having everything you thought about history turned on its head. And I think there's something to seeing ancient cultures in a different light. 

Koko: A Talking Gorilla
I watched this wondering if it was the documentary I watched years ago that sent me into a species identity crisis, but it's not. (The one I watched years ago was called "Nature: Koko.") I really love that signing gorilla. After that initial freakout that the human species was not so separate from nature, I've come to embrace the idea, and I'm fascinated by the way apes obtain language. This is a fun documentary because at least 70% of it is just footage of Koko. Koko is still around, and even has her own youtube channel! Which is fun. And Penny Patterson is still Koko's "mom." =) It's really fun to watch the documentary and then the recent's fun to see the way Koko and Penny have grown together. 

Beautiful Minds: The Psychology of the Savant
Okay, the soundtrack/sound design for this documentary is all kinds of annoying, but the info it attempts to mask is fascinating. There are several parts to the documentary, and here they are. 

Memory Masters - This actually made me wonder if there's a relationship between ADD and savantism. People with ADD have a hard time filtering out sensory information to focus in on certain things, and savants don't filter out what normal brains consider "unimportant" memories. (And Prof. Allan Snyder is the hippest scientist ever. You'll know him when you see him.)

The Einstein Effect - Some interesting stuff in this one about mindsets. Some people believe that savants are so incredible because they see the world as it really is, without preconceived mindsets or ideas. Also includes some interesting theories on the correlation between Autism and creativity.

A Little Matter of Gender - Okay, so there were parts of this that struck me as downright sexist. But those sexist statements were made by the people being interviewed, and the writers did a decent job of counteracting the assumptions being made. (Not great, but decent.) But despite all that, there was lots of intriguing stuff...apparently there's a connection between high testosterone levels in fetal development and autism. That's why so many more autistic people are male.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"When I played basketball in high school, the other players used to listen to hip hop before games..."

"...and I would listen to 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' and everybody would make fun of me."

I actually never played basketball in high school. That quote is from Jordan Tait.

But I am, at heart, a geeky drama nerd. Like, I try to be a mature, in-touch and professional actor, but that doesn't stop me from being an enthusiastic lover of shiny shiny musicals. Also, Jacob and I are going to be at the Playmill in a few months, and I'm remembering how much I love musical theatre. So I guess I fit the geeky drama stereotype in a few ways after all.

So today, we celebrate the theatre of song and dance. Here are a few guilty and not-so-guilty musical theatre pleasures for your enjoyment.

One day I will play Miss Hannigan. (Or maybe I'll just be Carol Burnett. I think that's actually the bigger goal...)

And how adorable is Rick Moranis?

Remember when Daniel Radcliffe did this?

"With the price of meat what it is...."

I know Angela Lansbury originated the role, but I like Patti Lupone better.

Cabaret might be one of the best movie musicals of all time. Because Bob Fosse is the shiz. So so so brilliant.

And in honor of that quote up there:

(I'd feel like I could win a basketball game after listening to that...)

Jacob is also in on this musical theatre love, what with our approaching Playmill summer, though he's not quite on the kick I am at the moment. But there are a handful of plays we want to do together someday. We've got our entire lives together to do this, so here's hoping it all comes true.

Liz - Dolly Levi
Jacob - Horace Vandergelder

Liz - Mrs. Lovett
Jacob - Sweeney Todd

Liz - Madame Thenardier
Jacob - Monsieur Thenardier

If ever we're at a party together, grab a guitar and request that Jacob and I sing "Master of the House" together. We're pretty good.