Every year, the Babson Players alumni group puts on a summer production at Babson College. The show takes place on campus, and since I have not lived near Boston since graduating, I have never been able to participate.
As COVID turned life into virtual reality, and our lives became anchored over a computer screen, so did this year's alumni production. An unexpected positive outcome of the virus was that, with no in person rehearsals possible, the Players were pushing forward with their summer show but doing so over Zoom. To my utter delight, I am thrilled to say that for the first time in ten years, I am acting with the Babson Players again as Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors.
The Players were and are a group that brought me the most joy and the happiest memories during my time in college. Who I became was greatly shaped by that 'club,' which was so much more than that. I distinctly remember that after a long day, knowing a rehearsal would be at the end of it energized me and made me feel like I had somewhere I really belonged. Being on stage felt comfortable, and the people I was surrounded by were kind, fun, and like minded.
I was determined to continue my stage pursuit, both during college and after, and moved to New York to carve out a career for myself in theatre. I loved performing and felt compelled to make acting a full time career, but after a few years I began to feel the exhaustion of rejection, and the burnout of taking jobs I didn't really believe in to earn more money and another credit on my resume. Deciding to leave acting made me feel like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I felt fulfilled in other pursuits and creative career choices.
What I wasn't able to realize until now was that just because I moved away from a professional theatre career didn't mean I had to stop doing the thing that gave me the most joy. I could have let go of the hustle, but I didn't' have to walk away from the happiness I felt in channeling different emotions, playing new characters, and (let's be honest) being a general ham. This show has allowed me to let go of any need to 'prove myself' as an artist, and it has brought the fun of theatre back into my life.
When this show is over (view it here on July 31 - please tune in!), I'm going to continue to look for other community theatre opportunities, virtually and, once we can start coming together again, in real life. I'm sorry it's taken me this long to figure out that I could leave the stress and keep the fun, but now that I see that I'm not turning back. A family friend of ours (who, incidentally, has had an excellent career in entertainment) once said, "the only bad theatre is no theatre." Time to take that advice for myself.
I gave myself too much leeway the last nine months. I became so wrapped up in minute by minute minutia I lost focus. Perhaps it was the rush of last year post wedding. We experienced a fairytale and returned to New York to a whirlwind of speeding time that consisted of business trips, immigration interviews, a new job, and an apartment and borough move. Time was rushing, racing, flying, and then the world came to a screeching halt on March 13 and all the balls I was juggling remained suspended in the air, and I slowly raised my head to examine them.
Then three months of quarantine passed, and there was no excuse not to write. But though the three months stretched, they also flew, and days turned into weeks and no thoughts made their way out of my head and onto paper. Time stood still and there was nowhere to go, but the writing muscles became atrophied and the motivation faded.
“Regular life” started to pick back up and before I knew it, it was July 3rd. Hamilton came out on Disney Plus and I streamed it along with millions of others. The music spoke to me through its genius, poignancy, humor, and truth. One song’s chorus chanted “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” And I was jolted awake. We are all running out of time, each minute, each day. Why have I let this strange time in history push me to sleep?
So I thought, what should I write about? I took the first step and recognized I have no time, I’ve got to write again - but I doubted I had anything valid to share.
But I do, if I continue to notice the small things.
Murat and I wanted to take a walk in Brooklyn yesterday, and being new to the neighborhood and the borough I Googled where to go. I found the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and thousands of users had shared their reviews touting the loveliness of the park. One review stopped me in my tracks and stayed with me all day. They wrote, “It remind me holding my woman,s hand making me feel so important.” The purity of this statement made me cry. My heart swelled thinking about this person, and the feelings this place stirred in them.
Murat and I stepped out into the 90 degree heat and began walking the promenade. We found stunning views and a walk we had no idea existed so close to our new neighborhood. As we turned around and began to head back, I took Murat’s hand. He gave me an audible, ‘aww’ and a firm squeeze. I too, felt important, and I think so did he. My tears flickered again, with the human privilege of feeling important and reciprocating that feeling to someone I love.
For me, Fiddler on the Roof is the rare piece of art that evokes nostalgia without schmaltz, and somehow incites a myriad of emotions every time you see it. This production, even more so than others, stung my eyes with tears and caught in my throat the moment the company stepped onstage singing “Tradition” (or “Traditsye”). The emotion, which is always there in the show, was brought to new levels of realness, feeling, and understanding in this particular revival.
My tears hardly stopped during the entirety of the production. Whether out of laughter due to a babbling matchmaker, sentimentality as the company sang “Sunrise, Sunset,” heartache for a community grappling with religious persecution, or even just the sheer sweetness of a poor tailor finally saving enough money to get a sewing machine, my cheeks were rarely dry.
The set, while minimal, was stunning, as though parchments of the Torah hung around each corner of the stage, a constant reminder of the characters’ faith, and the solid foundation on which they built their lives. Subtitles were extremely well done and unobtrusive, on each side panel of the stage.
It naturally makes sense to tell the story of A Fiddler on the Roof right now. The history should never be forgotten, but we are sadly seeing it repeated day after day through religious persecution, uprooting of families, and fear and bigotry of “the other” all over the world, and close to home. A Fiddler on the Roof shows us just how similar we all are, as a family that could easily be my own or my neighbor grapples with tales as old as time - letting go of the past, embracing the future, and making sense and balance of the two. Last week, there were points when I didn’t even feel like I was watching a show. The performance solely in Yiddish made me feel as though I was peering into a window, observing a day in the life of a regular family bound to a tragic fate. Rejoicing at their triumphs, laughing at their jokes, and desperately wanting to protect them from the tragedies and anti-Semitism they were forced to endure.
A Fidler Afn Dakh was one of the best productions I’ve seen in a very long time. The show’s three hours moves at a remarkably brisk pace, is bursting with musical theatre greats in acting, voice, and dance, and reminds us of where we’ve come from, and the journeys that still lie ahead.
When do you finally concede defeat, walk away, or as the English say, “give it up as a bad job?” Murat and I are at a breaking point over something that we thought should be exceedingly simple.
We have encountered over six months of thwarted attempts to add Murat, my husband, to my bank account. As we are married and live together, it is hard to imagine something like this would be difficult.
When Murat arrived in the US, we wanted to add his name to my bank account, so he would have access to our funds and his own debit card in the US. I’m sure you are thinking, “well, that does not seem like an unusual or odd request.” However, the series of unfortunate events below is instead what our young, foolhardy selves have been subjected to, the bureaucratic process and red tape mountains aging us beyond our years…
And then…the Banker looks concerned. She asked Murat to input his information again, since the computer froze. He does, and she gives us the same pitiful look as just a moment ago. A fellow Banker comes over and asks ours if “she’s also having problems with the system. It seems like it’s down.” Our Banker asks us to wait while she tries to sort out what’s happening. When she returns, she hands Murat a water bottle for his troubles. He looks at her puzzled, and she informs him that she is “so sorry, but the systems have just gone down, and we can’t complete the steps needed to have him join my account.”
Do we cry? No. Although our stomachs churn and our hearts sink, we are not that surprised. We laugh in the face of adversity and look forward to using a new water bottle! Ahhh, the spoils of war.
Perhaps the Banker recognizes the deadness behind our eyes, and sees remnants of a once young, care-free couple. She offers to make an appointment with her for two days later, and assures us that upon return, she will help us complete the mission we set on so very long ago.
We will return. We will not give up. But I’m becoming slightly worried and convinced that there is a higher power doing whatever it can to stop us from completing this task. I can’t help but wonder, should we listen to the signs?
As one who lives to eat, I’ve never understood those who eat to live. My relationship with food is a joyous one, and my life is enhanced by experiences at restaurants and family made home-cooked meals that give you both permission and encouragement to take seconds, then thirds.
Despite my love affair with food and my constant thought of ‘when will I eat next?,’ I never felt at home in the kitchen or comfortable doing the cooking myself. It even made me slightly anxious, and often left me paralyzed with visions of smoking pots and fires in the oven, quickly followed by me grabbing my phone to order take out. Suddenly, in the last few months I’ve come around to the idea of experimenting in the kitchen, and I’ve found I really enjoy it! Often when I begin, I have no idea how a recipe will turn out and have many doubts regarding my culinary abilities mid-way through, but most of the time, it actually turns out very delicious.
I’ve been documenting some of my trials (and errors) and wanted to share my adventure in Brussels (spouts) that happened a few weeks ago.
I've since made this recipe again and they came out just as delicious. Even Murat, who swore up and down he'd never eat brussel due to traumatizing childhood memories involving boiling the offensive vegetable, took seconds. High praise indeed!
It’s hard to believe, but two years ago, I was moving into my studio and ultimate bachelorette pad in Melbourne.
Some of the happiest memories and most cherished moments of my life happened during my 1-year sabbatical when I quit my job, minimized my belongings, and moved 10,500 miles from home. The land was far and foreign, I didn’t know anyone, and I would be living by myself for essentially the first time. At least I knew the language would be the same (relatively speaking…).
I had sailed through Melbourne several times with my job aboard Seabourn, and felt ‘good vibes’ each time we were in port. I found the food excellent, the people friendly, and the arts scene flourishing. What better time than in my twenties to see what the other side of the world had to offer and find out if the toilets did indeed flush the other way? Moving to Melbourne felt like going into uncharted, land-of-opportunity territory.
The process of finding an apartment in Melbourne was unlike anything I had experienced previously. I thought I could handle a tough real estate market, since I had been savvy enough to find apartments in New York years prior. What I didn’t take into consideration was that despite the competitive New York market, New York realtors have so much product they are always ready to show you what is available. In Melbourne, no realtor wanted, or needed, to personally show me anything. The first time I walked into a real estate office, I felt confident and in control when I asked for someone to meet with me and show me listings around the city that fit my criteria. Instead, I was handed a flyer and told, “the open house hours are listed here.” But that couldn’t be right, I thought. I must have walked into a very odd and incompetent office. So I went to several other real estate offices, but consistently yielded the same result. I realized that Melbourne real estate, whether buying or renting, was an obvious seller’s market.
Viewing an apartment felt a lot like being back at auditions. Swarms of people crowded into the tiny spaces though this time, instead of holding headshots they clutched rental applications. It was a meat market. Each renter was surreptitiously sizing one another up, and working hard to prove they were the worthiest of candidates.
I know that luck had a lot to do with me getting the apartment I wanted. I found one that I absolutely adored but was almost sure that I wouldn’t make the cut. When I arrived at my soon-to-be dream home, I was breathing heavy and red-faced, having rushed over from another open house. I felt sheepish, highly embarrassed, and deflated when I looked around and saw the other apartment viewers sporting well tailored blazers, high end shoes, and perfectly coiffed hair. Nevertheless, I pushed back my shoulders and muscled my way in to the apartment. It was the perfect studio: furnished, in a fantastic neighborhood, tons of sneaky storage, and even had a washer and dryer in the unit. New York definitely didn’t have that in my price range. I submitted my application immediately and personally called the realtor after submission to try and plead my case in hopes she would put in a good word to the landlord. So what did luck have to do with landing this apartment? I was the "chosen candidate" because the landlord was in entertainment, and she saw my website when she received my application. Little would I have guessed maintaining a website long after auditions were over would be so beneficial to me!
Reminiscing a lot on my happy year of growth in land Down Under.
We all have something to say, something to share. An observation (or several) worth telling to as many people who will listen. Today I've realized that I should not be afraid to tell my stories, and continue to deny myself my love of writing for fear of becoming too vulnerable.
I've wrestled with starting a new blog for a long time now, with all the dark and highly effective reasons for not doing one consistently penetrating the forefront of my mind: no one will like it, you'll open yourself to criticism, people will judge you, you're exposing yourself too much, what you have to say doesn't mean anything to anyone.
Maybe all of the above is true. But right now, in this moment, I don't really care anymore. If someone doesn't like what I write, well, that's probably likely, and it's also OK! And as my dear friend and mentor would say to me, "Jac, sometimes you just have to do things for yourself." So that's why I'm here. I'm going to become a better writer by delving in to my present, past, and future, and writing about what I see and find in this beautiful life. The only thing I have to lose is time.
Reflecting on my experiences with the world, my neighborhood, and my home.
Reflecting on my experiences with the world, my neighborhood, and my home.