Small Things that Made Me Smile

I’m fresh out of adventures to share today. Some year at this time I’ll write about the US Open, but I’d like to go again before I do since mostly what I can tell you about the time I went a few years ago is that my friend and I watched nine hours of tennis and all of it was awesome. When I get to go again, I’ll come up with something more interesting to say.

In the meantime, I’m going to steal a post idea from one of my favorite blogs. Erin over at Reading my Tea Leaves does a “My Week in Objects” series, which is always fun. Riffing on that, I’m giving you “Five Things that Made Me Smile This Week”. If this becomes a regular thing, it will need a less clunky title – suggestions are welcome.

1. I made too much pasta for dinner last night, but I hadn’t had this spiraly kind before and it was delicious and filling. I also love this yellow bowl.


2. When I went to my friend’s birthday party a week and a half ago, she told us each to take home one of these tiny plants her neighbor had given her. I haven’t killed mine yet! It needs a more permanent spot eventually because it can’t live on the radiator come winter, but right now it gets a decent amount of light there. I have no idea what it is.


3. Earlier this summer I fed my friend’s fish while she was off being a Harry Potter nerd at Leaky Con. She brought me back the best thank you note I have ever received, currently living next to my TV in a place of honor. If someone wants to send me a note in a red envelope, I will totally swap it in and pretend I received a Howler.


4. Long before that tiny plant came along, I gave my apartment some greenery with these paper flowers I made from a kit last summer. They don’t require any watering and they’ve made me happy for over a year now.


5. The sky outside my window last night was stunning. I fixed the contrast on the other photos to make them a little nicer, but this one is all Mother Nature.


What about you guys? Anything catch your eye this week?


One foot in front of the other

Back at Thanksgiving, I posted a thank you to all the people in my life who are there for me and make my life wonderful. I’m lucky to have the support network I do, and as I said then, I am happy to be there for my friends in any way I can, and to tap into that support network for them, too.

It’s been a sad week. I think everyone was sad to hear about Robin Williams dying, which is what prompted this post, but I also heard that someone who was a good friend to my brother for a while passed away in a tragic accident this week, leaving behind a young family, and there was also the tragic accident on the race track. And there was the young black man shot by police in Missouri, and of course there’s everything going on in the Middle East.

It is all so, so senseless, and tragedy always is. I shared a link to an essay on Facebook recently– it resonated with me because it’s about the fact that our lives are not stories. There is no narrative, no hero’s journey, no promise that we’ll grow and learn and become more or better because of the terrible things that happen to us or to those we love. It’s true, but for someone who loves stories as much as I do, it’s a hard truth.

But even so I think we have to find meaning in what happens to us – or really, in what we make of what happens to us. J.K. Rowling’s Albus Dumbledore was quoted recently after another tragic event, and thinking about meaning in life after tragedy made me think of another Dumbledore quote: “It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than abilities.” (Chamber of Secrets) There’s meaning in the choices we make, I think. But most importantly, they’re personal choices, and the meaning is personal, not a sweeping story of good and evil like Harry’s. Our choices are ours.

This is not the most linear post I’ve ever made, sorry about that, but to go back to Robin Williams – depression is terrible and not something that anyone should face alone. If you’re reading this and you need someone to talk to, I’m here for you – I’m no professional, but I’ll listen, and I’ll help you find someone who is a professional. If you need someone to talk to right now because you’re thinking of hurting yourself, go here.

There was a thoughtful post about living with mental illness and depression on the Toast, by Molly Pohlig, here. This is how it ends:

“I wish I had advice. Advice for me, advice for anyone else living through something similar. But maybe there are only two choices: keep going, or don’t. If you choose don’t, that could still be a whole range of things, it doesn’t have to be suicide. It could be quitting your job and moving home, it could be withdrawing from social life and spending every night and weekend in bed. Keeping going, just putting one foot in front of the other, sounds simple. It’s not. But it’s what I’m choosing. I hope I keep choosing it.”

For anyone who is struggling to put one foot in front of the other, please know that there are many people in your life who want you to keep choosing to do it.

"Just Jim Dale", or, a life story in ninety minutes

Look, this blog has been a little theater-heavy lately, I know. And I’ve got tickets to… three more shows in the coming weeks, so I can’t promise there won’t be more show posts. But, all of the shows I’m writing about should be relatively easy to get tickets for (at least compared to “Macbeth”and “Much Ado About Nothing”).

The one I want to tell you about today is called “Just Jim Dale”, it’s put on at the Laura Pels Theater through the Roundabout Theater Company (which means if you’re under 35, sign up for HIPTIX and you can get two tickets for $25 each), and it’s a one-man show.
Who is Jim Dale? Well, he has had a long and varied career – and the show is a testament to that – but for me I knew him as the guy who did all the Harry Potter audio books (which I’ve yet to listen to, but want to!), and as the narrator on the short-lived but wonderful show “Pushing Daisies”.
He is seventy-eight years old and he has more energy than I ever have had.
You might think I’m kidding, but I promise you, Jim Dale dances and sings and jokes his way through a ninety minute show, assisted only by a pianist, and it’s just one fun moment to the next – even when he’s performing the closing monologue from a very serious play.
It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know his work outside of the two things I’ve mentioned – he takes you through his career and hits a lot of hysterical high points, sometimes singing songs he composed or performed, sometimes showing pictures of his younger self, and always, always tying it back to his roots in the British music hall tradition, which was fascinating.
HIPTIX only requires that the person who purchases (and picks up) the tickets be under 35 – your guest can be any age, so I took my dad, and we both really enjoyed it. We also enjoyed talking about it afterward. I’ve gone to the theater alone before, and it’s fine, but going with someone and talking through what worked and what didn’t, what you loved and what you’d already forgotten, is a total bonus.
“Just Jim Dale” runs through August 10 – if you’re looking for an inexpensive but really fun night out (and you or someone you know qualifies for HIPTIX), I highly recommend it! In the meantime, I’ve got an itch to rewatch some “Pushing Daisies”…

Daniel Radcliffe IS Harry Potter… in black leather

I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan. I’ve done my share of dressing up for book or movie premieres, I have a Platform 9 ¾ sign in my living room that I got in high school, and I’ve read the series multiple times. So when I came across (on Twitter, I think) an opportunity to see Daniel Radcliffe in person, for free, I figured, “Why not?”

It was October 2011. The final Harry Potter movie had come out a few months earlier, and Spike TV was awarding Daniel Radcliffe the Ultimate Scream award in recognition of his work on the series. They wanted to film the award in advance, with hundreds of screaming Harry Potter fans in costume to set the scene.
With two of my friends (also Harry Potter lovers), I headed up to Lincoln Center, where we’d been told to meet. For two and a half hours we sat or stood in a line of fans. Someone had brought a game, so we made friends with strangers and played. While we were sitting there I got a call from one of my best friends—it was her birthday, and her boyfriend had proposed! Her engagement is forever linked with Harry Potter in my mind. (Sorry!)
When they were ready for us, we shuffled into Avery Fisher hall… to wait some more. But at least we were out of the elements and could walk around and check out other people’s costumes. Mine was a black skirt, white button down deal that I’d had on hand, combined with a Ravenclaw tie I’d purchased earlier in the summer and a cute stuffed owl. Nothing fancy. But in Avery Fisher I saw some truly impressive costumes—and witnessed some amazing reenactments.
Someone ran down the aisle yelling, “Troll in the dungeon!” Two older women, dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange and Molly Weasley, did the “Not my daughter, you bitch!” scene from the final book. Bellatrix and Sirius Black performed the “falling through the veil” sequence. A group started singing songs from “A Very Potter Musical”, and my friends and I helped start a reenactment of the Potter Puppet Pals’ “Mysterious Ticking Noise”.
It was crazy, but it was our brand of crazy. When you’ve grown up on Harry Potter and you’ve dabbled in fandom (my sixth grade after school hours were so consumed by Harry Potter fanfiction that I had to go cold turkey on it), this kind of event is both familiar and eye-opening.
After an hour and a half, we filed out of Lincoln Center and into the courtyard, where a platform had been erected. We were handed glow sticks, and asked to yell and cheer so they could tape some crowd shots before Daniel arrived. Once that was done, Samuel L. Jackson came out to introduce the award. He spoke for a few minutes about the Harry Potter books and films, and then he introduced Daniel Radcliffe….who walked out clad in black leather from head to toe.
No, really. Check out the video.
Daniel spoke for under five minutes, and the preview for his then-upcoming movie, “The Woman in White”, was shown, and that was that. He left, and we headed home—after a quick stop at Duane Reade for some Halloween candy.

It was a bit anticlimactic after so many hours of waiting, but all in all it was a pretty interesting way to spend a Friday night. In New York, free, random opportunities like that are abundant if you pay attention, so I try to take advantage of them when I can. What weird-but-cool events have you guys managed to attend?