Tag Archive: Vacation

Fringe, Renovictions, & Neuvo Vallarta

The last two months – since I returned to Vancouver from Toronto – have been crazy.

Hanging out at the Fringe with volunteer (and SLIP-friend!) Jordan.

Upon my return I jumped straight back to work at the Fringe. And when I say straight back to work, I mean I caught an early morning flight, landed at 9am, and was in the office – still dressing in my closing night party clothes – by 10:30am.  Things were running full steam and the Festival this year was bigger than ever. I was so proud of the work that the Onsite artists did this year, and even pushed some of my own boundaries by giving a speech and presenting an award on the last night of the festival.  My final “shows attended” count for the festival this year was 44 (including Pick of the Fringe shows).

Just as I was attempting to recover from the Festival (and really, two weeks of not eating or sleeping right do require recovery), I got word that the building I’ve lived in for the past three years had been sold and the new owners wanted to meet all of us. The next day I was handed a piece of paper saying that I had two months to move out as they were going to be renovating the building.  Here in Vancouver, we call this “renovictions” as they often happen as a way for owners to get rid of longer term renters whose rent is below current market value so that they can crank up the rent. But they’d done all the right paperwork, so I’m now getting ready to move out in 5 weeks.  Thankfully when landlords do something like this, they give you some time rent free, so financially that’s helpful.

Even Cue got in the vacation spirit, lounging on the beach with a novel

And then a week later I met up with my parents and jumped on a plane to Mexico to really relax. My brother flew down from Mexico to meet us there.  I got home last night after a full week away and my body hasn’t stopped feeling like I’m still being rocked by the waves yet. I would spend many hours a day in the water, many more reading, and none of them working.  I read a novel completely for pleasure, two non-fiction books that were semi work related, five scripts for upcoming projects, and a couple of classics that I have in my Kindle app, but am sad to admit I had never read before (like Alice in Wonderland & The Jungle Book). It was wonderful.

And now I’m home, packing, organizing, and preparing to jump into the next couple of adventures – and don’t worry, there’ll be more on them soon.

Mind the Gap (on thriving and surviving between gigs)

As a freelancer, there are often gaps in my schedule as one gig ends a few weeks before another starts. There are also times of overlap where I am rehearsing a show during the day and running performances at night. The overlaps are fun – full of adrenaline and though a little exhausting there is something remarkable about them. The gaps are different, especially if they last longer than two weeks.

A two-week gap is a like a vacation. Providing you are decent with money you can get out of town or you can use the time to relax – sleep in, see friends, and catch up with other aspects of life. A break of more than two weeks can become exhausting in its own very draining way.

For the time being lets assume that we are all good enough with money to see that three month gap in our schedule and plan for it, making sure to have enough to pay the rent, utilities and buy groceries. So now you have a couple months off, you don’t NEED to work in order to make ends meet, but you don’t have enough money to go out and do things. For the first two weeks it still feels like vacation – sleeping in every day, luxuriating with a book, partying with friends. But then the parties end, your friends have to work, and you start to wonder how you are ever going to fill your days.

  1. Read. Read books. Read plays. Read blogs. Read things you wouldn’t have ever chosen to pick up before. Read all the things in your “maybe when I’m not so busy pile.”
  2. Volunteer. Time is something you have a lot of without restraints on it, so give it away. Find a company you like, a festival you support and give them your time. Some of these volunteer opportunities will come with free tickets to performances – make the most of them.
  3. Study. Take a class at the community centre, re-certify your first aid training, take some of the free MIT online classes, teach yourself a new language, cook your way through a cook book,.
  4. Write. Write a play. Write a novel. Write a poem. Write a blog. Write your autobiography. Write a list of all the awesome things that happen during your unemployment.
  5. Create. Paint. Bake. Draw. Sing. Photograph. Craft. Dance. Color. Imagine.
  6. Visit. Take time to see all the people you are too busy to see when you’re working. Eat a meal together.
  7. Work. Take a gig with a temp agency, get on a casual labour call list, create your own show, work at Starbucks. It’s not about the money (though that’s nice), but it’s about filling your days. Giving you a reason to get out of bed and your house on a regular basis.

I’ve been off for six weeks now. I have another eight weeks until I start prep on my next project. I’m trying hard to follow my own advice, but some of it isn’t working right now. I struggle to get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon) and there’s sometimes that little voice in my head that asks if I’m ever going to work again. The answer is of course. Of course I’m going to work again. I have contracts booked. But logic rarely applies to emotions and there’s something about a long gap that screams “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH” or “NOBODY WANTS YOU.”

Today I’m taking my own advice. I’ve got two volunteer gigs (one this afternoon and one this evening) for arts organizations and the one tonight includes getting to see a show. I wrote this post. My paints are out on the living room table ready to make a gift. And tomorrow I’m going to read a play with some friends.

Ultimately having this much time to use at your own discretion is a gift, so use it – use it positively – and keep your mind active so that when you do go back to work your brain muscle isn’t totally out of shape.

Relaxing is Good for the Soul

This past weekend was, for me, a four day weekend.  The Vancouver Fringe Festival of course takes Canada Day (July 1st) off work, but we also take July 4th off as “Fringe Labour Day” in recognition of the fact that we all have to work on the real labour day in September.  I used this opportunity to hop on the train and head down to the lovely town of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island in Washington State. Two of my good friends from university (Matthew & Stephanie Barrow) live there and I really enjoy visiting them.

Stephanie, myself and Matt while waiting for the fireworks to start. It is not the best photo of the three of us, but it is my favourite.

I turned my phone off shortly after arriving at the train station around 4:45pm and didn’t turn it back on until this morning around 10:30am.  I didn’t do any work while I was gone.  I just had fun.

Things I did while on vacation:

  • Ate amazing food. (Once upon a time Steph went to culinary school in Germany, so cooking with her is always fantastic: not only does she absolutely know what she’s doing and make great food, but she actually has all the correct gadgets for making things.  I usually have to improvise at home.)  Just a hint of what we cooked: Pesto pasta made with basil from their herb garden, home made hamburgers, bacon and eggs, pancakes, chicken covered in bacon/paprika/BBQ sauce and BBQed as kabobs, homemade ice cream, crab cakes made with crab that Matt caught on Saturday evening, s’more cupcakes with HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS, and so much more.

S'more cupcakes: Graham cracker cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache and topped with homemade marshmallow that we toasted with a creme brule torch. Recipe coming soon.

  • Lounged in two different hammocks.
  • Kept it classy: a night in with wine, cheese, and a good movie.
  • Learned new board games: Ticket to Ride, Munchkin, & Carcassone.  I probably need to purchase Carcassone.  We played at least 7 or 8 times with all different expansion packs.  I finally won the very last game we played for the weekend.  I was pretty pleased with myself.
  • Got out on the water.  With Anacortes being on an island, you’d imagine we’d be near water, but most of our outdoor adventures were near one of the many lakes on the island.  We hiked up to the tallest viewpoint and surveyed all the lakes and then later went kayaking and when Steph fell out of her kayak we decided we might as well go for a swim as well!  There is a photo of this on Steph’s underwater camera, but as it is a film camera I cannot share it with you.  Yet.
  • Ate ice cream at least once a day.  Including homemade banana ice cream on the Fourth.
  • Laughed.  A lot.
  • Celebrated a small town Fourth of July.  We went downtown early for the parade, so Matt and I played a little Cribbage.  He beat me by TWO.

    Matt and I playing crib on the sidewalk while waiting for the parade to start.

    The parade included a flyover by an army plane, and had everything from the local corvette club to tanks to a firetruck that broke down in the middle of the parade route.  Our favourite things included the guy who brought his bag of candy over and let us grab a couple things even though everyone else was just throwing candy to the kids; the group of older ladies dressed up as sea creatures (including a jellyfish); the firetruck that was throwing rubber ducks with firehats on; and the biker church.  We then made our way to Steph’s parents’ house to help with the food for the big family BBQ.  There ended up being 13 of us around the table in the back yard and I think we actually ate most of the food.  After dinner we played games until it was time for the fireworks.  Matt had been talking about how lame the fireworks were, but I had a great time.

    The only remotely decent photo I took of the fireworks.

    I was most shocked when someone in the field we were watching from started setting off their own, directly above our heads.  But it was beautiful.  At one point I could see seven different fireworks displays on the different islands.

Seriously, I don’t know what more I could have asked for.  Thanks Matt & Steph for being amazing hosts.  This time it won’t take me 16 months to come visit you again.  And now I’m back in Vancouver refreshed and ready to take on the world!

Back from Vacation

Sunset as seen from the airplane

It was a bit of a shock to get off the plane in Edmonton on Saturday night – hit by the bitter cold of -25 while still glowing from my sunburnt chest and back.  What followed was a series of delayed flights and moments of panic that I wouldn’t make it back to Vancouver. My flight from Edmonton to Calgary was delayed because the plane was stuck in Fort Mac due to snow and ended up leaving about an hour late. Thankfully my flight from Calgary to Vancouver was in the gate right next to where that one landed and I was able to walk off one plane and onto another.  I figured out that from the time I left the resort that morning until I arrived home, I travelled for over 15 hours. But it was totally worth it.

The amazing thing about going somewhere for a week is that for most of the week I am able to relax and leave the stresses behind.  I stop thinking about my failures, stop stressing about finding a job, stop worrying about things beyond my control – the only thing I worry about is whether or not I’ll see a giant sea turtle, a sting ray or a barracuda.  And yes, I did see all three. And yes, I totally froze and just floated there and waited for him to decide to go another direction rather than attract his attention.

My mom swimming with the turtles.

Here are a few of the highlights of my week away:

– Stars so clear – clearer even than in Chemainus.

– Swimming with the giant sea turtles (4+ ft!) five out of the seven days

– Getting caught in a huge downpour while walking through Playa Del Carmen and having a local man, from a dry place, call out to me that I was getting a “true Mexican shower”

– Leaving Edmonton in a blizzard and then arriving to 25 degrees celcius and heading straight for the ocean.

– Finding a sea shell as big as my head

– Spending time with family

The seashell is as big as my head!

– Eating fresh fruit – Pineapple, Melon, Papaya, etc at EVERY meal

– The variety of fish that you see at a coral reef (there was one right in front of the resort)

– Finding the most awesome fabric store in Playa del Carmen where I bought some beautiful fabric for about half of what it would cost here in Canada

– Buying a Spanish copy of The Nightmare Before Christmas as a souvenir

– A giant bottle of Vanilla – REAL Vanilla – which should last me about a year worth of cupcakes

– Watching “The Big Bang Theory” on Mexican TV with Spanish subtitles and laughing at some of the translations of Sheldon’s lines. I had already seen all the episodes they showed, but I laughed at all of them as if it were the first time.

– Falling asleep on the beach in sheer relaxation

Hanging out with my brother

– Snorkeling in a lagoon just north of the hotel that felt like swimming in an aquarium

– The ice cream bar next to the pool – four flavour of ice cream (Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate, or Lime Sorbet) – available on demand.  And if you asked nicely they’d pour some liqueur on top for you.

All that said, there’s nothing like coming home and being in my own apartment and own bed.  And I’m back just in time – the PuSh festival kicks off tonight and I’ll be attending the gala as one of the invited bloggers.  Mexico was a great kick off to what I’m counting on to be a fantastic year! Here’s to the next adventure.

Off Sunbathing

Akumal Beach Report

This time tomorrow I’ll be in Edmonton, where I’ll spend three days with my best friend and then I’m off to Mexico for a week with my family.  It’ll be a chance to rest, catch up on the books I’ve been meaning to read for the last year, and get a great suntan.  I’ll be back on Jan 16, just in time for the 2011 PuSh Festival.

Back from Toronto

I’m writing this from 39,623 feet, currently somewhere above Wisconsin (if the television screen in front of me can be believed). I’m on my way home to Vancouver and am already finding myself missing the people I met over the past eight days. One of the main reasons for my trip was to try and tour some theatres & get some interviews, but I was not able to arrange for either of those things to happen. The opinion of the theatre artists I met in Toronto was that this is not abnormal – for someone to reach out to local companies and not receive any sort of response. While I found that situation a little bit discouraging I did not let it spoil the trip for me in any way. I learned a lot about the Toronto theatre scene from the artists I met and shows I saw and I see a number of ways that the things we discussed over the course of the week may come into play in the work I am doing in the near future.

Here are just a few of my highlights from the trip:

  • Meeting Amanda & Brittney for the first time after over a year of online friendship and hitting it off so well that all of a sudden it was 3am on a Monday night and we were still giggling. As discussed recently on the 2am Theatre website, Twitter and an online relationship lets you jump past the initial feeling out of the friendship and just be friends.
  • Seeing Catalyst Theatre’s Frankenstein at CanStage and then spending the entire rest of the week figuring out why we loved it so much despite dramaturgical issues. I now completely understand why my Vancouver friends are still talking about this show two years after it came to town.
  • Exploring Toronto on foot & Public Transit: St. Lawrence Market, King Street, Queen Street, Yonge Street, Bloor street, Bay street, (basically all of downtown), Kensington Market, Roncesvalles, the CN Tower, Union Station, and much more.
  • Going to see a show I knew nothing about because someone I knew from online was going to see it and then leaving with her & her boyfriend at intermission because the show was just that terrible. Instead we went out for coffee, tore the show apart, and got to know each other better than we ever would have if we stayed to watch the whole play.
  • Getting kidnapped by Amanda and taken (along with Brittney) to Niagara Falls in the middle of a lightening storm. We were so excited that we created a hashtag for the trip, laughing all the while at how big of geeks that made us. And then a racoon popped out of a garbage can. And Brittney did a toe dance.
  • Nancy Kenny coming up from Ottawa for the weekend. Another internet friendship brought offline.
  • A midnight stand-up comedy show called the Canuck Cabaret run by Nancy’s friend Paul Hutchinson in a closed movie rental store complete with ukelele songs and light twirling.
  • Visiting the Harry Potter Exhibition at the science centre with Brittney. It had all sorts of props, costumes & set pieces from the movies. We got to sit in Hagrid’s chair and pull up a shrieking potted plant. Sadly there were no photos allowed within the exhibit, but the attention to detail – right down to the buttons & clasps & textures & fonts & shading of feathers – blew us away. Can you imagine if theatre props paid that much attention to picking the right font for an on stage document? One of the most interesting things was looking at some of the costumes for Viktor Krum and noticing a recurring image of talons. One jacket had talon style toggles as the fastener, another cape had a full talon attaching it to the sash. It’s the kind of thing that in theatre, because there are no close ups, might not ever get noticed, but still ties things together so beautifully.
  • Being asked by the lady at the Harry Potter Exhibit if Brittney & I were best friends who had known each other forever and then owning up (through gales of laughter) to having met for the first time a week earlier.
  • Making gluten free, dairy free cupcakes & brownies with coconut cream icing. And having them actually taste REALLY good.
  • Visiting with Amanda until we fell asleep in the middle of what we were saying.

I had an amazing week, but Vancouverites, let me put your minds at ease: I don’t want to move to Toronto. Vancouver is home. I would love to have more opportunities to spend time in Toronto whether on vacation or through work. I want to spend more time there, I want to work there, I want to learn from the theatre community there, I’d love to be there even for a few weeks a year if for no other reason than to see the people again. And hey, there are now at least three couches I can crash on when I decide to return to the city.  But it isn’t home.

Shows I Saw: August

August was another one of those weird months where I was working out of town, or on vacation, and didn’t really get to see a lot of theatre.   When it reached mid-month and I had yet to see anything, I found myself getting a little bit depressed. Luckily, there was a solution: watch Orestes as done live in Austin, Texas from the comfort of my bedroom via the internet.  And now they’ve put the show online for anyone to watch at any time.

I did manage to check out School House Rock Live while I was at the Edmonton Fringe. My best friend and I decided that we felt like we were five years old that day. Of course, we also ate Kraft Dinner with hot dogs cut up in it for lunch.

Since arriving back in Vancouver on Thursday of last week, I have also managed to see Rent (Fighting Chance Productions) & Macbeth (Limbo Circus Theatre).  Seeing Macbeth was my first time inside the Little Mountain Studios, which was an experience in itself – the small venue, still under construction, is right in my new neighbourhood. I would love to see more shows that are happening there.

Rebecca Coleman wrote a post today for the Vancouver Musicals blog about whether or not bigger is better when it comes to musicals.  Having just seen Rent, I think I agree with her for the most part – when I see a “big” musical I want to see the big tricks pulled out. I was trying to imagine what a scaled down version of “Phantom” would look like, and I can’t quite imagine it without that chandelier.

August went out on a theatrical day: the first day of rehearsals for Frozen (my upcoming show with shameless hussy productions) and a volunteer orientation for the Fringe festival here in Vancouver this month.   And there’s a lot to see in September, so I’ll be back with that list tomorrow!

Edmonton Fringe & A REAL Vacation

By this time tomorrow night I’ll be in Edmonton. (Actually, we’re leaving at 5am, so we should get in around 5pm. I hate mornings so this will be an adventure in itself.) I’m heading up to visit my best friend, but as an added bonus I’ll have a chance to take in a few shows at the Edmonton Fringe.  I’ve already talked a little bit about a few of the shows I’m planning to catch while I’m there, and I’m open to seeing a few more depending on time.

But mostly, I’m going away to rest. I’ll spend time with my best friend and we’ll do the same things we always do: sleep in til 2pm, shop til 10pm, watch movies til 4am, lather, rinse, repeat. It’s the best vacation I know how to take.

Back From Vacation

If you’ve noticed that posts have been a bit sparse lately, I promise that there has been good reason: I’ve been on vacation.

8 hours after closing Jesus, My Boy, I hopped on a plane with my family & flew to Mexico for a week, where we welcomed 2009 on the beach with fireworks and a live mariachi band.

Four days after returning to Vancouver (and experiencing a 30 degree drop in temperature) I jumped on another plane to Edmonton (and experienced another 30 degree temperature drop). I spent 5 days in Edmonton with my best friend, being goofy & enjoying each others’ company.

(Canada Day came early in Edmonton this year!)

But now I’m back!

Rehearsals for Holy Mo (the next show at Pacific Theatre) start on Monday. I attended my first theatrical production of 2009 tonight at the Playhouse (more on that in an upcoming post). I start volunteering with the PuSh festival in a couple of weeks. I’ve jumped back into this theatrical world with both feet & am looking forward to what 2009 has to offer.