lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Another One off the List August 31, 2016

I’ve knocked something off my ever-filling bucket list!

The husband and I summited Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunrise!

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We woke up at 1:30. Yes, the one with the a.m . after it. It was early, but honestly to me it was like Christmas morning! The alarm went off, and I wanted to climb!

And the climb was magnificent. We were alone on the trail with only the Milky Way for company. It was breathtaking. Hiking under the stars is like adventuring under a nice, familiar blanket.

And we made it to the summit well before dawn.

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Then the sky turned just a tiny bit pink in the east, and the stars started to blink away one by one.

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Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the contiguous U.S. to see the sunrise. And we were there, sitting on a cliff, watching the sun paint the sky.

And I know this I going to sound cheesy as hell, but the hike had a super important meaning for me. Not just because the last time I was in Acadia I could barely walk, but also because sunrise on Cadillac Mountain has a very important place in The Tethering Series.

In The Siren’s Realm, Jacob and Emilia venture up Cadillac Mountain for sunrise, and we followed their path, though our journey did end a little differently. It was one of those climbs that reminds you that magic is real in our world. If only you look deep enough to find it.

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Back on the Trail August 26, 2016

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I hiked a trail; today I’m going to climb a mountain!

For those of you who have stopped by before – and thanks for coming back by the way – it won’t seem that weird at all. But right now I’m in Acadia, Maine. And last time I was here four years ago, I could barely walk.

I had just dislocated my knee dancing in a show and moving wasn’t really a thing I was very good at. I could walk for one mile max on flat surfaces only. Even that little bit of movement made my knee hurt like hell and swell like an evil monster. I had to stare at mountains and watch the little dots that were other hikers climbing with no hope of being able to join them. Acadia is beautiful, and my lovely husband helped me make the most of it. But it made my heart hurt. (more…)

 

The Effing Fife August 20, 2016

I’m having problem writing a blog for you all at the moment. Mostly because I have awesome writerly news that I can’t tell you, and it’s all I can think of.

So, right.

Here’s a good story for you. The Story of the Effing Fife. My husband has an admirable life goal to learn to play as many instruments as possible. He can play the piano, the guitar, the ukulele, the mandolin, and the effing fife.

He never set out to play the fife. Never had a hankering for a fife in his life, but now he can!

We were doing a show near Gettysburg, PA, and there was a big Civil War reenactment going on. My mom was in town, and since we did a bunch of reenactments when I was growing, we decided to go. It was a fairly decent reenactment; there was singing and food, and my husband was fairly entertained for the most part. But when we started looking at the costumes and textiles, he got a little bored.

So my mom, trying to be awesome, bought my husband a fife to keep him occupied while we looked at corsets. He, being him, figured out how to play a few notes in seconds and then found an actual fife player to show him how to play them better. By the end of the day he was walking around the reenactment playing the Harry Potter theme. Yes, it was just as dorky as it sounds.

It was great for an afternoon activity, and I thought that would be the end of it. I was so, so very wrong. (more…)

 

The Twiggy Tornado August 16, 2016

I’ve slept some very strange places in my day. I slept on the floor of a tour bus for a few months, airports the world over, lean-tos, and even a VW van at a youth hostel. But the worst, or maybe best if you’re searching the annals of your life for new blog material, is the time I built my own shelter out of sticks.

It was an overnight camping trip from my summer camp in Maine that I signed up for specially. In camp we stayed in nice cabins with toilets and showers and all the fancy things in life. But this overnight trip was going to be roughing it. Real hiking, building your own shelter to sleep in, and cooking over a campfire. Out of the whole camp only two girls signed up, but I was super stoked to prove that I was just as outdoorsy as any of those boys.

We left camp in a rickety, fifteen-passenger van that was probably not safe for children to be in and drove out to the wilderness. We found a place to pull off the road and hiked around a bit. I don’t think we were really supposed to be where we were. There we no markers for trails or a sign saying we could camp there. I think we were illegally squatting on someone’s land and the camp hadn’t cared enough to ask the counselors where they were taking us before we left camp.

Once we found our less-than-legal home for the night, the head counselor started teaching us how to build our emergency shelters. You had to use a big stick to make the top, lay smaller sticks against it to make the sides, and finally pack it in with leaves for insulation. A decent concept in an area where there are no deadly bugs or snakes that might have wanted those snuggly warm leaves for their own evening shelter.

We all built shelters and went to make our dinner over the fire. The counselors told us wonderful stories of survival before setting up the tents they were going to sleep in for the night. That’s right. They were going to sleep in tents. And they had graciously brought one extra in case any of us couldn’t hack it for the night.

Of course, all the boys immediately started going on and on about how that would be the girls’ tent ‘cause the two of us wouldn’t be able to make it through the night in our shelters.

That’s when it started to rain. (more…)

 

That Time They Trusted Me with Fire August 13, 2016

I’m a little accident prone. Okay, I’m significantly accident prone, especially when it comes to fire. Kitchen fires, camp fires, I can destroy things like a pro. And for the last few weeks I’ve been playing the Wicked Witch of the West, complete with real live fire shooting out of my hands.

It’s a little, flash paper device, but it does make a nice little flame.

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Sometimes the thing won’t go off at all; occasionally a ball of fire forms around my hand; and one time I caught a tiny bit of the set on fire. Just the little strings hanging off the twine decorations, but still, set on fire all because of me! Woot woot (and hope I don’t get fired)!

And not only am I supposed to shoot fire out of my hand; I’m supposed to aim for people! Mostly my lovely roomie who plays the Scarecrow. Which is terrifying. Looking at a person, pressing a button, and hoping that fire shoots at them. (more…)

 

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Crying August 8, 2016

Being a child in theatre is almost worse than being an adult in theatre. I mean, true, for me this job pays for food for me to eat and health insurance that I use liberally, but I still think it’s harder for kids. Rejection on a grand scale is still super new. Stakes opening night feel like a life or death lottery. And aging out is a constant struggle. 

You learn all the words to Mary Lenox’s song in Secret Garden and shoot up two inches so you’re too tall to audition. You really want to be Annie, but it’s not even the singing that knocks you out of the running — you’re too tall.

You can’t be Liesl in Sound of Music because you’re too young, but you can’t be any of the others because you’re too old. 90% of childhood in theatre is your own quickly growing body being too something for you to be cast. And don’t even get me started on the poor boys who get cast in a show and have to drop out cause their voices start to change. It’s a brutal, brutal world. 

When I was little, I was desperate to be in the Sound of Music. I wanted to be a Von Trapp child. Any Von Trapp child — I would have happily played a boy. My mother dutifully took me to the audition where the other little girls were dressed up like Toddlers and Tiaras, and I was dressed in the one dress I hadn’t torn to shreds playing in the yard. They lined us all up, and we had to go on stage one at a time to sing in matching(ish) groups of potential children. The group of pale, gangly brunettes was near the end, so I made my mom take me to the bathroom so I could panic in peace. 

But the bathroom was filled. Girls primping, girls crying, one girl wailing like a freakin’ banshee while her mother pinned her and put lipstick on her. It was terrifying! Why were we there!

I asked my mom to leave, but I had signed in so she made me stick it out. I gathered with my gangly group, we all sang, a few cried, and then we got rejected. It was terrible. 

And it didn’t get any easier. Not for years. Too young for teen chorus, too old for the little kids. It sucked. When the local girl booked Annie on Broadway, it sucked. When I got cast as a tap dancer in the Nutcracker, it sucked. 

But I did it. I stuck it out and became a big kid performer. I feel like I should give some speech about how the trauma was worth it, and for me it is. I mean, this is how I make my dollars. I play pretend for a living. But as far as fun hobbies for a kid, I don’t know… do mathletics or save puppies. Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.

 

It All Depends on Who Shows Up August 6, 2016

Well, the time is coming folks. My birthday is around the corner, and I will officially be O.A.F. True, I feel like that every year, but this year I feel like I really am getting old.

On the plus side, I do feel like I have accomplished some things since my last birthday. I wrote four books, had a Christmas story released, and signed a contract for a new series. But there is always that little voice in the back of your head that says, But you wanted a literary agent by this birthday. YOU FAILED! MWAHAHAHA!

And it’s true; I wanted a literary agent by this unnamed birthday, and that didn’t happen. Though there are some potentially promising emails that have arrived. Not that that really means anything.

I’ve also recently been told that I was too old for an ensemble part in a show. I’ve heard too tall, to curvy, too soprano, but too old is a thing I haven’t been told since I aged out of Annie auditions. Truth be told, I really don’t think I’m too old at all. It’s more like too tall with a side of big boobs, but whatever.

But with the agent thing and the too old for ensemble dilemma, I have to remember something my mother told me: It all depends on who shows up.

You may be great for Maria in Sound of Music, but if Julie Andrews shows up, you aren’t going to get the role. It’s just that simple.

If a pack of four girls who look like they’re nineteen can be in the show, you’re right, I do look too old. I look like a woman – not an old woman – but still a definitive woman. And that’s okay.

Same with agents. I recently exchanged a pleasant string of emails with an agent who truly liked my writing but had a book about high school theatre already on his list. I’m really grateful for that interaction, because it reminded me that it really all does depend on who shows up. They might love my YA Fantasy, but if J.K. Rowling shows up, she’s going to get the contract. It has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with who else is in the room or rather the query inbox.

So going into my O.A.F. birthday, as terrible as it sounds, I hope I can end up in a show where the chorus girls don’t look like wee babies and end up in an agent’s inbox who hasn’t heard from J.K. Rowling lately. And who knows? Maybe in a few birthdays I can be singing “The Ladies Who Lunch” while the chorus girls work a hell of a lot harder than I do for less recognition, and I’ll be the new J.K. Rowling of the book party.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep trekking on. I may have big boobs and no agent, but dammit, I’m a working actor and a published author. And that’ll just have to be good enough for this O.A.F chorus girl.

 

 
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