lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

A Varied Penguin October 16, 2018

Life is full of variation. A life in the theatre is no different.

For those of you who don’t know, performing is my day job. Super weird, I know, but being on stage is how I make money to eat and pay for health insurance. I love performing, and I would never give it up.

Right now, I’m performing in an awesome production of 42nd Street, which is a total dream show for me. Aside from the tap shoes and sparkles, I get to tell a story about theatre eight times a week, which is really amazing.

42nd Street Musical Costumes

Also, because money is a good thing, I’m in a children’s production of Madagascar. Where I play a penguin, and a lemur, and sing about steak.

Penguins of Madagascar Live on Stage

(more…)

 

Achievement Unlocked September 25, 2018

We all have dreams. Publishing a book, going to Paris… getting to see a bear up close in the wild. And sometimes, if we’re really lucky, we get to live out those dreams.

I won the bucket list lottery in Homer, Alaska.

View of Homer from Kachemak Bay State Park
I’ve seen bears in Denali National Park before. I’ve seen them pretty close from inside the bus and have stumbled upon a few in closer quarters while hiking. But I’ve always been a few hundred yards away.

Sidebar: A few hundred yards is as close as you should ever be to a bear. Even that distance can spook the bear, and then there’s bluff charges and the potential for pain and (very rarely) death. Bears are, in fact, wild animals that could eat your face and should be respected and treated as such.

But I’ve heard so many stories about hikers rounding a bend and there being a giant bear up ahead, and I’ve always felt a little left out. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours hiking in bear country and I’ve never had an “Oops, sorry Mr. Bear, I didn’t mean to scare you” experience. Probably because I follow the rules and do everything the park rangers say you should, but still, if everyone else gets to be sleeping in their hammock and wake up to a bear strolling by, why can’t I?

When the husband and I went to Homer, I said I wanted to see a black bear. My husband said, “No.” But after much debating, we ended up taking a boat out to Kachemak Bay State Park. (more…)

 

The Super Human Liver September 11, 2018

Have you ever met someone and thought, You are a caricature of a human?

I met one such gentleman in Chania, Crete.

He was a restaurant owner with homemade Raki. And his homemade Raki was better than the store made kind. His version of the traditional liquor didn’t have the terrible burn of the types the husband and I had sampled before.

The restaurant owner was about in his fifties, the cheerful silver fox type, and liked to lure people into his restaurant by offering them free shots of his Raki. It worked. Between the yummy Raki and beautiful live music, the husband and I were hooked.

The thing is, he’d do a shot with you. And with the next people who came into the restaurant. And with the people who agreed to get up and dance. And with the couple who ordered dessert.

We tried to count, and he took like fourteen shots while we were eating dinner. And the man was still standing! I don’t even know how that’s possible!

There was another English-speaking couple sitting behind us, and they finally asked how many shots he usually took in a night.

His response: “It depends.” (more…)

 

The Sound in the Sight July 27, 2018

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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I messed up my knee. Not a huge, end-of-the-world messed up my knee; more like a heels-on-shoes-shouldn’t-bend-that-way-oh-dear-God-why-is-my-foot-suctioned-to-the-floor kind of way.

Long story short (a first for me, I know), I ended up with a massive bone bruise in my knee and a lovely piece of rogue cartilage bungling up the joint. So, I’m stuck on crutches until the bruise heals and had to have a tiny little surgery to get the extra floaty bit removed.

The surgery wasn’t that bad, though it was really rude that they knocked me out mid-sentence without warning me it was coming. I was telling them very important things about visiting Alaska that they will never get to know.

The terror came in the post operation pain killers. (more…)

 

The Creek and the Stings May 11, 2018

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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I grew up in a very old house in the country. We had three-ish acres of land, and my family left most of it wild. Trees, blackberry bushes, and tall grass all leading up to a creek.

I would run wild through the back for hours at a time. As long as I stayed within our property and didn’t go swimming on my own, my parents just let me go. My mom had this giant antique school bell, and when she rang, it was time to head back toward the house. It was a crazy amount of freedom.

One day while playing way out toward the back of the property, I stepped on a hive of ground bees. I don’t even know how many stings I got, only that my leg hurt like hell.

I did the only thing a child used to running wild would do. (more…)

 

A Maize April 13, 2018

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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Once upon a time, the husband and I decided to go to a corn maze between performances on a two-show day. This was before we lived on a tour bus, so we had our own car and the maze was less than fifteen minutes from the theatre.

It was a beautiful fall day, and the farm hosting the maze was great. There was apple cider and apple cider donuts. We blithefully headed into the corn maze, ready to spend a fun twenty minutes winding our way through the corn.

About forty minutes later, we realized the maze was bigger than we had imagined.

Fifteen minutes after that, we realized we hadn’t seen anyone in a long time and didn’t really know which way the front of the maze was supposed to be.

We had to be at the theatre for the evening performance in a half hour. Subtract about fifteen minutes for getting from the maze to the parking lot and driving from the farm to theatre and…we were potentially very screwed.

We considered squeezing between the corn stalks to try and find our way out but, not knowing what direction we wanted to go, trail blazing could have landed us on the far side of the farm with no better clue which way our car was (the husband and I were late to the iPhone party, so no compass to be had).

When we had ten minutes left to find the car if we were going to make it to the theatre on time, we finally had to call the stage manager. (more…)

 

A Wrinkle in Summer March 23, 2018

Filed under: What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 11:30 am
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The summer after my senior year of high school was terrible. After spending a million hours a week dancing in preparation for college auditions, I ended up with two stress fractures in my shin. I was condemned to three months on crutches. Worse than just crutches, with orders to move as little as possible to rest my other, slightly less damaged shin.

My sister took some time off to stay with me and literally sit on me on the few occasions I tried to get to the bathroom unassisted. The only things that saved me were Dawson’s Creek reruns and Madeline L’Engle.

The local library had her full set of books, and I tore through all of them. And not just the Wrinkle in Time series. I got to be good friends with the Austins and the O’Keefes too. There was something about her writing style that was so simple and so mythical. You were never talked down to, but you knew everything that was happening. From visiting ice caps to traveling to strange planes, I always knew I could count on Madeline L’Engle for an amazing adventure.

To this day when people ask who my favorite authors are, Madeline L’Engle is always on the list.

But…I still haven’t seen the new movie. I’m just too scared. (more…)