Arianna!

Since I haven’t blogged in a while, I thought I’d better do another FABULOUS WOMEN I KNOW Post to keep the dream alive.  Today, I want to tell the six people who read my blog about a fabulous friend of mine, Arianna Bermudez Case! 

I met Arianna in around 2012, when she did choreography for a show I was in. Shortly after, I cast her as the lead in one of our shows, CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE. Since then, she has worked with Mildred’s Umbrella in several key acting roles, and she’s a very busy and popular actor all over Houston. She’s a fantastic actor, and she can also sing and dance, which makes her a superstar to me. 

In addition to this,she has a fancy job as an Executive assistant, which means she is super smart and organized. She’s on the board of the theatre now and proof reads all my press releases so I don’t mess up. 

Even though she is a superstar on stage and off, the most amazing thing about her is that she’s like a Disney princess. She always looks great. I have never seen her when she doesn’t look like a fashion plate. Also, we went on a group trip with some other ladies one time, and I shared a room with her in the Air B&B. I’m not lying. She wakes up in the morning looking like this: 

actual footage of Arianna in the morning.

She is an all around fabulous lady, and I just wanted to give her a shout out!! 

You’ll survive, sad girl.

I came across a picture of you online. You are the me of I2 years ago. You are standing in an art gallery, next to a carved, wooden horse, wearing your favorite blue dress with the seahorse embroidered on the skirt. You are there because you directed and produced a play in that art gallery. You are smiling, but you are miserable. You aren’t even really sure you will survive. I’m here to tell you that you will. Eventually. 

You started a theatre a few years before with nothing but dreams and fairy dust. It consumes you, but it never makes you full. You are the only constant, but nobody seems to see you. They only see the people you are putting in the light. You don’t want to kill it, so it’s killing you. You try to walk away, and people say,  ‘No! We need you’. You’re afraid that if you leave, you’ll have to leave behind your self-worth, which is tied to that theatre like a battered hostage. The money you work hard to raise pays everyone else, but there’s nothing left for you, so you also have to work in other places for money so you can live. Twice, you worked 48 hours straight with no sleep so a show could open on time. You once went seven years in a row with no vacation. 

Three months before this picture was taken, your marriage fell apart. One week before the photo was taken, a rebound relationship that you fell into in a panic crashed and burned, leaving you feeling like trash. You have friends, but you’ve been away from them so much working that they often forget to invite you anymore. You turn to unstable types that make a point to be where you are to get a piece of what you’ve created. They wear the faces of friends, and your head is such a mess, you can’t tell the difference. It’s just nice to have someone to talk to sometimes. When this photo was taken, a person you thought was a friend had just turned on you. She had sucked all the blood she could from you and found you not to be useful anymore. While you stand here smiling, she is tweeting about what garbage you are. You think she might be right. 

You are ashamed that you are falling apart, that you are spending all your time working or drinking wine alone That you lash out at people in messages That you cry almost every day. That you have wondered more than once if anyone would care if you just weren’t there anymore. You stay on that lonely island that you created because it seems like all you have, and if you leave it,  it will die. Or maybe you will die. Everyone else will go wherever they all go when they don’t need what you have to offer them there, and you will be stuck where you are, holding an empty bag. 

You need rest. You need help. You need therapy. There is no time for any of that. You are a wreck. 

I am here to tell you that it will get better. Not right away. You still have a few more pretend friends to deal with and a couple more shitty relationships, because all you really want is love and security, and you keep missing the mark. The universe will finally lead you to someone worthy, and you will marry him. Your real friends will forgive you for all the years you were crazy. They will welcome you back with open arms. Others will shut you out and never forgive you, but you don’t need those people. They think they are nicer than they actually are. 

You will never find a fairy godmother. You will never be fully appreciated for your sacrifice. But you will find a way to find your worth in other ways. You will find ways to make it not matter so much. 

I look at you, pretty, blue-dress girl, and I give you a hug in my mind. You are in the last days of your youth, and you can’t even enjoy it.  You have done something great, whether you or anyone else can see that you have.  I’d never want to be you again. You are a sad, lonely wreck. But you’ll be ok eventually. 

Christie Guidry!

To continue the AMAZING WOMEN I KNOW series… today, I want to shout out to my good friend, Christie Guidry!

Christie has been a company/staff member of Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company since 2004. That’s when I met her.  It turns out, she’s a woman of many talents. She’s good at everything she tries.

She has acted in many shows with us, as well as other theatres in Houston. She also does films and commercials and voice acting, so she’s a very accomplished  working actress.

In addition, she is a professional photographer for the company she founded, Gentle Bear Photography. She has professionally photographed wildlife for the Alaskan Zoo and others, as well as promotional and archival photos for theatre productions, headshots, etc.

Christie taking Promo photos for Mildreds Umbrella’s THE DROWNING GIRLS

She is a huge animal lover, and used to be the Manager/Wolf keeper/handler at Saint Francis Wolf Sanctuary. She’s also into gardening, as a hobby, and shes good at that, too.

If that wasn’t enough, Christie owns her own business as a LuLaRoe Fashion Retailer, where she has enjoyed considerable success.

Also, she’s stunningly beautiful, smart and funny, a fabulous dog mom and one of the best people I know. I’m proud to count this accomplished woman among my closest friends. 

Kim Tobin-Lehl

Lately, I’ve been really distracted with everything going on in the world, as have most of us, I’m sure. I took a break from blogging, which probably made my 6 followers very sad, if they noticed at all. 

I decided to fire it back up today on a positive note with another installment of AMAZING WOMEN I KNOW.  Today’s amazing woman is a fellow Houston Artistic Director, Kim Tobin-Lehl. 

Kim is the co-founder/Executive Director and Artistic Director for 4th Wall Theater, here in Houston, TX. She’s an actor, director, manager . Basically an all-hats wearing lady who has worked extensively on the stages of Houston, Los Angeles and New York City.

On the stage at 4Th Wall Theater

She’s won a bunch of awards for her acting and directing work in Houston, including numerous Houston Press awards, and having worked with some of the world’s best teachers in acting and directing (including Stella Adler), she also runs her own acting studio, Kim Tobin Acting Studio, to share her knowledge with the artists here in Houston.

She’s also the friend I can vent to about how it is to be in charge of a theatre (particularly a woman in charge of a theatre), so we have to meet for lunch now and then and let off steam so we can both survive it. 

Kim, Luke, me and Carolyn in a play at Mildred’s Umbrella Theater (Kimberly Akimbo)

Also, she has a really nice and talented husband and the cutest dog ever. 

To learn more about her, go here: https://4thwalltheatreco.com/

For her acting Studio, go here: https://kimtobinactingstudio.com/

TURKEY DINNER CANDY CORN: A REVIEW

Someone posted a meme about these on Facebook, and I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t a joke. It was real. After I shared it (thinking it was a joke), Amazon, who seems to be sitting in an unmarked car with Facebook, staking me out 24/7, started suggesting it to me.

I don’t like candy corn (does anyone? ) but this was just so Willie Wonka, I couldn’t resist. Here is my review:

This stuff was obviously made by a deranged sadist who lives to bring horror and pain to the world. Each piece brings its own, unique brand of hell to your mouth. Some of them taste like vegetables mixed with candy corn. The only tolerable one is the cranberry sauce one, that tastes mostly like regular Candy corn. There was only ONE of those, in the entire bag.

The majority of them taste like cold, brown gravy with candy corn mixed in. I had to brush my teeth twice to get the taste out of my mouth because I felt like I had licked an old bowl of gravy and sugar that sat on the counter for 2 days before someone used it as an ashtray.

The person who invented this should be in jail. This is a crime against humanity.

LYNDSAY SWEENEY ROCKS!

I haven’t blogged in a while, because like a lot of people, I just can’t focus right now. And I can’t think of anything to say that someone else isn’t saying better. 

So…. How about another edition of ‘FABULOUS LADIES I KNOW?’

And today.. It’s LYNDSAY SWEENEY, because tomorrow is her birthday, and she’s fabulous!

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If you have seen Lyndsay on stage, you  already know that she’s HILARIOUS. I’ve directed her in a few shows and acted with her once, and her comic timing and facial expressions are always spot on. Even when she’s just joking around when we’re hanging out, she cracks me up. 

She’s worked with a lot of theatre companies in Houston…  The Classical Theatre, Catastrophic, Landing, AD Players, and others.. often getting nominated for awards for her performances.  I’ve worked with her in my company, Mildred’s Umbrella, and she always cracks me up and brings fun to the rehearsal process.   Here are some photos of her in shows I directed. You can tell by the photos that she’s an incredible actress. I do recommend going to see her in a show when we’re all up and running again. You won’t be sorry. 

In addition to her massive talent as a theatre artist, she’s a teacher who works with tiny tots, through elementary school aged kids, schools and in theatres.  They love her because she is patient, fun and kind. That is a talent that cannot be faked, and it makes me very proud of her.  Here is her teaching at Brave Little Company.  You can see why the kids love her. 

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Her kindness comes through in everything she does. When she decided to adopt a dog, she was super picky about it, and it took forever. I thought she was looking for perfection, but instead of picking a new puppy or an easy dog with no issues, she chose a dog who had been abandoned and neglected, who had some physical issues that needed help and some issues from the abandonment that needed patience and love to get past.  She picked a dog who needed someone exactly like her, and she put in the work to bring her back to health and happiness. Watching her do that has impressed me more than any show I ever saw her do.

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She’s one of the best friends I have ever had. She’s always there for me if I call on her, and always tells me the truth about things, even if it’s not what I want to hear.  I love her and trust her, and I want the world to know how fabulous she is. 

 

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Thank you for sticking by me, Lyndsay. I love you. Happy Birthday! 

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Extremists on Both Sides Give me a Headache.

With all the social distancing, many people have not seen anyone in person from outside their household in months. I am one of them. As we are social creatures, I, like others, have connected more online. I don’t want to stop doing that, but it feels like some interactions have been worse than they would have in person, and it’s seriously giving me a headache. 

When Trump was elected president, I couldn’t even believe that there were so many people in this country who would vote for such an ignorant, narcissistic buffoon.  I thought most of them had to be evil, or at the very least stupid.  They quickly identified themselves on social media by posting memes about how ‘liberals are crying because they lost’, and sometimes I was surprised to see who they were. When I tried to  explain that the reason many of us were upset was not because we were ‘sore losers’, but because we were terrified that a very dangerous narcissist was now in a powerful position to do terrible things to our country, they called me names and continued to jeer at me. It was like going back to elementary school trying to talk to them, and  I eventually realized that no amount of reasoning was going to change their minds, and that while some of them are evil, and some of them are indeed stupid, most of them are neither. Some of them are just brainwashed. They have been conditioned with this ‘us and them’ mentality over many years through a steady diet of very specific and concentrated news sources, and politics have turned into a game where  they’re metaphorically sitting in a sports bar, hurling insults at the losing team.  

From the Infowars site (screenshot)

Currently some people in this group are holding ‘anti-mask’ rallies, protesting for the right to infect themselves and everyone around them with a deadly disease, because they have been told that a global pandemic is a lie by the other ‘team’, which is being supported by the entire rest of the world.  To make it worse, they are using the slogan, “We can’t Breath”, which is deliberately mocking  the race protests that started when a man was suffocated to death by a cop.  I know that sounds evil, and the leaders of it are certainly are, in my opinion,  but a lot of the followers just don’t see the istuation as real. I have talked to some of them, and they really think democrats are making up the black people being murdered and the  Covid-19 pandemic just to piss them off and control them. So they join in to root for their home team. They seem to me to be in some kind of alternate reality,  and while I admire the people who are still trying to talk them out of it, I really think it’s a pointless waste of energy. They need deprogramming, like people who have been rescued from cults. Until that is acknowledged, nothing will change. 

From the Infowars site (screenshot)

 Recently, there was an ad put out by sensible Republicans  to try to convince MAGA-Hat people that  they should not vote for Donald Trump again.  It was a nice try,  but I can tell them for sure that  it’s not going to work, because they don’t mention in the video that they are Republicans.  They need  to tell those people they’re on the same team if they want them to listen, and  then work hard to start helping them to de-program. The video is here, if you’re interested. It looks just like something a liberal group would produce, and it is useless. https://twitter.com/murphymike/status/1268997121446801408?s=20

I had to cut contact wtih a lot of people in that mindset because my own mental health is worth too much to me to let anyone push my buttons, and nothing I say to them will matter anyway. Then I realized that I  have a different problem: extremists on the liberal side. These are usually people who I mostly agree with, but they are  so extreme in expressing their views, that they seem like they’re playing the same game as their right wing counterparts. They’re just wearing the other team’s colors. They seem to live to rant endlessly about every celebrity who uses the wrong pronoun or tweets something that might be interpreted as a slight to someone. They sit at their computers and  painstakingly correct everyone about every tiny mistake in whatever the ‘right’  way of saying something is at the moment. They seem to take great joy in finding things other people do that give them a reason to express how offended they are. They are self righteous and relentless, and they are generally armed with good grammar and at least a moderate gift for intelligent debate, which makes them harder to dismiss as crackpots. 

I usually agree with the general basics of the beliefs of these far lefters, so I just let them say what they want, and I don’t argue with them. I just try to ignore what they say when I don’t like it.  I agree that people need to be called out when they are wrong, but I just don’t agree with their methods. Therefore,  I can respect their space and keep myself from arguing with them on their own turf,  but often, when I share something on social media myself, one of these types will latch on to a word in the headline or a icture of a celebrity who is loosely related to the situation, and start railing at me and anyone else who has the misfortune to be looking at it.   Other innocent bystanders might comment  with a slight objection, or maybe they’re just not agreeing in the right way,  and they are then dragged into self righteous, inflexible debate for hours if they don’t just flee the situation. If I ask them to stop, I am ‘oppressing people with different opinions than mine”. If I just delete the post, I must be ‘uncomfortable talking about my  bias or secret bigotry’. They can’t imagine that it might be because I just don’t like endless, un-resolvable arguments over details. That I don’t want to see my slightly less liberal friends, or elderly relatives who aren’t as good at arguing get publicly humiliated.  I’m all for civilized debate, but if I know from experience that someone is about to jump on a soap box and refuse to listen to anyone else, I’m deleting the conversation. I don’t care how ‘right’ you are about what you’re saying.  We have enough bullshit to deal with in 2020 for that to ever be worth it. 

I don’t know what is in other people’s minds, but it looks from where I’m sitting that for these people, being right is far more important than other people’s mental health or even friendship.  Some of them have a particular pet argument, and others are like that about almost everything.  I knew a white man whose pet arguments were racism and sexism. He was very vocal about how against both of those injustices he was, but he spent a lot of his time telling black people and women how they should  feel about their oppression.  When anyone called him on it, he would freak out and claim to have been ‘attacked’ for his views. There is no way to win or find a compromise with someone like that. No matter what side they’re on. 

 Are they also brainwashed? I don’t know. I didn’t notice this happening any more than I noticed it with the other ones. Maybe they feel guilty about whatever privilege they have or seem to have, and they’re trying to prove they’re not bad people for it? Perhaps they have become so bored with the echo chamber they’ve created for themselves that they’re desperate for a debate and  have no more conservatives left in their lives to  argue with. Whatever it is, I’m exhausted with it.   I guess some people think arguing is fun, but I don’t. With these people, I’m usually on the same side of the issue. We’re almost always  just arguing about a tiny detail, and that is just draining. 

woman holding her head Photo by David Garrison on Pexels.com[/caption]

Both extremist teams seem to me  to lack empathy and don’t seem to remember, online anyway,  that actual humans are complicated. Every person comes to every situation with their own  complicated baggage. They bring with them everything they are born with, everything they’ve experienced and everything they have learned. All of these things factor into a person’s interpretation or reaction to the world. The difference between the two extremes is that one side isn’t pretending to care, while the other side loudly and adamantly claims they do.  Maybe it feels like a game to a lot of people to argue online because you don’t have to look into a person’s face while you’re tearing them down.   Everyone is just an avatar and black and white text on a screen, so it doesn’t feel like they are real. 

In order to live in a society, we must deal with other people, and other people are separate, unique beings. They have their own minds,and yeah, some of them are wrong in their speech and behavior. Hell, we all are wrong that way at times (even you, PC Peter). Sometimes minds can be changed,  but running at people acting like a pompous know-it-all with an ax to grind rarely changes someone’s mind.  It usually only makes people angry and defensive.  People on both sides need to chill the fuck out and choose their battles if they are actually trying to get people to listen, instead of having everyone they talk to that isn’t exactly like them quitting every conversation in defeat and frustration.  

If it’s just arguing that is fun, I recommend these people who feel that way finding each other and having a group for it or something, instead of continuing to alienate everyone else in their lives.   Don’t we have enough sadness and anxiety in the world at the moment without creating more? Just a suggestion. 

Dabrina Sandifer!

It’s been a bit since I blogged. I’m working on one now, but a lot is going on, so I keep putting it off. Meanwhile, I’ll do another ‘Fabulous Women I Know” post… this time, it’s about Dabrina Sandifer! 

She looks like a celebrity!

I met Dabrina when she took over a role in our play festival at the last minute and learned the lines and the part in like a day or something and knocked it out of the park with her performance. I was like… ‘who is this rock star?!” and I wanted to know her better. 

Well, it turns out, she IS an all around superstar. When you see her in a photo, it is obvious that she is a glamorous and beautiful woman with a strong mind and a confident personality (yes, you can tell all that from a photo. Look at the one I just posted!)

But other than that, you wouldn’t believe all the stuff she does. 

She is an actress,director and producer in Houston theatre. She is the Executive Artistic Director and Programming manager Esurient Arts, whose mission is To present art that reflects under-represented stories and making the arts and training accessible to all.  Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/pg/esurienttheater/about/?ref=page_internal

Esurient does all kinds of performance related projects, and is also going to do some programming for youth in under-served communities this summer.  Dabrina is also on the board of Mildred’s Umbrella, the company I founded that supports the work of women in theatre, and she works with many other companies in town, as well. 

about to perform in a play.

She is a guest host on the radio show, Living Art, on KPFT, and she’s got a solo radio show debuting this week on ALL REAL RADIO,  (it’s on https://www.allrealradio.com/ , and it’s also an app) that focuses on arts and community efforts. It is called ‘Dark Mondays”, so totally check that out! 

She is ALSO the program manager in Crisis Intervention & Supportive Services for low to moderate income and under-served communities. The goal for her position is to “bring resources to participants with a mission of empowering, improving quality of life, and providing opportunities for positive progression across generations.”

AND she’s recently done some extra work with the Honorary Mayor of Sunnyside, working alongside HPD to get food and supplies delivered to senior citizens during the Covid-19 crisis. 

her mask matches her outfit, because she literally always looks perfect.

Even though she is constantly working her butt off  to make the world a brighter and better place, she never looks even slightly bad. Somehow, in all of this work she does, she is always polished, coiffed and gorgeous. 

I know it sounds impossible for one person to do all of this, but she does. Sometimes, I think there might be 3 of her, and we just never see them all in the room at the same time. 

In addition to this, she is smart, funny, nice, and she loves nature and animals, especially dogs. 

So.. obviously I needed to tell everyone about this lovely person that I get to know. Everyone should check out her radio shows and her theatre page. She’s amazing!  

Laura Moreno!!

I haven’t done a ‘Amazing Woman Who I Know!’ post in a while, so here’s one!

The lovely and talented Laura Moreno!!

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Laura is a multi-talented theatre artist.. she’s an actor, director, costume designer, makeup and wig artist (and probably more. That’s what I know). She is also basically the ‘Miss Congeniality’ of Houston Theatre, always making sure we all stay connected, and trying to help support and promote the theatre happening here, whether she’s involved in a show or not.

Recently, you might have seen her acting in The Catastrophic Theatre’s FEFU AND HER FRIENDS, and you might have seen her fabulous costume/makeup design in Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre’s LADIES NIGHT WITH SAMUEL BECKETT.

(Above, here’s Laura acting in Fefu and Her Friends (rt) and costume design for Ladies Night with Samuel Beckett. )

She supports women in Houston theatre by running a fabulous page on Facebook, where she props up her sisters in Houston theatre by promoting them and their shows: Womxn in Theatre – Houston

Shes also a mom to literally the cutest baby who has ever existed (many people will back me up on this fact), Izzy, and she’s finishing up her MFA in Directing at The University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance after receiving a BFA in acting there in 2016. AND she is a teaching artist for The Alley Theatre and on the advisory board and play selection committee for the Sin Muros LatinX Reading Festival at Stages.

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Laura doing work (and Izzy!!!) 

I mean.. there’s probably more, but I have no idea how this woman is winning at life so hard with the stuff I mentioned, much less more. She’s a super hero. She constantly thinks of the community and does so much to prop us all up, while rocking hard with her own work the whole time.
So.. YAY TO LAURA MORENO! 

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