Monday, July 08, 2013

Take The Long Way Home

 "The ocean is about 10 minutes from here,"  Tati informed me that one late morning on the 5th of July as we chilled at her mom's place by the Russian River on a mini-vacation.  I think she might have kept talking after sharing that bit of important information with me, but I didn't hear anything she said after the word, "ocean".

"Which ocean?" I asked excitedly.  I was already recalculating my plans for the day as the still heat of the Villa Grande air was started to get to me.  I was wilting.  And you know what they say, if you can't take the heat....get out...

"Um, the Pacific Ocean," she responded quizzically.

I laughed at my error.  "I mean, which BEACH?"

And that was that.  It hadn't even occurred to me to visit the coast initially during my stay at her mom's place during our Fourth of July holiday.  But all of a sudden I had a new plan to hit up all the beaches South of the town of Jenner off Highway 1 in that very moment. 

"You might want to come back this way on your way home.  If you drive down the coast, it will take you much longer" she warned me.

Yes, I thought dreamily, it will take me much longer... .. all the better to see the beaches with my dear...

Shortly after, I said my goodbyes to her family and I hightailed it out to my first destination.  About 15 minutes later I had arrived.

Goat Rock Beach

As I stepped out of my car I felt the cool breeze usher me in.  I inhaled in the crisp air and let it fill up my lungs- but it wasn't long before I started to notice that the air was a little too cold, a little too windy, and my black hoodie sweatshirt didn't seem to insulate me enough from the big gusts that whipped my hair all around.  This beach doesn't have a cliff to shield the visitors from the wind, so it just lets it rip.  After walking the shore for about seven minutes, just when I started to feel this beach visit was a total bust, I saw an older couple carrying sticks and looking for something amongst the pebbles in the sand.  They were up to something.

"Whacha looking for?" I probed.

The man looked at me and held a small piece of light green rock in his palm.  "See this?" He said.  "It's sea glass.  Pretty rare to find, but sometimes it just jumps out at you."

Sea glass, don't say. Now, up to this point I had only be known for my obsession with looking for the perfect seashell, which is almost impossible to find out here on the West Coast, but sea glass?  Now, that could be a new obsession.  Especially since it's rare.  It's like looking for buried treasure and I just love me a good buried treasure!   So I joined them.  About 15 minutes later, when I couldn't take the cold anymore (Goldilocks anyone? Theresa is too hot, Theresa is too cold), I had managed to pocket a few small pebbles of sea glass myself.

Buried Treasure

Needle in a Haystack

Feeling accomplished I walked back to my car, emptied out the sand in my shoes and waved goodbye to Goat Rock Beach.  For this was only the beginning.

I made a right turn and headed South on Hwy 1.  I wasn't getting wifi out in these parts so I decided to let the road signs direct me.  It wouldn't take long before I would arrive at my next destination.

Shell Beach

Now as pretty as this place is, don't let the name fool you.  There were no shells to be found.  Merely tide pools that didn't offer a lot of scenery in the way of wildlife but instead just contained small children who were splashing themselves around in them.  However, the main reason why I picked this beach as my next stop was not only because of its deceptive name, but also because its trail was clearly the shortest distance from my car.

Choices Choices
Um, the Middle One Please...

I took one more snapshot after walking the 1000 meters up the hill and back to my car.  It's much prettier from the parking lot.

1.5 Miles to the next beach walking? No thanks, I will drive there.
That will be seven dollars.

That's right, you read me.  Seven dollars to visit this beach because it was a campground.  I slowly backed out of the parking lot, shook the dust off my sandals, wished them well, and sped off.  See ya.

The next stop was literally only a parking lot and not a public beach at all.  I did a drive by.

And then eventually ended up here.  I dug the vibe.

I parked myself here for awhile and just chillaxed.   After 30 minutes or so I got restless and was anxious to see what other beaches were around and the next one in this leg of my trip turned out to be my favorite one.

Now, this was a popular one and I could see why.  Out of all the beaches I had visited on this section of the coast it reminded me most of the kind of beaches my family would go to when we were little kids.

Rule #1- Make it accessible for those of us who don't like to walk far or steep distances.

Rule #2 - Have a shallow part of the water where kids can play.

Rule #3 - Have really cool sand

This was where I stayed the longest, but after maybe 45 minutes in, I was hungry.  My breakfast of two Atkins bars and a bowl of cereal just wasn't sustaining me and my stomach would have to lead me to my next stop.

I waved goodbye to North Salmon Creek Beach in search of food.  I was confident that I was now very close to the town of Bodega Bay and surely there would be something cute and quaint there.

I should have known by the word "bay" that my beautiful run with the ocean scenery along the highway would now be ending as I headed more inland towards the bay towns and not the ocean towns- but I didn't realize until it was too late.  I finally entered Bodega Bay grumpy.  My ocean views were gone... hidden.. buried.  You mean now if I had to stop and eat, I can't look over at the ocean waves, but the bay instead? I live in the bay area, I see bays all the time.  I even live by a lake--but I don't care.  Give me the ocean or give me nothing.  I blasted through Bodega Bay disappointed and unwilling to stop until I found a vibe that suited me.  A few long winding miles later and now in the middle of nothing but old fields of dead grass, I started to second guess my routing choices.  Uh oh, what have I done?  Am I ever going to see another ocean again?  Should I turn back or press on?  Can my blood sugar level take this heat? It was heating up again as I drove further and further away from the coast.  But just when I thought I would never make it back to civilization I came upon the little town of Tomales and I knew I had been given one more chance.

I pulled up across the street from a Restaurant/Saloon called "William Tell House".  It wasn't as small town podunk as I wanted it to be, but it would have to do.  It was now 5pm and I was the first one to arrive for their dinner hour and I had the place all to myself.

"Sit anywhere you want," the waitress informed me. 

Well I live for moments like these, where I can pick a seat with a view, or in a corner, or most an outlet.


As Carl recharged, (that's right, that's the name of my smart phone-it's a boy) - I opted for the Chicken Marsala and it did not disappoint.

I inhaled my dinner and inquired the staff about the location of the nearest and final beach of my mini road trip - Dillon Beach.  I had visited here a few years ago, but the weather was gloomy and overcast and I did not have a very good time.  Now here I was, it was the end of the afternoon and the beginning of the evening and I was hoping for one last ocean stop and a chance to redeem my last memories there.

I paid my check, walked through the bar and went to the bathroom.  I was starting to feel fatigued.  A part of me wanted to see if I could make it to Pt. Reyes Station after visiting Dillon Beach or should I just head East on Tomales/Bodega Road and head back to the freeway?  I fully knew where I was now being only a quarter mile away from the location of a movie that I worked on for an entire month of night shoots back in 1996.  Maybe I would try and squeeze in a visit to the house where they shot the original Scream movie on my way back? Maybe?

I washed my hands and brushed my hair.  In the bar I heard Supertramp's "Take The Long Way Home" come through the speakers.  It spoke to me.

I got back on the road and about 15 minutes later I arrived at Dillon Beach.  Now, I had been warned, via Yelp, that I would have to pay for parking and this time I decided it would be worth it, but when I pulled up in the parking lot, the girl in the booth informed me that they were no longer charging, but just make sure "your car is out of the lot by 8pm."

No problem.

Now it was becoming sunset and I would be here just in time to snap a few final shots before heading back.  I snapped away.

After getting a bunch of post card shots, as I walked back to my car I looked down in the sand and I couldn't believe it.  I never see these anymore.  A sand dollar.  Granted, it was broken, but still...pretty cool.

I pocketed the sand dollar and headed for the Dillon Beach CafĂ© to load up on coffee for my ride home.  In the bathroom were inspirational quotes by Thoreau.

Launch yourself on every wave.  Pretty cool.

I made it home by 9pm.  It was just now getting dark. I collapsed into bed.  It wasn't a day I had planned at all, but I lived in the moment and took the long way home.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Fourth Born on The Fourth Of July

I haven't been writing much lately.  But I figure if I put something down, anything, it will jump start my creative juices.

Seriously, I don't know how moms with young kids have the energy to write.  The discipline to write.  I get up and go to work and then go to the gym and then I am done.  But that's not an excuse.  I must write.

I guess I should try setting the alarm earlier and actually getting up when it goes off.  I owe that to myself.

What's been going on in my head lately?

Confessions of a Late Bloomer

I need to write another solo piece (not an extension of Cat Nanny) and eventually write it up to 60 minutes.   Tales of a Fourth Born.  Something like that.  The humor of birth order and how our perspective is shaped by it.   I think I need to go through all my old blogs that are late bloomer themed and see if I can weave them together.

Solo Workshop at The Marsh in SF

Considering taking this workshop at the Marsh in August.  I think it's like 10 weeks or something and then there is a performance at the end.  Hmmmm, maybe.  Will check out their class performances in late July.

Audition for Another Show

Don't know if I am right for Rachel Bublitz' Babies: The Ultimate Birth Control, but I might as well give it a shot.  I sure know that the sound of loud crying babies does the trick for me.

Online Writing Workshop

I am taking this online writing class, but I am not as active on it as I should be.  Not all the writing prompts turn me on, but I think that's okay.  It's about weeding out all the other stuff and getting to the good part.

Fourth Born at the Fourth Of July

Going up to a friend's place for the Fourth of July.  Maybe I will get a funny story out of it.

Here's to hoping for a creative explosion!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where Were You This Week?

Writing Prompt #2  in my online writing course.

Where Were You This Week?

Downtown Martinez.   It takes an important event to bring me back to the place where I grew up.  And even though Martinez is only a half hour away from Oakland without traffic (aka the Caldecott Tunnel), it’s like a different world when you finally arrive.  I went to the Martinez Marina this past Saturday with some of my family to celebrate Father’s Day.  It was something my parents wanted to do, and so I picked up my 89 year old grandmother in San Leandro, (the only other Alameda County resident in my family), and hightailed it out to Contra Costa County.  Past the tunnel and six freeway changes later, Grandma and I arrived at my parents' doorstep.

My mom, dad, grandma, sister and I all piled in my mom’s white van and rode the 10 minute drive to the marina.  The air conditioner went on and the suntan lotion came out.  Martinez may only be a half hour away from Oakland, but the Bay Area’s micro-climates will cost you.  Another reason why I moved out of the town I grew up in-  I could never handle the heat.  And neither could grandma. 
Once at the marina, we carried out lawn chairs and umbrellas and begin to look for shade.   We found a tree to park all of our stuff under and weren’t seated five minutes when my father decided he wanted to get up and look at the vendors that were set up for the Barbeque Festival that was happening right across the way from where we were sitting.  No one seemed to want to go just yet, but it was Father’s Day, and like a fourth born who takes after her father probably more than anyone else in the family, I got up and walked with him. 

It wasn’t long before my dad was schmoozing with a Martinez local about the Carnival Cruises he was selling.  My father with his blunt Archie-Bunker-like Irish temperament was going to tell this young, thirty something vendor all the things that were wrong with cruises.  My father should know, he has been on plenty of them (probably all  my mother's doing and if it wasn’t for my mother those two would never go anywhere).  My father would be content to just sit in his den in their three bedroom townhouse with the air conditioning blasting, sucking on his sugar free orange popsicles while watching some old movie.  And he had a belly to show for his inactive lifestyle.  So the fact that he actually wanted to get up and walk around and look at vendors I saw as a good thing.

As we continued to peruse the other vendors it was now my turn to chat it up with some women who were working behind a booth that was promoting the Martinez Youth Football program.  I let them know I first got my start in cheerleading through this program back in the 80’s.  It was such a fun time.  So when they told me they were having a hard time finding girls to try out because costs had gotten so expensive just to be a cheerleader, I bought a Martinez Youth Football tank top to support their cause.  And this was the town I had run away from so long ago.  Yet there I was, going back to my roots, trying to keep the cheer program alive.  Keep the change.

My dad and I finally finished walking the plank and headed back to our shaded area on the lawn across the way to join the rest of our family.  We sipped on overpriced tropical punch and ate corn dogs and curly fries.  I played games on my smart phone.  We chit chatted for a bit. Then finally when we were all finally bored and couldn't take the heat anymore we relented, packed up our stuff, and sought refuge in my parent’s air conditioned house for dessert. 



Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Litterbox....


I did a solo piece back in April, along with five other women's solo peformances that sold out every weekend of our run, so now we have added two additional dates for next week!

I hadn't done theatre in 17 years so my stress level and adrenaline was up pretty high.  I am hoping the second time around I will not be so stressed out. Energy up, but not to the point of fatigue.

In the meantime, I dust off my script, pull the props out of my cat-bag and get back into character.  It will be interesting to see how I feel afterwards.  I would like to work up to a 60 minute show eventually (my current piece is only 11 minutes)  and I want to learn how to not fry myself mentally. 

So, if you haven't already seen the show...come out next week if you can!

NOTE: I go on first, so if you plan on attending...don't be late! But again, one should nevah be late for the theatre! Nevah!!! Hope to see you guys there!


Directed by Rachel Bublitz

The show features female solo performances in honor of our quirky obsession with cats. This show, which was produced in association with the International Home Theater Festival, is All Terrain Theater's second showcase dedicated to promoting the work of female Bay Area theater artists.

Mon, June 10 & Tue, June 11 @ ...8pm


This performance will be held at a private residence in Central Berkeley. Reserve your tickets for the address to our venue. Please note that there are cats and a dog on the property, though pets will not be present during the performances. The show is approximately 90 minutes and is wheelchair accessible.

PUSSY: TEASER EDITION - Written & Performed by Maura Halloran

CAT NANNY 911 -  Written & Performed by Theresa Donahoe

KITTY'S PRESCRIPTION - Written by Patricia Milton Performed by Martha Rynberg

THE METAMORPHOSIS - Written by Carol Lashof Performed by Heather Kellogg

IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME - Written by Rachel Bublitz Performed by Ramya Vijayan

MISSING: A CAT PLAY- Written by Susan Sobeloff Performed by Colleen Egan

THE LIBRARIAN WHO WAS ALLERGIC TO CATS- Written by Tracy Held Potter Performed by Colleen Egan

Stage Management by Chelsey Little

Produced by All Terrain Theater and The Downward Dog in association with the International Home Theater Festival.

Thursday, May 30, 2013



This is mobile phone game crack.  I am on level 191 I think. I don't know anymore. I have lost count.  This is a serious time suck.  An intervention might be at hand.

In other news, my wireless mouse arrived for my new laptop, but the actual computer has not arrived at Best Buy yet and I am still waiting to bring her home.  My new baby girl.  When will the stork deliver?

And in other other solo performance "CAT NANNY 911!" is back for two encore performances in Berkeley June 10th and 11th.  This is in conjunction with our show from back in April, "Women In Solodarity: CAT LADIES!"  More on that later.   I must look over my script again.

As I re-enter the theatre scene after a 17 year hiatus, I am relearning something about myself that I had disovered back in high school:

I love to act but I am not a drama person.

Does this make sense?  It means I have interests outside of theater.  I don't live and breathe Shakespeare, I don't sing the score to Gypsy all day long and I don't hop from one show to the next one.  I write and act, but also take hip hop dance classes and like to hang out with friends from the gym and from church.  I spread it out a little ya know.  I don't go from one play into the next one. 

I am realizing that within the Bay Area Theatre Community there are all these cliques and not everyone knows each other like I thought they would.  You got your Equity actors who also pursue film.  I know them from working in film casting.  Then you have your independent theatre people who live and breathe non-union art and are playwriting all the time and don't know all the union people.  Then you have those people who say "F*** Berkeley Rep!".  Then you have the Berkeley Rep people.   And not everyone knows everyone. 

And then you have all the solo performers and the solo performer workshops-- this seems to be another clique.  This is what I am gravitating to the most right now. 

This sort of "streams of conciousness" blogs will be happening here until my brand new baby girl Lenvo Idea Pad arrives.  Then I can take her home and get back to story writing. 

Until then...


Friday, May 24, 2013

In Not So Loving Memory....

I realize I have been writing less and less because my next-to-worthless of a laptop, the refurbished Gateway from hell, has been acting up, and then finally a few days died.

I wasn't totally sad to be honest.  It was a beast of a thing. It weighed too much and I had to lug it around to coffee shops when I didn't have wi-fi.  It also gave me an excuse to put the search out for a new writing companion.

After weeks and weeks of research, I finally bit the bullet and bought a Lenovo Ideapad 15.6 Z585.  I pick her up next week at Best Buy.  I feel like I am going to the hospital to bring home a newborn.

From the photos, I see that it will be an adjustment getting used to the keyboard--let's hope she's a keeper.

R.I.P. Gateway.  You were an okay starter machine, but it's time to move on.

Monday, April 22, 2013

From Martinez to Boston

In December of 1987 on a Friday night during my senior year in high school, I stood out on the track of Knowles Field in Martinez, California, with my arms folded behind my back while staring at the brightly lit football scoreboard to my left.   It would be the last time after seven long years (three with Pop Warner and fours years at Alhambra High School), that I would be a cheerleader out on this field and would be retiring my uniform and hanging up my pom poms for good.  Well,  that is, once basketball season was over that following spring-- then I would really hang them up.  But Martinez wasn't a town known for its basketball team-- it was known for its football program.

Also out on that field that night, playing in his varsity football uniform, was a junior named Alan Hern.  I didn't know Alan very well, but Martinez is a small town and Alhambra a small high school, so you couldn't help but at least know of people even if you didn't know them that well personally--because you couldn't avoid each other.  Most social circles would intersect at one point or another.  And in a town where my three older siblings and I all went to the same high school, if you didn't know me, you probably knew one of my brothers or sister.

I have lived in Oakland for about 15 years now and don't really spend much time in Martinez anymore.  But last week when I turned on the news and heard that "a boy from Martinez named Aaron Hern" was injured in the blast during the Boston Marathon, I just thought "Hern? That's gotta be Alan's kid."   I mean, how many Herns live in Martinez? 

Sure enough as the story unfolded, it was confirmed that it was Alan's son who was injured in the blast that day while waiting for his mom to cross the finish line.  Soon Alan was on the news and being interviewed on the Today Show, and then a picture was taken of Michelle Obama visiting his son in the hospital.

"This is freaking surreal," I just thought.  Martinez isn't a city known for making international news about anything.  It's just a small little town filled with antique shops and it pretty much minds its own business.  I mean sure there is some history there, it being the birth place of Joe Dimaggio and the location of the John Muir Museum, and yes-- there is still an argument to this day as to whether or not the Martini drink was really invented there, (San Francisco also takes credit), but that is pretty much it. 

Soon, the city of Martinez was rallying behind Alan's family and local businesses started fundraising and donating proceeds to cover hospital costs.   Then a bank account in Aaron's name was opened at Wells  Fargo, and a Facebook Page was created to bring the latest news.  You see, one of the things about being from a small town, is that it's somewhat difficult to be invisible-- for better or worse.  And in Alan's case, especially since becoming the current head coach for Alhambra's Varsity Football team within the last few years, I am guessing the Hern family is pretty well known.

The good news is, Aaron is healing well and should be able to come home soon.  To get the latest news on his recovery and how to donate to the cause, you can visit the Aaron Hern Recovery Facebook Page.

His old man in high school.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Opening Night Confessions

"How you all doing? " Our stage manager, Chelsey Little, peaked her head through the swinging door that separated the kitchen from the living room.  It was five minutes before the show was about to start and there we were, six female solo performers, hanging out in someone's living-room-turned-green-room at the Downward Dog, the official home venue of All Terrain Theatre's 2013 production of Women In Solodarity: CAT LADIES.

"Fine,"  Martha, one of the actors replied, "You know, it's just the throwing up part."

Isn't that the truth, I thought as I sat at there, at the dining room table, in my cat nanny costume, waiting not so patiently to open the show that first night.  That's right.  I was opening the opening.

Why do we do this to ourselves, I wondered, are we masochistic?  Why on earth would we continue to pursue this routine of: audition, rejection.  audition, acceptance.  memorize, memorize, memorize, and then throw ourselves at the mercy of a live audience for possibly more perceived rejection? Are we mad?

I gazed around the room.  Some women paced back and forth reciting their lines quietly to themselves while others sat meditatively in their chairs.  Idle chit chat from just a few minutes before have given away to focused silence.  Yes, indeed, we were mad.

I looked out the living room window and saw a man walking his dog along the street.  Quick sir,  I thought, trade lives with me.  I mean, what troubles could he possibly have?  I have to go on in less than five minutes and open the opening of a sold out crowd.  What do YOU have to do sir, huh? Yeah, keep walking that stupid dog. 

"Ready, Theresa?"  Chelsey motioned me to take my spot in the wings, and by wings, I mean the top of a spiral staircase in the kitchen that led down to the lower level of the house.. and the stage....and to my impending death.  Spiral staircase,  I thought, how appropriate

Then I hear it. The applause is my cue.  I make my way down the staircase and find my place on the stage.   I look up at the crowd but not really.  I see people, but not any one particular person.  "Sorry for the mess," I start with.  I ramble on for a few minutes before I start recognize a face or two in the audience.  Don't lose your focus, I tell myself, you're the cat nanny.   More rambling.  Then I see a friend videotaping me in the front row with her camera.  That's fine, I assure myself, keep going--be the cat nanny.  More rambling.  I notice another friend of mine arriving late and scooting her way to some middle seats. Oops,  I forgot to tell her I went on first Focus.  More rambling. Then finally, FINALLY after the longest 11 minutes in the world.... my closing line, "I'm a cat nanny!"

Applause.  Pause. Pause.  Hold your look.  Hold it.   Now turn, grab your props and exit.  Exhale.  There. Done.  I make my way back up the spiral staircase and back safely to home base, that is, the kitchen. 


I sit in the kitchen listening intently to each actor's monologue that follows after mine.   I hear a moment of silence, followed by an erruption of laughter.  Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  As each actor finishes her piece, one more blazes her way back up to the top of the spiral staircase and into the kitchen while letting out a sigh of relief.  Except for Colleen.  She had two monologues to memorize- so she stays focused until her second piece is finished.

Then finally, intermission.  10 minutes.  10 minutes to go hide back in the living room because the bathroom is now open to the audience and is right next to the kitchen.  I play games on my smart phone as our final actor begins to get focused and warms up and preps her props.  Knock 'em dead Maura.

Intermission is over.  Audience takes their seats again.  I play on my phone in the kitchen and listen one more time as the crowd reacts to the final piece.   More laughter, silence and laughter, silence and laughter.  Then I hear Maura's final words and all the actors take their place in the spiral staircase to get ready for the final curtain call.  Lights off.  Applause.  Lights on.  We all take the stage and give our final bow.  I am still not looking at anyone in particular.

I am exhausted.  I give hugs to friends and say hi to people.  I decline on invitations to go out knowing I have a matinee followed by an evening performance the next day.   Then I remember it's the director's birthday and grab some cupcakes I had purchased earlier in the day.  I light candles on them and bring them back down the spiral staircase.  We sing happy birthday to her.  We give final greetings to friends.  I am relieved, but only for a moment, knowing I have to turn around the next day and do it all over again. 

CRAZY CAT LADIES ARE (in order of appearance)

Theresa Donahoe
Colleen Egan
Ramya Vijayan
Heather Kellogg
Martha Rynberg
Maura Halloran

Friday, April 05, 2013

Now, On With The Show

As I sat, stood, paced back and forth and pantomimed in my studio apartment earlier this week while rehearsing for tonight's sold out opening performance of a show I am currently in, Women In Solodarity: Cat Ladies,  I remembered my favorite acting teacher, the late James Kirkwood’s "Basic Principles of Acting" techniques.  Mr. Kirkwood  had studied with such greats as Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, and as I ran over my lines, I could hear his voice inside my head, challenging me: “What is your motivation? Be more specific. Who is on the other line of the telephone during your conversation? What does he or she look like? Sound like? Are they rich, are they poor? Be more specific.”  It was always about being more specific.

Tonight, April 5th, 2013, marks my return to the theatre after a 17 year hiatus.  A flood of questions enter my mind. Do I still remember how to do this? Do I still know how to act? Or to quote Teri Garr’s character in the movie "Tootsie" about getting her energy up for an audition, “How am I going to get it back?”

Now if you tell me acting on stage is just like riding a bike, I have a story for you to read later. In the meantime, I recall and remember the pans and praises I have received from the Ghosts-of-Drama-Teachers-past:

"You’re doing all these things with your face” –  Cliff Osmond, during my very first "Acting On Camera" class.

“Try taping your eyebrows when you talk then you can feel what you’re doing with your face.”- Another teacher whose name escapes me, during my second "Acting On Camera" class.

"Do you dance?" - Director Harvey Berman,  while perusing the Diablo Valley College Theater green room one day and casting dancers on the spot in for his upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet. (Most fun I have ever had in a play- ever)

“You’re 'the friend'”Les Abbott, trying to pen me as a character actor

“You’re funny. You’re eccentric and a bit off-center.” Ed Trujillo, during his Stage Audition Techniques class and confirming the stereotype that I was, indeed, a character actor.

“I don’t know what to say…your energy was full...” - James Kirkwood, during his Advanced Principles of Stage Acting class and confirming the fact, that I was simply… an actor.

For those of you that knew James Kirkwood, for him NOT to say a lot, was a compliment – he always had something to say.

Thank you Mr. Kirkwood, I dedicate this performance to you.  Here's to hoping my energy is "full". 

Now--On with the show!

DVC Drama Days 1996

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Shamrock Shake Incident

The year was 1978.  At least I think it was.  All of my childhood memories seem to run together these days, but I do remember standing in line with my sister at MacDonald's and they were advertising their latest calendar, which we took home:

I think my grandma was with us that one fateful March day but I can't be entirely sure.  She might have been baby sitting my sister and I and even though my sister wasn't feeling well, she really wanted to come to MacDonald's with us, and she really wanted the coveted Shamrock shake. 

We loved the Shamrock Shake because it was sweet, and well, it was green.  I don't remember if it was minty back then, but it was yummy.

After sipping on our shakes for awhile we had to go home and I remember sitting in the backseat of our parents' station wagon with my mom driving in the front.  My sister still wasn't feeling well.  Do you see where I am going with this?  What happens when a kid isn't feeling well, drinks a green shake and then sits in the backseat of a car?

She throws up all over the backseat.

Next thing I know there is green everywhere, on the seat,  on the car floor, maybe a little on me.  Can't remember if my sister cried, but my mom turned around and saw the commotion and stayed calm.  We must have pulled over to clean it up, but after that day, I don't think my sister drank another Shamrock Shake again.  She was scarred for life.

I leave you with this ancient Irish Proverb and little bit of a warning for the holiday weekend:  He who drinks green, will throw up green.   

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March Happenings

I need to write more.  I just finished writing a script for my solo piece, "Cat Nanny 911" and it's like I just exhaled, walked away from writing, and put on my acting hat.   And by writing, I don't mean journaling--I do that all the time.  I mean writing another story, to keep my creative juices going.

Rehearsal, Rehearsal, Rehearsal...

Speaking of which, I had my first rehearsal for my upcoming show in April, Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies, this past weekend.  I'm telling you it's wierd to rehearse my own writing, but I like it.  And finally being able to rehearse it with blocking is helping me understand the very story I have written. It's all coming together now. Meow.

You're not going anywhere Bunny Rabbit! (yes, that's the name of my parents' cat who is trapped in my arms)

Sunrise, Sunset....

Oh Bolinas, it's been a long winter and how I have missed you!  I just might visit you this weekend. Speaking of this weekend....

You mean, I can celebrate Cinco De Mayo AND St. Patrick's Day?

By all accounts, I should be a hard core Catholic with a drinking problem, seeing that I have Mexican and Irish blood pumping through my veins.  The countdown to start celebrating my Carlos Murphy roots starts this Sunday.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Cat Nanny 911!

" It's not a job for everyone--doing what I do.   Taking on the task of taming the frisky feline while its owner is away can be a tricky business.   Making sure these furry, somewhat elusive creatures get plenty of love, brushes, fresh food and water can take its toll on a nanny if she's doesn't know exactly what she's doing.   When you leave your cat home all alone for more than three days straight, don't be surprised if you come back to an upside down litter box and a clawed up leather couch.   That's where I come in.    I'm cat nanny."    -  Scene from Cat Nanny 911!

My dream one day is to perform a full length one-woman show and take it on the road, but the thought of it seems so daunting to me.  How does one even get started on such a journey?   So I prayed about direction and soon after an opportunity opened up for me to write and perform a short solo piece, and finally get my paws wet.

All Terrain Theater's Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies is a showcase featuring female solo performances in honor of our quirky obsession with cats. This show, produced in association with the International Home Theater Festival, is All Terrain Theater's second showcase dedicated to promoting the work of female Bay Area theater artists.

April 5, 6, 12, 13 @ 8pm (Fridays and Saturdays)

April 6 @ 2pm

Directed by Rachel Bublitz


Written & Performed by Maura Halloran


Written & Performed by Theresa Donahoe


Written by Patricia Milton

Performed by Martha Rynberg


Written by Carol Lashof

Performed by Heather Kellogg


Written by Rachel Bublitz

Performed by Ramya Vijayan


Written by Susan Sobeloff

Performed by Colleen Egan


Written by Tracy Held Potter

Performed by Colleen Egan

Stage Management by Chelsey Little

This performance will be held at a private residence in Central Berkeley. Reserve your tickets for the address to our venue. Please note that there are cats and a dog on the property, and cats may be roaming around during the performances on April 12th and 13th. The show is approximately 90 minutes and is wheelchair accessible.



Produced by All Terrain Theater and The Downward Dog in association with the International Home Theatre Festival.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The other day I included a bath mat with my laundry and put it in the washing machine.  When I went to check on the load a half hour later, the bath mat was so heavy with water that it tilted the entire load and interrupted the spin cycle.  No matter how many times I readjusted the bath mat, the washing machine would not complete the spin cycle, so I  finally removed it and the load was able to finish.

The mat was dripping wet, so I laid it outside by the clothesline in the back of my apartment building hoping the sun would dry it out.  Then I forgot about it, a few days passed, and then it rained.  I do this sort of thing all the time.

You would think that each time I stepped out of the shower and onto a towel on the floor that wasn't my bathmat, that I would remember to check on how it was drying outside.  But instead, I just got used to the towel being on the floor.  Because not only am I "out of sight, out of mind", but I am highly adaptable.  If something changes in my environment, I just get used to it.  If dishes start to stack in my sink, I don't notice them anymore until I have no more clean dishes.  If a sweater ends up on the floor, it becomes a fixture on the floor until the weekend comes and I'm like, "hey I should probably vacuum, by the way, what's that sweater doing there?"

I've been this way for as long as I can remember.  I do this at work too.  I have all sorts of folders out and pieces of paper on my desk that I should just put away, but the problem with that is if I file them away it's gone forever.  So I leave things out.   If they are not in front of me, they don't exist.

Then I try to make lists of things to do, but then guess what happens?  I forget where my lists are.  Then I'm like, "hey I know there was supposed to be something that I needed to do."  So then I send myself reminder emails, and then my inbox gets so full I get overwhelmed.  And then I adapt to my inbox being full and forget about it.  So then I write myself reminder notes on my hand--- and guess what--this actually works for me.

So instead of a piece of string around my finger, I opt for ink on my hand.  I know it looks tacky, like I was just at the club the night before and forgot to wash the stamp off,  but I don't care.  I guess I must look at my hands alot?  Why does this work?

I also have to put my gym bag in front of my door the night before a gym day--or I may forget to go the gym after work.   I have to put my rent check in an envelope and leave it by the front door, or I will forget to pay my rent.  I do have a calendar on my wall and that works somewhat.  As long as I remember to actually look at the calendar.

This "out of sight, out of mind" disease is terrible on friendships.  I have a routine and the people I see the most are the ones that are part of my routine.  I apologize if I have affected you.  It's not you, it's me.  No really.  IT'S ME.  Please forgive me.  I will write you on my hands next time. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Writer's Meltdown (Not to be confused with "An Actor's Nightmare")

Years ago when I was taking drama classes at Diablo Valley College, I saw the play "An Actor's Nightmare" by Christopher Durang, performed for the first time.

I loved it.  It was basically a young man on a stage in his underwear, clutching his private parts while staring into the audience like a deer into headlights.  Other actors around him came on and off the stage briefly with a few lines here and there, but he stood there in the middle of it all, petrified.  He didn't know what play he was in, or what line he was supposed to stay next.  It was, indeed, every actor's nightmare.

As an actor and writer, I get to experience not only the actor's nightmare, but the writer's meltdown.  Now, I googled the term, "writer's meltdown" and apparently we all have different definitions of what this means.  My meltdown is simply, not so much having writer's block, as much as second guessing what I have already written.  Is this funny anymore?  Was it ever funny?  Does this make sense?  Is this redundant? Clear?  What I thought  was a good idea at the time, or maybe even genius--is now muddled and I am not so sure.  And then of course the worst self critique of all - is this BORING?  As a performer myself who bores so easily, my biggest fear is that my writing and performing will put someone to sleep.  I mean, we are supposed to entertain people, aren't we?

In the annoying introspection of it all, I sat on the side of my bed questioning myself and praying, "Lord, I know I am good writer, but help me with the translation".  I sensed Him telling me to just do it anyway.  I am going to have to learn by doing and there is no way around it.  No number of writing classes, workshops or lectures is going to make me be a better writer.  Writing is going to make me a better writer.  I will have to be okay with not being great at first, but just simply, getting through it.  As long as I have a support group in place, a solid set of friends, I will be just fine.

As I closed my eyes, I saw a picture of a fist punching through a paper wall.  The wall is thin, and easily penetrated.  It's not as difficult as I think it is.  I just have to punch through it.

Alright, enough with the meltdown.   And on with the show.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


Every morning after I wake up, I put my sweatshirt and pony tail on, grab my purse, and walk down the hill to Starbucks to get my usual grande iced coffee with two pumps of classic sweetener.  Rain or shine, sleet or snow (well, we have no snow, but you know what I mean).  Summer, Winter, Spring or Fall.  It never fails me.  I want my vice and I want it when I want it. 

I know it sounds expensive, but I don't have kids, so I figure since I am not spending money on diapers and college educations, I can have my Starbucks everyday.  It's all about perspective.

During my daily jaunt down to the main boulevard my mind fills up with all sorts of thoughts and for some reason becomes the best time to get ideas for writing.  I have had rest, I am getting my first exercise of the morning and ideas flood my brain.

This morning I was thinking about youth and first loves.  But maybe not the way you're thinking about it.

You see, I bought a curling iron yesterday.  It was an impulse purchase inside a CVS Pharmacy.  I only meant to get toilet paper and such and ended up buying a curling iron as well.  I took it home, unwrapped it (that was a feat within itself) and plugged it in.  I haven't used a curling iron since the 80s.  When I was young, I had all that energy to play with my hair.  I cared about what I looked like.  I styled it and practiced in front of the mirror for maybe not hours, but certainly alot longer than I would ever care to bother now and I just thought--

Why don't I care anymore?  And this got me thinking of a scene from  the movie "When Harry Met Sally".

HARRY: How long have you been dating Joe? 3 weeks?
SALLY: A month.  How did you know that?
HARRY: To take someone to the airport, you are clearly at the beginning of a relationship.  Which is why I never have anyone take me to the airport at the beginning of a relationship.
SALLY:  Why?
HARRY: Because eventually things move on, you don't take them to the airport anymore and I never wanted anyone to ask me, "why don't you take me to the airport anymore?"
SALLY: It's amazing. You look like a normal person, but really you are the angel of death.

I know it's wierd but this made me think of that curling iron and I just thought- How come I don't curl my hair anymore?  Is it because my relationship with my hair is past the honeymoon stage and I no longer care?  What happen to all that energy and youth?

And while I am currently not seeing anyone romantically right now, I can at least rekindle the spark with my hair.    I don't know how long this will last, but I am ready to start the fire and passion again.  I want to care again.

Reunited and it feels so good.