Friday, February 26, 2010

A Little Compassion

I have always worn my heart on my sleeve. Although I can come across as very strong, put together and, at times "bitchy," I am an extremely sensitive person. I have been trying for the past two days NOT to blog about this, but it's literally constantly on my mind so I just can't help it. Please forgive this bleeding heart.

The reaction to the death of Dawn Brancheau at Sea World in Orlando has really upset me to my core. For anyone who may not have heard the headlines from yesterday, a Sea World Orlando senior whale trainer was dragged into the water by her ponytail after an early afternoon show while she was feeding and playing with a 12,000 pound Orca whale. She was killed in the attack.

Folks that I know and, under normal circumstances, really dig, have posted surprisingly nasty things in their "status" on facebook like, "Yeah, it's called a KILLER whale for a reason!" and, "When will people start realizing these are wild animals?" This woman was an animal trainer since graduating college and had dreamed of working with whales after a visit to Sea World since she was nine years old. Of course she knew these were wild animals! I really doubt if you asked any animal trainer if they realize that animals are wild and there is a risk they could get seriously injured or lose their life that they would say, "Oh, really? I never thought about that!"

And it's not only that the comments about the death of this woman (who died only about 48 hours ago, mind you) are seemingly ignorant, it's that they are completely void of any compassion or sensitivity. Making jokes at the expense of a tragedy is an everyday occurrence. However, the righteousness that has followed Dawn's death is truly sickening to me. How brave of you to say on your facebook page, "She had this coming to her. These are wild animals!" Try saying that about a woman living out her dream of working with whales to her family and friends. With her death so fresh and recent, I can't fathom what would compel someone to broadcast their negative attitude on the situation.

The headlines also read, "Sea World decides not to destroy Killer Orca." It amazes me that one of the first instincts people have is to ask, "Well are they going to kill the whale?" It just reminds me of how humans constantly blame the animal for these attacks, as if the wild animal has any knowledge that they have done wrong. It is usually the human behind an attack that should be held responsible, but often times the animal is destroyed. I can't even count how many news stories I have heard of pit bulls, dobermans, monkeys or other "pets" that have attacked because their owner didn't restrain them properly or tend to them properly in the first place.

Dawn's sister has been quoted in the newspaper saying that Dawn would have never wanted the whale to be hurt or destroyed. She considered the whales her family. One of the trainers who worked with Dawn who watched the video of the events prior to and surrounding her death said that Dawn would have acknowledged the attack was her fault, had she lived to tell the tale. She was constantly letting her long ponytail swing in front of the whale and the whale grabbed it and took her under, thinking it was a game.

The folks who believe it's the wrongdoing of the whale and he should be "put down" reference two other deaths in which the whale was involved. One was a similar incidence to this, where a trainer fell into the water and Tillikin (the whale responsible for Dawn's death) and two others passed the trainer back and forth like a game. No trainers were supposed to be in the water with this whale and it was an accident. The other death involved a man who broke in to Sea World after hours so he could swim naked with the animals. He died of hypothermia. In my humble opinion, one death was completely the fault of a human and the other two were a bad combination of a wild animal kept in captivity with human error. Were any of these the fault of the whale? Should the animals be punished for acting out what is in their nature? Would "putting this whale down" prevent future deaths of this kind? In my heart, I feel the answer is "no."

I struggle with the idea that these animals are kept in captivity and are taught to put on shows to entertain the masses. One part of me says that having a few animals in captivity can bring awareness and inspiration to people in order to protect the population of animals in the wild. Another part of me thinks that some big corporation is making money off of monkeys wearing shower caps and dolphins jumping through hoops. It's one of those grey areas in my opinion where I see both sides of the coin and feel that I can't really say what is right and what is wrong.

All I can say is that I wish there was a little more compassion in the light of this tragedy. This woman was so passionate about her job and got to do what she loved every day. I can only dream about that. If someone told me, "You can do what you have always dreamed of doing, but there is a risk . . . " I can't say that it would stop me. Can you? Does that make you a fool, deserving of ridicule from thousands of people spanning the globe? Am I just oversensitive?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does Size Really Matter?

Last night I sat around my tiny apartment with seven of my girlfriends drinking wine, eating chocolate and talking about boobs. It was the epitome of girls night conversation, and I was thankful that the discussions never dove into complaining about work, because that seems to be on most of our minds lately.

Our particular group that night didn't have anyone who had undergone augmentation, but several of the ladies were discussing wanting to fly to Thailand to get these inexpensive but amazingly spectacular fake tits. Apparently we work with a Aussie guy who has sent several girl friends to get them done with "one of the best plastic surgeons in the world." I just sat around looking at all the ladies that were lounging around my living room/dining room/patio/kitchen thinking how gorgeous they all were in completely different ways. We really had a cross section of all different body types, but each girl is so beautiful I can't imagine that any of them want to change things.

Of course, yes, we mutilate ourselves in other ways for beauty. (We did have a rousing waxing conversation.) But taking it to "going under the knife," seems so much more extreme to me!

Let me first say that I do not take the stance of, "No one should get breast implants!" I think it's your body, do what you want. Who am I to say what's right, wrong, best for anyone, etc. Trust me, I could hand you the list of the things I find wrong with my exterior! I constantly have the thoughts of, "I'd be beautiful if only . . . my nose weren't crooked, my teeth were straight, my ears didn't stick out, my arms weren't so long and lanky, my thighs had space between them, my eyes weren't so huge," and the list goes on and on. But when I'm really faced with changing any of those things, I always chicken out. Ultimately, I think I like looking like me even if it's not some universal idea of what is aesthetically beautiful.

As a daughter of a breast cancer survivor, and having had a scare recently myself, I can tell you the only way I'm going under the knife for my boobs is if it's to get everything taken out and REPLACED by the fakies. That's a whole other story, but my only concern with "my girls" is that they are healthy! So, today out of curiosity, I did some research and I was floored. The Internet can be a very scary thing.

According to research from the NRC for women and families, approximately 55% of breast tumors are hidden in mammograms by implants in the women who have them. Not only that but you have a chance of your implant rupturing during a mammogram so many women forgo getting it done! The National Cancer Institute found a 21% increase in breast cancer in women with implants over 7 years. And in 2008 more then 300,000 women and teenagers underwent breast augmentations (not including the 80,000 which were reconstructions for cancer patients,) while over 40,000 patients got implants removed that same year. These just a few of the jaw dropping facts I found. I don't want to get preachy or plead with anyone, but I just thought I'd share some of it with you.

I know all the reasons women want to get them. They want to feel more feminine, look better in a bathing suit, attract the opposite sex, look more in proportion, etc. But, honestly, when it puts you at such a high risk for disease and complications I'd rather have my beautiful "disproportionate" friends any day!

I am so thankful that we have the kind of knowledge, technology and brilliant doctors to be able to reconstruct ourselves when disease or accidents alter our appearance but I just wish we (me included!) could get to a place where we are happy with what was given to us!

Girls, get your hair done, wax those legs, and get yourself a Victoria Secret Very Sexy Plunge Push-up Bra (no, seriously, they work miracles.) The rest of your beauty is shining out from the inside and that's what really counts!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Before the Parade Passes by . . .

Up until I was twenty six years old, I would watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my mother on Thanksgiving morning. I remember even as a little girl, waiting in breathless anticipation of the Rockettes. My mother would be preparing all the food for the Thanksgiving feast and she would always tear up. Every year she would say through sobs, "I'm sorry. I just always used to watch this with my mother, and it makes me miss her." My mother grew up in Flushing, Queens, New York so it was even closer to her heart, literally, then most. I would watch the Broadway performers, dancers, celebrities, etc, go by on their floats (usually freezing their lily white asses off,) and I would think, "I want to perform in the parade one day!"

The first Macy's parade that I was not with my mother, I was living in New York City waiting tables at a restaurant in Columbus Circle, right where the parade starts. I had the breakfast shift, by some twist of fate, and could see the entire parade go by, since we were located on the 3rd floor and there were no walls, just huge glass windows separating us from Central Park. I would drop off a carafe of orange juice at a table, see a huge balloon of Garfield drift by or hear the crowd cheer for whichever pop artist was popular at the time and rush to the server hutch to blot my eyes. I understood so deeply that year the tears my mom shed missing her mother, because I was desperately wishing I was in my pajamas in front of the television, eating her amazing french toast and hearing her chop vegetables.

Although I have yet to get into that Broadway show or award-winning high school marching band that would lead to my eventual Macy's Parade position, I did get to perform in my first parade this last week! And folks, it was not quite what I had expected!

The Chingay Parade in Singapore has been held during the Chinese New Year for over 35 years. It is the equivalent of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Southeast Asia. Chingay (the phonetic Chinese word for "float") was created after a ban on fireworks in 1972 dampened the Singaporean Chinese New Year Spirit. It was supposed to bring back the joy and celebration of the Chinese New Year and it features traditional Chinese dragon dances, floats, music, elaborate costumes, and more recently, fireworks!

Universal Studios Singapore had their own float and some performers were brought in to ride on the float and dance around it. I would be playing my role (Betty Boop) and dancing next to the float at each of the parade stopping points. The rest of the time I'd be strolling next to the float, smiling and waving at all of my adoring fans . . . or so I thought.
After two weeks and a half weeks of rehearsal, things seemed relatively normal. We would go to the parade grounds and see all of the gorgeous floats in their hangers and think, "I can't wait to perform in the parade!" We were the only ones there and we would rehearse in our sweats and sneakers and everything was just dandy.

Now add thousands of people, immense heat and humidity, fur covered costumes, stilts and complete and utter chaos and you have the Chingay parade experience!

Our first dress rehearsal ended with the poor performer in the Woody the Woodpecker costume completely passing out IN COSTUME, in the character escorts arms. He was out cold on the floor of our break tent with the paramedics for over 15 minutes while they covered him in cold wet towels and ice packs. That night our float also nearly caught on fire because the weight of the float was too much for the engine, so our Scorpion King who was placed on a lift of the top of the float was inhaling enough exhaust fumes to give himself black lung.

The other performers in the parade (we are talking HUNDREDS to each float and THOUSANDS all together) don't really have any regard for our stilt walkers and power skippers. A running throng of children will rush right into, around, between these performers who have 3 foot metals stilts strapped to their legs without a care in the world! At most points, I was being ambushed by women in huge, glittery, metallic lame hoop skirts with pom poms or enthusiastic, preteens playing drums in butterfly costumes.

The first day of the parade performance, the float started up again when it shouldn't have and two of our alien stilt walker females got knocked over by the float itself! One of them had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance that night. And it wasn't just our group of performers! As we would walk along the way I would see many performers from other groups laying on the side of the route with paramedics, either holding their twisted ankle, or trying not to faint from heat exhaustion!

Now for a worrier like me, this was just a recipe for disaster. I was a wreck the whole time, wondering if we were going to survive this parade and seeking an explanation for why every person I encountered in Singapore wanted to be a part of it! Chingay was a chaotic disaster!

The "positive thinker" side of me was working overtime with this parade because I needed to take my mind off of the scary things that were happening. As we walked along the route towards the end of the last day of the parade, there was a little girl in her moms arms against the fence. She had a big mopey frown on, eyes filled with tears. I looked right at her, had a big smile on my face and said, "Hello there, sweetheart! Aren't you pretty?!" And her face instantly turned into a big shy grin as she threw her arms around her mom's neck.

It may be silly but that one tiny moment made me feel like the 3 weeks of rehearsal, sweat and tears made it worth it. The little girl looked like she was having a miserable time, and then because Betty Boop talked to her, personally, she was on cloud nine. Maybe she was just laughing at my big, bobblehead, who knows, but ultimately that's why I'm a performer. I want to make people happy.

I'd like to imagine that every Chingay Parade she will be with her mom and every few years or so, maybe they will remember how Betty Boop came right up to her and talked to her.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Singapore Zoo

I have been in a little bit of a funk lately which is why I haven't written in several days. It happens from time to time to me since I've been living out here, but luckily, a trip to the Night Safari last night pulled me out of it.

I can't believe I left The Singapore Zoo off of my list of the things I'm most grateful for out here in Singapore! It is, hands down, the most amazing Zoo I have ever been to. If you are an animal lover, as I am, you will be in heaven. Honestly, it's the one thing I find really worth going to Singapore to see, if you happen to be in Asia. And the Night Safari is actually a separate zoo that's only open at night and homes all the nocturnal animals.

The Singapore Zoo is so amazing because there is not a cage in sight. You are so unbelievably close to the animals (sometimes only separated by a small trench, short trench, or nothing at all!) When we walked in, we were greeted by this lemur-type, fuzzy, adorable animal just sitting on the rope railing. The only thing keeping you from petting the animals is a sign that says, "Please don't touch the animals." And people just don't touch them! It's so incredible, but made me really sad when I thought about America and how we could never ever have a zoo like that. I feel like Americans are so "sue-happy" and American children are so used to just doing whatever the heck they want, that a zoo like this would never last. The Asian and Indian culture are much more reserved, especially here and seem to really respect "the rules."

But back to the zoo! After we took pictures with our incredible and photo ready friend, we walked through a jungle area on a wooden plank bridge next to an enormous prehistoric looking crocodile and there were monkeys swinging from vines above us. I just kept thinking, "If they wanted to, they could just hop down from the vines and join us!"

Then we came to a wide open clearing with a stream and came as close to white tigers as I have ever been. They were just going about their business and seemed so happy!

Next we saw the giraffes, which are so breath taking in person, especially when you are only a couple of feet from them! The only thing between us and them was a 2 foot high wooden fence. I'm not quite sure why the don't just step over the fence, but maybe they do! That's what makes it so exciting!
Zebras, lions and cheetahs, oh my!

The Rhinos were spectacular, and did you know that their horn is actually not a tusk, it's a mass of coarse hair and that's why when it falls off or breaks it just grows right back? Just one of the fascinating things I learned at the zoo!

The Singapore Zoo even has an enormous area that looks like the north pole for the Polar Bears, which I was pretty surprised to see in Singapore where the record low is 68 degrees!

Next, we went to see the Elephant show, where 5 beautiful and awe-inspiring elephants performed a great show with their trainers. The elephants seemed really happy and weren't being whipped or abused, thank goodness. The trainers in the show explained that they don't use any inhumane forms of training at the Sing Zoo.

The orangutans are always a blast to watch and sometimes give you those eery looks that make you think, "Woah, we are not that far from you!"

We wandered into the Australian section and literally stood right next to the kangaroos! I was freaking out! I've never even seen a kangaroo in person!

We ended the day with my absolute favorite memory of the zoo, The Fragile Forest. This was a gigantic screened in area of the rain forest where you are literally just walking among the animals. Basically, YOU are in the cage. There were beautiful birds, butterflies landing on you, bats flying around your head, and lemurs hanging out to say hello! All of a sudden you would sense something next to you, and a mousedeer would be standing next to your feet nibbling on some grass. I was in heaven!

The Night Safari was so much fun as well, but since you cannot use flash photography because it disturbs the animals, I don't have much in the way of pictures. But our friend Steve (who was celebrating his birthday) got pulled up on stage during the Predators of the Night show! Here's the picture!

Sometimes you just need your furry friends to put things in perspective and to slap a big childish grin on your face!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm Your Biggest Fan

Facebook is glorious. As someone who has moved around quite a lot in the past 4 years, Facebook has allowed me to keep in touch and up to date on many of my friends lives that I might otherwise completely lose contact with. For that, Facebook, I thank you.
But, seriously people, what's up with the fan pages?

I have a strong opinion on this, and I'm going to share it with you, but please don't get offended. It is just my little opinion and I'm not looking for a brawl or to hurt anyone's feelings. I think the reason it effects me perhaps more then others is because I have so many actor friends.

I totally understand having a fan page for a project you are involved in. This means if you are in a play, on a TV show, have a webseries, performance group, a contest you are in, charity you are raising money for, etc, I want to be your fan! I want to know what my friends are up to and how I can support them, so I love fan pages for this reason!

On the flip side, if you are in a group that performs only in a state that I do not live in (or country for that matter,) there's not much point of me becoming a fan of your page. I'm sorry, maybe that makes me a jerk, but then I get messages and updates everyday about buying tickets for your show or invitations to functions that I can't attend. And frankly, I hate hitting the "no" button for events I can't attend. I'm Catholic, so I feel guilty. I always feel obligated to write a comment on the event page like, "Sorry! I live in Singapore so I can't make it to see your post apolcalyptic rendition of 'Our Town' in Las Vegas!" I also don't get the fan pages for people's private businesses. I've had requests to become a fan of real estate agents, law firms and electronics repair companies. It just confuses me.

On another note, I don't understand the concept of inviting your real life friends to be a fan of just "you." There are a lot of fan pages that are just for a person and not a project they are involved in. So that when they are on a TV show or have a play you get updates and invites from your friend AND from the fan page. Listen, if we are friends on facebook, just assume I am already your fan. If you have so many out of control fans and you'd like a private page for your "real life friends" and a fan page to keep the crazies out of your personal life, I understand that as well. But then don't ask your "real life friends" to be a fan. We already are! (Hopefully.)

Whew! I'm glad I got that off of my chest. If you promise me you won't send me a request of, "John Smith wants you to become a fan of John Smith," I won't send you a request of, "Erin Muroski wants you to become a fan of Erin Muroski!" Thanks!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


One of the things I have really been trying focus on in the past few years is being a good friend. I realized how blessed I have been in my life with wonderful friends and I wanted to be there for the people who are always there for me. Sometimes it's really hard to find the right thing to do or how exactly to actually be a "good friend."

The biggest thing standing in my way was being too sensitive or taking things too personally. I found this out when I moved away to New York. I would end up seeing my girlfriends from back home when we would be on the road for the auto show and I felt so out of the loop. They were having all these adventures back home and knew each others day to day lives and I wasn't a part of that anymore. I started feeling defensive because I sort of felt like they were purposely shutting me out. I kept pushing them away by making comments or trying to hold on too tightly to the friendship. I finally realized that the only person making me feel left out was me. I could still be a part of the group and in their lives, it just wasn't going to be the same way. Unfortunately our friendship dynamic had to change because I made the choice to move away.

Out here in Singapore I'm learning lots of friendship lessons. Holding on to new and old friendships from back home is, understandably, increasingly difficult. Not only because of the ridiculous time difference, but not everyone has Skype and I don't have a land phone line so communication is at a minimum. And there's so much I'd love to explain about my life here, but a lot of it is just unexplainable! I miss my friends so much though, and try to make an effort to stay involved and make them feel like I am available.

I'm trying to figure out how to be a good friend to new friends. I'm surrounded by a lot of those here! I love it, but I struggle with how to not take things personally and to be available to new friends. I felt really bad tonight because I had to miss a new friends birthday party. I ended up getting scheduled at work tomorrow night so Del and I had to have our Valentines Day a day early. I'm sure she totally understands, but I feel really bad saying "yes," to attending a party or function and then backing out. I know how cruddy that makes me feel so I really try not to commit to something I think I may not be able to follow through with. I just hate letting anyone down.

I guess I'm just finding that it's harder to know what being a good friend is with new friends. When should suggest a girls night with wine and snacks? When do you need to just let them vent? When do you just back off and leave them alone? I'm trying to remember what I found before. The dynamic will just work itself out and I can't take it personally if it doesn't.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

I'm a "girly" girl. I love shopping, fashion, and celebrity gossip. I wish I could wear nothing but Betsey Johnson dresses, jewelry and shoes and have someone do my hair and make up everyday. I like getting facials and pedicures. Having an occasion to wear fake eyelashes makes me giddy.

And I like to dance in a circle with my girl friends.

I'd like to think I'm not a total walking cliche because I do also have a "tough as nails" side. I don't back down from a challenge. Anyone who knows me is aware that I will speak my mind and lay the "smackdown" on anyone who ticks me off. I don't like "cattiness" because I actually feel like that is super unladylike.

But I don't know one lady on this planet who doesn't like singing along to music and dancing with their girl friends. Even if you don't like to do it in a public place, you still gotta admit, there's nothing like it. Maybe there is some specific endorphin that only chicks have that gets released when they stand in a circle (all fallopian tubes side by side as if they are holding hands) and jam out to 80's, 90's and 00's pop music. Yes, there will be some "acting out of the lyrics," hair tossing and "Woooooooooo!"'s. That's what we do.

Sometimes, when things get really intense, shoes are tossed aside, but I want it to be known that I do not support that. I am of the belief that you keep your shoes on no matter how much they hurt. If you can't dance in them, you shouldn't have worn them. You chose them to complete your ensemble, so for goodness sake, keep them on (I don't care how cute your pedi is, sweetie.)

Amazingly, I often forget how good it feels! I went out last night for my friend Tori's birthday to a bar and there were about 8 of us girls who danced away inside while the boys all drank beer and talked sports (or whatever those types of humans talk about) outside at a table. AT A TABLE! There's Katy Perry singing, "Hot and Cold" in the bar and you are sitting at a table outside talking?! Insanity! I'd come outside every once in a while to be the good girlfriend and check in, and inevitably another song would come on that was too good to resist. At one point, I had just stepped outside and a Pitbull song came on. My girl friend Crista and I just looked at each other like, "Oh, it's time to go back inside." And made a bee line for the dance floor.

We were only there a short time, but I had such a blast. Along with writing my blog everyday, my next "feel good" goal is to go dancing with the girls AT LEAST twice a month. And, I'm sorry boys, but we are going to have to leave you at home. You just don't get it. I mean, it's a commitment. It was Tori's birthday and she danced her necklace off! She had started to swing it around her neck as a very creative, prop-assisted dance move and she danced that adorable bobble right off. One minute we were watching in awe, the next we were all squinted through the lights of the strobe, searching the ground for the missing pieces. She also had little shorts under her dress so she could really be free to perform any dance move that struck her. I really admire her as a foward-thinker.
It was a night I was really happy to be a girl. I don't think guys know the feeling! I hope you are with me ladies. We need another night to boogie!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


My last post was pretty critical of Singapore so in the spirit of positivity, I wanted to write about the top 10 things I am grateful for since I've been here. I have found that this has been a really good year to work on my faults (as there are many!) and patience is my biggest hurdle. I seem to be able to battle my impatience by looking for the silver lining and being grateful for all of the amazing blessings in my life. My best friend Kat and I exchange 5 things we are grateful for everyday to remind us how beautiful the world is and how lucky we are to be living our lives! With that being said, here's my top 10 gratefuls for Singapore thus far!

10. The MRT and everything it brings with it
One of the biggest things I missed when I left New York was the subway (obviously, not for it's glamour.) Public transportation is awesome. I'm so glad that Singapore has it so you can get from point A to point B without much need for a car. Plus, it's so clean you could eat off the floor, though you would be shot and fined for it, so don't. And, really, how could you NOT enjoy riding on a train that plays this video over and over again? That's PCK. He's the Ryan Seacrest of Singapore, except that he is an actor as well as a host. The character in that video is a character he plays in the only Singaporean sitcom I've seen. He also hosts Singapore Idol among many other things.
The MRT also allows all of the stupid caucasians to try and mimic what the announcements are saying in Mandarin. Pure fun for everyone! And I like to pretend I'm getting tazored everytime the doors close and the train emits a very "tazor-like" sound. Boy, I can't tell you how much Del is NOT sick of seeing me do that for almost 4 months!

9. The view from my apartment
It has made such a huge difference since we have moved. We were in such a depressing, dank, hovel of an apartment before and now we are in a brand new high rise condo on the 14th floor. It's tiny, but we don't care. When I walk in the door and I am looking out over Singapore it's really calming. Whether it's day, night, raining, etc, it's always a good view!

8. New friends of different cultures and backgrounds
I love learning about new things! And how great is it to learn new things from the amazing people who have experienced it? It's SO great! I have friends now from all over: England, Phillipines, Sydney, Melbourne, Scotland, France, Indonesia, China, Viet Nam, India, Malaysia . . . you name it, I've got a friend from there! I feel so fortunate to get to work with them and learn from them. It's incredibly inspiring to see the kind of talent that exists all over the world.

7. Del
No, he's not from Singapore, but getting to experience all of this with him is something I am so incredibly grateful for that I had to include it in the list. And listen, it's not easy moving across the world, even if you have the love of your life with you, but I never would have survived it without him. Every night I get to come home to him and curl up on the couch watching the shows everyone else in America watched weeks ago and I couldn't be happier or more grateful for that. Gees, he sure is handsome, huh?

6. Pepper Lunch
I love it! And before anyone corrects me, yes, I know, it's actually Japanese. But, with the exception of the incredibly creatively named "Chicken Rice" there isn't much as far as cuisine that comes strictly from Singapore. Everything is sort of brought over from other areas of Asia. And since I'd never had pepper lunch before I lived here, I will count it! It's basically your own little skillet with either fish, chicken or beef (or a combination! Oh the possibilities!) and you can add an egg or cheese. It comes with rice and miso soup and it's just peppery goodness. I can't get enough of it.

5. Insanely Fast Escalators
At first, I despised the escalators in Singapore because they are insanely fast and I have a big fear of them. I think it has to do with my fear of heights, but getting on and off escalators gives me a momentary major panic attack. But with having to get on and off escalators all day, you start to get good at it! Even though I'm still a bit anxious about it, I'm far better at it now. Woohoo!

4. Pole Dancing Class
No, that is not me in the picture but hopefully I'll be able to do stuff like that soon! Pole dancing for fitness and just as a form of dance is really big here and I am really loving my classes. It's definitely not as skanky as it sounds. It takes a WHOLE lot of strength and flexibility. I've gotten many bruises and burns but it's worth it.

3. NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia
I can't express how great it is that there is an NYU Tisch here in Singapore! I have had an amazing time with the masters program writers in their Drama Lab class. They use actors to get their work up on it's feet. I've also done a student film with them and did a workshop with the directing students. It's been really great and I'm so thankful that it is here so I feel like I am still stretching those acting muscles.

2. Takeout Comedy Singapore
Another great challenge has been to start doing stand up again. I had only dipped my pinky toe into it in LA because I was pretty intimidated by all the "regulars" there. Out here, I have all new challenges! It's great because I don't feel like I care as much about being judged because I don't know most of my peers out here, however, I am never sure whether my jokes or sense of humor will translate to the crowd! It's amazing how many everyday references are lost because they are just "American." It's been a fun journey.

1. Improv Group
Bill, a friend I met out here but is from LA, started an Improv class with a bunch of us a couple of months ago and it has been such a great outlet. I hadn't done improv in quite a while back home and was starting to dread it in auditions. I started to feel like I couldn't improv anymore. Then I took this class with him and many of my other coworkers and we have just had a blast! I remembered how fun it is to do and how much better I am when I'm not stressing out or thinking, "I'm not good at this."

Bonus: Nobody But You by the Wonder Girls
I actually only just realized this wasn't a hit song all over the world. It's so huge in Asia and ridiculously catchy. I love the little dance. Everyone here knows it and does it whenever it's on the radio (which is every three seconds.)

There they are, my top ten "gratefuls." And with links and pictures! Can you tell I have the day off today? My blog is so much more ornate! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

You may NOT have it your way

I am a modifier. But I have an excuse! I have food allergies! It's not my fault. And I'm always very apologetic. Having worked in restaurants for over 10 years, I know that I am the kind of patron that waiters and waitresses hate. So I make the extra effort to be apologetic and pained to make all the modifications I need to make when I'm at a restaraunt. It's really hard to find something on a menu that actually does not need any alterations in order for me to be able to eat it. I'm allergic to dairy, tomatoes and peppers. I also don't eat red meat, because my body really can't digest it. And I don't add any frivilous modifications. I try to find something on the menu that will create as little of a raucous as possible. I always start my order with, "Hi, I'm so so sorry, but can I have the Chicken Parmigian without the cheese and with the lemon herb sauce instead of marinara? I'm so sorry. Thank you Thank you Thank you."

If you are a food modifier like me, let me just make a suggestion: Do not move to Singapore. I'm not sure if it's a problem on the enitre continent of Asia, but in Singapore, you will eat what they give you and that is the end of that. It's taken 3 months for me to accept it. I pretty much have to eat at home because it's just inevitable that I will get the blank stare of confusion if I try to make any change whatsoever to a menu item. Apparently, it just doesn't happen.

I love McDonalds breakfast. I mean, who doesn't? I walk up to the counter and I say, "Hello! Can I have an egg mcmuffin with no cheese?" I'm answered with a blank stare. "Like, just the egg on an english muffin. No cheese." When the cashier has gotten over the shock of me asking for something to be altered, they usually say, "I'm sorry, we don't have that on the menu." Uh, yes, you do have it on the menu! It's not like I asked you to add marshmellow Fluff to my Egg McMuffin (in which case, it would be an Egg McFluffin)! I just want you to take away something that's there.

So, I patiently say, "Well, I know it's not listed on the menu, but I am allergic to dairy, so I thought maybe I could have one, just without the cheese." Another blank stare, maybe a look around for the manager. Sometimes, I just say, "Forget it," and order it with cheese and suffer the consequences all day. Other times I just order a hash brown. But most of the time, they say, "Okay." And then give me an Egg McMuffin with cheese on it anyway.

It's like that in any restaurant, pub, cafe or eatery you will find in Singapore. They simply cannot understand why on earth anyone would ask to change something that is clearly stated on the menu.

I have just stopped trying because you end up spending 15 to 20 minutes explaining why you want to modify something, then they will say okay, and you will get exactly what the menu says regardless of what you asked for so there's really no sense in even asking. It makes me chuckle thinking about how in America, patrons would just lose their marbles over this. Managers would be chewed out by customers on an hourly basis. No one ever orders whats exactly on the menu in America! We get it how we want it, gosh darn it!

And it doesn't stop at food. As a lady, you can't buy panties or bras that are not in a "set." This means, they assume that everyone who wears a size 34B bra, wears the same size panties. And trust me, ladies in Singapore have much smaller butts and thighs then us American lassies! I tried on the bra in a store a month ago and I asked the lady, "How do I know if the undies will fit?" She said, "Oh, they will. The bra fits, so the panties will fit." Of course, I got them home and they would barely pull up above my knees.

I guess it's been working for them for the past few hundred years, so who am I to come along and ask for bigger panties or a cheeseless Egg McMuffin? I'm just stick to what they give me and like it . . . for the next nine months anyway.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On The Wings of Love

I might as well come right out and say it: I am addicted to 'The Bachelor.' I don't know why, I don't know how it all even started, but I can't get enough of it. Thank Goodness we can download it from Graboid out here, or I don't know what I would do with myself! Although I truly detest most reality shows (especially because one of my favorite sitcoms of all time got cancelled because it didn't have as high of ratings as the reality shows on the network,) I cannot deny that The Bachelor makes me giddy. And this goes the same for The Bachelorette.

My best friend Kat and I would tivo it when we were roomies and wait until we both had the evening free and have our special little night. We'd break out the wine and usually some hummus and veggies and yell at the screen as if it were Monday night football. We became so invested in these people, and we'd catch ourselves talking about them like they were in our circle of friends, and crack ourselves up. That's probably where I really began to love The Bachelor. It was something really fun for Kat and I to do together.

But then, what was once a delightful little past time with a friend becomes an obsession. I'd find myself running into people at auditions, or chatting with people at work and The Bachelor would come up. I'd get into HEATED debates! "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Kypton is totally wrong for Jillian! She belongs with Ed!" (Which, by the way, I was totally right about, all you nay-sayers.) I started getting nervous at the rose ceremonies, my pulse would be racing and I'd breath a sigh of relief when my favorites were handed a rose. I'd also argue with the television when the poor naive bachelor or bachelorette picked someone that I knew was not the right person for them.

Now I have forced my boyfriend Del to be my Bachelor buddy, since my bestie is back in the states. I have to say, he gets pretty involved. But mostly he just loves to sing "On The Wings of Love," because it is the cheesy theme song of this season, since Jake, The Bachelor, is a pilot. However, Kat and I have a regular Skype date mid-week once we have both watched the weeks episode so we can discuss what has happened. Kat relayed to me last week that she made the detrimental mistake of inviting non-Bachelor watching people over to her apartment in the hopes they would get as into the show as we are. After having to pause the show repeatedly because they were socializing and she couldn't concentrate on the show, she realized her mistake.

As an actor, I should completely protest a reality show like the Bachelor that is taking up a two hour time slot that could be filled with shows that would give my fellow actors and myself work. But instead, I guiltily hunker down with a glass of wine and some snacks, ready to help The Bachelor find love. (He needs me, you know.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm Betty Boop Gosh Darn It!

I was walking home from the bus with a co-worker of mine tonight and I was explaining my blog to her. I told her that I still hadn't thought of something to write about for today but that I had made a pact with myself to write everyday. She said, "Write about me!" in her adorable French-Canadian accent. It was actually perfect, because I had been thinking about writing about her the past few days anyway!

Marie-Eve is a stilt walker at Universal Studios Singapore, but really, she is a dancer and singer. I hadn't had the chance to really get to know her until the past week and a half while we have been doing the Chingay parade together. She is such an inspiration to me right now because she is so positive and excited to be working at a theme park.

As a girl who grew up in Orlando, theme park nation, I don't really get much of a thrill when I spend the day at Disney or Universal. In fact, sometimes, that is just about the last place I want to be. I've worked at Universal on and off for about 8 years now and the honeymoon is definitely over. The excitement I felt when I first got hired as Kimberley Duncan at T2-3D in Orlando has faded over the years but I know that I was genuinely over the moon when I first got that call that I was hired for the role. It was the most money I had made as an actor at that point and it was fun to have your friends and family come see you host a show with 700 something people!

When we had our first dress rehearsal on Saturday night, Marie-Eve was running all around on her stilts with her camera getting pictures with all the characters. She was just over the moon! I remember thinking, "Woah, we'll all be working together for the next 9 months! What's she so excited about?" And when we got to the end of the parade, there were a few children who came up to her and wanted a picture. She walked away towards me, with tears in her eyes. I said, "Marie, are you okay?" thinking that she had hurt herself. She said, "I'm just overwhelmed! I have always wanted to work at a theme park and be in a parade! I just can't believe it's happening!"

I'm going to try hard to remember that feeling. It seems as though it's buried deep down somewhere with all the cynicism I've piled on top of it over the years. It's my own feelings of disappointment at not being where I "want to be" as an actor yet, and my snobby theatre actress attitude that makes me feel the way I do about working at a theme park. We also haven't opened the park which means I haven't been able to interact with guests at all, so I'm forgetting why I'm here. There are tons of people who would absolutely kill to do what I do. I get to live in Asia, make my debt disappear, visit places on the other side of the world I'd never dreamed I'd get to see and make people smile all day. Heck, I'll probably end up on peoples mantles, facebook pages and photo albums for all I know. I'm a lucky girl. And thanks to Marie-Eve for reminding me of that!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Just a Friendly Note Without Any Traces of Sacrcasm

Dear Lady at the Adult Pool with your Children,

Hi. You might remember me. I was one of the only caucasian people at Cafe Del Mar today. And definitely the only one with red hair. I was also the one that your 7 year old son kept swimming into repeatedly while he did laps in the pool.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love kids! But perhaps a swanky adults only pool bar at the beach, where there are signs clearly posted all over that say, "Only 18 and older permitted at this establishment," might not be the most appropriate place for them. Granted, it is partly the establishments fault for letting your children into the pool, but under your supervision I would think when the child was using the swim up bar as his jumping off point for laps, you might question your judgment of play areas.

I'm sure the early twenty something Phillpino gals liked it when your adorable 4 year old daughter was screaming at the top of her lungs because her swimmies were too tight as they sipped their over priced champagne cocktails. And I certainly enjoyed your son doing his spectacular back stroke into my rear. I also noticed the icy glare you gave ME when I turned around to see if you had seen him do that as if it was I who was rude for having been in the way of his swimming lesson.

Was it the ear thumping techno music or the over greased Indians in speedos hitting on every female insight that screamed, "Kid Friendly"? Just know, that with all of the family oriented attractions on Sentosa Island, you picked the right place to spend the day.


Red-headed Ang Moh sipping a Lychee Mojito

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Fall Caller

I remember my first acting class like it was yesterday. I was 11 years old. My best friend at the time, Jenny Hoen and I asked our parents to let us take class together at the Civic Theatre in Orlando because we had seen the fabulous plays they put on there. I remember being really nervous because up until that point I had been strictly a dancer. My mother had me enrolled in all kinds of dance classes from the age of three. And although I always had and always will love to dance, in that little acting class, I found what I was really meant to do. I was born to make 'em laugh.

One of our assignments was to make a commercial of either a new product or a parody of a product that already exists. Many of you will remember the, "I've fallen, and I can't get up," commercials. If you are not familiar, it was a commercial that seemed to run for years and years which depicted a sweet old lady who now had independance and freedom because of a little button, that looked much like an electronic garage door opener that she wore around her neck. You see the "before" shot where this sweet little old lady falls down helplessly and says, "Help me! I've fallen, and I can't get up!" Then, she falls again after obtaining the product (which now I can't remember the proper name of) and simply has to press the button on her necklace and the paramedics come to help her.

Jenny, a fiery red head with adorable freckles, and I decide to make a parody commercial of this product. We came up with the "Fall Caller," which was actually an entire wall telephone that you would see hanging in the kitchen in the late 80's strapped around my chest. I donned my grandmothers housecoat, a grey wig and glasses and a huge wall phone strapped around my 70 pound lanky 11 year old frame. Jenny took on the pivotal role of "narrator/salesperson." Our commercial was so good it got chosen to be in our final class showcase.

We performed it at the showcase to uproarious laughter, and I don't want to brag, but it was the best thing in that showcase. I was a hit! I just remember hearing the laughter when I hobbled across the stage as a little old lady, fell down, and picked up the reciever and dialed the paramedics on my Fall Caller. I was addicted from that moment on. Nothing made me feel better then making people laugh.

I'm not an overconfident person, in fact, I'd say I'm fairly insecure about a lot of things but I do feel like comedy is a gift I was given. And I don't feel like it's a frivolous gift. My mother made me realize this when I was in college playing a Betty Boop type character, Ginger Brooks, in 1940's Radio Hour. We were 2 weeks away from opening the show and we all got pulled from class to the student center where we watched 2 planes fly into the Twin Towers. Everyone in America was devastated. I was on the phone with my mother and I said, "This is the first time I feel like what I want to do with my life is just silly. Peoples lives are devastated and I'm supposed to get on stage and play this goofy floosy in this show. It's going to be awful!" My mother, who is one of the most compassionate, caring people I know said, "I always had wanted you to be a nurse like me, but I realized early on that that wasn't what you wanted to do. But I you did follow in my footsteps. You heal people, too. You make them laugh and lift their spirits. This is the time when people really need that. They need an escape." That ended up being one of my favorite productions that I have ever been a part of. When the crowds rolled in, and the audience laughed at every punchline, I realized she was right.

Comedy also helps me cope with hardship myself. When I was going through "the breast cancer scare" recently, I was giving my friends heart attacks with all the jokes I was cracking at my own expense. And when I awkwardly threw my exam room cover up "cape" over my shoulder before my umpteenth mammogram and told the technician, "Oh! I feel like a bullfighter," I realized that my sense of humor helped me, most of all, to distract myself from reality. Otherwise, it's just too easy for my sensitive nature to pull me into a dark, sad place. However, I have found that a lot of people in the medical field don't share my sense of humor, and tend to either ignore my comments or look at me like, "How can you make jokes while your face down, layed out on a table with your boob pulled through a hole, in a vice with a needle the size of a McDonalds straw in it?"

I guess it's because I'd just rather laugh. Life is short.

Do me a favor, the next time you think the world is over, or it's the worst day of your life, or nothing is going right, find the funny. I bet that even when you think you can't, that it's impossible . . . you can. Something funny is always lurking in the misery. And even if you are laughing through tears or screams of rage, you'll feel better! I promise!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I haven't "blogged" in quite a long time. I'd like to say it's because I have been extremely busy, but that's not the case. In fact, if I had been busy I would more likely be writing. But, my new commitment to myself is that I will write a new blog everyday. And, I'm sure I will have little failings here and there, but for the most part, I'd like to stick to it.

The main reason I haven't written is that I haven't been overwhelmingly happy in Singapore. I always find it so much harder to be creative when I'm in a "blah" state of mind. I think I have finally, in the past couple of days, been able to admit that I'm in a rut and it's actually helped tremendously. Now I can actually try and do something to turn it around instead of wallowing in it.

I talk to my parents almost every day on the phone and my dad (who very rarely gets sappy) said, "We really miss you. It's different then when you were in California. You're just so much farther away, it makes it harder." And of course, my big 'ol eyes immediately fill with tears. It's true. As much as I repeated to everyone at home in Florida, "It'll be just like it was when I was in California, I just can't come home as often!" It's not like I'm in California, at all. I am having a very homesick week.

Singapore is not what I expected at all, although how could I possibly know what to expect? I can't help but be thankful and grateful for all the lessons I am learning on patience and adapting to another culture. And all the reasons I came out here are still valid. The universe is constantly sending me signs that everything will be okay and I feel fortunate for that. I inexplicably have the song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," in my head today, so obviously someone or something is trying to send me a message, albeit through Bobby McFarren.
The park is still not open officially yet. I have done a few days of practice sets for employees, and I just started rehearsals for the Chingay Parade for the Chinese New Year so that should be fun. Apparently Chingay is a lot like our Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's a really big deal in Singapore and our float for Universal is pretty amazing. I get to see it in person for the first time tonight.

This entry was just to scratch the surface. I had to jump back in to writing so I apologize that this blog is sort of scattered and not a very thrilling story, but that's where I am today. Stay tuned for more tomorrow!