Post Cards

I love mail. I was a ’90s child, so I associate mail with Steve and Blue singing the mail song on Blue’s Clues (not Joe… forget him). A more noteworthy reason (pun intended), is because of napkins. One day when I was little, I ventured over to the Fellowship Hall as a few church ladies were putting up tables and place settings for an after-church luncheon. They were stewing over the big decision of how they wanted to fold the napkins. Samantha to the rescue! I so cleverly suggested that they fold them in triangles (so original, I know). Later, I received a handwritten note in the mail from one of the ladies, thanking me for the suggestion and for helping fold the napkins. Her note required much more thought and effort than my simple suggestion, and the lesson of how that made me feel has stuck with me.

I have to also credit my mom for furthering my love of mail. Whenever I went to overnight camp, even if it was just a week, she would send me a letter every day. Then in college, I must’ve gotten something in the mail every other week. Sometimes I would chuckle because she’d spend $4 to send me a package of M&Ms when I could’ve easily bought myself M&Ms. But practicality is not the point of mail. Another time I was disappointed to open up a large envelope to find underwear that I had accidentally left in the laundry on a recent visit home. It doesn’t matter what she sent; it was thrilling seeing something in my little box and knowing whatever was there had been in my mom’s hand just a few days before (or more if USPS was slacking).

When I started my first tour last summer, I decided that it would be fun to send post cards. After all, not many people get to travel to a new town every week. Post cards normally are associated with vacations or particularly touristy areas, rather than towns with a population of less than a thousand. So, I quickly learned that my writing project is also a weekly treasure hunt.

There have been a couple weeks where the hosting theatre has post cards, so that is an early victory. However, most weeks I devote an hour or so to wander through locally owned shops for a 3.5×5 piece of paper. It’s actually been a cool thing because what started as a way to connect with friends and family has led to several wonderful conversations with shop owners, parents of cast members, and other townspeople I run into while on the hunt. Yay, human interaction!

Is my hunt successful? Usually, yes! The goal is to have it say the name of the town and state. Sometimes, however, I have to write in the town name if I can’t find a town-specific one. You’d be surprised at how many small towns have them, though. I think the hardest ones to find are suburbs to bigger cities because it seems like they identify more with the larger city than claiming their own town. Anyway, I can count on one hand the number of weeks I haven’t sent anything.

Each week, seven post cards go out to some of my closest family and friends. With modern communication, people could argue that mail is unnecessary, but sometimes I feel more connected through a handwritten note than using FaceTime. I like that people have something tangible from me since I can’t see them in person.

If you could use some happy mail, please let me know. I would love to send you a post card! (But not every week because more than 7 per week would start to get excessive!)

Love,

Samantha

 

P.S. Real life worry: I write almost exclusively in cursive, and apparently they don’t teach that anymore. I like to think that all of these things I write could be held on to read years later, but I think those years may be more numbered than I’d like to admit. I’ll be teaching my kids cursive….

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Me Party

A few weeks ago, in preparation for singing at my brother’s wedding, I rehearsed at home with my favorite accompanist, my mom. What started as a necessary task on the to-do list turned into a full-blown song session including songs from my repertoire dating back to the song I sang for my first musical audition in 3rd grade. (Side note: The audition was for The Sound of Music. I sang a song from The Tap Dance Kid that the angsty, overweight, but starving for attention, African American character sings. I was not cast.) It was such a joy to return to the comforting musical bubble my mom and I share, without the stress of an upcoming audition, jury, or other pressing vocal event. One of the songs I pulled out of the stack was, “Me Party,” from the 2011 Muppets Movie. Ironically, it’s a duet with Amy Adams’ character and Miss Piggy, but, in true “me party” fashion, I sang it solo.

As I was squinting to read the lyrics on the page (the piano light situation is not ideal), I laughed to myself thinking about how many “me parties” I attend regularly. Of course, the difference between what Mary and Miss Piggy have going versus my life is they have men/frogs who just happen to not be around. My “me party” is a more regular affair.

Tonight I was a party of one at a small-town restaurant where the owner’s face is on the cover, the decorations look like they came from an antique store, and there are columns wrapped in fake vines. I sat down and took my time with the menu, not having to look and hold a conversation simultaneously. I ordered, then dove into reading my latest Kindle book. I savored my meal, my book, and I even conversed a bit with the waitress. Then, I walked back to my hotel room, which is the space where I sleep, shower, eat most meals, watch Netflix, do yoga, talk to my mom, read, etc….

This job is tricky because you definitely have to be a people person. We are in a new town each week with a different group of kiddos to meet and direct. We work with the contacts who bring us in. We often live with a homestay. Sometimes, we’re invited for dinner with a family of someone in the cast. Yet, despite all of that, there is a ton of alone time, so you need to enjoy people, but not be dependent on having them around. Otherwise, it would be very very lonely.

Of course, I have a tour partner, but working together, driving together, and spending all of our free time together would just be too much. Alone time is necessary for a healthy working relationship. That being said, last night we enjoyed a post-show dinner together at a restaurant bar & grill, recommended by several cast members. “It’s a bar!” whispered a child, encouraging us to go.

This post is not to invoke pity, by any means. Sure, sometimes life on the road is a little lonely. I miss my friends and family. I miss hanging out with people my age (once again, minus my tour partner). But I know that these days of hanging out with myself won’t last forever. One day, I’ll probably have a family of my own with a busy schedule full of my kids’ activities, and then I’ll be wishing I had a hotel room to myself to do whatever I want for hours on end. So, I do my best to celebrate each “me party” I throw myself. After all, as the song says, “I’m such good company!”

Now, it’s your turn! Throw yourself a “me” party! Take yourself to dinner. Go to a movie. Go to a museum. Explore a new shop in town. It’s fun! You might be surprised how much you like spending time with yourself!

 

P.S. In case, you haven’t heard the song, please watch. I wish singing desserts would join me at my me parties. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXH3Gnvxpw0

 

 

Exercise on the Road

I consider myself athletically challenged. My two brothers, Jacob and Will are not. In fact, they are both incredibly athletic and played/will play on their college baseball teams. Here’s a visual:

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Anyway, I never minded that much. I always just laughed it off and said that I balanced the family out by being the artsy one. The performer. The pageant girl. Little did I know, my two-year pageant career is what led to the most embarrassing “active” moment of my life.

Because I competed in the teen division, we were saved from walking on stage in a bikini and heels. Rather, we had an activewear competition where we strutted around in little exercise outfits and did a couple “flexing” poses (sometimes accompanied by a duck face), and then peppily exited the stage.

The first year was fine. I mean knew I was a total poser, but I was pretty sure that the judges didn’t. Year two at Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen, the week of the pageant we were informed that instead of the usual pep and pose deal, we were going to do an activewear routine. I was not prepared for that. They taught it to us, and it wasn’t overly difficult, but when my moment came… well…

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Needless to say, I was not crowed Miss Indiana’s Outstanding Teen. Thankfully, I had already ordered the DVD to treasure this moment forever. When I watched it for the first time, I had actual tears because it was so funny. I knew it hadn’t gone well, but I didn’t realize exactly how bad it was. I mean, how could I not look normal when I’m running in place?!

Due to my lack of athletic ability, I had never been into exercising. I was always so busy with all of my other activities. Plus, I was always fairly thin naturally (thanks for those genes, mother).

College. I realized that exercise is a thing that people do. It’s not just for athletes. Also, my metabolism was changing (rude)! Plus, you’re paying for that rec center as part of your tuition, so you might as well take advantage of it. I started to go on occasion, but felt very lost in a sea of people who looked like they knew what they were doing. Don’t get me wrong, I had taken gym class, so I knew how to use machines, but there’s a difference between knowing how to use a machine and knowing how to create a workout that isn’t just 15 reps on each machine. So, I’d hop on that elliptical and run for awhile.

One time I was adventurous and decided to go to a zumba class at the rec when they were all free the first week of classes. Unfortunately, I came directly from another class and was a little bit late, so I had to stand in the back of the class. Normally, that would be a good thing, but because half of the gym was the zumba class and the other half was full of guys playing pick-up basketball, I wasn’t too thrilled. Things were going okay, and then the zumba instructor said, “Who’s ready to tweeeerrrkkk?!”

I was not ready.

Sometimes, people are confused about my ethnicity because I tan really easily and my curls are confusing. Those people should see me attempt to twerk. I digress.

“Samantha, this post is called Exercise on the Road. Why are you telling us stories about your past?”

Right, right. I’ll get on with it.

With this job, I have a lot of free time, so I can no longer use my favorite excuse for not working out, which is that I’m too busy. I like to find different ways to be active. First, the job itself is pretty active with directing on my feet for four hours a day. We also put up the set and get some arm workouts carrying the heavy bags. Sometimes, though, I try to convince myself that the job itself is an actual workout. It is not.

I’m a big fan of finding places to walk/hike. A few weeks ago I walked for almost five miles (the point of the walk was to find a good cup of coffee, but nevertheless, I walked!). Sometimes, we have access to a fitness center. I always act like that is something that really excites me, but then I get there and I kind of go back to my activewear moment. People surely know that I do not belong at a gym.

I have discovered, however, that I like working out in my hotel room. Alone. No one is there. I pull up some cardio dance youtube videos and look like an absolute fool, but it doesn’t matter because I am the only one there. I am glad that I do not have these workouts captured on DVD. I’m also slowly figuring out yoga. There are also lots of cool exercise apps! It’s nice to be told what to do, so that I don’t quit the moment I start feeling tired (aka, me on an elliptical).

This is all really great, but on weeks where I am staying in someone’s home, rather than a hotel, it gets awkward again. Why is working out so awkward? I mean, it’s something that everyone does (or should do), but wow, I do not like doing it in front of other people. I don’t even really like working out in someone’s basement and them knowing that that’s what I’m doing.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is that exercise on the road can be hard, but not much harder than exercise in everyday life. I just need to get over myself. Hopefully sharing these stories will get me one step closer to not being awkward. Or not.

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Byeeeeeee