Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This is what I call 'jumping the gun'.

At some point during one of my long runs, I decided that a half marathon in September was too abstract a goal. (Btw, the problem with long runs? Too much time to think. Danger!) So, today I officially registered for a half marathon in May. This May. 2010.

Breathe, Alyssa, breathe.

The reality is, a person could train for a whole marathon by September if a person had a lot of free hours. I don't. But, I've been slowly increasing my long run and I should be able to get there by May. I won't be fast. In fact, I will probably be annoyingly slow, but the goal is to do it. Get out there and run. Not only run a race, but run a DISTANCE that I have not done since before C was born. Over five years ago.

Breathe, Alyssa, breathe.

If nothing else, it will give me a frame of reference for the half marathon in September. An annoyingly slow time to beat. Who can't beat an annoyingly slow time, right? Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Oh, and just for the record, I am not entirely pleased that when I registered, I had the choice of listing my occupation as "Unemployed" or "Other". Being a stay-at-home-mom is TOTALLY a job. And a hard one at that. So there. (Imagine me displaying a long, elegant - albeit aging and raw - finger in their general direction.) Perhaps I should run this one for all you SAHMs out there?

44 days and counting.

Breathe, Alyssa, breathe.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Julie & Julia

Just finished watching Julie & Julia on the movie channel. I missed seeing it in the theatres because the other half refused to go see it (and truth be told, we don't get out to see movies very much, so it has to be one we're both DYING to see). I only got to see it tonight because it's some Ultimate Fight Night, and I had the tv all to myself.

As I expected, the movie was kind of average. What makes it worth seeing, though, is a fantastic performance by the inimitable Meryl Streep. She's one of my acting gurus, and though I don't know a lot about Julia Child, I know enough about Meryl to know that the character was well studied. And no doubt a perfect impersonation. I heard somewhere that for every character she portrays, she has a secret - something that she knows about her character that she chooses not to share with anyone else. And the fact that Meryl Streep is so attuned to details that she would go that far in layering her characters shows that she is a genius. To me, at least.

What kept me watching the movie, though, despite the lack of nap and the excessive wine consumption was that I found it actually quite..inspiring. It made me think about what I am doing with my life, and whether or not I'm "accomplishing" anything. Whether I am being diligent enough in setting goals for myself. Both Julie and Julia found that, despite the stress, they were much happier when they found something they loved and followed through with the pursuit of it.

And that's a lot of what I hope to accomplish this year. If I'm going to say that I am an actor, then I should be an actor, not just someone who acts occasionally. Audition. Take classes. Hopefully actually appear on stage at some point, if people will have me. And if I'm going to say I'm a runner, then I should be a runner, not just someone who runs. Set goals. Add distance. Run races.

Go beyond the status quo. Do better. Stop lazing about and eating bonbons. (And I do. Laze about. Eat bonbons. That's fun too. But it shouldn't be all I do.)

I have my work cut out for me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I wish I was Dancing with the Stars

I guess you should know that I love Dancing With the Stars. (No, I mean it. I really love it. LOVE. IT.)

When I first heard about the show, I thought it sounded kind of lame. A bunch of has-beens or never-weres who learn to ballroom dance so that they can claim one more sad moment in the spotlight? Meh. I'll pass.

But, then the other half started rehearsing a show, and I was left with a lot of nights on my own with nothing on TV. NOTHING. ON. TV. (Why not read, you say? What?! And ruin my perfect record of doing nothing every single night?? For shame.) So I watched it.

It was awesome.


No. Really. It was. It is.

(BTW, I love talking in capitals like Owen Meany. It's a problem.)

There's something really inspiring, and almost - magical - about watching people who are or who have been in the spotlight for whatever reason, get thrown into an arena where they know little or nothing, and see how they fare. The show, for me, is more about the personalities and how they adapt to a strange new situation. It's fascinating. And once you get hooked into their story, you are hooked. I mean, I love shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, but they are just good singers and dancers doing what they already do well. It's a whole other ballgame.

I love that although sometimes it may seem like the odds are in someone's favour, it doesn't mean that they succeed. Take the Olympic figure skater Evan, for example. Yes, he has good lines and knows how to use the space, but he was like a robot - no personality and no connections with his partner or the audience. And Shannon Doherty who, being an actor, should be able the work the charm but is so terrified of live performance that she breaks out in hives. And macho footballers like Chad who should be frighteningly awkward, but always manage to be one of the best out there. And poor Kate who everyone loves to hate, but she's just a mom trying her best (I love the drama surrounding that story. Is she out for another fifteen minutes? Is she trying to be sexy again after eight kids? Is she trying to make her ex jealous??)

It's such good fun, that I'm always surprised when I hear that people don't watch it, and don't want to. Of course, my idols growing up were Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. I spent hours wondering what it would be like to live inside one of the old musicals. The closest I'll ever get is being on that show. But you have to be a star first.


They should totally let nobodies like me on. I'm gonna start a petition.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Up In The Air

I was eager to see this movie because it had gotten so much buzz at the Oscars. Also, director Jason Reitman's other movies Thank You For Smoking and Juno remain amongst my favourite films. The verdict? Hmm. Still up in the air.

I really enjoyed it, though. I went into it not knowing what it was really about (other than somehow involving air travel), and was pleasantly surprised to see that it falls into my preferred category of Non-Romantic Comedy, or "NonRomCom" - those quirky, indie films that could be mistakenly sold to the general public as Romantic Comedy (RomCom), but generally don't end happily and the humour is usually more sophisticated and ironic than the slapstick and mistaken identity humour of the RomComs. I'm so BORED by RomComs these days - they're so formulaic that I basically don't have to see the movie at all to predict the entire thing, and they usually put the funniest (if you can call them that) moments in the trailer.

One of the main reasons I wanted to see this movie was because two (2!) of the actresses were nominated for Best Supporting roles, and one of them was an actress my age. I've been in a sort of casting limbo these days - too old to play half the women roles out there, and too young to play the other half. I wanted to know what, exactly, Hollywood thought was appropriate for a woman in her early-late-thirties (ahem).

Vera Farmiga has done a lot of work, but is a virtual unknown to me. The character she played was multi-layered, dignified It gives me hope. Not sure if I would have given her an Oscar, but then, she didn't win, did she? (I suspect I would have given the win to Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I haven't had a chance to see Crazy Heart yet. ) Anna Kendrick comported herself admirably in a cast of seasoned professionals, but I don't personally think she should have gotten an Oscar nod. That seems to be a theme with Oscar nods for me this time around. Was it a slow year, or something?

George Clooney - aka McSwooney - was, well, he was George. He was charming, debonair and fairly irresistible. He was the same person that we all fell in love with in The Facts of Life. He didn't do anything to stretch his artistic talents, but he's created an empire based on his McSwooney-ness and he delivered another ration to his adoring fans. Jason Bateman, is the one to watch, though. I always thought he was just a sitcom guy. But after seeing impressive performances in Juno and Extract, he has a solid place in my personal It Guy list.

What left me feeling a bit underwhelmed was the main message of that film: basically that you can't go through life without settling down and making solid, personal connections or you will be left with nothing. Hey man, you're preaching to the choir. (But then, this film might read differently to your still single 40-something brother who thinks marriage is for the birds and spend every night in the clubs cougaring the young ladies.) Interesting, however, was the other message that cold Corporate America is sinking to all-time lows and must be stopped - or at least kept in check. That still has me mulling today.

Definitely worth a rental. You can decide for yourselves if it's worth all the hoopla.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hills Hills Bo Bills

Before the birth of my first child (hereafter referred to as "C"), I was training for a marathon. I never ran it. It fell on the same day as a 10 hour rehearsal. In my petulant state, I ran a 40K run the day before just to prove that I could have run it. (Yes, I know a marathon is 42K, but I figured that in an actual competition, I could find a way to drag myself through the last 2K). The next weekend, I took a pregnancy test, and my goal of a marathon was put on hold.

Now, over two years after the birth of my second child (who shall be known here as "G"), I have yet to run a marathon. In fact, I haven't run longer than 14K at any one time. I gave myself some leeway, saying that I have two small children at home, and I just don't have the time. Which is true.

The other day, I found out an acquaintance of mine - who coincidentally has two children the same age - is not only training with the group that I used to train with, but she runs half marathons on a fairly regular basis. And, she's fast. Well, I'm nothing if not competitive. I figure if she can find the time and the drive to get back into it after two kids, then so can I.

So I've set my sights on a half marathon in September. Which means somehow increasing my distance and including speed workouts when I can. This morning, I tried to do a hill workout for the first time in over five years.

Wow. I suck.

I planned to do an easy run to the hill, do the hill seven times, then an easy run back to the house. Well, the easy warmup run was good. The hills? Not so much. Hills are easily my worst workout at the best of times, but after a 5 year + hiatus, they were horrendous. Back then, I had a trainer timing me and pushing me to do better. I had other people to run with to make it a fun and friendly competition. Today it was just me.

Hills 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 were lazy and made me want to puke. Hill 3 was good, but only because I passed two walkers on the way down and wanted to impress them on the way back up with how "fast" I am. What can I say? I'm an actor. I always perform better with an audience.

Now, my legs are like jello and I'm humbled by how much work I have to do.

But, it's a start.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


(Oops, I think I just got in trouble for not calling it "Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire". Did anyone else watch the Oscars? That bugged me more than anything. Now I am determined to call it Precious and nothing else. I'm a rebel and I never ever do what I should.)

Hot damn, I wish I had watched this movie without hearing all the hype about it first. I was all primed by the media to think that this was the most heart-wrenching movie, evah. I hate when people tell me that, because I inevitably remain a cold-hearted bitch throughout the viewing. It was good. It was moving. Was it better than anything I've ever seen before? Meh.

Gabourey Sidibe did a really great job - especially for newbie. Trouble is, I had a really REALLY hard time understanding her. And I was listening hard. (Extra hard, because I had to interpret for my dad who doesn't always hear too well. Btw - watching this movie with your dad? Weird. I don't advise). I am of the school of thought that it doesn't matter how authentic your dialect/speech/accent is, it's not a good thing if people can't understand you. You have to ease it up a bit for the general audience who may not be attuned to that kind of speech.

I had a hard time backing Mo'Nique (is that a super-fancy way of spelling Monique, or is she "more unique" than the rest of us?) because I watched her Oscar speech where she pointed out that her winning was "proof that these awards are based on talent and not politics". A little cocky, no? And how does she know that her win wasn't based on politics?? She did have Oprah backing her movie, after all. That being said, her breakdown speech at the end was very compelling.

The biggest surprise for me was Mariah Carey as the social worker. I spent an inordinate amount of time going "Is that Mariah Carey?", "That looks an awful lot like Mariah Carey..", "It can't be Mariah Carey, cause this chick is good!". I had no idea that she was in the movie and she gave such a subdued and grounded performance that I still can't believe it was actually her. What a nice surprise.

I think I would have been more blown away by this movie if I was caught unawares at a first viewing in a film festival. I picked up the book in Chapters yesterday (cause someone smartly put a display of adult fiction in the children's sections for those of us who are held captive by the train table). I started reading it and was instantly drawn in. I forgot to watch the boys for a few minutes. I'm going to have to read the whole thing when I'm done this month's book club selection and see how it compares.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

If you like Pina Coladas..

I was tired of my old blog, we'd been together too long. Like a worn-out recording, of a favourite song. So while she lay there sleeping, I started a new one instead. Me and my old blog, we had fallen into the same old dull routine.

I've been putting off writing my first post because I felt like it had to be insightful, witty, and impressively clever. Who knows when that's gonna happen though, because my moments of inspiration are few and far between.

I first started blogging in 2006 because I was feeling lonely and isolated after the birth of my first child and I wanted to connect with other moms. I did that, and more. Yay me! I met so many awesome people - live and in person! - and it's been a really great addition to my life.

But somewhere along the line, I started feeling lost. Like I was Mom, and no more. Now, being a mom is a great and wonderful thing. A life-changing thing. But it's not everything. At least, I don't think it should be. I don't want to be my pre-child self. I love who I am now. But that doesn't mean that I have to get rid of everything that is not me-as-a-mother. It just means that I have to be more selective about what stays and what goes.

So...hello. My name is Alyssa. I am a wife and mother. But, I am also an actor. And a runner - both for fun and competitively. I like giraffes. I am overly fond of the colour green. I have an ever growing collection of necklaces. I think that peanut butter and chocolate is the best combination, ever. Except maybe for tomato and cheese. I exaggerate. A LOT. It's fun. I use the word 'awesome' far too much. I watch a lot of tv. Too much. (And not necessarily good tv, but bad tv can be good.) (I also really like using parentheses.) But, I also love to read. If I don't have a book on the go, I get hives. If someone doesn't stop me, my entire wardrobe will consist of v-neck shirts and sweaters. It's a problem.

There's a lot more to know. But that's enough for now. I don't want to break a nail typing, or anything.