Well, Wicked did Dallas. Two weeks ago. Hooray for catch-up blogging!
(I’m working on getting better)
I’m writing from our sleepy little street in New Orleans (the Garden District, to be exact-ish) after a long day of rehearsals and the show. I have a lot of things to catch myself (and all of you!) up on, so let’s get to it.
Looking back on Dallas now, I can say it was one of those tour cities that fell into the “nice” category. Nice in my touring language means nothing bad, but nothing exceptional either. In other words: either the city didn’t excite me, or all I saw of it was the inside of the theatre’s rehearsal studio.
I should preface this by saying I’m sure Dallas is (or can be) an exciting place, but we were VERY busy. Lots and lots of rehearsals, some visits from our creative team, and, not to mention, in the span of four weeks we replaced three major roles in the show (aka. more rehearsals). When we have a lot of rehearsal, hardcore fatigue sets in, and it can make it hard to have the energy to get out and explore when we do have the time.
I did manage to get out and see and do some things, and I made a handy dandy list of happy times from my time in Texas.
Dallas, the pros:
1. The locals, crew and producers.
I wouldn’t say I’d ever directly experienced what they call “Southern hospitality” until I came to Dallas. Those of us who had been here before had gotten us pretty excited about it (“They feed you between shows! There’s an amazing opening night party!” they crowed), and it did NOT disappoint. First of all, when we arrived at the theatre our first Wednesday afternoon, we all had these at our stations:
You’d be SHOCKED at how fluttery a group of ladies got at the sight of these bad boys! Men, are you writing this down? Flowers. Always. Work.
Second - they fed us between shows. Every. Single. Weekend. While we would be performing the matinee, a team of local board members and volunteers would transform our Green Room/kitchen area into a full-fledged picnic area. Long reams of white paper (and little baskets of crayons!) covered the tables, and each week, a different family would cater. It wasn’t exactly food that one should be eating an hour before one needs to fit into tight-waisted skirts and/or corsets (ie. ME), but it was tasty, homestyle Southern cooking, and now and again a delightful pick-me-up on those four show weekends.
Side note: at the opening night party (during which I spent most of my time exploring a wine cellar bigger than most NYC studio apartments), I met one of the women catering our first weekend meal, who was bringing brisket. AND SMOKING IT HERSELF. Imagine a tiny mother of seven (you heard me right, SEVEN) kids smoking enough brisket to feed 130 people in her smoker. Her smoker that sits in her backyard. Craziness.
2. THIS PLACE.
That, my friends, is the Cosmic Cafe - aka. the best, most delicious lunch place that I sadly discovered on my LAST week in Dallas. In case you can’t tell from the photo, it’s a renovated house that sits next to a strip mall outside of downtown. Every inch of the property, inside and out, is decorated, and it’s serving up delicious vegetarian Indian food all day, every day. I had some of my favorite meals in Dallas here, and it was a welcome change from all the fatty Texas fare (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). I wish I could take this place on the road with me.
3. Visits and more visits!
Not only did I get to see my aunt and uncle (and meet my new baby cousin for the first time!), but I also got to reunite with my friend Kelsey from college. Oh happy day!
As I’ve said before, it is SO nice to see familiar faces from home and other facets of your life when you’re on the road. When things get tough, it can make all the difference. Getting to catch up with Kelsey, finally meet her boyfriend, and swap stories and gossip from all our mutual friends at UM was such a breath of fresh air. And in my aunt and uncle’s case, I haven’t seen either of them in years, so seeing them and hearing all about their life in Dallas was such a lovely surprise.
Oh, and did I mention THIS ball of deliciousness???
That’s my baby cousin Emily. She is seven weeks old and so cute. Did I mention delicious?
4. The audiences…and getting to bubble for them!
You guys…these crowds were ridiculous. We sold out nearly every single performance, and it felt great to do the show for an audience that was so invested in the story and the characters. And! I got to go on here! First time performing with Alison Luff, Jaime Rosenstein and John Davidson (our new Elphie, Nessa and Wizard, respectively). It was awesome. Still smiling thinking about it.
Dallas, the cons.
I don’t really need to make a numbered list for this category - basically we were busy, our hotel was far away from the cool part of town, and I didn’t feel excited by the things Dallas had to offer tourist-y wise. Although I did do this:
That’s what they call the “Grassy Knoll,” or where JFK was shot (the “X” marks the actual spot). The building where he was shot from is now a museum, and a fabulous one so I’m told (we waited in line for 30 minutes before deciding: another time).
And with Dallas behind us now, the tour officially moves East. New Orleans (get ready, folks, lots coming on this one!), Columbus, Philadelphia, and Boston. Bring. It. On.
Birthday love from this past Saturday!
UL: At Wicked we have “Birthday Club,” or the person with the birthday before yours buys your birthday treat. It can be anything you want (one of our swings always does root beer floats, sometimes people do fruit, or the classic choice - cake). I share my birthday with one of our Boq u/s, Rick Desloge, and we decided on COOKIE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES!
UR: My beautiful friend Tim in NYC currently works at a restaurant and sent me this picture of his amazing creation before his shift!
B: It’s birthday tradition that my mom always makes me a “worm” cake: yellow cake with chocolate icing, Oreo “dirt” and gummy worms. My college roommates always re-created the cake when my mom couldn’t be there, and this year my whole class sent me cupcakes! It was so sweet, I love them all so much!
Ok friends, the post I promised a billion years ago. I wanted to talk a little bit more about my experience on the Clean Program.
To summarize (very quickly, because there’s a lot of info): The CP is designed to rid your body of toxins that keep it from running effectively. It does this by helping you to identify which foods trigger inflammation, discomfort, etc. - or, eliminating foods which have been known to cause allergic reactions. The most common of these are gluten, dairy and soy, but the cleanse also keeps you away from red meat, pork, alcohol, caffeine, processed sugar, nightshade vegetables (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, etc), certain other non-gluten grains (oats, barley, rye), and corn.
You’re probably thinking….WHAT???? IS SHE CRAZY? HOW COULD ANYONE DO THAT?!?
Well, it’s easier than you might think.
There are a ton of cleanses out there, and I have always been skeptical of some of the more rigorous, ridiculous sounding ones, but this one is by FAR the most doctor-endorsed. It has been done by thousands of people, it has a lot of scientific credibility, and it doesn’t focus on weight loss or “results,” which was important to me.
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I didn’t follow the entire Clean Program. To follow it to the letter, you order it online, and receive probiotics/vitamins, protein powder packets, and other materials…and drop almost $450. That kind of money wasn’t in my budget for pure experimentation, so instead I went out on my own. I read all the materials about the Program (they’re free online - you can find them here: http://www.cleanprogram.com/files/clean-program-manual.pdf), researched, and decided with my current lifestyle and equipment (I was living in a hotel with a pretty mediocre 2 burner stove, I had a blender that I traveled…but no oven or decent counter space), I had to modify. I decided:
1. I would create my own meal plans from the foods allowed on the ELIMINATION DIET. When you start the CP, they ask you to eat 3 days off of this list to prep your body for the full cleanse. It’s a pretty varied list - tons of options - so I felt like I would have no trouble getting all my nutrients.
2. Eat as close to 3-5 small meals a day as I could manage. This means drinking enough water (since hunger frequently is a sign of dehydration) and really being aware of my snacking. If I was was hungry, I always ate. There was no deprivation and weight loss was NOT, I repeat, NOT the goal. But, if I wanted to eat just to eat or because I was bored or upset (we’ve all been there), I committed to ignoring it.
3. Having a smoothie for breakfast every day. The CP cornerstones on shakes: 2 a day, plus one large meal for lunch off of the allowed Elimination Diet food list. I didn’t think I would be sane drinking two of my meals a day, but breakfast was totally manageable. Plus, it’s a great way to get veggies in early in the day. I researched protein powders and decided on a hemp variety. I also drew a lot of inspiration from the Clean Manual and recipe blog for smoothie concoctions.
4. If it was possible, keeping a 12 hour window between my last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. The CP encourages you to stick to the 12 hour rule in order for your body to fully digest and absorb the nutrients before it next processes a meal. It’s supposed to help with the deep colon cleansing. Since I work till late, this wasn’t always possible, but I did my best.
For a fun example, here’s a sample of what I would typically eat on a day during the cleanse:
Pre-Workout (morning): 1 spoonful almond butter
Post-Workout (breakfast): Protein smoothie (spinach, mixed berries, hemp protein, flaxseed, coconut water, almond milk, 2 dates).
Lunch: Homemade cauliflower/carrot soup, small salad, 2 brown rice cakes with avocado.
Dinner: Ginger salmon stir-fry with snow peas, kale, carrots and garlic with quinoa.
Snack (if I wanted it): Raw mixed nuts with some dried fruit (apple rings, dried cherries, etc.)
Sounds good, right??? And that just scratches the surface of the options I had. I made almond butter pancakes for breakfast one day with raspberry chia jam that were INSANE. And, we baked a LOT of dessert. You can eat clean and still have dessert! Some of the best things I had on the cleanse were desserts we concocted from the recipe blog (or other vegan-y websites).
As more and more weeks have passed and I have of course gone back to incorporating certain things into my diet, it’s become more and more noticeable to me how much I enjoyed following the CP. First of all, I felt I was doing something good for myself, so emotionally I was happy and proud of myself for making the commitment. And, I just felt…better, overall. I never felt deprived, I enjoyed the hunt of recipe searching and meal planning, I liked trying new grains or spices that I hadn’t heard of before (coconut nectar! Amaranth!), and my body felt like it was running smoother than it ever had. That being said, it was NOT easy. I was cleansing over Easter, and THAT my friends…was the ultimate test! Theatre folks like their sugar, especially when Easter Sunday is a two show day at the end of a very long week! But ultimately, my body felt better when it wasn’t trying to digest a bunch of mini Snickers bars. And, after I finished the cleanse, I wasn’t dying to go back. I still find myself incorporating a lot of the pillars of the plan!
The CP was a great experiment, and one that has been extremely valuable to me in my ever-evolving culinary journey. Definitely check out their recipe blog and website for more info:
And here are some other recipe sites I drew inspiration from:
I know I said my next post would be on eating Clean (it’s proving to be a bigger project than I originally anticipated, but I’m getting there I promise!), but in the spirit of the continued Happiness Project, I found it more important to share this:
I just finished watching this documentary called (you guessed it), HAPPY. It was recommended to me by a friend in the Wicked company, who struck up a conversation with me between shows after seeing me reading The Happiness Project. Long story short, we had a great chat, I went on Netflix and I watched it (hey, it was only an hour after all). The verdict? I have decided this film should be mandatory.
I know, I know. A movie about happiness. Cue inspirational music and footage of people with long hippie hair hugging each other. I assure you, none of that (okay, maybe some music, but by that point in the film YOU’RE TOTALLY INTO IT). I found that HAPPY correlated with a lot of ideas that had struck me in The Happiness Project.
HAPPY tackles a lot of different ideas behind happiness: what makes us happy, society’s current trends with happiness, the science behind our own brains and our abilities to control our happiness, similarities between countries with the happiest people, etc etc etc. It takes you from Bhutan and Denmark (the happiest nations in the world), to Japan (one of the unhappiest), to community celebrations with Namibian bushmen and inside our own brains. It really made me think about things differently - things that I value, things I want to do in my life…
*cue inspirational music*
Hah! Just kidding. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so just trust me - see this movie! AND TELL ME YOU DIDN’T WANT TO MOVE TO BHUTAN IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS!
Oh you are so welcome, and sorry to hear about your daughter’s bites! The good thing is: they could be SO many other things, not bed bugs. Chances are they’re not. But if she does have them, things will be ok, I promise!
Okay, I HAD to post a picture of these. I was gifted them at the stage door - hand-painted, personalized (love the popular!) and even more beautiful in person. I don’t think I’ll ever bring myself to wear them, I just want to display them! Further proof that Wicked fans are the most generous and thoughtful! Thank you, Destiny!
The last few months have been full of a lot of emotional ups and downs. There have been some big changes in my life personally, a lot of stress and exhaustion from work and traveling, and just when it seemed I was getting things together again, the bed bugs pushed me past my breaking point. I had so much anxiety, I wasn’t sleeping or eating well, and wasn’t taking care of myself as well as I knew I should have been. Bottom line: something needed to change!
But, thankfully, the Universe seems to know exactly what to throw your way. Case in point: a few weeks ago, mid-bed bug extravaganza, I had to take a very quick trip to NYC. In the airport, I had the impulse to buy this book, called ”The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I don’t know what about it struck me particularly, but I bought it, and instantly connected with this woman and her story.
“The Happiness Project” is the story (or journal, almost) of this woman (Gretchen) with a seemingly “happy” life (great marriage, enough money, great apartment on the UES, friends and a good job), but who felt like she wasn’t making the most out of it. She spent a year researching all the wisdom of the ages behind happiness as a concept and designing a program for herself to re-shape her life.
This book came to me at the exact perfect time, because I was trying to find a way to give myself a clean start. Once Costa Mesa wrapped, and I thought forward to our next city, it all clicked into place! No offense to anyone from Tucson, buuuuut….it’s not exactly the shining star of the West Coast. There are some great things about it, certainly - cute boutiques on 4th Street, warm weather, desert mountains and canyons everywhere, AMAZING night-blooming orange blossom trees (seriously, these are stupid, I want them everywhere I go) - but as a whole it’s not super exciting. I hadn’t had time to make a to-do list, no family was planning on visiting me, there weren’t any “Tucson-famous” foods I had to try…perfect time for a fresh start!
I’m still in the middle of reading The Happiness Project (take my advice - read it!), but I wanted to take these three weeks in Tucson to start a little project of my own. Gretchen designs 12 “Commandments” that she tried to be mindful of throughout her project. Mine’s still a work in progress, but here’s what I’m focusing on. In no particular order:
1. Treat yourself to creature comforts.
Sometimes, for no reason at all, you have to buy yourself flowers! Or do whatever makes you happy - rent a silly movie and watch it in bed, make pancakes for breakfast, buy a yummy candle, take a bath - just take the time to do something small to show yourself a little love.
2. Commit to being healthy & eating CLEAN!
My next post is going to be all about eating Clean (or, eating a diet based off of the Clean Program - a detox program started by Dr. Junger, MD), because it has been one of the happiest parts of this project for me. The long and short of it: no gluten, dairy, soy, processed sugars, or foods that have been known to trigger allergies. Sounds crazy, I know - but trust me, it’s great, and I feel great! Stay tuned for that next post.
3. Get back on a workout routine.
I’m a pretty active person, and I find that I’m more relaxed, better prepared to hand stressful situations, and yes, happier, when I exercise. In the last few months however, I wasn’t being consistent with my workouts. So! I decided to start the Insanity Program. I’ve done the videos for awhile now, so I’m familiar with it, but never followed the program as written. My hotel here in Tucson doesn’t have a gym, so I figured, why not?
4. Just breathe.
Simple. Straightforward. When things are tough, all you can do is keep breathing and moving forward.
5. Doing a little at a time always feels better.
I find that I get the most stressed out when I feel overwhelmed with a big task that seems unsurmountable. But, the easiest way to conquer the task is to break it down into smaller pieces, and before you know it - it’s done! When I had to go through every single thing I owned during bed bugs, I paced around the living room for a good five minutes before I started; completely overwhelmed with the idea of everything I had to do. Bags in the garage, a tour trunk to clean out, my suitcases wrapped up, how was I even going to treat my shoes?! My roommate and tourmate Antonette looked at me and said, “Sarah. Just start somewhere.” I did, and it got done. Great advice.
6. Appreciate your blessings.
When things are tough, it’s very easy to forget just how lucky you are and all you have to be thankful for. I’ve heard of people making gratitude journals (an awesome idea, I should start that), but lately I’ve just been taking moments throughout the day to appreciate something around me. The fact that I have this terrific job. That I have parents who call me just to tell me they love me. That I have the opportunity to be paid to do what I love every single day. That there are M&Ms in the greenroom! It can be something small, but it’s so important to take the time to notice and appreciate.
7. Lists are your friend.
Good GOD I would be nowhere without lists! Going along with #6, a task always seems easier when you break it down. Lists are my go-to way to sort through the task in my head. I promise you, NOTHING is more satisfying than crossing off things on a list. Plus (tricks of the trade, comin’ at ya), I always put some things on the list that I’ve already done so I can cross them off right away. Haha! Nothing wrong with a little self-encouragement!
8. Cut yourself some slack.
Again - a lesson I’ve been working on. Again - so important, especially in this business. It’s hard to be in a competitive industry, and you’re not always going to be surrounded by people who love and support you in your work environment. Thankfully, I have that on this job (so grateful for that), but I find that I’m harder on myself than anyone ever could be. So, in Tucson, I’m really trying to accept the frustration I feel when things don’t go the way I want in my work, and to tell myself: “it’s okay. You have so much time to grow, and the process is going to be FUN.” Things don’t have to be perfect. What’s the fun in that?
9. Be Sarah.
I took this one from Gretchen’s list, because I think it’s brilliant! It’s so important to be true to who you are, and to what you want, no matter what anyone else thinks. I think this is wayyyyy easier said than done, so I added it to my list. It’s all about accepting and loving the person you are, and while keeping yourself open to outside influence, being careful and mindful of the stuff you actually take to heart.
10. No one’s going to do it for you.
Sitting around and focusing on the problem isn’t going to make it go away. Get up, figure it out, and get it done.
We just started Week 2 in Tucson, and to sum up so far, I feel SO much more centered and aware of myself than I did when I started. Taking this time to focus on myself, mentally and physically, has helped me to get back to zero and back on track towards the person I know I have been and can be. The eating and workouts have been a huge part of it - I can see my body changing and running more smoothly, and that makes me feel better too! Taking the time to really find what my “commandments” are (so to speak), has been important as well. I’m finally creating that mental checklist for myself of what really matters.
Has anyone else embarked on a similar journey to happiness? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Since I’ve gotten a lot of requests to my personal page lately, check out my new official Facebook page (I hate the phrase “fan page”) for career updates and tour info! It’s run by me, so I see everything - and would be more than happy to answer any questions or messages you send my way! Happy Monday!
After the busy and emotional San Francisco, I was so ready to relax and enjoy our beach house in Costa Mesa. Then we got BED BUGS.
When I first heard about bed bugs, I was moving to New York City after college. I’d seen the scary posters in the subways, I’d watched the news, I’d heard the horror stories, and had come to associate “bed bugs” with “throw out everything you own” and “nervous breakdown”. So, when I finally figured out that’s what we had, I lost it.
I could write a whole huge long post about our experience (the long and short of it is: it sucked), but after spending many long, sleepless hours researching these little critters, I felt it was more important to share the things I learned.
No one is quite sure where bed bugs came from, but they’ve had a major resurgence over the last 10 years, partially because of how adaptable they are. BBs generally stay in the areas people sleep, and can usually be found within 5 feet of a bed. Fully grown bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but very small - about the size and color of an apple seed. However, they’re extremely thin (about the width of a credit card) and can hide in the cracks behind wall outlets, in dresser drawers, along the seams of mattresses and behind headboards. They feed solely on human blood, and usually only come out to feed in the middle of the night, when people expel the most consistent carbon dioxide (from breathing). Since they can live up to (wait for it) 1 year without a blood meal (!!!!!), and it usually takes people awhile to figure out they have them, they are extremely hard to get rid of.
Important Things to Remember:
1. Bed Bugs aren’t a sign of dirt or decay.
If you have bed bugs, it does NOT mean you’re dirty or that you’ve done anything wrong. They hitch a ride in clothing, shoes, luggage, etc. and can latch on to the most unsuspecting travelers without their knowledge. A bed bug problem also doesn’t reflect badly on the upkeep of your hotel, apartment or rental property - bed bugs go where humans go, regardless of cleanliness. They’ve been found in 5 star hotels, dorm rooms, office buildings and resorts in nearly every state in the country, and all over the world.
2. They’re not dangerous.
Bed bugs aren’t known to carry any sort of disease. It’s actually worse to be bitten by a mosquito!
3. You don’t have to throw everything away.
When you find out you have bed bugs, and start thinking about how small the bugs are, how far they can travel, etc. it’s pretty easy to automatically jump to: OH MY GOD THEY’RE EVERYWHERE I HAVE TO THROW OUT EVERYTHING! First of all, it’s not financially smart or realistic. Second - you don’t have to! The good thing about BBs is that every stage of their life cycle is visible to the human eye. They are very heat sensitive, so treating clothes and shoes in the dryer or at the dry cleaners is enough to kill bugs and their eggs (look at the links below for more details). If they’re in your home or apartment, experienced pest control workers will help you figure out a plan to get rid of them. And you can get rid of them. And you will.
4. Having bites doesn’t necessarily mean you have them…but know what to look for.
It took me a really long time to figure out what my bites were, because there was nothing out of the ordinary about them. They were tiny red, raised bumps, that reminded me of sand flea bites. The only way to truly confirm a bed bug infestation is to find an actual bed bug, or overwhelming evidence in your room. Once I FOUND a bed bug, and started looking into their bite patterns, my bites made a whole hell of a lot more sense. BBs usually bite multiple times in the same area, 3-5 times on average. They are usually in a line, or triangular pattern, and unlike a mosquito bite that spreads, these bites have a red dot in the center where the actual bite occurred. If your bites are mainly on your hands and feet, chances are it’s something else. BBs will bite any exposed area of the body, but most commonly arms, legs, stomach, neck and back. Something ALSO to note (and this was probably the worst part for me, mentally): it can take up to two weeks for your body to even register it’s been bitten by a bed bug. This is makes it extremely hard for someone to realize they’ve had bed bugs or remember WHERE they got them; especially for frequent travelers. But again, everyone reacts differently to bed bug bites, so it’s important to find a bug to confirm an infestation.
5. It’s okay to be messed up about it, it’s gross!
I found out I had bed bugs about 4 weeks ago, and I still feel extremely unsettled. Partially because, I was the only one with actual BITES. I could actually see and feel where these bugs had been crawling on me, and I had to wrap my head around the fact that for almost two weeks, I’d been sleeping in a bed full of unwelcome visitors. I started feeling like they were crawling on me all the time - during the day, at night, even after we had treated all our belongings and moved to a new rental property. I wasn’t sleeping well, I was constantly anxious, and I didn’t want to sit or sleep anywhere at all. Experts say the mental side of bed bugs is the worst part of the experience, and I would have to agree. The stress and anxiety of having bed bugs has been probably my worst tour experience so far, and something I am still working to recover from!
Something I DID learn from this, is that stuff is just stuff. Having to go through ALL of my belongings and clothing made me reassess what I actually needed on tour and what I had just been carrying around. It gave me the excuse to make a clean, fresh start. And, not to mention, I now know what to look for as I continue to travel the country on tour. I will NEVER stay in a hotel or rental property without doing a thorough bed bug check, as sad as that is. Ignorance is bliss, but once you get the BBS…you’ll never casually throw your suitcase down on the floor ever again.
Here are some links I found helpful in understanding bed bugs:
Here is a thorough check list of how to check your room for bed bugs (the video is a little scare-tactic-y, but just read the list below the video):
I know, I know…I don’t think I ever wrote about acai bowls (the long and short of it: they’re delicious)! The last few months have been incredibly hectic, to say the least. And as I’m currently writing you from Tucson, AZ, (*ahem*), let’s bring you up to speed. After Hawaii I had a week off while they boated the show back to the mainland, and then the tour spent four weeks at The Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. I have a lot of family there, but it’s been years since I’ve been able to spend good quality time in the city by the bay. I got to stay with my aunt and uncle, I got to go on for Glinda twice (with lots of family in the audience!), and got to explore San Fran food-wise and otherwise! Here are some pictures from my trip:
The Golden Gate, in all its golden glory.
Our home for the four week stay!
The BEST ice cream I have EVER had. Hands down.
Exploring San Francisco’s amazing Chinatown!
I mean…you can’t come to San Francisco and NOT eat like this.
Funny art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art!
The girls being silly on Ashley’s last day!
A LOT went down in our next stop, Costa Mesa. Stay tuned!