Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween at Housing Works

As you, my lovely readers, may know, last year Hurricane Sandy hit NYC on Halloween.  This led my WONDERFUL city, Yonkers, to postpone Halloween.  Yeesh.  It was VERY detrimental to the city.  My friend, Maeve, who lives near Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, got the worst of it.  Thankfully, her house is totally intact, and nobody was hurt, but she said that she saw cars floating in the streets.
Then, the year before that, we had a freakin' blizzard!  ON HALLOWEEN!
It's quite impressive what New York City has gone through. King Kong!  The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!  Daleks!
So, naturally, this year, I wasn't going to get my hopes up completely.

I had a bit of trouble in the costume department, as I was in the thick of rehearsals, as well as moving into a new house.  And usually I sew my costumes.  Usually two or three of them, because I couldn't decide what to be.  Usually planned in late July.  (I have a thing for costumes.)
But eventually, I just decided to be a steampunk fairy, because I was going to a steampunk event at the Housing Works bookstore in SoHo with a couple of friends.  There was going to be a costume contest, and steampunk writers talking about steampunk.
The Housing Works bookstore is AWESOME.  It's got a cafe in the back, and everyone that works there are volunteers.  It's got two floors of WONDERFUL, wonderful used books, with a lovely polished staircase that was great for taking pictures on.  And the best part is, 100% of the profits go to helping homeless people, and people with HIV/AIDS.

So, this was my first Halloween not going trick-or-treating.  I'm not TRYING to be "popular" or "cool" or anything like that. I'm homeschooled, for crying out loud!  It's just that I'm a bit tired of it, and most candy isn't vegan, anyway.
SO I spent twenty dollars on candy!  I loaded up on vegan marshmallows, dried apricots... and Turkish Delight.  (I also made gluten free vegan pumpkin scones to bring to the steampunk event.  They were quite good, and even passed the Mom test!)  That weekend I gained eight pounds.  But it was so worth it.
After my playwriting and drawing classes ended, I went uptown to buy said Turkish Delight at Zabar's.  And then, I walked to Lush, because they let you try on their makeup for free and i needed blue lipstick for my outfit.  So as I'm smearing blue all over my mouth, a lady that worked there noticed the turkish delight poking out of my bag, and asked what it was.  I told her, and she said she's never had any.  So I gave her some, as well as everyone that worked there.
It turns out, Lush actually has a product (a body wash) called Turkish Delight, so I ended up with a free sample!  And THEN they suggested taking a picture of me holding both the Turkish Delight candy and body wash to put on their facebook page. (I agreed, of course.)(But I've yet to find the picture.)
So, after this episode, I took the subway back downtown again, going ALL the way to SoHo.

It's VERY interesting, seeing the different characters on the subway on Halloween night.  One of my favorites was a mummy, wrapped in toilet paper completely.  He left toilet paper in the subway car and up the stairs.
So then I arrived at Housing Works!  There were lots of people in costume, Georges Melies silent movies were playing, and I saw... Valentina!  I had just explained steampunk to her last week, so she opted for wearing an elegant gold and white sequined top.  And Julia arrived as well!  She left homeschooling and started high school last fall, so she was missed dearly by us.  The third girl that came wishes to remain anonymous, so I'm just going to call her Delilah.
So, as Delilah, Julia, and I were all wearing steampunk outfits, we entered the costume contest.  And Delilah won!  The prize was four horror novellas and a steampunk novel.
After the event, we all got on the subway to go to our appropriate destinations.  I was going to spend the night at Valentina's house, so I went with her and Jackie, for which I was glad, because there was a creepy older man eyeballing me. Thankfully, he was off the subway, but it just occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't the wisest thing to wear an underbust corset on the subway at night.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The SALT club

A couple of years ago, one of my closest friends moved back to Australia.  I was nearly inconsolable for months, and while I was definitely alone and friendless, it had me (and my mom) thinking: How many other homeschoolers were having trouble connecting with the homeschool community?  
So that very night we decided to create a club where homeschoolers connect to likeminded homeschoolers.  We spent several hours trying to come up with a cool acronym, and finally ended up with "SALT", which stands for "Society for Artistic and Literary Teens".  The very first meeting, we met up at Edgar's Cafe on 84th street (Edgar Allan Poe street).  They had WONDERFUL cheesecake (this was before I went vegan) and the decor was very quaint and quirky.  Apparently my parents went on a date here many moons ago.  
So, after sorting out the unforeseen problem of NOT HAVING ENOUGH CHAIRS, we shared our favorite books to break the ice.  

The meetings themselves are very relaxed, and are a mix of homeschool veterans and newcomers to SALT.  Sometimes I assign optional "homework", which is usually something like, "Dress up like a pirate" or "Bring a portable instrument to Bryant park where we'll be spazzes and sing to our hearts' content".  It's usually just to get to know each other. 
The most recent SALT club took place in Little India just yesterday, because Diwali starts on Sunday.  So I asked everyone to research Diwali so they're not out of the know.  
After rehearsal for Yeast Nation (warning: shameless self-advertisement), I, my brother, and our friends Izzy, Luna and Leo took the subway to Jackson Heights in Queens.  I... honestly don't think I've ever been to Queens before.  It's embarrassing.  I'm in Manhattan and Brooklyn all week!  We then met up with brother and sister Zachary and Candace (Jazz musicians who just moved from San Francisco!) and  Jules (who is my age and EXTREMELY interested in visual arts) in front of Patel Brothers.  Patel Brothers is a grocery store which has ALL KINDS of specialty/imported/exotic ingredients, like atta flour, garam masala, Indian sweets, frozen chapatis... they were selling diyas (lamps for Diwali) as well, and even henna that came in a tube!  After browsing a bit, we found a buffet, and a couple more of our friends, Julia, Sofe, and Michael, came.  

There are quite a few buffets and diners in Little India, and VERY reasonably priced (10-12 dollars).  The owner was surprisingly friendly and welcoming to us, considering that we were a dozen loud, crazy homeschool teens.  but we got some amazing food (rice, tender, saucy potatoes, fresh naan bread, and some GLORIOUSLY spiced chick peas).  AND they gave us free rice pudding!
We then wandered around the area, window shopping and seeing the sights.  My mom found us, which  I thought rather impressive, as she (we) NEVER go to Queens.  Luna and Izzy drifted off to look at clothes, Quintin and Leo went off as well, which left the rest of us to browse the shops.  One in particular that was quite cool was Butal Emporium.  It was recommended to me by a homeschool mommylord.  I left Little India with some turmeric and adhesive bindis.  Eventually, everyone came back and my mom took a picture of us!  
from left to right: Candace, me, Julia, Izzy, Sofe, Luna, Leo, Michael, and Quintin.  Zach sort of disappeared.

I definitely think that organizing SALT meetings was one of the best things I've done.  A lot of homeschoolers have made friends through it, and if they were new to homeschooling, then it seemed like the transition was easier.  It has grown quite a bit through the years.   I love meeting all of the awesome teens that come to the meetings!   

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I have a new house!

My family and i have been in the process of moving to a new house for nearly a month now.  It's the same neighborhood; just a different house.  When we moved in, it was like, "Ahh!   Finally, space!"  because in the old home, the you had to go through my bedroom to get to my brother's bedroom, which was quite a nuisance, because I liked to do pilates and Quintin likes playing the electric bass guitar.

Also, I shared a bedroom with my grandma, so I THINK I just got a taste of my college years.
Anyway, the new house is SO COOL!  My bedroom, for example, is nearly three times the living space that I was used to before.  There are two closets.  A lock on the door!  A secret nook where I'm storing books for now!  And the best part... In one of the closets, there's a door in the side of the wall.  In the door is an attic space.  I repeat.  I have a secret room!  My dreams of having a secret library have finally come true!!

My brother's got one as well.  It's just smaller, 'cos his bedroom is bigger.
Anyway, the other night I thought I heard someone jumping around upstairs where my room was, though Quintin was in his room playing the bass (obviously).  Suddenly I realize- The attic space is a great place for a serial killer to hide!  Then I started freaking out VERY QUIETLY.  I went into Quintin's room and asked him to check the room with me, but bring one of his swords.  (he collects katanas, please do not ask.)

He said that the attic spaces were connected!  So then we checked HIS secret room, and there was a hole in the flimsy wooden wall, large enough for an adult to crawl through.  And hide.
So then we BOTH started freaking out, but then... Quintin got a very smug look on his face.  I asked him what was up.  He said, "This is my chance to prove myself!  When he pulls out his gun, I'll throw a sword to him and challenge him to fight!" Quintin has been taking fencing classes for the last 2 1/2 years, but I still said, "Quintin, this is NOT Anime!"

So then I called my mom, who was furniture shopping, and in hushed voices, I said, "Mom... I think there's a burgler hiding upstairs..." In the time it took her to get to the new house, I nearly fainted.  She came immedietly, and called over my grandma (Who is living at the old house so SHE gets her own space as well).  They arrived, and feeling bolder, I grabbed one of Quintin's canes and yelled into the secret room, "All right, if you're hiding, you'd better come out now, you b@stard!"  I got surprised looks from my mom and grandma, because I NEVER curse.  So then My grandma checked the space behind the hole with light from her cell phone and... no one was there.  I said I'd check my attic space for a hole.  So I did.  And there was a solid wall where the attics might have intersected.  
Also, i was told that it might have been a squirrel that I heard earlier.  Sigh.  Having an overactive imagination is both a blessing and a curse.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vegan advice

As I have said in my previous post, I am vegan.  I'm not here to patronize omnivores, just to talk about veganism.  Like, my experiences culinary-wise and health wise.  i hope you'll find this random hodge-podge of info useful.
I became vegan summer before last because my father brought home a dead chicken.  Before this, i was vegetarian, and thinking about veganism, but THIS was the thing that made me make the transition.  I knew I would miss cheese, so I binged out on cheddar and smoked gouda.  Then I got sick of cheese and made an easy transition.
Mostly, the reason I'm vegan is because I hate factory farms with a passion, but I am also a singer, and a vegan diet is easier on the voice.
Where do I get my vitamins?  Well, I actually get everything I need from plants.  In fact i recently had a checkup, and the doctor said that my body isn't deficient in anything!
I get my protein from:

  • Quinoa, tempeh, and beans with rice
  • Tofu and veggie burgers
  • Almonds, cashews, and walnuts
  • Legumes and beans.  I especially love peas.
It's very important to get protein.  When I first went vegan, I was tired all the time, and I looked it up, AND boom! Protein deficiency.  Also, I had a bit of an episode at Bryant Park last winter when I was ice skating.  I fell down, got a tiny cut on my hand and fainted.  I wasn't getting enough iron!  Now, I get my iron from:

  • Kale and swiss chard
  • Quinoa
  • Beets
As for calcium, I drink lots of coconut and almond milk, and I am currently obsessed with bok choy.  Broccoli is also an awesome source of calcium.  Dark leafy greens are good for most B vitamins.  For that tricky, tricky B-12, I've been eating raw spirulina bars.  Not all the time, of course, because your body can store B-12 for a long time.  And then I discovered kombucha!  (As a teenager, I steer clear of the alcoholic variety.)  It's so yummy... like fizzy fruit juice!  My favorite flavors are ginger and mango.  And apparently it has anti-cancer qualities, cleanses your liver, and balances your digestive system.  It also has B-12.  For Omega-3, I take flaxseed oil.

I have family in Texas, and I'm actually finding it easier to be vegan down there more and more! (Although veganism is frankly effortless in NYC)  Fruit grows down there.  So do vegetables.  And there are quite a few vegan tex-mex meals.  Beans and rice.  Freshly pressed corn tortillas.  Avocados.  
Salad bars are good, too.  Just get plain lemon balsamic.  Get all the yummy stuff.  Cranberries.  Green apple.  Cucumber.  And if you put avocado, it's a lot more filling.  French fries are also vegan.  And I've actually been to a vegan restaurant, too!  It was called "Spiral", I think.  Oh my god, their burgers are amazing.  

When you're at an Italian restaurant, if you look close enough, you have a few choices.  You can get bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (which is a fantastic meal by itself, if it's fresh.)  I'm pretty sure bruscchetta is vegan. You can request plain pasta with garlic and oil.  You can get a salad with regular balsamic dressing.  Or a plate of steamed veggies.  
In a pinch, at any restaurant, I get a side of french fries and a side of sauerkraut.  Yup.
When I'm on the run, I usually get some bananas from a fruit cart (4 for a dollar in the city, baby), some falafel, or a bagel with tofu spread.

I'm a pretty big fan of ethnic food.  I love Thai food- especially pineapple fried rice.  A lot of asian food seems to be either meatapalooza or vegan.  Middle Eastern, too.  Nothing gets me like some falafel.  And it's really amazing how tahini can taste if it's fresh, like... buttery sour cream, or something.  Oh!  if you mix baba ghanoush with rice, it tastes SO GOOD.  
Another culinary tip-  Cut a piece of tempeh into triangles.  Cover with water in a pan and simmer.  Then drain out the water, and simmer in about half a cup of teriyaki sauce.  This is extremely delicious and when I first tasted it, It was so yummy I could've sworn I felt teary-eyed.

Oh!  There's this magical substance called "Earth Balance" that is basically vegan butter.  It's non-hydrogenated, non-GMO, and it comes organic.  Um... things to avoid... I guess ├╝ber processed things. Once every blue moon I'll have a vegan hot dog, or a slice of pizza with fake cheese.  BUT I RARELY DO.  I don't recommend eating that stuff. It's so processed and unhealthy.  Very bad for you.  Which reminds me; only buy organic tofu.  It's a lot better for you.  And if you can, make your own seitan.  I haven't done that before, but I will soon.

Before I finish, I want to tell you guys about vegan baking.  It's not gross, or dry, or weird.  It's absolutely yummalicious and you won't miss the eggs or anything.  One of my favorite recipes is orange cake.  It's FULL of zest, and it's light and delicate.  Then there's an orange glaze that gets soaked into the cake and OMYGOD IT'S SO GOOD.  My (omnivore) family loves it.  here's the recipe http://rtatum0.blogspot.com/2012/01/vegan-orange-cake.html

Then I started to make cupcakes.  A mommylord gave me one of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbooks, and I started to do vegan baking more.  Then Pi Day came around, and I started doing pies...
Before I went vegan, my mom, a hardcore carnivore, was sure that vegan baking was gross.  Whenever she tries anything that comes out of the oven now, her eyes widen and she says, "This is vegan??".  My mom frequently requests vegan cherry pie.  

One last thing: To make vegan whipped cream that is absolutely creamy and fat and sweet, take two cans of full fat coconut milk.  Refridgerate them for a few hours, then put the solid parts into a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, along with vanilla extract and a cup of powdered sugar.  Keep it in the fridge when you're not using it.

I apologize about the sudden switch to "foodie blog" mode, and to vegans and omnivores alike, I hope this post was helpful!

An Italian Dinner

I am a bit of a linguaphile.  I love words- dying words, sophisticated words... reading books... and studying languages.
Do you ever get that burning desire to become fluent in about a dozen languages like, this summer?  That's sort of how I was, but I need to study other things, like biology, and music theory.  So I limited myself to just a handful: ASL, French, and Arabic.  And Italian.
Italian is probably the language I need the most, next to English.  English is a WEIRD language.  It steals from others, and makes up rules, but breaks them all the time!  Not to mention that the words are pronounced very oddly next to other languages.  I pity people trying to learn English.  

Italian is so beautiful!  I love the way the grammar fits together, and the way it feels in your mouth when you speak it.  Gnocci.  Svavilava.  Cucchiaio.
Also, I get a lot of exposure to it.  My dad is an opera singer, and most operas are in Italian.  PLUS the people he works with in the opera business are often Italian.  My family is talking about how we want to go to Italy next summer as well, and I definitely want to study it in college.  

I've been using the Rosetta Stone program, and it works SO well!  (No worries, I haven't been paid to advertise it.)
I've never used it with kids my age, though.  That is, until my friend Valentina came to New York.
The entire summer, I've been back and forth, emailing a homeschooled girl who lives in Monaco.  Valentina is so cool!  She's fluent in French, English, and Italian, she plays the piano, and is an avid dancer.  Now she's both in my playwriting class, and palmistry class.  

Her mom suggested having an Italian dinner one night with them and Neva (remember? from "the dance"?).  Neva studies even more languages than I do!  Right now, her forte is Hindi, but she is still going strong with Italian.
Valentina's mom, Jackie, only spoke to me in Italian, and whenever I slipped back into English, she responded with a mock-insulted, "Cosa?".  We were making food as well; Neva and Valentina hand-rolled pasta, while I chopped vegetables for a salad. (Which was SO delicious- it was half raw asparagus, half avocado, with olive oil and lemon juice, generously sprinkled with mint leaves and toasted sunflower seeds) The whole experience was SO educational; I forced myself to be better at Italian.  My brain hungrily absorbed new verbs and names of foods.  Some of the things we talked about was the history of the pasta name we ate (strozzapreti- literally priest strangler.  From what I could understand, it had to do with Mussolini.), what our brothers were doing, and Dan's face when he tasted kombucha.  

Then we watched Ballando con le Stelle, which is the Italian version of "Dancing with the Stars".  I've never seen the American version, but I really enjoyed watching it.  I picked up some new words, too, like piunti, "Salve!", and provotico.  We were rooting for two women; one had strange makeup and an exotic dress (her dance was very modern and unusual), and a rather graceful transvestite woman.  What I thought was strange was that when they read out the points, they did it in a VERY STEREOTYPICALLY american accent, so 27 points (ventisette piunti) sounded like "Ventysetay poonty!"
Then we had dinner!  Jackie very kindly took my vegan diet into consideration, and we feasted on salad, creamy risotto, and fresh (egg free!) pasta.  The food was all so delicious and fresh... and then we went back into the bedroom to watch the rest of Ballando con le Stelle.  We're not sure what happened next... and we're pretty sure it was the food or something... but we ended up with our arms around each other on the bed, giggling about blonde hair and how silly celebrities are.
We all agreed that we needed to do this again soon. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Not-Back-to-School picnic, Yeast Nation, and the start of the semester! (duhn-duhn-DUHN!)

Well, it's apple season, the leaves are turning... And it's finally time for school!
The start of the semester was heralded by the Not-Back-to-School Picnic, a picnic held every year in Central Park.  It's open to all homeschoolers, even the new ones.  I love coming and meeting the new recruits!  
I've always thought it must be intimidating for recent additions to the community, to be at the picnic for the first time.  
BUT I've come up with a solution:  the SALT club.
Years ago, one of my closest friends moved to Australia, and it was really tough on me.  My mom suggested creating a group where homeschoolers meet up, break the ice, socialize, and make new friends to help me brighten up.  So she and I sent out an email that was circulated amongst the homeschool community.  Boom!  I got nearly a dozen responses!  The first SALT club meeting (Society for Artistic and Literary Teens) was held at Edgar's Cafe (where Edgar Allan Poe lived).  They had FANTASTIC cheesecake, and we all brought books to share.  
It's a shame that that cafe closed down.  BUT I am SO grateful that my mom suggested doing this!  We meet on alternate Fridays (more or less) at museums or cute little artsy cafes to discuss our interests, do fun, creative activities, or dress outrageously for conversation starters.
So at the picnic I meet the homeschool cadets, make their acquaintance, and give them my email.  I usually bring a balloon for people to recognize me, but this time I wore a very conspicuous Steampunk outfit. 
Most of my classes had already started, not to mention rehearsals for a play that I and 15 of my friends were in, and the four of the parents (including my own mom, who is in charge of music) were directing. The play?  Yeast Nation.
The play is by the two guys who wrote Urinetown (Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman).You may not have heard of it before, as it was only done twice or thrice (I forgot which), and wasn't quite as successful as Urinetown. BUT Greg's wife, Ayun (homeschool mommy and writer), suggested that WE might be able to do it!  
The play takes place at the bottom of the sea, at the beginning of time, when life was but the humble yeast cell!  (although that is not true scientifically at all, kids.)

All of the characters are named Jan (pronounced yahn), ruled by the King, Jan-the-Elder (played by Ayun's son, Milo).  (Coincidently, the yeasts eat SALT!) They all value stasis, and there's a FAMINE going on.  They eat salts.  There's a lot of deception, romance (I get to be in a love triangle!), one-liners, and death.  It's rather cool how all of the yeast are anthropomorphized! It's a VERY serious play.   But we're all single-cellular organisms.  So it's basically microscopic Shakespeare.
The rehearsals all take place at our friend Coco's house.  Coco plays Jan-the-Sly, the devious princess that gets everyone killed.  She's very excited about playing a villain, having played "golden-hearted orphans" in previous plays.  Her parents, Ben and Tiina, also direct the play, and they very generously lent us their studio space for rehearsals and performance.  Ben and Ayun's directing style is very spontaneous, and they are extremely talented at couching our acting, as well as being very theatrical themselves.  (I don't think I need to tell you that they're actors...?)  Tiina is a dancer, so I THINK she's directing dance.  My mom mans the keyboard, and directs the music.  And oh, my gosh, the choral bits sound GLORIOUS after she's worked with us!  She and Tiina are rather good at bringing us back into line when we're rowdy.
My mom and those other three worked their butts off all summer, planning the scheduling and whatnot. I don't want to give too much away... but all I can say is that the performance is going to be spectacular.  So come and see it!  Performances are on the weekend before Thanksgiving, in Williamsburg.
I also have biology class taught by another homeschool mommy.  She's my friend Luna's mom.  (remember Luna from the previous post?  The girl with a mohawk?  Except she shaved off her mohawk now.)
Her name is Holly, and oh my god, she is amazing!  First of all, she had a baby.  She had a baby and the baby is being held when she's talking about homeostasis or the process of experimentation.  She worked as a science teacher some years ago, she's fluent in two and a half languages, and she's an actor!   
Most of the class in in Yeast Nation, so she is incorporating the subject of microbiology into her classes.  Holly promised to bring in microscopes next week, so I'm rather excited about that!
One of her first homework assignments was to watch a documentary about cells called "Secret Universe: The Hidden Life of the Cell".  I never thought I'd say this about a documentary- but it was thrilling!  Just like a sci-fi movie, and I enjoyed every bit of it!  The animation was beautiful, and I learned SO MUCH.  Not to mention it's narrated by David Tennant.  i highly recommend watching it.  
Welp, I've got work to do!  I will blog soon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


What's interesting about Shakespeare, is that it's really not meant to be read. Perhaps that's why some people think his works are boring. It's meant to be performed, acted in, seen, EXPERIENCED!
Last July, I had the pleasure of performing in Love's Labour's Lost.  (Well, technically speaking, I was in the ukulele crew... ah, I'll explain it later.)  
In case you don't know the story of Love's Labour's Lost, this is basically it:

  1. The king of Navarre and his three buddies make an oath to study rigorously, to fast, be sleep deprived, not drink, and not see women.  Oh, and women weren't allowed to come to their court.
  2. They totally forget that the Princess of France, her three friends, and their... butler, i guess, were visiting in a few days.  
  3. Before the ladies and their butler arrive, there's this servant, Costard, that works in the court, and he was seen with some girl named Jaquinetta, and claims he doesn't know about the oath.  After throwing puns around with the King of Navarre, he gets thrown into jail.
  4. A Spanish guy, Don Adriano de Armado is also hopelessly in love with Jaquinetta.
  5. The ladies of France arrive, and predictably, the King of navarre and his buddies fall head over heels in love with them.
  6. The Spanish guy, Armado, laments about his love.  His servant sings to him, he feels better, and them writes a love letter to Jaquinetta.  He pays Costard to deliver the letter.
  7. Then one of the King's buddies (Biron) pays Costard to deliver a love letter to one of the Princess's friends (Rosaline).
  8. Costard mixes up the letters and gives Rosaline Armado's letter, and Jaquinetta Biron's letter.
  9. The king and his buddies, each one thinking that they're alone, declare their love for the ladies in sonnet, but they're spying on each other.  Everyone leaps out of their hiding places and accuses each other.  So they're like, 'Screw the oath.  Let's throw them a ball and send them gifts."
  10. So the ladies recieve their gifts, and their butler says that they're coming in disguise.  The ladies don masks and decide to turn the tables on the dudes of Navarre.
  11. The dudes of Navarre arrive, badly and obviously disguised, as Russians.  
  12. The ladies reveal themselves, and showing the four dudes of navarre that they were flirting with the wrong people.  The four dudes of Navarre sheepishly reveal themselves, and watch a play put on by the other characters.  
  13. The princess's dad dies and the four ladies of France leave.
Yeah, it's a weird ending.  If you want an explanation of what might have happened in the sequel, watch "The Shakespeare Code" from Doctor Who.  Season 3.  
Also, if you want to see a funny, musicalized version of Love's Labour's Lost with Nathan Lane, just look up love's Labour's Lost on Netflix.

My friend Luna (she also likes to go by Lucia or Sam) has been very involved in this Shakespeare camp in the Catskills for quite a few years.  Luna's awesome; she has a mohawk, and she likes Nirvana and Anime.  My mom is her piano teacher.  So by some way or another, my family found out about it from her, and my mom decided to sign my brother and I up for it.  I didn't have a problem with it, but my brother was reluctant.  It's kind of a cycle: 

"Mom, I don't wanna be Bill Sykes,"
"You're going to be Bill Sykes!!"
*is amazing at being Bill Sykes*

"Mom, I'm not going to sing this song,"
"You're going to sing that song!!"
*is amazing at singing the song*

"Mom, I don't wanna be in this!"
"Apparently, you got the part of Longaville, Quintin."

Luna's friend, Zephyr got the part of Armado (the Spanish guys, remember?), and his mom Karine (EXTREMELY nice, also an avid foodie and architect enthusiast) took care of us for two weeks in her house.  Luna, Quintin and i slept in a tent (more like a canvas house on a platform) on her property.  And oh!  the moonlight and stars!  I don't get out of The City often, so I had forgotten how BLUE the sky could be, and what moonlight looked like!
The town where we were close to had tons of health food stores and farmer's markets, so everything we ate was organic.  
Predictably, Quintin ended up loving Shakespeare camp, and he was obsessive about learning his lines.    He liked to stroll through the woods, practicing: 

"I am resolved!"      
                                       "I am resolved!"    "I AM... RESOLVED!!"   
                                                                                            "I am resolved!"
        "I am RESOLVED!!"  

                                                                  "I am--"
                                 "QUINTIN, GO TO BED!!!!!"

In this interpretation of Love's labour's Lost, the director decided it was going to take place in a 1960's summer camp.  The dudes of navarre (Camp Navarre) were boyscouts, and the ladies of France (Camp France) were girl scouts that were frankly more bada$$ than the boyscouts.  
And every camp needs cheesy camp songs, right?  So that's where I come in.  I and two other girls were supposed to play songs between the scenes, and I know it doesn't sound like it was fun or exciting, but we got to hang out in the shade while everyone rehearsed in the hot sun, not to mention honing my ukulele skills.  
The performances were held outdoors (rain or shine), and us ukers stayed to the side until we were needed, so we could watch the show most of the time.  Our friend Zephyr played Armado (spanish guy) and boy, he brought out the pompousness out big time.  It was very entertaining to see him strutting all over the stage in a sailor's cap.  Zephyr brought the house down.
The director had Quintin's Longaville obsessed with FOOD, so he was well supplied with sweets poking out of his pockets.  And you know that part where I said that the four guys all spied on each other while they were all performing their sonnets?  Well, Quintin was reciting his sonnet to an oatmeal raisin cookie.  Enough said.  (I'm very proud of him for memorizing an entire shakespeare play in two weeks.)
The third day of the performances it RAINED.  Us ukers had a tent, but I felt so bad for the rest of the cast!  You could barely hear them!  Quite honestly, I thought Luna's sassiness still got through to the audience, though, and some kids used the rain for COMEDY GOLD.
And... Just like that, it was over.

Now, every year in manhattan, there's a thing in Central Park called Shakespeare in the Park.  You get two free tickets for a SUPERBLY done shakespeare play with great actors, and with real seats and a real stage and high quality everything.  Plus they often get celebrities to perform.  They got Amy Adams last year.

The catch is, you have to get into line at six AM.  (They give out tickets at noon)
Well...actually, it's not too bad if you have a couple of friends to wait with you, and honestly, it goes by very quickly.  You can order take out, and a dude on a bicycle brings your breakfast to you.
This year, they were performing (you guessed it) Love's Labour's Lost.  And this was a musicalized version!

The thing is, with my group of friends, when there's an event, it's as if there's a collective subconcious message pulsing through our heads- "Either all of us go, or none of us go."
We all ended up waiting in line.  It was rather uneventful, except for the time my friend Thomas (who recently came back from a vacation in Europe) made a Doctor Who quote, and a girl with purple hair passing by finished it.  We invited her to play Apples to Apples with us.

I've done Shakespeare in the park a few times before, and it's always in the same place; the Delacorte Theater.  They serve drinks and snacks right outside.  Also, there is ALWAYS live music in the performance.

Now, this production of Love's Labour's Lost couldn't be more different from the one I was in.  For one thing, they cut out a LOT of sonnets/witty dialogue, which upset me and infuriated Luna.  BUT there was better character development.  It also took place in modern times.  There was a "tuba song" instead of "The Nine Worthies" (that play within the play). Also, it was a lot raunchier than our version *blush*.
BUT there were some hilarious scenes.  My favorite scene was the part when the four dudes of Navarre were spying on each other and reciting sonnets, EXCEPT THE SONNETS WERE SUNG.
Quintin's character, Longaville, came out dressed in Elizabethan garb, followed by two guys (also in period costume) with a lute and double flute.
But Biron's character probably had the best solo.  He sat down and started singing.  Then he tapped his foot.  Thomas and I turned to each other, looks of glee on both of our faces.  I could tell we were both thinking the same thing.  He stood up and sang some more.  Tapped his foot again.  THEN HE RIPPED OFF HIS CLOTHES, REVEALING A SPARKLY SILVER DRESS.  At least twenty other people came out dressed similarly, and had a SPECTACULAR tap dancing routine.  That got a huge round of applause.

The show had it's ups and downs, some of us loved it, some, not so much.  But we all agreed it was very entertaining.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Dance

In the duration of the last four months, I've already attended my first two school dances, the most recent of which was called "The Anti-Prom".  This June, it was Masquerade themed.  You may have heard of this; every year the New York Public Library hosts a prom for teens that don't feel comfortable in an actual prom.
Before this, I went to a much smaller, private 20's themed dance for homeschoolers, complete with a swing dance lesson at the beginning.  (It was an absolute blast!)  So I had somehow got it in my mind that this dance would be something like it:  Cerebral, artistic people, tin pan alley songs... weird stuff.  Because that was what I was picturing when the website said "Teens that don't feel comfortable in an actual prom".  
So, for weeks, I was planning this day; what i was wearing, wondering who was going, and the question of getting there.  See, i was in the chorus of I Pagliacci (which is a very disturbing opera about clowns that all kill each other at the end, Shakespeare style), and I had rehearsal the day of the Anti-Prom.  And the director was a bit... overanxious about the production, to say the least.  My brother and i decided we should just go, and it would be much kinder if we didn't tell her.  (I was ONLY in the chorus, with 30 other people, after all)
Our friend PJ, and his parents picked us up.  We sat in the car, chatting, and admiring each other's masks  It took a rather long time to get to Bryant park, thanks to that 6 PM manhattan traffic we all loved so.  When we got there, about a dozen of my friends were there waiting to greet us... and 600 teenagers.  SIX HUNDRED.  I don't think I've EVER been around that many teenagers!  
The dance area itself was very nice (I would've probably hosted a 19th century ball there); Very elegant with chandeliers and marble floors... And then the music started.  Okay, picture this:  Nicki Minaj blaring deafeningly out of the speakers, and 600 teenagers doing that fist pump- jumpy thing.  I don't even think that counts as DANCING.  It was, um... a bit of a culture shock for me to say the least.  So I just kept telling myself, "It'll count as research, Sydney, it's good reference for writing or acting..."  
I learned quite a few things about proms (though this is the only one I've been to):
  1. The dancing usually consists of the aforementioned fist-pump-jumping thing, or whenever someone starts to run, everybody else joins in, putting their hands on the shoulders of the person in front, making a large loop around the room.
  2. In the secluded corners of the room, there is at least one kissing couple.
  3. There is lots of flirting.
  4. The music does not have anything from the 1920s.
And you know those "teens that don't feel comfortable in an actual prom"?  Not nerds.  Not cellists.  Not Whovians.  
Though not EVERYBODY was quite as bad, it seemed that about half the people there were tattooed, transgender druggies.  
I DID run into a couple of old friends I haven't seen since we were in a play three years ago.  So we caught up, and that was very nice!
I absolutely love dancing, but I'm very picky about my music.  Not so is the case for my friend Neva.  She absolutely adores dancing, and she doesn't care what the music is.  And it was NOT the fist-pumping kind, either.   Neva was dancing so much,  that the people of the library staff had their cameras trained on her feet (and probably posted the videos on their website).  
She coaxed me into doing a kickline with a couple of other friends.  And then the rest of the "improv crew" (as my brother Quintin refers to our friends).  
So... yeah.  i had some very interesting experiences there.  And the following morning at rehearsal I decided to give a rose to the director of the opera.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Welcome to my blog! OR "But how do you socialize?"

Hello people of planet Earth!
I started this blog because I needed to keep a journal, but was too lazy to buy a notebook.  But why not make it public?
So, basically, you're going to hear about my life whether you like it or not.
The title is called "New Yonkerer" because it sounds like "New Yorker"... but I live in Yonkers.  In case you're wondering, Yonkers is a tiny little city stuck right on top of New York City like a crab riding an elephant.  But I practically LIVE in the city.  All of my classes and friends are in Manhattan or Brooklyn, and I know the subway system like the back of my hand, not to mention preferring to drink the tap water of Manhattan over any other water in the country.  So... the New Yonkerer will be like the virtual magazine equivalant of the paper-and-ink magazine of The City.

I'm homeschooled, and it's a really fantastic education, in my opinion.  An ideal environment for a 16 year old!  Very customized and holistic, and... what's that you say?  Dear lord!  'How does she socialize?' he says.. *shakes head*
I'm going to break a long- used stereotype that homeschoolers don't have friends and tell you a mind-blowing secret:  Homeschoolers interact with other people.
I can understand what you're thinking, that homeschoolers obviously have school at home, but this couldn't be further from the truth.
There are homeschool mommies and literature gods teaching classes all over the homeschool community!  Almost every day is like a field trip; because we're always out and about in The City.
Let's look at an example:
Bryant Park in September: We just learned about all of the free juggling lessons and tai chi in the green area.  But guess what?  Bryant park has it's own fascinating history, so my brother and I got to learn about that!  (An asylum for orphans burned down between 44th and 43 in the 1860s)
Then we went into the largest branch of the NYPL, and got to see the Charles Dickens exhibit, as well as the Map Room.

And when we're not doing academic studies, the extra-curricular creative projects we do almost always requires  a more left brained skill.  Steampunk cosplaying?  Well, honey, that's just another term for a research project on the history of Victorian fashion.  Sewing said steampunk outfit?  Math required.  Baking vegan cupcakes?
I shudder to think what my life would be like had i not been homeschooled.  That brings me back to that summer day five years ago when my mom asked my brother, Quintin, and I if we wanted to be homeschooled, and responded with a simultaneous "YES".  It's amazing how much my life has changed since then, and I feel so lucky to know everyone that I know.  My family puts up with a lot, and they're amazing people.  Homeschoolers tend to be rather weird, (and so am I) but I love my friends, and I'm very grateful that I know them; they made me who I am today!