Where Would You Go?


In October of last year, I bought what ended up being an expensive (travel was between Christmas and New Year's Eve to give you an idea) one-way flight to Vancouver for the start of rehearsals on The Little Prince. I later had to make some changes to my flight and ended up with a $700 credit that I had exactly one year from the date of purchase to travel on. Though I have flown in the past year, I never used the credit because the flights were never that much and I didn't want to lose the balance on the credit. It expires at the end of this month.

Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?

I finally decided it was time to make one of my bucket list dreams come true. On Tuesday, I will be heading down to New Orleans, a place I've dreamed of visiting ever since I found out my childhood crush was from there.

I'm waiting for you, chérie.

I've been fascinated with Cajun culture for years. My mind was blown when I first learned that, not only were they descendants of my deported ancestors, but their name was derived from "Acadiens" (Acadiens became Cadiens became Cajuns).

I've been toying with a new show idea that goes back to my Acadian roots and this flight credit seemed like the perfect opportunity to get in some first hand research.

I'm incredibly excited right now. My home in Ottawa is still rented and a friend hooked me up with a place to stay. I've never been to New Orleans before so if you have any suggestions of things to do or see or eat while I'm down there, please let me know what they are in the comments section below!

Featured Image Photo Credit: Les_Stockton via Compfight cc

Looking Back on 2014


Feature image credit: Takashi(aes256) via Compfight cc I usually try to get my year-end recaps out by the end of December, but my December 29th was spent on planes to Vancouver where I had to jump into rehearsals for The Little Prince the very next day. With rehearsals, New Year's and settling in, things have been pretty hectic, so blogging had to, once again, take a back seat. But on one of my few days off, I find myself enjoying the sun and mild weather as I reminisce on the past year.

Dear 2014, you were really good to me. Crazy, crazy good. It started with a shot-ski bang after a closing performance of You're a Dead Man, Charlie Brown and a massive hangover cured by a delicious breakfast from a generous roommate. Then there were rehearsals and the run of Pop Fiction in Ottawa where I got to wear the coolest costume of my entire acting career so far.

I'm the one on the right just waiting for you to go ahead and make my day.

Experiencing one of the biggest cold snaps ever in Ottawa, I was thrilled to head out on vacation to Thailand with a close pal. It was an absolutely life-changing experience and opened my heart and mind in ways I still feel affecting me to this day. It also gave me a major travel bug. Which is a good thing considering how the rest of the year went.

From March to May, I was back in Ottawa getting ready for the biggest project of my life thus far. If you've been any kind of regular follower of mine, you know I'm talking about the cross-country tour of Roller Derby Saved My Soul, as well as the accompanying feature-length documentary, On the Fringe.

I had to get back into shape for the show and I found the best outlet for that was through the Ottawa Stilt Union. Their acro sessions were just the kind of fun workout and training I was looking for and it's one of the biggest things I miss about Ottawa these days. If you ever have the chance to work with them, I highly recommend it.

2014-04-17 11.45.53-1

Creatively, while I was working on rewrites for Roller Derby Saved My Soul, I took some classes early in the year with the incredible Alix Sideris, the same pal I traveled with to Thailand, in Laban work. I'd never tried this type of work before and it really opened up new possibilities for me as a performer. Oh and I finally took my violin out of storage and buckled down with some classes. Though I by no means became an expert, I can muddle through a passable 'twinkle twinkle little star' that would make the parent of any 8 year old proud.

Spring also a period of massive fundraising, where we managed to not only raise over $10,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, but also create a wonderful partnership with Hunt Club Volkswagen in Ottawa who became our official travel sponsor for the tour.

I never would have been able to accomplish this without the incredible team I had assembled. Yes, 2014 was the year I put on my big girl pants and expanded my operations by hiring staff. Best decision I ever made.

And then there was the tour!

2014-10-08 11.01.24-2

From the end of May until the end of September, I found myself of the road, hitting up a different city every 10 days or so, documentary team in tow. It was an unbelievable adventure and an incredible opportunity.There were plenty of sold-out houses, good reviews and awards (including a Canadian Comedy Award nomination for Best One Person Show), but there was also some heartbreak, tough notes to take and a few health concerns. It wasn't always easy, but it was definitely worthwhile. If you want to know more about all that, please feel free to check out the play-by-play in the blog archives.

By September, I was in Vancouver, finishing up the tour and taking acting classes with my favourite teacher. Then in October I hopped in the car and took a mostly solo trip back across the country where I returned the keys to VW Passat *sniff* and headed to the family home back East for some quality downtime.

In November, I took my first trip to Los Angeles to once again study with my acting teacher and her incredible team, before settling my affairs up in Toronto and heading back to the family home. At this point, I was pretty burnt out and looking forward to the comforts of home before the craziness know as the "Holidays" began.

Once there, I was finally able to sit with all my administrative work from the summer and gear up for the next chapter in my journey, which brought me back to Vancouver on December 29th.

Though this year may have started with a bang, it ended in a quiet night with friends and colleagues influenced by jet-lag and wine. The perfect way to end a year filled with so much movement and excitement.

Goodbye 2014! You were a gooder, that's for sure. Hey, 2015! Tag. You're it.


Up next, What's Up 2015!

Xie Xie, Beijing, Me Love You Long Time

I'm home. Was I really just in China? I've got the material evidence to prove it, but it was such a whirlwind adventure, it's almost hard to believe. The Coles Notes version of the trip:

We arrived after a thirteen hour flight in Executive Class (OMG, I was so spoiled!), met our tour guide at the airport and checked into the hotel. Neither my friend nor I had been able to sleep on the plane, even though our individual seats, located inside a semi-private pod, laid flat out into a bed. So after a quick tour of the hotel, we immediately crashed.

Our first morning in China, we had breakfast before heading off to Tienanmen Square and the (not-so) Forbidden City. Since we arrived during the National Holiday, it was kind of like trying to explore downtown Ottawa on Canada Day. After lunch, we were then herded off to the absolutely exquisite Summer Palace. We even got to take a Dragon Boat across the lake (not the kind of dragon boat you row, an actual boat with a dragon statue at the helm). We were absolutely exhausted at this point and told that we had a free evening that night. That said, we were given the option, if we wanted to pay a bit extra, to see a show... Even on vacation I can't miss out on seeing a play. My friend went back to the hotel and I went to see Chun Yi - The Legend of Kung Fu. The show was mostly in English (and has played in Vancouver if the giant lobby posters were any indication) and was very entertaining spectacle, though I tried desperately not to nod off due to pure exhaustion. It was a very simple story with lots of acrobatics, music and dance. I don't know if this was a more traditional form of Chinese theatre or the Mirvish form of Chinese theatre, but I did have fun. Plus, there was a little boy who sang with the voice of an angel. Don't ever hit puberty, kid.

On day two, after breakfast, we arrived at a Jade Factory in Beijing and I won a free pendant for answering a trivia question. Then we headed out to the Ming Tombs. The Sacred Way, a row of 36 statues set along the path towards the tomb was probably the most relaxing part of the trip. Then, after lunch, we were off to the GREAT WALL! My friend and I climbed up to the highest point of the North Pass, also known as Badaling. I was really proud of us and what I can only classify as the greatest hike ever. It was at this point that I was almost disappointed we were with a group because I would have loved to keep walking along the wall. We then went to a local tea house and got to try a variety of traditional Chinese teas (and spend way too much money to buy some of my own, but I think it was worth it) and checked out the Beijing National Stadium - at least from the outside. It looks phenomenal at night. In fact, most of downtown Beijing with it's crazy architecture and inclination towards light shows looks amazing at night.

Day three and we were off to the Temple of Heaven. In the park surrounding the Temple, people practiced Tai Chi, ballroom dancing, played cards and music. Though I was kind of templed out at this point, that was pretty cool and worth the vendor hassles (there are no panhandlers in China, at least not that I saw, because everyone seems to be trying to sell you something on the street). Then we had a brief stopover at a silk factory, learning how silk is made, before checking out the Pearl Market (where I got me two really nice knock off bags!). I was glad to have my friend with me, as I realized bargaining with the vendors was not my strong suit. What can I say? I want to be nice. Then we got a rickshaw tour of a Hutong and visited a local woman's home.

If that wasn't enough, we then went and saw what our guide called a "cultural show," the Golden Mask Dynasty. If I thought the Kung Fu show had spectacle, I hadn't seen nothing yet. Someone in our group asked how you would describe what we saw. All I could say was this: "It was an epic anime fairy tale that would only be created if the Cirque du Soleil had an illegitimate love-child with the National Ballet for the sole purpose of making Robert Lepage jealous." Seriously people, they had a flood ON STAGE. A real, live flood! I was in the third row and got back splash. It was awesome and I can forgive the absolutely atrocious English surtitles and complete lack of concrete plot just for that. After some Peking Duck with dinner, our tour was officially over, but my friend and I used our last free day to visit the Silk Market and the Beijing Zoo to see the Pandas. The zoo, unfortunately, just made us sad. The animals do not seem like they are well treated. Cages are too small, animals are often separated from each other (even the docile ones) and, even though it is CLEARLY indicated that people should not feed the animals, people throw any and everything into the pits. It was disgusting. If you're ever in Beijing, don't bother going to the zoo.

All in all though, I had an amazing trip and would probably go back again if the opportunity presented itself. Back in Ottawa, I've hit the ground running (literally, as I've started jogging again) and have a sense of joy and hopefulness about my life once again. I feel like anything is possible right now and I'm going to hang on to that feeling for as long as I can.

Now, what's this jet lag I keep hearing about?