Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The month of FUN! (Update continued.... - September 24, 2008

As requested by my favorite (and #1) Duck.... the summer blog continues...

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May (The Fun Month!):
May has always been my favorite month for the obvious reason that my birthday lands on the 26th, so I always make the entire month my "Birthday Month!" (much to Levi's dismay, as most of our conversations in my resolve with "... because it's my Birthday Month, that's why!")

I started the month off with a little mini-vacation with my sister to St. Pete Beach. We drove down there without much of a plan other than spending three days on the beach laying out and playing pro-kadima. (or attempting to play this paddle-ball game. I was terrible!) We drove around asking for rates of hotels, but one in particular kept catching my eye. It was perfectly round and completely kitchy-looking. I loved it right away. So we stopped in for a rate and found that the normally $300 per night beach-view room that we wanted was on sale for $150 a night! So we snapped that right up and checked out our room.

A beach view it was, even if it was partial, but it was clean and spacious and had a big bed, so we were happy! We spent the first night eating at a really cute sushi restaurant and watching Rattattoui with Cheryl's friend, who came to visit. The next morning, we found the most local-looking diner we could (and it was packed with locals, which means it has to be good!) and had a delicious breakfast. I had forgotten my ATM card in the ATM the night before, so we went to the bank to get a new card, because the last time I left my card in the machine, they shredded it. (Yes. I am air-headed enough to do that twice!) But to my delight, they saved my card since it was the ATM attached to the building! (Our luck was holding out!)

We spent some time on the beach, walked around a beautiful old fort, and had some dinner at the bar where we made friends with the bartender. (Naturally) He said we had missed all the action the night before- there was a wedding where the bridesmaids all got into a fist fight! Glad we weren't there for that....

The next day we tried to take a ferry out of Ft. Desoto Park to an island, but we (well, I....) had read the sign wrong the day before, thinking it had said "Ferry runs 11 am TO 2pm," when in fact it read "Ferry runs AT 11 am and returns AT 2 pm." (Ok, so I guess I can be a little air-headed about signs too...) So, not to be deterred from having fun, we rented some canoes and kayaked around the mangrove kayaking trail all afternoon. Cheryl got burned to a crisp due to the antibiotics she was taking, but all in all it was an awesome, relaxing trip!

A few weeks later was the Florida Music Festival, a huge music festival that Levi plays in every year down town. Every year since we've been together, someone has visited for the big event. This year was Mallory, Levi's little sister's turn. We were extra excited for her visit because it would be the last time we would see her as a single person, since she's getting married in August! While she was here we saw Levi play an amazing show at FMF and went to three out of the four Disney parks in one day! (A feat in itself!) It was so great having Mal here and I'm SO excited to shoot her wedding in August!

That night, my really good friend Eric Yow and I had a Wii-themed birthday party where everyone dressed up as their favorite Nintendo character. It was SO much fun and quite honestly, my favorite birthday since my infamous boy-girl skate party of 1992. (Hands were held, gossip ensued... hehe) I came as Toadette first, and then later surprised everyone by changing into the Japanese characters in the Wii commercial who come to the front door and say "We would like to play..." with my good friend Sonya. It was hilarious and everyone was so surprised! Later, since we all were Wii characters ourselves, we made life-sized Wii games. One game we played was from Mario Party and the objective is that you have to spray paint a geometric shape onto paper. Whoever spray paints the most shapes most accurately in 30 seconds wins. (We had to use silly string instead of spray paint, of course) It was hilarious!

The next week, on my actual birthday, Levi got the day off from work and we went to Silver Springs, a classic (read: cheesy!) old theme park in the heart of Florida. It was SO kitchy, with their panther and bear shows and gator jumps and of course, their famous glass bottom boats... but I loved it. I absolutely live for stuff like that- roadside attraction type things, so I was in heaven. (And in the vein of all things cheesy, we HAD to take a picture in the lucky Horseshoe Palm, which our boat driver said was such a special anomaly because of the way it was growing in a circle, and whoever takes their picture in the circle gets five years good luck! We couldn't pass that up!)

Our favorite animal exhibit was the bear exhibit. Apparently, they have the largest bear exhibit in the nation! It was really awesome seeing a Kodiak bear that close! We watched him for a long time sniffing around, finding food here and there.... generally just being a bear. Next we saw the panthers, who reminded me sooo much of our own slightly feral kitty. Finally, my personal highlight of the day was feeding a giraffe! They had two giraffes in a really tall 'giraffe barn' and sold little crackers that they slurped up with their long, purple tongues! It was amazing! That night for dinner, we went to Salt Island Chop House, a really nice place on I-Drive and I fell in love for the first time..... with turtle cheesecake!!!!!!!! Wow. Why have I never had this most amazing cake before? I feel so deprived. It's my new favorite. (Although Levi says his Mom makes the most amazing cakes and pies ever, so until I have those, I'll have to reserve my judgement on my favorite cake!)

The next night was our 3 year anniversary. Unfortunately, Levi couldn't get the day off, but I managed to drag him out to a really nice dinner in Canada.... Epcot's Canada, that is... It's a REALLY nice place called "La Cellier" (French for the Cellar) and it takes around 3-6 months to get a reservation there! No joke! Levi didn't believe me last time we were at Epcot, so he ran up to the reservations desk and they informed him that the next available table was in about 180 days! So in December, I made sure to reserve our table for May 27th, our anniversary. We rode the new SpaceShip Earth in the Epcot ball (They re-did the ride and it is SO fun! You get to 'make your own future' and little do you know they use the picture they snap of you earlier IN the animation! Levi had kissed my cheek to be cute RIGHT before the picture was snapped so I was laughing! The animation was hilarious!) and then went over to Minnie's Butterfly Garden that was set up for the Garden Festival. (It was Levi's first time in a butterfly garden!)

When we arrived at La Cellier and checked in, the cheerful receptionist asked if it was our anniversary like the reservation said, and we responded accordingly. "Well where are your buttons?" She chirped. Buttons? That's right.... Disney likes to honor anniversaries and birthdays with a special button so that everyone can wish you a Happy -Insert Holiday Here- type of thing. Well, we didn't have any- YET. So she cheerfully poked two "Happy Anniversary" Pins on our shirts. And Levi turned the exact shade of red that the button was.

Beyond the slight embarrassment, the night was near perfect. The food was AMAZING. Literally the BEST I've ever had in this town. It might take six months to make a reservation, but I'm TELLING you, it's worth it!!! So make your dining plans accordingly.

Another BIG highlight of May came on the very last day of the month. My best friend Shannah had been getting, shall we say, a BELLY. Like a HUGE one. For like, 9 months or so, it grew and GREW!! (Ok, it helped that she was pregnant! hehe) So finally, and on the night she was going to take me to our favorite Wine Room for my birthday, what does she have to do but go ahead and go into LABOR!!!!!! (I would like to think she just didn't have a present for me, so she had beautiful baby Isabella for me instead!) On May 29th, Shannah went into labor and May 30th, the world welcomed it's newest member, Isabella Faith Winn. She's beautiful! (There's evidence of this in my MySpace and Facebook albums) She was tiny but pretty well behaved every time I visited. Shannah, on the other hand, was SO drugged up the first time I came by (About four hours after delivery) she kept nodding off! Rude! (hehe, just kidding) So now I have a baby version of my best friend. And I couldn't be happier!!!

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June... coming soon....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The great update, continued... - September 17, 2008

The great update continues....

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March (My work in "China" and Chicago):

So randomly, I have a friend I went to college with named Andy, and a little known fact about Andy is that his dad is the contractor for the acrobats that perform in the China Pavilion at Epcot. Well, recently we had regained contact after a few years of being apart, and he found out I was performing at Disney right next to where he was working with his father's acrobatic troupe. He was working on the troupe, trying to get them to be a little more balletic in their movements, so he hired me to teach them dance classes every week, as well as choreograph a new hoop act for one of the girls. Mae Wong, the hoop girl, was so incredibly talented, and we had SO much fun working together, despite a VAST language barrier. (Andy served as our interpreter)

So, armed with the music he chose, and little to no experience with hoops, I set to work, and we created a gorgeous hoop act! (When I get the video, I'll post it) Not to be immodest, but she performs it so well and is so beautiful, I can't help but be proud! I had SO much fun teaching the little acrobat boys as well. They didn't understand a word of what I was saying, but would follow anything I did loyally. At one point, during a break, I saw a boy, just messing around, do a turning leap that I never taught him, just for the joy of the movement! It was so cute!

I also flew up to Chicago to shoot a wedding with Cheryl. Since January, my photography business has really picked up, and while I was in Chicago I worked on my website with my friend and webmaster, Corey. I also got some business cards designed, so I'm feeling pretty official now! (Although my website STILL isn't up, as of June... *sigh*)

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April (The Audition Month, and my first Magazine Shoot!):

The month started and ended with auditions... the first one was the most comical (and difficult) audition of my life! First, was a cruise ship audition for dancers who would like to be trained as aerialists. It sounded like the perfect audition for me! (Although I wasn't sure that I was interested in going on another cruise ship...)

So we show up and are instructed to put on heels. To begin, also, there were only 9 people there, so it should have gone quickly, or so I thought. They had us do, one by one, some turns and kicks and some really easy steps... if you weren't in heels. But since we were, they were really difficult. (For example, next time you're in your character heels, try to penche and let me know how far you get) Then, we did the usual two combinations, then there was a cut, which left four of us behind. Then we did some improvisation, the same two dance combinations again, but this time, they wanted us to pick one of the judges out and make eye contact with them the whole time. (What??) Then... we SANG.

Now, NOWHERE on the audition flyer did they mention singing. No no, just dancing. So not only do they spring the singing part on us, they knew we hadn't prepared anything, so they gave us a song to sing. What song, you ask? None other than the STAR SPANGLED BANNER- one of the hardest songs to sing, even for a trained singer.

So, we struggle though it. One girl wasn't even from the US, so she sang her national Australian anthem. (She could have made it up, for all we know...) By this time, a few hours after we arrived, we figured this was it. No no, there was more. The head person had us come out and stand in the middle of the dance floor and NOT MOVE. "Don't move.... don't you move..." he kept saying.... nerve wracking... Then, he asked each of us about our aerial experience, then said..... "Ok, get down and give me 25 pushups."


I guess this is normal for aerialist auditions, but I didn't expect it in the LEAST. And little did I know that, under the right circumstances, I too could do 25 push ups, followed by V-Ups (really hard full-body crunches), a handstand, a back bend, and different stretches in various positions to test our flexibility all at one audition. I couldn't believe I even survived.

And on top of all that.... I ended up getting the job. (Hilarious) They ended up calling me a month later and offering me a position on a brand new cruise ship out of Europe! But I had to turn it down for a couple very important reasons... (reasons to be revealed later....)

The next auditions were in Chicago for three dance companies, Luna Negra, Melissa Thodos, and River North. They were all great, and were challenging and fun, but I came to a very important and life-changing realization that weekend. I realized that all my life I had wanted to be in a dance company, but now that I had been immersed in the world of commercial dance for so long at Disney that I was truly happy where I was and what field I was in. I loved that artistic field of dance companies as well, but my heart and talent was more comfortable now in the commercial realm. This was a really hard realization to make, but at the same time a really satisfying one. I realized that I was completely fulfilled and happy where I was at Disney, and while I still need to push myself to the next level of dance, where ever that may be, a dance company was not my end-all-be-all as I always thought it would be. (Sooner then I ever would have imagined, the next 'level' of my career was upon me.... but that also will be revealed... later...)

(Oh, also, while in Chicago, I shot a dance company for my sister called the Leopold Group to be published with their article in Dance Spirit Magazine! It was in the August edition, and it was a couple pages featuring pictures by me and my sister!!!)

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Alright kids, stay tuned.... we're ALMOST caught up.... sort of. We gotta get through the summer and we'll be done!!

Monday, September 01, 2008

A blog a year in the making.... (AKA a year late...) -September 1, 2008

Well, I'm finally here. My Mid-Twenties.

And I must say.... lots has changed.

I'm now around 5"6, blonde, and blue eyed!

Ok, not THAT much... but a few things.... let's see, the last time I blogged... I had just gotten back from Puerto Rico?!?! Wow, that was a while ago. Let's see... this will take a few entries I think.... (Since someone recently said to me that they think my blogging is funny because when I do get the time to update everyone, it takes up the entire Live Journal Friends page!!! How rude of me....) hehe

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October-December (That Scary Season of Joy!) :

Thanksgiving and Christmas were wonderful, as usual. During Halloween I did Halloween Horror Nights again, and scared people half-to-death, which has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do during that season. (Is that bad? Oh well.) I also performed in Disney's Halloween Show (Although, to my dismay, it didn't involve scaring people.... shocked, I know) called "Villains Mix and Mingle." We had the MOST fun and got to perform with all the scary Disney Villains on the Castle stage, so that was awesome!

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January (Viva Las Vegas!) :

For New Years, I got to perform with Jimmy Buffet, Donna Summer, Little Richard, Bono, and Elvis!! (Ok, so they were impersonators, but still! They were awesome!!!) It was a really fun gig in North Carolina where we were back-up dancers for all of these impersonators. They were absolutely amazing- Little Richard later transformed into BONO!!!!!! (Just try wrapping your imagination around THAT one!)

I also flew out to Vegas and LA to audition for Cirque du Soliel and a Broadway show with a really good friend, Janelle. We had SO much fun, and I even won $100! (Well, not of my own money... ok, here's the story... we met this group of guys who were older and married, so we felt ok talking to them. They were really nice, so when one of them invited me to watch him play blackjack, I did. At first, he was losing, but when I joined him at the table, he started winning- and BIG! He figured I was his lucky charm, so he asked me to play, but I didn't have any money, so he let me play, with HIS chips!! At first, I lost a lot... but then, we started winning. And winning. And winning!!!

Eventually, everyone at the table was convinced I was lucky, and the typical Vegas stand-by "Old-Lady-In-Leopard-Print" lady was next to me, declaring in a loud voice how lucky I was and how she wanted to sit next to me! It was HILARIOUS!!!!
Finally, my nerve left me, and I said goodnight, but before I could leave, he offered me the winnings- ALL of it. It was somewhere between $300-$500!!! I couldn't take his money like that (and how would I explain the windfall to Levi???) So I tried to beg off, but he kept insisting, so finally I compromised and left with $100. Not bad for not putting a penny down, huh?

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February (A Soggy Romance):

Oh February, the month of love... Valentine's Day was Levi's turn this year (I planned our anniversary later this year) so I let him plan the whole day... and he did a great job! He instructed me to get in the car and didn't tell me where we were going. I LOVE surprises like this, but when he passed all the Orlando exits, I kinda got nervous. I had kinda figured that he would just take to me to the parks or something, but when we whizzed past Universal, Sea World and Disney, I was thoroughly confused. An hour later, I finally had figured it out- He was taking me to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa!

It was SO beautiful, a great facility, with lots of fun animals like penguins, sharks, and otters! We finished the day at a really cute Steakhouse outside a mall we found. (I had to find a mall for some jeans, I wasn't prepared for the night chill!) The next day, when I got back to work, I told all my friends about my super 'romantic' day, and they all laughed, declaring that he must really love me.... taking me to an aquarium and all! (I'm such a nerd! That an aquarium is romantic to me... hehe! But it was!!!)

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Ok, that's enough reminiscing for the moment, I'll keep updating you until you've reached present day! (It's like a time machine! haha...)

Stay tuned....