Show Choir Throw Back

 

If you can’t tell by some of my post I really miss working with my show choir kids.  Its been several years since I was able to do anything with them and there are days where I dream of walking back into that choir room and planning a show.  I am also very aware that it was my time to go.  There is no way I could do the things I did then.  My job, while still the same, has become more demanding. I’m also in school and spending a lot of my free time with the theater.  While I am fulfilled in my creative outlets, nothing will compare to the feeling of collaborating with my kiddos.

For this throw back I want to share what was possibly one of my favorite numbers.  The theme for the end of year show was Stage and Screen.  That year I tried to utilize my kids talent.  I had some really creative kids who could act, some that were amazing singers and some that were talented dancers.  Instead of trying to make them fit into a mold I wanted to embrace their differences.

I chose to do a number from Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.  The tune would showcase their musical abilities.  I could also use it to play out a tea party.  That summer I was inspired by a piece of work on So You Think You Can Dance.  It was a garden party set to David Bowie’s Fame.  In my brain I could see dancing with teacups and red queens calling for heads.

The kids worked very hard.  They were so excited to see who was cast as each character.  The high school art class created tea cups for us.  Everyone was excited working on moves and creating costumes.  I enjoyed this dance and this show so much.  Again I would like to remember Anabelle who is no longer with us.  She was a feisty red queen and she is certainly missed.

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The View from the Wings

While I have come to find that I really enjoy photographing babies I still have a deep love for shooting performing arts.  I spent so many years learning all of the tricks from my boss about how to shoot dancers.  I do really enjoy the dancers but I have found that actors are even better to shoot.  There is so much about a live theater that I love.  I love watching the different expressions of the actors.  I love watching my friends turn in to the characters they are portraying.  I also love seeing people who are so often behind the scenes getting their time in the spotlight.

I worked as dresser on A Few Good Men at Theatre Baton Rouge in the spring of 2017.  I spent the majority of my time watching from the wings and marveling at the talent on the stage.  I knew I needed to capture this show so I spent one night with my camera.  Below is the amazing work of the actors who brought this show to life.

My Special Angel

 

Today may be Halloween but it is also the last day of October.  That means its the last day of the month of October and the last day I could put off writing this post.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  This was something as a woman that you always think about but it usually stays at the back of your mind unless you or your family is touched by it.  Unfortunately my family will forever be touched by this illness and we lost one of the most important people.  Dale Marie Babin.

I don’t remember the date but I remember the day that she came to my house to tell me something was wrong.  She always suffered with health issues especially her asthma but nothing seemed life threatening.  My cousin Randi is a special needs child and within the last few years we discovered she has a diseased that could be cured with treatments.  She was having those treatments at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and it was a returning trip home that started all of this for us.  My Nanie called and said to meet her outside in the driveway.  This was not uncommon.  She often stopped to tell me a story, drop off some food or just say hello when she was passing.  I walked out and she rolled down the window and said a few weeks ago my mammogram came back with some abnormalities and they did a biopsy and they called while we were on the trip to tell me there is cancer in my breast.  She said it so matter of fact.  There is some cancer in my breast.  When I started to tear up she said not to worry.  They caught it as quickly as they could and that she would going to the doctor the next week to discuss treatment option.

 

She ended up having a mastectomy.  She stayed in high spirits about it though telling me how much nicer her back was going to feel to get that weight off her chest and how cool her tattooed nipple would be when she got her implant.  Well the time went along and it was time for another pet scan. Still cancer.  It was at this time that she told me what type it was.  HER2-Positive.  Being the crazy person I am I started contacting a friend who is well versed in medical knowledge to tell me everything.  I made her be as brutally honest with me as she could.  And she was…it just didn’t sink in at the time.  This couldn’t kill her.  People will breast cancer are fine all of the time.  I am now aware and should have accepted at the time this this is probably the worst form of breast cancer anyone can get.  This is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

She started chemo and she did well.  She hated losing her hair but she got a fancy Raquel Welch wig an she worked it. She joked about her missing boob and she never ever let anyone know if she was down or hurting.  When the chemo was done and the scans came back the cancer had mutated.  Worst of all the cancer mutated to her lungs.  Her lungs were already so weak from her asthma.  She had spent a half dozen times in the hospital on CPAP machines, on oxygen and constantly doing treatments.  At this time her doctor here in town was very honest.  He wanted her to have the best care but he didn’t want her to be his experiment.  His suggestion was that she take her case to MD Anderson in Texas where the best of the best were.

 

She, along with my Uncle and cousin, made the pilgrimage to Texas regularly.  Always different doctors, blood work, creating a team.  She was set to do experimental drug trials, radiation and chemo pills. She did not complain one time.  She did not say she was going to die in front of me EVER.  Her spirit is what kept us going.  Her will to live is what kept us pushing to keep her treatment going.  She was the reason we got her for longer that we should have.

In December she was struggling with fluid around her lungs.  She was on oxygen and constantly short of breathe.  She had a tube inserted and was having a home health nurse over regularly to drain the fluid.  One day while waiting for the nurse to come she went to walk up her porch stairs and she fell.  She fell hard.  She had a black eye, she her hurt foot, she was sore everywhere.  Luckily the nurse came soon after and called 911.  At the hospital they did another scan.  The worst fear of ours was true.  The cancer had spread not only to her lungs but now to her brain.  She again visited MD Anderson and did radiation on her brain.  It was just too strong for her.

She made it to Christmas and New Years.  She made it to my nephews 1st birthday party where she was completely delighted with herself because he liked her present best.  She was there to see my sisters get engaged.  But in the end it was too much for her.  In February I went to Disney with work while she was in the hospital.  I was hesitate to go but she assured me she was fine and she would see me when she got back.  I came home on Tuesday and visited her on Ash Wednesday the next day.  I still didn’t get it.  I didn’t know what was about to happen.  I didn’t realize it had gotten so far.

On Thursday I got a call from my sister after visiting that morning that my uncle was calling in hospice.  How?  I just saw her. She wasn’t great but she couldn’t be that close could she?  I left work immediately and spent the entire day there.  My sister tried on her wedding dress and she smiled and said how pretty she was.  The next morning my other sister snapped a selfie with her and her pose was duck lips.  This could not be someone who was dying.  I went over early to visit and took some pictures with her myself.  It had been a long few days and my sisters and I were going home to grab food and rest before coming back.  It wouldn’t be long before we got the call that it was happening.  She was going to pass that day.  How can you possibly know that?  My nanie can’t die?  Not now?  She is going to miss so much?  Morgan has to get married.  I have to adopt a kid.  Marlyn has to elope and surprise us with another baby.  We have to go to Disney together.  We haven’t gone to mountains for Thanksgiving like she always wanted.  This just can’t be true!  But it was.  And it was in her living room while she was surrounding by her family that she peacefully left this world.  My family was devastated.  She was a core part of our being.  8 months later we still feel her lose.  I don’t think that will ever go away.

 

My nanie was fearless, fiercely loyal and honest to a fault.  She loved her babies.  She loved her friends.  She knew everyone and everyone loved her.  She was something special.  She was a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt and so much more.  I selfishly wish she were still with us every single day.  But  I know the pain has stopped.

Breast Cancer effects 1 in 8 women in the USA every year.  95% of those women are 40 and older.  Yearly screenings and monthly checks for breast cancer has reduced the risk of death by 30-40% since 1990.  Each year over 220,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 will die.

Do not let yourself or your loved ones become a statistic.  Get yourself checked and educate yourselves on the risk.  You are someone special to a lot of people.  My Nanie was someone special to me.  Now she is my special angel

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Why am I in college???

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When I graduated in 2005 I had high hopes.  I was going to LSU and going to experience that college life.  To say my first years of school were not what I expected is a definite understatement.  2 weeks into the semester hurricane Katrina hit.  Luckily my home took no damage and my family fared well.  School was closed for a week and when I returned my once small classes now were 3 times the size.

I thought I understood what I wanted in life.  Like most 18 year olds you are certain what occupation you want to be in.  It only takes a few weeks of college to realize you are an idiot and what in the world were you thinking! I quickly learned that my honor roll intelligence was not going to cut it.  High School came easy to me.  I barely studied and only struggled in math.  I didn’t know how to study.  So needless to say when I started my freshmen year pre-med I was in over my head.  My first semester was difficult.  I barely got out of biology with D and I failed Chemistry.  This wasn’t exactly the start I needed to become the anesthesiologist of my dreams. I became very aware a few weeks into my second semester that med school was not going to be the place for me.  I didn’t have the time or drive to study like you needed to.  I didn’t want it bad enough.  So I changed my major to elementary education and tried to go about my business.  But that was also the time I found out that I had social anxiety.
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I took a 5 day a week latin class at 8am.  It was in this class that I realized something was wrong.  I would wake up and think to myself I’m not good enough so I wouldn’t go to class. So the next day I would wake up and think every one in the class knows I missed yesterday I can’t go today.  The next day would come and I would think they all know I’ve missed and we have a quiz today.  I’ll never pass it so why even try.  These thoughts clouded my entire second semester.  It wasn’t just latin I was missing.  It was theater and bio and anything else on the schedule.  I convinced myself that work was more important.  And after a semester of denial I ended up with a GPA in the trash, failing a 5 hour class on my transcript and I lost TOPS.

At this point I realized I needed to make a decision.  Was I going to take out student loans and try to get through school or was I going to get a real job.  By the grace of God my Nanie had a friend on campus who needed someone to work for them.  I started my job as a temp in 2007.  I did go back to school for a summer and fall semester.  At this point I had taken out $24,000 in student loans with high interest rates and I was struggling.  I was also in a relationship wit my husband and we were getting pretty serious.  It was at this time that I decided school was not for me and I would be looking for a real job.  Luckily my boss was amazing and I worked really hard so they decided to keep me.

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Ironically my big girl real job is for the University that I couldn’t seem to pass.  As a permanent employee of said University you get certain benefits.  One benefit of the job is tuition exemption.  Once you have worked for the University for a year you can apply for tuition exemption that allows you to take 2 classes in the fall and spring and 1 in the summer.  I have been a permanent employee for almost 11 years and it wasn’t until last summer that I decided to use this.

30 hit me hard.  I felt like I had accomplished very little in my life.  While I can look on the bright side (I have a successful marriage, I have a job, I own a home, I have food to eat) there are also a lot of things I don’t have (a savings account with actual money in it, a retirement plan for my husband, a fancy car, or a baby).  Since I didn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself forever I decided I would look into finishing my degree.  I had some hours to carry over and I didn’t want to waste the effort I had put in.

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I had changed my major 3 times originally and I still didn’t know what I wanted.  I decided to go with the interdisciplinary route instead.  This option let me choose 3 majors, all of which have nothing to do with each other, to make my own degree.  This was the best option for me.  I can do things I love and things that will help with my career at the same time.

While this has not been an easy experience I am trying every single day to stay positive about it.  I have learned that even though I work hard and study its ok to not be a straight A student.  Its ok to pass a class with a C if you worked hard.  It took me a very very long time to dig GPA out of the hole it fell into but I can finally say I am not on academic probation and I’m doing pretty ok considering I work a 40+ hour a week job on top of my class.

Now I am human.  I do get down on myself about this.  I constantly have to remind myself that it is worth it. Its hard to be in the middle of the work day and have to walk clear across campus to take a one hour class and come back sweating with your daily routine messed up.  Its hard to stay up late at night deciphering notes and reading textbooks with the lamps on so not to wake up your husband.

So why am I in college?  Because I deserve it.  Because I deserve to take advantage of what gifts have been given to me by my job. Because I owe it to my husband to make myself better. Because I owe it to myself to make me better.

If you have an opportunity in front of you and you think you aren’t worthy.  Think again.  You are strong.  You are smart.  You are fierce.  You deserve it.  Now work hard and get you some!

Maternity Photo Shoot

When my sister was pregnant with my amazing wonderful nephew she asked me to do some maternity pictures for her.  She is my first and only maternity shoot currently but I had fun with her and her fiance.  The photos were taken at the BREC Arboretum.  This small place is off  the map and was the perfect place for an outdoor shoot.  Most of these are completely raw unedited photos from the day.  The more I shoot babies and pregnant ladies the more I think that they will be my specialty if I ever finish my photography minor and actually retire at some point.

My Life With American Idiot

Next up on my theater journey story telling is American Idiot.  I actually went out of order because I was a part of this one before Evangeline but this one just feels like a blur in my mind.

During Little Mermaid I was asked to be the rehearsal stage manager for this show.  At the end of the summer I joined the cast in the studio theater.  We spent a few weeks in rehearsal and then the Great Flood of 2016 hit.  While the damage was minor the flood affected the theater itself.  It also devastated the home of our stage manager.  Both this show and Evangeline were in rehearsal at the same time and there were several members of the cast or productions teams of the two that were affected as well.  It was a wonderful sight to see the theater family rally together to help each other.  There were groups that help demo houses, there were people who brought food, people who washed clothes, people who opened their homes.  While this was tragic it made me even more thankful to be a part of theater family.

There was never really a normal with this show.  The director and choreographer were a married couple with very different leadership styles.  I often sat in the audience feeling sorry for the cast as they worked on their choreo.  Most of the time it felt like they were doing parkour or intense workouts with tons of burpees and running.  God bless them because I have no idea how they continued to sing through all of that.

Once the show started I worked backstage with props and assisting as a dresser/deck crew.   I genuinely love to perform but I think I thrive backstage.  I like to organize props.  I like to get people dressed and back on stage in 30 seconds.  Plus the pressure is off.  You are a part of the show but you don’t have to face the audience.

The cast of this show was genuinely amazing.  They were young and spirited and made you want to join in the singing.  It was a really awesome way to enter into the community theater world.

True Crime Obsession

My husband works shift work.  I also have no children and the 2 laziest animals on the planet.  That being said when he is on nights I get bored.  Very bored.  A 3 bedroom home is super quiet when there is only one person in it.  So I have been trying to find new ways to entertain myself.

I work late some nights and I do photography or theater things sometimes.  There are the occasional study nights and the nights when I need to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy or Bob’s Burgers.  But I tend to find myself easily distracted and quickly bored.  So on a whim I decided to try a podcast.  It became less of a try and more of an obsession once I figured out what I liked.  And what I like seem to be true crime.  I have found 3 in particular that I listen to literally every single week.

True Crime Obsessed  true crime obsessed

This one is my absolute favorite!  It is hosted by Gillian Pensavalle and Patrick Hinds, a fiery Italian New York lady and a fabulous pink sparkly gay man.  This is my favorite of all of the podcast because they basically review true crime documentaries.  If stuck on Netflix for any amount of time I usually pick a documentary.  A lot of the ones I’ve watched are covered on this show.  They retell the documentary but they do it with so much humor you can’t help but smile and laugh along with them.  Some of my favorite episodes are about Mommy Dead and Dearest and Tower.  Check them out!

Crime Junkie  crime junkie

This is the podcast I landed upon first.  I was intrigued by their first episode which was about the death of Lacey Peterson.  It had been so long since that story happened I had completely forgotten about it.  This one is hosted by Ashley Flowers.  There isn’t any comedy just a lot of facts.  If you are really interested in learning about cases this is the one for you.  She is also a big advocate of Crime Stoppers and she tells stories that could still be solved.  My favorite recent episode is about Chandra Levy.  It shed some light on a story that was overshadowed by a much bigger story in the media.  Check them out!

My Favorite Murder  my favorite murder

Lastly there is My Favorite Murder.  This one is hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georiga Hardstark.  These two are funny and feisty and so fun to listen to.  This podcast has been around since 2016 so there are plenty of episodes to binge on.  Their format is usually the two ladies telling the story of a murder.  I like this one because its sort of a cross between the other two podcast.  It is factual and you learn a lot about cases but there is a lot of humor in it as well.  They also have mini episodes that often feature home town murder stories as well as recordings of live shows.  I find myself listening to this one the most because the episodes are longer.  Check them out!

I usually listen to on Spotify but you can also find them on Apple podcast or Stitcher.  And hey if you come across any other crazy crime ones send them my way.

Dear Teenage Me

 

Dear Teen Megan,

Greetings from 2018.  Guess what you married Terry.  For real.  No seriously this is not a joke.  Not only are you married he is a full on grown up and you are incredibly happy.  Who’d have thought?  I know that was a lot for you to take in but there are some things I want you to know as you are making your way through your teen years.

  1. Please stop thinking your are fat.  You will regret all the time you spent worrying you don’t look like the rest of the girls.  Plus your fat years are in the future so live it up now.
  2. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.  Boys are dumb.  The one you think is “the one” is certainly not.  If someone can’t be proud to be with you in public they don’t deserve kisses from you in private.
  3. Love your friends.  Love them hard.  Some will stay with you and some will not.  Either way the memories you make now will be the best.  Even if they won’t be there for you later be there for them now.
  4. Live life to the fullest.  Don’t let your fear of the unknown stop you from trying.
  5. Take all the pictures.  You don’t want to forget a thing.
  6. Its not the end of the world if you have to ask a boy to a dance.  Some of the best times are had when you pick who you want to have fun with.
  7. Love your girls.  Eat ice cream in the dark.  Throw reeses pieces across the room.  Instant messages all the boys and giggle all night.  Listen to Avril Lavigne as though she were your queen.  Lay in bed and watch movies.  Sing and dance in the living room.  Grown up life gets hard and these times are few and far between.
  8. Its ok to not have babies at 25.  Sure you will cry.  Sure it will suck.  Yes it will be harder than you think and you will be made with God.  You will wonder why you didn’t just mess around at your age when it might have been easier.  Don’t.  It will happen.  We just aren’t there yet.
  9. Be nice to your mama.  She works really hard for you.  She makes sure you have new Nike shocks for school.  She lets your friends stay over all night.  She shops for weeks for the perfect homecoming dress.  Yes she is over protective. But she loves you fiercely so cut her some slack.
  10. Lastly be nice to Terry.  He really does love you.  He has since he was a little 14 year old turd.  He is your forever so don’t be rude.

Love,

Kinda Grown Up Meg

Mockingbird Photo Shoot

Last fall I had the pleasure of stage managing my first main stage show at my local community theater.  What was even better is that it was for such an amazing story.  I got to spend several months in the world of Maycomb Alabama living with Scout, Atticus and the rest of the gang.  I spent those wonderful months working on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird at Theatre Baton Rouge.

While I love to express myself in writing I also like to express myself in other ways as well.  I love to act, sing, and dance.  But a huge passion for me is photography.  I am currently working on my photography minor through LSU and hope someday to be able to hone my craft and do some amazing work.  For now though I use my experience as a photography assistant to help me take concepts and turn them into reality.

I have done several promotion shoots for shows at the theater.  Most of the time I take the shots the marketing manager wants.  Most of the time these are on the set of the show.  Sometimes we get to venture out and create something more.

For Mockingbird we traveled to my side of the river.  We visited the West Baton Rouge Museum.  The feel was perfect for the story.  My concept for these photos was create images that look as though they were actual shots that Scout would find in her home when she is older.  Family shots on the porch or out playing with her friends.  To conclude the shoot we did shots with Scout when she is older in a style similar to the time frame she is set in.  While these edits didn’t make it to the paper I am still proud of the work I did on these.  Enjoy the photographic story of to Kill A Mockingbird,

 

Don’t Check the Box!

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In late December of 2009 Terry and I went to the courthouse hand in hand to turn in our marriage license paperwork.  While most of the document was very cut and dry there was one spot that we didn’t really know what to put.

On a Louisiana marriage license there is the option to have a covenant marriage or not.  It just so happened that a friend of the family that is a lawyer was in the courthouse with us that day.  We thought that a covenant marriage must have meant a religious ceremony.  She looked at us and said I wish you many happy years of marriage but if you ever want to get divorced…DON’T CHECK THE BOX.

A covenant marriage is only a legal option in 3 states, Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana. According to the Louisiana Department of Health Website the rules are as follows:

  1. The couple legally agrees to seek marital counseling if problems develop during the marriage; and
  2. The couple can seek a divorce or legal separation for limited reasons only, as explained herein.

If you choose to separate with your spouse you may legally only do so if your spouse committed adultery, your spouse committed a felony and is now in prison, you or your children are physically or sexually abused by your spouse, you’ve lived apart from your spouse for 2 years or your spouse has habitually misused drugs or alcohol.  Also before any of this can be taken to a judge you must go to counseling and prove that one of these things is going on.  There can be no ‘I think they cheated on me’ in this.

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If you are like me and have heard most people’s reasoning for divorce is irreconcilable differences this could prove to be problematic.  All of the same issues can help with your divorce but that takes a lot more time than you think.  I nall of the cases you must be legally separated for 2 years.  On top of that there is a minimum of 1 year separation AFTER the legal separation.  So for instance you get married.  6 months in you find out your partner has cheated on you.  To get divorced you must now be able to prove the adultery, attend counseling, and petition the judge for separation.  You’ve only been married 6 months so you need to be separated longer before he can grant legal separation.  During this time you attend counseling.  If for some reason you decide to give it another go and your spouse moves back with you that’s it. You start all over.  If you stick to your guns and are separated for 2 years you can then go to court and petition for divorce.  If no minors are involved or physical abuse you can get away with 1 year separation.  That means that you just spent 3 years of your life getting divorced from someone who you only really spent 6 months happily married to.

I am a very happily married woman and I have no intentions of divorcing my husband.  If i want to though I am glad I didn’t check the box.  While I think marriages are absolutely worth fighting for, the amount of hoops you need to jump through when stuck in a bad situation outnumber it for me.  So for those of you planning to get married any time soon just make sure to take your time thinking your options over before you check a box.

 

cited:  http://ldh.la.gov/index.cfm/page/695