Sunday, October 18, 2015

“This is a bathroom, not a peep show!" "The deed is done, mister!”

The night was young and I went to the liquor store around 5:30pm yesterday. Yes, this is indicative of the crazy adventures my flat mates Harry, Rachel, and I had last night! Rachel is the sweetest girl who always loves DRAGging us to “do weird shit.” Literally, DRAG because she is in love with drag queens. Apparently, she googled something along the lines of weird clubs to go to with drag queens and every time, CellarDoor kept popping up. She was craving to visit and Harry and I were down for anything fun.

At 6:45, we hopped on the tube, me drinking out my water bottle. CellarDoor is apparently part bar, part club, so it opened around 6pm. However, Rachel said the reviews warned against arriving past 7:30 because there would already be people there, saving their seats for the show at 9pm. We exited the tube and used google maps to run to the club. I was navigating, but I couldn’t find it. We kept circling this large building with many shops and theatres. Google said we kept passing it but I didn’t see a sign for the club. Rachel was panicking because it was 7:30 so Harry took the phone away from me, accusing me of being too drunk to find it. Five minutes later, he couldn’t find it either! Confused, we all leaned against a tree and I sat down on the curb across the street from the large building. Directly in front of us was the large building we kept circling but on our side of the street there stood what looked like a telephone booth with a bouncer standing in front of it. Harry figured it out first and pointed to the bouncer, informing us that was the club. I was so confused because it literally looked like a telephone booth and then it clicked!! THE CLUB WAS LITERALLY THROUGH A CELLAR DOOR! Until this point, this club was a source of entertainment like any other club and I was honestly only coming to appease Rachel. After this point, the club increased in coolness! We ran up to the bouncer, asking for entry. The bouncer looked us over and sadly informed us that the club was at maximum capacity. He told us to call at 8pm to see if there was an opening. Rachel looked sad, but we tried to cheer her up by saying that we could come another night?

You know that feeling when you get rejected and that makes you what it even more? That’s exactly how I felt about this club after we got turned away! I was willing to walk back over at 8pm to ask for entry again. We went across the street to a pub. I looked at my phone and it was around 7:55. I glanced out the window towards the entrance of the club and I saw a queue! With very few words to Harry and Rachel, I bolted to add myself to the end of the queue! The people in front of me were talking about the small chance they had of getting into this club since it was already full. They left to the queue, so somehow I rose to the front of the queue. I was waiting, making small talk with the bouncer and asking him about his life, when suddenly two people left! The bouncer, my new friend, was like “congrats, you can now go in” and I was like “OH MY GOSH, CAN I RUN AND GET MY FRIENDS?” He hesitated, but consented. Rachel, Harry, and I walked down the stairs through the telephone booth and entered this very small, intimate, lively room with a bar at the front. We found the only table with no chairs, but I thought who needs chairs when you can dance?

 We started dancing to normal pop music. For example, they played Bang Bang once by Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande.

Then sometime later, probably around 9, the curtain next to us opened to reveal a drag queen with blue feathered hair named Uma! She was DJ-ing right next to our table! Suddenly, the entire environment changed. The songs changed from pop to throwback old school music! For example, she played September by Earth, Wind, and Fire. There were a lot of older women there, so the older tunes definitely got them pumped because I felt the energy spike as soon as she started DJ-ing!

We took so many selfies with Uma because did I mention that Rachel is obsessed with drag queens? Well, she is.

As one does when one has had too much liquid, one goes to the bathroom. I really had to pee. So I walked two steps away from our table to the bathroom. I was standing in front of the bathroom because there was a lady in there doing her makeup. Now that I think about it, I felt like I was in the bathroom with her but I wasn’t. It feels like that because the door was see-through. I didn’t think of it for too long. I turned the door knob to the right until it wouldn’t go anymore and then I peed. After I was done washing my hands and about to unlock the door, I noticed that I could see out into the hallway. I was very confused, but I thought that the door was like FBI glass where I could see out to the hallway but no one could see in? At least that’s what I kept telling myself so that I wouldn’t panic because I might have JUST PEED WITH A SEE THROUGH DOOR. Luckily, I didn’t notice anyone walk by when I was peeing so I justified that it was all okay!

I walked back to Rachel and Harry to continue dancing. Later, Rachel was like “I need to pee.” So she walked the two steps away from our table to the bathroom. I was dancing when she hollered for me. I walked over and she was like “CASEY THIS DOOR IS SEE THROUGH!” and I was like “HUH?” so she tried to figure out how to make it not see through anymore. She tried, but she failed. She instructed me to stand in front of the door while she peed so that no one would see through it. I consented but when the next good song came on, I started dancing and stopped fully covering the door. Suddenly the same bouncer that let us in walks by, he sees me, smiles, looks behind me to see Rachel peeing, and gives me a face of horror. I was like “what?” He, appalled, says “This is a bathroom, not a peep show!” Rachel walks out of the bathroom and exclaims to the man “The deed is done, mister!” She grabs my hand and we walk back to the table to continue dancing. I bet that in that moment, the bouncer regretted letting us into the club!!

About half an hour later, we talked about leaving for another club. Before leaving, Rachel and I decided we wanted to use the bathroom again. I went over to stand in front of Rachel while she used the bathroom, but I looked at the corner of the door and discovered it was no longer see-through! Rachel figured it out! There was another metallic ring around the door knob that you needed to rotate around the door knob to make the glass opaque! Thinking back to the bouncer yelling at me, he did say something like turn the ring around the door knob, but oops, it was too late!

We just aren’t classy enough to use fancy bathrooms.

We left to dance at a gay club with great music. We danced the night away until 3:30 am and I learned that Rachel doesn’t like the song Crazy in Love by BeyoncĂ©. After the club, Harry, being the god that he is, bought us McDonalds. We got home around 4:30 and I fell hard asleep until noon this morning!

Yeah, my flat mates are pretty cool, even though we don’t really know how to pee in fancy bathrooms and we go to McDonalds at 4:00am. 

“The floor is the best partner an actor can have for it is unrelentlessly hard”

My first couple of weeks in London have been…bloody brilliant! My first week consisted of orientation 3 days a week, each one for about an hour a day. There was much room for sightseeing that week!

 My second week here, school started. I only have classes on Mondays from 1pm – 8pm and Wednesdays from 10am – 10pm. I don’t mind the long hours because this means more time for traveling on the weekends.

I think this is one of my favorite paintings
ever and it's at the National Gallery here! 
     My acting classes are fascinating. I am learning so much about my body, improv, and acting techniques. During one of my acting classes, we lay on the floor and we were instructed to just breathe. We noticed our breathing patterns and the rhythmic movement of our body parts as each breath filled us.

Then we were instructed to try as many different positions as possible and notice how our breathing changed.  I previously thought of my body as a blob that I carried around, now it’s my prop for communicating with others.

Westminster is one of the most
 beautiful places I've seen. 
Afterwards, we were instructed to move, but keep one or two points of contact with the floor at all times. Points of contact meaning one or two surfaces of your body touching the floor, the goal was to see how many funky positions you could twist your body into. Using the heel of my foot and the palm of my hand as my points of contact, I was in mid lunge. So focused on balancing to think about other positions I could transition to or other points of contact, I fell hard on my thigh.  My instructor came over with “I loved what you were doing with your body and you can go so many places from there.”  She placed herself in my position; balancing so much better than I did, and showed me the flexibility I had in that position. She effortlessly transitioned into 5 more positions and left me with the task of finding more. After she untangled herself from a pretzel like position, she comforting said “Sorry you fell. The floor is the best partner an actor can have, though, for it is unrelentlessly hard.” I had never thought of the floor that way and I loved this new idea that the floor was my partner. I was willing to try again. Previously I thought I had exhausted the different positions I could make holding myself up with my palm and my heel.  Since I was blank on inspiration, I started pulling inspiration from water, food, etc. Essentially, asking myself if someone poured water on top of my head, how could I guide it down with my body, like a water slide? However, if I could push through, let my body guide me, and pull from multiple depots of inspiration, it opened up a whole new world for possibilities.

Right next to Westminster is Westminster Abbey,
the most beautiful Cathedral 
Pushing through and pulling from other sources of inspiration came in handy in another acting class. The improv game felt like it was going on forever. I have a hat of ideas and when it feels like I might get to the bottom of my idea hat, I think back to that day and think about other sources of inspiration. I think about what I’m not thinking about, about my facebook news feed, about my cooking experience, about any films or anything I’ve seen recently. Usually, then I can form an idea for a scene. With improv and with other things, you don’t have to plan out the entire scene. You can have an initial idea and just go with it to see what comes out! I feel like this was an important lecture for me. Just letting go and instinctively, reacting with my body and my words. Because acting is about reacting! Writing this blog post and reflecting on pushing through and pulling out more creativity reminds me of Ben Linder’s bird lecture.  

I found Big Ben sightseeing!
This wasn't super hard to spot! 
For those of you that don’t know, first years at Olin College take a course called Design Nature where they design animals inspired by nature. It’s an introductory design and machining class at Olin College. Ben Linder, the Design Nature instructor, once challenged us to individually scribble on a post-it note as many birds as we could think of in 1 minute. I recorded 20, maybe?
Post exercise, the students shared their count of total birds. Unless you were Riley Chapman, most of us had around 20-30? Then Ben Linder asked Debbie Chandra, another instructor who participated and swore she did not know the topic beforehand, to share her bird count and she had around 80! AROUND EIGHTY! In his lecture, he revealed that the secret to listing as many birds as possible was FRAMING. Instead of asking yourself to list out all the birds you know, you should frame the problem differently. You should first think about all the places where you might see birds. Then go through each location and write down the birds you see at that location. Then, move on to another location.  For example, start with downtown, ask yourself how many birds you know that belong around the city. You should then think about the zoo and ask yourself what birds you would see in any downtown city.  Instead of going hard at once and writing down all the birds you can think of at once, frame the problem into categories.  I feel like framing is coming in handy during my improv games!

It’s weird, I didn’t think much of this semester would tie back to Olin! But hey, surprise! The process of generating creative ideas for improv scenes can also be applied to generating creative ideas for engineering projects! Framing is important for fruitful and diverse thinking apparently!

Also the rumors are true, Wicked is the best musical in town. Simply amazing.

Oh and also, the Buzzfeed article was a lie! I have located both avocados and peanut butter. The avocados taste just like they do at home. I bought 3 huge avocados for 2 pounds at Borough Market on Friday and made guacamole for dinner yesterday. However, I haven't tried the peanut butter brand here since I'm not done with my large tub of peanut butter that I brought with me from the states! I will keep you updated! 

Later, friends!