2019 reading recap

hello!

i know it’s a little bit late for a 2019 recap type of post, but it’s still (barely) january so i think it’s ok. & there were a few books i read last year that i just love to death & would regret not telling you guys about. i usually include stats with my reading recaps, like genres/ratings, but i did a really awful job tracking those things this time around. so this is just some quick reviews & my thoughts on the best & worst books i read in 2019.


favorites

crush – this is easily my favorite poetry collection, if not one of my favorite books ever. one time i described richard siken’s poetry as a fever dream that lingers in the back of your mind, & i still stand by that. i use lines from this book as instagram captions, i got a gift last summer of a soccer ball covered in his quotes, i want these poems tattooed on my body someday, etc. i really don’t know how else to explain how much i love crush, but it’s gorgeous & unforgettable.

thirteen doorways, wolves behind them all – i don’t usually read historical fiction, because i feel like they usually focus more on portraying past events correctly than on developing interesting characters. but this book got five stars from me. it’s got orphanages, ghosts, tender romances, & more wonderful things that i’ve forgotten about because i read it too quickly. it made me think a lot about God & dreams and fate. also, the diction is so achingly beautiful. 10/10 would recommend.

a list of cages – i have a lot of feelings about this book!! the main characters are two boys, adam & julian, who both have disabilities (ADHD & dyslexia, respectively) & share such a sweet bond. julian gets abused by his uncle throughout the course of the story, & the descriptions of what julian had to suffer through were incredibly hard to read about. it made me cry & i felt like i was going to be sick at some points. despite that, it’s still an important, touching story that i would recommend to anyone who thinks they can deal with reading about the graphic abuse.

a thousand naked strangers – i don’t think i’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but i want to be a paramedic, maybe for the coast guard or a medevac service.  i read this memoir in order to learn more about EMS. i loved it because of the intense, exciting calls, the way the author’s job impacted him as a person, & because it’s a peek into the life i want. so this is more of an “i liked it because it’s personal” kind of book, not “everyone will think this is amazing & should read it right now!!” type, because EMS probably isn’t something that everyone will find captivating.

honorable mentions

overhyped

so i have one big thing about each of these books that really frustrated me, & here they are:

love & gelato – i thought the mc was kind of rude to all the other characters she interacted with, so it was hard for me to care much about what happened to her. & the entire story occurred over the course of just a few days, which means that it contains sickeningly high amounts of insta-love.

when dimple met rishi – rishi’s pursuit of dimple was sort of creepy in my opinion, because he knew she wasn’t interested in the arranged marriage but kept trying to woo her anyway. & as for dimple herself, she was honestly a huge jerk. she threw a drink on rishi the first time they met, was always mentioning how much better she was than other girls (just because she didn’t wear makeup & she liked STEM), was rude to everyone for no reason, & was overall just an unlikable character. & since i didn’t care about either of the mcs, i didn’t care about the story, either.

the upside of unrequited – none of the characters in this book were good people?? (except for molly’s moms, of course. absolute sweethearts.) i just thought that all of them were irritating & they didn’t look out for or seem to care about each other, even the twins & best friends. all the platonic bonds in this book were ignored in the pursuit of romantic ones.

dumplin’ – for a book that’s supposed to be about body positivity, willowdean sure does seem to hate the way she looks. she’s always self-conscious about her size when she’s with her love interest or best friend, which a) isn’t a good sigh in any relationship, romantic or not, & b) undermines the message of the story, which is essentially that all bodies are good bodies. i thought the movie was a lot better, which isn’t something i say very often.


so those are the highs & lows of my 2019 reading challenge! let me know in the comments what the best or worst books you read last year were. & if you’ve read any of the books i mentioned in this post, tell me how you felt about them.

xo apollo

goals for 2019 | results

hey everyone, happy 2020!

i stayed up late on new year’s listening to spotify’s top pop songs of the decade playlist, & that made me feel kinda nostalgic. most of the songs that i knew were from old just dance games.

but anyway, it made me think about how most of my childhood took place during the 2010’s, & by the end of this decade i’ll be an adult & i’ll probably have finished college & i’ll have moved out. all of that is kind of terrifying to me, in an exciting way. if i keep thinking about this stuff, i might end up having a crisis, so let’s just get into the goals that i wanted to accomplish in 2019.

(key: ✅ means i reached my goal, ❌ means i failed, and 🔵 means i partially did it.)


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read one page of les misérables a day 🔵

i was actually doing a super good job with my reading until august, when marching band started & i had absolutely no time. well, i did have a tiny bit of free time, but i spent it sleeping because band camp is such a workout. & i know that’ll sound crazy to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but you try marching on your toes with a heavy drum strapped to your chest for hours & hours in a parking lot during the hottest month of the year. all you will want to do once you get home is shower & go to bed, not struggle through a really confusing & sort of boring french book.

that being said, i am not completely giving up on les mis! i love the musical & i want to finish this book because it’s a classic, & i have hope that it’ll be interesting once i get through all the setup for the revolution. i made it to page 228; that’s 16% of the book! it’s a start!

join drumline

i played bass in my school’s drumline, & it was really good but also incredibly chaotic. i missed a week of band camp, our bass captain moved so the drill & music had to be rewritten, i got a concussion & forgot the music for our ballad, the new bass captain got injured a ridiculous amount of times & had to play on the sidelines for most of the season, etc. so it was kinda hectic, but i realized that i absolutely love bass & all my drumline friends.

i know that i’m biased, but i would say that our show was pretty amazing, especially factoring in my band’s size (we’ve got maybe forty people on a good day?). it was called darkness all around & was about a girl who realizes over the course of the show that demons have gotten into her head/home. i can’t seem to find a video of it anywhere online, but it was based on tarpon springs’ 2010 show.

get a summer job

this is not news to anyone, but i worked at a boy scout summer camp & had the time of my life (click here & here to read about it). i was on the handicraft staff & the area director is my favorite person ever, plus he goes to college in my town so i’ve seen him a few times since the summer camp season ended. anyway, i’m definitely going to be staffing again next year, & volunteering at the winter & spring break camps.

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earn ten merit badges

i actually ended up getting twenty-three . . . so, check? i earned three while at AHG camp (those were dance, engineering, & robotics), three with my troop, & all the rest were just ones i worked on by myself. i had to get another sash at the beginning of the year because i ran out of room on my first one. whoops? that’s a crazy number of badges, but a lot of them overlapped with school (thank you science & social studies classes). although there were a few that took a lot of work, like camping, outdoor cooking, & outdoor skills, all of which took me years to finish but ended up being my favorites anyway.

go vegetarian

december marked one year of me being a vegetarian! i think i’ve eaten more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in the past year than is really healthy. it hasn’t been that difficult for me because i didn’t particularly like meat in the first place, but i have missed BBQ & chinese-style chicken.

continue to explore cooking 🔵

i didn’t really do much cooking this year, which i am honestly so sad about. i got this amazing vegetarian cookbook for my birthday & only ended up making a few recipes from it. between soccer & summer camp & marching band, i didn’t have enough time at home to actually prepare the recipes that i wanted to. hopefully that’ll change in 2020, but my schedule is supposed to be just as busy as it was last year, so i don’t really know.

read 50 books

i actually overachieved on this one & read 61 books in 2019! my favorite was definitely crush by richard siken, which is a poetry collection & one of my top books of all time. i’m currently working on another post about some more of my favorite reads of the year, so look out for that sometime this month (hopefully).


here are my goals for 2020:

– read 60 books
– finish painting my mural
– get better at driving
– write more poetry
– spend more time with friends
– go running more often
– volunteer with a cub scout troop

i’ve got a few more goals, like playing varsity soccer, visiting the great dismal swamp, & being my marching band’s drum captain, but those aren’t really up to me. so i’ll just have to wait & see about those, but i’ll be working on the other ones.

what goals do you have for 2020?

xo apollo

letter from last summer | pt. one

lake dillon

| the cast |

jordan: eccentric handicraft director; the kindest, most helpful person at camp; doesn’t believe that birds are real.

you: CIT; has the loveliest brown eyes; awful at goodbyes.

week one

i came home from staff training & the first week of camp & wrote in my journal, it is only ten days later but the world feels completely different. there was a burn across my cheeks & bruises splattered over my legs like paint, but i was electric; i felt like i had swallowed the june sun.

the first week was ecstatic & exhausting. it was reuniting with old friends & throwing together lesson plans & moving into a tiny cabin with three other girls & learning how to live in the woods again.

the troop i was in charge of must have thought i was the greatest person at camp. they invited me to have dinner with them again & again & even picked orange daylilies for me. the flowers were gorgeous, but i wished that they were from someone else.

it stormed one evening so we had a game night in the dining hall. we were playing a round of twister that refused to end & you were sitting by yourself with a practice pad & drumsticks. my heartbeat matched the cadence you were playing & i have not been the same since.

week one i became best friends with a CIT & it almost ruined everything. we stayed up late together every night, talking from inside our hammocks & playing cards & listening to classic rock. i had a gut feeling that this would be a summer for change. i was right.

lake olga

week two

i came home from the second week of camp & wrote in my journal, it has been one hell of a week.

let me set the scene: it’s my night off & you tell me that we are going to have a campfire. later in the night, you will accidentally hit me in the head with a smoldering stick & my favorite pair of shorts will disappear forever; but for now the air smells like cedar smoke & i’m counting fireflies as they flit through the twilight. at this point, i have known you for fifteen days.

my best friend called as our campfire was starting to crumble into coals. you’d never met her, but you got on the phone with her & talked about me for twenty minutes. she told me that your voice was adorable & that i should keep you. i promise i’ve been trying.

week two, you learned something about me that everyone else already knew: sometimes everything gets to be too much for me, which is when the panic & shaking sets in. that week, the thing that pushed me over was all the attention from the campers & scout masters. i should’ve been used to it from last summer, but the comments & stares & questions still made fear & bad memories creep up & down the back of my neck.

i came to you crying one night. that was weakness & i know it, but you invited me into your hammock & held me against your chest until the shaking stopped; you told me stories about your childhood until i calmed down enough to fall asleep.

from my journal

you asked me what i looked for in a person (i feel like i’ve heard this question before) so i made you a list: brown eyes, percussionist, likes adventure, takes care of me, comfortable silence, not restrictive, believes me, understands my anxiety, talkative (not too much), always gentle. you fit all but one. i made you guess & of course you got it right.

here’s something you keep bringing up, months later. one evening we were in my hammock & jordan cut the straps with a car key. cue crashing to the ground in a tangle of limbs & you storming off. i’ve tried to tell you that he just wants to keep me safe. i hope your bruises from the fall have healed.

remember the sunrise? we sat on the plaza overlooking the lake at 5:52 in the morning. the sun rose somewhere behind the trees & the colors were lost to us. you yawned & said that it was a waste; i was just happy to have a quiet, soft moment with you in the morning. i remember glasses & messy hair & bare feet & putting on your shirt to ward off the chill.

week three

i came home from the third week of camp & wrote in my journal, i started crying during the campfire & couldn’t stop.

it was a whirlwind of a week, made worse by the fact that you disappeared.

you were a camper that week. you told me you’d stop by handicraft to see me but you never did. i tried not to let it bother me, but i kept winding up in the health lodge before classes, crying on the quarantine bed. i’m learning that i get sick when i’m upset about something. i was sick quite often that week & the something was you.

that was the week of the wilderness. we left camp for a day to hike through the forest, jump from waterfalls, scale rock faces. i had never been stunned into silence by nature until that trip. & i like to think that i am brave, but i never would have leapt from that cliff if you hadn’t done it with me. it was falling & falling & feeling like throwing up before hitting the water with a crash & a whoop of joy.

this is where i want to kiss you

i dreamt about the view sometimes, so i went back to the falls by myself. it wasn’t the same because i wasn’t in love. i stood at the foot of the cliffs in the exact place where you asked if we were just going to be a summer fling, & i am not ashamed to say that the memories in that forest made me cry.

there were fireworks the night after we got back. we sat by the lake to watch the explosions. it was raining. let me be poetic & pretend that the storm was mourning you & me, because the week was almost over & then you’d be gone for good.

on your last day, i wrote two love letters at one in the morning. in the letter that i gave to you, i wrote, nothing is guaranteed in life & i am trying to be ok with that, but i hope i see you next summer & the next one & the next one & the next one. the letter i still have says, when i’m with you, it’s like i’ve never been sad in my life.


i finally finished writing about my first year staffing at a boy scout summer camp. i’ve been going to this camp with my AHG troop since i was twelve, so getting to spend the whole summer teaching there was almost an unreal experience.

i miss that place & my friends more than i know how to express. it’s always been a safe place for me; somewhere to recenter myself. six & a half months until i get to have another wonderful, chaotic summer there. i hope i get to fall in love again.

i’ve already written part two, so expect to see that sometime soon.

xo apollo

2019 soccer season

soccer season ended a few weeks ago and i already miss it so much. i have too much energy because i don’t have practice everyday after school anymore. anyway, all my friends and family are sick of me talking about soccer all the time, so i thought i’d get it all out of my system by discussing the entire season here.

first off, here are the basics: i played on JV for most of the season, my jersey was #1, and i played midfield and striker.

this was my first time playing for a serious team. in the past, i’d always played on rec leagues with my best friend. we practiced once a week and had a game every saturday. this season was a huge change for me, because my school’s sports teams practice everyday and have two or three games a week. it was exhausting, but i loved every minute of it.

soccer has always been a big part of my life. i started playing when i was six years old, on a team with my brother. my parents were the coaches. i played two seasons a year. eventually, my brother quit soccer for karate, and i joined a different league with my best friend. i was invited to play for their travel team, which i was so excited about, but my family couldn’t afford it. all of that led up to this season. :)


| my progress |

i’ve been playing soccer for years, and my favorite position is midfield. i wasn’t the one who made the goals, i was the one who made assists. but this year, i found myself playing striker, too (and stopper, at one point). i was hesitant about it at first, but then i scored the first goal of the season for either girls team, and after that i absolutely loved it. so i played striker for a few games, had some really good shots on goal, and then my coach switched me back to center mid, where i stayed for the rest of the season. i guess our defense was struggling, and she thought i could help them out.

my speed improved so much! my mom has always told me that i’m one of the fastest players on the field, but she’s my mom, so i tend to not believe her about things like that. but then some of the varsity players were talking about how fast and aggressive i am, which just made me feel so proud of myself for how hard i’d worked during practice. my team did this fitness test called the yo-yo a lot, which is like the pacer but so much worse. i always tried so hard when we ran the yo-yo, even though i hated it, and my speed and endurance definitely improved because of it.

also, i gained around seven pounds of muscle! i’ve been underweight my whole life, but now i feel like i look less sickly. most of the muscle gain was in my legs, obviously, so now most of my shorts don’t fit because they’re too tight around the thighs. my calves and abs are also more defined now. and i know a lot of people consider weight gain to be a bad thing, but i’m actually really happy about this. i worked hard all season and i’m glad that there’s physical proof of it.

this is me playing with an undiagnosed concussion :)

| injuries |

about halfway through the season, i injured both of my legs. the insides of my thighs hurt so much, even when i was just sitting still. i eventually went to the school’s athletic trainer, who told me i had pulled both of them. i had to sit out a few practices, but i was so eager to play that i got back on the field before i was healed. my legs kept hurting for a good five weeks, which was probably because i refused to rest. but i’m finally feeling better, so i guess it all worked out.

then right at the end of the season, i got a more serious injury. during a varsity game against our rival school, i got knocked over twice and hit the back of my head on the ground both times. the other players got fouled, the varsity coach didn’t pull me out of the game, and we kept going. i didn’t have a headache or anything, and i wasn’t dizzy, so i assumed i was fine. then at one point, my coach started yelling at me from the sidelines, but i couldn’t understand what he was saying. i mean, i knew he was speaking to me, but i couldn’t figure out the words. that kept happening for the rest of the game, whenever my teammates were giving me instructions. i guess that’s when i realized something was wrong.

i went to see the athletic trainer the next day, and she gave me the concussion test . . . which i did not pass. (one part of it was counting backwards from one hundred by sevens, so there wasn’t really any hope of me passing). i had to sit out about a week’s worth of practices and games, which was unbelievably frustrating.

the worst part was that the varsity coach had recently started letting me play with his team. i’d been practicing with varsity, and getting a good fifty minutes of play time during games. i had worked so, so hard all season to get pulled up, so getting injured when i did felt like everything i’d worked for had been ripped away from me.

the athletic trainer cleared me just in time for JV’s last game. i was so happy to be back with my team and to be able to finish out the season with everyone.

i wasn’t the only player to get injured this year, either. three other JV girls got concussions, one JV player quit after spraining her ankle, and five varsity players were out for most of the season for various injuries.

“good game” . . . lol sure

| varsity |

near the end of the season, so many of the varsity girls were injured that their team didn’t have any subs at all. if they couldn’t find subs, they were going to start forfeiting games, so their coach started pulling girls from JV. the first time he did that, he was deciding between me and one of our captains. both teams thought it was going to be me, which just made it more disappointing when he picked the other girl. but i must say that i played really well during the JV game that night, and the varsity coach must have noticed, because he pulled me up for the next game and started having me practice with varsity, too.

i only ended up playing three games with varsity, but i know i would have had more if i hadn’t gotten a concussion.

warming up

| playoffs |

i got pulled up to varsity again for playoffs. that was absolutely the most intense game i had ever seen. we were tied 3-3 at the end of the game, so we played ten minutes of overtime, then ten more minutes of sudden death. no one had scored after those extra twenty minutes, so we went to penalty kicks. the whole team lined up on the field, holding hands as our designated kickers took the five penalty kicks. in the end, the other team scored one more time then we did, so they won the whole thing. we were all crying and hugging and it was so emotional because that was the seniors’ very last game, and the varsity coach’s, too.

team huddle

| team events |

i think JV was more interested in having fun than playing a good game, so we organized a bunch of events throughout the season. there was a secret santa-type thing, a team dinner, a fun practice where we just played games the whole time, and a picnic at a park, among other things.

i didn’t participate in the events at the beginning of the season because i didn’t feel like i belonged the there. i was at a new school this year, so i wasn’t friends with anybody. i had played soccer with a few of the girls when i was in elementary school, and i have classes with a few of them, but that was the extent of our interaction.

i remember one of my marching band friends coming to pre-season conditioning once, as well as tryouts, but the coaches told her she couldn’t play because they didn’t have her physical. now, i know this is a lie because we had to turn in physicals for band all the way back in autumn. so i don’t really understand what happened.

anyway, not having her there made me uncomfortable and i guess i pulled back into my shell. i didn’t talk much during practice or bus rides until about halfway through the season, when i started making friends with my teammates. we were sitting in the stands during an away game, watching varsity play, and three girls invited me to sit with them. it was early spring and absolutely freezing, so they offered to share their blanket with me. we talked while the game went on and hit it off, which made me feel so much more welcome on the team. i wonder if they realized that their kindness at that one game made the entire season a much better experience for me. it really is the small things.

i did end up getting into some drama with one of my teammates, which made our friendship a little weird for a week or two. basically, her girlfriend at the time was absolutely insane and extremely jealous. she found out that my friend had helped me with homework during our pre-practice study hall and kind of lost her mind. she would say petty things to me in class and also posted things about me on social media. she painted the situation to make it look like i had asked her girlfriend for homework help multiple times just to spend more time with her, even though i didn’t need the assistance at all because i got good grades in that class. in reality, my friend had offered to help on one occasion, and a few of my other teammates were helping, too.

another time she went to one of our games and saw my friend and i warming up together. apparently she went off on her girlfriend later about how she didn’t want her to warm up with me anymore.

she keeps telling people that i’m trying to steal her girl. the whole thing is so unnecessarily rude and petty. we were just being friends and she tried so hard to make me look like a homewrecker. it’s a good thing she never found out about us holding hands during the penalty kicks at playoffs, or else i think she would have actually tried to beat me up.

zoom zoom

| next season |

so i am a little bit worried about next season. the varsity coach is stepping down, which makes me wonder if i’ll actually get varsity next year like i think i should. that probably sounds stuck-up, but i figured getting pulled up this year would mean actually being on varsity next time. a few of the varsity girls told me that they loved watching me play during JV games, and didn’t understand why i hadn’t been put on varsity in the first place.

but if varsity is getting a new coach, they might not let me play on their team because they won’t know that i did a good job this season. maybe it’s dumb to worry about this now, since there’s a whole year before next season, but still.

i’m so excited to keep playing soccer for my school and hopefully in college. i am not used to being exceptional at something that i love.


do you play spring sports? how did your season go?

xo apollo

mini birthday haul

hello, loves!

i had a birthday awhile ago, and i finally got around to putting together a haul for you guys. the gifts from my friends/family are all extremely thoughtful and i’m so grateful for everything i received!

i didn’t plan anything crazy this year, like when i took my friends to d.c. for my last birthday. this time, we just went out for dinner and then watched clueless at my  house while eating homemade soft pretzels and discussing astrology. i was trying to combine two friend groups (homeschool friends + public school friends), and that made things kind of awkward, but i’m still thankful that everyone made an effort to bridge the gap for me.


notebook & paper mate candy pop felt tip pens – my favorite section leader from marching band gave these to me and told me that it’s a new poem notebook. i never really talk to any of my friends about my poetry, so i was really touched that she knew that about me.

the notebook that i currently use for poetry is from a camp friend, and it’s still mostly empty. but my journal is approximately ¾ full, so i think i’ll start using this one as a journal once i run out of pages in the other one.

candy bars – nothing makes me feel more loved than when people remember tiny details about me, like what my favorite types of candy are (anything mint or coconut!). that’s why something as simple as candy from someone  i love made my day. :)

megan sent me the sweet card on the left, and the small one with the fish is from a girl in drumline. they’re both so gorgeous and my friends’ artistic talent is amazing to me.

(i’ve come to the conclusion that my friends only buy me makeup/skincare stuff because they are tired of my facing looking the way that it is.)

freeman feeling beautiful avocado + oatmeal clay mask – despite their messiness, i prefer clay masks over sheet ones. i guess i like being able to move without worrying about the mask slipping off? anyway, this mask is such a pretty sky blue color and i can’t wait for a night when i have enough time to try it.

under eye gold gel mask, purifying black charcoal mask, & hydrogel lip patch – i always have really dark shadows under my eyes (thanks, insomnia), so maybe the under eye mask will help with that.

baby lips cherry me, pink punch, and my pink – my sweet friend from math class picked these out for me because they’re her personal favorite. i’d never tried baby lips before, but now i really love them. i adore the red tint from cherry me, and my pink smells incredible.

milani flashing light holographic lip topper – this is maybe the weirdest lip product i’ve ever used. i tried it on when i first got it, and it genuinely looks like i put glitter glue on my lips. also, it has this really distinct smell that’s somewhere in between candy, icing, and cookie dough.

e.l.f. moonlight pearls highlight – last halloween, my friend izzy and i were playing around with facepaint to go along with our costumes. i was particularly fond of some white glitter paint, which i used in lieu of highlight. i giggled all evening and took tons of pictures of myself because i loved the way the sparkles looked in the autumn light. it makes me so happy that my friends remembered how much i loved it and then went to the trouble of getting me an actual highlight!

squishmallow pug dog – izzy walked into the restaurant carrying an enormous white trash bag with this cutie stuffed inside. she flipped between proudly announcing that it was the Best Gift Ever and telling me that i would probably hate it. as it turns out, i don’t hate the pug at all, and his name is turtle, and he feels exactly like a giant marshmallow. there is no other way to describe it.

gap year in ghost town by michael pryor – a school friend got this paranormal book for me! it’s been on my TBR for a while, and obviously i’m really excited to read it. it sounds similar to the lockwood & co. series by jonathan stroud, which is one of my favorites, so i have high hopes for this. :)

recipe book – my grandma knows that i enjoy cooking, so she put together a cookbook for me with the help of my great aunt. it already has pages and pages of their favorite recipes with handwritten notes, and it’s such a sweet, thoughtful gift. there are a few meat-based recipes that i doubt i’ll be making anytime soon (april marks my fifth month of being vegetarian!), but i am still so touched by this cookbook.


again, i am so thankful for all the thoughtful gifts i received! it was probably the most chill party i’ve ever had, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. i feel like i would’ve preferred celebrating on my own, though? who knows.

what do you usually do for you birthday? i tend to come up with super complicated cake ideas and chat in the kitchen with my mom as she struggles to create them.

xo apollo

do you hear the people sing? | my les misérables experience

 

hey, guys!

at the end of february, my school put on a production of the classic musical les misérables. that’s a pretty challenging choice for a bunch of high schoolers, but i think we pulled it off pretty well.

i spent most of my time last month working on this show, so i thought i’d write about what that experience was like! i hope you enjoy this peek into a high school theatre department. :)


originally, i had auditioned to be part of ensemble. i sang left behind from spring awakening and it actually went a lot better than i had expected it to. but i ended up not getting cast (the directors made the cast super small this year, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but oh well), so i decided to work backstage instead. my main job was doing props with one other girl, but i also helped my mom with fixing costumes when i got the chance, because props is kind of boring.

my proudest moment was when i got to carry a potted plant on stage at the beginning of in my life/a heart full of love. that was my one second in the spotlight and i only messed up half of the time!

the theatre tech class made hundreds of these for the show

personally, i didn’t enjoy backstage very much. our crew was entirely girls, and they were all a big group of friends. i only knew two of them from marching band, although i wasn’t very close with them anyway. so i felt out of the loop and a little excluded from crew stuff during the musical. like, they got a professional picture of the backstage girls that i wasn’t in, they bought pizzas during rehearsal without telling me, etc.

crew was seriously unappreciated. we were going over bows at one rehearsal, and when all of the actors had gotten their turn, someone asked our theatre director when crew was supposed to bow. she replied that we weren’t going to because she’d never been in a show where backstage bowed. everyone in crew was outraged, and it made some of the cast upset, too. i understand that in a professional show, crew probably wouldn’t get a bow, but this was just a high school production. crew had been at all the long rehearsals, we’d put in just as much effort as everyone else, and we felt like we deserved one moment of recognition. eventually, our director agreed to let us bow, but i think most of us were still bitter about it for the rest of the shows.

but i’m going to be honest: crew has more fun. while the actors were running back and forth between the wings, fussing with mics and costume changes, we got headsets and sang backstage and danced little jigs during master of the house and the wedding scene.

part of crew @ the barricade. look at our gorgeous, hand-painted background!

since i wasn’t close with any of the crew, i spent a lot of time reading by the props table or distracting my actor friends. actually, i ended up making one friend miss a few of her scenes because we were hanging out in a dressing room listening to bob marley. :)

i also talked with my friends in the pit a lot before shows and during intermission. my favorite section leader was playing oboe, and the marching band’s tenor player was doing percussion. i would sit by the stage and chat with them while charging strips of glow in the dark tape with my phone. the bits of tape were all over the stage, and they let crew know where to put big set pieces.

my brother was also in les mis! he played the innkeeper, monsieur thénardier, and he was absolutely incredible. i was so so proud of him. he was an excellent drunkard and he really commanded the stage during his solos. i also really enjoyed seeing madame thénardier get in his face and push him around during master of the house. anyway, it was a huge leap for him to get such an important role after being in ensemble during last year’s show (the sound of music), and since he did such an amazing job, i have hope that he’ll get the lead in our next one.

speaking of my brother, he got a very sweet candygram from this girl from a neighboring school. they talked for awhile after the show, kept in touch, and then they went on a “casual” date yesterday! she helped direct her school’s production of the little mermaid, my brother was one of the leads in les mis . . . theatre couple?? yes please.

i feel like i’ve explained candygrams before, but in case anyone doesn’t know, they’re these little paper cutouts with candy and handwritten notes on them. so in the lobby, musical parents were selling roses and candygrams for the cast and crew. the cast and directors used those fancy plastic dividers that you hang on doors as mailboxes for their candygrams — crew and pit shared an itty bitty bucket the size of a water glass. i got a few notes from my mom, my friend hannah (who played a lovely lady), and also one from my brother’s ex’s mom?

b&w view of the barricade

for the most part, the cast was phenomenal, but a few choices made me rather upset. first of all, a friend auditioned with me, and he got in but i didn’t. and that’s not really the part that makes me mad. it’s the fact that his audition was literally the worst one. he sang something from phantom, but he’s a terrible singer, didn’t know the words, and stood still while he performed. he’d never done theatre before and didn’t even want to be in the musical. also, his acting was terrible and he spoke his lines instead of singing them. it just makes me so angry that despite being so undeserving of a role, he got in simply because he’s a boy and the directors wanted more soldiers. there were so many better choices at the auditions: people who were passionate and talented and devoted. but they picked him instead because of his gender. it wasn’t fair at all, and i know it’s been months since auditions, but i’m still upset about it.

i don’t know what musical we’re doing next year, but i’ve heard that the directors are considering newsies or beauty and the beast. between those two, i’m hoping for newsies, because i love that show very much. also, i don’t think anyone at my school wants to do a disney musical.

even though i wasn’t cast in les mis, i’m planning on auditioning again next year, because i do love theatre and want to be in a few more shows before i graduate. but if i don’t get a role, i’m not going to help backstage again. it just wasn’t my thing. i didn’t have any friends in crew, i had to go to long rehearsals where crew wasn’t needed, and it was too much work without any appreciation from the directors. without us, the show would have fallen apart, and the theatre director didn’t seem to be aware of that.

to sum things up: i’m so proud of my friends for putting on a stunning rendition of les misérables. the whole experience was emotionally draining and made me lose some of my passion for theatre. but listening to the abc men belt do you hear the people sing? and our insanely talented marius perform empty chairs at empty tables planted this burning, hopeful, defiant feeling in my chest that has not gone away.

red, i feel my soul on fire! black, my world when she’s not there! (abc café/red and black)

xo apollo