Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let's See How Far We've Come 2013: The Year in Review

I did this last year, and I want to do it again before the javascript powering the bottom right copyright thing switches over to 2014 (I figured out how to do that this year, so that's something).  Nevertheless, I want to review the year, because a lot happened.

I didn't write a Christmas Letter this year, which I regret, but honestly I ran out of time. However, the line I borrowed last year from last year's letter holds true this year yet again:
This year was a challenge to see how full a schedule could be, and how much we could change.
January brought a bunch of posts inspired by song lyrics. It also brought Rick Sebak following me in Twitter, and seeing The Chief at the O'Reilly. Yes, I am a Pittsburgh nerd.

February brought the first 2013 Carnegie Elementary Talent Show, as well as TEDxGrandviewAve. It also brought the end to one of my Pittsburgh idols, Peter McKay,'s column in the Post-Gazette. Since then, I've attempted to emulate his style in a combination with Tom Bodett's.

March brought on some sort of philosophical nonsense I can't exactly justify. I was in the midst of that pre-musical funk mixed with a workload I never fully caught up with.

April brought 9 to 5, my second stage production. I also got my driving permit. To those asking me why I didn't try out for 2014's musical, click here.

May brought the second ReimagiNATION, and the goats incident.

June brought liberation from my sophomore year. It also brought the Three Rivers Arts Festival and yet another adventure into the city. (To only some people this will make sense:) we lost Millie, and Dakota. I got kicked out of the high school for the first time, and I went to a drive-in theater.

July brought Fourth of July up at Camp, and I celebrated 4 years of posting here. July also brought Bishop Daniel to Slickville and my father to the rank of Very Reverend. I was published by the UOW, and Signal Item.

August introduced me to the fantastic Spring Standards, and yet another subtle reminder of how much I love photography. It also brought yet another journey to the mythical land of Delmarva (again, it's NOT REAL!). It also brought with it the adventure that was the Baltimore Fender Bender and the start of my Junior Year.

September brought the start to my second year as announcer for the Carlynton Marching Band. It also brought me auditioning for Arsenic and Old Lace, an audition which led to a callback which led to me playing Teddy. It brought the second Powder Puff Game and it brought, wait for it.... wait for it.... THE GIANT RUBBER DUCK!!!!
His All-Yellowness
October brought the end to the Pirates's first winning season in TWENTY YEARS! *party popper* as well as a playoff game *noisemaker* all in view of the duck *fireworks*. It also brought Homecoming, and my first visit to Point Park University.

November brought the first set build I have ever attended, and the busiest month I can remember in a while that I couldn't exactly describe. I helped with the Carnegie Talent Show (yes again, twice in one year, yay!). We brought Arsenic to the elementary schools, and I was interviewed in the Signal Item.

December brought Arsenic and Old Lace. It brought near-end (it still functions, just not very well) of my $5 Yard Sale Camera, and an adventure into the city. It brought me the next chapter of my photography, I presume, with the acquisition of a DLSR camera as well as the realization that 2013 was one fantastic year.

All of the tickets from events I attended in 2013 - minus Arsenic, the Choral/Band Concerts at both CHS and the one at Bethel Park. Note the Bowling Wristbands and Wedding Singer Ticket.

I signed off last year with the proclamation: "I plan on writing by the way until at least 2015. From there only time will tell, but that seems to me to be a tad far off." One year from now, this year-in-review post will be halfway through my senior year of high school. It will be the last review before 2015, you know, the year I graduate and the year this blog is all about: my road to 2015.

To everyone that keeps up with this; reads this blog, thank you. During this same review on 31 December 2012 I said I had nearly 7500 pageviews, with like 100something posts. As of this post, this is post 212, with 12,500something pageviews. That's 5,000 views in one year. I cannot fathom that and have nothing to say but thanks.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Halftime America.

I went through five iterations of title on this, but because of my insistence on writing the title first, I just went with the famous Clint Eastwood commercial quote because I am going to a New Years Party with hosted by a guy who portrayed Clint Eastwood in the Match Game that benefited Arsenic. Lost? Good.

So this is my first full week off of school since summer break. It's a strangely peaceful feeling not having to accomplish some nonsensical deadline. It's during these times that I think the most, it's an isolation that comes as both a blessing and a curse. This week, it was a blessing.

Monday I spent decorating my house because up until that point I hadn't had the time to do so. It took 4 hours, and I probably shocked myself twice (but I can't remember) but it was totally worth it to see my parents' faces when it was all lit up.

Tuesday I spent doing, well, nothing really. Tuesday night I went to the church where we have scout meetings for a Lutheran Christmas Eve service. The front of the evening's bulletin read simply "All is calm, all is bright". And it was. There are certain things that I cannot put into words well, and one of those is the feeling of absolute peace. Not like a 'home' sort of feeling, but of resolution or at least reassurance. I only half payed attention to the service and more or less payed attention to the moment, to the experience of appearing and existing.

Wednesday was Christmas. My family would kill me if I focused on the sippy bird I received, but I would be stupid if I omitted it, because it's pretty awesome. I received from my family this year a Nikon DLSR D90 camera. In English, until this point I've been relying on the $5 Kodak point-and-shoot that my brother acquired for me at a yard sale. My photography has been luck-of-the-draw work. I'd shoot 200 pictures and get 30 that were in focus.

DSLRs are the step up from point-and-shoots. There is so much more control with these things, and on the first day of having this camera, I shot this lovely picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderpopichak/11557347076/. Essentially, it's freaking amazing at it's job. My family has been looking at some of the things I've been doing with the little Kodak, and decided I need to look into this more professionally.

To which I have a bit of a confession: I've been holding off on pursuing photography as something I can legitimately work with because I didn't think I had the camera worth it. Now I do. I have so much learning to do, but I want to take this further. If what they're saying is true and I have an eye for this, who knows what'll happen.

This isn't an answer (just read last week's post: it sums up my thought process at this point pretty well... I'm still lost, I think I may have found some breadcrumbs though...), it's a way to try something new; something that may lead to something else.

N.B.: All thanks go to My Parents, Paternal Grandmother, my aunt Marie and uncle George (yep, that Aunt Marie and Uncle George), the Spring Standards, the people that work with my parents, and Rick Dayton, who without his help this would have never happened.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

To Just Stop In One Place

It seems all too often the focus of everyone's life is on moving. I don't mean just literal moving; it seems so many people, me included, feel unsettled or unsatisfied with where they are. For the first part of this I want to focus on moving, and the second part why moving.

This past week was insane: Sunday I was at a different church than my own (in Carnegie), Monday brought me filling in to film a girls varsity basketball game (GO COOOGURRRS!), Tuesday a high school band concert where I ran both lights and sound simultaneously (I shouldn't be allowed to touch audio), Wednesday brought my friend's concert at another school, Thursday brought the elementary band concert where I played stage manger, and Friday, Saturday, and today I was in Petrolia with my maternal grandparents and that section of my family.

In other words, for the past week I have been somewhat of a nomad. I throw myself this way and that, and I know that at least someone somewhere reading this does the same. Around the holidays it seems that the emphasis is on being home, and I can appreciate that because as of late I have been forcing myself out of my own home for [insert organization/obligation here].

With the workload I was given from school (aaah, all the things were due Friday), I became quite stressed; to the point where some of the teachers and my peers were concerned. I have this fifth period study hall that I always spend in the library. It all started because I procrastinate and the library has computers to write things in. It's also a quiet place to contemplate things, or to talk to a teacher about things.

Lately these talks have become philosophical - about figuring out where I'm going, what I want, feeling inadequate, those sorts of things. And I've realized this much: the reason I do so much is not because I want the stress or the full schedule, but rather because I like doing things. I was roped into the tech thing because I like it; it's a skill that's good to have (ha!) and it's fun to do.

Because, as I also learned this week: you don't ever know what you truly want. If you're lucky you know where you are. I keep moving and keep doing things because I don't know what I'm doing, where I'm going, and I want to cast out a wide enough net to figure out where that place I want to be is.

Ultimately, as goes the overused cliche, it's not about where you end up (because you can't see where that actually is) but rather how roundabout a way it takes for you to get there.

To all of you who celebrate this week: Merry Christmas. To those of you who don't: Happy Boxing Day.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


I honestly don't know where to start. Sunday night we took down the set to Arsenic and Old Lace, a set which I had partially helped build, and the next week was weakly powered by lack of sleep and a hope to get to Christmas break.

Thursday marked the first time in seven years that I missed a Christmas choral concert. I don't know if I ranted about the schedule debacle that was, but bottom line I wasn't able to schedule guy's ensemble - the guys-only audition-only group we have at CHS. So what did I do? I ran lights.

It's very strange to be on that side of a concert, but at the same time I have gained some perspective on it all. This time that I have being on stage, with unlimited resources and the ability to hop from tech to performer is very finite. I don't mean that in a doom-and-gloom 'everything ends' way but rather simply an "I appreciate that I have this" sort of way. Bottom line, it was weird.

Moving on, last night I adventured avec ma famille downtown to see the city all lit up. I'm very fortunate to live near Pittsburgh to the point where it's only about a 20 minute drive in. We spent the majority of the time at Market Square which had been transformed into a "holiday marketplace" with vendors from all over the place. I, of course, took my little $5 camera down to take pictures. Unfortunately, it doesn't do too well with dim-lit spaces, but I was still able to get some great pictures, including this one from PPG Place:
That tree in the window isn't in PPG place -  it's a reflection from the ice rink
More to come on my flickr page, but nevertheless Pittsburgh is a very photogenic city. Unfortunately, cityscape and the cold were not a good combination for my little camera. The little metal ring on the end labeled "IMAGE STABILIZER" kept falling off, and I think I snapped the little rubber eyepiece in the cold. I am way more disturbed by this than I should be, considering it's six years old, but I've taken it on as my own. 

Again, my apologies for the lack of order here, but I'm working on it. And again, to anyone that made it out to see Arsenic, Thanks. You have no idea how amazing an experience you were a part of. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

“The best things in life aren't things.” - Art Buchwald

On Opening Night - 6 December 2013

Interesting words, and when you consider that you work on a production for months in front of an empty auditorium, it's quite strange to have it suddenly filled with people. To hear people laugh when you say the most ridiculous lines ("General Goethals was very pleased, he says the canal is just the right size! ... Dear me, this'll be a shock to the general!?") is a strange experience.

I've never had a speaking role in any production, so I've been more than able to slip into the background and ignore it all, but it's so different to be a leader with it.

Take, for example, at the beginning of the second act. I get all up in Clay Bodnar (in this production he's Johnathan Brewster). I've known him for years, and have worked with him on so many projects, which should make it easy for us to fight on stage. But it is so hard with his ridiculous makeup and my ridiculous lines and glued on mustache! I sort of understand now how hard it must be for the people on Saturday Night Live to not break character... At the same time, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

This is such a great cast to be a part of, and come time for our bows at the end of the production when we all stand together, hand in hand before whoever shows up, we truly are a family; and truly a great group of friends. I'm writing this to remind myself in the future what it felt like - it was strange, but so much fun.

Thanks to everyone that came last night, to everyone who will be there in roughly four hours for show two, and everyone that will be there tomorrow. And a huge thanks goes to everyone that has helped put this together from Ms. Longo (director) to Al (sound guy) to everyone who has put up with my bugle insanity and especially to my Brewster family:

Cast of Arsenic and Old Lace