My year in theatre, art, projects, life…

Inspired by Madhuri’s My year in theatre post, here’s how 2014 went for me! I’m framing it in terms of theatre productions, art parties/festivals, major work projects, and life milestones.


  • Two days before the start of 2014, Jeff proposed! The weeks following were a flurry of congratulations (one of the sweetest coming from a pair of sisters in Godspell, who both come up at the same time when I was at work and were adorably sweet and excited about my engagement) and the beginnings of wedding planning.
Jeff and Mary engaged
Jeff proposed on top of Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park on December 30, 2013. Photo by random passerby.
  • In the first/second week of 2014, I played keyboard and guitar in the band for Godspell at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. My guitar skills were on display in “By My Side” and “On the Willows.” Playing under the direction of conductor Susan T. Calkins was, and really always is, a pleasure. Susan has a wonderful way of nurturing talent while also laying down the law when you need to back off because you still aren’t playing that right. Or, you’re playing it right but you’re ringing way too much so let’s adjust.
Cast of Godspell, photo by Paul Cranmer
Cast of Godspell, photo by Paul Cranmer
  • At the end of January, cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA presented DINOSAURUS, an art party all about Dinosaurs at Angel City Brewery in Downtown Los Angeles. We worked with CoachArt to create 12 brand new dinosaurs. This was the first cARTel event in a while that I was barely present for on site, since it conflicted with tech for another show I was working on.
Jeff, myself, and our friend Connie at DINOSAURUS
Jeff, myself, and our friend Connie at DINOSAURUS. Photo by Snap Yourself.


  • For most of this month, I was immersed in the quirky world of Roald Dahls’ Willy Wonka, the Musical. I was the stage manager for the Young Artists Ensemble production, which ran for 3 weeks, plus the extension with the Conejo Theatre for Everyone. Conejo Theatre for Everyone combines actors with and without disabilities in a unique theatre experience. It’s an amazing program. This was my sixth year doing the CTFE production, which happens annually in February. It was also my last time working with Laura, a Young Artists Ensemble director who I have done (counting… counting…) 6 shows with. Laura is one of my favorite collaborators.  Patrick Mason did an awesome video about the whole thing.


  • No theatre or art this month. I went to a friend’s memorial service, which was terribly sad. Later in May, I wrote down my favorite story about him. You can read it here.
  • Jeff and I went skiing with a bunch of friends in Mammoth.


  • My dear friend Laura (director of Willy Wonka Laura) had a BABY. Yea baby!
  • Most of this month was BROKECHELLA BROKECHELLA BROKECHELLA. This year, we redid the website (again haha, this is our third website in 4 years? maybe?). We did this partially because I didn’t build the old one, and it was getting tedious to maintain. I’m proud of how it turned out. Launching it was an epic battle as I fought to stay awake at 3am on a work night, hoping we could get everything up before a major programming announcement.
  • After Brokechella, I escaped with Jeff to Western Colorado, where we met up with friends for a wine tasting trip. I think I liked the food better than the wine. They had some delicious offerings! Did you know that English blue cheese is excellent marinated with port wine?


  • After Brokechella, cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA had a core ensemble retreat in Palm Springs. It was just what we needed. We left with a new mission statement, and a goal to redesign our branding. The new mission statement is “cARTel: Collaborative Arts LA is a multi media production company creating accessible and immersive events to champion the development of exceptional artists.”


  • In the beginning of June, cARTel launched it’s rebranding! Laura Cheek did the logo and color scheme, Ben Stoddard did the video, and I did the website. I love our new website. It’s much easier to manage, for one. It also more accurately reflects who we are and the growth cARTel has experienced in 5 years.
  • My aunt threw Jeff and I a wonderful engagement party in Ohio. We had so much family there! I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in many years, plus my grand aunt and grand uncle. My aunt did most of the work, with help from her family. One of my best friends, Kayla, was able to join us too!
Mary and Kayla
Myself and Kayla. Photo by Jeff.
Jennifer, looking chic against a building in Cleveland. Photo by me.
Family! Photo by another family member.
  • I ended June in Las Vegas, for Negin’s bachelorette party. I did her and Robin’s wedding website. The party was super fun. I spent a lot of the weekend sitting in the sun by the pool, reading. Also talking about deep things in the pool. Negin assembled a really awesome group of friends.


  • Jeff and I did our now traditional 4th of July outdoor adventure. We road tripped up to Trinity Alps National Forest, stopping along the way in Yosemite, Lassen Volcano National Park, and a potential wedding venue north of Lake Shasta. Our destination was a cabin that a friend’s partner has. It was gorgeous there, and we had a great time. We went swimming in the river, ate good food, and relaxed.
  • In the beginning of this year, my little sister Jennifer and I decided to cosplay for San Diego Comic-Con. She went as Arya Stark and I went as Sansa Stark. I spent dozens of hours sewing. I still can’t believe I got it all done!
Me as Sansa
Me as Sansa at San Diego Comic-Con. Photo by Jennifer.
Jennifer with two other Aryas
Jennifer with two other Aryas at San Diego Comic-Con. Photo by me.


  • Jeff and I went to Florida for a friend’s wedding. We handled some of their photography too. I was a human tripod/flash holder at the photo booth, since we ran out of equipment. Our friends, Aindra and Hoan, are incredibly nice. They also make an incredibly gorgeous couple. When they were in Burma recently, they took fancy pictures and Hoan wore this yellow silk outfit that had my jaw on the floor. It was so classy! Two other good friends got married this month, too. Unfortunately, it was the same day as the Florida wedding. Chase and Kristen, the two friends, were kind enough to share lots of pictures, though, and advice about wedding planning.
Jeff, myself, Aindra, and Hoan
Jeff, myself, Aindra, and Hoan. Photo by our tripod!
  • Another show! I played keyboard in RENT at the Hillcrest Center. My finest moment was playing the organ solo during “La Vie Boheme.”
  • Spawned from our retreat, cARTel presented Afterlife, an art party. Like DINOSAURUS, this was also held at Angel City Brewery, but we used their attached warehouse space instead of the main brewery space.


  • Besides Negin and Robin’s wedding, I’m not sure what else happened! Their wedding was lovely. It was big, but still felt intimate. I had so much fun dancing. Negin and Robin had the most delicious Indian buffet meal, and the alcohol was flowing (and free). All the weddings Jeff and I went to in 2014 showed me the positive side of the open bar. Negin is one of my oldest college friends, and it warms my heart to see her so happy.


  • This month brought another cosplay project: Pixie from X-Men. My friend Johnny decided to have a super hero bar crawl birthday party. It was like being back at Comic-Con… but a little more booze! I coordinated with cosplay genius Lily, who went as Magik. My costume had some problems. The back pieces didn’t line up right. I didn’t get the fitting snug and flawless at the waist (the top and bottom were separate pieces). I need better wings. Still, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. And the bar crawl was SO much fun!
pixie with magik
Myself as Pixie and Lily as Magik. Photo by a friend.


  • This was a big travel month for me! I went to New York and Boston for a week. Jeff couldn’t go because of work commitments. The main reason behind the trip was Jamie and JonAlf’s wedding. The wedding was an amazing experience. I spent the whole time crying, eating, drinking, and dancing. Jamie inadvertently organized a UCI reunion, and I think about two dozen Anteaters were in the room. In New York, I stayed with Faye and Katie, who have a super comfortable sofa bed and a cozy apartment. I saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Matilda, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and Side Show. I got to hang out with so, so many dear friends. In Boston, I stayed with Verity and her roommate. They were very gracious hosts for my short time there.
Jamie and JonAlf's first dance
Jamie and JonAlf’s first dance. Even now, I can’t look at this photo without tearing up. Photo by me.
  • When I got back into town, I dove into the 5th Annual No Budget Film Festival. After May’s retreat, we decided to or recruit a front of house manager for each event, rather than rely on myself or another core ensemble member. YEA! This meant that for No Budget this year I could actually attend events, since my main job as website manager was mostly done. The woman who did run front of house, Heather, was fantastic. It all worked out quite nicely! I spent a lot of time tweeting things about the fest, programming, the fireside chats, and workshops.
Three golden ladies: Alyssa, myself, and Laura. Photo by Justin Baker.
The best staff! I’m in the back, blocking Ben’s head. Sorry Ben! Photo by Justin Baker.
  • Sometime this month, the Hillcrest Center for the Arts debuted it news website. I didn’t design it, but I was the project coordinator on the Hillcrest Center end. Besides looking way more modern than the old version, it’s much easier to manage. The old website was managed in (ready for this) Frontpage. The new site is a custom built CMS by Dream Warrior Group. I’m currently coordinating the redesign for Hillcrest Center’s other website for the Young Artists Ensemble.
  • Jeff and I spent Thanksgiving with friends.
Refugee Thanksgiving
Why am I always in the back of these group photos? Photo by Justin.


  • We moved! Jeff’s company, Micasense, relocated to Seattle at the end of December. Before they moved, the company was written up in the Seattle Times. This month was a  mix of work, packing, saying goodbye, and new adventures. Jeff and I made incredible friends when we lived in Ventura County. It was hard to leave them, and I miss them already
  • Before I left, some of my best friends took me painting in Oxnard. Besides having a general, relaxing time, it was neat to paint with Victoria and Megan, whose visual art I really respect.
Paintint group
The painting group. I love how we painted the same scene but our different styles still come through. Photo by a random passerby.
  • Jeff and I left for Seattle on Saturday, December 20. We arrived Monday, December 22. We spent a couple days in town, then went to Leavenworth for Christmas. Leavenworth is a Bavarian themed mountain town about 2.5 hours east of Seattle. The town decided in the 1960s to go German, to help them lure tourists. It worked! The town is adorable. The drive to and from Leavenworth was almost as memorable as the whole Christmas holiday. There was snow up on Stevens Pass. Driving up, there was a lot of fog, and the snow covered landscapes took my breath away.
Snow on Stevens Pass
Snow on Stevens Pass. Photo by me.
Leavenworth during Christmas
Leavenworth during Christmas. Photo by me.
  • Our arrival in Seattle coincided with vacation time for two LA friends of mine. It was great and comforting to see them so soon after moving.
  • Jeff and I both have December birthdays. We spent Jeff walking around Pike Place Market, the Elliott Bay Pathway, Queen Anne, and the massive REI in downtown Seattle. Mine was spent working, relaxing, and watching Die Hard.

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