Friday, February 26, 2010

#16: A peek into my iTunes: Part 1 - Broadway Starlets

This is an attempt to get my mind off certain things. So I thought I would start a little segment about my favourite music :] Installment 1: The Broadway Starlets.

This is quite possibly one of my favourite CD's ever. Steph has a voice that just touches a deep part of you and once you've felt it you're hooked. She not only is a belter, but her voice can go from powerhouse to lullaby in 0.3 seconds. My favorite song on here is 'Gotta Start Small'. Its absolutely beautiful; she starts out in that soft, sweet head voice of hers. She gradually builds up to the climatic belt, then finishes off in that soft melodic head voice. Despite her 'Broadway' persona, there are only two tracks on here that could be considered musical theatre: Making Good, a song that was originally written in the Wicked workshop but then cut and replaced with 'The Wizard and I' and Because I am A Wife, a song that was featured in previews for The Pirate Queen then replaced with 'Woman'. The rest of the album features composers such as Scott Alan, Andrew Lippa, and Stephan Flaherty to name a few. I highly recommend this one, not just because I'm a quote 'Blockhead' but because I truly think that its a brilliant CD that anyone could enjoy. You can check it out here.

If you adore Broadway songs old and new, then this my friends is a really good find. Christiane Noll has one of the most versatile voices I've heard, plus she's another lady with a rather impressive belt (sue me, I love my belters). This CD really showcases her versatility, with songs like 'Johnny One Note', 'I Could have Danced All Night' and 'My Personal Property'. One minute you're hearing a beautiful soprano voice and the next you have a spunky musical theatre vebratto. Sadly, this came out a while before her debut as Mother in RAGTIME so there's no 'Back to Before' on there, but if you're looking for something with a little spunk and class then you've definitely found it. You can preview it here.

I'm a jazz fan (Sorry Rach ;]). Ashley Brown caught my eye--er..ear rather...when she was playing Belle in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. She's currently staring in the title role in the MARY POPPINS national tour, but somehow between cities she managed to produce this little gem. Its all classic jazz standards that are incredibly soothing after a long day. With favorites like 'If I were a Bell', 'As Time Goes By' (one of my all-time favourites), 'My Funny Valentine' and 'How Long has this Been Going On' how can this not be a must have for jazz lovers? Plus Ashley's beautiful soprano voice is just mezmerizing. Yes, I'm a fan of sopranos and belters. Just in case you didn't notice. You can listen to sample tracks here.

Sutton Foster is known for her comedic roles, as well as her amazing performance as Jo in LITTLE WOMEN and the title role in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. Sutton brings some of her favorite influences and inspirations to this album, she not only showcases her taste in music but her versatility that not a lot of people know she has. Classics like 'Up on the Roof', 'Nobody's Cryin', and 'Sunshine on My Shoulders' will make this a fun one to listen to with your parents. You won't have to deal with the whole 'You call this music?!' crap. Check it out here.

Okay so I saved Linda for last...mainly because the woman has about eleven albums out...I own six of them. So I picked three of my favourites, lets start with Broadway: My Way.
Yes I know, its another CD of good ole' Broadway standards. I can't help it, I adore musical theatre. The great thing about this album is that Linda didn't pick songs that everyone knew. Sure there are some familiar ones on there (such as 'Edelweiss', 'On the Street Where you Live' and 'Don't Rain on My Parade'. Which by the way is AMAZING. Not because the woman can belt, but because she makes the song her own without trying to emulate Barbra), but she picked a few that not a lot of people know about; songs such as 'The Impossible Dream', 'What Kind of Fool?', and 'Man of La Mancha' aren't usually the first to come to mind when one thinks musical theatre. This album is a great way to expand your Broadway repertoire, you can find it here.
Most people get a little persnickity when it comes to people re-doing the songs that 'icons' do. I can assure you that that will change once you hear this album. Judy Garland is probably one of the most iconic performers of our time, and this album pays homage to that. I can't think of anyone better to do a tribute album honestly, Judy had a unique voice that most people would recognize as her own; Linda is the same way. The album has classics like 'The Trolly Song', 'Almost Like Being in Love', 'The Boy Next Door', 'Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart' and (of course) 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'. Linda, again, manages to add her own personal touch to the songs without disrespecting or emulating Judy. This is a definite must have for any Judy Garland fan and anyone who's thinking of giving Linda a try. Check it out here.
This is by far (again), one of my favourite CD's. Some critics described it sounding like 'Linda's going down a country road', well we all know that most critics have their head so far up their ass that they wouldn't know a good album if it--nevermind. The reason I like this one so much is because you really get a peak into Linda's minds eye. She wrote most of the songs on this album and they are very personally-charged. She delivers incredible renditions of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and "Ghost" by Emily Saliers of The Indigo Girls. This is probably the CD I would recommend to someone who's not into the whole Broadway scene, but enjoys the whole indie/acoustic genre. You can find 'The Other Side of Me' here. Oh and just a little sidenote, she sings this AMAZING song called 'Vienna' and I think its worth checking out.

So that's a glimpse into my vast iTunes library. Keep reading for the next one! After all, I do have over 3600 songs so there's a lot to talk about ;]

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off the cuff.


1.) I hate January-March
2.) Fuck snow, it needs to go away
3.) I miss my mother and Nana like something awful
4.) I can't sleep because I have really bad nightmares, they're so real that they have me waking up in a cold sweat and screaming for my mom.
5.) I'm getting really sick and tired of my family feeling their entitled to something because Nana is now gone. Grow the fuck up you have no excuse to act like spoiled brats. We are not entitled to ANYTHING in this life, we don't come into this world anything special. We should be thankful for each day and not bitching about not getting our share.
6.) Did I mention that I really really miss my mom and want nothing more that to go to the park and sit with her, maybe read and talk about everything?
7.) Or that I miss going to see my Nana and hearing so many of her stories, hearing her sugary-sweet Southern accent, and getting one of those great hugs?
8.) I hate it here. I hate being trapped. I want to leave and come back when I'm 80.
9.) If it weren't for books, music, theatre, and poetry I would probably have killed myself by now. Truth.
10.) I really miss my mother and my Nana

Monday, February 22, 2010

#15: The One thing that I'm terrified of

Ovarian cancer. I know its kind of a weird thing to be scared of, especially since there's so much you can do to prevent it.

Now some people make the assumption that Ovarian Cancer and Cervical Cancer are the same thing. Wrong. National Cancer Institute defines ovarian cancer as "Cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the ova, or eggs, are formed). Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells)." While cervical cancer is "cancer that forms in tissues of the cervix (the organ connecting the uterus and vagina). It is usually a slow-growing cancer that may not have symptoms but can be found with regular Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and looked at under a microscope). Cervical cancer is almost always caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection."
I've discovered that in the recent years, even with all of the publicity on cancer (case and point: SU2C), that this particular type of cancer isn't very well known except to those who have been touched by it. Well, consider this a 'Ms Wilson Sees It' health report:

I.) Understanding it
It's important to understand how cancer works. It begins in cells, the building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues make up the organs of the body. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes, this orderly process goes wrong. New cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer and are rarely life-threatening. Generally, they can be removed and they usually do not grow back. Benign tumors do not invade the tissues around them and cells from them do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancer. They're generally more serious than benign tumors, and may be life-threatening. They often can be removed, but sometimes they grow back. They can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs, and cells from them can spread to other parts of the body. Cancer cells spread by breaking away from the original (primary) tumor and entering the lymphatic system or bloodstream. The cells invade other organs and form new tumors that damage these organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

Sometimes this disease makes itself known by Benign and Malignant Cysts. An ovarian cyst may be found on the surface of an ovary or inside it. A cyst contains fluid. Sometimes it contains solid tissue too. Most ovarian cysts are benign and go away with time. Sometimes, a doctor will find a cyst that does not go away or that gets larger; the doctor may order tests to make sure that the cyst is not cancer.
Ovarian cancer can invade, shed, or spread to other organs. A malignant ovarian tumor can grow and invade organs next to the ovaries, such as the fallopian tubes and uterus. Cancer cells can shed (break off) from the main ovarian tumor. Shedding into the abdomen may lead to new tumors forming on the surface of nearby organs and tissues. The doctor may call these seeds or implants. Cancer cells can spread through the lymphatic system to lymph nodes in the pelvis, abdomen, and chest. Cancer cells may also spread through the bloodstream to organs such as the liver and lungs.

II.) Risk Factors
Doctors cant always explain why one woman develops ovarian cancer and another doesn't. However, we do know that women with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop ovarian cancer. Here are just a few listed by NCI:
1.) Family history of cancer: Women who have a mother, daughter, or sister with ovarian cancer have an increased risk of the disease. Also, women with a family history of cancer of the breast, uterus, colon, or rectum may also have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. If several women in a family have ovarian or breast cancer, especially at a young age, this is considered a strong family history. If you have a strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer, you may wish to talk to a genetic counselor. The counselor may suggest genetic testing for you and the women in your family. Genetic tests can sometimes show the presence of specific gene changes that increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
2.) Personal history of cancer: Women who have had cancer of the breast, uterus, colon, or rectum have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
3.) Age over 55: Most women are over age 55 when diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Though cases have been diagnosed as young as 25-30. My mother was diagnosed with the disease at 41.
4.) Never pregnant: Older women who have never been pregnant have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
5.) Menopausal hormone therapy: Some studies have suggested that women who take estrogen by itself (estrogen without progesterone) for 10 or more years may have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Scientists have also studied whether taking certain fertility drugs, using talcum powder, or being obese are risk factors. It is not clear whether these are risk factors, but if they are, they are not strong risk factors. Now having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get ovarian cancer. Most women who have risk factors don't get it. On the other hand, women who do get the disease often have no known risk factors, except for growing older. Women who think they may be at risk of ovarian cancer should talk with their doctor.

III.) Symptoms
This cancer is literally like an assassin, you don't really know its there until its much too late. Plus, it's sometimes extremely difficult for doctors to find. Early ovarian cancer may not cause obvious symptoms. But, as the cancer grows, symptoms may include:

* Pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back, or legs
* A swollen or bloated abdomen
* Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
* Feeling very tired all the time

Less common symptoms include:

* Shortness of breath
* Feeling the need to urinate often
* Unusual vaginal bleeding (heavy periods, or bleeding after menopause)

Most often these symptoms are not due to cancer, but only a doctor can tell for sure. Air on the extreme side of caution, its better to be slightly paranoid than to not do anything at all. If you're not sure about something, contact your doctor. Chances are they are going to be glad you did.

IV.) Stages
The stage is based on whether the tumor has invaded nearby tissues, whether the cancer has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body. Usually, surgery is needed before staging can be complete. The surgeon takes many samples of tissue from the pelvis and abdomen to look for cancer. There are four stages in ovarian cancer:
* Stage I: Cancer cells are found in one or both ovaries. Cancer cells may be found on the surface of the ovaries or in fluid collected from the abdomen.
* Stage II: Cancer cells have spread from one or both ovaries to other tissues in the pelvis. Cancer cells are found on the fallopian tubes, the uterus, or other tissues in the pelvis. Cancer cells may be found in fluid collected from the abdomen.
* Stage III: Cancer cells have spread to tissues outside the pelvis or to the regional lymph nodes. Cancer cells may be found on the outside of the liver.
* Stage IV: Cancer cells have spread to tissues outside the abdomen and pelvis. Cancer cells may be found inside the liver, in the lungs, or in other organs.

So that's the basic gist of the disease. Now you may be wondering why I'm so passionate about getting the word out about this. Why is anyone passionate about something like disease awareness? Because they've been touched by it. My mother was diagnosed with it back in 2001, and lost her battle with it 3 weeks after her diagnosis. Now I'm constantly making sure that I get my checkups, and I'm very aware of my body and its functions.

So ladies, be very aware of your body. If you think something's not quite right, then GET IT CHECKED OUT. Don't let it go, or ignore it. You won't be the only one touched by this disease, you mean something to someone. You're someone's daughter, mother, aunt, sister, niece or best friend. Don't leave them behind if you can help it.

At least that's how I see it.

NCI's Booklet on Ovarian Cancer
Stand Up 2 Cancer
New Treatment Article by The London Evening Standard
Genetic Cancer Risks by the Santa Monica Daily Press

Saturday, February 13, 2010

#14: The Id, Ego and....Beyonce?

As many of you probably know, Hollywood is gearing up and coming together for Haiti. We have the Supporters, the ones who think its 'wonderful' or 'absolutely amazing' or 'touching' that this group of people can come together for such a great cause. Then we have the Naysayers, the ones who think they're just trying to 'boost their ego' or 'help their careers' or 'benefit from this terrible tragedy'.

There are at least three recordings out that benefit Haiti: Hope for Haiti Now, We are the World, and Everybody Hurts. All of which have notable performers (We are the World has Barbra Striesand in the cast. I know this is going to sound terrible, but that's the primary reason I bought it. Sue me.) and all of which will benefit from the publicity from this. Arguably, they get more publicity when they do things for charity, get knocked up or they royally screw up. And just a side note, at the risk of sounding like a callous bitch, the last like 2 minutes of both songs is just repetition of the main chorus. I get it We are the World and Everybody hurts. End the fucking song already.

Well I know ya'll are wondering 'How does Ms. Wilson see it???', seeing how that's the title of this blog. Well Ms. Wilson see's it like this:

Their hearts are in the right place, they really do seem genuine about this cause they are fighting for. Honestly they would have to be a bunch of selfish, cold-hearted bastards to not feel something about this terrible tragedy. The thing that bothers me is the publicity they get, it kind of plucks my nerves. I was always under the impression that humility and charity go hand and hand; the most wonderful people in the world are the ones who silently fight the battles and donate their time/finances to the cause that they are most passionate about. Publicity is great for getting the word out about your charity but I really don't give a rats ass about how much money you've donated or how many kids you've adopted, saving them from 'certain death'. News flash: There are hundreds of people out there who adopt and save kids from 'certain death' everyday. You're not special just because you have eight of them. That doesn't make you special, that makes you stupid.

The artists I respect are the ones who silently give their time and money to organizations and causes that matter to them. The only go public just to get the word out and that's it. No 'So and so donated $3405834058469574068 dollars!!' I would rather see them do one of two things: donate anonymously or get out there and volunteer.

At least that's how I see it.
Check out the websites below and see what YOU can do for Haiti or otherwise:

Wyclef's Yele Haiti
Shakira's Barefoot Foundation
Mercy Corps

Thursday, February 11, 2010

#13: How to deal....

...with Debbie Downers.

Yes, we all have a Debbie Downer in our social group. That one person who, no matter how wonderful or exciting the news it, manages to find something negative or sad about the situation. They literally rain on your parade and you are momentarily sad when you should be happy. There's only one way to deal with them:

Shoot them.

I'm only half serious...anyway, moving on. The main point is that some people's entire existence is dependent upon making you feel a crappy as they do. It really sounds pathetic when you look at it like that doesn't it? I mean really with all of the super awesome things there are to do with your life, they choose to make others feel like crap so they can feel better. Then there are those Debbie Downers are just plain annoying because they really don't try to make you feel like crap, but they're just so damn pessimistic that you're like ''re sucking the positive energy out of my zen here.'

In my experience, I've had to deal with both; Lets call them Debbie A and Debbie B. Debbie A types usually are the ones that tell me I can't (or shouldn't) do something because it simply isn't done around here. They're the ones that get in my way of organizing events such as The Vagina Monologues at my community college, saying that they'll do it with the hopes that it won't be 'financially plausible'. Because nobody will come to it because the other college in Salisbury is doing it. Nevermind that the interpretation varies with actresses.

Or the people who found out I was marching for Marraige Equality for ALL and tried to discouraged me from going. Saying that 'it won't change anything' or 'why would you want to go march with a bunch of faggots?' things like that. Then Debbie B always shows up when something awesome happens. Like when I get one of the parallel parking spots in front of school and I'm all excited about it; then Debbie B comes up and is like 'wow that'll only happen once in a blue moon' or 'what's the big deal? Its just a parking spot, I got it once too'

Debbie Downers can be incredibly contagious, and they can even get to you; making you wonder why you're doing what you're doing. Why you're fighting a cause that seems like its a loosing battle. Well my dear friends I'll tell you why you're doing it:

Because it matters to you. Its something that you're passionate about. Nothing was ever accomplished by people sitting on their ass feeling apathetic. If something fires you up and gets you mad then do something about it. There will always be people out there who will try to discourage you and rain on your parade. Honestly I wouldn't have been able to do half the stuff that I have done, had someone not told me I couldn't do it.

So how do you deal? Simple: Tell them you can when they say you can't.

At least, that's how I see it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

#12: She Tweets, She YouTubes, She Facebooks. And she's promoting Education for all

No it's not Britney Spears or Beyonce. I'm talking about people who actually make a difference beyond providing useless entertainment.

I'm talking about her majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. If asked, she'd probably describe herself as 'a mum and a wife with a really cool day job'. At least that's what her 1-line bio on Twitter says. As a global figure, and considered to be one of the world’s most powerful women, Queen Rania has focused her energy on a variety of causes, notably education. In Jordan, her work focuses on the quality of education for Jordanian children, while abroad she advocates for global education and for world leaders to fulfill their commitments towards the second Millennium Development Goal, universal primary education.

Before she was an advocate and humanitarian, She was Rania Al-Yassin. She was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents from Tulkarm. Following her elementary and secondary education at the New English School in Kuwait, she earned a degree in Business Administration from the American University in Cairo. Upon her graduation from university, Queen Rania returned to Jordan and pursued a career in banking, working at Citibank, followed by a brief career in the field of Information Technology, at Apple Computer in Amman.

She believes strongly that enhancing education is vital for bridging gaps, giving people hope, improving lives and ensuring stability throughout the world. To this effect, over the past few years, Queen Rania has launched, championed, and given patronage to a number of initiatives in education and learning. She believes firmly that education can save children from poverty, disease, exploitation and "preparing children from the early years for the world in which they will come of age. It means instilling a love for lifelong learning, creativity, self-expression and an appreciation for diversity"

On her website she says “I just wake up and feel like a regular person. At the end of the day you are living your life for the people that you represent. It’s an honour and a privilege to have that chance to make a difference – a qualitative difference in people’s lives – and it’s my responsibility to make the most out of that opportunity.”

Katie Couric recently sat down with her and talked about a wide variety of issues from the misconceptions about Islam to the ups and downs of tweeting. That story (along with other cool stuff) is at the bottom of this post. But the one thing that really touched me was this:

"The more time goes on, the closer I am to the ground. I’ve been exposed to so many issues and people living under different pressures. It’s helped me realize that a lot of glamorous things that people prioritize really don’t matter."

To see a world leader so passionate about what really matters in our world gives me hope. Without education our children are doomed. Without education we kill what they could be. Without education we subject them to exploitation, poverty, disease, and slavery. Without education we are no better than those who kill because of difference of opinion or religion.

I highly suggest you support Her Majesty in her goal to promote education for every child on the planet. They are our future. To deny them of a quality education, you kill our hope for a better world. Support her in the fight. I certainly do.

At least that's how I see it

Queen Rania's official site
Her YouTube Channel
Follow Her on Twitter
1GOAL official Site
Barefoot Foundation
Mercy Corps
Katie Couric's Interview with Queen Rania

Monday, February 8, 2010

For the Record

I don't normally post twice in one day, but what the hell. I suppose I started this blog just because I wanted to see how I would fair with the whole column thing. I think that I really just want to somehow make a difference using this wonderful tool we call the internet. Even though there are MILLIONS of blogs out there like mine with people managing them who are a million times smarter than me.

I was watching Oprah today (a treat I don't normally get) and she was doing a very powerful piece on child molesters. You can find it here

There was something about it that just really got to me. Maybe it was the sheer honesty of the sex offenders or maybe it was the tenacity of Oprah herself. I myself being a victim of molestation, was torn between turning it off or sitting there and watching it; between sitting there listening to men so much like the one that took advantage of me 9 years ago or watching a rather dull documentary on PBS.

I ultimately decided to watch it. There were so many unanswered questions I had, and while I had moved on for the most part I still harbored feelings of fear and filth. I wondered how I had allowed myself to be taken advantage of like that? Why I didn't see what he was doing sooner? How could a teacher (A BIBLE teacher) betray my trust the way he did? How could he take advantage of my vulnerability after the devastating loss of my mother just five months prior?

Their brutal honesty...the way they talked about what they they showed remorse...
I had a hard time hearing it because I never got the chance to hear my molester say that. He just if it never happened. I don't even know where he is now, part of me doesn't want to; part of me wishes he's buried in some cedar box with a crumbling tombstone, but a small part of me wants to confront him. I want to look into those eyes that I trusted, the same eyes that lustfully yearned for me and tell him exactly what he did to me. How he damaged me.

The one thing that really got to me was this: "I killed who she could have been..."
Part of me wonders what I would be like if this hadn't happened to me. Would I be paranoid in large crowds? Or nervous in line at a supermarket when a man steps behind me? Would I be able to actually date and get close to a boy without wondering what his intentions are? I would like to say the answer would be 'no' but I'll never know.

I suppose I'll eventually be able to move on, after all I've come so far since then. I'm now able to be a strong woman at the expense of intimidating many of the opposite sex because I do not hold back.

Its going to take a special guy I suppose.

#10: WHO DAT? Dat be saying deres still work t'do

So first of all let me start off by saying:


Okay. Now that I've got that off of my chest, let me talk about the amazing city of New Orleans. In case you haven't heard, they suffered a catastrophic hurricane about five years ago. A hurricane that literally wiped out the city, and left thousands of people dead, even more homeless.

Five years later, there are still people who have nothing. No home, no family, nothing. I was watching the pre-superbowl coverage and they were doing a segment on the city of New Orleans five years after Katrina. There was one person in particular that really touched a chord and made me cry. He was an older gentleman, probably around 70, and he was talking to the reporter about how he has just now gotten his land cleared off. There's one problem: He doesn't have a home. His house is gone. He was begging the reporter to tell the mayor to do something, he just wanted his house back. He just wanted a roof over his head...

How often do we take that for granted? We go through our daily lives and never think that in an instant this could all be taken away from us. Things like a house, clean water, food, clothing, and shoes on our feet. We were all devastated by Haiti, but what about our own people here?

Now I'm not saying that Haiti deserves any less attention, they need all they can get. I'm just reminding everyone that there are still a hell of a lot of needy people here. If you can't do something abroad, they pull your bootstraps up and see what you can do in your own backyard. There are several Organizations that are dedicated to improving the life of people right here in our hometown.

Five years is way to damn long to be waiting for a house or action. The Saints winning isn't going to bring the action that needs to be brought to the city of New Orleans.

At least that's how I see it