Monday, May 9, 2011

Life is a Cabaret at Sunnyvale Community Players!

Me and the gang went out to see Sunnyvale Community Player's production of Cabaret on Saturday night and we all had a great time!

It's interesting to see a show with such a small staff. Lee Ann Payne doubled as director and choreographer (no easy task, given the complexities of the choreography in this show) and Dan Singletary was music and vocal direction. It seemed to me that this gave them a better way to focus their efforts and the results were a seamless production that was beautifully staged.

As I've said before, one of my favorite things about seeing shows with the Sunnyvale Community Players is that the actors and actresses are not typically mic'ed, leading to a amazingly rich and rewarding sound.  We could hear the gentle shakes in Emily Bliss's voice as she belted out the title song, Cabaret, as the lead of Sally Bowles. While her emotion was clearly written on her face, hearing the subtlety in her voice made the number that much more enchanting.

Dan Singletary did a great job balancing the orchestra with the vocals - I could hear both perfectly at all times!

The Emcee, Paul Araquistain, was just downright amazing! Every time he appeared, the stage brightened (or darkened, depending on his intent) and the cast just seemed to focus around him.  One of my favorite numbers was "Two Ladies", where Araquistain was joined by Cheryl Ringman (Kit Kat Girl/Susan) and Denise Lum (Kit Kat Girl/Ting Ting).

The costumes were sexy, where necessary, and total period otherwise. Great job by Ana Williams (costume design), Sue Howell, Mary Beth Buzzo and Barbara Morgen (costume construction).

It's hard to call out specific actors or actresses that stood out, as everyone was great, totally in character, always in the moment. Very impressive, indeed!

I'm not exactly sure which revival this one was based on, but did miss the darker ending of the last version I had seen.  Let's face it, Nazi Germany was not a fun place for homosexuals and Jews in the early 1930s...

One thing is for certain, this show only runs for one more weekend (through May 15th) and deserves a sold out house! Treat yourself, you'll enjoy it!

Punctate Inner Choroidopathy -Or- My Crazy Eye

Those of you that follow me on twitter are aware I've been having some major weirdness in my right eye over the last couple of weeks.

As someone that has always had bad vision, losing my eye sight has always been my biggest fear. Having an eye do strange things where one Ophthalmologist even said, "I've never seen anything like this before" ... well, it's disturbing, to say the least. I waver between wanting to share with everyone what is going on to just wanting to be left alone and hope for the best, so please understand.

About two weeks ago, I noticed a blurry/fuzzy spot in my vision. I called Kaiser, where fortunately I had already been referred a few months back to Ophthalmology due to 2 spots my optometrist detected on my retina [1]. My optometrist was concerned that I might have Presumed Ocular Histoplasmois Syndrome (POHS) - blood tests confirmed, though, that I did not.  My doctor in ophthalmology told me to come back in 6 months or if I noticed any vision changes. That brings us back to two weeks ago.

I was initially told I'd have to wait until May 10th to see someone, but as every day I had new flashes and fuzzy spots, I didn't want to wait. I showed up at the main hospital and sat until my ophthalmologist was able to see me (he took me on his lunch break). He ordered lots of tests: OCT (retina scan), Optomap (picture of the back of the retina), Visual Field Assessment (fuzzy spots and flashing lights cause problems with seeing little tiny dim flashing lights in peripheral turns out), and an optical angiogram (where I was injected with yellow dye, dilated and more pictures were taken of my eye to check for bleeding - there was none -  *whew*).

Still, my ophthalmologist was stumped. He could see there were things going on in my retina, but it was nothing he'd ever seen before.  He sent me to a retina specialist for my next visit.

My retina specialist has seen something like this before: Punctate Inner Choroidopathy (PIC for short!). I'd give you a link to a great sight on this eye disease, but... none exists. It's a very rare condition that nearsighted, healthy women in their thirties get.  My specialist gave me a great paper on it, published in the Survey of Ophthalmology in January 2011 by Dr. Radgonde Amer and Dr. Noemi Lois.  Unfortunately, the major conclusion of this paper is that PIC needs more research.

There are no known treatments, and the majority of the cases spontaneously get better on their own with no long term vision impact. It's the side effects that can be problematic, so let's hope I don't get any of those!

Fortunately, as of now, my central vision is still crystal clear and my left eye is 100% normal, so I can still totally and safely function in my daily life.

But, still very freakish.  I have toyed with whether or not to write this blog post - perhaps it's over sharing. I don't know, at this point I kind of want to share to see if anyone has any ideas or luck with any experimental treatments.

So, let's hope I'm in the majority of this one!  And let's face it, there are worse things to get!

[1] In 2008 I had very similar symptoms as to what I'm having now, but was diagnosed with having a perfectly normal vitreous detachment. Well, 2.5 years later, my optometrist noticed the retinal scarring, and presumed POHS.  Drs. Amer and Lois said in their paper, "After 2-3 years, some scars become distinct and pigmented and resemble the scars associated with POHS."  So, I'm betting I was misdiagnosed before. Not that it makes a difference, as there is no treatment for either vitreous detachment (it's caused by age and onsets earlier for the nearsighted folks) or PIC.  But, knowing I probably had this in 2008 and completely got better... well, I'm very hopeful for a full recovery).

September 19, 2012 Update:

As a lot of you have asked, and I've failed to write a new blog entry on this subject, so I just wanted to give you an update!  My eye has stabilized after one oral course of Prednisone and one injection of cortizone in my eye itself. I regained almost full vision, with just a small fuzzy spot in between my central vision and peripheral vision that correlates with scarring on my retina. I was lucky and did not get any bleeding (CNV).  I hope that it stays this way.  And, thank you everyone that has commented and brought to my attention these great sites: PIC World, Eye Wiki - PIC page.  We are not alone! Here's to stable vision!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife
by Irene Spencer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an amazingly heart breaking tale of a young girl who's upbringing led her to seek to become someone's second wife. She was a fourth generation polygamist, growing up all over Utah and Arizona. The Church of Latter Day Saints had long ago shunned the practice, so these "pligs" were left to fend on their own, making their own churches, following their own "prophets" (all of which insisted that the more wives you had, the better your chances of securing a place in heaven were).

As you can imagine, having many wives with even more children was an untenable situation. Growing up, Irene was at the lowest level of poverty, living off of the US Government welfare system, wearing clothing made of old flour sacks, and wondering where her next meal would come from. As only one wife was recognized as the legal wife, the rest of them were "single mothers" and able to collect benefits from the Government.

Irene's mother did eventually leave her father and take up the monogamous lifestyle so much of the rest of America considered normal, and begged Irene to marry a man that was not interested in multiple wives. But would Irene listen?

Every step of the way, as a reader, I was shouting out to Irene to make different choices. To me, raised in a traditional family, it seemed obvious that Irene was making the wrong choices, dropping out of school to "marry" her half-sister's husband and move down to Mexico.

Irene recounts her time living in Mexico, Nicaragua, Utah and Arizona, often with no electricity, no running water, and no food to feed her ever increasing family. In the end, her husband had 10 wives and over 50 children.

I could not put this book down, I can't recommend it enough!

View all my reviews