Mandy Boyle

NEPA-er with Moxie. Writer. Sometimes Actor. Nerdy Girl.

Loving You, Scranton

Scranton, PA Architecture  -  Photo by © Mandy BoyleI wasn’t born here.

I didn’t grow up here.

But I’ve fallen in love with Scranton.

Scranton, PA Architecture  -  Photo by © Mandy Boyle

The trips I took to Scranton as a child were often similar.

A Sunday with my great-grandparents. A stop on the way up at McDonalds for two fish fillet sandwiches, two small coffees, and a Happy Meal (for me).

Spending the afternoon at Aunt Alice and Uncle Ray’s house to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” in a sea of pink and pea green furnishings.

I played with their pet cockatiel, egging it on to say something. Instead, I’d usually get a nip.

I walked hand in hand with my great-grandfather along the railroad tracks, through the houses, and he told me about what it was like for him as a child. When he met Nanny. Where they used to go swimming. How he got his first job as a footman at a local movie theater.

How he used to buy Mary Jane penny candy from a corner store that’s now a double block for two families. Where he went to school. Where he was born.

Then, we would stop at the cemetery to take care of the family graves.

Scranton, PA Architecture  -  Photo by © Mandy Boyle

Never in a million years would I have imagined that I’d later come to live in Aunt Alice and Uncle Ray’s house with my fiance. That I would get a job here and become so invested in this area’s future.

The path I took? Feels almost like something destined.

The history of heartache in this place? The ongoing struggles amid sparks of progress and beauty? The new and the old? The reborn and the decaying? It’s all part of the story.

Those memories my great-grandparents shared with me – they mean something.

The people, the places, the promise of the future – they mean something, too.

Scranton, PA Architecture  -  Photo by © Mandy Boyle

As with most things, the universe works in pretty remarkable ways and for some reason, it always brought me back here.

There are so many things to love about Scranton.

I’m going to write more about them.

Weekend Things

Have you ever felt like the weekend that’s just within reach is going to be the best thing ever?

That’s how I feel right now.

Tomorrow morning, I’m sleeping in to catch up on the snoozing I’ve lost over the past week (hello, theater!).

I’m also planning on opening the windows and letting fresh air and light into the house. Some cleaning is in order – but knowing me I’ll get distracted partway through a project and will end up only getting a few things done.

Maybe Brent and I will go kayaking, walking, or hiking.

Maybe I’ll read one of the books I have stacked on my bedside table.

The beauty of both leisure and getting caught up? Exquisite.

Maybe I’ll cook dinner and we can eat outside if it’s nice.

And I’m going to make this, this, and something else (haven’t decided yet) to eat with lunch during the week. And also Mom’s meatloaf, as Brent’s been asking about it for weeks. If I have the right ingredients, I’ll make a variation on these too.

Big cooks on weekends are one of my absolute favorite things to do. And the prospect of eating healthier after a week of filling my body with bad decisions? Magic.

Then, there’ll be time for theater. There are shows  for Witness on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Seeing friends and fellow actors. Backstage antics. What’s not to love?

Weekends are filled with possibility.

That’s why I love them so much.

 

Living History. Sort Of.

Tomorrow night, Witness will open at the Diva Theater in Scranton.

And I’ll be playing this fierce fox in a hoop skirt:

Image of Laura Keene Provided By: Internet Archive Book Images

Witness is an original work written and directed by Caleb Matthew Williams. It centers on the witnesses of the Lincoln assassination, mostly the ones you’ve never heard about. One of which is Laura Keene, a famous actress of the time who was starring in Our American Cousin.

Over the past few months, I’ve become well-acquainted with Miss Keene, learning about her convict first husband, her reputation for being shrewd in business matters, and how she made her daughters call her “Aunt” rather than “Mother”.

I learned that she balanced firmness with gentleness, fighting to ensure that her cast was taken care of.

She became the first powerful female theater manager in New York City and opened several of her own performance houses. Her shows were uncommonly long-running for the time. Her popularity was indisputable – and she was not to be taken advantage of.

During one benefit performance, she went to the box office mid-show to get her share of the ticket proceeds (a duty normally reserved for a male manager). In costume, she calmly demanded her portion, counted it quickly and silently, then stowed it away, only to walk back on stage minutes later.

She was described as a chameleon, able to strike the countenance of a queen and then change instantly into a street urchin – whatever the role demanded.

She died at the age of 47 from tuberculosis in Montclair, NJ following a performance tour in northern Pennsylvania.

She was a proud woman. 

I woke up like this. #beyonce #laurakeene #witness #divatheater

A photo posted by Mandy Boyle (@mandyboyle_) on

Playing a character like her is a gift. I can pull from both what’s in the script and what’s known about her life, but more importantly, she can teach me something.

What she accomplished during her time was no easy feat.

Maybe, just maybe, I can remember to not get discouraged as easily and to be a bit more assertive, thanks to her.

It’s fun to play a (let’s say) determined diva with a touch of TB and ‘tude.

Want to see for yourself? Here are the details on Witness.

150 years ago an assassination occurred that changed the direction of a nation. Experience the first hand accounts of that fateful night from the observers of the event. They say there are two sides to every story, but if you bore witness to a historic event, would you see it the same way as everyone else?

  •  Showtimes: April 15-18, 8:00 p.m. & April 19, 4:00 p.m.
  • Diva Theater: 126 West Market Street, Scranton, PA
  • For reservations, call 570-209-7766

Witness Poster

 

 

Scranton Street Art

Thinking, Saying, and Doing

You’ve probably read or heard about The Secret.

You might practice in the law of attraction or work at manifesting positive intentions.

You could be the Dalai Lama, who I’m convinced probably knows something we don’t based on that delightful smile and inner glow he has.

We all want to be happy and to feel satisfied.

We want purpose and meaning.

To be mindful. To drink green juice and hug more often.

Have enough gut bacteria to be regular.

Sweat less, feel better.


I was having a challenging moment. I felt stressed and needed something to listen to while I took a bath. Tub filled and ready to loosen the death grip of my muscles, I turned to TED Talks.

I’ll listen to TED Talks while working or when I can’t sleep. It’s a favorite pastime when I’m sick or immobilized for any particular reason. It’s what I listen to when I need both calm and inspiration.

Here’s what I chose:

As a professional communicator, inconsistent blogger, and occasional actor, I spend most of my life trying to speak so that people will listen.

Sometimes for personal gain, other times for entertainment, and most of the time for the benefit of others.

But what struck me most about this talk in particular was the idea of action versus intention.

As he notes, we all fall into bad habits of speech. Gossip, negativity, excuses and the like.

But do we ever really have the intent to do it?

Are there times when you just have to use, endure, and explore these “bad habits”?

His talk empowers us to make better choices with our speech and to fill the world with honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love. This isn’t just positive thinking – this is positive doing.

Sounds great, right? Sounds like you can handle it. Sounds like it’ll come easy. You just need to put your head in the right place.

Or not.


Mark Manson, a writer I really respect, talks about the power of positive thinking in his latest post, “The Staggering Bullshit of ‘The Secret’“.

His assessment is that in order to really be a human being, you can’t be ignorant to negativity. Your development as a person will be – and should be – a process that will cause you pain. It’ll make you stronger, more aware, and self-sufficient.

I tend to agree with him. I think this is where a lot of the self-help stuff out there falls short.

Sure, it’s great to fill the world with positivity, but you have to be able to deal with the shit stuff too.

I’m a firm believer in karma and that what you put into the universe comes back to you. I’m one of those people that dabbles in manifesting positive intentions. But I’m also guilty of excuses, gossip, and negativity.

And that’s okay. We probably we all are. We’re human.

The tips in the talk are great for filling the world with more good stuff. That’s all about doing and hey, we need action. We human beings are lazy bums most of the time.

But I think if you want to speak and be heard, you have to listen. Like, really listen. Garbage and bullshit and all.

That negativity? It might bother you to the point where you do something or start to feel something where before there was just pleasant numbness.

The excuses? They can remind you of your own responsibilities.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is that I think we should pair the positive action with realistic thinking. Use the tips to fill the world with better speech but be human enough to really listen, even if it’s the crappy stuff no one likes.

And do the vocal warm ups if you can.

#TeamBrandy

Who Remembers Napkins?

LOADS of progress on the wedding front, folks.

The Mister and I met with our venue and we made some progressive decisions. The menu, the linens, the cake, the start and end time, the bar, the beers, the napkins…this wedding, it has everything.

The meeting lasted about an hour and when it was over, we both felt exhausted.

Who knew choosing napkin colors would take so much out of you?

Okay, not really, but it’s part of a greater problem: decision overwhelm.

Planning a wedding is like getting put on a beach and asked, “So, which grain of sand are you going to go with?”

There are a thousand options for everything. And that kind of sucks.

It sucks because it puts the focus on all of these THINGS instead of the getting married deal, which is the most important part.

I don’t remember the napkins I used at the last wedding I attended. I don’t remember what colors were used. I remember what the food was like, how much fun we had, and how lovely the bride and groom were. I remember how cute the flower girl was as she danced and twirled.

Thinking back further to the last three weddings I’ve been to, the themes are all the same: I remember the food, if the music was good, how beautiful the bride and groom looked, and how much fun we had.

(Note: our loved ones throw some damn fine parties, too.)

When thinking about what we wanted in our day, the things we remember about weddings were the things that were most important, so that’s where we’re putting more of our energy.

But damn, being offered 15 different color choices for napkins is a little crippling.

I picked burgundy – because it looked nice with the champagne tablecloths and fit the carpet and upholstery in the event space.

And that’s all I really have to say on the subject.

If you’re planning a wedding, don’t worry about the napkins. They won’t be remembered and it’s one less thing to worry about.

Just have a good time – it’s going to be wonderful.

 

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