Sunday, April 30, 2006

Back to Basics

There's this show on the Sundance Channel that I just love. It's called Slings & Arrows and it's about a Canadian theatre festival and all the goings on. Each season centers on one (or possibly 2) Shakespeare shows and the action of the characters mirrors the play. I love it for a lot of reasons. So many reasons. And not all of them are Paul Gross scantily clad.

One of the other things is how much it makes me want to be in a play again. A Shakespeare play. The real deal. They actually show the process of making a play and then of performing it, give you the feel of how scary it is and then how amazing it feels.

For the first time in a long time I did more than one performance last week. Four shows in as many days. I forgot how much that changes how you perform. A one-off performance has a lot of pressure to it and, for someone like me, it keeps you from taking some of the chances necessary to really work a character and connect with an audience.

Last week I was able to get back to basics. I knew I could trip up on a line and still get back into the show, I could work with the audience. So, as I sat backstage at one show I wondered what I should work on to keep things fresh and I realized I needed to get back to the basics. Where was the character coming from? Going to? Why was she saying all this? To who? How did she feel about that? And it broke everything open and I loved the show again.

I wrote it. It's not a perfect play but it's useful, especially in these situations and venues and people really like it and I'm proud of it. Provisionally proud. I'm still a little embarrassed that it's not perfect but I'm trying to get over that. And in the end I just had a great time doing the show last week and I connected with some audiences and man, I miss performing.

Next step, contact lenses so I can see the audience.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Back seat of a Pontiac

Tonight I hung out with Pony Express and Metrosexual.

We were sharing some music and chatting. Metrosexual was (sort of) stalked a few years ago by a nice young girl who made him 21 CDs of music from the 80s. 2 CDs per year plus a bonus. I am fully fascinated by this project of hers. I love a good stalking and these CDs are a world class example of the form. Truly admirable.

Unfortunately I couldn't get the music off them since they're a little scratchy and off but it was fun to listen to them and remember it all. When I was 12-14 I'd play The Tide is High and Jesse's Girl every time I went into the pizza place over the tracks from my house. Every time. We're more than 20 years on and I just realized tonight - the people in that pizza joine must have hated me.

I remember being up late one night having a sleepover, playing Trivial Pursuit, and calling in a request to the local radio station.


Me: Don't You Want Me?

DJ: uuhhhh, erk, ack, what?

Me: I'd like to request a song, Don't You Want Me?

and then he laughed and laughed and laughed.

I felt very risque.

Friday, April 28, 2006


A friend was talking the other day about loving to do Morning Pages, as prescribed by Julia Cameron. She wants to start mirroring that with some sort of writing in the evening, something to wrap up her day and make it feel done. That sounded good to me. I know I've been a little lax about writing here, too, lately so I thought I might try to do a little something, something small, no pressure for pictures or formatting or linkage or anything, just a comment on the day.

Here's my first one.

For a little over a month I've been taking this floor barre class once a week. I'm never going to be a ballet dancer and that's OK with me. I wanted to take something, to do something in terms of exercise, something outside my house. I had taken floor barre about 15 years ago for a summer, going a few times a week. I like the way it helps me get aligned and I knew I could do it and not feel completely lost or ugle or stupid.

I have some friends who are keeping up with my progress in the class. Completely separate from the friends who are making fun of me for paying money to lay on the floor and get yelled at...for exercise. Anyway, the progress friends keep asking how much I'm liking it and how exciting I must be and whatnot. Um, I'm not. I'm comitted to going regularly and there is a brief period after each class where I feel sort of virtuous. But I don't enjoy it. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not ever going to. I don't get that whole endorphin rush thing from it, either. I came home today and went to sleep on the couch for a long time. Not wholely because I'm still sick.

I know the endorphin rush. I used to get it when I went to tap class. But that was a really specific tap class and that class doesn't happen again.

I'm going to keep going to class and I think I'm getting better. The teacher keeps using me as an example, and sometimes not even as an example of what not to do. I think my body is changing a little. I've added a lot of walking to my days, too. I'd really like to get skinnier but I'm not going to kill myself to get there.

For now I'd settle for being healthy again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Fairy Tale Endings

I'm watching One Tree Hill. And, you know, I might be done apologizing for that. I'm watching because it's fairy tales and romance and happy endings.

As you know, this weekend I performed in a couple of nursing homes. Nursing homes that are now home to a couple of women I love very much.

This afternoon I got a thank you note from one of the ladies I met Saturday afternoon. It goes like this:

Dear Miss Shakespeare,

We certainly learned a lot about your suffering, trying to become an independent daughter of your parents, Mr. & Mrs. William Shakespeare. And we're glad you succeeded. We wish we could have been at the Globe Theater with you to explain what the actors were saying and expressing.

I think each of us felt that she had her independence happily in the 20th century.

Thank you very much for transporting us back to the 16th century. We hope you'll find time to revisit and teach us much more.

Best wishes and good luck to you from all of us.

A___ R_____, scribe

"I think each of us felt that she had her independence happily in the 20th century."

They aren't getting much of a happily ever after.

Here are some pictures to keep you going since I've been woefully absent of late. I may have told you that PonyExpress and I host a monthly brunch. We have some sporadic attendees and a few die hard regulars. The Music Parents are of the latter category. So, it's no surprise that Music Baby has been a regular since his arrival as well. These pictures are from his first brunch on March 11th. For those of you keeping count he was born on March 1st.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Like a rock star!

Before I begin, today is ChemE's birthday. She opened her presents yesterday, despite my best efforts to keep her from doing so. That in itself was probably the best part of her present. I just talked to her and she had a decent day. Chocolate, good food, flowers, the music I sent her. Some year I will manage to live up to the way she celebrates my birthday but I guess this was not that year. In the meantime I send her all the best birthday wishes and hope that this year craks wide open for a good way.

So, last Wednesday I left the NYC to go on tour, just like a rock star. OK, so not so much like a rock star as like a 10th tier educational theatre company but whatever. I hear the "you never carry your own bags in the show".

I'm still in serious recovery mode so I'll just outline the schedule to give you an idea of what I've been doing for the past week.


Get up early
Go to Floor Barre
Pick up rental car
Drive home
Eat lunch
Pack car with stuff and neurotic dog
Drive north
see car accident
see car accident
Contemplate how crappy my ears feel
see car accident
see car accident
Arrive at Dad's 2 full hours after I expected to
Drop off dog while hiding from dad's bronchitis germs
Drive further north
Realize I've forgotten the one actual set piece for my show
Call PapaKizz who agrees to get a replacement
Visit with the Bees, collapse gratefully on the couch and sleep


Get up REALLY early for my turn in the shower (4 family members, 1 guest, 1 bathroom)
Eat breakfast
Go to the high school
Meet up with Chili (with help from King Bee)
Teach 90 minute intro to Shakespeare to college-bound high school sophomores
Love that
Go to lunch with Chili & ProfDoc
Willfully fail to get ears looked at
Meet Queen Bee
Get eyebrows waxed for the first time ever
Back home to the Bees'


Get up
Observe King Bee's class
See school nurse about ears
Hear a very calm assessment of why I might just want to consider going to the ER (I learned later that she was downplaying it)
Spend 90 minutes in the ER
Get diagnosed with a double ear infection
Drop of prescription
Pick up Queen Bee
Pick out sock yarn
Have yummy lunch
Back to pharmacy - no luck
Go to PO to send birthday gifts, Gilmore Girls tapes and a very pretty outfit for Alita
Cancel plans to meet with big honcho in NH theatre who, many years ago, taught me mimi (yes I am/was a mime, you learn something creepy about me every day don't you?)
Back to pharmacy - huzzah!
Free wireless internet
Crawl into bed
Stay there for the duration of the evening
Am later joined by the Bees, we eat and watch Weatherman and Capote (Vanx, I saw Capote! More on that later for sure)


Up sorta early
Breakfast, meds, yogurt, cranberry juice
Head to County nursing home
Meet a bunch of oldsters
Perform my show for them (a couple of sleepers, one yeller, and a lot of good response)
To the strip mall for errands with Queen Bee and MamaKizz
Back to the house briefly
To small, local all chick bursing home
Perform in small room for a group of about 15 old broads, MamaKizz, Grammy Charlene, Mrs. X, Chili, Peanut Chili and Bean Chili
Sing along with the ladies
Home to rest briefly
Pick up Auntie Blanche
Drive to Newick's for dinner - YUM!
Drive Auntie Blanche home
Visit and look at cool pictures (NEED. SCANNER.)
Back to the Bees'
Watch Wedding Crashers - hee.
Sleep gratefully


Sleep in (9:15am)
Dunkin' Donuts - mmm mmm good
See Blondie Girl play field hockey, she's doing really well, it's so much fun to see her play
Pick up Joe the Barber
Tour 3 separate beauty supply stores and buy all the things that will make me so stunning that I won't be able to post a picture of me on the internet for fear of starting a riot
Dinner and visit with The Xs. Always so much fun. MamaKizz came, too.
Back home
Watch the last half of Brokeback Mountain and discuss (I still stand that it's a great story, beautifully told)


Eat more yogurt
Drink more cranberry juice
Delight in the wonder of antibiotics and their side effects
Wake The Athlete to say goodbye, he actually wakes up
Goodbye to the Bees
Drive south to MA
Meet PapaKizz
Drive to one campus
Perform for about 250 high school and college students
Drive to other campus
Find food
Take antibiotics
Perform for 150 college students
Collect check (yippee!)
Collect cool poster the college made for me
Collect dog
Drive south
Eat McDonald's because I am weak
Sleep in parking lot because I am bushed
Drive south
Take weird little Queens Boulevard detour because I'm almost out of gas
Get home
Drive around the neighborhood calling friends for help, looking for parking spot near house, no dice
2 longish trips to get stuff and pet into house
1 half hour session of pet hair removal on rental car to avoid getting extra charge
Collapse on couch

I was going to put links on this but I'm too tired still, sorry.
Ditto proofreading.
Ditto picture.
Ditto formatting.

Some more details later. The ears are better but for sure not cured and I'm starting to have low level panic that they won't be cured with this round of meds.

Back to work tomorrow. Could be ugly since we moved desks while I was away and both guys might come in. So I have to hit the ground running.

Thanks for the comments and good wishes!

P.S. Though I'm not the type to often wish such a thing, who can pick out the points in this outline where I wish I had a partner?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Update from the front

Am sitting in grocery store "cafe". Only place in town with free wireless access.

Cannot figure out how to send e-mail. Sending this missive out as message in bottle.

Taught fabulous class with/for Chili yesterday.

Have 2 shows at area nursing homes tomorrow.

Visit Mrs. X on Sun.

2 shows in MA on Mon.

Have double ear infection. Spent most of morning in ER. Last doctor I had in this town either retired, died or both.

Back in beloved Brooklyn (happy, satisfied, and grateful to all who made this trip possible, natch) Mon night should all go well.


P.S. Do you know how much GAS costs these days?

P.P.S. Am purchasing cranberry juice and yogurt and hoping for the best with antibiotics.

Monday, April 10, 2006

La femme seul

Am I the only person in the world who has come across the word "synthesis" in conversation before? Is there some alternate European spelling of the word that has people all checking their dictionaries before they dare put pen to paper on this one?

In giving out the address of my company I have to use the word Synthesis. I paid in the vicinity of $150,000 for training in speech and voice and acting over the course of my undergrad and grad work. In other words, I don't stutter. Yet, without fail, the conversation goes like this:

"Care of Synthesis"
"Can you spell that please?"
(unable to conceal the contempt) "syn-th-e-sis" GAH!

On a lighter note, I passed a vendor selling knock off designer purses today and this was his pitch: "America is the greatest, the biggest and the greatest country. Women, treat yourself, don't cheat yourself. You owe it to yourself because America is the biggest country." And apparently size does matter and yet again I am woefully behind the curve. Oh well, thank God someone sent this guy to straighten me out. Otherwise its entirely possible I might have cheated myself, you know, instead of treating a cheap knock off of an ugly designer purse that I won't use because I carry a backpack and wear frumpy shoes.

Sigh. It's a lot of work being a woman in the biggest country.

More responsible decision making

Recently someone said to me, "You never talk about your cats." That's patently untrue. I never talk nicely about my cats. And this post may not be any exception.

I do love my cats. They are infuriating but delightful. Elvis is a complete phobic but he's aggressive about it. He'll use all 20 claws to push off my bare leg in order to get out of range of...well, of...well, he's not sure what of but it made a quietly funny noise and he's not taking any chances.

I fear that Anna is braver solely because she's not quite as bright and she knows it. I fear that in her head she thinks, "Well, it seems sort of scary but I'm not playing with a full can of Friskies here so I should probably stick around and see if it's actually scary." So she stays. She is also immune to the messages conveyed by, say, pushing her off my lap. "Hey!" she seems to say, "You pushed me off your lap, careful there, I was just getting settled." And back she comes. Not to be deterred by repeated dumpings off of the couch, the bed, the chair, the counter, the sink, the toilet, my lap, my arm, my shoulder or similar. She likes to knead her little paws, too, preferably on bare flesh.

Elvis beats up the dog. The cats beat each other up. Everyone beats up on me. So, sometimes, when I want to get something done, not every day, and, really they do like it, I give the little monsters some cat nip. I have to keep the cat nip in the freezer because if it's anywhere but the freezer they can smell it and will do anything to get to it. I found Elvis firing up an acetylene torch, wearing little goggles and everything when I put that stuff in a metal lockbox once. He's not kidding around.

These pictures are from a recent "nipping". Once sated everyone goes to their corners to think peaceful thoughts. I walked by the bookcase and there was Anna, in a demure pose, and with half her ass hanging off the top of the 7 foot tall bookcase. I thought to myself, "Oh dear, this can only end in tragedy." Then I got the camera.

No animals were harmed, she actually didn't roll over and off the bookcase and fall onto the dog who leapt up and screamed and scared Elvis who was lying across my shoulders and as a result gouged me in the carotid artery and I bled out and the animals ate me when the food ran low and I'm actually not writing this from beyond the grave.

Maybe next time.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Million Dollar Baby

OK, not really. As far as pets go she's been middling expensive and as far as dogs go she's been a downright bargain thus far. Really!

Last week's trip to the vet was truly more an example of how I should never try to estimate costs of anything ever than an example of the cost of having a dog in the city.

Usually we go to the vet once a year for a check up/heartworm/flea thing and every other year or so we go one other time for some kind of hemoglobin in the digestion related issue. The regular check up runs between $95 and $125. Chili and I were talking about it a day or two before the check up and it went a little like this:

Chili: So how much is this going to run you?

Me (with the air of someone who finally, after much hard work and for once in her life, has a clue about how money runs through her life): Well it could go anywhere from about $95 to $150 but considering how this vet is really good about not over vaccinating or extra invasive procedures and that Em had a 3 year rabies last year I think it's going to run us closer to the $95 mark.

Friday night, about 6pm a little machine at the vet's office called up my bank and made a debit for $250.

Why? you ask. Is she sick? What happened? Did the vet's prices go up? Is there someone out there even worse at math than you and she's running the desk for the vet?

No. No, in point of fact it cost almost triple my projected price because my dog is healthy. Very healthy. Extremely healthy for a dog of her age and temperament. So healthy that it seemed wise to do some tests to find out why in the world she could be so very healthy.

Yes, crazy on the surface, I know, but, as the saying goes, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I've known a few dogs for whom 11 years, Emily's current age, was the turning point. A disease or disorder or issue or difficulty was diagnosed and proceeded to wear them away in very short order during the 11th year. So, superstitiously, I became worried when Emolina turned 11. I try not to make decisions based on that kind of thing, it's dangerous and silly and always ends up leading to another superstition and another thing to do to get you in the comfort zone and pretty soon you're washing all the right foot socks in one load and all the lefts in a second one and laying them out to be worn in a very specific rotation that is, you are certain, the only thing keeping the planets aligned in such a way that sunlight reaches the earth.* But the nice vet lady makes a lot of sense when she talks and I wasn't thinking about money I was just making the right decision for the health of the dog.

Let me be more specific. Emily is due for the Parvo/Distemper virus shot but if it's given routinely a dog's titres (yeah, I don't know but it brought back visions of those spigots in high school chemistry and I felt like I knew enough to keep listening) stay high. It's not a great idea to over vaccinate anyway. And yet stupid not to have them vaccinated against stuff that can hurt and/or kill them. She gave me three choices (she never said I'd be stupid or crazy to choose any one of them, I said that) 1. Give dog vaccine as scheduled, 2. Check dog's titres to see if vaccine is required or 3. Believe dog's titres are fine and leave her unvaccinated since we rarely see these diseases. I chose 2. It just seemed like keeping the options open and covering all the bases and a bunch of other things that my dad would have told me while I was choosing a college. While we talked about the titres it became clear that since Em has been in this vet's care, a period of about three years, we haven't done any blood work on her. Blood work can change in 6 months. So, do we want to get a base line so that, in the event of needing to blood work for any kind of health issue we can check it against the baseline? Well, geez, it sounds pretty silly not to have that, doesn't it? So, we went with some blood work. Heartworm, natch. Purchase of 6 months worth of heartworm meds. Regular office visit, which is, I have to say, a wonderfully reasonable $50, much better than a lot of places.


Vet visit: $50
Baseline bloodwork: $85
6 months of heartworm medication: $46.50
"Wow, she's a truly healthy dog": Priceless**


*There is a glorious episode of Malcolm in the Middle that takes place in a bowling alley where Hal becomes a slave to his superstitions that you really have to see.

**I am ashamed to use this ridiculous Madison Avenue conceit but not so ashamed that I'm going to delete it.

80 is the new 40

According to CBS Sunday Morning Hugh Hefner turns 80 today and he says that 80 is the new 40. Please add your own joke about Hef's secret to "feeling younger" in the comments section. As much fun as one has to make of a wrinkly old man and his obsession with the feel of silky PJs on his privates I have reason to believe him about the new 40 thing.

I am currently on a desperate quest for rehydration after Kath's Karaoke Birthdayganza last night. I'm afraid I'm going to meet the necessary liquid levels before it's time to go to brunch and have a mimosa. After spending the evening with yesterday's birthday girl I believe she has found the secret to making your 40s the new 20s (with a cheat sheet). She's got a job at which she excels, she owns her home, her guy throws a kick ass birthday party and she's not worried about anything, she's just enjoying herself. I had a great time and I was really outgoing for me but her ability to party leaves me in the dust.

Every time I manage to make it to her birthday party it's a year for Indian food and Karaoke. There's a little specialty karaoke place on Avenue A where you can rent a room big enough for your group and then program whatever songs you like and sing at the top of your lungs until the paper walls begin to shake. Drinking helps.

Kath takes it one step further. As Birthday Princess she appoints herself Karaoke Dictator. This means that she confiscates the song books and the remote control at the beginning of the party, programs a bunch of numbers into the machine and then waits until the intro to the song starts playing, brandishes the mic and says, "This one's for.....Kizz!" Then she hands you the mic and it's your turn, failure is not an option. Lest you think she is unkind I will clarify that she is more than willing to help you out by singing along with you if you can't remember the tune. If she has any voice left at all this morning I think she owes it to proper lubrication of the vocal cords.

This morning as I showered I played a little music to keep me from falling asleep and drowing (Confidential to the person with the squeaky door who was apparently bringing their garbage out piece by piece at 7 this morning: FUCK YOU!) and I had the iTunes on shuffle. A familar beat on the toms started up and I recognized Walk Like an Egyptian. That was a highpoint of last evening's set. Everyone (except me) made fun of Kath for picking it and yet, not one person sat out the song. (Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh-way-oh-oh)

Other hysterical moments include Lumberjack (I'd never heard it before but Alex and Craig did it up right and still begged to get a second chance - the Karaoke Dictator declined), I got to sing Cabaret (everyone but the Birthday Princesss was all, "Cabawhat?"), Take Me Home Country Roads, something by Oasis, Bohemian Rhapsody (natch), and Waterloo (probably my personal favorite).

An amazing time was had by all and I hope it was everything Miss Kath wanted for her day. (Thank you for inviting me!) She sang, she laughed, she took pictures, she danced, she smuggled liquor in against the rules, she was kind and luminous and wore a kickin' rock start belt.

I wonder, though, why she didn't dole out any Corey Hart.