Monday, December 31, 2012


Two corrections need to be made to the previous post and they're important enough to warrant their own post.

1. Aunt Rena died in February and she was very close to me. There are a lot of reasons why, despite thinking and thinking, I didn't remember until after I'd published the post. She was a complicated lady and, in the end, perhaps as unhappy as anyone I have ever known. She taught me a lot of things, practical things, but the most important lesson of her legacy is going to be making sure that I am careful not to work myself into a place where I am both afraid to live and afraid to die. I want to be happy to be alive until I can't live anymore. I want to be like Quilting Muriel and Auntie Blanche. Without Aunt Rena I might not realize how important it is to keep that in focus.

2. I spent the last 90 minutes reading. I was about two thirds done with a book, Vaclav & Lena, and I just wanted to finish it in the old year. I didn't want it leaking over. You might think this is because it wasn't a great book. On the contrary, it is an exquisite piece of writing, melding cultures and characters in this deceptively light and seamless way. It's a love story and a love letter to Brooklyn. It's my favorite book from 2012. The meme doesn't ask for a favorite book. It should.

Happy New Year, you guys! Thanks for being here.

For Zero Mostel

UntitledI do love a good tradition. For the most part I no longer write nor read blog memes but, since this one is only once a year, I keep up with it. I like it, actually. Seems especially fun to be answering it on the very last day of the year. Thanks to Aunt Becky for answering this year so I could copy and paste for my own answers!

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Visited Italy. Went to Ellis Island. Performed my new cabaret show. Owned an iPhone. Promoted my photography business.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I do the Life List thing and I sort of count that as resolutions. That and choosing a word for the year. (Looks like 2013 is going to be ASK.) I made progress on the list so I think I did pretty well. I also finished up my 365 project that was started in 2011, so that was good, too.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Apparently. At least one of them I only heard about after the child was born. Such is the nature of the long distance friendship with chronic workaholics.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Sort of. I mean, yes, but it's hard to explain. For example, this summer my next door neighbor, Ms. Hall, died unexpectedly. It's very weird not to see her anymore though we only spoke generally as neighbors. A few similar connections were severed this year and they all sucked.

Untitled 5. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
More performance opportunities, more photographic opportunities, more writing opportunities, more naps.

6. What countries did you visit?

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
September 9 was the day we came back from Italy. Not sure why that's the date that sticks with me but it does.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting my new cabaret show up on its feet. I've been working on it for more than a year and, as we took off for Italy, I thought it wouldn't happen this year and I despaired. Apparently a couple of weeks in a foreign country can change things.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not taking my mom in that gondola. I will always regret that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was sick for about 6 months with vague respiratory ailments that sucked donkey dick. Let's not do that again.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
iPhone. Time with an Accompanist. Tickets to Italy. All the food in Italy. All the prosecco in Italy. So much dog training.

Infamous 12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Everyone who pitched in after the superstorm (and every other disaster).

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Pretty much every politician ever. There are exceptions but so few it seems it might be a jinx to name them.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Cabaret-related expenses (vocal coaching, accompanist, music, PR).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Honestly, so little, even though I do awesome things. I have ridiculous superstitions about not getting too excited in case something doesn't happen. I call them ridiculous but the one huge excitement I remember off the bat is when I met who I thought was the right accompanist. I got so giddy I went home and wrote a whole show and handed it over to him like a High School flirty note when next we met. He read it and shot me down and continued to shoot me down until I'd absolutely given up. I had a lot further to fall.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Adam & Eve by October Project.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner, praise the powers!
iii. richer or poorer? I think about the same.

Untitled 18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wheezing. Worrying.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I did spend Christmas in New England with friends and family eating yummy food and watching my dog be gloriously foolish.

21. There was no #21. I don’t know why there was no 21.

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

23. How many one-night stands?
Zero (slacker!).

24. What was your favorite TV program?
What wasn't? The Hour, Burn Notice, Raising Hope, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Walking Dead...I could go on and on and on.

Untitled 25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Let's not use that word but there is one community member that I do wish would evaporate. (Or at least move to Borneo.)

26. What was the best book you read?
Just Kids by Patti Smith and let me tell you that was a surprise for me.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I think it was this year, Susan Werner. I knew of her but then I knew her and I'm in love in so many ways.

28. What did you want and get?
My cabaret show.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Man, this is a toughie. I tried to keep better track this year but I fell down. I can narrow down to three. Either Anna Karenina, Albert Nobbs, or Pina.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I cannot remember what I did on the actual day I turned 43, I'm going to have to look it up. OK, apparently I answered this meme on my birthday last year. If I'm reading the photos correctly that's basically the only thing of any significance that I did on the actual day. I did plenty of celebrating on other days, though!

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Kissing, lots of kissing.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
"I can breathe in this so it'll have to do!"

34. What kept you sane?
Writing, even on the internet.

Untitled 35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Craig Ferguson. There's probably something very wrong about fantasizing about being someone's fourth wife.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The entire election. It got to the point where I was honestly terrified of Romney winning, even though I knew I'd survived the second W. Bush term.

37. Who did you miss?

One might think I wouldn't still miss my dog, Emily, enough for her to be in this category but one would be wrong.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My knitting circle gals are pretty rad. Huge variety of folks and everyone so sweet and weird in the best ways.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Only skimming the guidebook can lead to great surprises and greater disappointments.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"Only ever really one story/a boy and a girl/ and the end of the world..."

Sunday, December 30, 2012


As we look down the barrel of a new year I have many lists. Wouldn't it be nice to go into it clean? Some stuff on my lists is small, some is recurring, some is big and, frankly, isn't going to get done before it's time to get back to the office on Wednesday. I'm chipping away, though, and that's what matters.

On the other hand right now there's the rhythmic rise and fall of a little furry chest on my shins. Even though we ought to go for a walk and it's getting pretty dark in here and many of the things on the list require me to leave the couch dislodging him holds no charm for me.

I guess we'll just sit here a while longer enjoying the moment.

Good Napper

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Updating the Year


I updated my Life List. Apparently the last time I updated it was a year ago. Fortunately that wasn't the last time I did something on the list. Slow but steady progress has been made. Apparently an unwatched pot will come, ever so slowly, to a boil. I think it looks pretty good, there's a mix of things both big and small, the long term and the short, but I think I could add things to it. Ideally I'd like it to have 100 items even though I know that the quantity of the entries isn't the point. As I say on the page, if you've heard me talk about something I want to do and you don't see it on the list please remind me of it.

While we're at this, do you have a Life List? Did you have goals for 2012? How did that all go? I, for one, would love to hear about it.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Questions That Need To Be Asked

I consider Facebook magic. Magic in the deepest sense of the word, though. It addresses powers both good and evil so you have to be careful how you use it. I've been lucky that this form of social media has brought back to me some great friends from my childhood. When one of those friends, Julie Leavitt, posted some incisive questions following the Newtown killings I asked if she would care to share them here and she agreed. We waited until we got through Christmas before posting and I wondered if we'd missed the window of relevance to this conversation. Now some teachers in Utah are being offered free gun training. We've come right back around to being timely again.  - Kizz

We’ve by now heard the calls, from politicians as well as private citizens, to prevent future school massacres by "simply" "arming the teachers." Governor Bob McDonnell (he of "trans-vaginal ultrasound infamy) says it's time to have "a reasonable discussion" about this.

So, fine; let’s discuss. I have a few questions we could address at this "reasonable discussion." They are as follows:

  • To whom would these guns be registered? Are they the teachers' personal property, or property of the school? How would this impact the hiring of teachers? “Wanted: kindergarten teacher, Must have BA in elementary education, a love of children, a commitment to educational excellence, and Colt .45 or similar”?
  • Who will pay for the guns and ammunition? (The teachers themselves, the BoE, the local police?) Will this be a line-item on the annual school budget? What will it feel like to cut teacher salaries or position, to cut programs, supplies, capital improvements, to pay for guns? What does that say about our educational philosophy?
  • Where will these guns be stored during school? Loaded, on the teachers’ persons? Loaded, but in a locked desk drawer? Unloaded? What’s the sweet spot between “have gun at the ready to combat armed intruder” and “do not accidentally discharge weapon during circle time”?
  • How will these guns and the ammunition for them be secured when school is not in session (after class, on weekends, over the summer)? What security measures would need to be put in place to prevent theft? What procedures would need to be in place to track the guns and ammunition on a daily basis?
  • How can we ensure teachers are adequately trained to use these guns properly? Teachers, like police, would need to be trained in the proper use and care of firearms. Not a one-time crash course, but a recurring workshop. Will this be the responsibility of the local BoE, the state, the local police departments? Part of college teacher training and certification? Does that become part of professional development curriculum? (Imagine kids having the day off from school so their teacher can go to target practice.) How would teachers be compensated for this extra training time?
  • How will a school's insurance be impacted by the presence of firearms in a school building? With the school becoming an armory, there is increased for theft, fire and explosion, not to mention the inherent risk to life and health of the staff and students.
  • What do we do about the children who are anxious or traumatized sitting in class, knowing there is a loaded weapon at the teacher's desk? Do we set up "gun-free" classrooms for the squeamish? Insist they be home-schooled?
  • What do we do with teachers who can't, or won't, participate in this de-facto draft? (My ancient history teacher from junior high comes to mind. I was convinced she’d lived through the Civil War; I doubt she could have lifted a gun, let alone shot it with any accuracy). Fire them, refuse to hire them, deny them promotion or tenure? Pay them less than their armed colleagues? How does this gun-toting policy intersect with academic freedom? Or our country’s policy regarding conscription?
  • How do we monitor the mental health of the teachers and staff, some of who might be otherwise disqualified from obtaining a gun permit, without running afoul of HIPPA? How do we ensure that an overworked teacher or faculty member, or a faculty member with a personal problem, doesn't simply use the weapon on other adults or students?
  • What happens when the student becomes the threat? The student may be unarmed (or not, I mean, we can hardly impose metal detector monitoring if the faculty is packing heat), but might threaten violence (happens all the time in confrontations with armed police officers). How do we prevent "stand-your-ground" shootings of violent or menacing students by a teacher? Would the school district pay for the legal fees incurred by a criminal investigation, trial or civil lawsuit?
  • How do we prevent, say, a distraught or violent high school student from overpowering a teacher, taking their gun, and turning it on the class? (And before you say, "That could never happen!" I refer you to Nancy Lanza, who bought several guns for her own protection.)
  • What do we tell our children when, despite all these precautions, someone enters a school with the intent to do harm and unarmed students die in great numbers? Arm the students? Remember, there was an armed police officer on campus at Columbine High School. (He shot at the 2 shooters, but failed to take them out.) Remember, an armed police officer was shot 15 times by the shooter at the Sikh temple last summer. (He was on the scene less than 3 minutes after the attack began, and he was prepared to deal with a killer). Remember, Fort Hood had not only armed civilian police in the immediate area (one of whom was seriously wounded while attempting to shoot the suspect) but trained, military professionals on hand (many of whom had seen combat), a huge armory, and sophisticated surveillance.
Does any of this sound “reasonable?”

I see nothing “reasonable” in turning our schools into armed camps. I see more potential for mayhem and less time, money or energy for the teaching of children. I see an additional burden placed on our teachers at a time when we already ask too much of them. I see children made anxious and stressed in a place where they should be relaxed and focused on learning.

I also see a huge financial investment at a time when education budgets have been cut to the bone, and taxpayers have insisted they can't be squeezed for a penny more. That money, of course, would go to gun manufacturers. That money would then be spent in part on lobbying efforts to promote a pro-gun agenda and pro-gun elected officials. Like ….. Bob McDonnell.

Now, I doubt Bob McDonnell has spent the time it takes to read this post in thinking about any of these issues. But I can’t help but see how this scheme of his does ensure more money for his campaign backers.

I think, frankly, it’s more “reasonable” for McDonnell, or the gun lobbyists who helped elect him, to simply rob us all at gunpoint. There’s a refreshing honesty in “Stick ‘em up!” that this “more guns for safe schools” philosophy sorely lacks.

About Julie: I'm a mom, a costume designer, a college prof, and a PTO member who has volunteer-taught science experiments in elementary school classrooms for the last 3 years. I'm also a vocal supporter of public education, a denouncer of standardized tests, and a detester of No Child Left Behind. I live 2 towns over from Newtown and, while I didn't know any of the victims personally, many of my friends and colleagues do. I'm not pro-gun, but I grew up among hunters and veterans. I respect the Second Amendment, but think the NRA is not an honest broker on responsible gun ownership in this country. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hope for Understanding

The Reason

The holiday was lovely, thank you for asking. I hope yours was as well. All the accounts I've read on the internet have been glowing and that makes me happy.

This year I kept it to basics. There were rumblings in the foundations of our traditions, some good and some not so much. The result, for me, was that I felt the need to go with the flow as those changes left a lot of plans up in the air. This means I missed visiting with a few wonderful folks, which is too bad. I hope that they understand I didn't do it lightly and I'll check in with them soon.

What was the best part of the celebration? Well, too many things to mention, really, but the icing on any cake is, without question, the two yahoos you see pictured here. That's Uno above on the left. He came up from VA to join us and he is the snuggliest bug that ever eschewed a rug. (He prefers to sleep on your lap or on the back of the couch with some of himself gently draped around your neck.) Both pups were, you'll pardon the expression, dog tired before we were halfway done. It's a lot of work to show off your cuteness to armies of folk who don't get to see you every day. Your 23 hours of napping per day is greatly curtailed. I believe one day they each only got about 3 hours of napping on top of their 8 hours of sleep. It's a good thing we took a couple of long drives or they wouldn't even have gotten that much.

We're home now. We got here just as the first flakes of snow were beginning to fall yesterday and were able to hunker down until the worst of it (mostly rain) was over. Ed is getting his rest on while I'm at work and then we'll have another five days to enjoy each other's company before real life requires our presence again.

I hope you're all enjoying yourselves and being careful if you're stuck in many feet of snow and being nice to the people you love. That's a good plan for any time of year but especially these days.

From Santa

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tradition, Interrupted

You may have been following this year's Santa Saga over here at 117 Hudson. Several weeks ago Alita was the first of us to bring it up and we chose three weekends ago. That weekend she fell ill so we said no problem and postponed to the following Sunday. The following Sunday, still not in tippety toppity shape the Bay Ridge contingent overslept. The youngster had a rehearsal later in the day and this is a crowd that respects rehearsals so I said I'd postpone my departure tomorrow for a few hours and we'd sneak in our visit to the Jolly Old Gent first thing in the morning. Well, I just got an email. Apparently they're both sick enough (fever, phlegm, general malaise) that they feel they need to call it off. I'm sad we'll miss our tradition but absolutely understand. Visiting a germ-infested joy zone while you're also being laid low by the germs is sheer folly. I want them to heal in time for Christmas. We'll make it up to ourselves with a bowling outing in January. Clemo mentioned that this outing was one he looks forward to, even vicariously, so here's a little photo retrospective (reverse chronological order) of our outings to ease our melancholy.

The Reading

Thursday, December 20, 2012

If It's Random Is It A Collection

Spoils of Caroling - We went caroling last night, Sara and I. We tagged along with the same choir we sang opera with this summer. You don't carol for the money, that's for sure. Sometimes people are generous. As we wandered down Montague Street singing along people were generous with their praise and also with their cookies, coffee, and in one case their roses! A lovely florist gave us each a rose, the whole group! That was a pretty awesome first for me. I took this while we were walking home and I think it looks as though Sara is scolding me about the roses. That is not the case at all.

 - Do you remember The Arsenio Hall Show? He had this running gag in his monologues called, "Things That Make You Say Hmmmmm." Today I was walking out of the courtyard with Ed. I had to keep him on a short leash and he was pulling like mad. I thought to myself, "I wish he would heel for this part of the walk. All this pulling sucks." Then I thought, "I haven't been working on his loose leash walking from our training sessions." Hmmmmm, seems like I might have the perfect situation to work on the loose leash walking at least three times a day."

 - I was walking along a wide sidewalk and noticed a white knit and leather glove on the ground. Several steps later I saw it's mate and immediately dragged the dog back so we could reunite them and lay them atop a fence nearby in case someone came looking. How come I wasn't going to pick up the first glove but when it was a pair I considered it a moral imperative?

 - An old friend re-posted a thing on Facebook that was in support of putting "under God" back into the Pledge of Allegiance. It was one of those scoldy pro-religion ones that makes my eye twitch. I remembered that "under God" was a late addition to the pledge so I decided to look it up. I found this concise, interesting history of the Pledge of Allegiance! There are a lot more cool things about it that I didn't know. (It really is short, you should read it.) So I was able both to post the link in the comments and sincerely thank my friend for prompting me to look it up.

 - I celebrate Christmas Day with mostly adults. We exchange a few gifts but nothing big. It's really nice because it cuts down on the freaking out shopping and the Christmas morning chaos. I exchange presents by mail with a few friends and there's a small amount of exchanging that happens in relation to my job and my neighborhood. If I'm face to face with a friend we open things whenever we're together so we get to share the excitement. With all the other ones, though, I hoard them for opening in a big bunch. It doesn't have to be on Christmas Day but I do it all at once. I guess part of me does miss the Christmas morning present glut a little. Still wouldn't change the way I celebrate on the day.

 - My dog is a warm weather dog. He's high energy but a good sleeper. Dude will nap with anyone like a champ. When it's cold and dark out in the morning when it's time for our big off leash walk of the day I often have to go in and wake him up. I'll usually put all his gear on (harness, leash, collar with ID, sweater, coat, light up collar) where he lies in the bed and then invite him to join me under his own power. Most of the time he's right with me. Sometimes...well, my confession here is that every day this week I've carried my dog down to the sidewalk like the big wussy baby he is. Honestly, I kind of like it.

 - Shout out to Our Falnfenix. Her poor pup passed, only 10 months old. Please keep her in your thoughts and shove some treats down the gullets of all the pets you meet.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This Could Go Either Way

UntitledI'm going to clean out the starred file. This could be interesting, super depressing, and may or may not be only 10 things. Hold on tight!

1. Did you see the pictures of the Comfort Dogs that went to Sandy Hook? It's a feel good thing. Be sure to click the link at the end of the second post for the full set of pictures.

2. My Facebook and Twitter feeds on Friday were equal parts people expressing horror and sadness at the shootings and people screeching (I don't know what the font is for that but it was really clear even in type) that they were not going to shut up about gun control and this was too the day to bellow from the rooftops. I had a couple of quick thoughts. My first was, "I'm not asking you to quit talking about it forever. I'm asking you to stop talking about it until the bodies are identified and the kids aren't lying alone on the linoleum anymore. That doesn't seem like too much." This was relatively swiftly followed by, "Everybody's gotta work through this their own way." which kept me from posting the first thought which I'm pretty glad about. Though I guess not so glad that I kept from posting it at all because here we are with me working through it in my own way.

3. My friend Rick, the poet, wrote a piece about what if there are no answers to this kind of violence. It's perhaps the most unsettling thing I've read in the last four days.

4. I haven't watched this video (or the previous six) yet but, knowing what I know about Neilochka, I feel confident it's awesome. It's Neil's 7th Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!

5. I am a huge fan of the Aliens franchise, especially the second movie, you know, Aliens. The idea of Ripley as a saint who watches over us is pretty freaking appealing. 

6. Check out some photos of FLOTUS reading a book to some kids while her dog sits on her lap. You just know she's doing all the voices. She's a real, live human being with passions and ideas and actions. It's nice to have a few of those in positions of power these days.

7. I've talked a number of times about how fearful and anxious I am in general and how much of my brain space is used to work through that. I am not medicated for those feelings but, as so many people turn to medication for this sort of thing, I wonder and weigh the pros and cons. This piece from Shakesville about how we teach people (especially male people) to deal (or not deal)  with feelings of fear was a HELL YES moment for me. " is easier to maintain an identity that is rooted in not being fearful, even though fear is a normal part of human experience."

8. A teacher friend of mine spoke this weekend of being more afraid of being unable to protect her students than of putting her own kid in the care of his school. This article, syndicated on Blogher, expressed similar fears. I wanted to comment and let the writer know she's not alone but when I tried comments were broken. I hope she knows.

9.  Julie took a relatively brave step in writing about her feelings both for the victims and the shooter.

10. Let's end at 10 and let's do it with music. Maggie posts playlists every week. Last week's is called All is Calm All is Bright.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

What And If

I was going to write this a few weeks ago when a teenager was shot and killed by an older man over their opinions about how loud the kid should be playing his music in a public place. It never quite coalesced but it seems right to put it out here now. At the time I was beginning to deal with a neighbor who is angry with me. For a little while I didn't know whether she was a physical threat to me or not. Further investigation has brought me to conclude that she is unlikely to be physically abusive. A couple of people wanted me to prepare myself for that eventuality, though. "At least get some pepper spray!"

I thought about it. In the spirit of honesty I'll tell you that I even thought about whether I should get a gun. I ran through how I thought things might go if I had pepper spray. The woman has been waiting to catch me alone and then standing quite close to me and yelling, once she followed me home yelling all the way, after having been extremely nice in the presence of my friends. I feel I can expect that to happen again some time and there's no way to know when.

So let's say I get the pepper spray and put it in my pocket to make me feel safer when I go to the park alone. Walking tall I take up my old habits and routes and timings. Eventually she finds me alone. I know there's a danger I'll spray myself so I need some prep time. As I see her from a couple hundred yards away I reach into my pocket to get the spray and take the cap off just in case. She's much closer now. I take the uncapped vial out of my pocket to make sure it's free of all the other stuff I carry around and that the nozzle is facing away from me. She sees it. Either frightened or scoffing she continues to approach, upping her bravado to cover, and starts to yell at me. A couple of things could happen here. Seeing me armed she could strike first by hitting me or kicking my dog. I could ask her to stop yelling and when she doesn't I could spray her or I could just spray without speaking, out of panic or by accident, thus injuring her and, having struck first, I become the bad guy in a legal sense. I could accidentally spray her dog or my dog or any of the many other dogs roaming off leash at the time which they don't deserve, they're all perfectly fine and don't have any issue with me or her. No matter what happens things have escalated. Even if she just sees the sprayer and walks on by then it's in her head. Does she choose to stay away from me or does she arm herself with pepper spray or a knife or even a gun the next time she comes to the park? How does she handle those weapons? Does one of us or one of our dogs or someone completely random wind up dead at the end of a chain reaction that started with something perfectly legal and neighborly that I did that she suddenly got angry about?

When I got to that point I decided that having a weapon, even pepper spray, wouldn't make me feel safer. If I thought about it carefully enough it made me feel less safe in the long term by making me brave in the short term.

I wasn't a witness to anything but here's what I think happened in the loud music shooting. I think an older white man saw a younger black man playing music louder than the older man thought was polite. Feeling brave about having a gun in his pocket he decided to say something. Maybe he even put his hand on the butt of the gun when he approached, a little steel courage rather than liquid, if you will. The younger man, being in a group of his friends, felt the pressure of ego and the safety of numbers and refused, perhaps even saying something derogatory but perhaps not. The older man, angry now and possibly embarrassed, with a weapon at his disposal pulled out his gun and shot the younger man, killing him. He's got a lawyer now so all his statements are specifically skewed to help his legal case in this murder which means we'll never know if, after the bullets were discharged, he thought maybe he'd made a poor choice. Heck, it's possible he was as surprised by his actions as anyone else. I'd like to know, though, if he discovered what I did with my fictional scenario. I wonder if, assuming he walks free at some point, he'll ever feel safe again no matter what sort of weaponry he's packing.

I do not believe that any of this stuff keeps you safer, it just makes you feel that way in the short term. Long term, though, think about it...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Going Showing

street perf spring 1993The way this week has gone I have to be honest with you, the performance high I got on Wednesday is plummeting. I had a decent, subdued but productive, morning baking and whatnot and I rewarded myself with a nap. It was a decent nap, no bad dreams, no abrupt awakening, very routine. I woke up so grumpy I was almost not fit for human consumption. It's to be expected at a time when there's such high tension everywhere and yet I still managed to be surprised. Application of gift giving, sugar, and a walk in the rain worked to get me back to neutral. This is all a very long winded way of saying that I better tell you about this show I did before I can't.

Clemo said to me the other day something along the lines of "A mediocre day on the stage is better than a day anywhere else." That's the damn truth! Not for everyone, I know. I've had a handful of people who've called me brave for doing this show, which is all I've really wanted to do in life for....a long, long time. It takes a certain girding of the loins but doesn't everything that makes us happy? The short answer to "How did it go?" is "It wasn't a mediocre day on stage. It was way fucking better than that."

restoration 3 I was in good voice. I knew my stuff. I wasn't absolutely perfect in word or deed and I'm choosing to believe that means that I was working in the moment and enjoying what I did. I really was enjoying it. Damn, I had fun! There were16 enthusiastic folks in a cozy, comfortable room on Restaurant Row and that made it perfect. Do you run? Do you lecture? Do you build ships in bottles? What's the thing that makes you a little lightheaded and giddy with the joy of it? Go to that place and you'll know how it was for me on Wednesday.

There's room for improvement. There always is. I was, apparently, a little speedy in my delivery. That's not unusual for me. What is unusual is that I didn't realize it until the show was over. I'll work on it a lot. I bobbled a few lines, some that I wrote and some the Carole King wrote. Really sorry about that Ms. King. I wasn't precisely comfortable in my focus points and acting decisions, very close but not quite perfect. These are all good problems to have. I'll take them! It's nice to have something to work for. I'm not done with this show. I might not be done after 2 more performances, either. We'll have to see.

Always A Bridesmaid Post-show A note about the audience; it was awesome. There were park people, knitting people, college people, work people, music people, neighbor people and they were all enthusiastic people. When I ask an audience to chair dance I expect at least a couple of them to take me up on it. When I ask them to sing along it's pretty nice to see every mouth opening and closing, even the ones that I know prefer not to sing in public. I could not have felt better supported and happier with the faces I greeted as I bared a little chunk of my soul. I told them that night that this show has been a long time coming and it was glorious to be able to share it with them. I hope they knew how true that was.

You know what the best part is? I get to do it again.


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Age Isn't A Factor

This is what they looked like last year.

The Return

Tomorrow we go again. In light of recent events I am simultaneously really glad and a little nervous. It will be good to see happy kids, this happy kid in particular.

It's sweet of her to humor her mother and me like this every year. We're lucky to have her.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Town. Old Story.

The Lip
Happy Fun Times
2ms summer 1995
me, Ana Aug 1994
Tree K 1997
Post-Tae Kwan Do Many Years Ago
It seems I'm not going to write about my show today, either.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sharply Reversed

SpoonerAs I walked the dog in the dark this morning and showered slowly, fighting the sluggishness of an adrenaline crash, I crafted a blog post. I was going to lead with something about walking the dog in the dark and some deep theories about community and then, WHAM I'd say, "What? You thought I wasn't going to talk about THE SHOW?" and oh how we'd laugh. Ha ha ha. And I'd tell you all about how things went.

Then I noticed in my Twitter feed that falnfenix's puppy may be in kidney failure. She's been keeping vigil at the vet and we're still waiting to hear. A specialist visit is being organized. My boss was in today so I was busy. I could maybe have eked out a few lines about the show but I thought I'd wait.

In the middle of the day I saw a message from Our Cindy that said simply, "Treats for Everyone" and knew exactly what she meant. She had to put her precious Hooper dog down today. He was an old dude but it sure seemed as though he was going to rally from a lethargy he'd been falling into. Not to be. I don't know if you've been keeping up with Cindy's blog but this has been an intensely hard year for her. She's a resilient, optimistic, forward thinking human but holy fucked up shit, Batman, this is too goddamned much. I had to take myself to the bathroom stall to cry some sad/angry (sangry?) tears before I could continue. Fucking fuck! I'm so angry that I didn't get to meet Hooper and that's only a tiny flame of anger next to how furious I am that whatever guiding principle is piloting this fucked up life decided that this year was the appropriate time for Hooper's ticket to punched. Fuck that, fuck it in the armpit, with chainsaw.

At that point I decided that I'd write about the show tomorrow. Sorry to leave you hanging but if you know me at all you understand the dog tales take precedence.

Yesterday I did a half day of work from home leaving me with a few hours to collect my tools and my thoughts before it was time to tech the show and perform it. The first order of business was a quick nap. I needed a refresher. Before I could drift off I felt the mattress moving and in short order a little dog was standing in the curve of my torso. He used his bony butt to carve out a perfect spooning space against my body. Once he was satisfied he curled into a tight ball and dropped immediately to sleep.

In honor of Hooper and in support of falnfenix let's all cuddle our pets a little closer tonight, play a little tug of war even though it's no fun for us, let's do what we always do and give treats for everyone, as many treats as their tummies can possibly stand.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Photo Challenge: JINGLE

I didn't really do the challenge schedule math on this until just now. It turns out that this is going to be the last challenge of 2012. I think we chose a good prompt and we got great responses. Enjoy them and please scroll down to get ready for another fantastic year of photography!

I am never together enough to either remember an old photo that's perfect for a challenge or to shoot specifically for the prompt. Our Janet routinely does both with brilliant results. She took two shots for this prompt and submitted the other one until I begged for this one because it is simply fantabulous.

she's still here
You know that I'm a sucker for the kid pics and the dog pics but, you know, the old folks pics really get me, too. Our Bethany knows a lot of glorious elders and I love this ornament she made with pictures of her grammy.

Sadly we didn't get to hear anyone play this organ. At least we got to see it when we toured the duomo in Sienna, Italy.

When Our Cindy does sparkly she really does sparkly. The sunlight shows off her jazzy trimmings to great effect here.

Pew pew pew
At first glance Our Lisa might seem to be a strict traditionalist. She's a stay at home mom, she bakes bread, she volunteers for a lot of field trips. Make no mistake, though, she's as unique as they come and not afraid to show it. "Klingon Bird of Prey uncloaking dead ahead!"

Now technically the math works out that the next challenge would fall on December 26th. I'm getting up well before the crack of fanny on that day to bring a loved one to the airport then having breakfast with different loved ones and getting back on the road toward Brooklyn with fingers crossed for not too much traffic. What I'm saying is, the 26th isn't going to see me in front of a computer for very long so I'm declaring a week's delay, a rest period, a reflection time, if you will, and we'll see the first challenge of 2013 on January 2nd. Sound good?

Oh, the prompt. I think it shall be FRESH.

Please enter by 9am Tuesday JANUARY 1st 2013 (eek!) for posting on January 2nd. Tag your photos with PHOTO CHALLENGE and FRESH. Check out the wonderful work in our Flickr Pool for inspiration. Also, let me know if you have questions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Damn You Yankees

UntitledIt seems it's necessary for me to sound the annual alarm bells. People, Yankee Swap/White Elephant parties are mean! The premise is getting together with people you like and taking stuff that makes them happy away from them. Please stop the madness. My full diatribe is here.

Instead let me direct you to a kind of swap that isn't mean. It's just to show you that two born and bred Yankees like me and Our Janet can be reformed while staying frugal.

So, Janet messages me before Thanksgiving and asks if I'm anywhere near this. I am not, in fact, any nearer or farther away from that than I am to anything else in New York City so I say yes. It turns out that if you go to the Chobani yogurt parlor they serve you in cute glass dishes and you get a discount when you bring your dish back for a refill. Janet didn't want a refill, she wanted some cups so I said I'd work on getting them for her.

Untitled This yogurt parlor is in Soho. Soho is fancy. It used to be a mix of very fancy with kind of downtrodden and I used to spend a lot of time in the latter establishments back when there was a truly fabulous theatre there that used to let me play in it. Now it's all fancy. I felt weird crossing the old streets and seeing store after store filled with stuff that cost my life savings. I nurtured that weird feeling until I started to get anxious about ordering my yogurt. How expensive would it be? Did I need to ask for the glass dishes? Would it be so complicated that I'd make a mistake?

You're a fucking 43-year-old woman of sound mind and body and also it's yogurt! Buck up.

So I bucked and went in and, while the clientele was all skinny twentysomething women in cashmere languishing on bench seats, the employees were beautiful, normal-looking, helpful, and kind folks. They handed me a menu (of yogurt, I know) and took my order and told me to take as many pictures as I wanted, even urged me to belly up to the pass through window so I could see my concoctions in progress. They lovingly packed my glass dishes full of fresh ingredients into a recycled materials paper bag and waved me on my way back to cut-rate-cashmere, non-fancy life.

Untitled Home in Brooklyn I happened upon a perfect shaft of light cutting across my imperfectly clean dining table and snapped a few pics for the record. Eddie quickly grew bored but Anna stuck around to supervise. She likes to see if I'm going to accidentally leave food unattended.

I ate the Pomegranate and Power one, first. I love pomegranate and clearly after my crisis on the way to buy yogurt I need to look into getting my power back so it was an obvious choice. Pomegranate and yogurt is food of the gods. Power apparently comes in the seeds of flax and hemp. I could do without seeds in my teeth but they don't taste like anything and I know they're good for me so that was fine. For my Greek yogurt cravings I usually apply Fage so I was interested to find that Chobani has a slightly looser texture and is sweeter. Now, I didn't read my menu closely so maybe they added honey or maybe the yogurt is naturally slightly sweet. Does anyone know? It was a perfectly delightful snack but then I was full so I put away the other serving for later.

Untitled I was afraid that my second snack would suffer some tragedy of flavor melding after a day in the fridge but fortunately that did not come to pass. This one was Pistachio and Chocolate and I got it because, duh, chocolate. There was a whole bunch of other stuff in there, too, the same seeds but also some fruit, maybe slightly dried pineapple, and mint leaves on top. The chocolate was good and dark and there was enough that you could have some in every bite. If I ever braved the fancy yogurt place again I'd be hard pressed to choose between these two.

A week and a half later when I'd finally cleaned the dishes I mailed them off to Our Janet nestled in a box engineered by Mameres out of free items we found at the Post Office and the roll of tape I brought. Miraculously (not a miracle, Mameres knows his shit) the dishes arrived unscathed and Janet's Dave started on my half of the barter. You see, Dave is an artist (among other things) and when Janet asked if I wanted anything from New England in return for the dishes the first thing that popped into my head was, "Will Dave draw me a picture of Eddie?" Without consulting Dave at all she said yes (Thanks Dave!) and asked, "Do you want a standard portrait or Dave-style?" Dave-style all the way. I've never had anyone do a portrait of any of my animals and I'm really excited for this. It's something I've wanted for a long time.

See how nicely this all worked out? A straight swap of things we each have access to. Nothing expensive to provide. Most importantly, nobody gets to steal anything! Seriously, if you try to steal my Dave-style portrait of Eddie I will fucking cut you...probably with some shitty gift someone stuck me with at a Yankee Swap!


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret.  

Monday, December 10, 2012


I'm doing a show, please come!

I send out kind of a lot of holiday cards. I used to send them sort of haphazardly but every year I move toward a slightly more organized system. My mother's father died in January of 1999. I got the news on a pay phone at a Steak & Shake in Ohio, I believe. On break from my job in Saginaw, MI I had spent a couple of days at Christmas with him, my grandmother, and Aunt Rena. I took him to the hospital for some bloodwork, cooked a dinner, and spent a little time with Grammy Fern getting her holiday letters ready. She was the queen of the index card contacts system and led me through it probably because she hoped I'd learn to keep up the tradition. I am. Sort of.

In the past several years I've developed a really fun habit of creating my cards in partnership with Our JRH. I make some vague pronouncements about photos and themes and general ideas and she works the magic on the computer that makes them a reality. Since I send more than 100 cards I usually have them printed at iPrint. The drawback here is that they will print you 100 cards or 250 cards and nothing in between. Since I need more than 100 I go for the exorbitant 250 and it's still cheaper than getting the correct number of cards printed anywhere else. Some year for the sake of economics and space and the greening of America I'll have to do a "Retro" mailing and send out a variety of the old cards.

One year, in the tradition of some bloggers, I asked folks if they'd like to get on my mailing list and get a card. Lord knows I love some snail mail and I can't be the only one! I'd like to extend that invitation again. I just ordered the cards (we spent our usual design time making the card for my show you see above so we're a little behind) so they won't get to me until the 18th. If your joy requires that you receive all your cards before Christmas I won't be able to help you but if you have a weakness for the New Year card (or possibly the Valentines one!) then I'd love to send you some cheer. If you want to get on my mailing list please send your preferred address to isabeau6 at hotmail dot com.

Hope you're enjoying your traditions!


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012


UntitledWe're knocking on the big, glossy front door of a new era of my music. You can imagine how much noise that makes in my head. I'm ready. As ready as I'm going to be, I guess. I mean, I have to rehearse each day and I have another meeting with the accompanist and a tech and the show itself. I have to figure out what earrings I'm going to wear and go to work and worry about not puking in fear. As you do. I'd have all those things to do even if I wasn't ready, though.

I like roller coasters but I don't seek them out. I'd never go on one that spun me upside down! I like history and tradition, too, though. So for my 40th birthday Kath took me to ride the Cyclone at Coney Island. I wanted to go. My heart wanted to go. My head thought my heart was an asshole. Standing in line my knees started to shake. When Alex said he wasn't going with us because once had been enough for him the shaking spread up into my stomach. For pride's sake I didn't waver and got into a middle car and warned Kath that I would probably babble like a freak on the first rise because the anticipation makes me nuts. More nuts. Then, as promised, I babbled and screeched a little and definitely wigged right the hell out. The first plummet toward earth was actually painful, my neck went crunching down but we shot forward after that and I started to scream and it felt awesome. I couldn't stop laughing. Even when we got off the ride I was laughing uncontrollably, it was thrilling.

I'm feeling a little bit like this. I'm approaching the line now. Tomorrow we'll get in the car and secure the flimsy bar over our laps. By Tuesday I should be babbling my way up the first, agonizing rise. It's gonna be a hell of a ride.

Here we go!


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret.

Saturday, December 08, 2012


So basically this is how I spent my day. Well, my outfit wasn't this stylish.



Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


I told you very briefly about an altercation I had with a fellow community member. I've told some of you on and off line about how it's been continuing. It is either cramping my style or I am letting it cramp my style, I can't really say which, but going to the park, something I usually do every morning, is now an act of strength. I'm in performance mode, too. In less than a week I offer up an hour's worth of my soul to people. Except that someone else is taking the reservations so I don't know if I'm offering it up to two people or thirty-two. I am afraid and anxious pretty much all the time. I'm on the verge of tears but not quite able to cry. I wake up early, I watch my brain turn in circles for an hour or so then I get up. I'm energized by trying to race ahead or behind or beside this cranky, crafty, corrosive neighbor. An hour after that I'm exhausted. Every time I strike something from my to do list another thing comes in its place. That's the way of the week before a show. The overarching theme of the days, though, is how hard I am on myself about how I am not standing up to this woman. People have said, and I believe them, that opening myself up to her approaching me again instead of avoiding her and standing firm in telling her that she has to quit her crazy bullshit is the only way to get her to stop but I cannot seem to make myself do it. I had an easy sort of opportunity to allow that confrontation to come a couple of weeks ago and I simply couldn't walk straight into it, I had to veer to the left, to cushion myself from her verbal waterfall of misguided anger and frustration. Why? She's only yelling at me. Sticks and stones, right? How, at nearly 44 years of age, can I not present myself for that harmless, stupid, utterly wrong treatment if it will present me an opportunity to stand tall, say my piece, and (hopefully) put an end to it all. I don't fucking know.

I don't know much about Amanda Palmer that is not filtered through a Neil Gaiman-colored lens. Today, though, I fell down a Palmer-shaped rabbit hole into her blog. She's had some hard times lately and is struggling with how she honors and continues her closest relationships. I could have skimmed the entries like I have in the past but I read three long ones and liked them a lot. In a post about her friend Becca, who passed away last month unexpectedly, she included an email exchange they had about experiences performing as human statues in the Boston area. After Becca describes being harassed by a viewer Amanda writes:

"There is no harder job, certainly performing job, than making yourself vulnerable to the world. And you become a magnet of love and hate and craziness. This is why being a statue is so amazing, you are forced to soak up the world in all it’s highs and lows. It does indeed make you stronger because the more humanity runs through your veins, the more human you become (ah, the poetry of the statue being the most human) and incredibly, the more hate you can stomach the more love you can feel."

How much can I stomach? How much should I stomach? How should I stomach it?

I don't fucking know.


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: I Went


Maybe you remember, I went on a trip.


I remember, too.


It was lovely. 

Thank You Stranger


Don't forget that the world premiere of my new cabaret show, Back Where I Belong, is coming up December 12, January 9, and January 17. Details are here. I hope you can make it and bring all your friends! Please spread the word and use the hashtag, #KizzCabaret.