Friday, April 30, 2004

This Just In: Suggestions for Kerry's Cabinet

I love this!

My Mom gave me a subscription to "The Progressive" as a gift. I think I asked for "In These Times," but whatever. It has been SO LONG since I've read any actual Liberal Media. I got a little high reading the last issue. This one just came last week. Oh God, I'm getting Liberal Media from Illinois, and I'm in New York City and feel lost in a sea of conservatives. What the hell planet am I on!?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Wanted: Really Smart Suckers

Anya Kamenetz ROCKS MY WORLD. This series of articles in the Village Voice should be read by everyone in the 18-40 age group.

I am so filled with anger. I hope this is just PMS.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I saw this film a few weeks ago. It's riveting. THankfully, it is only 1.5 hours long... too much more and I would have had nightmares. I think it's very important. Check out Peter M. Nichols's review from today's New York Times, titled "Whatever it Takes to Outwit the Taliban:"

In a talk accompanying his film "Osama," available today from MGM, the Afghan director Siddiq Barmak says that at first he resisted a scholarship to learn movie making in Russia because of the Soviet invasion of his homeland. But the urge to study prevailed, and later he came across a story about a girl in Kabul who disguised herself as a boy so she could go to school under the noses of the Taliban.

In "Osama," the first feature film made in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power in 1996, Marina Golbahari plays a girl whose hair is cut short by her mother so she can go forth as a boy, Osama, to earn an income and keep her family from starving.

A Western journalist (male) caught paying a few $1 bills to film a women's revolt is instantly executed by a firing squad. A woman pronounced guilty of profanity is stoned to death. Eventually caught herself, Osama is spared but is subjected to a particularly devastating humiliation.

Mr. Barmak cast Afghan children still fearful of the Taliban. For Ms. Golbahari, he says, the penalty of life under such circumstances is reflected in her eyes. In Afghanistan, he adds, everything has been destroyed, including the mentality of the people.

Like Roman Polanski's "Pianist," the film "Osama," A. O. Scott wrote in The New York Times, "is a meticulous and beautifully made inquiry into the ways that ideological evil can infect, and ultimately destroy, the intimacies and small pleasures of daily life." 2004. $29.98. 82 minutes. Dari Farsi with English subtitles. No rating.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Friday, April 23, 2004

Warm Rosy Glow

Alright you pervs, knock it off.


Feelings of Gratitude, Peace, and Readiness for Life

I want to thank all of you for your wonderful comments and emails. All of you said such lovely things and it made me feel less alone. Such a wonderful blog community we have here! I feel so cool to be a part of it. This SO makes up for high school.

Shock of Shocks, I received a sympathy card from my office. You know, the Siberian Work Camp I dream of someday escaping? Popular Office Gal from my 4.8.04 post went out, bought a card, and had just a few people in the office - people that I am closest to - sign it. My heart warmed when I read it. Gee, maybe she does like me! (Insert Sally Field Quote here) My office pals all wrote lovely sentiments. I never would have expected such a thing from that godforsaken place. POG would be thrilled to know that it actually made me feel a little better about heading back to work on Monday. As miserable as I am in that place, there are actually good people sitting in those cubicles... sometimes I forget that. I am so glad to be reminded. You just never know when things like that will happen.

Not only that, I also received one of those Perpetual Mass thingys that Catholics do for the deceased. Basically my Grandma's name has been added to a group of people who are remembered by some nuns who pray for the dead on a regular basis. It's a sweet blessing, and just the sort of thing that my Grandma would truly have appreciated. This nice gesture came from another co-worker - who I guess is Catholic as well! Makes sense, a nice Boston Irish lady. This lady is one of those people who makes my company a better place to work. Again... so heartwarming to be thought of like that.

You can tell I'm not Catholic. Which made me even more surprised when my Mom asked me to sing the Ave Maria at Grandma's funeral. Strangely enough I never once doubted that I would be able to do it. Several people looked alarmed when Mom and I mentioned it. You'd think I would be crying too much to sing. But... of course, I found the place inside myself to sing for my Grandma this one last time. Mom made sure that I sang early in the service. Which was good, because afterward, I did sort of dissolve. But I did it. What an experience.

I don't know where the sound came from. I sang Schubert's Ave Maria - the one most people usually recognize. I had been planning to sing Gounod's, since it's a more dynamic song, and since I once sang it for Grandma and she liked it, but when I opened my mouth in front of all those people, the first note that came out was the Schubert. I thought to myself shit, I started the wrong one, but I decided to go with it. It felt right. It was right.

I have always been told that singers can rely on their technique in performance - and this enables them to focus on things like character, staging, presentation, etc. Well, I had nothing to focus on but my Grandma, our deep bond of love, and my desire for her to hear me across the dimensions of this world and the next. I just sang. I remember taking my time, letting my eyes close, letting my posture slack, letting the sound flow gently out of my mouth. not really performing at all... just singing. What I don't remember is the "work" of singing, the focus on breath, diction, dynamics, etc. I just felt my love and my grief and my joy all wrapped around me, and wove the sounds into that, like a big blanket, a blanket of love to warm me in my grief and warm my grandma's spirit as it moved through us, in the church she devoted her life to. It was one of the most magical experiences I've ever had, and by far the most intimate, even though there were around 100 people there, in a huge 150-year-old cathedral. I felt wanted, loved, and supported there, even though I am a pagan surrounded by Catholics. I guess, after all is said and done, it's me, God, and my family, both here and in the next world, and nothing else matters.

Especially nice was the fact that my ex-husband took Tuesday out of his life to escort me to the funeral, burial, and post-funeral gathering at the big diner in Jersey City where generations of my family have been pigging out for years. I called him Monday night. I don't remember exactly what I said, and I can't remember if I asked him to come before or after he offered to come, but I was so grateful to him for supporting me. I was a bit of a mess after I got the singing out of the way... and he was wonderful. During communion, they played "Be Not Afraid," and I broke down. EH just put his arm around me and held me tight while I sobbed. Immediately following the funeral service, he helped me escape the "receiving line" (who thought this was a wedding!?) so I could sit in the back of the limo and sob, keen, wail, cry, etc. He sat with me the whole time, telling me it was ok to cry, to be mad, that I didn't have to talk to people yet if I didn't want to, that this was my time and my grief and I was entitled to it. At the cemetery, he held me up again. Not only was I still crying, I was also biting my lip trying not to scream in fear as giant bumblebees flew all around us because of all the fresh flowers. Thanks to EH, nobody could tell. My parents had a good laugh when I told them that later.

He's such a good man, and my heart swells with gratitude that he is such a good friend. "Put this one on my tab," I said.

So, after a week of wake, funeral, and gawking at the amazing number of things in Grandma's apartment, my Dad and I realized that today is my Mom's birthday. Since Mom and Dad will be coming out again next month to tackle - and hopefully finish - the job of donating and distributing Grandma's personal effects, we decided to leave the rest of the work (which really means 99% of it) until then and spend today showing Mom a nice 58th birthday.

We took Mom for a nice shi-shi lunch at French Roast on 85th street. You should have seen her savoring the warm chocolate cake. Poor Daddy. Then I subwayed us to midtown and took Mom shopping at August Max Woman. She's a healthily built lady and has a terrible time shopping for herself back home in Illinois. Sadly, the current collections at AMW are 50% dull and 50% garish, but she did find a very nice blue silk sweater which I was thrilled to buy her. Then we all sat in Starbucks and sipped Lattes, gushed about what a bastion of Liberalism New York is and whined about not being able to hear Al Franken's radio show. Lots of hugs and kisses and a few tears when they had to go. We will see each other in a few weeks, but what a week this has been.

Now I am just pooped. I mean I am fucking exhausted. I want to sleep for three days. If the weather sucks this weekend, I just might.

In other news, David's Boyfriend's Show is exactly one and one-third blocks from my apartment. If any of you are planning to attend, email me - drinks at my place at 7!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

There is no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to say it hard. My Grandma died yesterday at about noon Eastern time.

My Mom called me immediately. She's functional. Grandma was in advanced stage Alzheimer's for the last 2 years. This was expected... But we can never really be completely prepared, and it is never easy or painless. Right now, I'm proud of my Mom for getting the things that need to be done, done. Funeral prep. Obituary writing. That sort of thing. She and my Dad flew out here today and I will be seeing them tomorrow.

I'm actually doing well. Yeah, I've been crying, but that's natural. Mostly I feel, believe it or not, joy.

I am elated that she is finally with Grandpa and her sister and brothers and great-grandma again. For the last three years, she has been hallucinating her mother. She has been calling my Dad by my Grandpa's name (who died in 1984) or her brother's name (who died in the 1950's), depending on her mood. She has often called my mom "Mom." She has been living far more in the next world than in this one for a long time, and now she is finally there, where she has longed to be. I am so happy for her and for Grandpa, who I am sure is thrilled to have her to laugh at his jokes again.

I am happy for my parents, who can begin to rebuild their lives now after being care-givers for over 5 years. My mother refused to let Grandma stay in the nursing home. Grandma couldn't eat, walk, dress, brush her teeth... You get the picture. It was like having a colicky infant in the house that weighed over 100 pounds. The guilt my mother suffered was intense, but nothing compared to the fear and longing and sorrow knowing that she was watching her mother die. My own guilt for living here in New York when I felt that my parents and Grandma needed me in Illinois has been the stimulus for many therapy sessions and long late night coffee talks with friends.

I feel especially joyous for my own very special reasons, which I will try to explain briefly here.

It took a few hours, but ever since yesterday evening, I feel her presence very strongly. She has been inside of me, next to me, and all around me ever since shortly after lunch.

On the ride home from the office, I was telling my bf about how perfectly Grandma timed this. I truly believe her passing Friday was a conscious choice. If there was one thing Grandma hated, it was putting people out. She never wanted to be a burden on her family - she confessed this to me several times about 10 years ago before the disease took hold of her and robbed her of her ability to speak. She was afraid of dying like her brother had - in a nursing home, riddled with Parkinson's - but what she really wanted was to simply die of natural causes before anything got that bad. Sadly, that didn't happen.

About 6 months ago, she fell and broke her hip. She has been in a private nursing home ever since, healing from the hip repair surgery. The repair went very well. Over the last few weeks, her doctors had her wearing an analgesic patch on her leg. This pain killer not only relieved some basic arthritis pain, but rendered her almost able to walk again. Because of this, my mother insisted on bringing her home. Daddy was looking into hiring a home health care provider.

I was stunned. I tried - gently - to talk them out of this. There are so many reasons why my parents should absolutely not be doing this, finances not the least of them. The emotional toll of being hospice care-givers was devastating to both my parents. I have watched them go through this for years. I desperately tried to explain without putting into so many words that Grandma would never have wanted this... but my parents seemed determined.

Of course, Grandma took this as her last opportunity to assert herself.

Of course, she would leave on a Friday. Of course she would pick a quiet time of the month when nothing else was really happening at my job - she couldn't have chosen a better time for me to not be able to be at work. And there are other reasons as well... It just makes so much sense.

Zenchick called me on the phone to see how I was. I told her all this. I was laughing a lot, realizing the astoundingly well executed plan my grandma had put into motion. I could feel her laughing with me. At one point, I swear I actually heard her laugh. I wasn't the least bit creeped out. I felt warm and snuggly, as though her arms were around me, strong and healthy like they used to be.

It gets better.

During her lifetime, my grandmother raised thousands of dollars for her church. Thousands. It was amazing. Well, I'm not exactly organizing a fundraiser, but I will be singing tomorrow night at my church for our canvassing committee's Annual Pledge Drive Potluck Dinner. I feel like I am SO following in her footsteps here. One of the songs I will be singing is "God Help the Outcasts" from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Rehearsing this song today with my accompanist, I cried. A snippet:

God help the outcasts, hungry from birth
Show them the mercy they don't see on earth
lost and forgotten, they look to you still
God help the outcasts, or nobody will
I ask for nothing, I can get by
But I know so many less lucky than I
God help the outcasts, the poor and downtrod,
I thought we all were the children of God.

Grandma gave away virtually everything she owned to the poor. Mom used to yell at her for giving away things that she actually needed - pots and pans and the like. Grandma was so moved to simply give all she had to those who needed it more, who she felt had been dealt a rougher deal in life than she had.

I would say that I'd give anything to have her hear me sing this song tomorrow night, but she will hear it. I know she will. She heard me practicing it today. She is here.

The many layers and levels of cosmic rightness are mind-blowing. And wonderful.

She is closer to me now than she has been in 5 years. I feel so blessed and so grateful to be in a place in my life where I can truly appreciate this without fear. Of course I miss her. It has been a number of years since I realized that the Grandma I did things with was lost to me forever, even though her heart and lungs and vital organs were still functioning. I miss our cooking lessons, going shopping with her, crying on her shoulder about the men in my life, her stories about Grandpa, her stories about her Mother and other older relatives, stories about her many beaux at the dance halls in the 1930's. Most of all I miss her hugs and her laugh and the way she listened. But underneath all that is the essence of her, her spirit, which never dies. We all have that. I am so grateful to be able to open my heart and feel that, and not be afraid. I trust.

I have learned so much about trusting God in the last few years. Not that I'm able to DO it that much... But I'm getting better at it. Zenchick described that as my grandma's last gift to me, and she's right, it is. It is the ability see my faith and spirituality as something deeper than any one religion or church - something that transcends human dogmatic definitions, something that is inside us all, and outside us and all around us at the same time. My deep, dark, horrible fear of losing my grandma was part of a package of events that led me to delve very deeply into my spirituality over the last 2 years. I could have dealt with the loss of my dream job and the disintegration of my marriage - but I couldn't handle having my grandma taken from me.

Now, I can.

This morning, immediately upon exiting my shower, I re-wrote the lyrics to a country song that I've been thinking of singing at Grandma's funeral, if I'm asked to. I doubt they'll ask, since I'm not Catholic, but if nothing else, I'll sing it for my family.

Grandma's body was flown out here this morning so she can be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Jersey City with the previous 2 generations of her family. I will be seeing about 200 family members over the next few days - OY! My job gives me 5 days for bereavement, so I'm off all this week. (Grandma, thank you, thank you...)

This is when things seem surreal - when I talk about the practicalities. It's detached from reality somehow to talk about scheduling and plane tickets and bereavement leave and this-world tangibles like that. Life, death, love, and change - that's real. That's the foundation of existence.

The Country song I re-wrote is "Guardian Angels" by the Judds, if you know it. The refrain I left unchanged, but the verses are different:

A sixty-year old photograph sits inside a frame
And if you look real close you'll see my face is just the same
Their love brought my Mama into this world, and me too
You see them in this woman standing here in front of you

Grandpa told me stories about older harder times
Grandma's kitchen was always safe when I needed to cry
And even in my darkest days, I knew that I was loved
And I know they will always look down on me from above

They're my guardian angels, and I know they can see
every step I take... they are watching over me
I might not know where I'm going, but I'm sure where I come from
They're my guardian angels, and I'm their special one.

Sometimes when I'm tired I feel my grandma take my arm
She says "You can do it, I've been by your side all along."
And when I'm really troubled and I don't know what to do
Grandpa tells me, "Just do your best, we're so proud of you."

They're my guardian angels, and I know they can see
every step I take... they are watching over me
I might not know where I'm going, but I'm sure where I come from
They're my guardian angels, and I'm their special one.

And it always will be so.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Out of Dante Hicks, Jay, Silent Bob, Brodie, and
Holden McNeil, you are...

DANTE HICKS! [from Clerks]

A very busy person, however you have some issues
with the person you are seeing. Can't seem to
get over that ex of yours?

Which Kevin Smith film character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
In 19th-century Russia, in some of the larger cities, all sorts of people from psycho murderers to petty thieves to people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time were arrested and sent to Work Camps in Siberia. They were transported by train. It was a long, boring ride in a dirty train car where they were eventually taken to an isolated outpost far in the coutryside. When they arrived, they were made to perform tiring, menial tasks. They ate only what was provided for them. They wore clothing suited to the job. Of course, it was freezing.

Every morning, I out on a drab office-casual outfit and take the 7:44AM Metro North train from Grand Central Station to White Plains. I then transfer to a bus which takes me 15 minutes outside of town to an ugly concrete building in the countryside. I spend the day flattening my ass in an uncomfortable chair in front of a computer churning out reports, a large percentage of which I know are not read. Since I am reliant on public transportation, I am forced to eat in the hideously overpriced cafeteria, which serves a limited selection of exceedingly fatty food of questionable nutritional value.

Bcero xopowero, comrades.

I read Crime and Punishment not too long ago. I highly recommend it. Makes those train rides seem a bit shorter. A bit.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

...and why I was so desperate to hang onto it last January!

(Yeah, you need to have a username. If you don't have one, sign up. It's free, and hey, it's a great Newspaper.)

Granted, the situation outlined in the article isn't where I'm next headed, but it shows you how bad the housing/real estate situation is here in New York. If you want to live alone in a place you wouldn't mind your mother seeing, you need to make 50K or more. Those who have 10-15 year rent-controlled leases or who bought during the real estate slump a few years ago had better hang onto their places like mad and hope a huge company doesn't buy the block right out from under them, busting through zoning laws with multi-million dollar battering rams. Unless of course you are homeless. After a number of months on the street, you might qualify for project housing. Your chances improve if you have homeless children that haven't been taken away from you.

For singles like me, who knows where I'll wind up when I have to move. I've been aware for some time that these are my last years in New York. Granted, I only planned on living here around 10 years anyway, and it's been almost 9, so I'm technically on schedule, but I always thought I'd be leaving due to some outside pull from another city - a job, or maybe a relationship. However, in spite of my steadily increasing salaries over the years, rents are skyrocketing to the point where my time here is clearly limited by my ability to afford rent. At this rate, I'm going to have to skip town for reasons I create myself. A different feeling.

Nobody has any easy answers to this question. Politicians from all marks on the spectrum have ideas, but there is too much arguing over specifics and too many agendas for anything to truly be done. Nobody is open to new ideas, and the old ones have failed. Such is politics.

I spent this Easter at a friend's apartment in South Nyack, NY, in a reasonably sized 1-bedroom (for New York) that rents for more than my 2-bedroom does. No family could ever live there. For years I've been listening to my New York friends try and convince me that it's perfectly easy to raise kids here, after all, they did it in the 70's and 80's.

Things are different now. The article says it briefly:

...urban refugees from places like Newark, Brooklyn and Queens, they come here for the schools, the trees and the $140,000 starter homes, seeking what generations of middle-class strivers have always sought. With Long Island, Westchester and suburban New Jersey beyond their means, more than 44,000 arrived in the 1990's.

The reason they don't mention Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx is that neighborhoods in the outer boroughs have many of the high rents seen in Manhattan, and Guiliani's clean-up-the-crime sweep didn't extend into the boroughs with anywhere near the effects seen in Manhattan. City Lights at Queens Landing in Long Island City became an investor's nightmare. Sure, the units sold - but at a fraction of what the developers planned on, for various reasons. Even so they are around 2 or 3 grand for a 2-bedroom - and that's not including utilities and "Building maintenance" - upwards of $400/month. And that was in 2002 when my ex and I were looking to buy. The Closer neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens - as in shorter commutes to midtown - have rents almost as high as Manhattan. The affordable neighborhoods... well, they're not what you bust your ass for. And, again, they are tiny - only suitable for singles. If you want a spouse, maybe some kids - good luck finding space you can afford.

I am hardly the first person to complain about the lack of affordable housing in New York City. I am, however, in the unique position of having little to lose. I guess my planned transiency enables me to remain dispassionate. But... I don't see anything else anywhere in the country reaching out for me. My bf is perfectly content in his Upstate NY place, working at his company across the Tappan Zee Bridge, and we're not exactly to the point where either of us would move for the other anyway.

Then there's school, which my deep inner self has been wanting for so long. All the MFA programs I'm looking at are in Manhattan. That sure as hell would keep me here for awhile - and I'd be dirt poor too. How do I figure that into the equasion? Should I seek student housing? No way will I be able to keep my current place... which saddens me, but who am I trying to kid.

It is amazing the things in my life I feel willing to give up just to pursue my writing.

But then, I have a feeling many of you can relate.

Of course the simple answer to this question is to open my MFA program search to other cities. Chicago is close to my family and where my oldest close friends live. I just hate the cold so much. Boston has always interested me - UU City, after all - but again, brrrr. Baltimore... Mightn't I as well be in New York? The south scares me. So conservative. I'm a pagan feminist democratic voter for Goddess's sake. I'd be lynched in two days. But... it's warm...

Do I have to freeze my ass off to ever achieve any measure of success?

And before you suggest it, California is too far away from everyone I care about, and it's far too expensive to fly from there to the midwest several times a year. I'd die of isolation.

Actually, come to think of it, I don't know how my "success" in New York could be measured, so the opposite axiom seems to hold more truth: even while freezing my ass off I didn't acheive what I came here for, so I might as well try being warm.

Oh Christ. This is all just so wrong.

I need hot cocoa. I'm getting cocoa now.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Beautiful Words from an Old Friend

Out of the blue, I received an email this morning from my old AMDA friend Stephanie, who I referred to here.

"This is my opportunity to say to all of you, some of you whom I haven't seen in years, some of whom I've only known briefly for a moment in time. You are loved, you are blessed, your life here on this planet has meaning, you do make a difference every single day. Recognize your power, own your power and utilize it to bring blessings to yourself and to others. Thank You, each and every one of you for having crossed my path and sharing with me your lessons and experiences, your pains and your sorrows, your laughter and your joy. Thank You, each and everyone of you for allowing me to be me, even when I was shrouded in darkness. I hope life is treating you kind. Live for this moment right now, right here."

Check out her website on my sidebar, the St. James Experience.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

It occurred to me today that someone might think that I avoid them because I don't like them or am mad at them. Although it is true that when I don't like someone, I do avoid them, but if I am mad at someone, I confront. Unless it is someone I really don't give a damn about. In which cases I don't really get mad at them, I get disgusted at yet another example of said person's flaws.

The real reason I would avoid a person is because I think they don't want ME around for some reason or another and am trying to respect their space, and protect myself from further feelings of rejection, disappointment, and the like. There is honestly nothing worse than knowing that someone I care about is miserable because I'm in their life.

I have a colleague who I consider myself somewhat close to, even though I am probably nothing but a co-worker to her. In fact, she probably finds me incredibly irritating because all I do is complain about my job. She is the best listener in the world, and thanks to some of our talks, I am still employed and have stopped tearing patches of hair out of my head. She makes me feel that someone in this office not only actually gets me, but cares enough to talk to me for a while when I am at the edge of my wit. She has made a real difference in my life. So, I feel a certain closeness, which is probably really more gratitiude than anything else, but still, it's there.

When I care about someone, it's deep. I don't form relationships with people unless I really respect something fundamental about them. Yes, due to professional custom, there are a lot of people who I can have lunch with, talk about movies, wedding planning, family dynamics, and other women-talk, without really forming lasting, deep friendships. Like everyone else, I try to be pleasant and hope that most people might be glad to see me walking into the cafeteria. But there are a few who I actually consider good friends. People who, when I leave this godforsaken place, I will truly miss.

I am currently staying away from someone because I think that our cubicle proximity caused me to overflow into her consciousness a but too much. The last time I saw her outside the office she was snippy. Not directly, but snippy. I know she's under a great deal of stress right now from her boss and has been dealing with some really annoying shit, so it may have nothing to do with me. However, everything by default is always about me until proven otherwise, I can't escape the possibility that I only add to her stress, and serve no positive function in her life whatsoever. Since she has enough shit to deal with right now, I am avoiding her.

I adore her. But I'm staying away. For her sake, and for my own. When she snips at me, it hurts. I never developed that iron skin that yuppies - especially in sales departments - are supposed to have. Even if she's not sick of me... ouch. I'm not mad at her for snapping; I just hope she feels better soon. I miss the laughs we used to have.

Just this week she was forced to switch cubicles by a VP with territory issues, and now we are no longer in close cubicle proximity, which makes it very easy for me to give her all the space she needs without looking like I'm avoiding her. But... I miss her.

Part of me loves being in the middle of all the action - I live in Manhattan for chrissakes - and she is the most popular girl in the school (oops, I mean company), so I loved sitting near her. Now... it's boring over here.

I do have my own inner circle of friends here at the office - the above referenced ones who I will miss when I eventually bust outta here - but it's not the same. We're all band geeks. She's a cheerleader.

God, I'm living the yuppie equivalent of "My So-Called Life."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Grammar God!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Whew. I was really nervous taking this test.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The smell of the crowd

I just got an email from BOB, a gal I used to do community theatre with back in my hometown of Springfield, IL. I have recently been blown off by someone from that scene, and related such in a humorous email to her and several others of the old crowd. She responded that this person has blown her off as well and related a humorous incident of her own. Now, Mr. Blow-Off is the walking stereotype of a community theatre bigshot. He has a normal job - a dorky one at that - but due to his impressive hidden talents at singing, dancing and tumbling, (No, I did not mention acting) he has managed to "make it big" in the community theatre scene.

He's a weatherman.

I used to say that Springfield was the opposite of New York. If you can't make it anywhere, you can probably make it in Springfield.

My old friend JD from Springfield called me on the phone a few years back laughing his ass off that the hometown theatre scene had sunk so low that the local weatherman was now the biggest star in town. I defended the guy. "No, he really can sing! I've seen him! And he can do some basic tumbling and tap-dancing!" JD says "Every guy that can walk across the room without tripping gets cast in leading roles." I couldn't argue with him there.

My Mom used to quote someone who said it's more fun to be a star in the sticks than to carry a spear on Broadway. Christ. I'm sorry. The sticks are the sticks, and my hometown sticks in particular sucked ass. Moving to New York was the best reality check I ever had. Finally really understanding just how pathetic my hometown theatre scene had become was utterly validating. Man, we all thought those shows were so great. Lord. What naive, stupid, ego-maniacal idiots some of those people were. At least I can say I was just naive.

It always cracks me up how community theatre people think they're all that. Did you ever see that episode of Roseanne where her sister Jackie started doing community theatre because she was unemployed and bored and thought it might be a way to meet men? God it was SO accurate. She was understudying Roxanne in Cyrano de Bergerac. During weekdays she was "working" answering phones at the theatre and taking ticket orders. For no money, of course. But she took it so seriously. "I am a member of the theatre now, Roseanne. I must do my part." When the actress playing Roxanne got sick, Jackie said "So, I guess I oughta read the play?" Then she does the role - with Roseanne standing backstage feeding her the lines. Afterward, the beer-truck-driver-looking guy (just for you, Z) playing Cyrano says "Come on, Jackie, you know there was something between us during that scene! You can't fake that!" "I was ACTING!" she says.

I don't remember which aging actress said it, but it's my favorite quote: "He loved me, but the show closed."

Most of my friends out here in NYC are actors - like, professionals who get paid to do it, often on Broadway - and they are the first ones to destroy the diva-and-glamour myth. When my friend was in a certain recent Tony-award winning Broadway revival, it was the crappiest job of her career. She has done leading roles in Equity houses all over the country, and not stupid ones either - the kind of roles that we dreamed of playing when we were 15. She finally accepts a Broadway job, and it was a totally miserable experience. Underpaid, overworked, bitches backstage, bitches onstage, politics, layer after layer of bullshit. You couldn't have paid me enough to take her place.

I think I always knew I never wanted to make a career of performing, but I sure as hell could never do community theatre again. Unless my friend WS was directing. I've never seen anything he's done, but I hear he's good. Even if the show sucked though, it would be fun just screwing around with friends. In fact, I think it would be most fun if it sucked. Lots of Springfieldians can't tell the difference anyway! Oh man, let's do that! Paint the sets in splashy colors - BIG sets - cast big, loud singers and a couple of party-trick comedians. The crowds will flock. The reviewers will gush. Man.

Oh wait... I don't live there anymore... Damn.

I'd better get back to work. I'm cramming act II of Don Giovanni. My first rehearsal is tomorrow night. I'm singing Zerlina.

It's just a hobby.

No, I swear to God, it really is.

Did I mention I'm singing Zerlina?

Saturday, April 03, 2004

This is really embarrassing

Chan Marshall
Chan Marshall

Which clinically depressed singer\songwriter are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm supposed to be a music nut.

I have no idea who this person is.

Interestingly, Crash and I seem to be addicted to quizzes. There are worse things.

And so, I return from my business trip. More blogging later.