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Sunday, December 6, 2009

moving notice

Thanks for stopping by, but I've moved to thislifeinwriting.com.


You can make the move with me if you'd like!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

let me be the first to tell you

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness I am really excited about something, if you can't tell.


And how's that for a change of pace around these parts, huh?

Don't you worry though, I will be back to singing the blues in no time, but first I have to interrupt and tell you something that makes me so happy.

See, my brother and my friend Joe worked on a little pet project called thislifeinwriting.com. Yes, dot. com. As in, I am totally running with the big dogs now. Anyway, we started off with a wordpress layout called nona that made me kind of happy but not thrilled but then Jase told me to get sketching and writing the title with my own handwriting and then he scanned everything and then we changed things to blue and red and rearranged the sketches on top and went ooh! and ahh! respectively until bam! I was thrilled.

And I am still thrilled. I mean, there are a few more tweaks to do yet, but don't let that stop you from checking it out.

So go, go, go!

Go to thislifeinwriting.com and if you want to tell me that you like the balloon and that you enjoy the red flowers and boy oh boy isn't ollie a cutie then comment there, my friends. But if you don't have anything nice to say about it or anything else for that matter, then please refrain from commenting because have you read my blog lately? Life sucks enough without mean comments, you know what I mean?

But why are you still here...GO!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I've never fought a war, but...

I think I might have post traumatic stress syndrome.


I mean, there are parts of me that have been around forever. Things that I am used to, that I even like now. Like the beauty mark in the middle of my forehead that causes random strangers to accuse me of playing with hindu tattoos. Or at least one random stranger, anyway. In a coffee shop. True story. But I am used to the fact that my eyes are brown, but green too when the sun shines in them just so. Or even that I hear myself referred to as skinny more often than anything else; that I can continue to use my own preference of slender as much as I can, slipping it into casual conversation in a clumsy attempt at subliminal messaging, but that won’t make my friend David stop saying that I am the skinniest person he’s ever met. And it won’t change the fact that I get no compassion when I complain about this to others either. Rather, they tell me that they’d love to be called skinny just once. And again, I am skinny. Not slender, but skinny, subliminal messaging and all.


But now I have a syndrome and I hate it.


Now when my phone rings or I get a text telling me to please call, I have a visceral reaction. My heart starts beating faster and faster, racing to I don’t know where, but it’s getting there way too soon. My breathing becomes shallow and I taste panic. It is not savory, it is not sweet; it is fear and it is pervasive. It starts in my mouth and eventually makes it down to my stomach so that there is no longer any room for food. And I become full and nauseous at once as all I know to do is wait for myself to waste away because nobody can live on fear for too long. Which is a little bit nice in the moment since it means that there is an end.


And an end to a very bad thing is actually a very good thing.


This morning, for instance, my brother called me before 9 am. And to a performer, that is early. Nobody calls me then, not even my mom. But he called and I was scared and if I am going to be honest, too scared to answer. So I didn’t. Whatever it was, I wanted to be blissfully ignorant for just a little bit longer. But then he texted and told me to call him. Shoot. No more sweet naivety. Instead, the panic. Instead, the heart beating hard enough to sustain a few hundred, rather than just one skinny (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?) female.


And there it was, not even 9 in the morning and I was being reminded of my new syndrome. Nice. Perhaps, along with the simple task of answering a phone call from my brother, the sounds of my spoon against my cereal bowl will be just too much for me today also.


*oh, and on a completely different note, I was inspired by my brother who just added snow to his blog. So not to be outdone, I went out and got some for myself. Because of it being December and all. And because of my competitive nature and all. Hope the snowflakes don't annoy you guys too much...Unfortunately, mine look more like dandruff while my brother's look more like the beautiful romanticized snowflakes we all see on the victorian christmas cards we never do quite get around to mailing, but oh well. Merry Christmas anyway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

in which I talk about piles and hope you understand

Close being the key word here.

Cause really, I am not doing fine. Friends, kind people who care, keep asking me if I am okay and the truth of the matter is that I am not okay.

But will I be?

Yes.

And something that makes me feel a little better along the way is solving problems.

Huh? you might wonder.

See, I get this feeling that there is this reserve of Stuff I Need to Make. And it's this pile that is sitting somewhere already, outside of the realm of time and small details like that; it's whole and it's beautiful and somehow my journey gives me the tools to take it from that pile into a tangible pile.

A song that I can play.
I picture that I can see.
Text that I can read.
A conversation that I can articulate.

And all the materials are in existence already. All the words are here, it's just a matter of finding the right combination of syntax. All the notes have been around and accessible since the birds first started singing about how morning makes them feel way back when, it's just a matter of arranging them into just the right story that reflects me.

So I get to work.

I arrange and I rearrange and I chisel away until there is something that I think I have successfully grabbed from the Stuff I Need to Make pile and placed it securely into the Stuff I Have Made pile.

And maybe when the former pile is gone and the latter pile is edited and recorded, it will be time to go home. Or maybe home will just be a bigger pile of Stuff I Need to Make and I will realize that the journey is never realized with an ending or a drop off or a period; that the straight line I thought I was walking was circular all the while and the way God has put eternity into our hearts means that there isn't a The End, but there is a great big Happily Ever After and after and after and after and we'll keep making our stories last in the things we tell each other and the tears we cry and the songs we sing when we'd forgotten we could cause all the while we are looking for somebody to tell us that it meant something, that it still means something, and that it's a good something.

Because it is.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

presently blonde and sketching

So I did it.


Or rather, Kasey the fabulous hair stylist did it.

Transformed my hair from brunette to reddish-orange to blonde.
And all the while I was sitting next to a kind lady who was also getting her hair done. She looked a little familiar maybe, but I didn't give it a second thought and was happy to listen to the lilt in her British accent as she marveled over the way my hair had gone from as dark as hers to well, this.

I even told her that her accent was so very pretty, still not knowing that I was sitting next to someone I'd heard before.
On the T.V.
A while ago.

Finally she tipped her stylist, who quickly said thank you, Tracy and then I knew. Tracy Allman, of the Tracy Allman show. The funny lady who launched the Simpsons. Oh, right.

Lately I have been spending a lot of time making things.

Songs, mostly.

But I also started drawing a little last night.

I was staring at this photo and started sketching and came up with this.
Me and Ollie in pencil and ink.

Monday, November 30, 2009

apparently santa's elves make wheel chairs too

It's always strange when somebody steps out of character for a moment. As a kid, when I overheard my mom say she was really P.O.'d about something, it was like I'd heard an angel take God's name in vain, it was so shocking.


Because see, I knew what the 'P' in 'P.O.'d' stood for.

And just today, Santa Claus said something kind of strange.

Yeah, that's right, Santa Claus. Red furry suit. Long white beard. Jolly expression. Only it's odd when all of the sudden he drops that famously jolly expression in order to ask your sister, who is recently wheel-chair bound due to knee surgery from which she is recuperating, if her condition is permanent.

And yes, all of the Christmas music came to a screeching halt because that's a weird question anyway. Even if you aren't Santa. I mean, what if it was a permanent condition? What if she was our own version of Tiny Tim, doomed to forever hobble around on a leg that barely works? Or rather, be pushed by people like me who erroneously presume that when a bump is in the horizon, the best course of action is to push the wheelchair harder, making her almost fall out and brace her body against doing just that with nothing other than her bad leg?! And is it a good idea to bring it up in the middle of the mall? So what then? My sister bursts out in tears because she was once again reminded of her poor and unfortunate state by freaking Santa Claus, of all people?!

Luckily, though, her condition is not permanent.

And she let Santa know.

And then he continued in a most un-jolly voice, red hat pulled low over his brow, Well, you really should have a lighter chair than that for travel.

Ummmmm, okay.

Thanks?

I mean, I knew Santa was a lot of things. Able to be in all places at once on Christmas Eve. Able to shimmy down chimneys and other such impossible looking entrances. Able to manage a whole team of mythical creatures, one with a particularly bulbous and shiny red nose. But a wheel chair aficionado?

Honestly, I kind of like him better when he sticks to asking me what I want for Christmas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

goodness

Soft little hand in mine. With grey hoods streaming behind us and shadows marching alongside us, we're gonna be okay.


Yep, we're gonna be just fine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

something to sing about

Tonight we broke out the craft table and started coloring.
Christmas scenes. The manger. Evergreens and wreaths.


And now I am listening to Christmas music and instead of trying to wonder what it all means, I am just letting it happen.

The transformation that comes from believing in something greater than yourself.

The small inkling of hope that comes from seeing beauty in the ruins. Something familiar in the wild. I imagine that's what the British settlers must have felt when that first little baby, named Virginia Dare after the Virgin Queen, was introduced to Roanoke. It was probably no small relief when they saw with their eyes, felt with their hands those soft little baby fingers that gave evidence to the mysterious cycle of life that continued despite being so very far from home.

I remember as a teenager going to some crack houses in Philadelphia, handing out hot egg sandwiches to people who were skinnier and sadder than they should be. Everywhere I looked, the story was not good. All the clues--the boarded up windows, door frames that no longer bothered with an actual door, kids in ragged clothes that fit somebody at some point, but it sure wasn't them and it sure wasn't now--added up to a people who had given up hope.

Until I met him.

One guy, whose name escapes me all these years later, was different.

Not because he didn't quickly grab a sandwich or wasn't addicted to crack or worse. But because of two things that still stand out clearly to me now:

He looked me in the eyes. Like we were both people. Just people. Neither better or worse than the other. Maybe luckier, sure, but not better. And what's that saying? We're all on the same level before the cross. Well, that's true. And we are also all made up of DNA, of thoughts we learned to think from the way the world has reacted to us through the years, and a jumble of painful wounds and loving touches that make us who we are today.

And there was an air of transcendence about him also. I felt it when he opened his mouth and sang for me. He sang Amazing Grace and I couldn't help but believe it. All of it. I saw the wretchedness of his home, felt where he has been and knew without a shadow of a doubt that he needed somebody and was not about to turn grace, any grace, down.

And there he was, just singing. In the ugliest place in Philadelphia, it was beautiful. Like an alter not built from materials that can crumble with the passing of time, but made from a raw honesty and the desire to look up, up, up; past these old buildings and even the charity that would fleetingly last the afternoon, he sang and made life better.

And no, a song can't fill your stomach and no, a song can't pay your bills, but it sure can transcend you. It sure can remind you that there is something more to life than our own hollow desires and the way that we clumsily hurt each other.

And I guess that is why I am going to keep on singing.

Because I want to look up, up, up. Not in denial, necessarily, but in belief that there is still something to sing about.

Sorry for the deep thoughts (by Jack Handy). Maybe next time I listen to Christmas music I will write about silver bells and whether or not an angel or a star should top the tree.

Um, totally a star, by the way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

you can hold on

Sometimes you hang on a rope swing. And when you look like a little boy, you don't mind so much.

Because at least you're hanging onto something.
And the fact that the rope is burning and your legs are shaking from the effort is just more evidence.

Of the fact that you're alive.
That you're a fighter.
And that you're scrappy.
Even when you don't quite feel like you are.

Even when you face opposition.
Who seems to think that they are bigger and badder than they really are.
Who would benefit greatly from a bath, a tender touch, and maybe a massage.

A massage? you wonder.

Yes, a massage. Because you think you've heard it all but then your hair stylist mentions that he knows a dog masseuse who makes $80 an hour and has at least three clients a day and doesn't that just beat all?

It beats most, at least.

And always, always there's a door up ahead.

It might be red because that's your favorite color or it might be less obvious than that but the point is that it's there.

It's a door that leads to better things and even though you have to eventually let go of that rope swing because nobody can live their life suspended in the air, you can hold onto hope.

And you will.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

on the road to blonde

I woke up today with one clear thought.


And lately I've been inundated with many many questions, so this divergence was a relief.

The thought?

Gonna go blonde.

And so I called up a nearby Aveda salon and asked when they could take me. One o'clock came quickly and I walked in with my dark hair.

You really wanna go blonde? the salon owner asked, With those eyes?

Yep, I said with determination, I need a change.

And more of a change than the five pounds I've lost in the last week.

Well I can't guarantee that you will walk out of here platinum blonde today, he told me, But we can start.

And I appreciate a straight shooter.

Four and a half hours and a few varying shades of red later, this is how I walked out.
And I like it.
But it's a two-part process. I am going back on Tuesday and we're gonna make this hair blonde, darn it.
But for now it's a change, and I'll take it.

The owner also told me that he was wrong about my eyes; apparently they work with lighter hair also, is what he indicated.

Yep, I see just fine no matter what color my hair is.

oh, dear

Yesterday I went on a walk and saw some deer. I kept getting closer and closer to them and unbelievably, they stayed put. But then my camera died before I could take a good close-up, so there you go. They had antlers and everything. I guess in this case everything entails legs, torsos, heads, necks, hooves, and tails.


I also saw this.
I was in the shadows. I am in the shadows, but somewhere the sun is shining. Sometimes that gives me hope and sometimes that just makes me feel worse. But that path...it leads to where the sun is shining. You can see that.

I can't see that.

But you can.

I also saw this. Unfortunately.
My sister-in-law couldn't find a matching pair of shoes for the walk and was forced to go as is. I can't help laughing when I see this. And the funniest part is that the shoes somehow make her jeans look terrible. Like mom jeans of the worst kind (no offense, moms). Like if you could see, there'd surely be pleats at the waist line. Maybe even an elasticized waist, if we're lucky.

But then I looked down and saw this.
And realized I didn't really have much room to talk.

So we laugh at each other and find some joy in this.

Monday, November 23, 2009

sweet

I was at my parents' house the other day, feeling sad. Just laying in my old bedroom, wondering where the good had gone. And suddenly, well, some good came in and jumped right into bed with me.


A pure, slobbery, tongue-lolling faithful friend.

Not usually allowed in beds, he was pleased as punch to be in one with me.

And we lay there.

His great big furry bulk pressed up against my body. His whiskers tickling my cheeks. The steady rise and fall of his rib cage just calm and consistent, blessedly consistent right now. And I didn't feel better, but I felt alive. I felt like his fur was real, and that was nice. I could press my palms against his spine and know that I was real too. And when his tail wagged it was good. Pure, even. I didn't see a lot of reasons for it necessarily, but maybe his reason for wagging his tail was me.

And maybe that's enough.

And maybe I actually got him to wear a hat and stay still long enough to pose for a picture too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

finally weightless

Peace.
But what about the experiences that would teach any sane person to be anxious?Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with it, and it feels crazy to not feel anxious. But then there's God and he messes up the equation and the sense life makes, I suppose. He talks about peace and it doesn't depend on everything being controllable or even appeasing to us; but rather it's dependent on Him. Existing. In the midst of everything. It doesn't make any sense, it really doesn't.
But anxiety.
It just wells up so big, drowning out every other feeling until all I want is to escape. But it's inside me so deep that I'd just as easily escape from my left lung or my brain; in short: it's seemingly and intricately woven into me. So what do I do? Other than try to fix the problem, which usually just results in a bigger mess because what human can be fixed by her own clumsy self? So I give it to God and in his mercy I forget about it for a little bit. I get lost in a song I am writing. Or a conversation with a friend. Or the show I am doing. Or the way my hip hurts when I lay on my left side. Or the pain of someone else I love. Or the innocence of the morning, how nothing has changed the day yet; nothing has let on to the fact that the sky which looks so friendly now could turn in a second and suddenly you find yourself dripping, drenched in a rain you never prepared for.
And then maybe the next time I think about it, the pain is not so fresh. Or maybe it is and then I try to give it to Him once again, all the while not quite even sure how you even know if it has truly been given to God. It's not exactly tangible. It's not exactly measurable. It's not like I have three eggs in my basket and I can hold each of them in my hand, feeling the weight and the shape, and then hand them off to Him three times over, happily looking down in my basket after the last transaction and seeing they are gone.
That my basket is empty, that I am finally weightless.

Friday, November 20, 2009

humor is as silver of a lining as any

He tears me down on every side till I am gone;
he uproots my hope like a tree.

Job said it.
And he said it well.
And I draw comfort from those sad words, from a text that lets me know that deep sadness has been a part of our story since the first words were spoken; but it's not the end of Job's story.

And so maybe that means it's not the end of this story either.

And thank God for humor along the way. For the ridiculousness and utter comedy that is undeniable, that rises up and makes you laugh despite yourself.

Like what my pop said to me tonight. After staring at me quizzically for a few moments, of course. And when that happens, you never know quite what he is going to say. It might be the notion that we simply ask a friend of ours if we could borrow his wheelchair since my sister just got surgery on her knee and is not able to rip around on her own quite yet.

Um, pop? we all suggested. He might just need that wheelchair since he is, you know, paralyzed and all.

Or it could always just be a question.

Is this, he said, pointing to my hair, a mullet?

Laughing, my brother jumped to my defense right away and assured him that no, it is not in fact a mullet.

Though it's a little disturbing that he even had to ask at all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I don't want to forget

It's weird, I sort of already forgot about this. I mean, I know I haven't really. And I know it happened and all that, but I've barely given it any thought at all. Not until I looked at this picture, actually. And how strange it is to not be going back to some city sometime soon, for a soundcheck at four and the hope of a Whole Foods that is within a walkable distance.


In a book I recently read, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Don Miller talks about a guy he knows who keeps a notebook with him and writes down everything that he can remember. All the time. He wants to record his memories because otherwise he'd forget, he says, and I get that. Because although it might not be so bad to forget that time you waited at the DMV for an hour with nothing to do but listen to the sounds of the security guards urging you to please stay in line! and then next! to the person who is unfortunately 50 paces in front of you, it could be sad to forget that time you first met your little niece exactly eleven years ago. And when you walked outside from the birth center to the car that night it looked like the stars had been polished and buffed to the point where God could see his face in them, the newness of that little girl in your life was so radiant.

And I guess that's why pictures are nice too.

They are memories in colors and stills.

Like, I hardly ever think about Japan. I mean, I do occasionally use the emoji app on my iphone, but that's about as much mental energy as I give to anything Japanese lately. Call me present minded, I guess.

But I look at this picture and suddenly I cannot deny that I've been there.
Walking in a bamboo forrest that dwarfed me.

I remember the way the light was barely lasting, the sun was setting and couldn't quite reach around the bend in the road anymore.

And no matter what it feels like sometimes, it's good to remember that there are some things that are true. It's good to write them down, to take pictures of the love you've shared and the places you've walked.

I've been to Japan.

I've swam with manatees.

But more than anything else, I love and I am loved and I have so many memories that can be given as conclusive evidence to support this theory.

But I'll still keep writing it down, because I don't want to forget.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

bones

I wrote this when I was going through it a while back. I like the word it because it's so vague. Even though it doesn't specify exactly what it was that I was going through, you can rest assured that I was certainly in the midst of it.

So yeah, it's nice to be able to hide behind the word it.

Anyway, it's a little crazy, but who isn't sometimes? Who doesn't struggle with doubt, with unrest within themselves? And if you don't, please leave your URL cause I'd love to see proof of a perfect life somewhere out there.

But here you go:

I keep seeing myself taking my skin off. Just like you'd peel off your wet clothes, I take off all my skin, fold it up neatly, and tuck it away in a drawer. I don't leave my skin all over the floor; I put it away, just like my mom taught me.

And it's so easy, so simple. Because now I walk around, just bones all bleached white, knocking together like teeth chattering on a January day. And when he tells me he doesn't love me anymore, it makes sense.

'
Of course he doesn't love her,' they all whisper, 'She's just a pile of bones, after all.'

(disclaimer: nobody had told me that, but I was feeling sad and that's what came out at the time)

And as I was fishing through old things I had written, my mind got caught on something else that talked about bones. Something sad, yes, but better.

And I'll take better.

This is from the Storybook people. And if you haven't heard of them, I think it's high time you embark on a google search with that name.

I remember we sat in the swing on the front porch & as the dusk came on us like a song, dark throated & sweet, he told me about the beginning when we had bones of light & hair that burned like the sun & I asked what happened then? & I felt him floating there in the soft dark & finally he said we forgot & I said I never would, but sometimes I do & I understand now why he put his arm around me & said nothing more.

So there you go, a theme of bones.

And I can feel the First Voice very close sometimes, wriggling for attention, making me want to crawl out of my skin. But then there are quiet, wouldn't-trade-this-for-the-world moments when I hear the Second Voice. The one that talks about the beginning. Of beautiful bones that burn like the sun. Of something glorious that is buried somewhere deep in humanity's collective consciousness and is ours for the taking.

Not easily, true.
But it's there.
It's clean and it's good and it's what made God paint the sky with stars rather than take the cheap route of fluorescents because Home Depot was having a sale. See the thing is, Home Depot is always having a sale and we're always meant for something better. Not cheap, not fast, but better. I know this; it's a whisper in my soul that tells me the story doesn't end on this minor note, that there's a victorious resolution and until then, he'll show me why the blue notes are so beautiful.

And like that Second Voice, I don't want to forget these things.

But sometimes I do and that's when God is right next to me, reminding me with an arm dropped on my shoulder. A push on a swing that feels too big and too lonely to ever get very far at all in this vast and daunting sky.

And in the meantime I will be keeping my skin on.

Monday, November 16, 2009

last dance

Remember when I said that I wasn't feeling a thing?


Yeah well, about that.

I started feeling something.

A lot of something. And the closing show tonight was amazing. Emotional. Exhausting. Beautiful. Magical. So sad. And so good.

But before that, I had a moment with some of my favorite ladies in the show. They are kind and safe, funny and kindred spirits. They love their men, respectively, and know what it is to begin to hate the phone because no, it's not enough, it's never enough when it comes to sharing your life.

We had already finished our first show of the day and proceeded to share a cast dinner in the theater when I quietly stole away to the piano. After about a half hour or so I hear a gentle knock on the door, and they walk in. Three beautiful, tiny women. Seriously, they range from 5'1 to 5'3 on a good day and when we are all together I find our height differences so funny. They ask me if they are bothering me and of course I say no. They've yet to bother me, in fact. They tell me that they could hear the strains of my playing from the dressing room and felt like they needed to be with me on this last day listening to the music.

Mindy pipes up, Can you play that song? The one you wrote about us?

Sure, I say, hoping that I remember all the words and chords cause it's been a while.

I play and as I do, I start to feel it. This great sadness. This acceptance of our parting. This breaking up of such a sweet community. I play that song and then I play another and by the time I finish we are just crying and so we talk. We share and are real and it's like therapy only nobody needs to pay anybody and nobody gets kicked out after fifty minutes.

It's cathartic and broken and honest and I think we love each other maybe even a little more when we finally get up to ready ourselves for the last show.

The last show.

But first I take some time to be sentimental. I walk on the stage and gaze out. I go over to our quick change station and see all our headshots lined up and ready to be put in dance bags at the onset of the show.
They are just faces, black and white features on cardboard, but to me, they are so much more. The kind of bond you create with people you've lived, worked, laughed, and literally been with for over a year and a half is staggering. It gets to be a part of you without even realizing it and suddenly you leave and you wonder at the bereft feeling that is left; you feel the ghost pains, so to speak, of the missing part and you might as well get used to it, I guess. It's gonna hurt for a while. But it's a good hurt.

I don't think I'll miss the gold hat so much.
It's pretty heavy and you can pop yourself in the forehead pretty badly if you're not careful. But after you do it once, you learn to be careful. Believe me. I don't think I've done that since opening in Denver last April, actually.

But I will miss what it means to wear that gold hat. The fact that you're in a show. The great story of it, the transformation that happens when you step on that stage. A friend of mine who has a resume that would impress God always says something whenever she leaves a show: If I am lucky enough to do another show...And there's a humility in that that I like. True, she's so talented and beautiful and accomplished that come on, she's gonna do another show. But the truth is we don't ever know, not really. Which makes me grateful for the job when it happens.

And here I am, as Kristine for the last time.
At my station. Which no, is not the neatest on the block, but neatness has never won anyone a Tony or a Grammy or even an Emmy, for that matter.

Though I am looking forward to going home again. And keeping a home. Even keeping it neat. A girl can learn, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

closing time

Took me over a year and a half, but I finally bought a sweatshirt.


An A Chorus Line sweatshirt, that is.

There's nothing like an actual deadline to make you get something done. The whole time I have been on this tour I've been meaning to get a sweatshirt, but when the notice went up that Saturday, Nov. 14th would be the last possible day to buy merchandise, I got myself to the merch table.

Um, on Saturday, November 14th. You didn't think I got there earlier than absolutely necessary, did you?

And now I am wearing my show swag and trying to figure out what the closing of this show means. And honestly, I don't think I totally get it. I mean, my friend told me that as an actress, being employed gives her so much confidence and now she's really gonna miss that and I get it. Another friend has mentioned that this is a family of sorts and where else are such good friends literally a hotel room away? Or in my case, in your hotel room? And I get that too.

But it's weird, the last two times we've had cast change overs and people leaving, I cried on stage like I was reading for Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross in Jesus Christ Superstar. And though I was probably perplexing the poor audience over just what, exactly, was so sad about Sing!, I still just couldn't. Get it. Together.

But these last few shows, I've felt quite literally nothing.

And my friends are crying all around me, on stage and in the dressing room, and I am feeling unbelievably emotionless.

Maybe even a little happy to get on with it already, if I were totally honest.

And now my roommate just told me, Oh my God, Jess, it's officially November 15th, closing day! And yes, we squealed together and yes, it's daunting, but I remain just fine. Maybe it's because this time I am finally going home; I am not being left behind and saying good-bye to friends. Well, I am saying good-bye to them, but it's different this time. The whole shebang is closing and we are all off to pursue our dreams, our lives, our relationships even further.

We're all off to light a fire under whatever it is we had to put on hold while gallivanting around the globe in leotards and jazz pants.

And somehow I see that this is a good thing. It's gotta be. I know it's what I want; I can't do this show forever, nor do I want to. There are so many other projects I want to tackle, so many other people I want to see on a more regular basis (hi, drew!).

So yeah, it's the end of the line.

The end of this line, at least.

And thank God it is.

But gosh, it's been one heck of an incredible journey.

And who knows? Maybe I will have to admit that in our closing performance I was all tears and mush and sniffles and you guys will be laughing as you read it cause you knew that would happen all along.

Friday, November 13, 2009

happy typo-ing

Every once in a while there comes along a truly great typo that just makes life better. Maybe it's an extra letter here, a misspelled word there, but whatever the case, when a zinger makes an appearance, I appreciate it.


This said, I was ichatting my sister-in-law Darby the other day.

We were just conversing, trading sentences back and forth, when all of the sudden she mentioned the word fragment. Now words like fragment inevitably remind me of something my beloved father, affectionately known as pop, would say. Those of you who know him and love him as I do know that he regularly utilizes some of the more obscure words, dusting them off and displaying them proudly in conversation. For instance, he wrote me this sentence in a casual email just the other day:

Another interesting dysfunctional strand in the knotted up ball of psychic string.

See what I mean?

It's great and it's totally him.

So anyway, after Darby wrote something or other about a fragment I immediately replied with:

Btw, you sound like poop.

And proceeded to press enter before I realized what I had actually written. As soon as she wrote back, WHAT?!?! I realized my mistake and started laughing uproariously. So much so that my roommate looked at me funny and my rib started complaining from the jostling all at the same time.

But I couldn't help it; what a hilarious stroke of lucky typo-ing.

I wrote her right away that I had meant to say she sounds like POP, not POOP, putting her mind at ease because, as she soon wondered, what does poop sound like, anyway?

Actually, it's not the first time I called Pop poop. It is, however, the first time I have done it accidentally. I was a little girl when I had the initial revelation that pop's name was only one small letter away from poop. And that was it. I called him poop.

But just once.

Luckily, he has a good sense of humor and laughed it off, but he probably wouldn't have liked if I had made a habit of it.

Still, you sound like poop.

HA!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

boxes!

Boxes. Parcels. Packages.


Do those words incite the same kind of excitement in you as they do me?

And no, I am not talking Christmas here. Not yet, anyway.

But it's on parr with that, I'd say--the greatest of holidays.

It's time to go home.

To box up my stuff, tape it up tight, and mark it with my name and address.

To send it back to where it belongs and more importantly, where I belong.

And just looking at all this stuff makes me so happy.
Actually, I was rushing to finish boxing up my trunk during the Paul and Cassie scenes tonight. So there I was in my leotard and fishnets, knee deep in packaging supplies. And after getting all my stuff into five boxes, I was faced with the monumental task of carrying them to the company manager office, all the way on the other side of the theater. And then there was the added hassle of my rib and how I am not really supposed to be lifting much.

But that's when I got creative.

And found a dolly.

Perfect.
And so I rolled my boxes from one side of the theater to the next, making more than a few people laugh at me along the way.

I just love it when a plan comes together.

And if you know who said that, you get 5 points to be used at your discretion.

5 whole probably useless points, people. Now THINK.

new normal

It's not every day you rediscover what home really is.

There are a few of us who are going home to husbands or very significant others and we affectionately call ourselves The First Wives' Club. And right now I am so tired and have been trying to figure out the grammatically correct placement of that apostrophe for so long that it has completely lost all meaning. So forgive me if it's not right.

It's not always about being right, I guess.

But anyway, we call ourselves that despite the fact that it doesn't make total sense. Like our husbands don't have second wives, so we are really the only wives, but we are trying to sound cute like the movie and the book and well, The Wives' Club just doesn't have the same ring to it.

But I was talking to one of the other members of this club and we were basically discussing our re-initiation into living at home. With our beloved husbands. And how we need to try to not just take over right away. I mean, they've been taking care of home for a while now, holding down the fort, so to speak, so it wouldn't be right for us to come in and all of the sudden take over.

Except I am sure there are a few things Drew would be more than happy to let me take over. Cleaning out the kitty litter comes to mind. As does cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Oh, and laundry, too. I bet he could stand to allow me to have my way over any and all of the above. He shares like that.

But for over a year and a half now we've had no real sense of normalcy.

The time we've spent together has been him visiting me while I was working or me back at home with him working. It will be interesting to find our pace together. To do things like tell each other See you soon and not be referring to the same kind of time frame the Bible talks about when speaking of Jesus' return. I mean, if anybody can use the word soon loosely it's the Guy who's been alive literally forever. The Guy for whom a thousand years is a drop in the bucket. So I don't blame God for saying soon and maybe meaning in the next millennia or so; He's so old that it makes sense coming from Him.

But me? I'd like my use of the word soon to be well, actually soon. Like today. Like in the next few minutes or so, even.

Would you like me to use it in a sentence?

Sure thing.

Jessica is so excited because she gets to go home from tour soon.

Like in four days soon.

And I am excited to see what my new normal--our new normal--will look like.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

lullaby

There is a piano at this hotel.


It's funny, whenever I ask the person behind the front desk if I can play the hotel piano, their first response is usually just a flat-out no. And I let them say that. Because I am so nice. And because I have no control over them.

But then I smile. I act very kind. And I ask them one more time. Or ask when a good time to play their piano would be.

And most of the time, they respond with a why don't you play it right now?

And suddenly we are on the same team.

That happened tonight.

And settling down onto that bench, hearing the creak of the wood as I adjust to just the right spot, it's like coming home.

Actually, my piano bench at home has some leather on it. And when I was writing an essay for my Freshman Writing class at UArts, I mentioned something awkward like hearing the sound of the leather stretch as I sat down to play. My amazing teacher who opened my eyes to the importance of a thesis statement as well as the evils of passive voice, graded it and sent it back with a question. In red.

Do you always wear tight leather pants when you play the piano?

Point taken.

Specificity is invaluable, folks.

And no, I don't always wear tight leather pants when I play the piano.

Only sometimes.

Anyway, I played for a long time tonight. I wrote something, a song I guess, if it makes it that far. I really like the chorus, but have my reservations about the verses. So, we'll see. There's always more work to be done, isn't there? More things to make, which is good news. Something to fix your heart on, something to bring you hope.

But here is a lullaby I like to sing.

It brings me comfort. Makes me think of parents. Or God. But generally of being loved and cared for.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TMI

There are certain things in life for which I have rules.
Almost unbreakable rules.
It's like a code.
But what I am specifically referring to here is bodily noises.

Now, please understand that this code is for me and me alone. I don't judge those who abide by a different code. I mean, I have a sweet friend whom I love dearly and she will unabashedly let one rip whenever she gets the urge and I will laugh with the best of them when she does.

But see, the day I try to do that? I'd probably end up crapping my pants or something. And undoubtedly would start crying about it. But would be laughing the day after.

I hope, anyway.

My point is, however, that I am not into private things being made public.

To the extreme.

Like when I was first seriously dating someone we would talk on the phone for literally hours at a time. Now somewhere into maybe our second hour of discussing our hopes and dreams I would start to feel like I had to go to the bathroom. Nothing serious, just number one, but still, I wouldn't utter a word to my boyfriend about it. I didn't want to even say the words I and bathroom in the same sentence, for fear that would gross him out. And because I was afraid he could hear it, I wouldn't sneakily try to go while still on the phone. And don't even think about making up some excuse to get off the phone so I could get myself some sweet relief; I was too honest to lie and too happy to sit there in a dark room talking to him.

So I would stay on the phone, sometimes for even another whole hour, just in silent agony while holding my bladder and happy to hear just one more childhood memory all the while.

Now fast forward to Drew.

We were on maybe our third date. And this was a big one. Easter at my house, with my whole family--all one hundred of us. Okay, so all 20 of us, but we make enough noise to be a hundred. We shared a bench at the dinner table. The piano bench, actually, since we had run out of dining room chairs at around person number 12. I wore my hair in braids circling my head, St. Lucia, American Girl doll style.

The night was a hit.

He stayed late, long after the food had been eaten and the last of the cars had driven away. And there we were, still talking, avoiding the clock and pretending it was earlier than it was.

Until he said something.

Something awful.

He started that conversation, the one in which the tone immediately lets you know that whatever is happening is about to end.

I should probably go, he said slowly, I mean, I know I am holding in so much gas that my stomach is hurting like crazy and you must be too.

And I was just horrified.

How could such a perfect night end in a few words about gas of all things?

Not romantic.

I barely knew what to say, so I mumbled something about how I was feeling okay but I am sorry that his stomach was hurting.

And when I closed the door after him that night I decided to put that sentence out of my mind for the time being. After all, there was so much good about him, I didn't want to let that one awkwardly spoken sentence define him.

But you better believe I've brought it up since.

And he still can't come up with the reason for why he thought that statement was a good idea.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

awkward

*Edited due to my offending some people with a joke I quoted. I apologize to those of you who read it and were offended*

Sometimes I wouldn't mind if our physical therapists were not exactly lookers.

Because now I have a rib injury.

I know, I know, it was so fun last time, I figured just once more before the tour was out. For old times' sake. And lucky for me, despite the fact that there really isn't much time left on this tour, I managed to squeeze it in. Never too busy for the things that are really important, I guess.

But the rib in question is in a sensitive area.

Ahem.

The kind of area that is not ever up for grabs. Or at least, since I've been touring solo and my husband is at home, not lately.

Ahem, ahem.

So I go in to see the physical therapist here this afternoon cause I'm not gonna lie, my rib is giving me a lot of pain during the show. I mean, a whole heck of a lot. And imagine my joy at seeing that he is young, like maybe 30. Fit. And oh shoot, are those big blue eyes, too? Great, just great.

But he's totally professional, of course. And we start talking about my rib and he is stretching me and asking if this hurts and if that hurts and then we are talking a little about the Eagles since I am wearing their tee and how poor McNabb broke his rib at the beginning of the season and everything is going well until he mentions that he is going to try taping it.

Like, now.

And it's not extremely awkward because he's a medical professional and I am a dancer and this is just what happens sometimes. But it's in a sensitive area, as I said, and well, let's just say the whole thing would have been less awkward for me if he was maybe the ripe old age of 80. And blind. Or better yet, a sweet grandmotherly figure.

Who just so happens to know a lot about the Eagles.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

And the bass keeps running, running

And running, running,
And running, running
And running, running,
And...

Cause see here at the Ramada we are basically adjoined to a funky club. And when walking into our hotel after the show, not only do we get to wade through all the girls in their stilettos, God bless, with their lack of any clothing that acknowledges the fact that it is winter and therefore cold, as well as the men who happily stand warmly next to them because fashion has been kind for once and doesn't dictate that they bare their shoulders or their legs, we also get to listen to their fat beats.

All night long.

And since the walls here are pretty thin, the party sounds like it's happening right next door. Oh wait, maybe that's because it is happening right next door.

So the thumping bass gets through loud and clear but you know what these paper thin walls are pretty good at keeping out?

The internet.

Yep, when it comes to the world wide web, suddenly the Ramada resembles the Secret Service and nothing, that's right nothing gets through on their watch. Which is why you need to be sneaky and wander the halls at night, much like a disgruntled ghost only you are very much alive, so I guess you are more just a disgruntled guest, but the point is you are pacing and watching those empty little bars at the top of your screen like you're looking for a heartbeat. You're waiting for them to fill, watching for them to darken, when finally bam! you're in business. So you sit down right there, right next to the ice machine on the fifth floor as it were, and smile and nod when people walk by, pretending that it's the most normal thing in the world for you to be there, sitting on the seventies shag carpet with the psychedelic shapes and really, the real question is: why aren't you?

So it's a good trade, I think. I mean, I get to listen to house music till the wee hours of the morning and hardly have a shot at SKYPING MY HUSBAND.

...Awesome...

Too bad this tour is closing in a week.

No actually, there are some things that I will miss. Um, the paycheck comes to mind but how about the people too? And then there's the whole I get to go to work and dress up and dance and sing and act and that's work thing.

Actually, it really is work. Hard, hard work.

Just ask my feet.

Or lately, my rib.

Or my husband who hasn't seen me for a while.

But anyway.

I'm gonna get to work with my guitar now, if you don't mind. I'm still trying to work on this strumming pattern that keeps proving to be trickier than I am. And then there's the time signature. I am pretty sure the chorus changes time signatures from the verse and I am also pretty sure Drew is going to inform me that I've broken some kind of rule when I get home.

I am such a rebel.

in this case, the good far outweighs the bad

I've got good news and bad news.

Did you ever have anybody tell you that and immediately follow it with asking you which you'd like to hear first?

I've always been a let's hear the bad news first and get it out of the way kind of girl, myself.

So, the bad news:

I have re-injured my rib. The same one that my friend unwittingly cracked while slamming into me on a roller coaster over the summer. The same one that had healed so nicely. Maybe too nicely, cause I had forgotten it was even susceptible at all. I had also forgotten how badly a rib injury can hurt. How it kind of feels like I am suffering a minor heart attack, being that the rib in question is right over my heart. And how it seems to be connected to every kind of automatic movement your body does, to the point where getting up hurts. As does breathing. And any sharp motion at all.

Have I mentioned that I am in A Chorus Line and there are approximately 3,056 sharp movements in that show? Thought I would throw that in there. You know, just in case you were gonna tell me to stay away from sharp movements for a while. And getting up. And maybe try holding off on that whole pesky breathing thing for at least a day. Cause unfortunately, I've got to get up to do the sharp movements in the first place and breathe the whole time throughout. There's just no way around any of it, I am afraid.

But Jessica, you're all dying to know, How in the world did you re-injure your rib?

Well, how badly would you judge me if I said that it involved a completely harmless and athletic pole-dancing class? And I followed it up by saying that it did not involve one ogling man, one bit of stripping (well, I did roll up my pants at one point, but that hardly counts. Oh wait, I also took off my shoes, which is a form of stripping. Shoot.), nor did it involve anything that I would be embarrassed to do in front of my mom. In fact, I'd be proud to do it--she would have been oohing and aahing, seeing me swinging around that pole and climbing it like a monkey.

A really tall, (comparatively)hairless monkey who recently got her hair highlighted.

But the climbing part. That's when I slammed my poor, just healed rib into the pole and hurt it all over again. I didn't think it was that bad until the show tonight. And let me tell you, I started thinking it was that bad all over again. Not call-out-of-the-show bad. But bad enough to make my movement a little daintier than usual.

So there you go, that's the bad news.

The good news?

We're talking boxes around here, folks. Many, many boxes of all different shapes and sizes which will soon be packed with anything ranging from the child's Mickey Mouse tee my dear friend Kevin bought me in Disney World this past February to the pair of brown boots I thought I'd wear but have rarely done so to the small collection of sharks I have seemed to pick up on the road. Yes, that's right, these beloved boxes are going to be filled to the brim with the contents of my trunk which has been filled to the brim with the contents from my home since last April. LAST APRIL, cause that bears repeating. And capitalization. And how about getting some italics all up in here? LAST APRIL. And let's make it bold, too, just for kicks. LAST APRIL. Because that's how long I've been on the road, filling up that trunk. Since last april, 2008.

But now I am finally getting myself ready to go home. With boxes.

And that is some good news.

Aren't you glad I saved the best for last?

Friday, November 6, 2009

a few pics thrown your way

I just found a strong spot of internet--three whole bars!--in the hallway, so I sat myself down and got to it. Around here you never know when the ichat window is just gonna roll right up and away and you are suddenly disconnected from the world wide web in less time than it takes to press save now.


But anyway.

I thought you might want to know that I fought the pole...
And the pole won.

Or at least left a mark.

For those of you who cannot tell, this image is the back of my leg, right above the knee.

Kind of pretty, huh? I am actually fascinated by bruises. The color, how tender they are, how they progress and then are suddenly gone. I think the way the body heals is truly miraculous and now I get to watch a little miracle every time I catch a view of the back of my right leg.

Lucky me.

But for those of you who may not be so enamored with bruises, I will leave you with a different parting image.

Vancouver.
Taken while walking with David over the bridge on the way to Whole Foods. It was a long walk, but totally worth it to see the sun setting over the harbor and to have our room now stocked with delicious food.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I cried when I was born and every day shows why

Sometimes life is hard.


And you cry in your bed at night and you cry in the middle of the day for no apparent reason. At least not to anyone else. Or you are having a small dinner with friends and suddenly the topic turns to somebody who recently divorced and wow, relationships are so much harder than most ever imagined and oh well, another one bites the dust. And suddenly you are crying again. And in an effort to make some sense of you, your friend asks, Are your parents divorced? And you say no and you feel like a little idiot because you just don't make sense; you're just sad.

And you try to find some comfort by telling yourself that most things are senseless anyway.

But then there's the fact that you're crying. The proof, as it were, of just the opposite: that most things are actually jam packed with meaning, moving you to all sorts of emotion in direct correlation to it all. And the very fact that you are crying means that something indeed is very meaningful to you.

And then there's the times when you quickly post something on Facebook about an upcoming pole dancing class you are about to take for a friend's birthday party, and unwittingly offend people you love in the process. The truth is that the class was for a group of friends. It had nothing whatsoever to do with stripping, but had everything to do with the physical challenge, the gymnastics, the artistry and line of dancing in connection to a pole. And honestly, it was really fun. It makes for a strong feeling, holding onto that pole, spinning around like a fireman descending from up above. And then there's the fact that no matter how large unemployment looms, you're not about to go work at Fantasia. Like, ever. But there you go, you offended others with that status and sadly, that can't be taken back. And again with the meaning, but not what people might have thought you meant. And again with the tears.

And then there's the end of another day which honestly, you are just grateful to have gotten through. You hope for maybe some kind words in your inbox. You hope for some word from home. And you find kind words, true--but they are confrontational too. A part of life, yes, even a good part of life, but feeling especially heavy at this particular moment. Loving, indeed, but hard. Not easy. Not simple.

And you're done.

You're just done.

Good night, moon; good night world.

And you are struck with gratitude over the one simple quality that both snowflakes and days share: no two are ever alike.

And you think it again and again and you feel comforted by the fact that the morning comes swiftly and brings with it a freshness through no work of your own. It just happens; it's what God does with his time, it seems.

And so here's to a new day.

One with statuses that are more circumspectly written.

With more sensitivity to friends.

And with less mistakes, in general.

Grace is in order, I do believe.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

nice. mostly.

It's amazing how you feel when you come down from the mountains.


That sentence could mean so many different things, I realize, but what I am referring to is the wonderful fact that we are no longer singing and dancing in dry air and high altitudes.

Really, it actually makes a difference. I wasn't struggling to catch my breath during the finale tonight and it dawned on me: we are no longer in the mountains. Only I thought it with more excitement as I realized that it meant the show wouldn't be so hard anymore:

WE ARE NO LONGER IN THE MOUNTAINS!!!

So, this is nice.

You know what else is nice?

Thai food.

It seems that every time I go out to eat lately (which believe it or not, is not actually that often; I tend to eat many PB&J's, many bowls of cereal, and many bananas), it is for Thai food. And I don't mind at all. Tonight in Vancouver it was a place called Khai. And it served Thai food. I thought that was funny. But I didn't say anything. Because when Adam Sandler's character in the Wedding Singer starts to laugh over Glenn's last name, Gulia, and how that will effectively make Julia Julia Gulia, Glenn didn't seem to find the humor in it. So yeah, I didn't mention the whole Khai serving Thai food thing to the people who worked there.

But I love pad thai, especially. And it's really good because it always makes two whole meals for me. I eat half in the restaurant and then box it up and take it home and voila! I have dinner too.

And the last thing I will mention because it goes along with the theme of nice because it's honest and honesty is usually nice, is that the pan handlers here in Vancouver are super honest. I mean, you gotta give them props for that, at least.

Ian and I were walking home from the theater tonight and we passed a guy who said, Hey can you please give me some money so I can buy weed?

And I am sorry, but I laughed.
Out loud.
I totally LOL'd.

It took me by surprise, I guess. And no, I didn't give him money, but well, he didn't try to scam me with some story about his pregnant wife and how he just lost his job when the truth is he only ever had a girlfriend and that was back in high school and they only talked about marriage once and that was because he wanted to get into her pants but no, they never did marry and he could get a job, but why work when he could just as easily ask passersby for money so he could buy some weed?

And I appreciate the fact that I didn't have to wonder if he was telling me the truth.

Because that gets old.

And two things that were definitely not nice?

The two different times I saw two different men peeing on the side of the street.

GROSS.

And we've come so far. Humanity, that is. I mean, we have these little seats with holes in them now that you can totally do your business in. That's actually exactly what they are for. They even have doors so you don't have to make your business everybody else's business.

Just a thought. Or maybe a reminder.

Monday, November 2, 2009

the thing itself

Lately sleep has been somewhat of a white rabbit for me. And I'm tired of chasing it. Heck, I'm even tired of laying down in a bed, waiting for that stupid little rabbit to stop it's incessant running.


Bottom line, I'm just plain tired.

It seems that I am no better at fighting off the demons now than when I was twelve years old.True, these demons have changed drastically over the years. I think I'd almost welcome one of the green, garish looking little fellows I'd imagined to be lurking just under the bed, or if not there than definitely in my closet, instead of what I am battling now. In comparison, the demons of my childhood look almost friendly.

Almost.

And then there's that other difference.

The one that had everything to do with just running up to my parents' bedroom, blanket trailing behind me like some kind of hobo's bridal train, and snuggling as close to my parents' bed as humanly possible. I'm talking feeling the box spring. Taking in the smell of their bed clothes, the smell of safety.

And if it wasn't there, it was most certainly ending up in the same room as one of my brother's, probably Jonathan. I'd let him think that I was the scared one, being the younger of us and the girl, but really, both of us were relieved to have the comfort of each other. The demons faded quickly once we glimpsed the shape of the other one, huddled on the floor of whichever room we'd park ourselves for the long night.

I like the simplicity of that.
The tangibleness of it.
I was alone, now I am not.
I was afraid, now I am not.

And yes, I know that I am not alone now, but Over the Rhine says it so well:

This is lonely, but never alone.

And yes, I know there is God who I can run to, but if he has a bed, I've yet to find it and I've certainly never mashed myself up against his box spring. I've never seen him huddled on the floor beside my bed, inexplicably drawing comfort from my presence while from his, I find the courage to face the night.

I guess sometimes I miss the physicality of running, truly running, away from what I fear and into a safe place. I miss things being as simple as moving away from the window that you're pretty sure you just glimpsed someone or something glimpsing you.

I love the metaphor, true; and I believe in it. I have to, really.

But I miss the thing itself sometimes.