Monday, September 28, 2009

beyonce clown. youtube it.

I never manage to get enough sleep the night before a travel day.

And I always manage to spend way too much time at airports on travel days.

And then I always seem to get hotels charging me TRIPLE THE AMOUNT I SHOULD PAY when I check out.

Okay, so maybe that only happened today.

I have been warned about using such strong language like always and never. Instead I should use more feeling words like, I feel like hotels sometimes charge me TRIPLE THE AMOUNT I SHOULD PAY.

Because they do.

Or they did today, anyway.

Or as my friend Anthony would say when referring to some sort of nefarious behavior, They tried it.

But, would you like to know what was making the cast of A Chorus Line laugh through this travel day? Would you like to know why we were walking through the airport, dancing badly and humming Single Ladies?

Of course you would.

I hope she's gotten over her headache by now.

And thrown away that freakish mask.

And you need to watch it at least twice.

And then dance badly while humming Single Ladies through your nearby airport.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

why this sunday was pretty good

Today was a pretty good day.

I woke up kind of late. Something to do with late conversations about cereal, I am sure.

But then I got myself to the theater. I had planned on taking the warm-up class that our veneered choreographer gives when she is in town, but I didn't quite leave my hotel in time. Oops.

Something to do with getting up late because of late conversations about cereal.

But I already mentioned that.

So I warmed myself up on stage, which is what I do most of the time anyway. And aside from being afraid that I was about to get a migraine after I stared at the lights a little too long and started seeing spots because of it (the warm-up act for my migraines is what doctors call an aura. I see spots and have blurred vision and it fills me with dread because once the aura comes, I know what is coming next. And if you've ever suffered a migraine, than you know what I'm talking about, though I sincerely hope for your sake that you don't.), I got warm and all that.

Oh yeah, and I didn't get a migraine. Turns out those bright lights on the stage make you see spots and it doesn't always mean you're gonna have to find somebody to please remove your head in just a little while. You'll know when because I will be squirming and writhing and moaning, thank you. So I was relieved that this wasn't the case.

And then I did a show. And honestly? I've done so many now that it's hard to remember one itty bitty matinee* on a Sunday.

*notice I said MATINEE, as in afternoon performance and not, MANATEE, as in large and lovable sea creature that I swam with in Florida. Though I will still probably get at least one comment that says they thought I was confessing I had DONE a MANATEE and ewwwwwww and isn't that funny?! And here I go proving my brother Jason, who once told the world wide web that I often write about manatees on my blog, right yet again by mentioning manatees.

I cannot win.

And if you did think that I said MANATEE instead of MATINEE and happen to think it's funny, well I agree: it is funny.

Moving on.

So I did the show and it went well and I don't think I made any mistakes, so that's good. I even managed to make some people laugh, which is even better than just not making mistakes, if I do say so myself.

But if you sang really badly in front of thousands of people while wearing a leotard you could probably make them laugh too.

Oh, and another part of the day that made it good was that the Eagles won.
Go Green.

But after I woke up kind of late and after I got out of my hotel room late and missed the warm-up class and after I was afraid I was getting a migraine but I was really just underneath some bright lights and after I did a show in which I don't think I made any mistakes and managed to make some people laugh in the process and after the Eagles won--well, after all that, something great happened.

It looked like this.

And oh my goodness it was so good. If I used expletives I might be tempted to insert one there, just as an accent, just to let you know that Memphis doesn't joke around when it comes to home cooked meals.

In large platters.

And many different colors.

And lots and lots of butter, I'd bet.

It's a tradition here at the Orpheum Theater for the ushers and friends of the theater to cook and bake their best from their own respective kitchens and then feed us a feast to end all feasts.

I mean, just look at it.
The only problem was that we had to do another show after this southern feast, so you know, I had to content myself with just one plate.

One packed plate.

Of food stacked right on top of each other.

Cause I had decided on just one plate.

And the pecan pie was heavenly. Just crumbled goodness on a fork.

Oh, and the sweet potatoes even rivaled my sister-in-law, Rebekah's. Sorry Rebekah, but it's true. I didn't say they were better, mind you; I merely asserted the fact that they were contenders. But I think we can all agree that there is room in this great big world for two different plates of out-if-this-world delicious sweet potatoes.

And Memphis and Maryland are far enough apart from each other to let bygones be bygones, I'd say.

And another great part about this meal?

They gave each of us a to-go box and let us have at it.

So I got to take this

And ate it after the second show, because believe it or not, after that first feast my stomach managed to get hungry all over again.

Yep, a pretty good day.

sugar smacks and boner

Tonight Ian, Brandon, and I were staying up too late talking, just blatantly ignoring the fact that we had two shows today, survived the mayhem of Beale street afterward, and have another two shows tomorrow.

But sandwiched somewhere between discussions of bacon flavored ice cream (I know, it horrified me as well), family members (don't worry, they don't horrify me), how my brother almost accidentally killed my pop with a tractor (we're grateful it didn't happen, too), and whether or not an article of clothing I was wearing was magenta or pink (it was pink, I was so right), the topic of cereal came up.

Remember Cookie Crunch? one of us said. And the soggies? another chimed in.

Then we just started naming them, one by one, the cereals that made our sleepovers, our birthdays, our Saturday mornings.

Cap'N Crunch! Oh no, Peanut Butter Crunch! Fruity Pebbles! At that one we all paused and said Mmmmmmmm...Coco Puffs! We all agreed that was especially tasty because of the added bonus of it turning your milk to chocolate milk.

And then Brandon asked, What about the one with the frog?

I have to admit we were stumped for a few moments. But just a few, cause then we very quickly remembered Sugar Smacks.

And then we all looked at each other, because, no that just can't be right.

I mean, think about it.

A cereal, the way by which a parent is supposed to start off his beloved kid's day right, begins the title with the word SUGAR?

Cavity-producing, addictive, bouncing off the walls, gives you a high only to drop you right down again, sugar?!?!


But that's not even the worst. Not by a long shot.

Let's evaluate the word smack, shall we? Because it's a euphemism for drugs. And not just pot, either. Hard drugs. Devastating drugs.

And when I did a quick google search, this is what I saw:
smack - 25 definitions - [Heroin]. Most frequently used in the 60s.

It's a term from the 60s, folks; meaning, you can't even say that the word wasn't used in that way yet.

Because it was, it was!

So I gotta wonder what, exactly, good old Kellog's was thinking with this one.

Sugar Smacks. Really.

And now that I am on the subject of weird names from back in the day, why, oh why was that one kid's name Boner on Growing Pains?

And did Boner ever enjoy some Sugar Smacks, I wonder?

These are the things we ponder late at night, you guys.

Don't judge. That's not nice.

Friday, September 25, 2009

some good things have happened in memphis


Sun Records, here in downtown Memphis, a mile away from my hotel.
And it is responsible for the music that we have today. This is where 18 year old Elvis Presley walked in off the street and spent four dollars to make a record for his mother's birthday.

Or so he said.

Turns out it was springtime and Mrs. Presley's birthday wasn't till fall, but that is what the young charmer told the secretary in order to get in her good graces and gee, did it work. It worked so well in fact, that she laid that little country song aside for Sam Phillips, the owner, to listen to, hoping to give the young man a break. A young man who would spend his hard earned money on recording a song for his momma's birthday.


And here's the kicker: I listened to that song today. The first recording Elvis ever made. And boy did he have some warbly vibrato and no it didn't impress Sam Phillips one bit, much to the chagrin of his secretary. It was country in a time when the blues were hot.

But still, I heard it.

And don't you worry about young Elvis. He did just fine. Because a year later he went back into that recording studio, sang song after song at Mr. Phillips' insistence, but nothing was working. It wasn't until Sam Phillips told Elvis, the bassist, and guitarist to take a break at midnight, leaving them to their own devices that some magic finally appeared. Elvis started singing a song he had heard, That's All Right, just joking around really, and the musicians started playing along. Sam Phillips heard it in the booth and knew they'd found what they were looking for.

The hottest radio station in Memphis, Red, Hot, and Blue, played it soon after and something intractable started. 49 people called in requesting that song by the unknown Elvis, and the DJ played it fourteen times in just three hours.

So yeah, like I said, Elvis did just fine.

And remember that scene from the Johnny Cash movie, Walk the Line? He's doing his salesman thing when he happens to spot a recording studio, and walks in just like that?
Yep, here it is.
I was so excited. Such history. Such dreams realized.

And then there were so many more. B. B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, to name a few.

And how about those Irish boys who can't stop making beautiful albums?
They came here to record three songs for Rattle and Hum. And on that wall is the 12 track they used.
They knew that whatever happened within these walls was something they wanted to be a part of.

Smart guys.
And Sun Studio remains the only recording studio that is a national monument in the country. It gives tours through the day, but is still a working studio at night. The most recent artist to record here was John Mellencamp. And this place still has the same white tiles that soundproofed the room back when Elvis Presley stopped in for a visit, after being signed with RCA Records. Sam Phillips called in Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins too. And what do they do?

An impromptu jam session, of course.

And what does the always-thinking Sam Phillips do?

Press record, of course.

You can buy it, too, aptly called the Million Dollar Quartet.

And here I am, standing on the X that Elvis stood, grabbing that same mic that he grabbed.
Just, wow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

conversations in Memphis

Today I was at the front desk of my hotel, about to ask for a voucher to go to the gym that is actually bigger than a breadbox unlike the hotel's gym, when the clerk beat me to the punch.

Do you sing? he asked.

Huh? I said, not really following, though I guess the question was pretty clear.

Do. You. Sing? he repeated, slower this time.

Uh...yeah...I said hesitantly, still not sure where he was going.

Well then, why do you lie about it? he queried with a smile.

And this time a BLANK STARE is all he got from me in response.

So he started to sing.
Badly, I might add.
Until finally, it dawned on me.

And yes, after a year and a half you'd think I would be a little faster on the uptake, but what can I say? I was on my way to the gym, whoever I would be playing later that night was a million miles away from my mind.

So finally, I matched his smile and asked him if he saw the show last night.

You betcha! he said, laughing now. And it was terrific, you were just great! And after some thanks on my part and with the voucher in hand, I was on my way to the gym.

Smiling the whole time.

But if I had a dollar for every time somebody has asked me if I can sing over the past year and a half...Let's just say that I might actually own a Betsy Johnson dress.

Instead of, you know, searching for them on ebay every once in a while.

And one more anecdote.

Yesterday my friend Brandon and I were sharing the elevator with a few of the maids from the hotel. They asked us if we were in the show in town and we said yes. They asked us which show, we answered appropriately.

Which is when one of them, the larger of the two, started doing a fantastic kick line for one. Just jumping up and down in that elevator, the stripes of her uniform blurring with her motion. The elevator was jumping a little too, as if to not be left out in this spontaneous dance in honor of A Chorus Line.

And we all laughed.

And then the dancing maid asked, Can I come o'er there an try out?

Silence for a moment.

I said, Well...and looked to Brandon for help.

Articulate, I know.

He then repeated my Well...and added with quite a serious tone, They are holding auditions in New York City in October...

Which is when Large Dancing Maid threw back her head and burst out into a beautiful bubbling laughter that just could have started that elevator jumping again, had it lasted long enough.

Chile, I was jes joking! I cain't be in no musical on the stage!!!

And then that powerful laughter started again, and this time we couldn't help but join in too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

goals, or not.

Lately I have been possessed with this desire to learn to sew.

But I just read in a magazine that "people who tell others their newest goals too soon often end up not doing them. It is better to start working on the goal, and after having done it consistently, talk about it."


So I am not going to tell you that it's a goal of mine and you may or may not someday see a picture on this blog of a pillow that I made.

And I am not wondering if my mom might lend me her sewing machine.

And actually making a pillow may or may not be a goal of mine.

I guess I'll just keep it to myself for now.

So instead, let's talk Christmas.

Too soon?

Okay, we'll table that. Even though I have been listening to some Christmas music. But it was really just one song, an original song from Over the Rhine's Christmas album, and it doesn't even sound very Christmasy at all, more wintry and encouraging, so don't get all we haven't even had Halloween yet, let ALONE Thanksgiving!!! on me, okay?

Cause wintry and encouraging music is approved for listening all year round in my book.

But fine, let's talk...2009.

Cause it's already September of this year. And almost the end, at that. I know, I know, where did the time go? I know that I spent a lot of it doing step, kick, kick, step, kick, touch and if that means nothing to you, than maybe you should see A Chorus Line. Or just follow those verbs verbatim and see what you get, cause that could be pretty funny.

Maybe as funny as the time my brother Jase bragged to me and (his girlfriend at the time but is now his wife) Darby that he could definitely kick this little good smelling decoration that was hanging from my parents' kitchen ceiling.

Okay, Jase, let's see it, we encouraged him, only too thrilled to sit back and watch his bravado meet its match in the form of EXTREMELY TIGHT HAMSTRINGS.

And now I'm gonna brag and say that I was right. He lunged in preparation, his eye on that prize hanging from the ceiling, so perfectly kickable, right?

Well, no.

His leg flew up in the air with all the speed of a ticketer at the beach once your car has been parked just one minute past the time you've paid for and what about grace, Bethany Beach, what about grace?!?! But it was the leg still on the ground that failed him.

Or maybe it was his sock, that slippery sock that never stood a chance against the hardwood floor.

Because his socked foot slipped out from underneath him right as his hamstring alerted his airborne leg that it had gone as far as it could, really, and with a great and glorious crash the poor guy fell backwards.

And no, Darby and I didn't laugh.

At least not until we made sure he was still alive, that is.

And no, he didn't ever kick that little decorative thing that was hanging from my parents' kitchen ceiling.

But I think what he did end up doing might have been even better. At least for us.

But, 2009.

Can you believe it's September? The kind of September that's almost October, albeit?

And speaking of goals, or uh, not speaking of goals, rather, are there any goals that you'd like to accomplish before this year goes by?

Other than the sewing thing, which I am so not mentioning here, as per the instructions of that magazine, I also want to book another project. One that doesn't involve something that sounds a lot like A Shmorus Shline.

Not that I am not grateful.

But it's time for a new job, and that makes me pretty excited.

So that's a goal of mine.

Okay, your turn.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

back on the road and a shoulder clap gone dreadfully wrong

So I'm back.

And it's really okay.
Better than okay, actually, if how I felt on stage tonight is any indication.

It was a blur of bright lights, too-red EXIT signs, the glare of all the many people who watch us with their glasses on, and the already prevalent ache in my feet--but beyond that...this sense of well-being.
Of being at the right party.
And not even needing to be the guest of honor, per se; just happy to be there at all.

Which was reassuring.

Sometimes when you leave it, even for just two weeks, it's hard to know exactly how it will greet you when you get back.

Or how you will greet it, is maybe more to the point.

And I think there was a mutual feeling of rightness between me and the show tonight. And I think it can last for these next 8 weeks too.

Because yes, touring is meeting new people. It is shiny Memphis neon signs that yell at you about their BBQ, their live music, and their bowling as you walk by. It is getting up really early in order to get to a city in which you will be sleeping pretty late during your stay. It is doing whatever it is that you want to do before that magic hour that's hardly ever before 7 o'clock pm. It is stealing away back to your hotel while your friends go out, because though you love your friends, carving out the space for music and writing and journaling--things that are best done alone--is non-negotiable. It is lots of opening nights, which means lots of opening night parties, which means justifying that dress you just bought cause look, you have something to wear it to now. A lot of somethings. It is not just having to dance and sing and act 8 times a week for an audience that is kind enough to watch and listen, it is getting to dance and sing and act 8 times a week for an audience that is kind enough to watch and listen. It is remembering that five thousand people auditioned in New York for this show and somehow you got a golden ticket.

But it is not home.

It is not Drew.

And it is not meant to last forever.

Which is why 8 more weeks is just fine with me.

And here's a word to the wise. Whenever you are talking to somebody, please just look them in the eyes. Is that too much to ask? Unless you have proof of an imminent alien invasion in the very spot in which you are having a conversation and have further proof that the alien will be appearing to the right or the left of the person with whom you are having the conversation, hovering and shifting its weight back and forth all creepily like that alien from M. Night Shamalan's Signs, then look at them, darnit.

Because you know what might happen if you don't?

I'll tell you because I know, wish to God that I didn't.

You might be just getting your 'ready to wrap up this convo' tone of voice in gear, and then as if to finally put it to rest, initiate a final parting gesture, the shoulder clap that I am pretty sure men learn to do right after they are taught the one-armed side hug. You intend to clap the shoulder, but since you aren't freaking really looking at the other person, you instead sort of awkwardly clap one of the main parts that is covered by the bikini top, if you know what I mean.

And you both pretend it didn't happen, but gosh it did.

So, please look while you're talking.

And definitely look during any and all attempted shoulder claps.

Because I would sure enough appreciate it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

that's what I hear in these sounds

It's his footsteps that reach me.

The sounds of stairs, begrudgingly giving way underneath. With a creak, announcing him.

And even though he's walking away, there's still the sound of him, and I love those loud stairs for that.

But then the big door swings open and closes with a hollow thud and that's that. The ensuing silence proving the point that he's actually gone. Until he starts up that motor, and his old jeep backs up, working too hard to just get out of the neighborhood.

And although that quiet is quite clearly broken, it brings no comfort.
Only isolation.
Like a woman noisily giving you the silent treatment.

She's banging on various kitchen sundries, making a point to carry overly loud saccharin conversations with everybody else when she's not humming that tune made famous in high school, and you finally put down your book. You wonder what it was you ever did to make her ignore you so hard.

And that's how it sounds when he leaves; I like the sound of him coming home much better and at least there's a cat at my feet and one at my side.

*inspired in part by when he left early this morning...and a song called The Chain, by Ingrid Michaelson:

So glide away and so be healed and promise not to promise anymore
and if you come around again then i will take, then i will take the chain from off the door

Saturday, September 19, 2009

counter culture shock

My family pretty much talks about everything.

It's true.
There aren't many secrets here.
A few, I am sure, but I guess I wouldn't really know cause well, they are secrets and I'll let them keep. What choice do I have in the matter, anyway?

But what I find strange is the prospect of not talking about something.

What's even stranger is not talking at all.

It's funny, I used to think it would be very romantic to marry somebody from a different country. I especially loved british accents. Drop an h and what can I say, I was a goner.

But then I fell in love with maybe the next best thing, somebody from New England, which was good enough for me.

And then I realized how much hard work it takes to maintain and grow a relationship.

Not start one, mind you; that sort of takes off on its own once you decide you like the look of his blue eyes and the sound of his voice and that he's just enough taller than you are. The fact that he wears berkenstocks can totally be dealt with later.

But maybe I am just speaking for myself.

The thing about a close relationship, one in which two people are meshing into one, is that it's not exactly natural. Not really. There's a lot of you that can loudly protest the meshing. At least it can be that way for me.

And in just one instance, when you are sitting around the dinner table with his kind family and nobody is saying a word; you are about to burst inside with all of the amounts of conversations you want to start but hey, maybe these people like to eat in silence, a concept you've cannot quite grasp--in that one instance, you suddenly find yourself in culture shock.

Even though you married an American.

Even though you both speak English.

Even though you both love the same God.

And then later, when you and his family are all eating eggs.

Eggs unlike you've ever seen before and you ask what makes them different and can hardly believe it when they nonchalantly tell you that they were just zapped in the microwave (!!!) and you want to put down the fork but you don't because this is their normal but all of the sudden you have a very strong feeling that you are not in kansas anymore.

And those are just the little things.

There are others.

Boy, are there others.

Like how to celebrate Christmas. What birthday's look like. How one of you is comfortable with silence while the other is afraid that maybe it means you aren't connecting like you should. Like there's some sort of Great Measuring Stick for Couple's Connectedness and one more minute of this silence is surely going to put us in That Bad Area.

You know, the one that belongs to the couples who go out to eat and spend their time in dreaded silence with only the welcome interruptions of the waiter spouting off the specials and the occasional scrape of fork against knife because they ran out of things to say a long time ago.


And then today I read something in a magazine that made me think even more. It was in the letters to the editor section and was in response to an article about how churches are preaching about sex in marriage from the pulpit now.

The woman was incensed and all how dare they intrude and it's none of their business and I don't even feel comfortable talking about sex with my husband, let alone the clergy! and her tirade made me realize a few things:

  • we need to talk about things. maybe even everything. maybe not all of it now, but in time. especially if we want the kind of fulfilling intimacy that a marriage promises.
  • she probably doesn't have the best sex-life.
and finally
  • I probably shouldn't be thinking of her sex life. and I definitely shouldn't be judging it. sorry, lady from the letters to the editor section.

I am glad that the church is talking about sex and marriage and relationships. I think we all should be. Not all the time or anything crazy like that. I mean we have to save time for discussing how ridiculous Michael Scott is and really, Stanley? An affair? Come on; so not a good idea.

And I am grateful for somebody who will let me talk. And will, in his time, talk to me. Here's to continuing to talk. Even through the culture shock that still appears from time to time. Even as we're not quite sure what the solution is. Or how, exactly, Christmas morning should proceed.

Or when, hypothetically speaking, one of us hides the other's berkenstocks.


Have any of you ever experienced any culture shock in your relationships? How have you dealt with it? I'd like to know.

Friday, September 18, 2009

this one's for you, babe

I've got this husband.

And when I got him, I also got a lot more musical instruments just strewn about.
Which is fine with me, by the way.

And our feet all seem to get along, which is a bonus.
They even get along with paws.

One of our favorite things to do is to write music together.
And then play it for other people.

I'm good at coming up with songs; he's good at making my songs better.
He's good at putting chords together I would never think of; I'm good at throwing words on top of those chords, strung together by a melody.

And something else we've made, too--a solution, of sorts.
One we came up with a long time ago.

It's necessary when you combine someone like me, whose inner monologue jumps ahead to any potential dialogue, trying desperately to avoid anything that could possibly make myself or anybody else feel awkward with someone like him, who loves, laughs, and speaks freely.


If one or the other of us does not like what the other is doing or saying, we pinch their elbow. Discreetly.
Like a ninja.
Only we can wear normal clothes.
And leave the throwing stars at home.

Now I just came across a picture I had made sure to get but then promptly forgotten about. The picture is funny because Drew happens to think the phrase is pretty darn funny. And yes, uses it from time to time.
So here you go, Drew; this is for you.

And look, I am not even pinching your elbow.

But I am wondering if you've ever been to Maine with a can of pink spray paint in hand.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I really don't love them.

And here's why.
Inevitably, we forget about them.

Inevitably, we end up growing Frankenstein's monster in flora form.
I know, gross.

When I finally unearthed it under its innocuous looking facade of saran wrap, I could hardly believe what we had been growing under our own roof.

A lot of people grow flowers.

Herbs, even.

Some even grow chickens and goats.

We grow mold, I guess.

Big, billowy piles of mold that can deceptively look like cotton candy.

But not anymore.

At least not until one of us gets the next bright idea of stashing away those leftovers in the very back of the fridge.

Like I said, gross.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the girl and her piano.

Let me tell you a story.

It's my story so I might as well tell you that the protagonist is gonna be me.

And the antagonist...well, you'll find out soon, but he would probably disagree that I am, in fact, the protagonist.

There was a girl who had a piano that she loved very much. It was dark cherry wood and had all the white keys and black keys it should. There were a few tiny little chips in the otherwise perfect veneer from when she had gotten very into whatever she was playing, banging on that perfect amount of black and white keys so hard that the knickknacks her mom had placed on top of the piano in an effort to be decorative fell down, hitting those keys with an accompanying discordant crash and leaving their marks.

And with each examined chip, the girl learned her lesson well: don't put knickknacks on the piano or if you do, don't play so hard.

But despite those little chips, the girl still loved her piano. And it was a very sad day when another one of the girl's loves, a boy this time, took her away from that piano, moving her into an apartment with white walls and not much soul. The hand-me-down couch with all the striped cushions and chips in the wood that the girl and boy acquired helped to give the place character, sure, but it still didn't have anything near as loved as that piano in it.

Except maybe the boy.

When he wasn't working and was actually in the apartment, that is.

Now the girl would still make the trip to her piano, though. Faithfully. And she didn't even mind so much that she was always the one doing all the visiting; she understood that the piano had all those keys, the very perfect amount of keys, in fact, and couldn't move so well because of them.

But still she dreamed of having her piano nearby, a few steps away. She liked to have all those keys close for her to find just the right way to say the songs that came to her at odd hours of the day or night.

A year passed.

The girl and the piano remained the same, visiting when they could and never growing tired of each other.

And then the boy had some good news.

A house was in store. With lots of walls that could be painted whatever color the girl chose. Or re-chose as the case may be. And the couch would come of course, all it's stripes would fit right in with the bright walls the girl was already planning. And best of all, the piano could come live with the girl in the house.

This made the girl very very happy.

And finally, the boy did it.

On an afternoon that could have blended into many another afternoon we've all spent, something grand made it stand out: the boy and a lot of his friends moved the piano into the house and sat its cherry wood behind right down against the yellow wall behind it. And excitedly, joyously, the girl began to play.

It was maybe 2 pm, not late by any standard at all.

And the girl kept playing, every once in a while trading off so that the boy could play, but making sure to stay nearby and listen to all those keys, just the right amount of keys, sing.

When suddenly, there was a sharp rap at the door. One might even say an angry rap, if raps had feelings. The girl and the boy jumped to, opened the door, and were met by the Heavily Bearded Fellow From Next Door.

And he was not happy, though it was hard to really see him behind his beard. He started in by saying, That piano is very loud. Which is a tough thing to answer, it neither being a compliment or an insult. And then--

He asked them to stop playing.

He did. Like it was an option for the girl or something. Like it wasn't just like asking that dog to please stop having such a black nose or that cat to please stop saying meow.

The girl tried to explain to The Heavily Bearded Fellow From Next Door that she was a piano player and that she would be playing her piano. She acquiesced a bit by suggesting that she just play quieter, but other than that, they were at a standstill.

And since then?

The HBFFND (can I just call him that, please?) has taken to simply banging on their shared wall (the house being a townhouse, you know) in an effort to let the girl know that he is not happy that she is playing her piano.

Even though she tried to explain to him on that first day he showed up at her door at around 2pm in the afternoon that she was a piano player and therefore would be playing her piano .

And just tonight the girl was feeling inspired while playing all those keys and heard that dreaded thump! on the wall. The yellow wall that sits right behind the cherry red piano. And she quieted down, just like she said she would back on that first afternoon, at around 2pm.

But no, she didn't stop playing.

And no, she won't.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

something large is napping

That was a phrase that surfaced in a game my family played at the beach this past summer. It cracked us up then and it still makes me smile to think about.

It also makes me think of this.
But in this case I should say somethings large are napping, I suppose.
Letting go of the world for a moment. Finding solace in sleep.
Forgetting about your argyle collar, your Armani glasses, and just cuddling up tight.
Letting the silence become a lullaby, the couch a vessel that takes you on a journey, a brief respite.
So go on then, slip into your
and we'll be here when you're ready to wake up.

Happy to see you.

But until then, something large is napping.

Monday, September 14, 2009

happy birthday, jonathan

My mom always called us her twins, even though we aren't.

But still, we are the closest in age out of the family, were always close to the same height growing up, and have the same brown eyes, though his are darker like our Italian mom's while mine are more like our pop's British side of things.

We were always going through the same stage of life. Running away from the surf together at the beach, terrified that a wave would jump out at us and swallow us whole. Taking turns on our pop's back as we fought those waves together, putting on a brave face even when the truth was evident in our vise-like grip around our pop's poor neck.

Same Sunday school class; and later, the same youth group.

Same engulfing fear of the night, leading us to sleep in each other's rooms, respectively, long after all our friends were sleeping soundly in their own beds.

Tentatively starting to date, but um, he dated girls and I dated boys and all the while we were wondering when that oh-so-elusive one would show up.

We were even both in The Nutcracker Suite one year, though I have a strong suspicion that he was in it for the girls whereas I actually was in it for the ballet.

We spent so much time together, see, that people sensed that there was something between us. The thing is, they didn't always get exactly what that something was.

Like when we both did a mission's trip with Youth With A Mission, as teenagers. He had gotten his leg all scraped up in a soccer accident, his wound was infected and his body was feverish. Because of that, he had to just stay in the men's ward for a few days. Not allowed to go out, not allowed to do much of anything, though he wasn't up to it anyway, I imagine.

So I would take my breaks and go visit him.

Talk to him.

Make sure he had what he needed.

Most of the time it would be just the two of us, since everyone else was busy serving the world.

Finally one of our leaders approached me and with kindness in his voice told me that he didn't think my behavior was appropriate.

What do you mean? I asked, secretly shocked since I had made a career out of avoiding inappropriate behavior thus far.

It's not right, he explained, the two of you spending so much time alone with nobody around to chaperone.

And then it dawned on me.
And then his insinuation made me throw up a little in my mouth.

But, I said, he's my brother.

And that was that. The leader was embarrassed for assuming we were up to no good and I was given cart blanche visits to the men's ward.

Because he is my brother.

And I am so glad he is.


Happy birthday, Jonathan.

closets in the air and i believe.

Sometimes we need to make our own way in this world.

I get that.

But some things are just unavoidable. A part of life. Like accumulating paper. Lots and lots of paper. You'd think that somebody somewhere thought that trees grew on, well trees, with the amount of papers that are sent to our house every day. Coupons. Newspapers that are actually just more coupons, in case I didn't see that bulging packet of coupons that is sitting right beside it in the mailbox. Bills. Letters from dentists, for crying out loud, welcoming us to the neighborhood three years after we moved here. I mean, if I didn't feel welcomed by now, I am not sure how much a letter from a dentist is going to do the trick.

But in case you can't tell, I really hate all the wasteful papers that are sent my way. Just to be brought into my house. Just to fill up my trash can. Just to cause me to take out the trash and put in a new garbage bag once again. Just for those papers that were at first in front of my house in my mailbox to end up behind my house in my dumpster.

Couldn't the mailman save us all a lot of trouble by simply depositing those papers directly into the dumpster?


I hate excessive papers but I simply have to deal with it.

Because I can't just be like Drew, who one day says to me, I hate drawers, and the next day eliminates a lot of them from his life.

First of all, I had no idea the man I married had such a detest for something as harmless and helpful as drawers, of all things. But well, it takes all kinds, I guess and really, who am I to judge? He allows me my hatred of many many foods and drinks, so I suppose he is allowed to hate drawers.

Second of all, at least he can do something about it.

Like go to Lowes, pick up some antique chain and iron hooks, and then go hang a dowel from them after drilling it all into ceiling like this.
And of course, making sure that your newly acquired Japanese ninja sword from your lovely, intelligent, and hilarious wife is sitting next to your new hanging closet.

So there you go, Drew hates drawers and so made a closet in the sky. Or at least in the upper part of our bedroom.

And I present you the first piece of artwork in our room.
It makes me excited.

All of our artwork has gone to basically every other room in the house. Because other people see those rooms a lot more than our own bedroom, sadly ours is the room that has gone the most neglected.

But no more.

And we have plans for more, too.
Once the drill recharges and it isn't too late to drill, that is.

Oh, and a card that is presently in our house.
I agree with it.

And would like to add to it.

I believe:
in my ability to change.
because I used to never eat green peppers, but now I do and that counts for something. I did it just today, in fact, proving once again that I can change. And maybe someday change will be harder than just sticking a little old green pepper into my mouth, chewing, and swallowing, but well, that leads me to my second point...
in God's ability to change me.
because I know a guy who was a lot like all of us in that he just assumed that he would live forever or at least a very long time and got bogged down in all of the trivial things that don't matter so much, like what kind of shoes you are wearing and who is kissing who in the 12th grade. But then he found out that he was sick. Really sick, with something that most people think of as a stigma that leaves them saying no thank you and keeping their distance which only makes these people who are already sick also feel alone. But my friend--well now he is living life fully with no large or small moments lost on him, and he is radiant with a kind of joy that only the truly grateful among us experience. It's beautiful, he's beautiful and his sickness is not the point of his life.

So there you go.

What are you believing today?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

what a man, what a man, what a mighty fine man

Some men might balk at holding a princess umbrella over their heads.

One that declares you Gentle as a True Princess.

And even though pink is often declared the new black, they might opt for an umbrella that is the old black, the standard black, you know, just black.

But not Drew.
Cool as a cucumber under a pink princess umbrella.

And dry too, thanks to that pink princess umbrella.
And apparently very very happy to be under that pink princess umbrella.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

candles and boots and coats and football can only mean one thing

The air has gotten cooler, haven't you noticed?

And I'm ready.

For the fall.

I think most of us are, in our own way.

Drew has welcomed this new season by watching football whole-heartedly. And even now that exciting and canned theme music with way too much treble is blaring from our speakers as the Titans and the Steelers compete for a win.

And me?

Well, I got some candles today.
Pumpkin spice and apple pie.

Enough said.

And I opened up this gorgeous and hand-made wedding invitation from my dear friend Betsy.
I should also say hand-sewn. Cause she's amazing like that. And she's a beautiful autumn bride. Perfect.

And I've dusted off my boots, debating wearing a pair tomorrow.
I also perused my latest Urban Outfitters catalogue, dreaming of owning a pair of their boots.

Perhaps someday.

Although I know exactly where my dream boots are. Spanish leather. Black. Sold at Barney's. And not in my closet.

Perhaps someday.

And I've also started getting excited about my coats again.
The different textures. The colors.

And even Drew purchased a cable-knit sweater yesterday, in honor of fall.

Are your thoughts turning towards fall quite yet?

black and white and food downstairs

Yep, that's right, a new bloggety design.

It was past time cause that green was even beginning to annoy me.

And I happen to be a big fan of green.

In the Great Change of '09 I lost a few widgets and gadgets that I am currently trying to track down and get back, but other than that, I am pleased with this new design of black and white (and read all over. Get it? It's a blog, so you read it, like that old joke about the newspaper,What's black and white and read all over? only you say it instead of read it, so you think they're referring to a color rather than an act. That's the clever part. Oh, am I getting way too in depth for this tired old joke? Sorry).

But as to the missing widgets and gadgets, I've asked some of the best internet people I know about those. A brother and a friend. Oh, but they are two different people. I guess one is my brother and my friend, but the other is not my brother cause she's a girl and a Hornbuckle, so not my brother, see? But a friend.


After only sleeping a measly five hours or so on Tuesday night, I made up for it smashingly by sleeping fourteen hours last night.

It's a good thing that I finally woke up or else people might have wondered if I had gone and met my Maker.

Ah, people being Drew and the cats, considering they are the only ones around this morning. But still.

Although it wouldn't have been the first time to have met him, my Maker, that is; I've met him already, and honestly, I am in no rush to leave this earth. Not because he isn't awesome or anything like that, though. Maybe it's all the green, cause I do love green as I said before, and there happens to be a ton of green things here.

And maybe it's the people too.

Okay, definitely it's the people.

People like my mom, who make sure that my kitchen looks like this,

stocked with all sorts of delicious and American food, so that I don't have to go to bed hungry.

You know, they don't have pretzels in Japan.

Okay, they sort of do, but they aren't the same. And the same goes for Ritz crackers, too, if you were wondering.

And I was craving some pretzels like crazy. For a month. And now they are downstairs in our kitchen, just a stairs descent away, and this makes me feel so happy.

It's amazing how much comfort a well-stocked kitchen can provide.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just to let you know

I will not be blogging as frequently for a stretch here. My sweet Drew has some time off work, as do I right now, and I am gonna jump on this and let some other things go as I focus on being home with him.

And other things totally means my blog. But so as not to make this dear blog feel singled out, it also may or may not mean going to the gym.

We'll see.

Please enjoy yourselves and I'll try not to forget how to write or use a treadmill in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I traveled a lot yesterday.

Monday went on forever, it seemed; In fact, it was about 13 hours longer than it should have been.

But when it comes to enduring however many hours it takes to get home, who's counting, really?

Not me.

Besides, those hours will happen no matter what. Might as well be spending them getting somewhere good. What's two bus trips, two flights, two movies, many meals, and multiple games of solitaire--one of which I actually won?

Not much.

Except for when I won, then it was a lot.

And it's been nice to hear Drew play my guitar; he makes it sing with a voice I had yet to hear.

It was nice walking my mom's doggies with her early in the day.

Heck, it was even sort of nice waking up at 5:30 am, since I was waking in my own bed to a still gray morning in which the sun was slowly rising, casting dawn upon us all like a spell. Like a beautiful spell that fills the world with light, and I am no exception so I'll happily stand in place besides the rest of creation and wait to be filled with a new expectation for the day.

Wait to be filled with the dawn.

Thank God there is one every day.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


It's funny how time works. The way it just keeps going, moving along whether you want it to or not. I am actually pretty fascinated by it...I think back to when I started this job and it feels like a life time ago.

Walking into that big studio in Times Square.

Feeling like it was the first day of school, only my mom wasn't right next to me this time.

And yet at the same time, it is almost unfathomable that two birthdays have passed since I started this job.

Time works that way, doesn't it? Infinite, yet fleeting. Encompassing but can't come fast enough.

What brought this to mind is a picture I found the other night. Sometimes I like to go through my photos when I can't sleep or when I am missing home.

And one stood out to me.

I remember it perfectly, like it was yesterday.

Drew and I were walking on the pier in Chicago, clouds were billowed high over us, and we came upon a sign. It had arrows pointing different directions and the amount of miles to whatever big city was that way.

And yeah, Tokyo stood out.

Cause it was this place that I was going, but it still didn't seem real. At that moment, with Drew in Chicago, it was as real as the children we would have someday, the end of this tour, or even Christmas when it's only June.

It was the not yet.

And all of the moments that had to transpire until I left for Tokyo were daunting; all of the shows to do stateside, the meals to eat, nights to sleep through, weeks home to spend...But somehow all of those moments pile up and eventually tip the scale, making the line between the future and the present blur and suddenly what you thought was just a speck in the distance is staring you right in the face.

And you are saying good-bye and trying to be brave and wondering how that lump in your throat never seems to go down, not even with age, not even with it being the thirtieth time you're having to leave.

And now my trip to Japan has happened. Just like that. And yes, it was amazing...I actually think the question How is Japan? is a little hilarious. I mean, there is just so much to it. Do I mention the smells, how the air in even the 7-11 hangs heavy with the odor of fish? How I awake to purplish grey mountains outside my window? How people are crying in the audience every show; how they video us leaving the stage door and seem honored to shake our hands? How I got to play my music here in Tokyo and one of the emails I received afterward mentioned that my music was very friendly, among other things? Do I talk about the noodles, noodles, and more noodles? How the monkey wrapped himself around my leg, like I was a freaking tree? How I am now used to not being able to read one single thing in the subway? How I am physically in Japan, on the other side of the world, but well, there's this whole part of me, my imagination, I guess, that's back in America, that's in a small house with a man and two cats?

Or do I just smile and say Japan is amazing?

Cause it is.

And it's also a lot.

And how strange that here I was back in April, standing in Chicago while pointing towards Tokyo, a place I had never before been,

and now I have worked here for a month.

And now I get to go back home. And time is behind all of it.

Well, time and God, I suppose.

And guess what?

I never did figure out how to get to this theater here in Hyogo on my own.

And I am really okay with that.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

fun with sticks

I remember once my sister-in-law remarked upon how funny it was that her kids had accumulated so many toys over the years.

Because really, Rebekah said, they end up playing with a string more than anything else.

A string.

And who knows where it had even come from. Certainly not Toys R Us.

Apparently, her kids had been into playing doggie and used that string as the leash. Sounds like fun to me. But my point is, put a little creativity into the mix, and voila! you end up having a good time.

Take the other night, for example.

And since I've been in Japan for the last month, I use the term the other night very loosely.

Drew and I were at my brother and sister-in-law's house and, in what is becoming something of a tradition for us, Drew brought out the stick.
A stick that you simply attach to your chin, while standing in a clear space. We even put some pillows in the corners to try to minimize any potential damage to people or furniture.
At first, it doesn't seem all that interesting. At least not for the spectators.
You are simply spinning with this stick on your chin, looking up at the ceiling, counting to 30 rotations.

But then once those 30 turns have been completed, the fun begins.

The object is to throw the stick on the ground and simply jump over it.

Shouldn't be too hard, right?


Maybe the hardest thing you'll ever do. And 9 out of 10 people don't end up accomplishing it.

But they sure do end up like this.
The next rainy day, you should try it.

If you've exhausted your game of doggie, that is. Or lost your string, whichever comes first.

And tonight, we had a big closing party, since we finish out our Japan leg of the tour tomorrow. Part of it was in honor of our dear Production Stage Manager, Ray, who is leaving us after Japan in order to go do Dream Girls.

A moment of silence please, because this makes me very very sad.

But another part of it was to honor us, which was so very kind.

They gave each one of us an authentic Japanese traveling bag with our names embroidered on it. They even had Japanese characters underneath our American names, which is just so special.
They tried to pick out a pattern according to each of our characters in the show, and I gotta say I think they got it spot on with these polka dots.

Oh, and the meaning of the three Japanese words for my name?

Ground. Design. Deer.

Love all three; I think it suits me just fine.

Much better than my friend Amos' whose name means:

Love. Burning love. Vinegar.

Ha! Vinegar!!!

Can hardly believe that my time here is coming to a close...OR THAT MY FIRST SHOW TOMORROW IS AT 11 am!!!!


Yes, 11am. Ouch. That is eeeaaaarrrrllllyyy.

Better get to bed...

Friday, September 4, 2009


The Tempozan Harbor Village Ferris Wheel.

It may or may not be the world's largest ferris wheel.

But it is definitely in Osaka.

See, before you buy a ticket there is a sign espousing that it is the world's largest.

But then after you've bought the ticket, and upon entry, another sign says it is one of the world's largest.

Whatever, it's big. And I can see it from my hotel window all the way out here in Amagasaki.

It also forecasts the weather; the night before, depending upon the color that the ferris wheel is, you know whether or not the coming day will dawn clear or not.

Pretty cool, huh? Who needs the weather channel anyway?

And tonight Liza and I visited the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
And yes, I totally had to google that to remember it's name.

And here's what I learned: an aquarium is an aquarium is an aquarium.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. I love animals, and always appreciate getting to see them. But, aside from the Japanese announcements as well as all the Japanese signs, I wouldn't have known it from any one of our aquariums in the states.

At one point, however, one of the staff members walked through, blaring out announcements over a loudspeaker. Both Liza and I desperately hoped that she wasn't announcing a break-out from the shark tank or that the building was suddenly on fire because, well, we couldn't understand a word she was saying.

We simply continued to stroll on by in blind faith that the announcement was not pertinent to us. Blissful ignorance at it's best, folks.

I will say that the sea otters were just adorable.
You can just make out his little head, with me getting as close to him as the glass would allow. But not getting to touch the fuzzy little dude was sad.

See, I am a very tactile person. It's how I learn and, for the most part, understand the world. Whenever I am learning something new, I have to physically do it myself. It won't work if you just try to tell me what to do; it goes in one ear and out the other.

Which is why I am so bad at listening to directions. But you guys already know about that.

Anyway, it's hard for me to see something I really love and not touch it, if that makes sense. While shopping, I find myself touching most things that are yellow. I have to hug and pet my parents' dogs. I am driven to squeeze my cats. In love, of course.

Anyway, the hard thing about an aquarium is that you just can't pet the animals. And if I were to have some sort of allowance to pet one animal in the aquarium, it would totally be the sea otters.

I just don't know how to go about getting that allowance...If anyone knows, I am all ears.

And I love some of the English translations I happen by. This one was from Osaka today. A hair salon...Er, actually...
...a hair make.

Yep, that's about right.

And I can only imagine the crazy things I would end up saying if I ever took it upon myself to try to master the complex and beautiful Japanese language; I am sure I'd say a lot funnier things than hair make.

Or good ruck!

Which is what the policeman yelled to us after explaining how to get to the Hanshin subway line to us.

And as it turns out, we did have good ruck.

Cause we found our way home in a jiff.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

a day in the life of

Since I moved to this new city that is somewhere in the prefecture that is called Hyogo (and I would totally be more specific if I remembered the actual name of the city), I now have an hour commute to the theater.

And this commute is riddled with tickets--a pink one and a blue one, to be precise, that I cannot lose because without them I can neither enter nor leave the subway station. I was handed exactly 10 pink tickets and 10 blue tickets upon checking into my hotel on Monday and must make sure to have them on hand for our daily commute.

As if that weren't enough, I also have to change trains twice and pray that I get the express train rather than the local, though to be honest I don't think I would recognize one over the other before I was on it and was either stopping at every hole in the wall I passed or was seeing Hyogo in a blur as I zipped by.

Now imagine me.

Directionally challenged.

Not good at keeping small papers.

Or larger papers, for that matter, like marriage licenses.

Don't speak Japanese, so good luck at retaining the names of the stations at which I need to get off.

Or pronouncing them.

And 5'8, too.

Since you're imagining me, I thought it might be easier if you knew my height too.

I know, I think of everything and you're welcome.

But suffice it to say, I am desperate to make sure that I accompany others to the theater. Otherwise, I am pretty sure I might just end up in Tibet.

And I'd still be in the same situation: unable to speak the language, juggling many pastel tickets, confused, and of course, 5'8.

So think of me fondly as you wake up and, with contentment, realize that you know just exactly how to get to where you are going today.

Must be nice.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

one heck of a stage name

Another opening night.

This time in Hyogo.

But by this time, after over 500 performances, we all pretty much know the drill.

Not much changes. Ever.

Oh, except today.

Except my name.

It seems that I have a new stage name here in Japan; one of the local Japanese crew members unwittingly bequeathed it to me, and this one just might stick.

The cast was that thrilled by it.

Anyway, I was wandering into the theater, getting ready for sound check, and I hear, Jessica! You gotta come see this, quick!

I go to where Sterling has motioned me--the board with all of our dressing room assignments on it for the week--and sure enough, this is what all the hubbub is about.
And just like that, I am Jessica Ratshaw.

Only here in Japan would that "L" get mistaken for an "R," changing my name entirely.

This is just too good.