Saturday, October 31, 2009

happy halloween. or happy birthday. or choose treat.

Um, happy halloween.

I passed this sad little pumpkin on my way to work tonight.
Poor little guy with a broken heart. A broken heart that, according to him, can't be fixed.

But I am going to say it can.

It just takes time, Little Pumpkin. Time, love, grace, and maybe you need to forgive someone--but we don't need to talk about that right now, if the pain is still too fresh. And judging from the size of the lightening bolt through the heart, I am going to say it is.

But you won't always feel this way, Little Pumpkin.

Oh, and do you know what else Halloween means?

Besides that no-brainer of a decision we have to make each time this year?

Really? Trick or treat? I get to choose? Cause I am pretty sure that most of the time, I don't. And I am also pretty sure that the tricks seem to be running rampant lately while the treats are a little less forthcoming so I am gonna do something crazy here and say TREAT, you moron.


Sorry about that.

Because Halloween means the birthday of someone who not only gave me his nose, but it would seem the keen sense of smell that accompanies a nose with that particular shape as well.

So, thank you for the nose.

And I really love smelling roses. And hate smelling body odor. And because of you, I get to smell each of those things very well indeed.

Wait. That makes it sound like my pop smells like either roses or body odor, when in fact I have never experienced him to smell like either. What I mean, is that I inherited my Legolas-like sense of smell from him.

Oh, and thank you for all the years of love, humor, weirdness, and fun.

You are the best, pop.

Happy Birthday.

And Happy Halloween to all the rest of you. May I just suggest that like me, you also choose treat when posed with the age old dilemma.

Cause it's kind of the only way to go, I think.

Friday, October 30, 2009

how great thou art

Teach me a hymn, I entreated one day while we were driving in the car.

A hymn? Drew asked skeptically.

Yes, a hymn. I don't know any, you know.

And I didn't. Well, not unless you count Amazing Grace, which everybody knows anyway, so I don't.

See, I grew up in a church that sang songs more likely to be written by a guy sporting a pony tail and no shoes than anyone who had ever graduated with a masters degree in sacred music. And I love those simple songs we sang. All about hope, redemption, our need for a Savior, and who needs more than three or four chords in one song anyway?

But then I met Drew.

He grew up in a church with hymns. They sang them on Sunday mornings--and Wednesday nights, too, I'd imagine. They had books with notes written on the pages and people who read the notes with the text, singing harmonies because they were reading them and not just because they heard them somewhere in their head.

And it's not like I didn't know about hymns. I would hear them every once in a while and they would haunt me in a wonderful way. At funerals. At weddings. I even learned some in order to sing in my friend's Catholic wedding. And for me, discovering these old songs might be something like discovering your parent's old Beetles albums in the attic. This music that had been moving people for generations had finally reached me and I was entranced by the poetry of the text, glad to be another person to sing this song that had been so deeply worn in by many others before me.

So I started asking Drew to teach me some of those hymns. And though he was a little bewildered by my request at first, pretty soon he got into it too.

The first one he taught me was How Great Thou Art. The imagery in the lyrics is perfect. I loved the thought of connecting what we could see and hear with the wonder of who God is. It made creation personal. Like instead of just reading the newspaper, something that was for the masses, I was reading a letter, an encouraging letter that helped me believe. That helped me have hope.

And pretty soon we were both belting out that hymn in the car. He was holding the melody steady while patiently singing a certain section over and over again at my request so I could get my harmony just right.

And inside I felt a sense of wonder.

And lately, I have been playing this hymn over and over again. Sadly, I've had to trade the car for random closets and basements; Drew for my guitar. And I've also added some lyrics of my own, not because what they were wasn't perfect, but because it's how I am feeling right now, and so it helps.

(lyrics in bold are my own)

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
and then I know, my God, how great thou art

I see this world, and what a beautiful mess it is
and then I see the way you gently enter in
You take my heart, you hold all the million pieces
and then, my God, you make me whole again

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee
How great thou art, how great thou art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee
How great thou art, how great thou art

I look for signs, for some kind of reassurance
and then I see the mountains in the distance
and I believe, I take creation's word for it
for everything I see speaks of a God who makes a difference

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee
How great thou art, how great thou art
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee
How great thou art, how great thou art...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

dinner at 11

All of you wonderful people who have homes and kitchens and front doors with real keys which you regularly use might not realize it, but goodness, staying in a home makes a difference.

A heck of a difference.

It's not that hotels don't have their charm. I certainly don't mind a good continental breakfast, especially if it holds the added lure of a waffle maker, one of the few things that might actually drag me out of bed during the part of day that is still classified as morning. But hotels can get old. The paper thin walls. The roommates that you hope don't snore. The maids that are constantly trying to barge in, though I realize that "barging in" is just part of their job description.

Anyway, this past week I have had the luxury of staying in a real, honest to goodness home here in Calgary. A friend's mom has been kind enough to open her house to a few of us, even offering us our own keys and bedrooms, respectively.


So we had just a few people over for a real dinner last night.

John Legend was singing in the background and when he got tired Nickel Creek jumped right in; and all the while we were busy in the kitchen. My dear friend Ian, who is a master chef in his own right, had already prepared some spaghetti and delicious sauce the night before, and Emily had baked a cake while I had made some frosting. We also made sure we had everything we needed for salad, garlic bread, and of course, wine.

Well, I guess the only thing you need to make sure you have in order to have wine is wine--and actually, our guests supplied that.

But here we are. Stirring, icing, warming, buttering, pouring. Taking advantage of this beautiful kitchen, wearing no shoes and not thinking a thing about audiences or leotards or God I hope I get it.
It was dinner among friends.
With everyone chipping in.

And every beautiful cake needs a garnish, right?

So I might have taken a little spider from the halloween decorations currently gracing my dressing room.
He might have happily sat on top of our cake.

Our hummingbird cake.*

*no hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this cake.

And what a delicious three tiered beauty it turned out to be.
But more than anything else, the feeling of family, of community, was maybe the sweetest thing of the night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

you make everything alright

So here's another song.

And yeah, that new-to-me green sweatshirt is something I have a hard time not wearing lately. I'm like that, you know. Get something new and I want to wear it again. And again and again. A couple weeks ago it was this blue and white plaid shirt that a friend gave to me--I literally wore it three days in a row, had to pack it to go to another city and so forgot about it, but then rediscovered it as I was unpacking and put it right back on again.

But not before I asked my roommates if they remembered this (as I held up my plaid shirt for them to see).

You mean the one you just wore last week for like days and days in a row? they asked.

I took that to mean that yeah, they remembered it.

Anyway, this song is called You Make Everything Alright.

Though maybe that's hyperbole because nobody ever does, you know. Make everything alright. There are some people who come close but even they hurt you sometimes. Still, it's nice to escape into songs about perfection. Because every once in a while, there are moments--glimpses--of just that. And you close your eyes and tell yourself that this, this is finally a really good scene in your story. And you try to build a little house right there because you don't ever want to move from that spot. But eventually the fluidity of life catches up with you; one day you go home to that house you worked so hard to build upon that one perfect moment and see that there is an eviction sign and the people who lived there with you have already taken their things and gone.

And now it's your turn to go too.

And hopefully you'll see them in the next perfect moment.

And you'll try to not to be too surprised to see them in those painful moments too.

Because they'll probably be present in both kinds.

Because it takes all moments to make your story.

But this, this is a sweet song--a happy song.

one cigarette

Tonight I was backstage signing posters for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids when my friend Joey told me I had to read something. I made some dumb joke in response and he reiterated that I really had to read it.

Okay, I will, I said nonchalantly, most of my energy going to making that large J followed by a lot of squiggles and the even larger L followed by yet more squiggles. Yes, my signature needs work. But it's not work I like to do, not when there are 100+ posters a pop yet again staring me in the face.

But Joey was not taking no for an answer, Now. You need to read it now.

Well I'm busy doing something for people with AIDS, what are you doing? After informing me that he had already signed those posters and done his part, I decided to humor him and read what had gotten his attention.

I present: fan mail.

Well not exactly fan mail, I guess.

Okay, not even close.

Here goes...

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a 29 year old female who loves attending your Broadway through Canada productions. I was appalled to smell cigarette smoke during "A Chorus Line" during the Saturday, October 17 show in the afternoon. There were comments coming from one of the actresses during the show saying she needed a smoke break, but then she didn't leave the stage so I figured that was it, and it was just part of her character. But then a while later she lit up on the stage.

In today's world of anti-smoking campaigns and the fight against cancer, I was surprised that she didn't just "act-out" the smoking, but that she actually "smoked" a real cigarette. The part that disturbed me the most was that we were sitting in the 4th row of the mezzanine and we could actually smell the cigarette smoke a few minutes later.

I realize that it's one cigarette and no, one cigarette isn't going to kill me, but the point is that we should be allowed to attend these performances in a smoke-free environment, right?

Then they had the nerve after the show to ask us to donate money to some of their charities--one of them being for cancer.

When my friends and colleagues asked me how I liked "A Chorus Line" I didn't tell them about the actors, dancing, or singing. I told them about how I was at the NAC and I could not believe that I had smelled cigarette smoke during the show.

So there it is. Yowza. I can maybe see where she is coming from, and I don't know--perhaps somebody she loved passed away from lung cancer, making any smell of smoke instantly give her a visceral reaction that encompasses all.

Or maybe she just doesn't get the idea of story.

Of characters that make that story come to life.

Or of the fact that we are depicting a story that involves dancers in the seventies and let me tell you, a lot of them smoked. In fact, a lot of them did a lot more than smoke and the fact that one lone cigarette (which is herbal, by the way, and if anyone cares at all) made it into a scene is pretty tame in comparison to what could be there.

Not that I am saying that cigarettes are cool or good for you or that I am buying them for my nieces and nephews for Christmas. No, I actually hate the smell too. But this cigarette is a part of Sheila's story. She's a stressed out, jaded, aging dancer who's talking about the business and how precarious it is. She lights up. Because it's part of her character. It's what Sheila would do.

Therefore the actress who plays Sheila does it.

See, story--any good story--is not just about perfection or always making the right choices or how one day you baked a cake and then walked your dog, though those are two perfectly lovely things to do and if you ever want to bake a cake for me and then invite me to walk your dog, I am totally in. But story involves conflict. It's creating scenes that are memorable. Sheila lighting up during the alternative scene--actively portraying her need to de-stress in what is supposed to be the great conflict or climax of A Chorus Line--makes sense. And obviously, it's memorable since it's the freaking only thing this young lady even mentioned to anyone who asked her about the show: that cigarette.

Even the Bible is totally offensive in some places. Because it tells a story of humans and let's face it, we mess up. A lot. But, it's memorable. It's not tame-not at all--but it sticks, because the stories talk about everything, the good and the bad, making it authentic. It tells about the screwing up and the grace that comes afterward.

And well, the cigarette? It's a part of the story that we are telling every night.

And no, the point of the cigarette is not that we think everyone should smoke because shriveled lungs are so cool; the point of the cigarette is to show that Sheila, like all of the rest of us, is scared. Worried about the future. Wondering where the next job, the next paycheck will come from.

And honestly, simply talking about it is something, yes; but there's power in showing it.

And come on, ONE cigarette at the very end of the show made her forget about the hilarity that is SING?!?!

Okay, just joking.

But seriously, a lot of other good stuff goes on during that two hours; I have a hard time believing it was all trumped by that cigarette. It must have been the fact that it was herbal--those things pack a punch.

Monday, October 26, 2009

calgary goodness

Today was a doozy.

But a good doozy.

I think the dooziness was mostly due to only having slept about two hours last night. So when my alarm clock greeted me at 6:45 this morning I wasn't exactly enthralled with fact that my day had already begun. Well, except for the fact that this particular day was taking me far from Saskatoon and so in that sense, it couldn't start soon enough.

The airport was made a little brighter by the fact that I got some Tim Horton's hot chocolate, which is some of the best around, in my opinion. And the sad news is that I am hardly ever around Timmy Ho Ho's (which is what we affectionately call it), so I try to take advantage of the fine establishment while here in Canada.

But a few hours later when I landed in Calgary, that hot chocolate was long gone. I was hungry, exhausted, and cold. I was a total doozy. A personified doozy. Still, a good meal and a walk around this lovely town did me wonders. See, I am staying at a friend's mom's house in the Kensington part of Calgary and it is absolutely magical. Adorable. Artsy. Full of consignment shops.

Which is where I scored this sweatshirt.
$18 worth of warmth and verdant stripes. Not to mention a big old collar. Yes.

And then, shoved onto the lowest shelf at my feet, a bit of robin's egg blue caught my eye.
Another find. This time something Kenneth Cole had made. And for $30 I walked out of the store with it, thanking Mr. Cole for his use of blue and yellow and the way it so easily carries a wallet and lip gloss and one elementary school picture of a tow-headed Drew that I keep with me at all times.

But it's kind of weird when people ask me if I have any pictures of my husband and I hesitantly pull out this wallet sized photo of a first grader.

I make sure to tell them that he's grown up since then.

Cause, gross.

And sorry to end on a downer, but one of my strings on my guitar broke tonight and I am so bummed. Seriously, that thing brings me so much joy right now and it feels like a friend just suddenly left. I don't know how to restring a guitar and at this point I don't even know where a music store is to buy some strings.

I know, google search, blah blah blah, but still.

What a beating.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

sometimes I run out of things to say

I am pretty sure that a guitar is maybe my best purchase I have ever made. This includes the recent maternity unitard that actually isn't a maternity unitard that I acquired from Lululemon. And this also includes the shirt I just bought at a thrift store that was so perfect for my Halloween costume that I decided to overlook the fact that it is a maternity XL, pretty much the largest women's shirt I could find, and will simply jerry-rig it to make it work, Tim Gun style.

But the shoes to go with it.

They might not be able to be made to work, sorry to say.

They are a little too tight in the toes and I am just past the point in my career of being a woman where I want to sacrifice foot comfort for vanity. Even costume vanity.

Good thing they were $3.99.

But back to the guitar.

Bear in mind that I am not a guitarist. Not really. I am a pianist who bought a guitar seven or so weeks ago so I could write in my room.

Or in a stairwell.

But I wouldn't mind being a guitarist at some point. It's a beautiful instrument with all those hard curves and the strings and the sound of them sliding between chord changes.

Anyway, this is a song I recently wrote...I don't have a title yet, and it's probably still a work in progress, but here you go anyway. Oh, and (spoiler alert!) I especially like the part at the end when the security guard walks through...


Our physical therapist watched the show tonight.

And the thing about your physical therapist watching the show is that you're all of the sudden seeing your body the way he does. You can no longer just stand and bevel. Now you have to give a slight arch to your back in order to stabilize those pesky hips that keep wanting to go out of alignment.

And remember when a kick was just a kick? Yeah, that was nice. Now, you're pointedly aware of the way your quad takes over what your hip flexor should be doing, causing the quad to get too tight and your knee to stop tracking correctly and shoot! what did the physical therapist say about always rolling out my I.T. band? Did I do that today...?!

But standing. I mean, standing should be fine. I've been doing it since I was what--a year old? That's a lot of practice. Oh, except that my right hip is too far forward, except for that. So even when I am standing during the show, I am left to wonder if my therapist is analyzing my hip, mentally tsk-tsking as, with the same ability to see minute discrepancies from far distances that is reserved for an eagle, a dance captain, and your mom, he notices that once again I am not standing as I should.

Though goodness knows I try.

And goodness knows I love physical therapy.

That is, I love it when they aren't telling me that I need to eat more hamburgers or that, upon a cursory glance, I probably have a stress fracture and other encouraging diagnoses of that nature.

And honestly, at the end of the day what I usually want is a good, deep tissue massage. So you can understand my disappointment when, after walking in and laying down on the table hoping for some hands-on treatment, they simply show me some leg lifts to do. Or yet again another lunge. A LUNGE? Really? The same one I did in jazz class in 5th grade is the secret to my feeling better and you have a college degree in order to tell me this?

Or how about the ones that Just. Keep. Talking. And sometimes they are even so into whatever it is they are saying that they STOP MOVING THEIR HANDS ON WHATEVER SPOT THAT HURTS LIKE THE DICKENS, pausing for effect when the only real effect it has is 10 seconds less of pain relief.

And then there was the physical therapist who, after showing me a few stretches and exercises, told me that I still had five minutes left of my session and suggested that I take advantage of the roller that was in the corner.

Oh, that roller? The one that is just like the four rollers that our company already provides for us, making it so I am totally free to use one of them on my own time?


This is why I loved the one physical therapy session I had in Japan. The guy could barely speak any English. Score. His room was so small, there was only room for himself, a massage table, and unfortunately nothing else, leaving the rollers out of the equation. Score. And he massaged me nice and deep for a full half hour. Score. And his diagnosis? I need more massages.


And I'll totally work on that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

28 shows

I have 28 shows left of A Chorus Line.

Even as I type this, it's hard to really comprehend. Already, there are some misty eyes in the cast as I look around the stage during the show. If the last few times we've had closing performances for cast members are any indication, I will probably cry like a baby at this final closing.

But then again, this time I am more than ready to go home.

Maybe that will make a difference.


But on the other hand, as much as we all talk about what a small world this business really is, how we're gonna see each other in New York, attend each other's openings and all that, this is never going to happen again.

This group of special people. Traveling together. Working together. Laughing together. Commiserating over how ridiculous an eleven 0'clock matinee really is and come on, Equity, we don't even get overtime for this breakfast show? Crying together. Divulging to each other that things aren't good, that life has recently become the kind of story over which you shake your head, you wonder how the heroine is ever gonna pull through, and yet you all pull on your gold hats and sequined tights and you smile for the audience and you sell it anyway. Again and again, you sell it and find some reprieve as you get lost in a different story on stage every day.

There is a bond that forms slowly, gradually, and after a while you realize that you love these people. After all the early morning bus calls to get to the airport God only knows much earlier than ever need be; the three weeks spent in Detroit that you managed to make fun despite it all; the notes, endless notes; the first wives club in which we all desperately miss our husbands, respectively; and please let's not forget Japan because that happened--after all this, something has happened and it's left a mark.

A good mark.

I will always love A Chorus Line.

But part of the reason that I don't want to re-sign this time is that I don't want to try to build all that with a new group of people. I don't want to look around and see the same costumes on the wrong people. I don't want to start over. I'm good. It's time to move on.

And I have 28 more shows to keep getting used to the idea of truly moving on. Another show. More gigs. Trading in The Alliance and creating a better, stronger alliance with my Drew.

It's time.

But that doesn't mean I won't cry like a baby when the time really does come, you know.

But until then, 28 shows, folks. 28 shows.

Friday, October 23, 2009

yep, this is what I thought was worth mentioning.

I am tired.

It's late.

And I might have just spent all of my creativity on the guitar during the past few hours.

But there are a couple of things worth mentioning right now. One is that I think security check points at airports should also be equipped with something to neutralize overly strong perfume. Because who wants to be trapped in a small compartment thousands of feet above land with the latest knock-off to whatever fragrance Fergie is currently marketing? And really who believes that any of these people--Britney, Jessica Simps (as P!nk would say), J.Lo--has much to do with the actual creation of their perfumes anyway? Doesn't that involve scientists in white lab coats who know something about formulas and the way these scents mix with those scents?

So, along with throwing away your bottle of water, making sure any liquid, gels, or other such substances are no more than three ounces and also stored securely in a plastic bag that somehow keeps everyone on the plane safe from those terrifying three ounce bottles, there should be a chamber of sorts for those who think, Only thing on my agenda today is a flight to Saskatoon--since this perfume bottle is just above 3 oz. I'll pour the WHOLE THING on my head and make sure not a drop is confiscated at security.

But little did they know about the newest anti-terrorist policy enacted in 2009. The Perfume Neutralizer. Maybe it's a powder, maybe it's a hose they walk through just like you did when you were a kid and it was August and your parents didn't have a pool either because weren't the dogs and cats and woods and stream enough? You seriously think you need a pool, too? When I was young a piece of bread was my dessert and I played racquet ball with my dog for entertainment and now you want a pool?!?!

And just for the record mom and pop, the dogs and cats and woods and streams were totally enough. And thank you.

But whatever the actual method the Perfume Neutralizer employs, everybody breathes easily in the plane because of it.

Couldn't it just be an addendum to the Clean Air Act? Wouldn't that be a good kind of pork barrel spending?

Oh, and one more thing worth mentioning.

Canada is absolutely lovely but it's dry as a bone here. And not just any bone, either. A bone that has been left out in the sun for weeks and even the marrow has dried up. Really, how do our lovely Northern neighbors even manage to keep skin over their dry bones? I put lotion on and the next moment, it's like it never happened at all and the only reason I know for sure that it has is because my tube of Aveeno is now almost empty.

But you wouldn't know it from my skin.

I need some moisture all up in here, folks.

Tonight I used some heavy-duty stuff provided by a friend and I am hoping it will put a dent in this dryness.

We shall see.

One last thing, promise.

We weren't sure what kind of audience we would have tonight here in rural Saskatoon, but they blew us away. They were wonderfully and appropriately vocal and right there with us from the first moment the lights came up to our final kick line.

So there you go, Saskatoon delivers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

jazz hands

If in fact everything we do on this earth acts like some kind of metaphysical boomerang and eventually returns to us, then somewhere along the way I did something right.

Because nobody sat next to me on today's flight.

That's right. No grumpy man to ask, do you mind? No commentary from the peanut gallery, remarking, "Boy, you sure do get comfortable!" after I have finally extricated myself from the pretzel-like position into which I had twisted my legs; and better yet, no fake smile in response. No inquisitive well-meaning person who, upon finding out why exactly I am going to Saskatoon in the first place, wants to know everything about this business, even the most insulting question: Do you get paid?

This isn't the peace corp, people.

Believe it or not, when we sign up to leave our homes and loved ones, we sort of expect a paycheck in return. And though we sing What I Did For Love every night, and sing it well, that doesn't preclude the fact that love isn't going to pay your mortgage. You can't send your credit card bills back with a kiss mark and a check for zero dollars. And though yes, we love this, we love it a lot more when it pays.

So here I am, allowing myself a good honest sprawl between two (count them: one, two!) chairs on this fine aircraft from Air Canada Jazz.

And no, that's not me being cute because I happen to like that style of dancing and don't even get me started on the music. That's really what it's called. Air Canada JAZZ. I was half hoping they'd bedazzle me with some jazz hands when I boarded the plane, but I suppose they have to save their fingers for beverage preparation and closing overhead compartments and um, the actual act of flying this plane. And I don't blame them.

But something else about jazz hands.

I dated a guy named John who was a fabulous musician. Actually, every guy I have ever dated has been a fabulous musician. All two of them. Well, three if you count the time I wasn't allowed to really date unless it was this one sweet guy who my parents' more than approved of, and so let me date him. But he was a fabulous musician too. Which wasn't my point--so let's get back on track here.

While I was dating John, my brother had written a musical. He cast it and rented a theater and directed it and everything. We were all gung-ho about it because honestly, it was great. Much better than a lot of crap poor actors are forced to learn and sell to audiences world wide. Now, I had always wanted to be in a musical, and though my brother knew this, what he needed more than one more person moonlighting on the stage was a pianist to accompany the show.

So I swallowed my disappointment, watched all my friends and siblings perform, and accompanied them with (mostly) a good attitude. I do have to say, though, that one total perk to being the maestro was the clothes. I didn't get it in my contract or anything like that, but upon finding out that I needed something respectable to wear for the performances, my mom sure did run to urban outfitters and buy me at least three black, adorable outfits.


Now who wishes they weren't in the spotlight, enjoying the accolades of the audience, but were instead seated at the piano, wearing an adorable new outfit? That's what I thought.

Anyway, there was this one song in the score that was all crazy and jazzy and have I mentioned before how I don't really read music so well? I play by ear mostly, can totally navigate through written chords, but will be reduced to plucking painfully slow if you put sheet music in front of me. So yeah, don't ask me to accompany you for an audition anytime soon. But, in order for me to help remember the feel for this one song, and because of the fact that the chords weren't as straight forward as they appeared, I wrote in big lettering on the top of the page,


and then proceeded to draw two sets of hands, fingers outstretched in a way that would make Corky Sinclair proud, in that classic jazz hand way.

This was my own score, so I never thought anyone would see my little reminder and didn't give it another thought other than to well, be reminded of the song's jazziness when I flipped to that particular page and saw the hands.

Until my boyfriend John came to the dress rehearsal.

John, piano genius, who sat right next to me and offered to turn pages.

And then when he saw those jazz hands...well, he laughed. And laughed some more. And wouldn't stop making jazz hands of his own. I guess he figured I could use some more reminders or something. Maybe my C's weren't sounding diminished enough or my blue notes weren't the exact right shade of blue.

He sort of made it up to me, though, when he sent me a card and compared me to a jazz chord. Nobody had ever done that before and I thought that if I were going to be anything other than me, a jazz chord would maybe be perfect. It was a sweet compliment and he didn't even mention those jazz hands in that card once.

Though we both knew he could have.

Monday, October 19, 2009

what it looks like

Today looked like this. At least, a part of it did.

The mall didn't, though. That looked more like this awesome unitard that I bought on sale at Lululemon. Hanging on the rack, I could have sworn it was a maternity unitard. But after being convinced that it wasn't (because really, how many pregnant women have you seen willingly parade around in a unitard? But then I thought maybe that was why it was on sale, you know?), and told by a sales lady that it looks much better on, I decided to try it for myself.

And she was over the moon right.

It's organic cotton, pre-shrunk twice (and this over achiever likes the sound of that!), and just as comfortable as it is attractive.

And totally not going to be seen on a baby shower gift table any time soon.

Also, since auditions are going to be on the agenda for me very soon, I like to have something new and snazzy to wear to them.

Today also looked like this.
Like yellow leaves to match my yellow scarf to match my yellow Betsy Johnson socks that my dear friend Betsy Adkins Johnson gave me. And I know, it's cute that their names are sort of matching. Just like my yellow scarf and those leaves.

And my yellow socks. Ah, Betsy Johnson socks, in case you forgot already.

And then another part of my day, my life actually, looks like this.
Like my favorite pair of high tops EVER on their very last legs. See the sad holes? And where the little silver circle things have come lose and climbed up the shoelaces? This makes me so sad. I am looking for their replacements, but feel deep in my heart that they are irreplaceable. The shape. The checkers. The purple swoosh. The grey and white...other parts. I love them so much and they've literally walked with me around the world and back.

I found a pair of purple sneaks with light blue accents today that could be contenders, but they just aren't the same. The lady at the store assured me that they would break in and become soft too, but you know how it is with new sneakers. They make you feel like you have one toe too many, like your ankles are two sizes too large, like the soles are so immovable you can no longer roll through your feet and are reduced to walking like a platypus, just slapping those feet from heel to toe onto the floor in order to get anywhere at all.


What's a girl to do?


I've been writing a lot of music lately.

I don't know if any of it is really good, but it helps me and doesn't hurt anybody, so I will keep doing it.

Somebody said once that, after experiencing pain, you either get better or you get bitter. I really want to choose the former. And I also like to think that I have that choice, that we all do. It's nothing so tangible as typing these words onto blogger, but in a way, we write our stories. We don't write what the supporting characters in our stories do or say, as much as God knows I'd like to sometimes, but we do write the main character's story.

We write ourselves.

I have also been thinking a lot about the difference between reacting and acting. Like how the former is subjective to what is going on around us--read: not in our control. Which ultimately means that, since our choices are in direct correlation to somebody else's choices, we are not in control of our own choices. Which leads to us doing things we never thought we'd do before. Not everybody ends up in the kind of extreme situations we hear about on the news by happenstance. Somewhere along the way they decide to give up their autonomy, to be like a wave tossed by the sea and when the sea turns angry, they turn too.

But then there is acting.

Choosing how I will act, what I will say, who I will love, and where I will be no matter what anybody around me does. It's not exactly natural, I think. It's easy to simply put back into the universe what has come my way. But what if the things that have come my way aren't good? Do I then become like them and return the favor?

No, that leads to bitterness.

Not betterness.

And that's not a word.

But all this to say, I am really trying to deal with pain--any kind of pain--in a healthy way. To talk to trusted people. Write music. Pray. Read good, beautiful books. Walk thirteen miles in the wee hours of the morning without any ID or phone. Okay, so the jury is still out on whether or not that last one is healthy, but...Isn't that at least exercise? Which most doctors would say was healthy, right?

But music.

It helps me a lot. And when all I really want to do is walk into a wall as hard as I can, it's nice to be able to pick up a guitar and sing instead. It's healthy. It's better.

What helps you?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

stairwells aren't private but they are isolated

Thank God for hackles and the way they raise.

Because mine were put to use tonight.

At least, they were if I actually have hackles. Or is it just dogs that have hackles? Well, whatever--something told me that a quick exit was in order, be it intuition, common sense, or just the fact that I was outnumbered in a stairwell with two foreign men who admittedly had had too much to drink and wanted me to sing for them like a trained monkey and yes, I realize monkeys cannot sing but just go with me on the simile, okay?


Oh, but the moments leading up to the hackles...Between shows today I had some inspiration on the piano and I wrote maybe two thirds of a song which I am excited about. I also discovered a big difference between the ushers in the states and the ushers in Canada: Canadian ushers are young and good looking and could totally be mistaken for models on their way to a shoot. Not quite as good as being mistaken for a cabin crew on a plane, which is what we got mistaken for the other day, but hey--you can't win them all, Canada; you can't win them all. But enough about the ushers who look like models and oh yeah, don't even have to pay for their health care, poor things.

And back to the song.

So after the show tonight, and then after watching a movie with friends, and then after eating some old gingersnaps and even older popcorn, I happily stole away to my stairwell, guitar in hand, ready to work on that song.

And I was doing just that, feeling the groove, getting good and acquainted with the melody and lyrics, when I suddenly heard a door open below me. I stopped strumming and singing and heard an accented man's voice call up, Please don't stop; you sound so great...

Um, okay. Thanks! I yelled back and hoped he would go away so I could keep working.

I started playing again, only to hear the same thing, or a derivation of it, in a few minutes. This time I did not even stop. But he climbed the stairs and peeked up at me. Great, I thought, Now we have made eye contact and all I want is to get away alone and play.

Again, he told me how good it sounds as if I didn't get that he thought that after the first couple times he said it, and leaves.

But as luck would have it, he came back up those stairs just a few moments later, this time with gifts! Oh joy. He offered me a beer and I said no thanks and I was hoping that was that. But it wasn't that because then he came back with a friend. A friend whose birthday it was, apparently. A friend who had drank too much, or at least that is what they informed me.

They came up those stairs, the one man telling the other, See, didn't I tell you I would show you where to find some great music? And they were just standing two feet from me, telling me to please don't stop on their account and that they don't have a radio and all they want to do is listen to me play because I sound so good.

And that was nice of them to say, but at that point it was me in a stairwell with two foreign men who were drunk. The fact that one was having a birthday was irrelevant. People have friends to make birthdays special; that wasn't my job. Everything within me was telling me to leave five minutes ago.

So I did.

Well, not five minutes ago, not having perfected the science of time travel and all, but I left hastily. And awkwardly. I even banged my guitar as I stood up, making quite a ruckus as I told them that I really needed to go check on my friends (who were doing just fine in our room, laying in their respective beds and watching TV or on their computers, I was sure). I even managed to yell out Happy Birthday! right before the door slammed behind me because even though it wasn't my job to make his birthday happy, I still wanted it to be happy.

And when I got back to our room and told my friends about the ordeal they all informed me that they would have gladly taken the beer. But that might be the difference--or at least one of them, anyway--between men and women. A guy will gladly take a beer offered from a strange man in a stairwell at 2 am in the morning and simultaneously thank his lucky stars for his good fortune and rekindle his faith in the altruism of mankind.

A girl just shouldn't take that beer. Not in the stairwell. Not at 2am. Not with two strange men. Her hackles will raise and she should just get the heck out of dodge.

Friday, October 16, 2009

blue note

Sometimes, when the boys are all home too, I take my guitar and steal away to a nearby stairwell. I make sure to go armed with my airplane neck pillow to sit on because that floor gets harder with every minute that ticks by and always, I make sure to bring something on which I can record lyrics, be it IPhone or journal or my big Book Of Songs.

And tonight, I discovered a new chord.

When I told this to Drew he quickly asked me if I had maybe finally found that elusive H#. Hahahahahahaha, what a smarty pants. So I guess I should specify that I discovered an old chord that is new to me.

There's a note in the chord that is surprising to the ear. It's not exactly congruent and I like it better because of it. And it's also not a trick; it's unexpected, but truly does create something beautiful. Harmonious, even. And I played this chord over and over again because maybe, just maybe, I was hoping that I could get a clue from it.

Maybe that surprising note hints at the grand mystery of life.

Like the part when nothing sounds the way I thought it would; and the melody of the song isn't one that I want to hear, let alone commit to memory and recite day after day. But then it turns out to be maddeningly catchy and soon after that, the maddening part goes away a little bit and is replaced by a peace.

A catchy, flies-in-the-face-of-how-I-should-feel peace.

Or maybe just a resignation.

But whatever it is, there is the hope that it could lead to a beautiful sound. A harmony that soars. And somewhere among these notes that one would would never think to get along, they form a chord.

A beautiful, out of the blue chord.

And a girl in Canada discovers it for herself one night while sitting on a pillow that was always intended to be wrapped around a neck and she feels better for it.

Or something like that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

it looks like fall, it feels like winter, and I am random.

It's funny, it looks like autumn, the leaves are all lit up like christmas morning and all that, but it's about 20 or so degrees outside.

But I guess, technically, it is still fall.

At least in the sense that the canal is not yet frozen over.
Word on the street is that once it does freeze, everybody skates their way to work.

I wouldn't mind living in that world. I am thinking it looks something like Candy Land. You know, the part towards the end with the snowy queen princess lady. And you'll skate right past the Peppermint Stick Forrest and right on over the Gum Drop Mountains and you'll be the first to reach the Candy Land Castle and you'll win. You'll win at life, just like that. And maybe Ottawa throws in some extra large candy cane pillars for good measure and a hint of color. Canada already has free health care, so a few pieces of candy thrown into the mix for their citizen's enjoyment wouldn't surprise me one bit.

And I am enthralled by the antics of the little black squirrels I see here.
I followed this guy for a while, trying to get a good shot of him. He finally obliged, nut in his mouth and everything.

And contrary to what this picture portrays, this squirrel is not some sort of terrifying demon squirrel.
Well, at least as far as I know. He seemed quite normal.

Except for the red eyes, of course.

But his head didn't do a full rotation, nor did he levitate or vomit all over the park. At least not during the few minutes I followed him around.

And it has occurred to me that a massage might be in order. I have been under some stress lately, and apparently I carry my stress just fine in my shoulders and neck. Because when my friend Amos simply put his hands on my shoulders all parts of me started melting in gratitude. And then he started kneading and it was heaven as he moved my muscles around and then he started pressing and it was hell as he targeted the particularly painful spots.

And then we started chatting and I did a terrible thing. Because right when he asked if we could go on a date at some point, I turned my back to him to say good night to my friends at another table. So it sounded something like this:

(boldly and enthusiastically in tone) Maybe we could go on a (at this point he sees me turn my back, and so his words fade into just a whisper and I barely even hear the word) date sometime...

Luckily my brain did that instant replay thing that allows you to quickly process what just happened a second ago, and I turned right back to him as quickly as any torso has turned since God decided to give torsos the ability to turn and, amid peals of laughter, told him that I would love to go on a date with him and I was so sorry that I turned my back at that most vulnerable of moments.

He understood.

And we laughed.

But don't worry, the date would be far from romantic.

And my roommate must be watching youtube because only a few moments ago I could hear the yip yip yip yip yip yip from those alien puppets from Sesame Street, but that quickly turned into some eighties pop ballad and now?

Single Ladies.

Of course.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

today i ate ice cream in canada

I just finished putting the toilet seat back down where it belongs which is about right since I live with three boys at the moment.

Three great boys.

And these three great boys are currently out drinking beer and doing other such manly things, leaving the place to me. So other than righting the toilet seat, what do I do? Only exactly what I want. And I don't mind this at all.


I had ice cream tonight.

Not news worthy, you think? How is this relevant, you might wonder? What does it have to do with boys, or toilet seats, or...Actually yes, let's move on to ice cream because anything, anything is better than toilet seats.

I agree. Which is why I mentioned the ice cream.

But see, this is something. The fact that I ate ice cream, I mean. Since I've been feeling sad I haven't been able to eat anything tasty. Anything as good as dessert. It's a weird thing I have. I guess I associate ice cream and other such treats with celebrations or something, feeling good, so when I feel like I don't have much to celebrate that's the first thing to go.

But tonight, Brandon ordered ice cream and not just any ice cream either. I mean, if he had ordered something having to do with cherries or maybe even something dumb and don't-even-bother like sorbet, than I totally wouldn't have even paused. But he ordered it just the way I like it.

Vanilla ice cream. Peanut butter sauce. Reese's Pieces cups.

And that gave me pause.

So there I was, thinking about it and wondering why I couldn't just have some too. It's not like eating ice cream meant that I was declaring to the whole world that everything was exactly how I wanted it and please, God, don't bother to change a thing cause I am fine, really, just freaking fine.

Maybe eating ice cream could just be more like...I don't know, eating ice cream. With lots of peanut butter involved. So that's what I did. And I didn't go crazy like finish it or anything--I mean, come on, I'm not about to start waving poms-poms in the air as a cheerleader for the state of my life right now, either--but still, I ate some.

And it was good.

Moving on.

Really, who says that? Other than Queen Elizabeth, I mean. And she doesn't even have to mention the down the street part, since she gets to wake up and enjoy her scones and tea under some pretty hefty turrets, pinnacles, and towers every morning. But now I can say, You want to meet at the mall? Sure. No problem. Let me just walk past the castle real quick and I'll see you in a jiff. Just like that.

And then there's this building in which Parliament holds their sessions.
Because Ottawa is totally the capitol of Canada.

And I actually didn't even have to google that one.

True story.

And I saw this bit of sunlight gracing the top of this tree and felt better.
Not about anything in particular, exactly, but better.

And the good news is that sometimes that happens. Sometimes you just feel better.

And some more good news is that I love Canada. Love it. It is clean, the air is crisp, the leaves are ablaze with color, and I am walking by castles daily. Other than the small nuisance of not having the use of my cell phone, what's not to love about this place?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a long post in which I say a lot, but there are pictures for those of you who might not like to read so much

This is me and JR. And let me tell you what I like about JR. When most of us would start sweating (or itching if you happen to be me and instead of having the normal reaction to heat by sweating, you just start itching and yes, it's as fun as it sounds)--but when most of us are sweating because we have to call our Production Stage Manager and tell him that we are not going to be in the show that night; and though we have spent all the night before awake, composing a long diatribe of why we simply cannot perform, be it the ankle that was sprained, the hamstring that was pulled, the hip flexor that was strained, the throat that is sore, the high note that is just not there, or some sort of perfect storm that is a dreaded combination of all of the above, we still manage to feel like we are going into a battle lacking proper ammunition and what if he doesn't believe me? or what if he makes me feel so guilty that I do the show anyway and then develop nodes and my whole career is shot--all because when I called my stage manager to call out I ended up calling in because of the guilt?!?!

But not JR.

He doesn't have the time for such rigmarole.

And though he doesn't call out very often, when he does, he simply calls our stage manager and says four simple words.

Guilt free.

Excuse free.

Must be nice.

The words, you wonder?

I ain't coming in.

And there you go, easy-peesy, get her done. And I am pretty sure he's not sweating or itching but simply drawing a bath and looking forward to whatever book he's reading that night.

Like I said, must be nice.


Now, I bet you think that the cast of A Chorus Line spends all our time at opening night parties and blah blah blah.

This is just not true.

Sometimes we go to birthday parties too.

And tonight there was a fun one with a MadMen theme and we were all encouraged to dress the part.

I like our color scheme, too. We make a nice palette.

And here I am with Ian.
Now let me be a little bit honest and tell you that I am going through a hard time right now. Being totally honest would be telling you that I crapped my pants in first grade, and not knowing what else to do, just walked around in my dirty, crappy pants. I then tried to pretend I didn't crap my pants by waving my hand back and forth in front of my nose as if to say P. U!!! and looking around for the offender along with all of my other classmates standing in line with me, coming back in from recess. My teacher, Mrs. Smith, eventually sniffed me out and no amount of avid and desperate hand waving in front of my nose could convince her sense of smell otherwise. She knew it was me and I knew it was me and that was that.

My punishment was a trip to the school's clothes closet which is a nice way of saying Ugly Old Clothes We Keep Around And Force the Kids Who Crap Their Pants To Wear.

It was Wilmington Christian School's own version of the Scarlet Letter.

And the fact that the particular pair of pants I was handed from the clothes closet were not only too short for my long skinny legs, but also the fly was busted and wouldn't zip(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), made it that much brighter and more noticeable of a scarlet letter, so thanks, WCS. Thanks a lot.

That would be total honesty, and I think that story is enough of that for tonight, don't you?

So I will simply be a little bit honest and say that I am going through a hard time.

A busted, stupid walk-around-with-crap-in-your-pants-and-not-even-that-could-compare hard time.

And my friends--well, they know it. Cause I've been a little bit honest with them, too, and told them.

And tonight, during the alternative scene in which we are all so worried for poor Paul who fell during the tap combination and oh no! is that the end of his career? and because we think that, we then start to think oh no! what would we do if we couldn't dance?

And the mood is generally introspective and sad and we all wonder how long our careers will be and how, exactly, one measures success anyway and since you might not be able to measure it so easily--at least not in the way you can measure one cup of milk when you are baking biscuits--then will we know success when we see it?

And sometimes people cry during this scene and sometimes Ian and I make faces at each other.

Yes, I just said that.
Oops, now you know.

But tonight, as I was expecting maybe a silly face as I looked across the stage in Ian's general direction, I saw something that surprised me.

A tear rolled down his cheek.

And all thoughts of silly faces were put to rest.
For the time being.

And then after the show we were talking and I asked him why he got so sad during the alternative scene, what he was thinking and all that. Cause no, it couldn't possibly be that the guy was acting!!! Okay, it could, because he is good and talented like that, but this time it wasn't.

He looked at me and said, I thought about you. I thought about how you are going through a really hard time and that makes me sad. That made me cry tonight.

And suddenly I was at once humbled and lifted up in a way that those who feel poignantly loved can understand.

And I like the part of the story when friends reach out to me with love and compassion. It does make things better.

Kind of.

Friday, October 9, 2009

strider vs. the aurochs

My parents have a mythical beast.

His name is Strider and I really don't think he belongs here.

At least not in the way that refrigerators, computers, and laundry shoots do.

See, once I read a book called The Song of Albion and in it this ancient creature who no longer exists in our world, an aurochs, had wandered from its world through a hole in a cairn into England. And the reason I say this is that Strider kind of reminds me of an aurochs.

Not that I've seen one, but still.

Only an aurochs probably wouldn't sit in my lap in a car.
An aurochs probably understands that he is not a lap dog.
And an aurochs probably doesn't have such a nice goofy, tongue-just-lolling smile.
Or such kissable, whiskery cheeks.
So no, I've never been squished by an aurochs, but I've totally been squished by Strider and I would venture to say that the two probably don't differ all that much.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Yesterday I spent three whole hours all by myself at Borders.

Okay, so not quite by myself. I parked myself at the apex of a small triangle of overstuffed chairs and the three of us were only too happy to politely ignore each other in shared communal silence.

I read a book. A whole book. Well I skimmed some of it, but got into the anecdotes that described how Brenda would often accuse her husband of simply lazing away the evening in his favorite chair in front of the tv and not investing in the family. But once she started changing her prose to "I am so grateful that you work so hard every day for our family and are such a good provider. I can see that all that hard work makes you tired at the end of the day. What do you think about scheduling some family time together in the evening when you feel up to it?" her husband started responding to the praise and actually initiating family time.

And what do you know, but Brenda and her husband were much happier.

I'm guessing the kids were, too, though nobody mentioned them.

I get into those kinds of stories, and yeah it was a book on marriage. How to be a good wife. Or how to be a better wife, since I'd venture to say that I am not half bad right now. Though I guess I am not the one who makes that decision.

But no, I didn't buy that book.

I did, however, buy Donald Miller's (Blue Like Jazz) new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I'd already read the first 30 pages online, because I LOVE this guy's writing that much, and not buying the book, hardback or no, really wasn't even an option for me.

Let me tell you, it was a good decision.

It's cutting into my David Sedaris reading, true, but I will get back to you, David; I will, my word is good. Especially if you keep writing about Helen who lives on the floor above you and curses like a sailor and gives you sewing machines just to spite the guy who lives above her who actually wants a sewing machine. Cause these stories that narrate the human experience keep bringing me back for more.

But back to Donald Miller. Now he's writing all about story, what makes a good story and what doesn't; why a movie in which a man really wants a volvo and finally, right before the credits role, drives off the used car lot with a volvo doesn't actually make for the kind of story that moves you so much.

And Don talks about how he goes to this conference in Hollywood and a famous man lectures about the arc, essence, and structure of story for thirty-six hours, leaving Don and his friend with this:

"A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story."

And I am still just under the first 60 pages, but already he has mentioned how we can choose to live a good story. That everybody has a story, but they all vary drastically. And that the ultimate theme of our story really is under our control.

And this, already, has brought me hope.

Here's to another 200 pages of more good stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

and this is why I take a shower

There was a time when I didn't take many showers. You might think this is gross, but I will tell you it was medicinal. See, I was the lucky girl born with super dry and itchy skin and bathing just made it worse. So the doctor told my mom not to worry about it too much. To skip bath days every once in a while. Or every once in a lot.

And so I did.

I specifically remember at one point thinking, It's been two weeks since I've bathed. Huh.

And then I probably went to find a cat to play with or a frog to catch or an underground fort to hang out in because I wasn't bothered by it so much.

And even as an adult, I don't shower as much as some. I've been known to skip a day or two. Luckily, I am not a stinky person and hardly ever sweat a drop so it's not like it's a big problem.

But lately--well, lately, I've been living for the shower.

And I like it super hot.
Burn off your skin hot.
Tingling on your scalp hot.

I like the feeling of the water running over me, my mascara melting away, my hair, which can sometimes go every which way, just sticking together, finally united and off my forehead, off my face; I like the tiny space I find myself in, the way that I am totally in control of my environment, the locked door I am behind; I like the steam billowing around me, the acoustics giving my voice reverb, the thick soap suds hiding me; I like it so much right now that I think it's a kind of strange therapy. There isn't much talking, nobody asks me soul-searching questions, but there's plenty of singing and thinking and heat and a feeling of clean that pervades.

Which is why I took two today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

the deeper magic

Lately I've had this one phrase running through my mind. And no, it has nothing to do with the recent travesties committed against me at the Philadelphia Airport.

It has a lot to do with love; everything to do with love.

And it's a question, though not my question.

I am not going to pretend I am someone I am not; someone perfect or holy or even kind all the time (cause remember when I didn't even want to tell that man on the airplane, God bless you? yeah.)But I will say that I do think that God is real, that he cares about what goes on here, and more specifically, about our hearts.

And just lately I think he's been dropping this question in my mind, At what point does love run out?

And then actually wanting me to answer. And the thing about God is that he's really patient; I mean he's like a billion years old or something and he's never gonna die, he's got the time to wait for an answer.

And well, if love doesn't run out the first time somebody runs you over, leaving you gasping for breath at the pain and limping down a long road you didn't even know existed, does it run out the second time it happens?

I am going to say no.

And if it doesn't run out the first time, then it doesn't run out at all. Or at least it doesn't have to. The same kind of powerful forgiveness that took away your limp after your first wound is still here. Somehow. It's just as powerful. Somehow. It's an ever-present miracle and it's in high demand because to the same degree that we need it to heal us, we need it to heal those we hurt.

It's like the deeper magic.

You know, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.

Oh, you weren't raised on this story? Ok, let me explain a little.

There's this witch. A white witch, which doesn't make the fact that she is a witch any better. She's nasty, keeping the fair land of Narnia in winter, but never ever Christmas, which is just plain mean. Anyway, this one kid, Edmund, turns out to be a traitor against her, giving her power over him, according to the law of the land. So the White Witch declares: "That human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property."

But then this big beautiful lion, this perfect creature, Aslan, gives his life in Edmund's stead. And that act of pure love sparks something in motion that the simple law could never do. It brings life and freedom. It brings springtime to the land. It speaks of something else. Something better than the natural law, and here, after Aslan comes back to life, he explains it:

"...Though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

I desperately love the idea of death, that natural progression to all things on this earth, working backward.

It's sounds a lot like forgiveness to me. Like how when we're hurt, we want to lash back out. It's natural, it feels right. It's our right as the injured one.

And love at that moment feels all kinds of wrong and backward.

But maybe, just maybe it's the deeper magic. Maybe I can look further back than that which is obvious to all of us, to me.

Because I don't think that love runs out. Ever. At least that is the kind of world I want to live in. The kind of world where the deeper magic is at work and springtime breaks through the seemingly never ending winter.

Yes, there is pain. Yes, we are wronged, unjustly attacked, and must grieve over our losses. And yes, it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

But I want to look beyond that and see the deeper magic. I want to discover a love that doesn't run out. Which is so much easier to write than to live, but here's to trying.

Here's to trying.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

oh, flying.

I know why they won't let you check in for your flight. You're late! You. Are. Late...!!!

Said the man standing behind me while waiting at the Northwest counter. I looked into his light blue eyes and couldn't decide what was more annoying, the shade of his crystalline eyes or the jovial tone he used to inform me that I was late. And that's why I couldn't check in. Isn't that just hilarious?!?!

Bear in mind, I had not slept at all the night before. Not one wink. And sleep deprivation is a form of torture in some countries, you know. If sleep deprivation alone is a form of torture, then imagine what you get when you combine that with the Philadelphia Airport.

Saddam Hussein himself might not have been able to derive something so devilishly awful for his worst offenders.

And I am an artist, not a Green Beret or Navy Seal or whatever it is that you become after lots and lots of training in which the art of learning to survive torture is acquired.

Which is why I looked right into that man's annoyingly light blue eyes and asked him how exactly he thought that was going to help right now. Seriously, I said, I realize I am late. I KNOW this. How does it help to hear you tell me that? HOW?

He kept smiling and didn't even seem to blink, which would have been a nice reprieve from those eyes.

And I noticed he didn't have an answer.

Ma'am, the lady in blue who was mostly talking to another lady in blue stopped to address me. You're gonna have to put that, and she indicated to my small purse slung over my shoulder, into that, and she indicated to my book bag.

Why? I asked, having never before been told to do this at security. And believe me, I fly a lot. I sort of have my system down.

Because you're only allowed two carry-ons, she said, pointedly looking at the polka dot roller bag I was holding onto.

I understand that, and I always throw my little purse into my book bag when I board the plane, but it's where I keep my ID and my money, so I keep it on hand where I can see it until then, I explained.

You're only allowed two carry-ons, she reiterated.

On the plane. Not in the airport, I thought.

I told her again that I will definitely consolidate before I board, but right now I liked to keep my purse with all my important documents handy.

She wouldn't back down. So I informed her that I will take my purse back out as soon as I walk past her. This made her angry.

I can't imagine why.

She then told all of the people in blue what I had said, and kept repeating how she couldn't believe I had said that to her face.

I made a show of putting the purse in my backpack. I slowly walked past her for about ten paces. And then I took my purse back out and slung it over my shoulder right where it belonged.

Maybe not my finest moment, but remember, I have not been trained in how to withstand the sleep-deprivation crazies.

Which is why I was maybe a little crazy on this particular travel day.

Do you mind? Said the man in a snooty tone who sat next to me. We were both in the Emergency Exit Row. We'd both sworn to opening the door in the unlikely even that something should happen to the plane. We were practically in the foxhole together. But I'm pretty sure the other soldier in the foxhole doesn't say Do you mind?

Huh? I asked.

Your foot was close to me, he said, the snooty factor of his tone still reading at dangerously high levels.

I made sure my foot was not beyond the small square that I had paid roughly $300 for. But that was it. I didn't move it any further in beyond those boundaries, because yes, I did mind.

I minded his tone.

It was snooty.

And I minded the fact that I was exhausted and one would think that 300 dollars would be enough to ensure a somewhat comfortable seat on a plane but no, you can find exactly one thousand different positions and fool yourself exactly one thousand different times into thinking that finally, THIS is comfortable, but then the next second you will feel that crick in your neck or your knees will ache or your back will be too bent or not bent enough and in the middle of all that the man next to you will say DO YOU MIND?

And you will wonder if he regularly drives old black fancy cars and asks others Pardon me, but do you have some grey poupon? because really, who even says Do you mind? anymore?

So I sat there with my foot right at that unseen line that starts at the arm rest and asked him if that was okay.

I guess, he said, noncommittally.

And then about an hour into the flight, the man sneezed and presented me with a choice: Do I say God bless you like I would normally? Or do I ask him Do you mind? Okay, not really about saying Do you mind? I wouldn't really say that. I know how much it hurts.

But to be completely honest, I didn't want to say God bless you to him. And now you know that a lot of the time, I am not nice. But I just didn't want to say it. Still, I did. I said it. And he even said thank you. And then I thought that it was maybe our own little version of reconciliation and decided to leave it at that.

But still. Do you mind, indeed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

wedding, fall style.

The Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina.

Not too shabby.

I'd get married there.

My friends Todd and Betsy did get married there today, in fact.

And it looked just like this. Blackberry Inn Road (and yes, of course we had to ask if Iphone Road is the next turn. hilarious, I know. Fine, you had to be there.) is wedged right between green mountains and sits underneath a blue sky that doesn't grow old. No matter how many times you look, no matter how many skies you've seen, no matter how much you think you know what the color blue looks like; that you got it when you were in kindergarten and studying that color wheel, but no, here you are on some mountains celebrating this miraculous kind of love that once again found two people on this earth, and you are taken by surprise by good old blue once again.

Startled by it, even.

You got me, blue. I thought I knew all about you, but you surprised me today with the sky. Good to know that these kinds of things still happen. Good surprises. I hope they never stop.

The reception was draped in oranges and browns, accented with mums and pumpkins and was an altogether perfect shrine to a fall celebration considering that it took place inside the most beautiful barn around.
Open and airy. Rustic, wooden, and chandaliered. And you can stop clutching your pearls now. I turned chandelier into an adjective and it appears we all survived, so moving on.

Betsy had a great big dreamy pile of flowers for us and told us to have at it. Make your own bouquet. As if we were all as good as she is at making things. The good thing was that every last flower and berry in the pile was perfectly beautiful, so short of--I don't know, accidently cutting off the flowers and leaving the stems instead or something blundering like that, you really couldn't go wrong. It was actually a fun project and wrapping the ribbon as the final touch felt a little like preparing a tourniquet which was super fun and maybe that sounds weird and maybe that means I missed my true calling as a nurse but it's true.

Or maybe it just means I shouldn't be so analytical: I just like wrapping ribbons on bouquets. Period.

And the bouquet didn't turn out so bad.
Although I am sure there is much more of a science of it than what I did which was basically pick the ones I liked and clump them together. I am also sure that all those serious florists with their color charts and flower formulas and measured sunlight are shaking their heads over me from somewhere buried deep in their sterile labs.

Me and Betsy.
Isn't she a perfect bride?

And it was the first time I had to give a speech at a wedding. Wait, that's not true. I gave a speech at my own wedding--a toast to my pop--but it was sort of spontaneous and it wasn't the maid of honor speech which seems to carry more weight because everybody expects it.

I had written out something long and probably verbose and was definitely in need of an editor the other night, thinking I would just read it because then I'd know I was saying the exact thing I wanted to say. But then today I just scrapped that idea, choosing to speak from my heart instead. Plus, I figured holding my Iphone and reading from it could be a little tacky.

The funny thing is I wasn't nervous at all. I don't know why this is; I usually get nervous or at least feel something when speaking in front of large groups, but I just felt calm. Maybe it was because I had a clear objective which made it easy: communicate love for Betsy. I like that objective.

And here are the sweet, happy couple ready to go on their way.
Mr. and Mrs.; Husband and Wife. Isn't that something?