Monday, August 31, 2009

karaoke and typhooning

It's true.

What they say about musical theater people and karaoke.

Um, we love it. Can't get enough of it.

And the feel of that microphone gripped between your fingers?


And all that swanky reverb that makes those high notes seem just effortless?


Seriously, three of us stepped into the place because you know, we're in Japan and all and still hadn't been to one. We purchased an hour session, which I thought was maybe pushing it, but then...well, then there was the feel of the microphone and the cheesy soundtracks and any old pop song I wanted to sing and all that marshmallowy reverb and the hour went by in what seemed like just a fantastically fun second or two.

And there was something like a perfect moment when, right as we were ending a rousing rendition of Doe a Deer, singing in octaves the last two D0 D0's, there was a third unintentional but gloriously in rhythm beat, a crash! and shatter! as a glass smashed onto the ground.

Sending us into gales of laughter.

And though I am sure the Karaoke bar did not think it was a perfect moment, considering how it left them down a glass and all, the fact that that crazy-good drummer from the Dave Matthews Band himself could not have hit a more perfectly timed crash than the sound of that breaking glass was just too good.

But really, I am not promoting the harm or violence toward any innocent glasses, especially ones that do not actually belong to you.

So keep your glasses safe.

But if one does happen to slip from your grip while singing at a karaoke bar--if you can time it so it crashes right as a surprising button to the song, well then, that's the way I'd recommend it.

Oh. And another thing I'd recommend?

How about while flying your passengers through a typhoon, not showing footage of the havoc that typhoon is wreaking in the same area over which they are flying, for goodness' sake?!

Seriously. We were taking off in the storm and every monitor in the plane was giving us views of trees blowing sideways, rain angrily beating down diagonally, and clouds piling up in the sky.

Um, thanks.

We kind of knew about the not great flying conditions already since our flight was delayed. Twice. And if we still hadn't gotten it by then, we could have just, I don't know, looked out the window. But I guess you just needed to leave no uncertainty in our minds as to how hard our flight could be and so you showed us the typhoon.

On TV.
Pounding the earth.
Ripping the sky in half.
And giving us the ride of our lives.

Nice touch, Japanese Airline, very nice touch indeed.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

leaving Tokyo and eating sandwiches

I was supposed to be on the bus right now, en route to a plane that would fly me and the rest of the cast to Hyogo.

And no, I didn't oversleep.

There's this small problem of a typhoon here, causing some delays in our travel plans, so I am sitting tight in my hotel room for another hour. And honestly, I don't mind. Just gives me a little more time to myself this morning and that is something I treasure.

It also gives me more time to finagle plastic bags over my guitar so that it stays dry in this typhoon. I do have a case, but it's a soft case and not yeah.

It also gave me a little bit more time to go get one more sandwich from the best sandwich shop on earth. That's right. I don't know how they do it, really, but I have never tasted something so divine in sandwich form. The owner is an Aussie and can you imagine just moving from your home and even your country to go open up a little sandwich shop on a winding side street in Tokyo?

I think it's easy to get in a rut in terms of how life will go or should go, for that matter. But really, we have freedom. There is possibility. Who says you can't just try something new and have it be a roaring success?

And who says exactly what success looks like?

Is it tons of money piled up in a vault so that you can go swim through it, a la Scrooge MckDuck?

I don't think so; there are lots of people with lots of money who are not happy. Who are owned by it. Who jump out windows when the stock market crashes because, apparently, that's all they had to live for.

Is it the career that you've always wanted?

That could be part of it, but I don't think it's the whole kit and caboodle. Why else would a young man, Jason Raize, star as Simba in The Lion King on Broadway and then tragically end his own life? That makes me think that a dream job is not enough.

Maybe it has a lot more to do with love.
With people.
With God.

Maybe it's doing good honest work, whether it's music or organizing or driving or whatever--but it's working hard, earning some keep, and keeping those you love close by.

Maybe it is opening up a sandwich shop halfway across the world and coming home to someone you love every night.

Maybe it's fill in the blank with whatever your calling is and coming home to someone you love every night.

Or at least, you know, talking to them (for those of us who are currently in Japan or on other such adventures).

So yes. Let's live our lives--wherever that may be--to the fullest.

And tell those we love that we love them.

And show them also.

And continue to eat the best sandwiches. Ever.

At least for today, anyway.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

desert rose. or the ramblings of an insomniac.

It's 5 am, or close enough anyway, and I am still awake.

Maddeningly so.

Tossing and turning, like one more flop on this bed is going to land me in sleep.

I am up, thinking of him. Wondering where he is, how he is, what he's thinking right now, and how stupid it is that there is an ocean between us.

An ocean.

Full of fish and lost cities and organisms that somehow thrive in the underwater volcanos and have you heard that there are whole mountain ranges down there?


Who can keep track of it all?

I have to believe Someone can, someone does.

And that I am involved in that; I am being kept track of, so to speak.

I have been here 3 weeks already and have only one week left to go. But right now, at 5 am, each day of that week stretches before me like the desert itself. Like the desert without a guide. Like the desert without even a pair of sunglasses.

But I've heard of the desert rose, and I am convinced that I will find it; beauty thrives in impossible places, made even more startling by the contrast it makes as it blooms.

playing tokyo

I think I drank my weight in water today.

Two shows and a gig makes for one very tired and thirsty individual, I have realized.

Add to that the emotional aspect of being so far from home and communication with loved ones feeling difficult at best, I think tired might be an understatement.

But, I am grateful to be doing what I am doing; being here in Japan, playing the show, and then getting to play my own music as well.
It's too much.
Too big.
Who would have thought?

And just look at that pretty piano; I loved every minute with it.
And I wish you could really see the size of the room from this pic, but you can't.
I guess the max is supposed to be about 40 people for the place, but I would say there was closer to 60 of us all mashed together, trying not to sweat.

Out of my set, I played one brand new song--the one I wrote here, last week--though I always hesitate to play a brand new song that has yet to be tested before an audience. I like to run them by someone first--someone safe, like Drew or a friend. But I decided to throw caution to the wind, practice this week like crazy, and just do it, like Nike says.

After all, the song is about being in Japan, so what better place to play it than when I am actually in Japan?

It was really really fun. I love playing and singing for people; it truly gives me life and I am blessed that people listen.

The Japanese people were asking for signatures and were taking pictures with me afterwards, too, which I thought was funny. But not nearly as funny as when one of the guys said, Kristine, Kristine! Picture???

I didn't even bother to correct him, either. I just took the picture with a bit bigger of a smile than usual.

Another thing that continues to blow me away is the amount of support that our cast shows every time we play. Seriously, they keep coming out. And it's not lost on me. Today was a two show day, the room was small and hot, and all of us were hungry. And yet, they listened and cheered and continue to tell me that they love it.

They are truly amazing.

And now to the business of going to bed.

And though it will not make me any money, per se, I think I am going to like this business a lot.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

So some of the things that are lost in translation over here I just find hilarious.

Like tonight while a friend and I were looking through a rack of rompers I saw that the tag of a certain grey romper read: gley.

Ha. I smiled and moved on.

But then I saw something that was just too good to not document. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am a staunch Eagles fan; where I live, it's right up there with your religion. You're Catholic and you're an Eagles fan. Or you're Jewish and you're an Eagles fan. Or you're like me: you're a Christian who is also very much in love with a man who is very much obsessed with the eagles and you're an Eagles fan.

And please excuse the excessive use of colons so far, not sure why I am so generous with them tonight, but I'll just go with it.

Now with all that said, I was pretty surprised to see this printed on a knit dress in Harajuku, here in Tokyo.
So that's for Josh, my brother who loves the Cowboys.

Not quite sure how he feels about the Delias Cowboys, though.

At least they don't have to deal with T.O., I guess.

And in case you think I am not being adventurous enough by traveling halfway across the world, here's proof that I am really living it up here.
Cause I ate one of those bad boys tonight.

And don't be fooled by the fact that it kind of looks like a pancake.

Cause it didn't taste like one in the least.

I'm not that lucky.

And just to come full circle, I will leave you with this: that was one last colon.

You're welcome.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

yes, disney seas

Okay, so you can laugh if you want, but last week I was feeling so homesick that I decided going to see Mickey Mouse would do me good here in Japan.

Cause you know, he's a familiar face.

I've been visiting him at different points in my life for as long as I can remember and I just knew if I went to his home here in Tokyo, it could be comforting.

Like soul food.

Only with rides and New England, Old New York, Acraba, and a surprising amount of popcorn stands.

So, we set off to Disney Seas today, after the show, of course.

And I was not disappointed.

Rumor has it that Disney Seas is the best park to come out of the Imagineers yet and I can see why. It's very beautiful, full of wonder, and not at all geared towards little children and cartoons. Though they would love it too, it's sort of like Epcot in that it's interesting and stimulating for all ages.

And it's really big.

You can also see Tokyo Bay from it, which adds to the magic.

Here I am, totally excited to have just purchased my half-day ticket for only 31,00 yen, I may add. That sounds like a lot, but it's really only about $31, American.
Now, we only had about three and a half hours in the park, so I needed to be a little die hard about it. Our first stop was Journey to the Middle of the Earth. We waited in line for about an hour, but it was well worth the wait.

I honesty loved it. I mean, you get shot out of a freaking volcano, for goodness' sake. What's not to love about that?

After that we saw some of a killer light show on the water, and when Mickey Mouse came out in a headdress and speaking Japanese we all started laughing. I'm sorry, but you would have too.

However, being me, I had gotten really hungry. Again. I spend most of my time in search of food here, it seems. A few of us made a beeline for Old New York, thinking to find some familiar food there and getting excited when we saw a "deli."

But every sandwich had mayonnaise. Of course. And it's really hard to explain how much mayo ruins a sandwich for me using the Japanese words that I know: please, thank you, good morning, yes, no, good-bye, and hello. Realizing that my chances of actually getting a mayo-free sandwich were slim to none, I opted for the chicken and vegetable soup just like mom makes, or so it said.

Yeah well my mom doesn't just heat up water, throw a few things in there to float in it and call it soup. Just saying.

But I put it in my stomach anyway, cause remember? I was hungry.

At that point, David and I broke off to do the Indiana Jones ride. And once again we couldn't help laughing at Indy speaking in Japanese. I also couldn't resist saying in frustration over and over again, I Can't Speak Japanese!, a la Chris Farley in the SNL skit in which he was an American tourist in some Asian game show.

From there, we literally ran through Cape Cod, Ariel's Grotto, some sort of outdoor show, and a whole heck of a lot of people to try to make the Tower of Terror. Thinking we wouldn't make it, we settled for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a ride that we had both been on as kids at some point.

It was another blast. We had our own pod, we were in control of Oxygen, depth, and steering. We saw Atlantis, which, as it turns out, isn't lost after all. There were alien like sea monsters who we were sort of afraid of until we saw that they were helping us and then felt badly for judging them. Of course there was a giant squid and he was just plain bad. That much was clear even if the whole narration was in Japanese.

As we strolled past the Tower of Terror, we were happily surprised to see that it was still open and waltzed right in. And to make it even better, it was a different theme, too. Because the Twilight Zone doesn't mean anything to the Japanese, the story was about some sort of doctor who took a little statue into his home and then the statue came to life, cursed the good doctor's mansion, and suddenly disappeared. Of course, we could have misinterpreted because again, I DON'T SPEAK JAPANESE!!!

At the point when the creature disappeared, it was such a special and unanticipated effect that David and I started clapping and cheering wildly. Our Japanese ride-mates joined in and by the time the lights were back on all of us were laughing hysterically and there was a really nice feeling of camaraderie.

He we are in the top left corner with all of our fellow elevator riders.
And I didn't find out that Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, and Donald were on the same elevator (!!!) until I saw this; otherwise, I totally would have said konichiwa.

And then here is just another glimpse of the park, Venice.
There were gondolas, too, but by this point it was past 10 o'clock and we were all getting gently and magically encouraged to please leave, arogoto gunzymos!

My feet are killing me, but it was totally and absolutely fun. Oh, and I also had two rounds of carmel corn. Yum, yum, yum.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

a month without my precious Emoji (which is fun picture texting, for those of you who don't know).

I have been without a phone now for two and a half weeks.

And it's funny, part of me likes it.

I have an Iphone, so basically it carries my whole media life: texting, email, the web, twitter, FB, GPS, oh yeah, and the ability to actually call people, though I know that is terribly out of fashion for the most part.

But well, now I have once again learned the art of planning. Appointing set times to meet another person. Scheduling out your next day before you go to bed and including those you would like to join you in it.

And I also get the nice surprise of a big fat full inbox when I get home from work. Used to be, I'd read every email or notification I received, just as soon as it came in, but not now.

Now I check my messages, etc., in the morning and at night. And it's a nice thing for me to anticipate.

But there are a few times when I really do miss my phone.

And that is during the Cassie/Paul break in the show. Usually, I kick off my heels and check my Iphone and it's a fun departure from all things A Chorus Line. Now...I TALK TO MY FRIENDS (gasp!).I know, crazy; it's like this new Japan Jessica is completely unrecognizable, I've changed so much!

Okay, so maybe the tradeoff isn't all that bad.

Specially since there are some people here who are totally worth talking to.

But another time that I really miss it?

Every time I want to get a hold of Drew. Which is no less than three and no more than twenty times a day. But now when I can't talk to him, I realize that I can pray for him, so there's that.

But other than that, I really am not missing it too much. It's kind of nice to not be checking up on the world all the time and instead just take the time to take inventory on what is happening in my own little corner.

Or you know, in my own heart.

I've also been listening to my ipod a lot while commuting to work every day, and this I LOVE. I people watch, look for hilarious Japanese t-shirts that say something in English that makes no sense whatsoever--this one my friend Jordan took, and I think it is quite funny.

We had a fun time talking about how at least they were honest, they said it was sufficient, they didn't say it was wonderful and yada yada yada. Basically, the towel will do the trick, but don't expect heavenly clouds drying your body off, people; and don't say we didn't warn you, either.

And in English, no less.

But my point is, I travel the city with music providing a soundtrack and I enjoy it so much. It's like my own world within a world and it's just me and a lot of notes and a lot of words and sometimes there isn't much that is better than that.

Except if I had headphones that actually did me the courtesy of staying in my ears.

Then it might be better.

And by might I mean definitely.

But back to the Iphone thing. How about you guys? You ever gone without technology for a while? How did it make you feel?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a night at the on sen

I think that I just drank whole milk in my cereal for the first time in a long time. I cannot be absolutely positive, but it seemed thicker in substance. The only thing I can be sure of in the case of this milk is that it is indeed

"the milk that is milked"

because that is the only English on the whole carton.

Good to know.

I certainly wouldn't want to be caught drinking milk that was not milked!

After having a pretty good matinee today, a group of us decided to visit the Japanese on sen, also known as the baths.

But this place wasn't just baths, believe me. It was food and shops and massages and beauty treatments (they had half and whole--I was very curious to find out what treatment left you looking only half beautiful. And uh, which half, for that matter!?).

Upon entering, you immediately remove your shoes and get to pick out your kimono of choice. Of course I wanted the one that turned out to be the child's pick. Oops. The lady then pointed out the kimono's in Large that would be appropriate for the American beast that I am. I tried to motion to her that they might be too wide for me, but she just kept motioning with her arm outstretched above her head to tell me that I was tall.

That I was large.

Fine, I thought, hand it over.

And I took my large kimono and went to the women's dressing area.

And was transformed.
Uh, I hope it wasn't too racist to put my fingers up like that, but see I couldn't help but flash back to the time I was Lead Chinese in The Nutcracker and well, that was how we bowed. I know, I know, Japanese is not Chinese, but still, it is Asian right?

Since we were all ravenously hungry, we ate first. Unfortunately, I had to order two dinners. And no, not to live up to my large kimono. Rather, the first dinner was completely busted, and so after offering all of it up as free game to my friends, I tried again and landed something much more palatable.

You usually can't go wrong with a bowl of steaming buckwheat noodles in a plain broth.

Rules to live by in Japan.

Then we stayed in the co-ed area (which means you get to leave your kimono on) and walked the foot baths for a while.
There were these rocks that were supposed to massage your feet, but really they just reminded me of walking on my parents' gravel lane without shoes on. Since I lived there and basically did that all the time, I was pretty used to the feeling. Not so much with my friends.
And while we were waiting for the next main attraction, we sat down for a bit and just enjoyed the beauty of the night air and our feet in the warm water.
But finally here was what we were all waiting for.

The pedicure with a twist.

We went into a special foot bath armed with many tiny piranha-like fish whose one job was to eat off the dead skin from your feet.

No lie.

I will admit that the first one to start eating my foot gave me a fright and I inadvertently kicked him off, poor little guy. I mean, he was just doing his job. But really, it's just not natural to allow your feet to be eaten.

But then it felt kind of good.

And after I stopped kicking, a few more fishies tested this latest feast.
But then?

Well, suddenly my feet became the latest Steak N Shake to open below the Mason-Dixon line and these fish were hungry. Trucker hungry. Super-size me, hungry.
And literally, my feet were covered in swarms of them. Not even just my feet, either; these suckers (literally!) were climbing right up to my calves to get some decent dead skin to eat.
Oh, and the jokes were hilarious.

Jess, you should try moisturizing every once in a while!

Hardy har har, guys. As if I don't live my life hating the time it takes to slather my entire body in moisturizer every single day.

Jess, you ever heard of a loofah?

Well, no. Is that some Japanese ninja tool?
But really, it was so cool. And it felt really good. And my feet and calves are now silky smooth, thanks to those crazy fishies.

And then, well, we went to the baths which were separated by sex and it was time to get naked.

Yeah, there are no pictures...

Let's just say it really was relaxing, but of course kind of strange. It's just not part of the American culture to all get naked together and act like it's nothing.

Still we did our best to pretend.
Plus, it helped that we all share a dressing room for the most part, anyway!

And then, once we were fed, bathed, and our dead skin had been eaten off, we were ready for our massages, respectively.
It was an hour.

Of pure bliss.

And some pain when he found the parts of me that really hurt.

But a good pain.

And the best part? He didn't speak a word of English, so couldn't even attempt to make conversation with me.

Which brings me right back to being home again, in my hotel room, drinking milk that is milked, which you already know all about anyway.

Monday, August 24, 2009

life. always.

Irritating is when you get home from your eighth show of the week and the most creative thing you can think to do in terms of resting is laying in your freshly made bed complete with newly changed linens, thanks to the lovely maids at your hotel. You lay down for maybe a half hour or so and get up only to be sticking to the blanket. You pat the back of one of your favorite white summer dresses and find that neon green gum has not only stuck to your blankets and pillow, but is now sticking to the back of your dress, thanks to those lovely maids at your hotel.

Kind is when all you want to do is steal away to a piano and play and when you ask the concierge if they might have a piano with which you can do that, she finds a way to make it work. Not without some strings she's pulled and not without the small caveat of her having to sit in the room with you while you play. After your alloted half hour is up, she thanks you profusely for the private concert and tells you that it was her pleasure, that even though she is at work, it didn't feel like work one bit. And to top it off, you walk in tonight to a letter slipped under your door, spelling out all the times she has made that piano available to you for every day of this week. And all mentions of the rental fee that she had first hinted at are now gone completely.

Faith is remembering that we don't see the whole picture or even any of the picture well. Most of the time, we see it more like this.
And that's when you close your eyes and try to find that flickering light within called your soul. You encourage it, you bring it to places in which it will flourish, and you Let Go of all of that other stuff that does you no good.
You hold on to the threads of truth and hope to God you didn't grab onto a misconception by accident. Cause those never hold so strong.

You also wonder why your legs are shining like the noonday sun, and the thought briefly crosses your mind that you might be an X-man. Or about to burst into flames.

Authenticity is summing up what you've been given and going with it. No ego, no pride, no false humility keeping you in hiding, just doing what you do because what other choice is there? If you are a mom, you keep giving your children milk. The milk changes from liquid, to words, to discipline, to laughter, but always it is love and always it is life to them. If you are a fish you swim and do it effortlessly. And you pucker up those lips to make Oh's with that funny mouth and sooner or later you will look over and see somebody doing it beside you and find comfort in the fact that maybe you are not so strange after all.
And if you are an artist, you make art; it's no more showing off than the stars are God's way of bragging. It is what you do. You exhaust the story from within and as soon as you do, another one begs to be told. You share and you grow and you're humbled when others listen and even more so when they don't.

And if you are a Mommy Fish with minnows trailing behind who makes a living by her underwater sculptures? Well, then you just go, girl.

Memories are when you come across a picture made by the mountains and the sky and the water here in Japan and are suddenly back in your parents' bedroom. You were afraid but are no longer because you made the long slow trek from your second floor room up to The Only Safe Place In The House, also known as mom and pop's bedroom. You passed those windows and everything, staring the dark right in it's ambiguous face before you crawled up the stairs that you are pretty sure are chock full of monster's hands that are especially made for grabbing kid's ankles, and can once again just make out the framed picture on your parents' wall. And it looks almost exactly like this.
And what a comfort it is.

The Good is sometimes hard to make out clearly. It can be a little like Mt. Fuji, obscured by clouds and hidden behind more obvious and less wonderful things.
Something solid and strong can look like just a pillar of cloud when really, it's the tallest, the widest, the oldest, the best foundation.
And no, it's not the ordinary mountain that seems to be the subject here, it's the obscured shadowy looking substance behind it. And though it doesn't look like it's there so much, it's just as big and impressive and as volcanic whether we see it or not.

Irony is finally getting to ride in Japan's Romance Car,
with one of your dear, sweet girlfriends.
Cause your husband is halfway around the world and you pray that he's well and hope hard that he's happy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

normal special

I think that it's better to just be introduced as pretty normal.

Or at least, normal in the way that it is normal for everyone to be special. Not more special, necessarily. Just normal special.

Let me explain.

Before meeting someone recently, a mutual friend described him to me as the funniest person I've ever met in the world, among other things.

And not even meaning to, I start thinking that wow, this guy has got to be just hilarious. And suddenly I am totally excited to have my own version of Jim Gaffigan in my life. He'll sing the Hot Pocket! song and then just when you think that he's exhausted the joke completely, he'll throw a curve ball and sing it in Spanish: Caliente Pocket! And you'll think it's even funnier because you had a horse named Caliente when you were little and wow, how ironic, and boy isn't that funny?

At least, that's the kind of stuff that happens when I listen to Jim Gaffigan.

But now that I've met this guy? I keep waiting for the Extreme Funny to happen.

For the punch line, so to speak.

But it still hasn't happened. In fact, at times he has not even picked up on my sarcasm!

But if I had had no preconceived notions about his omnipotent sense of humor, then I would probably just think that sure, he's funny. Yet, because I had this expectation and keep measuring him against it, he unfortunately comes out lacking.

Poor guy.

Not his fault at all, and he really is an awesome individual; he's just not the funniest person in the world but really, who is?!?!

So anyway, that is why I think it might be a good idea to avoid referring to others as the MOST IN THE WORLD of anything, really.

Unless when it comes to a lack of sense of direction, cause then I totally win.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

tiny bathrooms and hey! a gig in Japan!

I am so tired.

Like, two-show-day tired.
Like seventh-show-of-the-week tired.
Like, I literally prayed that God would help me get through the finale in today's last show because I was just so doggone tired.

I know, you get it; I'm tired. Like, please move on.

Geez, tough crowd tonight.


So after my tiring seventh show (sorry, it just came out), I went with a few friends to listen to one of the guys from the Rent cast play an acoustic set at a small venue by our hotel.

And when I say small, I mean your great-grandmother's living room of the 5th story walk up flat when she lived in the Bronx. You know, you'd visit her in your Sunday best and eat a tiny T.V. dinner in front of a tiny T.V. and live for Sundays when the Ed Sullivan show would air.

Oh, that wasn't you?

Well anyway, the venue was small.

Like, venue is to small as I am to tired. And I only mention me being tired once again because I know you got that already and thought maybe using an analogy will help with you now getting how small the venue really was.

But anyway, I am in this small venue, listening to this guy play his great acoustic set basically in a living room with a bar attached to it, and suddenly my bladder feels so full. I try holding it for a while but, yeah, you can't just hold it forever.

I. Have. To. Go.

I look around for a bathroom and realize with horror that it is through this tiny door that is right where everybody is listening to the set. Not really removed at all. Just perfect.

But holding it any longer is no longer an option, so I head into the tiny bathroom. And right when I do, the guy ends his song and just starts quietly tuning for the next song.

Of course he does.

For all I know, the tuning could go on forever and since I stepped into the bathroom my need to go has gotten even worse. I think the bladder is sort of like a horse in that the closer you get to the stables, the faster the horse will go. Ah, only swap the stable for a toilet. And cantering for really needing to pee. Oh whatever, you know what I mean, right? You've felt the urge to go grow stronger with each step towards the bathroom, too?

That's what I thought.

Anyway, it's totally embarrassing because I just know that everybody can hear my own personal Niagara Falls and I might as well go stand next to the guy tuning his guitar and do it there, it's so loud and in the middle of everything. And since I had to go so badly and had held it up till then, it took forever until I stopped. I probably could have learned the Japanese language while I was waiting for my bladder to empty itself.

And what do you know, but the guy started his next song right when I finally did finish? It's all in the timing, isn't it?

Great, great, great.

I didn't even flush, I was so embarrassed. And I didn't want to remind people of my presence in the bathroom with more noises from within. Oh and if you even begin to suggest that I simply turn the faucet on to drown out whatever noises I was making, don't you think I thought of that?

I did, believe me. But lucky for me, the faucet was outside of the room with the toilet, so no good at all. Well, other than for washing your hands, I guess. But the cleanliness of my hands was not exactly what I was so preoccupied with at the moment, believe it or not.

So that was that.

Whatever, it's real life.

And a really good thing that came out of the whole experience other than me relieving myself to the entertainment of the masses and hearing some good music was that Clyde and I booked a gig there for next Saturday night. He walked right up to the management and got it done and we are both psyched to play in Tokyo. Also, there is this shiny grand piano there that I am just itching to play...

Friday, August 21, 2009

computers and kill bill cuisine

Drew and I have a new rule that involves computers and bathing.

You see, the other day I made a few mistakes.

Okay, well I probably make a few mistakes everyday but this one involved my beloved Mac.

I wanted to take a bath because I do this thing called A Chorus Line eight times a week and sometimes it just plain hurts. Also, the bathtub in my hotel room is so divine, though any bathtub that actually holds water and doesn't drain as soon as I step in it is pretty fabulous compared to the one at my house.

But I also wanted to have the use of my computer.

Yeah, you probably see where this is going; you guys are smart like that.

My first mistake was bringing my Mac into the bathroom. My second mistake was setting it down on the toilet--a toilet, I should say, that has a particularly slanted and slippery lid. And my third mistake was, when the computer started sliding off of the toilet, jumping out of the bath while soaking wet and causing a small tidal wave to hit the keyboard as I grabbed it.



I quickly and tenderly wiped it down and then bided my time.

And sure enough, later that night my Mac was acting funky. Whether I wanted it to or not, the mouse would highlight and drag everything it passed over. The backspace wasn't working. It was slow, like I-might-as-well-dig-up-an-encyclopedia-and-do-my-research-there slow.

I told Drew and he was like, oh no.

Um, yeah, Drew, Oh no and then some!

But then he told me to leave the computer open for the night to let it dry out and see what happens in the morning. And I prayed for it. Some may think that's strange but I think that if God cares about anything than he cares about everything; that, bottom line, he cares.

And what do you know, the morning came, and there was my computer, prettily humming away and working like a smooth operator.

OHHHH SHOOOOOOOOOOT!!!, but this time in a totally good way.

So thank you Drew for the good advice and thank you God for caring and no thank you to me for putting my mac in that precarious position in the first place.

But onto something else.

Tonight a group of us ate dinner at a restaurant that was used for one of the big fight scenes in Kill Bill. Too bad I still have not seen the movie and too bad I just ran out of my rocking yellow jumpsuits. Seriously, there are like three in my laundry right now.

In honor of its history, we decided to do some Kill Bill-ish moves.
But ended up looking more like mannequins. Whatever.

And the place was awesome. We had to take off our shoes and sit low to the ground and everything.
We even got to sit in a private room, the same one where President W himself sat when he dined there. And after enjoying seaweed salad, tofu, various skewers laden with meet, tomatoes wrapped in bacon, some sort of fish flake and potato concoction, and ice cream inundated with unidentified gelatinous cubes, we called it a night.

But not before I had a glass of plum wine, which is basically wine for toddlers and so it is actually pretty tasty.

And now, another bath. But I will be leaving my computer on the bed this time, don't you worry.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

hachiko: a love story

Internet, meet Hachiko.
Hachiko, meet Internet.

See, he's a very important dog here in Tokyo. A purebred Akita, his story is one of loyalty and faithfulness. But, back up for a bit.

Hachiko's owner was a professor who worked at the University of Tokyo. Every day Hachiko saw him off at their front door and then made his way to Shibuya Station in downtown Tokyo to meet him at his train and walk him home in the early evening. But one day, the professor never did come home, having had a stroke and died while at the University.

But Hachiko waited at the train station, just like every other day.

However, Hachiko was eventually taken in by another family and you might think that the story ends there.

It doesn't.

Hachiko continually escaped back to his master's old home, purportedly looking for the professor. Realizing that he wasn't there, the dog made his way back to the train station, parking himself at his usual spot, at the usual time, waiting to meet his master at the end of the day. Though he never saw him, this did not deter Hachiko from trying again and again, innocently hoping that his dear friend would come home.

Other commuters recognized Hachiko and remembered the professor fondly and so started bringing treats and food for Hachiko to enjoy during his daily wait.

And this went on for 10 years.

Hachiko never did see his beloved professor on this earth again but I like to think they are reunited in Heaven now.

Sure you can tell me how that is not theologically sound and honestly, that doesn't interest me as much as this sweet love story between a man and his dog; and I think God cares about that enough to maybe bring them back together again.

I get to pass this statue of Hachiko everyday now, going to and from Shibuya Station.
Sweet, loyal Hachiko is an inspiration to us all.
The end.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

she's a Martin, but that's not her name.

I have been thinking about this for a while.

Especially while on the road.

And especially when I don't have access to a piano.

People seem to be under the impression that I am very very busy. When in reality, I am not so busy, I just am not around. And there's a big difference.

On a one show day, I work for a total of 3 hours. And then I am done with what is known as bringing home the bacon and can do whatever the heck I please. All this to say, I have time for some other stuff in my life. Time to learn new things, and I want to take advantage of this.

So right. What I have been thinking about is purchasing an instrument that is more mobile than say, my piano that weighs a ton.

And for once, I am using that word literally.

See, as much as I'd love to take my piano on the road, I'd hate to see what the airline would charge me for the overweight fees once I stuffed it into my suitcase. Plus, I already have some necessary things in there. Like clothes. And 100 calorie packs of Cheez-Itz. As well as many other mature things along that same vein. So, really there just isn't room.

Also, some of the music I write has a feel for a guitar rather than a piano and so it'd be nice not to have to go to someone else to play it for me. And by someone else I mean Drew. Or Clyde, my guitar-wiz friend here on tour. Or upon lucky occasion, my talented rocking brother Josh.

Anyway, there is this guitar shop that I pass everyday on my way to work here in Tokyo. I have to admit that the first guitar that stood out to me was purple. And it stood out to me simply because it was purple. So I thought that was the one I wanted.

But then I saw a red one. A deep, rich red that was feminine with an edge. I loved it. Until I heard it, that is. It was tinny, and not nearly as rich or resonant as its color would suggest.

Oh and I guess I should tell you that Clyde was with me. See, when talking over this purchase with Drew, his one caveat was to make sure that it isn't crap. Those were his exact words. And since I am obviously easily seduced by pretty colored guitars, I asked Clyde to come with me and help me make a good solid choice, i.e., a non-crappy choice.

Anyway, the purple guitar was a no go, as was the red. Well shoot, I didn't see anything else that drew me. Until...We were taken up to the 6th floor, also known as the Land of Beautiful Acoustic Guitars, also known as the Land of Guitars That Are Way Too Expensive For Me So Why Am I Even Here?


We got around to a bunch in the center of the room and I noticed a smaller guitar, black as the nighttime sky and beautifully crafted. I also noticed it was on sale and within my price range.

We picked it up. Clyde played it and we both marveled at its tones, the roundness of its high notes, the fullness of its low range.

And then it was my turn to play.

And that was it.

Done and done, sign me up, and do you take Visa?

I love it and I am very excited about this new venture, this new challenge.

Already my fingers hurt and already I have learned one new chord. Also, my dear friend Mindy made me play her a song in the dressing room, which I did, and she kindly acted like she loved it. Have I mentioned how dear and sweet Mindy is? I am pretty sure she would love it if I banged two sticks together and yodeled about sheep. Or at least, she would tell me that she did.

Anyway, here she is (My guitar, that is, not Mindy). She's a Martin, but I won't be calling her Martin, since she's a girl.
So pretty.
And I am so grateful that she is mine.
Now to build up some calluses on these fingers of mine...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

baseball halfway across the world.

I just wanted to give you a glimpse of the throngs of people I fight through every day to get to work.

So here it is, Shabuya. Not to be confused with the song, Shabuya Roll Call.
This is basically the Times Square of Tokyo. It's loud, neon, and absolutely packed.

And Japan is crazy about their baseball. So crazy, in fact, that they are in competition with the US as far as who can lay claim to the game. I know, I know, baseball is as American as...well, baseball, but not so, according to the Japanese. I had always heard that the game was invented during the Civil War; that we have documented letters from soldiers who talk about this new game involving four bases, a bat, and a ball. But apparently somewhere in the 1860's the Japanese can tell of the same new game appearing on their scene as well.

What else are they going to claim? Apple Pie?!?!

I don't really know who it was that started it, but I do know that I don't really understand it very well and there are a whole heck of a lot of innings. Nine, to be exact. I had only been to one other baseball game in my life and that was in Denver, Colorado. As far as I can tell, the Rockies Stadium looks pretty much the same as the Jingu Stadium here in Tokyo.
With the exception, of course, of the Rocky Mountains that surround the Rockies Stadium.

It also surprised me that the Japanese teams did not have Japanese names--the two I saw play were simply called The Swallows and The Tigers. Just like they were from Michigan or Ohio or Tennessee. Just like they weren't one of the six teams that Tokyo claims as its own.

Oh, but whenever anything great happened (and I rarely knew what that actual great thing was), the crowd suddenly was covered in pastels as everyone grabbed a miniature umbrella from seemingly out of nowhere and pumped it into the air to the beat of the music. I guess it was their version of the foam finger or something.

And here in Japan, if you go to watch a baseball game you get a fan.
Of course you do.

And I don't know if it was because the sun and the moon were passing each other in their respective journeys, announcing the time between times yet again, the slight breeze that carried the heat away and left you feeling perfect, or just that I was seated on the end of the aisle, able to lose track of any conversation or home run or umbrella pumping that might be going on around me, but I suddenly had the urge to write.

The Muse hit me, so I found an old envelope and a pen and got to it. I wrote two pieces and thoroughly enjoyed myself all the while.

Who knew baseball could be so inspiring?

Monday, August 17, 2009

a little trip to see a big buddha

Kamakura, Japan.

Today we got out of the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, opting for something a little more rustic.
We strolled down some narrow streets, occasionally stopping in small shops and nodding at the shopkeepers. The whole nodding/bowing thing is quite interesting and really could perpetuate itself into a forever long time, not to mention some really tired necks. You bow, they bow, you bow, they bow, you bow, they bow. And so it goes until finally one of you sort of backs up, still bowing, and makes a hasty exit, grateful for the chance to once again keep one's head still.

Although this particular restaurant's advertisement made the food look very tasty,
we, ah, passed.

As soon as we saw this little guy sitting on the chair behind the counter, manning his shop, it became clear why we were told to bring cash to Kamakura.
I am pretty sure pigeons haven't mastered how to run credit card machines.

Once we got to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, there was some water that everybody was ladling out; some were drinking it while others were washing their hands.
I jumped right in, hoping I didn't offend anyone in the process.

And here's what all the buzz is about in this town.
At 755 years old, he's looking quite good for his age, don't you think? Must be all that meditation. And really, 755 years old? That means he was built in the year 1255, before the start of the Hundred Years War between England and France, before King Louis the 14th established a national ballet company, and way before 13 colonies decided to band together and start their own thing, throwing off England's reach from across the pond once and for all.

Which is why I tried to walk softly, to show some deference, because my mom sure taught me to respect my elders.

Especially when they are from the 13th century.

And especially when they are on the grand scale of huge.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

another post about food and I don't even cook.

Once I went to Africa.

I had thought that the wildness of the land, the lack of paved roads and street signs, the potential for lions to be licking their large chops around any corner would be exciting.

But once I got there, it was really just scary.

At least for the first few days. Then I got used to it. I learned to trust that the old jalopy that wouldn't pass a test at the DMV if you bribed the attendant with stock in Google from way back when that they used to transport us would not fall apart or fall prey to some of the roaming herds that stood casually in the middle of the dirt roads. I decided that, after the first few days of visiting churches, orphanages, Compassion International, and Bible Colleges and always coming back, chances are that would keep happening: I would keep coming back.

So even when I was whisked off, by myself, to a tiny rustic church in a village that was no bigger than a few of the hallways of this sky rise hotel I'm now in, I just concluded that yeah, I'd come back.

But what I didn't factor in was the meal I'd be expected to share before I came back.

With two men, two pastors, actually. And just me.

They treated me with all the pomp and honor they could afford, though it was probably more like all the pomp and honor that they couldn't afford. They took me to a restaurant and in a country where only one meal a day is standard, they ordered me a meal. And not just a meal, but the works, from what I could tell.

We sat there, and when the first course came, I relaxed. It was bread. BREAD!!! And in my heart I greeted it like an old friend, only I never do eat my friends, old or young, so there was that. But bread I could totally handle. I could eat it anywhere, with the devil himself, if it was necessary.

Though I hope it never is.

I'm sort of counting on that.

We all dug in and have you ever seen a hungry person eat?

I mean someone who is truly famished, who probably hasn't eaten since yesterday, and carries the kind of leanness that has nothing to do with those size 2 jeans and everything to do with a lack of food.

These men ate with gusto. I tried to keep up and honestly I wasn't doing so badly with the bread. The bread that was like an old friend only not because I am not a cannibal and I think Hannibal Lector is one of the most frightening villains ever. Genius, but scary as all get-out.

But then out came the second course and Hannibal Lector himself might have gotten a little weak in the knees at the thought of consuming it. My heart dropped and I asked God for courage. It was a mash of some sort, green in color, mealy in nature and steaming with a smell that had never before presented itself to me.

Which was just fine.

The waiter placed it before each of us, respectively, and I gave my newest nemesis a good stare down. I sized up it's weakness and came up with a plan of action while the men beside me started shoveling the food into their mouths. Devouring it. Like it was the best thing ever. Like it wasn't a mash or green or mealy or smelly.

Oh man.

I picked up my spoon and started to follow suite. Only I had a trick up my sleeve; one rarely survives a house full of three older brothers without making sure to never leave home without one. Or never come home without one, for that matter. See, I vaguely remembered that the taste buds were on the tongue (remember? 3 whole science credits from college!) and I was hoping that they were on the forefront of the tongue.

My whole plan hinged on that, actually.

Cause I just tossed the mash into the back of my throat, bypassing the taste buds and going almost directly down the hatch (yes, hatch is totally the technical term. 3 credits, people, 3 credits!). And it worked. Kind of. Cause slowly but surely the food was disappearing from the bowl.

But not fast enough, I guess, because one of the men paused mid-feasting and asked me pointedly, Are you not hungry?

I thought about who I was talking to. That many of these villages do not have enough food for the people, that many of them live a pretty hungry life and that to be "not hungry" is a luxury that is rarely afforded.

I re-doubled my efforts right after I told them that I was hungry. And I ate that food, that awful food. Because I don't ever want to turn down somebody's kindness. I don't ever want to deprive anyone from the blessing that comes of giving out of nothing.

Nor do I ever want to be somebody who turns down a meal that others would devour.

I guess this came back to me because I went out for Indian food tonight with some friends. Two of these friends were so excited that I had never had it before and therefore wanted to show me the ropes, so to speak.

They ordered dish after dish, putting pieces of this and that on my plate.

And there I was armed with a fork and nothing to lose.

Did I love everything that I tasted?


Of course not. Not even close. I could go on and on about the cilantro that seemed to be the Indian version of salt and pepper, it was scattered throughout the dishes so generously; the potato that was (horror of horrors!) mashed and mealy and orange (and no, it wasn't a yam; please, I am not that lucky), the spicy bread that wasn't bread at all because isn't like one of the cardinal rules of bread that it be soft? And before you start telling me about crusty french bread and matzo bread and other hard breads that all you smart people can think of whereas I run out after only listing two, maybe I should rephrase it and say that it's one of my cardinal rules for bread.

That it be soft and IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

It's not like I'm wanting it served on the tip of a unicorn's horn or anything extravagant like that. Sheesh.

But as I was saying, some of the food was hard to swallow. And that was after the very difficult part of chewing it and tasting it, so my strength was already a bit flagged by the time it came to actually swallowing the stuff.


My friends were just so excited. They wanted to share their knowledge of Indian cuisine with me; they loved it and were happy to see cilantro brighten up my night too.

So I ate it. All of it. There was not one thing that I didn't try.

And we all had a smashing time.

And later on in the night, the waiter brought out some more bread. Soft bread this time. Delicious in all ways and here we go with me telling you how it was like seeing an old friend, unexpectedly.

Only, you know, in this scenario it doesn't end with me eating the old friend.

But I already explained that, I know.

And I guess my point is that sometimes there are just some things that are more important than a certain meal tasting good. Even when you're picky, even when you're me.

Oh, and some of the Indian food really was good; not every bite of it was simply for friendship's sake, if you know what I mean.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

oh the food

While doing a publicity event today, I was fed a boxed lunch.


As in, a whole bunch of sushi that came in a very big box.

Once again, I tried valiantly to like it, and although this time it wasn't slathered in mayonnaise or secretly hiding a horrible surprise tucked deep inside known as wasabi, it still tasted like a little dead fish that crawled out of the ocean into my mouth.

And unfortunately, there was no soy sauce to drown my sorrows in either.

And here's the thing: yes, I am in a foreign and evocative country and yes, I want to experience everything this country has to offer; but when that includes tastes that make me want to stop chewing and start spitting, then yes, I will go elsewhere. Because I am in a show that involves some energy and hey, a girl's gotta eat. So how terrible would it be if I confessed that I went to KFC today after the whole boxed lunch affair? And how awful would it be if I told you just how much I enjoyed that crispy chicken sandwich that was blessedly devoid of mayonnaise or wasabi or anything that had recently had a P.O. box in the Pacific Ocean?

Because I did.

And another thing, sometimes it's better just not to ask.

We were all feasting on some delicious bread at dinner tonight. The bread was black, but not burnt. It was a little toasty, but soft in the middle. I just assumed that it was made from olives or something and though I don't like olives in the least, I decided to just go with it because like I said, the bread was smashingly good.

So when my friend asked the waiter why the bread was black and he methodically told us squid ink?

I just kept chewing.

That makes up for KFC in a moment of weakness today, right?

Friday, August 14, 2009

the sounds of silence

There's something that I find quite disconcerting, performing here in Tokyo.

It's the silence.

Once we are at places, we are backstage, methodically going through some last minute stretches, turns, props (cause you know, ACL has just so darn many), conversations with each other--and all of this activity is masked by the cacophony of sounds coming from the audience.

They are chatting, situating, finding their seats, popping in some gum before the black out or whatever, the point is they are making some noise. Some blessed noise. And I never even realized how much I find that wall of accidental noise to be comforting. To be evidence of an energized audience, a reason for me to be all dolled up, stretched out, warmed up, lip-sticked and powdered.

But here, they sit silent as the grave. Oh, but surely it changes once you guys start performing, you might think?

Not really.

They sit there, politely smiling and yes, clapping when it absolutely calls for it (as in, you are standing there no longer moving or speaking and the music has stopped), but they rarely laugh.

Yet at our bow, they applaud like crazy, sometimes even standing up which is highly different for the Japanese. It is their custom to only give a standing ovation at a closing performance, and rarely even then. But they gave us one at our opening, which was quite an honor. And once we exit the stage they sit there and clap in unison, even in rhythm, for a long long time, hoping, I suppose for some sort of encore. Little do they know that we are already in robes and crocs and have no intention of stepping back onto the stage. At least not till the next show.

But still, how nice of them to show their appreciation.

It would just go a really long way to get some of that appreciation scattered throughout the entirety of the show. It'd really help to distract from the pain in the feet, the hunger you feel, the fact that maybe we are only in the 2ND number and have a ton to go. It'd really help to know that they are with us as we tell our stories, make our jokes, sing our songs.

And in America, an involved audience MAKES SOME NOISE.


I keep telling myself it's cultural, it's okay, it doesn't mean they don't like the show, but I will be honest and say that it's still pretty hard to get past. It still feels a little like the show is great, we're just ready for an audience. A live audience, for goodness' sake.

But it's actually pretty hilarious to hear the complete silence that follows almost every punch line in the show. And then to hear our own pitiful attempt at filling the silence with laughter; the laughter from people who have heard that joke every day now--sometimes twice!--for a year and a half.

But still, we try.

And on a completely different note, I saw this at a restaurant tonight, listing the different sizes for a particular salad:

Regular: 850 yen
US-Size: 1300 yen

Uh-oh. So now there's the regular size, meaning you know, a healthy normal amount of food to imbibe in one sitting, and...US-Size??? As in, come on over Fatty McButterpants and kid yourself into thinking that you'll "eat light" and "only order a salad," but it will be huge, dripping with dressing, just plain TOO MUCH, and utterly, unequivocally American.

We get it, Japan, we eat too much in America.

One plate from Texas Roadhouse could feed a family for a day.

The irony of the way you define your sizes is not lost here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I feel the earth move under my feet, just like Carol King said.

Okay first, don't be jealous, but there's something I have to tell you.

Not only does my current toilet come installed with a bidet, it also has a seat warmer.

Enough said.

Second, this whole earth quake situation has me mildly freaked out. Well, if the realization that you really can do nothing about it but you're still apprehensive can be called freaked out.

See, the thing is, I got it the first time, Japan. If you're trying to impress a girl from Pennsylvania with your ability to roll up the earth and make it seem like it's not ground at all, consider your goal achieved.

And really, some might say that three quakes in four days might be overkill. Like you're overcompensating. Are you thinking I might not notice how much of your sushi is slathered in mayonnaise if you keep the ground fluid? Are you thinking that a little tremble beneath my feet will keep me from running to the bathroom and spitting that mayo-slathered-sushi out?

If so, you're wrong.

Cause I will not eat mayonnaise in a quake; I will not eat it in a lake; I will not eat it Japan-I-Am; I will not eat it anywhere.

But moving on. And trusting God that I will make it back to America in one piece. And still moving on.

I am exhausted. Completely drained. I have done four shows in 24 hours and have yet another matinee tomorrow. I got five hours of sleep last night and my show shoes feel like they simply must be mistaken for something else because surely those torture devices could not have been intended to actually be worn; not by a blue-blooded and voting American, not in a democracy, not by someone who naively thinks they are ideal for not only standing but also dancing.

Seriously, the pain in my feet have reminded me once again how awfully a foot can ache. On the break, I had sort of forgotten about all of that, which was nice.

Tonight we had dinner in a Mexican restaurant. In Tokyo, Japan. Six of us walked in, and upon taking our seating number, the hostess asked if we wouldn't mind sharing a table. Of course not, we said, and we were led to share the table with these two gentlemen.
We pretended that we weren't taking the picture with them, but rather just with me and Brandon, but really I had instructed Sterling to please make sure she got our strange table fellows in the picture--and I obviously had to sidle up as close to them as propriety would allow.

The unfortunate part was that one was a chain smoker. As we were seated I assumed that they would be leaving soon, given that they had basically finished their meal, but no. Wouldn't you know that they had so much to talk about, so much to smoke about, and so we shared this table for almost the entirety of the meal.

I wouldn't have minded so much if it weren't for the part when their stinky cigarette smoke kept wafting in my face. Like it was cute. Like it didn't shrivel my lungs.

And a sweet Japanese woman convinced me to purchase some face wash that had, among other things, avocado and charcoal in it.
I tried it and so far, so good.

I also washed it off and am now completely ready for bed.

Thank God for this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

opening night in Tokyo!

Ah. Another opening night.

Only this one was kind of special because it was in Tokyo.

And we had super big screens to the right and left of our stage with characters on them that looked like this:


Okay, so not really like that, per se, but that's the closest thing I have to actual Japanese characters on my keyboard.

One good thing about having an audience that speaks Japanese is that if you happen to go up on a few of your lines in your one number, as long as you keep saying something, than they will never know the difference.


Well, at least that's what all your friends tell you. Because they're your friends and they generally are in the business of making you feel better when you're disappointed in yourself.

But then when you go to the swanky opening night party and see Japanese celebrities on the arm of a man who is certainly not Japanese and definitely speaking English, you realize that the jig is up. He, at least, knew. Because when you started simply saying doo bee da dee da ba for about one full phrase, he could recognize that it certainly wasn't the Queen's English anymore.


But then it goes full circle when, right as you lean over and tell your friend that you are rather embarrassed that you scatted just a little during Sing!, especially since you know that the English--speaking man was in the audience--that same English-speaking man next to the Japanese celebrities mouths to you across the way, You were fabulous tonight. And then he smiles. And so do you.

Okay, okay, so do I.

Because believe it or not, that scenario was about me.

And bless that English-speaking man's heart for saying that. It's amazing how much a kind word can buoy the spirit.

Oh, and this is Anthony who plays Richie and here we are, all dressed up in our party finery.
The thing about Anthony is that this is our third tour together and our second time in Asia together. See, he was my Tyrone when I played Iris in Fame Korea. We then did the National Tour of Will Rogers Follies together, and here we are on the line every night, you guessed it--together.

We joke that we need to start telling producers that we come as a package deal.

He's a sweetheart and a kind soul and we have laughed often together and had our share of deep talks that involve anything from Jesus to men to what we want to do when we grow up.

And one last thing about Anthony: he is the third man that I have ever kissed. We had some great smooches every night in Korea for about two months and boy does that man know how to keep his lips soft.

Oh and one last thing about opening night: although the Japanese do love the show (we've been told) they are very very conservative when it comes to laughing or even applauding for the most part. Many of us don't quite know what to do with our punch lines now that they are no longer followed by laughter. Raucous, wild laughter. Cause you know how amazingly hilarious we all are.


We've also added an actual bow to the show, instead of just letting the lights fade on our final kick line. This is because the audiences here will just keep clapping at the end of the show because they won't know it's over and won't leave. I am thinking that we might not give them enough credit, but hey, that's just me. Anyway, now we have this really cute little bow involving our hats and then we partner up and tip offstage, so it's really quite fun.

Plus the audience gets a chance to appreciate us and that is just never a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

erathquakes, tsunamis, and cat treats, oh my!

So, we set out for a bit of adventure today...But wait. Stop. First, let me tell you about the earthquake that woke me up at 5am this morning. Being asleep and all at the onset, I wasn't exactly at my sharpest when I first started consciously thinking.

So after hearing the immense amount of rattling that was taking place all around me, my first thought was, Somebody's trying to get into my room!!!

But it was more like, SOMEBODY'S TRYING TO GET INTO MY ROOM!!!, only, you know, in thought form.

And then, once I realized that my bed was shaking uncontrollably, really rolling around like it was fluid or something, my next thought was, And now they've gotten in and are shaking my bed!!!

So you can imagine my intense relief when I realized that the amount of noise and movement that had so abruptly woken me up was only an earthquake and not, in fact, harmful intruders who first broke into my room and then, horror of horrors, decided to shake my bed.

Because we all know that most break-ins are in order to shake a bed.

Jails are just full of those kinds of criminals and dear God, please protect us from them all.

But that earthquake really was something; it lasted a pretty long time--maybe even ten minutes--and I was glad when it exhausted itself so I could go back to sleep.

I am also glad that I didn't know about the tsunami warning (!!!) until it had already passed. I am terrified of tsunamis, but have always comforted myself by the fact that I have never lived closer than a two hour drive to any shore. Until now, that is.

Anyway, back to my adventure today.

It started with a trip to the 7-11 nearby. My friends all chose something uniquely Japanese, but me? I, uh, didn't.
Ritz crackers and Evian water are the universal language that translates quite nicely into S-N-A-C-K no matter what part of the globe you inhabit.

But don't worry I did eat some local fare later on in the day, and my friends bought this candy for all of us to share.
At least candy is what they said it was. Having only Japanese writing on it, there was really no way for us to tell what it was, but given how closely it smelled like something that crawled out of the ocean as well as the cat face it sported, we decided it might actually be a cat treat and left it alone.

And then we ventured out onto the subway for the first time.
And by we I mean smart people who actually figured out where we needed to get on and off while Brandon and I wandered behind, happy to follow and lost in our conversation.

It's nice to see how the Japanese care for the pregnant women.
And encourage rude, clueless teenagers to get off their seats and do the same.

We made it to the Tokyo Tower, although I gotta say that I did not think it was very beautiful.
It was pretty tall though, so there's that. We could look for miles and miles and still not see the end of Tokyo, this city is that big.

Oh and we stopped for a bathroom break there. I gingerly stepped around the urine that was on the floor and went to it.
After the tower, we went to a nearby temple and graveyard.
You may find it strange and morbid, but I love graveyards. I think the care and attention to detail in the burial of their loved ones is a special and telling part of every culture: we all love and miss our family, our friends, the people who create home for us.

Graveyards are hallowed and sadly beautiful testaments to the importance of each other, I think. And I kind of felt weird posing for this picture next to this gravestone; I didn't feel like a smile would be apropos, exactly, which left me looking like this.
But I am not sure that cats have the same sense of propriety. At least this one found nothing whatsoever wrong about catching a midday nap on this gravesite.
Too bad I didn't save one of those could-be-candy-but-is-probably-a-cat-treat for this kitty.

We visited the Imperial Palace, but couldn't see much of it because it's closed 363 days out of the year. So we settled for walking around the beautiful gardens that surround it.
And I loved the look of these two swans.
Doing what swans should do and not at all confused or doubting their calling. A lot of us could learn from this, I think.

Oh, and leave it to me to say, well, this...

Please bear in mind that we had only landed in Japan a few hours earlier and jet-lagged doesn't even begin to describe what I was feeling. I walk up to Mindy and her husband Dave who had already been sight-seeing in Japan for 10 days and suddenly remember the facebook status of Mindy's that said something about hiking the Japanese Alps a few days before. Perfect conversation starter, right? Ah, perfect conversation starter when you aren't exhausted and apparently dyslexic. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

I give Dave a hug and, in the middle of the hotel lobby, loudly ask him, So how was hiking the Alpanese Japs?

Yep, not only did I sound crazy, I also managed to sound racist. Just perfect. Of course we both laughed, but still--Japs?!?!?! Did I really have to accidentally say Japs?!?!

Apparently I did.