Category Archives: birthday

>The Day After

>I had a big flowery birthday, with the cast giving me a bouquet on stage and they sang to me, I HAVE NEVER HEARD HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUNG LIKE THAT. And Henry was there and came on stage with me and later over a great dinner at the local Japanese place Zutto, he told me loved the piece and further so surprised me with his attention to details to discuss. My friend Susan flew in from SF (OK on her way to hike in Morocco, but still I got a drive by)

After dinner we went home to the loft where Zac, who I now call my big Keebler Elf, had baked the biggest, out of control cake–must have been 4 times the recipe and he had tivo’d the debate. We had cake to sweeten the distaste of this horrible political season in our country.

When I work up this morning, with a terrible sugar hang-over, nothing to do but give in and have a little hair of the dog, sugar style, but after Monday, I am going cold turkey healthy-wise. Nice to have Henry here, and Susan rushing off to a next engagement before her real jaunt.

I ran off to pottery, hoping to see some of the pottery gaggle that came and clapped and brought a beautiful orchid for me last night. Of course the little plastic pot fit like a glove into one of the nicer pots I had thrown and glazed.

Tonight, it is roast chicken mashed potatoes before the show, and the big cast party at Michael and Liz Pappas, they call parties at their house PAPPAS HOUSE OF PAIN.
I hope I am up to it, as I know I am a lightweight when it comes to booze and party hearty. I am bringing Henry, who can party til dawn and still make the 8a.m. train back to college. Zac wants to pack him up with cake for the apartment mates but Henry seems reluctant to travel with cake. I know we can find takers.

Tonight is the penultimate evening show and I am both a little melancholy and excited to attempt to get on with a better financial version of my life, although the entire country seems to be suffering from a deep financial malaise. I suppose I am with my girl Willi wanting to know where I stand if the REAL JOB is on or off. And then I jump back in, but can anyone really be going on “go-sees” for work after they have had four interviews and a test on the computer and is awaiting the hour-long virtual talk with the shrink on Monday.

The timing could be good, but then again I just read that Mercury went into retrograde. Scary as I thought it had been there all long and I happily blamed interplanetary discord for the ills of my life and the world.

Oh well, I will have to find other reasons, but the harmony on birthday DAY was healing, heartening and totally wonderful.

>58 in 08

>Okay, disorganized, but here goes. It’s my birthday and raining. I remember that for 20 years it rained every year on my birthday. Then I met this man, my love, to whom I am now married, and it stopped raining. So now when it occasionally rains, that is fine by me.

A great good friend Susan Burks jetted in from SF on her way to trek in Morocco and my lovely big son, all lank and sleepy eyes, trained in from the foothills of the Adirondacks and college. Susan is off at tea and Henry has been sleeping happily in his childhood bed, on a soft rainy day. He will eat copious amounts of fancy cheese bought by my love and his dad before he jaunts off to the theater with Susan to see the show.

Zac is staying home to secretly, like an elf, bake a giant birthday cake, although I can see all the fixin’s on the table arrayed like gifts themselves. And my daughter called from the south of France and we got to gab at length this morning while Zac brought me a strong dark cup of excellent coffee to wake me up.

Yesterday was a horrible though. I had to do the battery of tests for the potential “Real Job” and they were math and crazy spelling where you had to find the opposite, the antonym, of the word presented and they gave you the word jumbled, and then you had to pick the final letter in the word. So for a dyslexic it was:
Opposites
Reordering letters
And spelling finding the last letter

It was awful, and they had wanted me to do it in a chartreuse room with no natural light and no windows or air on a PC computer I had never used before and–lo and behold–I had a major panic attack. My therapist friend says this had happened to me because of PST from 9/11. Perfect that it happens while I am mounting this opera that I hope provides some assuagement from all the panic. But in that little dark, airless room, boy did I get super scared with my heart threatening to leap from my body.

I did finally get permission to take the computer to my house to do the test. Endless personality questions.

TRUE or FALSE
I have never had any hair on my head?
I can look at rivers for hours?
Wait, do I have hours or am I being a slacker?

Many of the questions begin with
I NEVER or
I ALWAYS and really, is there anything much that one can say never or always to other than for most of us at some point we have had hair on our heads.

I often feel as if I am being watched.
I know what others are thinking before they say anything.

Kind of an acid test for aliens.

But the test is over and now on Monday I have to speak to a shrink via phone from LA. As the therapist friend said, “You can just scream on Ninth Street in Manhattan and a shrink will step out the door.” But they had to hire one to talk by phone.

But I divert, this should be about me having the opportunity to celebrate my 58th birthday with a show I conceived, wrote, directed and produced, thank god I found someone to write the music, a great collaboration. I am overjoyed at the timing and the marvelous, magical friends I have been seeing at the shows.

It makes me see how rich my life is, how varied, and how lucky I am.

>Birthday Week/Country Blog

>In my family, we attempt to celebrate what we call a birthday-week. Mine started this past Friday, and it ends this Friday with my actual birthday, a show and a party given by child-wonder Madison Pappas’ equally wonderful mother, Liz.

But for the next two days, I am celebrating in quiet fall splendor in the country. Right now my celebration consists of sitting in a café waiting for my car to be serviced, for new brakes to be added and a tune-up to be administered to my old station wagon so that it can keep going until my kid is done with college.

I am also walking while looking in windows thinking about buying a new flannel nightie, mine is 15 years old this year, a pretty good run. I read the things I write sometimes and I think, they make me seem so crazy, or cheap or both but. . . any private behavior we have when exposed to the light of public scrutiny makes us look wacky, right?

I think that is what so much of the political season is about–taking small private things, or big ones, and exposing them to bright light in an attempt to discredit the ideas or experiences. For me, now it is beyond the “silly season” in American politics, a phrase I heard Obama use during an interview. But this is the dangerously silly season and it has me very unquiet in my mind.

The political climate has me missing some of my moments of happiness with this incredible operatic endeavor, or my personal silly season: a birthday. What I don’t miss is the happiness in the moment of unexpected people showing up at CALLING. I have jokingly said that it feels akin to the experience of a back-in-the-day show, called This Is Your Life. A quick recap for youth of America, as I remember the show, hapless folks came on with the pretense of some other show and instead the show trotted out an array of acquaintances and key players from the constantly weeping “stars” life. So far in my version of the show appearances have been made by teachers, former bosses, ex-boyfriends, neighbors and co-workers, whose support is unexpected and so heartening.

So here is my disjointed post , typed at the noisy café in Rhinebeck NY. The one cup of coffee has stretched and lasted for 2 hours now, while I added and sent the final payroll to the LaMama office in the hopes that after this final weekend we may have enough money to cover the tiny amounts we promised to pay the incredible artists who have populated this opera.

I am off to pick up my car, buy a big round pumpkin and maybe the flannel nightgown in the window of the poky store in town.

>Birthdays I recall

>Today is my birthday. It is an easy and popular day for births as it is 9 months after Christmas. Couple that with having been born in 1950 and it is very simple to know how old I am or how old I was in a particular year. My mother joked that she knew I would be mathematically challenged, and hence had the prescience to birth me in such a simple arithmetic year.

It seems birthdays, at the very least, should be etched or discernable in the haze of memory. But when I tried to do a mental rewind this week I found that very few commemorations of birth actually came up on my hard drive.

I wanted to find days I actually remembered, rather than seeing photographs and then allowing the murky emulsion to fuel and inform my memory. Like my first birthday with the Halloween theme and the incredible papier-mâché pumpkins adorning a long wooden table festooned with black and orange streamers. At least I imagine that was the color theme as the actual photo is black and white, well of course it was, the year was 1951.

After that what comes up is my 14th birthday. I was moody, probably hormonal. I hated, my mother, poor thing and my father was off running the press for the ill-fated Hubert Humphrey campaign. I received a telegram earlier from “ The Happy Warrior” the name of the campaign plane, and it was signed “HHH” it was followed by a small enameled blue pin with the same. I just found that pin tucked away in a box.

My mother made a poster, out of school project oaktag, it read: “Our 1964 Candidate for Happiness.” She turned her sewing room into a make-believe campaign headquarters with balloons and gifts and this poster. I entered and promptly ran off crying. I slammed out the kitchen door and ran up the hill to sob under some sugar maples in a dark night.

I recall that when I returned home having used tears to calm me, neither my mom nor my brother made a fuss about my fuss and then the memory curtain fades until. . . .

My 26th birthday. This is what my family calls a magic birthday, because you turn your age on the date of your birth. So 26 on the 26th.

I was working on the Bicentennial Barge, a strange floating museum that had been created to commemorate this country’s 200th birthday. I was in thrall with the equally young,
curly-headed public relations guy and we were moving the Barge to its next location when a giant storm blew up. Hurricane conditions and a group of young bone-heads moving a 200-foot barge in the dark of night across Long Island Sound. The crew was professional, at least, and they instructed us to lash ourselves to the bow of the boat and we were each given axes and told if the boat started to go down to cut ourselves free. Hell, it was my birthday. How many people are born and die on the same day? It seemed statistically comforting.

We finally made it into Port Jefferson, where the object of my crush was met with his FIANCE breathlessly hugging him while he looked sheepishly toward me. We had shared a number of trysts during our time in port, as sailors do I suppose, and mention of this woman just never came up.

I took the train home to my little West Village apartment; I was alone, wet and overjoyed to be alive. I ate a tuna sandwich over the sink and it still seems a stellar birthday feast.

40 I was the head of a new theater company and had two little kids, 2ish and six. And as I had been the Director of Special Projects for the City of NY for so many years, a job that entailed overseeing many gigantic fireworks displays, and had become friends with the Grucci family, the premier American fireworks family. So as a thank you, I guess now it might be seen as a kickback, but since I had no more work to give them I prefer to see it as THANKS alone. So as thanks, the Gruccis gave me a fireworks display down in what is now Battery Park City. It was billed as a benefit for my new theater company, but many folks knew it was my 4th decade too.

It was 1990 it must have been one of the last displays downtown, still on land, as there was open space to be had. Amazing, my kids were there ogling the lights, I danced with friends and had a chuckle when the next day in the school yard I heard the parents and teachers wondering why there was such a big display when there seemed to be no holiday or occasion. A wonderful secret to relish.

Half way thru the ride, 50 I decided NOT to have a party I had married a love of a man a few years earlier and we had a great big bash. My kids were getting bigger and I wanted a different kind of day. So I sent out a letters, emails or postcards to friends, family and co-workers who spanned decades. I asked them to send me their favorite memory of me. I asked that it come on my birthday or as close as possible, and that it be hand written. Well 96 crazy, unique memories and images came to me. They came by fax and post and fed ex and by hand. They came with flowers or giftys and they trickled in nearly all year.

We were supposed to go out for a fancy dinner, but Willi, my teenage daughter, was sick so we ordered Chinese food and ate home. It felt perfect. And it had nothing to do with what I had imagined or expected and being open to that was remarkable.

Last year 56. My kids were both away for the first time Willi on a trip to in Brazil, Henry a freshman at college and even my husband, Zac, was traveling; so I was alone. I wasn’t sad about it just quiet.

I got an invitation to go sailing with my first major boy friend on his wooden boat and he brought champagne and a friend for propriety. It was a soft, magical night. Wind whipping, me a little woozy, leaves changing and blurring on the shore, all kinds of memories shared and just clean kindness.

And now today 57, writing, lots of love, feeding birds, about to detach and play tennis. Dinner planned late with my girl and her lovely new man and perhaps calls, or messages from my son flung to Scotland for a working semester.

Memory sticks or fades in unfathomable ways; in fact its very ephemeral nature is what draws me. We can’t make memories, they choose us, which is why when they stick and revisit us we need to welcome the visit.