Category Archives: fall

>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.

>Keeping the Beauty in Mind

>Today I had to ride to the dentist for the third attempt at a root canal. I was not in the best mood, still tired, wrung out from an encounter with a former friend who is trying to keep his aged mother, who is suffering form dementia, away from all her friends, as a means of control. It was ugly yesterday and made me cry torrents. I always feel depleted the next day, which is today.

I woke up late, hoping against hope that the dentist would be an another hour, but instead I had to gulp coffee and hop on the pony. I could see I was still groggy and my mind kept me going back to the fight and the sadness I felt and saw in my friend’s eyes when we were separated. I thought about all the people who hadn’t come to see the opera, of all the pushing and conniving, of the wheedling and cajoling to develop an audience for this lovely opera. The level of disregard for a project like this given the economy tanking and the craziness surrounding the political climate leaves me feeling often scared and certainly anxious.

But on this ride, on the first ten minutes of this ride, I gave myself a strict talking to.

DO NOT MISS THIS DAY, I intoned over and over again.


It was crystal, soft air, feint breeze, and my legs and arms felt strong and I was happy to ride my nice old bike, tires full of air, up to 50th Street. My mind roiled back to sadness, missed calls, people I want to see or hold and still I pushed to return to the immediacy of the day. It was warm, I was healthy and I had work to return to this evening.

I had to keep seeing that.

And I did keep trying as I called the bigwig producers who turned me down for one thing or another, and I persevered to get names of other folks to call. Hang up, email, make a package, call another person, hang up send information. Keep sounding as if I believed and not as if I was flagging, and losing heart.

Did they know, this little cast and crew how much goes into turning on the lights and having butts in seats. Do they know how I fret over getting this last payroll to them on the 28th of September and how much I feel like a failure because I can’t and clearly see now that I won’t be offering them big money for all the miraculous stuff they have achieved.

I have to run now, shower, maybe more email, maybe more Advil OK definitely more Advil.

Here we go: week two.

>9/11 + 6

>Six years after September 11, 2001 and I forgot what day it was; until my friend and the man who published my book, A Mother’s Essays From Ground Zero, called to say he had dropped his kid off at school and made his annual donation to the fire department.

“OOOHHH, is it that time again.” Of course I knew it was September 10th yesterday, I had given it as a deadline to many writers for the October issue of THRIVE, but still sometimes I don’t track linear, but rather in a leap frog fashion. So to me, today was just another day. Until Dave called.

If it wasn’t Dave, it would have been my date-book declaring 911, Remembrance Day, or the news, but today, what would not have jogged my memory was the weather. It is raining today; blessedly gray and rainy and, as my date-book further informs me, we are in the midst of a solar eclipse. So there is no disconcerting bright blue sky, the cloudless brushed azure beauty with a crisp coolness and no humidity that makes me sick to my stomach now, any time this is a September day like that.

Imagine that legacy. AHHH it is gorgeous, clear . . . and UUUUGH, I feel scared, sickened, and full of anxiety. Wait, I know what’s up, it’s 9/11 weather.

But today’s gray drizzle, interspersed with sudden downpours is allowing me to have a different kind of remembrance–one that asks me to recall not only the day six years ago, but to question myself on growth, strides and missteps.

On the first anniversary of 9/11, I vowed this would be my most productive day of the year. I promised to dive into unanswered mail, pay off debt, wash my hair, go to the gym, write, practice my cello, cook a good dinner, return the most dreaded phone calls, do the laundry, change the sheets and have a major positive attitude.

I decided to offer productivity as a legacy to those whose lives were cut short. I would be over-the-top proactive. And so it is not yet noon and I am thru 5 loads of laundry, paid off some school loans, made calls I had put off, deleted all emails save those that need action and I am writing. I am editing. I am helping a friend with a micro-economic project in East Africa. I have to get a document notarized–silly but it takes time. I called an old friend to congratulate him on the design of a building. In fact, he was an Ex and it is often difficult to do those reach outs.

I don’t think anyone in my house knows about my pact with productivity, so for now they just think the rhythm of autumn has finally taken me in its grips and I am on a powerful roll.

But I know it is my way of acknowledging all the potential, all the efforts, the lovely lives cut short.

>The day after cleaning

>AHHH a scene change; after my explosive cleaning energy I am left with an overwhelming desire to sit like a lox on this final day of summer and make a fifth attempt as yesterday’s crossword puzzle. Perhaps I can blame the sudden laconic mindset on the party we held last night outside on our loading dock. It featured a pitcher of punch; made by my ( grown) daughter and contained apricot, and orange juice, mint and well . . . I saw an empty bottle of rum. And although I have a list to write: a review and a travel story, I seem to be able to achieve nothing save obsessive flipping of Internet pages searching for a small fast boat called a scull. A used one.

All of this came about when I rowed again last week, actually sculled since there are two oars, after a 22-year hiatus. This is a longer tale and will have to wait until some work is finished.

But I did need to clue any readers in on my quick energy loss, least I be viewed as someone I am not.

>Fall Cleaning

>I think it is fall the flip to cool that triggers my need for clean. I could care less about a tidy place in spring; all I want is outside, to dig in the earth and to run wild, but in fall my fancy turns to clean.

Crazy, but on this Labor Day morning as soon as my kid went to work and my husband ran to tennis, I polished the silver to a burnished new high. I brushed the super furry cats into a sleek sea skin and I am about to bake banana bread with the beyond ripe beauties that lie in the big blue bowl I carted recently from a ceramist’s studio in Fez.

I think it is a combination of cool and the looming energy of back-to-school that fuels my frenzy. I want order in order to begin what I always fantasize will be my most productive season, especially after the doldrums of summer. I am not a summer hater, but work does descend to a new low as the temperatures rise and everyone is on vacation so excuses abound. The editor was away, my agent was in Italy, my hands were too sticky to write, and I had to have a cocktail and lie in the grass watching the clouds.

But now the sky is whisked clean blue and the humidity gone and so I seek productivity.