Category Archives: friends

>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.

>Small House. Big Hearts.

>Today Saturday, a gorgeous perfect fall day.

And I was stuck attempting to continue to take this mechanized assessment test for the REAL JOB, a series of endless computer screens and math questions.

Oh my god — math and me. Bad in high school, worse as I got older. The lowest math score ever registered by anyone applying to the Yale School Of Management. I mean, a monkey would have gotten higher. So for this test, if the choice is “NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION TO ANSWER THE QUESTION,” you can bet I check that. And in fact, that is the truth; as it is not enough information for ME to answer the question. How much information would be enough? Well, if they laid it out like paint by numbers chart, maybe I could plug them in. But honestly, still not a sure thing.

Then you have to write what your most ardent admirer would say about you and your most vehement critic. I asked my husband, and he said it didn’t mean what any of your ex’s would say WHEW.

So I worked away at it for a while, going through the 350 first questions and slugging through the logic and other stuff until I excitedly came to the language skills part. I like those kind of questions, but it was not to be. My computer froze–well, the screen for the test froze. I tried all manner of things to get it back on track and then I wrote this email to the headhunter and the test administrators.

So, it is the most beautiful fall day ever and I am being a good sport taking this test. And it crashes and I
A) Call the help line
B) Attempt to reset the browser
C) Printout the time and error type #2050
D) Send an email detailing all attempts to restart said test
E) ALL OF THE ABOVE

ANSWER E

Now to the logical progression of this glitch. In frustration I
A) Beat the computer to a pulp
B) Go outside on my bike to have some fun
C) Call a tech friend and ask them to finish the test
D) Decide that this would be a good moment to take a nap

ANSWER B

I thought it was funny and if they don’t, I guess that is what in BIZ School they would call DATA. So see? I did learn something.

Now to the opera. Last night the show was kick-ass, super good. I was slack-jawed as I thought I had gotten inured to the good and the bad, I was sort of floating in the audience, and then bang wow. It was so good.

Tough because our audiences have been tiny, this week but last night just as I was about to call places, in walked my two first bosses from over 3 decades ago at the Off-Off Broadway Alliance OOBA, Marnie Mueller and Karin Bacon. There they were, still beautiful and stylish, and I near to cried from their kindness at coming down to see this show. And tonight, I had a call telling me that two teachers from High School are in the car, caught in traffic near Yankee Stadium and I should meet them outside LaMama at 6:30. Well, of course I will.

So the house may be small, but the shows, the singers, musicians and the rest are increasing in prowess and every night there seems to be a blast from my past that warms me incredibly.

>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.

DO NOT MISS THIS DAY.

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.

>The Day After Opening/ Lucky 13

>Last night was beyond astounding. Packed house, really full, me telling the box office to sell tickets that were not there–I mean not printed, and we used programs as tickets.

People sitting on folding chairs on a balcony or stair. The New York Times photographer snapping as folks arrived and the reviewer sitting in the aisle.

FINGERS STILL CROSSED.

Energy through the roof. The singers hit the notes, the highs and lows, somehow they found consonant and vowels. Who knew that vowels are easy in opera, but words like GLUE turn into GOO. Or PILE becomes PIE. Since I have no idea what goes into an opera and I just blurted out LET’S MAKE AN OPERA, this entire process has been a hapless wonder to me.

And fair warning readers , my house guests from the South, who got up at 11am, to find me at work on my Guggenheim grant application, due Monday, (oh the universe has a sense of humor), asked, “Can we take you to a wonderful lunch?”

“How wonderful?” I asked.

“Whatever you want.”

So I called Chanterelle, really the best anywhere, but it is around the block from me and they have helped so much with Calling. You know they took us right away and treated us royalty. We had champagne and wine. This is in the middle of the day, mind you. I came home at 3:30 believing I had missed the Sunday matinee; please recall that it is Saturday… oh my god, that lunch seemed really long and magical.

Oh the discussion among a Jungian mother and her daughter with me as the interloper when weaving between marital sex, an opera about September 11 and how to promote healing, the distancing that sons MUST DO WITH THEIR MOTHERS, and food, travel, art, literature and jewelry. That’s really all I can recall and it was marvelous. After lunch they went to buy champagne for after the show and then jumped into a cab to run to the Guggenheim before it closed. I asked them to bring back good luck from there for my grant and I hugged the couch and cat and took a well-deserved nap.

Why was last night so wonderful? Because the cast had gelled, the fear subsided, (before last night we had run the show only twice, really) and with this diminution of fear came boldness, not recklessness but the confidence of professionals. The stage manager was on time, the lead little girl had pigtails and not a salon “do”, and the light board operator ran the lights, not the designer. The fans that click and clack were turned off. And although the theater must have been 500 degrees (okay 90) it was calm, save the late comers seated and wedged with children into the balcony. But that is, as my mother used to say, “an upscale problem.” I wish us too many in the audience every night.

My roommate from college, Nina, was there with her sister, Deb, and we hugged, acknowledging our 40th anniversary. The very pregnant and gorgeous Rebecca Asher Walsh, tan from the summer in East Hampton, was prettier pregnant than her normal radiant self and was squired by Dr. Chuck, who is the cutest soon to be dad in our circle. Christine and Carter came–bigwig music and art couple, and I believe they really did love it. Neighbors came, the friends whom I met in Morocco last summer came from Birmingham and Pensacola to support and fete me.

At the curtain call everyone who worked on this baby from any point on came to the stage and we held hands and bowed. And my teary eyes saw my husband who had begged off coming as he had work and a biz trip this morning. But there he was in the back of the theater, smiling and clapping for me the second night in a row. He had even ridden his bike in the rain, He does not like rain the way I do.

So Zac and I didn’t go out with anyone. We biked home to snuggle and wait for guests and I just wanted my “normal life.” On occasion now when I find myself uttering, par hazard, phrases that crop up in the opera, I feel like a parody of myself, but I need to remember no one sees this but me so I need to relax.

Oh wait, that’s another line.

Ok back on the bike, (another line) and off to the theater.

Break a leg.

>Paragraph Depeleted

>What I mean is that I don’t feel as if I have the brainpower, or mind space or some good computer term that would indicate how fried I am. So I thought maybe I would resort to lists to express how the first invited performance went last night.

This is in the order the thoughts come to me, and I wish I could send this out without spell check or spacing check or insanity check, but alas I’d like to cling to the few writing jobs I have and if they saw the true mess I am, even those would be gone. Here is what happened last night.

The stage manager arrived at 8pm. I kid you not–the curtain is at 8pm–so I acted as the stage manager until the final moments.

I asked the electrician to do one task and that was turn off the electric fans that are poorly mounted to the ceiling so they clack incessantly. He did not.

The lights of tribute were amazing because it was so overcast it was as if you could climb them into the sky. Especially transformative after champagne, exhaustion and stepping from an overheated, but incredible party into cool air.

My friend from Brownies, from when I was 8, the age the two little best friends in the show are now, well, Nella came to the show with her husband, a blues musician, I called him a blue grass musician, saw that was an insult and thought, well the word ‘blue’ is in it right? Oh no. They loved the show and I loved them for coming.

Diane and Dick came down from Salem, Mass. I met them on a press trip I took to the Galapagos Islands. Such lovely folks… meant the world.

The gaggle of gorgeous young volunteers, led by event wizard Hattie Elliot and Grace Samson, who took over the lobby and the bike shop and made magic.

I gave books to everyone in the cast.

My great, good girlfriend Thalia flew in from Milwaukee and cried sitting next to me the entire time.

My friend and lawyer Tori came, she almost never leaves work.

My upstairs neighbor, Terry Berkowitz, who designed the book and has expressed over and over how much she hates opera, came.

My financial advisor Lisa came, my pal Dave came–he also hates theater, and he was the editor for the book. He dragged his girlfriend and his stepbrother.

My kids’ cousin from the wretched baby daddy’s side of the family came, WE LOVE HER, and she cried and hugged me. Her sweet boyfriend helped carry buckets of ice and water. I asked them when they were going to get married. Hattie dragged me away saying I had too much champagne. It was one glass.

Liz Papas, mom to little star Madison, bought the champagne and told me she got it donated, it was lovely but not as stunning as she was in a wrap dress.

Souhad and Paul were there, she so beautiful and not aware that she is. Soheyla and Pico, Mitchell and Whitney, Lori and Laurie, and on and on and on.

We were clapped for and toasted and I thought, oh let’s limp home after watching, barely helping Hattie’s mom and dad, Margaret and Rod, load up all the left veers into their car. Oh, let me go home and sleep, but neighbors Liz and Michael Pierce had other plans. So I was a good sport and we ate late at the local pub, Walkers right across from the fire station, the one that loaned us the fire coat that the cast believes is magical.

The entire night was magical.
I am so full of appreciation to all the components of my life.

BUT I still am only fantasizing about sleep.