Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#35 The Great Drive Around - Part 2 (or should that be Act 2?)

"Hello Darlings", again! As I mentioned last post, I listened to the revival of CABARET CD at least 50 plus times (I exaggerate or maybe I don't). It just always gets better. Perhaps I listen to have Natasha Richardson wipe Liza with a Z out of my memory. Then again, I also picture Alan Cumming walking around my local dog-walking spot (Tompkins SqPk) in his PJs with his pup. We do not talk.
The other music I listened to was a collection of 27 CDs that my brother compiled of favorite folk music tunes from Chicago's Midnight Special radio show on WFMT. Woody Guthrie singing "This Land Is Your Land" and me weeping big tears over the music and the beauty I watched go by me, at just slightly over the posted speed limit. It was a most charming way to pass through the vastness of this wonderful country.
You ever drive through Texas? Don't. Well, if you have to, drive very carefully! I have first hand knowledge of troubles there. You do not want to be stopped by the Texas Rangers. There is this terrible tension of wanting to speed towards the boarder, but fear that to do so, will be a disaster. Luckily, this trip, I was able to pass through unscathed. I did notice the lowest gas prices of my journey ($3.01), but didn't need to purchase any. I didn't even stop at a SONIC for TaterTots and a Dr Pepper. That was a small joke, as I can't drink the stuff, since having some warm Pep back in my days at Oklahoma University and retching miserably. The mind never forgets. There is a beer story, too, but not for today.
I did make a side trip to visit my girl Georgia in Santa Fe. There was tea and some yummy treats. Did you know TheArtist was also a cook? Who knew. Here is her cookbook shelf. Notice that she was a fan of Julia Child:

So the return trip was an OU reunion. I stopped in Tucson, Phoenix and Tulsa. Lots of laughing, eating and tall tales. Next time I will divert down to Austin, Big D & Houston.
I did try to move to Houston in the 70's but chickened out. Something about my date, one night, jumping up on our table and singing "The Eyes of Texas" at a very loud volume, just made me miss Chicago enough to return for 9 more years. How different would life be, had I done that move. It is natural to think that, but as I am very happy with where I am, and who I am, at this very moment. I would change nothing in the past...the good, the bad or the stupid. It all lead to right now...sitting in a tiny studio, typing thoughts of a wonderful adventure, only a few days over.
What happens next? I've already got things lined up, but there is plenty of room for the unexpected.
This last Great Drive Around was perfect, except for the damage it did to my figure and my foot. Both will recover, as soon as I get some miles in of walking. I missed walking. I promised my friend Dale I would walk around TheCentralParkPond and donate to the Alzheimer's Association. Wouldn't hurt any of you to do the same. None of us are too far from that fate.
Off now to thank my friends for BDay greetings and to enjoy September in NYC. It is the perfect time here. The summer lingers, without the "nine circles of Hades" heat, and the Fall Theatre season is about to begin. Perfect, right?
Oh, I forgot to mention the thousands of very tall ladies in town for NYFW (NewYorkFashionWeek). For a person with NO fashion sense at all, I must say it is pretty exciting. I went to the Ralph Lauren show in ThePark last night. Holograms! Not one real model! But it was tons of fun. Here is a pic of the Brooklyn Bridge used as a backdrop for the show (fuzzy, as the holograms were projected on a film of water from the pond:

Cool, right? I love this town!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#34 The Great Drive Around - Part 1

"HELLO DARLINGS!" That's not me, that's Sally Bowels from CABARET, the CD I have been listening to since I left NYC (well, that is not quite accurate, but more on that later). I am on a journey and it is most delightful and adventurous, but as it is not nearly over, I thought it best to jot down some ramblings before they go completely out of my head, as does happen sometimes.
This was my primary object:
Yes, it is a beach. Yes, that is the Pacific Ocean. Yes, I am standing in 3 feet of water, and most fearful that I will drop my brand new cel phone in the foaming sea. Yes, it is Oceanside, CA. 

I left the perfect place to spend a summer, NYC of 85 to 95 humid degrees, to take Uncle Bob's car on a spin around the country. Really true. I departed early on a Wednesday morning for Detroit to visit my much missed Jill, next to Chicago, for 8 hours, to sleep and pick up the mail, on to Colorado to visit Dale & Art and also the new mommies Robyn & Jennie, then Cali. Now there the list gets complicated. Daughter Barbara was first, as she has been deprived of one on one mommy-time for far too long, then Jan, CarolLee, Linda, Babs, Nanette/Steve & Faye. As I type this, I know I didn't get to many friends I love to pieces and will make amends next time. I was only in Oakland 2 days and one of those days I was not particularly coherent. It does take some stamina to drive across country in 3 days. Did I mention the outrageously gorgeous Glenwood Canyon in Colorado or the High Desert at 5am? (not one car on the road...yes, I am an idiot)

There is so much beauty in this country. I think the politicians have lost touch with the magic of this land. 

Anyway, back to the journey. Barbara and I ate at Zachary's Pizza and guess what New York? You lose that contest! Shopping for gifts on Park Street in Alameda did not in any way tempt me to cancel my next year in NYC, but it was fun to see how things are progressing on "my street". Actually, I can make myself happy anywhere. I just prefer to be closer to theater people. I did see some of that "species" up in Sonoma, at a great evening of song and dance with my pal Babs. Then some excellent quality time with my sissie-in-law, a quickie visit to AngelsCamp to laugh with my Pod Faye(inside joke)...then LaLa and the cuzzies, and Duckie. Yes, I give my peeps, nicknames. That's a sign of love! I've got tons of nicknames and I dole them out liberally. Love, I say!

So the final destination was Oceanside and the wonderful retreat my pal MaryElena has on the beach, that she inherited from her parents, a real house with rooms and windows on the ocean. I love the beach, the water, the waves, the sun, the sound of the surf...I just hate sand! There was a full house of old friends and family and the talking, eating and laughing never ended. Relaxing, but yet exhausting....a perfect 4 days. There was the added excitement of huge waves from Hurricaine Marie. Thanks Mexico! 
I have one more afternoon in Cali, then Part 2 of The Great Drive Around begins. More adventures await and more interesting encounters with friends and strangers. Stay tuned......lots of good things planned and unplanned. That's what makes it an adventure. 

Oh, did anyone pick up on the fact that I drove from The BayArea to LA without getting a speeding ticket? My living in NYC without a car, and avoiding those tickets may be the reason California is in dire financial trouble. Tough luck CA, I'm only going 8 mph over the posted limit. I need my $$$ for theater tickets......and GAS. Jeez, the prices ranges from $4.89 to $3.19. Don't get me on that subject!


Friday, July 18, 2014

#33 Life - I plan to comment on this word

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an
attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, bourbon in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"     "after" Hunter S Thompson

Now, I don't read the above mentioned Mr. Thompson, he was a bit too drunken and hateful
towards women for my taste, but that amended quote is pretty damn good. As Elaine Stritch died yesterday and my brother passed away a few months ago, quite unexpectedly, death has been on my mind. I was on a marathon car trip the other day and there was time to ponder at 70 mph.

I often say that you should live every day to the fullest, because a house could fall on your head tomorrow. Well, it happens! Hug those you like and tell the ones you love that, too. You just never know and every day really is an adventure. Well, it's up to you to find the magic in the day. I had a topsy turvy week (and it's only Friday), and I refuse to have it turn out terrible. I will, however, accept it as a learning experience and squeeze some joy out of those crushed lemons. 

So, Elaine Stritch, let's start there. I've seen her shows, talked with her afterwards and at StageDoors, but I did have one truly special encounter with her. On a very pleasant Sunday, 2 years ago, I think, I was walking down Madison Avenue with my bestie Jill. We were on the tail end of a marathon walk through CentralPark and beyond. It was around 4ish.  The legs were giving out. We are waiting for the light to change, to cross at 79th, and I see, standing on the far corner that very familiar face and those long skinny legs. The light changes. Halfway across, I call out, "Hi, Stritchie, how'ya been?" All action stops as we have a brief but cheerful exchange in the middle of the intersection. She is on the arm of a tall blonde young man. She thinks she knows me because I was so friendly. Huge smiles on all parts, and we wonder where we all are walking and how great the day had been in the city we both love. The light goes yellow. Not wanting to be responsible for her possibly being hit by a car & having the world hate me, toodeloos are said and off we go. She away from The Carlyle and we towards. All the tiredness has gone. Her vivacity and radiance boosted our energy. The woman exuded life. Jill and I happily talked about her from what we knew from living in TheCity. Isn't it funny how New Yorkers think any other New Yorker, even the famous ones, are family? Tonight they dim the lights on Broadway. She really was one of the top tiered Divas.

So, truth be told, I'm not over my brother's death from last April. Perhaps I am a bit angry with him, as well. He and I were a team; as kids, the two of us against the world of adults and as adults, against the idiots we encountered. The guy was smart. Really, he was much smarter than I am, and I'm not too dumb if I passed the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" test 7 times! (not selected, I think because I am unphotogenic and hide under my hat, but that's for another conversation.) So, I need to say this about my brother. He is a hero to me. He went through life on his own terms. Got everything he wanted with his own dime. While our parents did give him a top notch education, they didn't help him one bit out of college, because he dropped out of Law School. You know, I think it was brave and wise to leave a path that was not suited to your personality. He would have been a terrible lawyer. No bullshit in that man and he hated to compromise his values. He had lovely friends and they miss him, but none more than I. I still think of thousands of things I need to call him up about every week. He NEVER called me. That's the truth. He was just funny that way. The other thing he did that was hero worthy was to break away from the toxic relationship that my mother fostered. She was ruthlessly mean to him because he didn't conform to her standards of dress and association. While I dutifully kept dealing with an aging parent who just couldn't stop mean things from coming out of her mouth, he said, "ENOUGH!" He is hero for that in my eyes. Someday, get me drunk enough and I will tell you some of the ugly words that were spewed. I am an easy drunk. It will only take 2 Cosmos and I will tell all the family secrets.

So we come back to the quote at the top. Love life to the max and do it in your own style. Both of these people did that. Both will be missed for that reason, because most of us give in and secretly long to be braver and freer. I wish my cel phone could reach Heaven. I could ask Uncle Bob some things and get his perspective on history. As to Elaine, she may not be there. I do believe she was a bit on the bawdier side. Wherever she is, I am sure she is laughing and drinking her own Cosmo (but only one a day).

Friday, June 27, 2014

#32 Hot Time/Summer in TheCity .........and a PS

"Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity?
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head"

You know the song, or you should know the song. I am musing about summer in NYC and it makes me happy. I noticed today that I was walking down the street with a big grin on my face. That needs to be discussed.
I have frequently said, to anyone who will listen, that I love summer in NY. BitchFaceLandlord (she from the first apartment, ThePowderBlue Palace) once asked me, "Will you go to The Hamptons for the summer?" You can guess my response and it was not without swear words.
Discounting the tourist hoards and the steamy subway stations, I love June to September.
First and foremost, there are tons and tons of FREE events everywhere. The concerts, movies, yoga classes, juggling lessons, Broadway events, museum days, street closures, kayaking on The Hudson, parades, outdoor cafes...the list goes on and THERE IS MUSIC EVERYWHERE.
The theater madness of the Tonys is over and there are lots of new shows to see and off Broadway plays to go to. Walking home from them at night is fun because the sidewalks cool off, and I can ensure to log-in my 6 to 7 miles a day. That's important, because I do go to The Big Gay Ice Cream Store on 7th Street more frequently in the summer. I also eat outside a lot: Shake Shack Chicago Hot Dogs are more fun sitting on the grass, watching people taking pictures of The Flatiron Building in Madison Sq Park.
Next, of course, there is the physical side of summer. Sandals are an everyday item and tank tops come out of the back of the closet (if I had a closet). By the end of September I will have zebra feet from the suntan on my tootsies, and I will have seen far too many naked body parts of my fellow New Yorkers. I refer to the tattoos which all those tank tops and short shorts reveal. Some are gorgeous. Well, the pretty bodies usually have pretty ink. Then there are the soft flabby bodies which are a bit harder on the eyes and can sometimes cause retching. "People, some of you need to not be so brazen in your flaunting of arms, legs, bellies and butts! I know it's hot out there, but COME ON HAVE SOME DIGNITY!"
I never have to pay for a Spa Sauna in NYC. I just spend quality time on the Subway Platform and sweat to death. True, the trains are air conditioned perfectly, but sometimes you have to wait up to half an hour in DeathValleylike heat (factor in 98% humidity) for one to come along. Breathing becomes an issue. OH, NEVER BREATHE THROUGH YOUR NOSE IN THE SUBWAY. That is a given, for the entire year.
Also, walking & stair climbing is wonderful exercise anytime, but during the summer there is the added joy of music and movies; tons of free movies in parks, vacant lots (still some in Brooklyn),  beaches and rooftops. The colorful humanity of TheCity gathers to relax and laugh, cry, scream or swoon. Folks are friendly and sometimes share in the picnic goodies. I can have a nice conversation with almost anyone while waiting for a film to start. I'll even bring something to nosh.
The music venues are found everywhere, too. Office buildings open up their atriums. LincolnCenter and CentralPark have free operas and performances. You are only limited by the creativity of your computer's e-mail listings in locating things. I could manage none of this without my computer! That's a fact!
I will mention 2 unpleasant summer factors: tourists walking 4 abreast and bums sleeping on my street in their underwear, but if I say if quickly, perhaps it will leave my brain without doing any damage. (nope, didn't work)
So, forget all you have ever heard about NYC in the summer. Come and visit. June isn't even over yet. There is still time. It might rain, true, but that will be a blessing, as I always walk around in the rain and cool off.

Now, the most important part of today's blog.....
PS: Last week, my son wrote in an email to his wife and also said to me out loud, "I miss New York."
My work here is done.

Friday, April 25, 2014

#31 I'm Fine...The Muse Is Back

After many pleading e-mails, my blog continues, not because of the requests & inquiries as to my well being, but because I feel the need to write. I miss putting my thoughts down and real life will just have to slow down for 1 day, so I can do so.
I have been busy: trudging through the drifts of snow and slush for months, finding ways to keep the cold out of my adorable tiny tenement studio, reconnecting with friends from my last stay here, figuring out the Off & OffOff Broadway Theaters, seeing almost all of the Spring "shows" (except Hedwig - I WILL win that lottery!) and tooling around town with visitors from the other side of the Hudson River.
Yes, busy!
Yesterday was the PERFECT example of why I love this city. 5 days ago, I was planning my week. I am a good planner. I was a City Planner for the Real Mayor Daley, after all. There was an event I wanted to go to: Meryl Streep, Julianna Margulies, Kevin Kline, Patrick Stewart, Parker Posey, Rosie Perez Billy Crudup, Tina Fey and other artsy fartsy people, reading their selected poems on National Poetry Day at Lincoln Center. Tickets were $75. Pooh, I decided, too expensive, even for La Streep! So what happens at 10AM yesterday? I get an e-mail offering tix for $25. Bought one in 2 nano seconds!
The event lived up to everything I had hoped for. All the "celebs" were present, as advertised, and were outstanding. The crowd was elegant. The Hall was resplendent with "posh", but there were 3 people who were clueless dolts. When Julianna M. was reading a perfect poem about loss, her face was wet with tears (and mine, too, because my brother had passed away 2 weeks before), someone's phone went off. She paused, waited for the damn thing to stop, and then beautifully continued. Next Meryl steps to the podium. She is speaking. Another phone rings. She smiles wryly, then continues. She begins her second reading and ANOTHER phone blares. She stops, waits and when silence returns, repeats the poem from where she was interrupted. Well done Meryl. As she starts her next poem, she says so sweetly, but with all her acting chops blaring down on the offenders, "This will be the final poem. Please silence your phones, NOW." Of course, there was pandemonium in the audience. Patti LuPone would have handled it differently, but no less dramatically. It was "live theater" heaven.
I was so energized, that I walked all the way home from 68th to 5th Street and over 9 Avenues East. Took about an hour. I was really pumped.
That's all...more sooner, rather than later.

Monday, December 30, 2013

#30 Remember me?

Please don't look at Blog #29. If you do, you will see that it has been over a year since I have sat down to write. Well, I write. E-mails and FaceBook and the occasional real letter on paper, that is not what I mean. My muse has been AWOL. I would like to think that she has been having a wild fling somewhere in London or Barcelona. Perhaps she was exploring in Namibia or Patagonia? Where ever she was, it wasn't with me in Alameda/Oakland or driving back and forth 3 times (and 9 thousand miles) to NYC. She is a that as it rhymes with itch.
So I am back in New York. 2 more years! I volunteered to return, in order that my fully capable and very smart son would have a reliable Subway Guide. Natalie, I was never worried about. She will navigate this city, to and from NYU and to all points far and wide, without a problem. Given that Richard would get lost in Berkeley, you get my drift.
Not that I am with them that much at all, anyway. They lead their own lives. We pass in the very narrow hallway which holds our kitchen (if you can call a mini fridge, a sink and a very small gas stovetop/oven a kitchen), chat about what's going on and then go and do our "thing". They are night people, and I am very much a day person. No one is underfoot. As far as I am is all perfectly choreographed.
Speaking of choreography, I am branching out as far as the "theatre" is concerned. I am doing lots more off Broadway and even off off shows. I still haven't seen Matilda or Kinky Boots, those big blockbusters. I am going to improv, dance and comedy shows. I saw an all girl production of Julius Caesar and an all male production of 12th Night. Readings and concerts done by My Divas are still high on my list. Lots to do and not enough time or money to do them all. 2 years is not long enough...which brings me to my real point......there never is enough time.
Two weeks ago, I got a kick in the gut that has not, nor ever will be mended. Someone so close to me I consider a sister has told me that she has Alzheimer's. I can't really talk about where my head and heart go when I get close to that last sentence. It's too soon, and I am too close to her to be able to stand back and think. I just react. Been doing that for 2 weeks now and it's not getting easier. I just need to say one thing out loud and each day well, by telling those you care about, they are loved. I was going to say something about being healthy and exercise, but in this case, she did all that and that fucking disease found her anyway. I'm so angry!
It has been my humorous diversion to say that my life is a Soap Opera that no one would even bother to watch. We all have aggravations and emotions that fill our lives, but in the great scheme of things, all that drama is just background noise. Nothing matters more than friendship and love, and I am very angry that some monstrous disease is taking that away from me. I fully intend to be a glass half full person to my friends and my family. Please join me in that quest.
Someone sing TheBeatles "All We Need Is Love" now. Please don't ask me to start it. I have an "only in the car...alone" kind of voice!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

#29 Friends, Gott'a Love'm

It's the season to be thankful. I've been thinking about such things lately. Being back in the bosom of my family, and catching up with and visiting friends I haven't seen in 2 years, will make a person thank her lucky stars for the people who populate her Venn diagram. There have been some that got lost from my view, and some I wish never to see again, but I do count myself very fortunate on the friend front.
I have often thought that I should have been more aware of "the friend factor" long ago. A person who has 1 friend in their world should probably be avoided (and that shouldn't include their mother), along with those who have so many that they flit from one to another. I've got a friend who went to nursery school with me. I care not to count how many years that represents. Don't let me get on the subject of my SummerCamp buds. We even have reunions, and I remember all the words to the songs. When I drove back from New York I saw pals I had in college, and when we sat down together the conversations and laughs started right off from where we had left them.  God, I am blessed with good luck. Well, I will take some credit for these blessings. I do have a delightful personality (if you can't poke fun at yourself, you are doomed).
When I left for NYC, there were parties and dinners and get togethers to speed me away and to wish me well. Had I been blogging then, you wouldn't have seen words about loss. There would have been little worry on my part about not seeing those faces again. I love my friends. Frankly, also, I never even gave one nano second of thought to the fact that I really only had 1 friend when I landed at Kennedy Airport in October of 2010. I did know that I wasn't going to hang on my friend Susan's coat tails and rely on her for my introduction to real life in The City. That's an ugly way to treat people.  She wasn't going to baby me. I did, however, rely on her for restaurant tips. SHE NEVER GAVE ME A BAD  RECOMMENDATION. The girl knows her food!
Anyway, back to having zero friends in a new town...Rush Lines! Yes, that was where I started to build up my friend base. I talk. I talk a lot, and it proved to be very useful. I made pals in Rush Lines and at Stage Doors all over. Downtown, Midtown, even in Queens, wherever there were theater people, we talked. I actually started the process the previous September in LA, at the Leap of Faith SD, where I casually said to this nice young woman standing around waiting for Raul E, while I was waiting for Kendra K, "I'm moving to New York to do this very thing 24/7." That was Elisa, and we have been best buds ever since. Oh, have we been around the town, and does she know EVERYBODY! (some adventures to tell another time)
WICKED lottery was another place where conversations led to friendships. People of all ages, waiting in Schwartz Alley, trying to please the Lottery Gods and smile at Joel, the tight lipped man who pulls the names. By the end of my 2 years, we were on first name basis, and I can guarantee you, he NEVER gave me a break. (insert bad word here that rhymes with truck) I even have a picture of him smiling with my daughter, a major win!
Then there was the magic of having visitors. When people came to stay with me, they introduced me to other people and actors and singers who broadened my world. Jacqueline (queen of the TWickies) dragged me to a fund raising concert early on in my adventure, and that's where I got into the world of the sweet singer/songwriters. The list of these Divas is too long to include. I have mentioned them before. I can truthfully say that in following these gifted women, they have been appreciative of the support and  nice friendships have evolved. I'm not stupid enough to think these stars are my close friends, but they know I care and a friendliness has resulted. You see how fast I get a group together when they venture out to California in the near future. Morgan James is coming to Modesto in December...we will be there!
Can't leave out my Internet pals. There is a group of women I hang with on-line, who come to NYC to gather a few times a year to celebrate certain extraordinary actors from TV. Great fun. Great dinners and great times wandering New York. A few of them have welcomed me into their homes, and we are like family. Long walks around Central Park or visiting hometowns, a mere bus ride away, make for great conversations and resultant closeness. I cherish these new friends. They are solid gold to me, and I like that they value me. They didn't have to befriend me. Their lives were already full. How lucky am I? Very.
The culmination of the friendship circle was the Welcome Back Party the TWickies had for me 2 weeks ago. Did we laugh? Did we eat? Did we embody the true spirit of friendship? Yes, indeed!
None of these people knew each other before February of 2009. Total strangers. Yet we have bonded and are friends. We worry about each other. We are happy when someone succeeds. We rejoice in the evolution of this group. That they wanted to have a party for me was a bit overwhelming, but I got over that real fast. It wasn't really about me. It was about the group and it was beautiful. They are beautiful. Life is beautiful. You are beautiful. "Thank you for being my friend!"