Wednesday, December 30, 2009

pre-New Year's Resolutions

Why wait, right? Friday is just another day in the grand scheme of things.

1. I resolve to count to ten more often before flying off the handle. Assuming I can remember to count to ten instead of flying off the handle.

2. I resolve to enjoy the food I put in my mouth, rather than inhaling it.

3. I resolve to increase my activity level to 45 min/day minimum, even if it means walking or biking after a run. I recognize that I will not be able to workout every day this year and I accept that limitation. I resolve to listen to my body and be sensible about running and all of the other activities I do, so that I am not sidelined by unnecessary injury.

4. I resolve to take more photos and upload them on a semi-regular basis.

5. I resolve to find one hour/week to write for me.

I think that's enough for now. These will be challenging, but not impossible. Most are measurable in some fashion, so that I can tell if I am successful.

Anyone else have resolutions to share?

I hate New Year's resolutions, by the way, which is why I'm resolving BEFORE the ball drops. It feels more authentic that way. Does that make me a fraud? I don't care if it does.

Counting to ten....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

taylor swiftly tilting planet

never heard of her until the kanye thing at the AMAs. i know, i live under a music rock. now i can't get "it's a love story..." out of my freakin head.

syd and i like the other one "you belong with me." we regularly finish each other's lyrics around the house. dh looks at us as though we are crazy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

many the miles

"how far do i have to go to get to you?
many the miles...
many the miles..."

good friends feel far away.
the internet is supposed to make us feel closer, but even if the cyberdistance is nil, the physical distance still exists, and nothing with an 'e' prefix is going to change that.

i am fighting the seasonal-affective (undiagnosed but present) sadness and disarray. lots of forces have teamed up to throw me random curve balls. i try to hit them all out of the park, but once in a while (to continue the beleaguered metaphor), i have to take one for the team and get beaned on the head.

snow. too much effing snow. i've never been a snow lover, despite growing up and residing in ohio for much of my life. i certainly don't love snow now that i live in a city that is ill-equipped to handle it. i haven't seen mail since friday. the recycling truck came this morning but we had no place to put the detrius thanks to the snow. not sure when trash guys are coming. roads are icy in the neighborhood; driveway was slick despite my shoveling. i should post pictures soon.

the move happened. we have too much stuff and too many boxes. i wonder if i will ever see the floors in any of the rooms.

health crap still exists for dh and me.

work is a dead zone. had to come into the office this morning because the cable (internet and phone too) went out yesterday afternoon. no telecommuting for me. one hour in traffic, even though i left at 9 a.m., which is supposed to be the end of rushhour. guess all had the same idea. there is alleged work to be done, although my inbox has been empty for several hours.

sick of holiday ads and sales and crap. we don't need more stuff. we need to fix what's broken in the government and society. a kindle isn't going to do that. sorry.

don't know what to get my dad for hanukkah. it's over, but i didn't buy for him. he doesn't need anything. he doesn't want anything that i know of (except for obama to be out of office, but that's something i don't care to participate in).

i don't know what's for dinner, where my hairbrush is, why i'm still at work with nothing to do, or what i'm going to do with the kids on friday. movie? there is that new princess and the frog thing, i guess. that could be fun.

dh told me to smile on the way out the door this morning. "eff you" i whispered under my breath. i don't feel like smiling. i'll smile when the sun comes out, when it doesn't get dark at 4 p.m., when the snow is gone and the ground has dried, when i can eat more than 1200 calories a day and not feel guilty, when i can sleep past 6:45 a.m., when politicians stop effing around with healthcare, when we get out of wars we shouldn't be in, when the boxes are unpacked, when i find a therapist and up my medicine....

it feels like january. or february. we're still in december?

it's dark out. must be time to head home.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I think, therefore I blog

I have not clogged the blogosphere with my random thoughts in quite some time. The universe is apparently unhappy with this, so I am posting random thoughts in the order in which they come.
My children have too much Halloween candy and too much of it is ending up in my mouth instead of theirs.
I was hounded at work to log 40 hours a week, but now that I am asking for 40 hours' worth of work, there isn't enough for me to do. Hello? Couldn't we have left well enough alone?
I edited two lessons on Hamlet today and realized how much I miss reading and studying literature for the joy of doing so.
I ate soup from a can and it wasn't bad.
My brother and sister-in-law are at a challenging point and if I were a praying person, I would pray. Instead, even thinking about praying for something makes me feel weird inside, so I will ask the universe and the primary unmoved mover (hello Aristotle) to cut them some slack.
I ran for 25 minutes today and it felt great. Take that, stupid hip and piriformis.
The house needs a new furnace and I don't want to make the calls to get the contractors to come out and estimate. It is all so much work. I wish I could delegate it. But if I do it won't get done. And we will be cold. And I don't like being cold.
I don't know what I'm fixing for dinner tonight. My children probably won't eat it anyway.
Glee is on tonight. Yeay! Jane Lynch was on Fresh Air this afternoon and she was candid and funny and generally a pleasure to listen to. And she didn't come out to her parents until she was 31. I can't imagine.
Heroes is getting worse. End it already, people.
It's dark in my corner of the office and I can't be bothered to turn on the light.
I'm feeling lazy.
I don't want to pack. Can't someone else do it for me?
I didn't vote yesterday. I know that I will be vilified for this, so I'm keeping mum to the outside world. I didn't know enough about the candidates and so I didn't make time. A Republican won the governor's race in VA, but with term limits, I don't see how it matters so much. Maybe I'm wrong. We'll see.
I blew and bagged leaves for nearly three hours this weekend before taking the kids out to trick or treat. The ache in my biceps has finally gone away. Guess it's time to do it again.
Our credit card bill was way way way too much this month, thanks to plane tickets to England for three, a root canal, a crown insertion, dentist visits for the kids, groceries, gas, and some random shopping. I'm starting to wonder if I swear off buying anything except foodstuffs and replacement articles of clothing, if that would be a good thing. Could I do it? Retail therapy has been helpful for me, since it keeps me from stuffing my face. But I need to find another outlet. Already running... can't do more of that yet. Writing! Ah yes, the forgotten art for which I have no time. It's NaNoWriMo and I haven't even thought about it. Has it really been two years since I wrote my novel? It's languishing in a drawer somewhere.
Legion is filming, doing what he has wanted to do his entire teenage and adult life (other than marry his beloved). Curbgirl is trying to make sense of the economic situation we all struggle with. JR is out of prison, thankfully, but can't seem to get herself back into society. My Facebook chums are alternately dealing with flu, behaviorally-challenged children, reductions in the workforce, bliss in religious life, and wonder at the comings of the natural world (high temps in Puerto Rico and Florida, low temps in Northern Ohio, snow in the upper Midwest, and ever-changing temps on the eastern seaboard--see above note re: flu).
I have to make arrangements to get the chimney inspected in the new house.
I wish I had a patron so I could write and not worry about money.
I aspire to Joyce's stream-of-consciousness writing, even though it is daunting for others to insert themselves into. I just ended a sentence with a preposition--bad, bad me.
Time to go make the donuts. I mean dinner.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Songs for the Butcher's Daughter

This was a phenomenal read. Written by Peter Manseau, a Georgetown professor who knows his way around the balance of narrative and description, the book intersperses the lifestory of Itsik Malpesh, an unwilling immigrant to the United States from his native Russia, with that of a young man in the present charged with translating the former's memoirs.

The characters are recognizable but not "stock." Malpesh is blown, as the feathers in the town's goosedown factory are, across the ocean into a sweatshop. He remains a poet at heart and in mind, scribbling rhymed verses at will on whatever he can find, pining for a lost love and ignoring the reality of the world around him. He stubbornly clings to his native Yiddish instead of learning Hebrew or English as the world around him dictates.

Several times, I had to look at the jacket to verify that this was indeed fiction and not a memoir. The story, while incredulous, is realistic. The plot moves--not at breakneck speed, as in so many of today's "thrillers"--allowing you to stop along the way to savor a bit of description, a paragraph of philosophy, or a historical incident that lingers in the collective memory of most tribal members.

Highly recommend this one--check it out!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

La France, vous me manquez

Just finished Almost French by Sarah Turnbull. I can relate so well to the memoir of being an outsider in France (although in Lyon, not Paris) and feeling clueless as to why the French would stare in the street if I laughed too loud, or talked too much, or didn't iron my jeans.

Turnbull's experiences, to be sure, are uniquely hers, as she moves through a relationship with a Frenchman that ultimately leads to marriage. But anyone who has marveled at French women's relationship with their tiny dogs, dinner parties where people talk endlessly about esoteric topics and don't care who you are, why clochards are part of the national brick and mortar, and how bureaucratic red tape is enough to make even the most patient Francophone lose their cool will enjoy Turnbull's memoir. It makes me want to return to France; yet at the same time, I thank my stars I'm not navigating cool Parisian social customs on a daily basis.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


At 5:47 a.m. I discovered our son in our bed, tossing and turning and crying about "balloons."

"Balloons, balloons, balloons!" he cried, with increasing intensity.

My husband and I tried to rouse him from the semi-sleep state to find out what was causing his chagrin.

No avail.

In my half-aware dreamless haze, a variety of scenarios bubbled to surface.

Was he trapped inside a giant balloon, unable to speak or get our attention?
Perhaps a giant balloon was taking him away from us, basket or not, and the separation was killing us both.
Maybe a balloon popped, suddenly, shattering the silence of his otherwise peaceful Nod.

Finally, he fell back to sleep, face down, sprawled with his lovey, snoring loudly, back heaving slightly.
I relaxed and slipped back below the surface of consciousness.

Later, after showers and breakfasts and fights over televisions being on or off, I managed to grasp him in my arms.

"What was that all about?" I asked. "The balloons."

He looked quizzically at my face, sheepishly cast his glance aside, and then smiled.
"My balloon," he said, pronouncing its sentence, "was missing."

I stroked his thick brown hair and played with the cowlick that had arisen from sleeping so hard. "What balloon?"

"My balloon!" he insisted.

"It was a dream, sweetheart," I said, readying myself to explain the difference between the dreams we have while we are awake and those that plague us while asleep.

"I had a balloon," he said, "at Gramma and Poppy's."

In mid-August.

A balloon from a burger joint (in which neither child opted for a burger, of course) that had lingered in the house until we caught our plane back to our new city. It didn't make the trip with us. To me--one less object to pack. To him--a treasured possession left behind.

I suppressed a laugh. "Oh, that balloon."

"Yes. Where is it?" He really wanted to know.

In a landfill somewhere. Or shriveled to a quarter of its size, stuck behind a shelf in a forgotten nook in his ersatz-bedroom. Or passed along to another child.

I didn't know what to say, any more than I knew why the missing balloon had caused him so much angst. The sunny yellow sphere entered and exited his life within 48 hours, yet he asks after it, with the same intention that I email an old friend whose husband just had a stroke--checking in, taking a pulse, ensuring that she's still there on the fringes of my life.

"Um... probably in the trash," I said, trying to make my voice carefree. "Balloons don't last forever."

My husband entered the kitchen and heard the last line or two of our rushed interaction before heading out the door to school. "Yes, and Mommy and Daddy need to sleep tonight. So you need to sleep in your own bed tonight and stay there all night."

I nodded in assent before giving him a last squeeze and sending him out the door to preschool. As I watched him go, I added one last thing to my backpack before heading out the door myself and resolved to remember the balloon, the difference it made to him, and how thoughts on the edges of our consciousness can have such an enormous impact.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Another stupid airline regulation

I swear, can uniform-style jumpsuits made out of airline-approved material be that far behind?

And flying is still a privilege, right?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hellfire and Brimstone

Last I checked, I wasn't working for the U.S. Marine Corps, or any other such corporate outfit that would restrict my ability to communicate with the outside world.

Alas, the company that gets my butt in its chair for eight hours a day has decided to cut off access to Facebook and Twitter.

Guess I'll have to bring a book to read during my downtime. Or blog to excess. Or post really awful phrases from my work on my blog so people can see the idiocy that I have to put up with.

I know, I know, it's a job. A job. Definitely not a career.

So, FB, I bid you adieu for now. Twitter, I hardly knew ye. Company, I did not sign up for military-like control over my surfing.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


Today I'm struck by the random interaction that can lead to lifelong friendship. No, I haven't started writing for Hallmark. But sharing a class, a desk, or 10 weeks of rehearsal; or a chance meeting at Target, or being introduced by a friend of a friend, or taking the leap and making a phone call, or asking a new acquaintance if she would like to get together for coffee... these are the events that have introduced me to my closest friends. These are the women who know me best, who know that having to hang up the phone to deal with a child-related emergency doesn't mean that I don't want to finish the conversation or hear the end of the story, it means that I would much rather hear the end of the story but the screeching prevents me from doing what I would rather do.

These women, in the various circles I have run, know that I remain connected even when I am far away. They know that they are in my thoughts when I don't call or email. They are aware, through an "autre" female sense that I am experiencing something that makes me think of them.

The turtle, moving too slowly to dodge oncoming traffic....
The stack of carts in the supermarket, all decked in red....

There is more to say, but the child's emergency pulls me away again. Perhaps later I'll finish this thought.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bend over, Mr. and Mrs. Consumer

Just heard about the new inanity of having to pay to pay to check bags. That's not a typo. Read here.

Remember when flying was something you dressed up to do? And looked forward to?

Those days are long gone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

[hands over her ears]

la la la la la

i'm not listening to you!

(channeling my inner 5 year old)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

tee hee hee

My mind is in the gutter, apparently, this morning, due to lack of sleep. Here is a headline from my inbox:

SCOTUS Pulls Hand Brake on Chrysler Bankruptcy

Guess what I read that as?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Potty Break

This morning
between packing his lunch and her snack
and my lunch

And making sure that her dance bag,
with patent leather shoes, tights, hairbrush, bobby pins, hair gel, and elastics,
stood ready and waiting for the growing feet
that would inhabit the not-so-tiny-anymore shoes,
yellow-sequined costume a bright spot in a dingy foyer

Checking that his lovey
and extra socks, extra pants, extra underwear, and diaper "just in case"
were safely packed away in his backpack

Jackets on hooks, ready for bodies
Shoes beneath, breathing in anticipation of being worn hard and long

And feeding all of us breakfast--
my whirlwind dance in the 9'x9' kitchen,
Fruity Cheerios down from the top of the fridge, plastic bowls in the cupboard, two down, one gets cereal, one gets cereal and milk
Fiber One, carefully weighed and measured, slurped with a spoon in between
making coffee, filling a sippy cup with milk and a plastic tumbler with water--

"Yes, it's yours."
"Yes, it's fresh."
"Wow, four cheerios stuck together. How about that."
"Yes, you have more stickers on your chart. But it doesn't matter. It's not a competition."

--opening the cereal bar, throw away the wrapper, wipe up the crumbs, dishes in the sink, no, dishwasher; coffeepot churning out the precious deep brown velvet that will get me safely from point A to point B to point C this morning

(Do I have a towel to shower at the gym? Are my sunglasses in my purse? Did I pack enough lunch? Do I need to stop for gas? What is the weather supposed to be today? Will she be cold in shorts? Is it okay for him to get paint on that shirt? What's happening for dinner? How many points do I need to leave for a trip through Wendy's?)

I wanted to sit for one second


And release

(Please let me sit. Please let me just....)

"Yes, I'll untie the knot."
"Yes, your snack is in your bag."
"I won't forget."
"Yes, I want to see that."
"Yes, you are coming with me this morning."
"Yes, we will be on time."

(Thirty seconds without a question. Please.)

"It's downstairs."
"I think it's on your bed."
"No we will not be late."
"No, those aren't your pretzels. Yours are in your lunchbox. Get the food out of the bathroom right now!"

(Just ten seconds?)

"All right! I'm coming!"

Seven seconds. Not long enough.

Thank god I hadn't drunk the coffee yet.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Another list of 100 novels

This list is from an NPR writer. He says that these were the most influential in his life. I thought I'd add my two cents, and possibly some more to the list (it's a slow day at work). He welcomes comments. We'll see.

I'm starring what I've read, and putting plusses next to what I want to read.

1. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce*--this would be close to the top for me too. Very formative in its expression of alienation
2. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald*
3. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger*--one of my all-time favorites
4. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad*
5. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley*
6. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck*--ick. But necessary, I guess. I would have put Of Mice and Men instead.
7. Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner+--someone in the office was just talking about this one. Up until then I'd never heard of it.
8. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov*
9. Humboldt's Gift, Saul Bellow
10. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster
11. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf*--I think A Room of One's Own was more influential, for me personally
12. U.S.A. Trilogy, John Dos Passos+
13. The Untouchable, John Banville
14. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee*--my favorite in 7th grade
15. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike
16. All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren+
17. American Pastoral, Philip Roth
18. Beloved, Toni Morrison*--groundbreaking
19. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
20. Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham
21. Light in August, William Faulkner*
22. My Antonia, Willa Cather
23. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
24. A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest Gaines*--this was the Cincinnati Reads selection one summer. I heard Gaines speak. I might have even blogged about it. Great novel!
25. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
26. Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
27. The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
28. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
29. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath*
30. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
31. All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
32. The Sportswriter, Richard Ford
33. The Lay of the Land, Richard Ford
34. Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence*--one of my first modern loves
35. Aloft, Chang-Rae Lee
36. Appointment in Samarra, John O'Hara
37. Atonement, Ian McEwan+
38. So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell
39. Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson
40. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
41. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
42. Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger--tried but couldn't get into it
43. A Soldier of the Great War, Mark Helprin
44. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
45. Animal Farm, George Orwell*--assigned. Ick. prefered Brave New World (different author, similar concept)
46. Charlotte's Web, E.B. White*--seriously? not so earth shattering for me.
47. The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford
48. The Secret Sharer, Joseph Conrad
49. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
50. The Day of the Locust, Nathaniel West
51. Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner+
52. Felicia's Journey, William Trevor
53. Ironweed, William Kennedy
54. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
55. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John LeCarre
56. In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O'Brien
57. A Coffin for Dimitrios, Eric Ambler
58. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
59. The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
60. The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
61. The Human Factor, Graham Greene
62. Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs
63. Paris Trout, Pete Dexter
64. Howard's End, E.M. Forster*
65. The Killer Inside Me, Jim Thompson
66. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
67. Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth
68. Fabulous Small Jews, Joseph Epstein
69. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald*--read half. Again, just okay.
70. Roscoe, William Kennedy
71. Charming Billy, Alice McDermott
72. Lord of the Flies, William Golding*--I liked thsi one more after teaching it.
73. Razor's Edge, W. Somerset Maugham
74. Lying Awake, Mark Salzman
75. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
76. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
77. Light Years, James Salter
78. Black Dogs, Ian McEwan
79. Spartina, John Casey
80. A Fan's Notes, Frederick Exley
81. Scoop, Evelyn Waugh
82. Blood of the Lamb, Peter De Vries
83. Empire Falls, Richard Russo
84. The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
85. Double Indemnity, James Cain
86. The Sunlight Dialogues, John Gardner
87. The Ginger Man, J.P. Donleavy
88. Seize the Day, Saul Bellow
89. Rabbit Is Rich, John Updike
90. Deliverance, James Dickey
91. The Bird Artist, Howard Norman
92. Pnin, Vladimir Nabokov--never read but I dated a guy who did and he wouldn't shut up about it.
93. City Boy, Herman Wouk
94. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, John le Carre
95. Advise and Consent, Allen Drury
96. A Man in Full, Tom Wolfe
97. Sophie's Choice, William Styron
98. Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
99. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
100. A Rumor of War, Philip Caputo

Sparser than I would have thought, in terms of what we have in common. Here are some I would have added:

The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes
Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Luigi Pirandello
Hamlet, Shakespeare
Ulysses, James Joyce
Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Going to Meet the Man, James Baldwin
Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
The Lake of Dead Languages, Carol Goodman
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Henry and June, Anais Nin
Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller
The Prestige, Christopher Priest
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
Contact, Carl Sagan

I'm sure there are others; these will have to do for now.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Times, they are a-changin'

The Globe? What's next--the Post? The NYT? Are all dailies doomed? True, I only get the Sunday edition of the WP, as it's the only one I have time to read in full. I get the rest of my news fix online or on the radio.

Silver lining--better for the trees?

Still processing this one....

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Two comments from the peanut gallery

Two comments from my personal peanut gallery that had me in stitches today as we perused Eastern Market in historic Capitol Hill.

(At a coffee shop. Sign on the door reads "Restrooms for customers only." I stood in line to buy coffee so that my kids could pee--oh the sacrifice!)

Sam: (pointing to a giant jar on the counter in front of the register) What are those?

Me: (distracted) Those are... those are...

Sydney: I want a cookie! I want a muffin. Or a brownie? Can I please have one?

Sam: Mommy! What are those?

Me: Those are... dog biscuits.

Sam: Oh. (beat) Are they for dogs or for people?

Young man standing in front of me in line (who is clearly too young to have children): [snicker, giggle, snicker]


(Walking back to the car. Sam is tired so his father is carrying him. They are a few steps ahead of me. They are both in short-sleeved navy blue polo shirts and khaki bottoms--Sam in pants and his dad in shorts.)

Me: Hey! You and Daddy match!

Sam: (looking backward at me over his father's shoulder, he thinks for a minute) Well, our heads match, and our shirts match. But our bottoms are different.

Neither comment reads as funny as it struck me at the time, but they were both hysterical. Three-year-old are completely without guile and completely literal, in a refreshing kind of way.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Listen to that Ragtime

The crystal chandeliers were just as stunning as I remember them from my very first visit to the Kennedy Center more than twenty years ago. The royal red carpet muffled every footstep that could possibly have echoed through the enormous, cavernous lobby. There are actually at least four--maybe five--theatres in the Kennedy Center, and I have made it a small goal to see something in all of them.

When I visited the Kennedy decades ago with my family, during what was arguably one of the coldest, windiest, and snowiest winters on record, I remember asking my parents, "Are we going to see anything here?" The theatre bug had bitten hard, even then. I was disappointed when I was roundly dismissed, citing money, time, attention span, and the presence of other members of my family as a reason for the dismissal.

Last night, my desire to be a part of a theatrical experience at the Kennedy was fulfilled. Better yet, I was privvy to a scaled-back (but still vocally spectacular) production of Ragtime, the Ahrens-Flaherty musical originally produced by Livent that eventually bankrupted a company. I was fortunate to have been able to see the show with the original Broadway cast in New York, fairly soon after the show opened. I had read the book in high school and been intrigued by the Robert Redford film, but basically, after I discovered a few other novels and a play by Doctrow that didn't live up to my expectations, I forgot about the entire story.

Years later, a friend of mine more connected to the NY theatre scene pulled me into his car and played me a couple of snippets of songs from the score. "Isn't that amazing?" he asked me. I was more than interested. I loved the lush, building melodies, the trained voices that knew how to sing and project, not just belt out a couple of "money notes;" and the idea that a real story was once again going to feature prominently in a Broadway musical (Chicago, anyone?) My friend quickly dubbed me a copy of the album, which I later learned featured the concept cast and show from when it was workshopped in Quebec. Still, I was hooked.

The chance to see the musical in its big, bold, lavish glory at the Ford theatre in New York was a thrill. The original cast--Marin Mazzie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald--all became theatre-household names. The show was huge and powerful. The sets were gorgeous. The costumes were spot-on. The choreography was interesting and expressive. The wall of sound that hit me when the entire cast of 50 was onstage literally blew me away. It was one of the best musical experiences I have ever had. And those who know me know that I am first and foremost a critic. Most people won't go see anything with me for all of my nit-picking and "suggesting."

Then the tour came through Cincinnati. I convinced DH to see it with me again (he had also been present in NY--the tickets were his birthday present to me). And it was a complete disappointment. Sure there were good voices. The costumes still looked good. And Jim Corti, who played Harry Houdini in the original cast, was taking on the role of Tateh. But overall, it failed to move me in the way the original had. It was a tour. My expectations were low, and it didn't do much to meet them. I missed the glitz and glamour and the wall of sound.

Despite the setting, I was a little apprehensive entering the theatre last night. Would it be a NY or a Cincy show? Would I love it? I knew that it had been scaled back--30+ cast members instead of 50 (which makes sense), smaller sets, less-expensive production values. We are in a recession, after all.

Last night's show did not disappoint. The vocals were "slam-me-against-the-wall" powerful. The cast stayed in the moment and their pain, joy, and disbelief were palpable. The story was the same story, without the trappings of a full-scale Model-T onstage. I quickly accepted the conventions of the basically "unit" set and settled in to let the characters tell me their story. Christiane Noll did a fantastic job making the role of Mother her own. Quentin Earl Darrington had an intensity and vulnerability that I don't recall Brian Stokes Mitchell having. Jennlee Shallow (Sarah) had pipes that went on forever, and put the requisite "F" in "Your Daddy's Son" in exactly the right spot--I wish more of today's theatrical singers could do it as well, as balanced as she did. Manoel Felciano (Tateh) brought a humor and a humanity to Tateh that other actors I've seen simply didn't have. Christopher Cox's deadpan was funny, and he didn't appropriate what other young actors have done, whether on cast recordings or elsewhere.

I loved the way cast members "hung out" on upper levels of the multilevel set to watch, at once becoming part of the audience and acting as a Greek Chorus. I loved that the levels represented class structures at times, and parts of a house at others. It was very fluid.

There were a few missteps. Bobby Steggert (Mother's Younger Brother) had the pathos that the role requires in his voice, but not his face. His suit was much, much too big for him, and the age difference between him and Noll made it a little hard to swallow that he was her brother and not her son. Of course, I might be slightly biased. Steven Sutcliffe, who originated the role on Broadway and is featured on the cast album, owned the role, and the songs were probably written to suit his vocal range. I've never heard anyone do any of Mother's Younger Brother's songs better. Ever.

Tommy Hollis as Booker T. Washington had the fire in his soul, but it came in such a tiny package, it felt farcical. Some gray in his hair might have helped me suspend my disbelief that he was any older than 20.

The choreography was, as in the original, interesting and expressive. The music, the pit orchestra, the vocal--all phenomenal. The wall of sound was there (which made me wonder if the cast was singing with a tape double--which happens sometimes when shows have to cut back on personnel). The scrim behind the set was well-employed, as an artist's canvas on which to paint the emotion behind the words emanating from the stage. In a few spots, body mics didn't come up until characters started speaking or singing, which made the extent to which they were miced up very noticeable. But hopefully those kinks will be ironed out during the run.

In short, Ragtime is still powerful--as a story and as a musical. As performed by the cast at the Kennedy, directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, it is still a force to be reckoned with. Reduced? In number and size only. The sound and spirit of show are as big as they've ever been.

Friday, March 13, 2009

stuff's falling out


i like the phrase "smitten kitten." i don't remember the first place i heard it. it surfaced in my head last night while watching "Grey's" (or today while reading a recap on TVOP--yes, i do still read those, even though they are out of vogue with the hipsters now). holy parenthetical, batman.

speaking of, and i'm not going to bother with a spoiler alert because about 1.5 people read this blog (according to google stats, anyway) except for some random person in Etobicoke (seriously) who has returned after hitting me once, presumably on accident, the recent development on Grey's with Izzie brought me to this thought:

if brain cancer can cause hallucinations, can it cause hysterical (or empathic) hallucinations as well? that would explain much about my mid-to-late teenage years.

i tried to figure out a way to make that status-worthy during my traffic-laden commute this morning, but can up empty-handed.

and, on said commute, it occurred to me that leaving a camera in my car and snapping pics, then labeling pics with ironic captions and posting them, might give me something else to do besides wait for the light to turn green and feel guilty about checking fb and playing bubble breaker when i should be concentrating on driving. some chick next to me was putting on mascara this morning in the lane next to me. this one light cycle is so short, and it is the last of a series of four lights in a tiny stretch of road--it took more than three cycles to make it through today. hello yawn. i'm not good at idle. except when there's yoga or cake involved. or yoga with cake. that would be a fun new exercise class. but i'd gain weight instead of toning up. and who wants to clean up cake crumbs off of yoga mats.

i learned "fragging" is actually a word and not something Legion made up as a euphemism or substitute for another f-word or "freakin'." who knew. and yes, i posted that on my status yesterday, but nyeah, i thought it was worth repeating.

statuses (stati?) are hard to come up with now that curb girl pointed out that most people write about their children, their illness, their children's illness, or what they're eating. i would add "random song lyrics that somehow match what is going on in their lives" to that list. i would rather be original. so, no status as i am not original in the slightest while editing lessons on the Depression, Great.

i could use random words for my status and really f*ck with everyone. fun times. i might throw some random dico crap up there and see what sticks. i'm too lazy (and tired) to compose at the moment. i miss my piano. not that i'm composing on it--or ever have, except once in junior high, when i tried to write out something on manuscript paper and it took too freaking long and then i couldn't read my writing.

i am out of practice, journal-wise. i need the structure of wwfac.

weird dream about a past house that i actually never lived in. very gothic, lots of rooms, very cool, multipaneled fridge and deck and bar--not sure what any of it means except that we are starting to think about house hunting again.

fellas next to me are discussing how Jesus looks like John Brown in "found items" like scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, etc. as in, "how do they see Jesus? why not John Brown or Darwin?"

back to work before I....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

i love this blog

Eavesdrop DC
I wish I would overhear something hysterical to add....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The universe is conspiring against me today. My Pandora channel has played two Barbra Streisand songs and one Neil Diamond (ack!) song--two of my mom's favorites. Then it moved on to musical theatre, where it's been for about two hours. And now I've got "Thank You for the Music" from Mamma Mia! which is what we sang at Leslie Knotts' retirement party.

I miss these two women. I know I do. But the universe doesn't have to keep reminding me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

craving a cheesy burrito?

And, well, on little sleep, who isn't? I haven't seen a Taco Bell commercial in a while, but I stumbled upon this gem of a fake-you-out cheesy, meaty, burrito and indulged for dinner. Yum x 15. The site has some other good fake-outs, although the liberal use of sweeteners in the dessert section has me a little spooked. Still, who knew that brownie mix, pureed pumpkin and peanut butter could stand in for fudge?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

80s fellas say hey-ya

This made me giggle a little, until I got to the third video and they spelled "pecs" wrong.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

watching my language

DH actually asked me to watch my language around the kids. I guess all that swearing under my breath is not as under my breath as I thought. Oops. I haven't heard any of it directed back at me yet, thank god, but I'm sure that day is coming.

Nevermind that DH often shouts "Shut up _________!" from his side of the bed when we have put one or both of the kids back in their beds for the upteenth time and they won't stop screaming their heads off at 2 a.m. And I have heard "Shut up ______!" from at least one kid's mouth in the last month. I jumped on it, called it rude, etc., substituted language--but how much can I really jump on it when it's coming from a parent's mouth?

Modern parenting dilemmas.

I was treated to yet another episode of "Charmed" at the gym yesterday. At this point, I'm counting how many different hairstyles Alyssa Milano goes through. I think it's up to six. Yesterday she had bangs. And she was dressing a lot more conservatively--she had morphed from whatever she was, which required abdomen-baring clothing, to radio call-in host, which required more business-appropriate attire. One of the younger girls has now appropriated all of her abdomen-baring clothing.

I am learning all about Wikis for work, which has made me want to Wiki just about everything in my life, from grocery lists to recipes to recaps to blogs. Wiki overkill?

Someone in my office just posed a question about an ellipsis, and another editor said, "I had an ellipsis question earlier in the week too. I'm getting into these ellipses things. En-dashes and Em-dashes are so 2008."

Uproarious laughter all around. He's an Eagles fan. And spent some time in West Lafayette, IN, so we have bonded over Midwest snow horror stories. I am willing to forgive him the Eagles obsession because it is damned hard to be a Bengals fan in the middle of Ravens/Steelers territory.

Oops. I did it again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

movie queue

I don't have netflix--I simply don't have time, and sometimes my tastes change midstream. So this is my solution: a list of movies I want to see at some point, in no particular order or genre. It's more a note to myself than anything else. But feel free to ad lib about what's good, bad, oscar-worthy, or ugly, but don't be upset if I don't take your advice.

1. Milk
2. Doubt
3. Dark Knight
4. Sherlock Holmes (RDJr.)
5. Baby Mama
6. High School Musical
7. Mamma Mia
8. Wall-e
9. Slumdog Millionaire
10. A Christmas Tale
11. Religulous
l2. Cadillac Records
13. Frost/Nixon
14. HP and HBP

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

learning from the funnies

I learned something new today. Thanks NYT!

Apparently Schroeder was actually playing Beethoven tunes in the "Peanuts" cartoons. And, in a secret-code-like precursor to listening to the Beatles backwards for Satanic messages, the actual passages Schultz quoted in the strip "enhance" the joke or the emotion or the character.

Who knew?

Monday, January 12, 2009

migraines, twilight, and other assundry items

Today is migraine day #5 (out of seven). I am trying to figure out what is causing these. My gut says that I am not eating enough (especially protein) to outweigh (ahem) the increased physical activity I've been undertaking as of late. But I don't want to eat more, as that will negate any health benefits of the increased activity.
What to do.

There is no consistency on lobe from headache to headache. Some are left side; some are right side. Some affect my eyes (like I'm being stabbed through the eye from behind), some my jaw. I become hypersensitive to noise and light, and most often experience some sort of nausea. It doesn't matter if I wear my bite splint at night or not. The cumulative hours of sleep I've gotten doesn't matter nearly as much as the length of time I've been asleep without interruption. If I manage four-six hours without interruption, then the migraines are not as bad. Less than that and I can almost count on one interrupting my day.

My doctor switched me from zomig to maxalt--maxalt is a lot less expensive than zomig, which is probably the majority of the reason. I respond to maxalt but I wonder if the headache is truly going away (e.g. blood vessels are dialating sufficiently) or if it is just prolonging the inevitable headache (which might speak to the frequency). enough navel-gazing about my head.

i saw twilight this weekend with my neighbor, Kerry. It was the first time i have been out with a "friend" one on one since moving here. It felt good to chit-chat and do something so brainless; I'd been wanting to see the film since I finished the book, and although the book was better (of course) the film was pretty good. I don't know that I would have cast Pattinson--he's not who I see when I think of Edward, but I don't know whom I would have cast in his place. It was so nice to vege for a while and think about whether Bella would get Edward in the end (or vice versa). Brain candy is fun.

Hit the gym again this morning for a 45 minute run (well, 10 min warmup, 35 min run). I did it at what was my race pace for the 10K I ran over Thanksgiving, so that was good.

The gym in general is pissing me off, though. There are about six TVs along the row of windows; they are always tuned to CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, and TNT. That's it. No ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX. I asked Matt, the boxer cum personal trainer cum fitness director if it would be possible to change the channel and was quickly rebuked. "Ask you husband," he counseled me. My husband technically is his "boss."

"I did," I explained. "He told me to talk to you."

"Well, have him ask his boss. If I change the TV for you, I have to change it for everyone. And I am not spending my time changing channels all day long. And I'm not listening to people complain about what you are watching on TV..."

Sigh. So I am resigned to screamy news caplets (MSNBC), Anderson Cooper's perfect hair with not-so-screamy news caplets, ten minute tickers of sports highlights (and lowlifes), and endless (and I do mean endless) "Charmed" reruns.

I never watched "Charmed" when it was on for the first run. I've pretty much avoided everything Alyssa Milano has done post "Who's the Boss?" And the presence of Shannen Doherty is always a deal-killer for me as well (like Kevin Costner on the big screen... if he's in it, I ain't gonna see it. and I'm not sorry.) but now i have no choice.

it doesn't seem to matter when I hit the gym either. morning, afternoon, or evening, "Charmed" is ready and waiting for me. i listen to my ipod, so I'm not privvy to all of the sniffling, sniveling, she-witch fiasco dialogue that Aaron Spelling chose to subject viewers to. but i can't stop reading the damned captions. and boy, are they stupid.

in dayton, at the y, i had my own personal screen on row after row of treadmill and elliptical machine. it was simply beautiful. i could catch "Real World" reruns, "I Love the 80s" marathons, Ellen's talk show, SNL reruns... whatever. But now--news caplet, Cooper's hair, athletes behaving badly, or "Charmed." I'm so not charmed by this whole situation.

when it warms up, i will return to the outdoors for all running and hit the gym only for strength and interval training. but even so, i'm sure "Charmed" will be there for me. oh joy.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Obama and his boyz

Love this. Love it. Laughed out loud and actually snorted, to the dismay of my co-workers.


"...all the way to New York.... I can feel the distance...."

Laura Bush just ordered new presidential china to the tune of $483,000.

How many people would that feed? Too tired to figure out the math....

At least it wasn't taxpayer money. But still... the private foundation that covers the cost of the new dishes would have done well to donate that cash elsewhere. I bet GM would have been happy to receive it.

Basketweave and magnolias? Not my taste. Somehow, I doubt it's Michelle Obama's either. It's so... southern.

The disconnect between those at the top and those struggling to find (or keep) work has never been more apparent.

[Stepping off soapbox now]

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I am woman, hear me roar

It has been a super-fun-filled 24 hours of workouts. My thighs are complaining but hey, dems de breaks.

Last night, 6 p.m.: 15 min treadmill (walking) warm-up; 30 min resistance training; 30 min elliptical machine

This morning 8:30 a.m.: 5 min walk warm-up, 5 min run warm-up; 21 minutes intervals; 10 brisk walk cooldown; stretch

Hit my second WW meeting (in a week) afterwards to hear about the joys of eating broccoli. but hopefully it gave me my needed "shot in the arm" to stay on plan.

I don't have to think about running or strength training again until Friday. Say "hey" for a day off tomorrow!!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dear Daughter and I head to the National Gallery of Art, and I get an education

On Tuesday, dear daughter and I had a "Mommy and Sydney Day Out." We took the Metro into DC to grab a bite of lunch (Frank & Stein was her gourmet choice) and peruse the National Gallery. She had learned about Mark Rothko through a program at school called Grace Art, where parents volunteers come in and teach kids about different artists. This is what she has been/will be studying. I thought that going to the National Gallery would be something to capitalize on her interest in art, while at the same time being something special that she and I could do, since her dad doesn't have an overwhelming interest in visual art.

We arrived at the East Building of the gallery and asked at the information desk for things that someone of her age might find interesting. I shouldn't have bothered. We were directed to the Calder sculptures in the basement--an example is at the top of the post. Very cool. We had a nice conversation while examining a different, mixed-media sculpture about what kinds of things she would put in a sculpture of her own. Then we explored the next room. She ran right up to a huge canvas on the wall, similar in style to this one:

and said, "That's Mark Rothko! We studied him in school!"

Very cool. I was impressed but not overly so. I was glad she had enjoyed the lesson and paid attention. She told me about composition and shapes and colors. Exciting stuff.

Then we meandered into the next room, searching out a Lichtenstein that was on our "highlights of the museum" page. I was overwhelmed by a Pollack, and then I directed her to a Warhol.

"Look!" I said. Finally, something I vaguely recognized. "This is by Andy Warhol." I leaned down and started to use my 'teacher voice.' "Andy Warhol was...."

She cut me off almost immediately. "Mom," she said, rolling her eyes, "I know who Andy Warhol is."

"Syd," I said. "You're five and a half. How do you know about Andy Warhol."

"Mr. C. told us about him in art class. When we did printing."

I was speechless. I don't think I'd heard of Andy Warhol until well into my teens. And even so, I could probably spit out something about soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. I pushed on. "What do you know about Andy Warhol?" I asked.

"Andy Warhol used the same picture over and over again with different colors," she said, as if reciting her ABCs.

Without batting an eyelash, she dashed right up to another painting and said "Ooo! David Hockney!"

I glanced at the label next to the painting. "Actually, Sol LeWitt," I corrected. "But who's David Hockney?"

We found the Lichtenstein, which she promptly proclaimed was "so cool" and expressed a wish that her brother, age 3, could see it.

My jaw was on the floor for the next few minutes, until she returned to true five-year old form and said, "I'm hungry. Can we have ice cream? Please? Pretty please?"

Happy New Year! and guess what--big brother is watching

Happy New Year! If you trolled my blog in search of resolutions, you won't find any here. I'm already working on most of the stuff I want to change in my life, and to that effect, today is just another day. Still, I hope that the new year brings more financial health, better oversight of our regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting us from Madoff et al, and peace in parts of the world that are desperately in need (Israel, Gaza, and my living room, for starters).

This scary little nugget arrived in my inbox today. I'm sure that merely by posting it, I'll be picked out for extra security checks the next time I head overseas to the UK. But in the interest of spreading the word, I'll take that risk. Remind me I said that next time I'm subjected to an hour of screening because I forgot to remove a banana from my carry on bag when disembarking.

I know this stuff exists on all of us. I know that if I applied for security clearance, my blog would probably disqualify me from the get-go. I thank God that I don't live in the 50s, where my leftist leanings combined with my choice of religion and support of the arts would quickly land me on a blacklist or two. But I often wonder if it's better to be the ostrich with my head in the sand and not know exactly what Big Brother knows and tracks about me and my best friend from first grade (Jaina Lindauer--are you out there?)