Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Should I Be Offended?

I exchanged e-mails with the Professor on Sunday. He told me he was just back from a week of meetings in D.C., my favorite city. He told me he had found the perfect gift for me. He also mentioned he had seen the Edward Hopper exhibit, which I will see on November 24. He knows of my love of and connection with the Hopper painting "Hodgkin's House", which is the home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where my birthgrandmother grew up.

So of course, putting all those facts together, I figured the Professor had gotten me something — a poster, a postcard, any little thing containing that image — from the National Gallery to sate my hunger for all-things-Hodgkin's-House.

Last night I noticed a package in the mailbox. When I opened it and unwrapped the item inside, it was a lovely Asian fan in a beautiful silk brocade case. This gift is, no doubt, directly related to my frequent hot flashes. I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or amused. I choose amused.

A Little Hallowe'en Humor

My officemate, Chris, is the butchest of butch. There is nothing remotely feminine about her. I always wonder how she feels about being referred to as a woman - which she definitely is. A conundrum.

Imagine my surprise when Chris and Ed and I were talking the other day and I noticed frosted purple nail polish on her nails. She said, "well, it's only on one hand." And indeed, it was only on the fingernails of her right hand.

Ed and I were laughing and Chris offered, "everyone goes drag on Hallowe'en."

I've been laughing about that ever since.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Music, Music, Music

We had two more performances Saturday of Why We Tell the Story, and they went very well, although we played to very small audiences. I told the minister at St. Francis that I would come for church Sunday morning to accompany the young woman who sings in the show as she performs one of her solos to promote the show.

I told him I was allergic to church, but he and several others told me this church is unlike any I've been in before. Tonight we were chatting before the performance. He told me when he was interviewed for this job twenty-some years ago, the man conducting the interview told him they didn't really want him to talk about Jesus. Oh, and they didn't really want him to talk about God. Huh? This is a United Methodist church and they don't talk about God or Jesus? Alrighty then. I think I can live through 20 minutes of their service.

After my second performance Saturday night, I ran down to the university to provide lovely background music for a reception following Ben Vereen's UAPresents performance.

When Jill e-mailed me Friday asking if I could do this for her, I told her I love helping her become notorious for her elegant receptions.

As always, she offered me show tickets in exchange for my performance. I couldn't attend the whole show, but I snuck in a little after intermission. The show was a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr., with whom Ben Vereen had a close working relationship. When Ben finished the song he was on when I snuck in, he then called out, "Jim Middleton. Where are you?" The house lights came up and a handsome black man bounded out of the audience, down the aisle and onto the stage. Ben greeted him, then asked his percussionist if he minded sharing his set.

Jim started playing the congas, and after a couple of minutes, Ben extemporaneously jumped in with an a capella rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Exquisite! Just absolutely exquisite.

When the piece was over, Jim came back downstage and Ben hugged him, then turned to the audience and said, "This is my brother." He then told the story of trying to get a copy of his birth certificate to get a passport to go to London with Sammy Davis Jr., and there being no birth certificate in Dade County for Benjamin Augustus Vereen, but there being one for Benjamin Augustus Middleton. When he confronted his mother about this oddity, she paused, then said, "I hoped you'd never find out."

Turns out he was adopted and had never been told! He found his mother and a half-sister and a brother — who happens to live in Tucson.

Throughout the rest of his performance (which lasted until 10:15!) he kept referring back to his adoption.

For me, an adoptee who found her mother and was told "don't ever contact me again", this was such a sweet story to hear.

Hearing this story only added to my enjoyment of a fabulous concert.

Thanks Jill!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mercury in Retrograde

Over the past week four different friends have made statements to me about Mercury being "retrograde in Jupiter." I don't follow astrology, and had not a clue what that meant. So I asked the meaning of this situation to me.

They all said it means, among other things, that communications would be totally messed up until around November 1st.

I'm becoming a believer. All communications at the office have been insane for the past week or so. Even with my best buddy, Ed, one of us will make a perfectly routine statement to the other and the recipient just doesn't get the meaning or intent.

On a personal, holding-my-sides-laughing note, yesterday I pinged Tyler, "my nano died. :-(" Thinking I was talking about some beloved grandmother, he pinged back, "did I know your nano?" After a beat, he pinged again, "oh, your ipod nano."

I laughed about that all day. (BTW, I never had any grandparents. Even if I had, they'd all be 115-120 now.)

So just watch what you say for the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Helping Others

I e-mailed my stepson, Chris Ross, yesterday. Chris, Michelle and their two preschoolers live in San Diego. I offered my home if they need to evacuate, but they are close to downtown and should be safe through the firestorm.

Chris said he was just leaving to go to Costco to stock up on supplies to deliver to Qualcomm Stadium.

I wished there was some way I could help. Googling took me to the San Diego Area Red Cross, where I made a small donation to support the efforts there. I encourage you to do the same and to pass the URL on to your friends.

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

The Traveler sent me this quiz this morning. Thirty questions and I missed nine, giving me a score of 70%. Fifth graders miss, on average, five questions. How will you do?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What Would Elphaba Do?

I'm not really on the Going Green bandwagon [yet], but I almost laughed out loud when I saw the "Going Green - What Would Elphaba Do?" site. So I'm sharing it with you.

(I really hate seeing the "What Would Jesus Do" bumper stickers, because I doubt that these people really stop and think about that when they're tempted to road rage or similar actions. And really—who knows what Jesus would have done?)

And in my own defense, at least I'm telling all my financial institutions to stop sending me bank statements.

It's All Relative

This morning I share a note from Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac".

You all know I think my life is challenging. And then I hear of someone where I believe it's a miracle he or she survived. Read on.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of memoirist Augusten Burroughs, born Christopher Robison in Pittsburgh (1965). He was 13 when his mother gave him up to be raised by her New Age psychiatrist, a man who believed in solving problems by poking his finger into the Bible at random and seeing what it said. Burroughs spent the next five years living in a pink Victorian mansion with the psychiatrist and his wife, their six children, and a number of live-in mental patients. Burroughs and the other children in the house had no supervision at all: They drank and took drugs, played with the electroshock therapy machine, and Burroughs was sexually abused by one of the psychiatrist's patients. He finally ran away, changed his name, got a high school degree, and became an advertising copywriter. But he said, "I really felt like my childhood, my past and my lack of any education was this extra, deformed leg I was dragging around behind me, trying to keep under my jacket." So he wrote a book about it, called Running with Scissors, which came out in 2002 and became a best-seller in part because Burroughs managed to make his horrific childhood experiences funny. His most recent book is the collection of essays Possible Side Effects, which came out this year (2007).

Again I am reminded that I don't have it so bad.

Monday, October 22, 2007

There's a Fine, Fine Line

Last night I went with some new friends to see Avenue Q at the Tucson Music Hall. I had fun - some of the lines and songs struck me as very funny and some scenes made me a little uncomfortable. But I'm very glad I saw it. One of the songs that felt to me like they were singing my life was "There's a Fine, Fine Line." The line I loved the most is: There's a fine, fine line between love and a waste of time.

There's a fine, fine line between a lover and a friend;
There's a fine, fine line between reality and pretend;
And you never know 'til you reach the top if it was worth the uphill climb.

There's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of time.

There's a fine, fine line between a fairy tale and a lie;
And there's a fine, fine line between "You're wonderful" and "Goodbye."
I guess if someone doesn't love you back it isn't such a crime,
But there's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of your time.

And I don't have the time to waste on you anymore.
I don't think that you even know what you're looking for.
For my own sanity, I've got to close the door
And walk away...

There's a fine, fine line between together and not
And there's a fine, fine line between what you wanted and what you got.
You gotta go after the things you want while you're still in your prime...

There's a fine, fine line between love
And a waste of time.

As a postscript to the weekend, the Friday night show was like a very clean dress rehearsal, and the Saturday performances were fabulous. Sunday was a nightmare for me, as the regular sound guy was off and the young woman who ran sound for that show didn't know the show, didn't know the mics, couldn't keep things balanced. I had difficulty hearing the singers and kept having to pull back what I was doing to not overpower the singers. The sound guy will be back next weekend - whew.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Twelve Days of Rehearsals

Here's what my house looks like this morning, after a week of workdays and rehearsalnights.

Twelve pairs of shoes randomly scattered across my bedroom floor
Eleven unpaid bills spread across the dining table
Ten unwatered flowers, drooping in the backyard
Nine poops in the litter box that need to be scooped
Eight unread catalogs waiting on the couch
Seven assorted necklaces and bracelets dropped on my nightstand
Six wine glasses poised on the end table
Five unanswered e-mails
Four cereal bowls soaking in the sink
Three pair of pants draped across the foot of the bed
Two loads of unwashed laundry
And a suitcase that needs to be unpacked,
atop which sits a partridge in a pear tree.

(Oh yeah, and zero things to eat in my refrigerator.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pianist vs. Accompanist

Last night, after the performance, several of the performers thanked me for picking up after their errors, for staying with them. I said, "But that's an accompanist. That's what an accompanist does." (And then, more graciously, I said, "Of course.")

Tyler understands this about me and has been heard to explain this to people. I prefer being in the background. I don't like applause. I don't really want recognition.

However, as an aside, last night when the programs were delivered, I picked one up, opened it, and saw the list of performers and staff and noticed my name was missing. I then looked at the list of songs being performed and saw my name on my solo after intermission. I thought, okay, I guess I'll be satisfied with that. I looked again to make sure I wasn't missing something. Then I closed the program to look at the cover again, and noticed my name underneath the director's on the cover. Ah, sweet relief. Director: Robert Encila; Accompanist: Jan Crews.

So I guess I want acknowledgment. I'm just uncomfortable with effusive praise.

And the difference between a pianist and an accompanist? A pianist does his or her own thing. An accompanist supports the other person's thing.

Stress + Fatigue = Exhaustion

The Traveler left a message on my phone last night saying he had gotten a ticket for my Saturday night performance and would see me there. Then this morning, as I was forcing myself out of bed at 7:00, he called again. He said, "I'll see you tomorrow night." My response? "I thought you said Saturday, not Friday."

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to tomorrow (that would be Saturday) morning when I can just lie in bed until I want to get up.

(Last night's Preview went very well. About twenty in the audience, lots of applause and "Bravo"s. A couple flubbed chord changes on my part; a couple missed notes and rests on the cast's part. Overall, a successful performance. Lotsa praise for my work - for the amount of very difficult music I learned in a very short time. The director and one of the singers both told me they had never met an accompanist who could do what I did over the past six weeks. Big smiles on my part.)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Body is Not My Friend

Pity the poor PianoLady who lived with me for three days last weekend and saw too closely my hourly hot flashes where I start mopping my brow and ripping off clothes. And she ate many meals with me where I acted like Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" every time I placed an order. Hold this, hold that.

I'm having a hard time in rehearsals for the show that previews tonight and opens tomorrow night. In the middle of playing some complex piece of music (and there's a freaking lot of complex music in this show!), I'll suddenly feel overwhelmed with heat and try to maintain my concentration on the music while I figure out how to take some clothes off.

Last night between numbers I stood up and put my jacket on again. Robert looked at me and said, "What is it? First you're hot and then you're cold." I told him I no longer have a thermostat.

He smartly replied, "You need to get in touch with your inner thermostat."

I smiled.

More Nostalgia

One more blast from the past on one more hyperbusy day. Enjoy!

This is Mary Lou Rajchel singing "My Lover is a Fisherman" in the spring of 1969. I am accompanying Mary Lou and Cheryl LeCompte Kussmaul is turning pages.

Do you notice a similarily to my current profile photo? I've spent my life peaking over piano music stands.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Then and Now

Here's a little morsel to amuse you on this day when I have not a moment to spare (beyond those I spend on this post!)

The first photo was a publicity shot at (then) Florida Technological University. The pianist is our beloved piano professor, Leonidas Sarakatsannis. The young man leaning over the piano is John Rickerson, the third (of three) piano majors in the department. The man in back is a local media celebrity, Russ something, as I recall. This photo appeared in the Orlando Sentinel to publicize an upcoming concert at the university.

The second photo was taken at the Top of the Rock, the observation deck on top of the Rockefeller Center.

I believe I weighed 120 pounds in the first photo. I weigh about 40 more now. PianoLady and I were 18 in the first photo and are 57 now.

Aren't old friends wonderful?! (I didn't say "aged.")

My Day

Wanna know why you're not hearing anything inspired out of me this week?

This morning I woke up at 4:30 with a hot flash and a headache. Took an Excedrin, ate half a piece of toast and drank some iced tea, then laid back down with an icepack on my neck. Got up at 6:30, showered and dressed and watched 10 minutes of Brothers & Sisters while I ate my granola with yogurt and strawberries. Then drove 35 minutes and walked 10 minutes to the office. Worked 8 grueling hours.

This week is enormously stressful trying to prepare for next Tuesday's product announcements where wayyyy too many products are being announced on the same day. Dingleberry Ryan, the kid who's been on the job five months and still doesn't understand how to do anything we do to publish Web pages, destroyed, with one e-mail, a business relationship I've been building and nurturing for about 15 months. I'm going to have to pull out my Southern drawl tomorrow to repair the destruction this very dense person did with one ignorant e-mail. (If you think I sound annoyed, you're damned right. Why don't they just get rid of this kid who does nothing but waste our time?!)

Drove 45 minutes home via Office Depot to pick up binders and index tabs for my music. Grabbed a single with lettuce and tomato and an iced tea at Wendy's on the way home. Walked into the house, looked for Rudi to pet him and apologize that I was going right back out again, made a photocopy of a page of music, and walked out the door.

Arrived at rehearsal at 6:15. Left rehearsal at 10:15. Came home, poured two ounces of Red Bicyclette Chardonnay, and sat and watched the rest of Brothers & Sisters. Now it's 11:15, I'm suitably relaxed, and Rudi and I are going to go crawl into bed.

By the way, I was so impressed with PianoLady's weight loss that I decided to go back on Weight Watchers this week. Bad decision. I'm a stress-eater. My stress level this week is at heart attack or nervous breakdown level. Send bread. Send chocolate. Send wine!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Old versus New

There are two prongs to this subject: friends and places.

PianoLady and I grew up in Orlando, where nothing is older than around 100 years. We both grew up with longings to be around older things, and she settled in New England, where 150- and 200-year-old homes can easily be found. When one drives around in Westchester County, there's a depth and charm and history that doesn't exist in Florida, or in Arizona.

I ran to Walgreen's this morning to drop off my disposable camera for processing, and as I walked out I was struck with the spaciousness of Tucson. Everything is spread out. In the Northeast, buildings and people are smack-dab on top of each other. The two areas are so different, and I much prefer the old, the charming, the history.

Cheryl and I have been friends since January 1969. That's 38 years, almost 39 years, thankyouverymuch. It's so nice to spend time with someone who's known you that long and who can confirm or update your understanding of what your life has been like along the way.

There was much of my life happenings that she was unaware of because of her time in Saudi Arabia and her totally overwhelming life since the twins were born. It was interesting for me to tell some of these stories that form my core and hear her say, "You're kidding!"

This camaraderie and affirmation is why we keep repeating these October weekends every year.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Travelogue

This is written as I'm sitting on the floor in O'Hare. You can do everything in airports nowadays. I'm charging my laptop, drinking Starbucks iced tea, and favoring my arm 'cause I just got a flu shot! I never have time to go to Walgreen's when they offer flu shots, so I grabbed the chance when I saw the nurse as I was walking back to my gate.

This morning Cheryl and I went to Chappaqua for brunch, but didn't see either Bill or Hillary. She drove me past tons of beautiful, overpriced houses. In exchange, I showed her the houses in Youngstown I'm interested in, including several under $100K. It's a different world!

I had a wonderful weekend, and Cheryl and I are already planning what we want to do for our fall weekend next year.

TTFN. I'm off to hop on a plane.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hot Town. Autumn in the City.

I'll just give you a quick travelogue after a terrific day, as I'm about to fall asleep.

Cheryl and I woke up and chatted for a while, then she went down to the gym and I got ready for the day. When she got back and cleaned up, we headed over to Rockefeller Center and went up to Top of the Rock. It was an incredibly gorgeous fall day, brilliant blue skies with a few puffy white clouds. We probably spent 45 minutes on the observation deck, reveling in the view. I bought a disposable camera and took probably 20 shots up there, including a handful looking towards Kings Point so I can send them to T.J., who spent two years at the Merchant Marine Academy.

Then Cheryl wanted to go to Border's and thought one was four blocks away. Alas, it was much farther, and my feet were hurting more with every step. We splurged on a cab to run us back to the Marriott to check out after she bought her CDs.

After checking out, we stowed our bags and went to Olive Garden for salad and breadsticks. Then we went back to the Marriott to the Marquis Theatre for The Drowsy Chaperone.

This show was a total hoot. As the theatre goes to dark and you're waiting for the spots to come on and the curtain to rise, it stays dark and you hear this voice, who keeps talking in the dark. Funnier and funnier, just a clever show, great sets, cute choreography, funny lines. I had my apprehension going into this show, but was very glad we had these tickets.

After the show we went to the top of the Marriott to the View Lounge and sat for one hour while the lounge made a complete revolution and we saw the skyline all the way around. Fabulous!

Then we made our way to the train station and came back out to Hawthorne, arriving at 7:30. Cheryl's devoted husband was waiting for us. We dropped him back at the house and then went out to get something to eat.

We both said it seemed like we had been gone for three days, even though it was only about thirty hours.

I'll share some more anecdotes over the next few days, but right now I have zero energy to share with you!


Dream a Little Dream of Me

I woke up at 6:30 in the Marriott this morning and realized I had had a very strange dream so I forced myself to wake up and start writing it down. The more I wrote, the more I remembered and the stranger it got.

Here goes:

I had been trying to figure out where to live. I had a map of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado and was driving around a lot of back roads. My major concern was whether these small back roads would be passable in the winter.

Daddy was alive. We were out in the country in southwestern New Mexico, close to Arizona (i.e. not too far from Tucson). We stopped to see a friend of Daddy's. We drove down a long dirt road, then walked back through a bunch of ramshackle buildings until we got to this friend's house. There was, between this man and me, an immediate spark of interest, a feeling of closeness. After talking to him for a little while, we walked back to one of the buildings closer to where we had parked and it was like antiques and collectibles. He had two large cases of diamond jewelry and I was looking at the diamond jewelry. I think both he and Daddy were in their 70s in this scenario. (Daddy was just shy of his 71st birthday when he died.)

Then the scene changes and I'm in Tucson at some county office building. I walk through the building and I see a woman I know in one of the rooms. I walk into the room to say hello to her and I see Frank and one of his Fillies (can't remember which was it was). When I asked what he was doing there, he said he was getting married. I asked him why he was getting married, and he said "because [the Filly] wanted to." I called Deena (another Filly and my hair stylist) and asked her if she knew about this and for her to come right over. (Aside: Deena is the one I called immediately when I learned that Wendy had died - to find out if Deena had heard from Frank and if he knew.) Deena came over to where I was and we sat in the room at a table while Frank and his Filly got married. Then the officiant handed Deena the marriage certificate to sign. I wanted to sign it. I was upset that the officiant hadn't given it to me to sign. I was mad that Frank had gotten married and I wanted to be the one to sign the papers so that every time Frank's wife looked at her marriage certificate she would see my signature. I just wanted to haunt her for taking my buddy away.

I walked out of the building at the same time as Frank and his bride but I wouldn't look at him. He kept looking at me but I refused to look in his direction. I was just mad. I got in my car to drive back to Daddy's friend's house.The separate buildings were now one long maze-like building. Now I had a dog with me, a large dog about the size of a Weimaraner. We had to go past the dwellings of about five families who had dogs to get back to the friend's dwelling so I had to hold onto my dog by the collar. When I got back to the friend's dwelling, I was thrilled to see he had two Rottweilers. (In case you don't know this about me, Jaci had a Rottie named Justice when I met her, and we all loved Justice. He was the sweetest, most loving dog I've ever known. As Wolfie is to cats, Justice is to dogs. Justice defined what a dog should be.) Daddy's friend was very happy to see me when I walked in. He said he had a house in Phoenix and I could come visit him there.

And then a hot flash woke me up!

I thought this dream was interesting for several topics. One was Daddy being alive. Daddy died in December of 1984. I still miss him and think of him frequently. He was about the only thing giving me confidence and self-worth in the first 20 years of my life. I adored him.

The next interesting topic was Frank getting married and how mad I was that I was losing my breakfast and dinner buddy. I have hardly heard from Frank in three weeks. I believe Wendy's death has been hard for him, and he met a new woman on eHarmony, so those two issues have kept him too busy to ask me to dinner. I miss his company very much and have been feeling abandoned. So when I heard he was getting married (in my dream) I just wanted to emotionally torture and haunt this woman who was stealing him away from me.

And then the topic of this friend of my daddy's and the immediate interest and connection to him. It's interesting that he was in his 70s and I thought nothing of that. The last two men I've dated have been in their upper 60s and I've been concerned that they were too old for me — that I feel very young for my age and would rather be with someone closer to my age.

Finally, the case of diamond jewelry. New York City is very closely tied to my diamond ring. I picked out the diamond while on the phone with Steve in northern Sweden on Thursday night of Girls' Broadway Weekend 1999. Then in 2004 after the breakup with Steve, I traded my Steve-diamond up for a bigger stone. Ever since that transaction, there have been questions of valuation on this diamond. I cannot get my diamond wholesaler, Michael, who lives in Manhattan, to resolve this question and I agonize over it. So being back in the City, thinking about that stone, and wondering how I can get this man to get off his duff and do the right thing about this stone — or, if he's not going to do the right thing, at least return it to me!

On the topic of travel - having the map and traveling around trying to figure out where to live: Job offers or job queries tend to come in threes for me. This happened in 2006 at the time I got the job at IBM. Now this has happened again. Friday a week ago I found the job posting at YSU. Then on Tuesday I received a call from Intuit about a Senior Technical Editor position on TurboTax. At the time I got that call, I wondered when the third query would come in. On Friday I got an e-mail from a company in Youngstown to whom I applied for a position a couple of months ago. The woman said there were now ready to start interviewing and she was wondering if I was still interested.

So after being so discouraged for so long, I finally have some confidence that things are going to start breaking free in my life and I'll get houses sold, jobs resolve, and can be with my family again.

- - -
This has been a long and rather disjointed post, but follows a night of long, active and disjointed dreams. And seems rather significant, don't you think?

- - -
Sunday morning p.s.
I sent Frank a text message yesterday telling him I had dreamed he got married. He called back and left a message saying it sounded more like a nightmare to him. :)

Central Park

Taken from Top of the Rock observation deck on a gorgeous October Saturday.

A Little Bit of Wonderful

Piano Lady and I are in The City and having a wonderful time.

Last night we went to see Grease. I know, you're all saying "Grease? Is that all you could get tickets for?" But it was great. I loved the line during the dance contest where the emcee says "That was a little bit of wonderful." I knew when I heard it that it would translate perfectly into a blog post.

I wish I had the energy of these young people on stage. Great choreography, incredible dancing, wonderful voices, over-the-top energy. I had actually had doubts about the show when we got the tickets, but I'm glad we saw it. When we reached the closing scene, the old lady inside me asked, "What was the point, exactly? You have to go along to get along?" I didn't like that Sandy goes along with the Pink Ladies in the end to get her guy. Of course, my life right now is all about learning what I won't settle for, and that I don't want any man whom I have to convince that he wants to be with me. And in the end, isn't that what Sandy did?

Anyway, moral-of-the-story aside, it was the perfect end to a great day.

To recapitulate, I woke up in Katelyn's bed in Hawthorne, NY, to rain. (Katelyn wasn't actually in her bed. She's at University of Tampa in her dorm room.) I had packed very lightly for this trip, just a carry-on and my large handbag. So I didn't bring a raincoat, but luckily the rain stopped before time for us to leave. I spent a couple hours on computer work, then Cheryl's neighbor drove us to the train. We got into the City around noon and walked over to Bryant Park to have lunch outdoors at the Bryant Park Cafe. A surprise: when we asked the hostess for the location of the restrooms, she pointed us to outdoor restrooms nearby and we groaned. She said, "No, they're the cleanest public bathrooms in the city." Cheryl went to check them out and came back astonished at the cleanliness and the fresh floral arrangement on the table.

After lunch, including great sweet potato fries, we started to walk across the park to see the carousel when we saw a bunch of people standing, looking. Not wanting to miss anything, we walked to 40th and soon found out we were watching one scene of the "Sex and the City" movie being shot. We watched as Carrie jumped out of the limo in her wedding gown, ran to another limo and whacked Big over the head with her bridal bouquet, and then was hauled back to the first limo my Miranda and Charlotte. We sat in the park and pretended to be park-sitters. We understood from the guy who kept walking by telling us to just pretend to be sitting there that the limo would drive down the street and we would be visible in the scene. During the fourth shoot of the whacking scene, when "our scene" would be next, we heard some chanting. Looking to the right on 40th Street, we saw about 10 picketers marching down the street toward the limos, chanting "What do we want? Union! When do we want it? Now!" and carrying signs demanding justice for film and television workers. As they got closer to the cameras and film shooting, they started all blowing whistles, determined to disrupt the shooting. (I'm still annoyed as I write this 20 hours later!)

We knew filming would not resume quickly, so we got up and headed for our hotel. I stay at Marriotts when I travel, and have a Marriott Rewards Visa, so Mr. Marriott likes me. Last year we were on the 29th floor overlooking Times Square. This time, the desk agent said, "We're giving you an upgraded room." And we're on the 34th floor! At this rate, in 2010 we'll be on the roof!

After checking in and sitting to admire the view for a few minutes (and my getting connected and checking my e-mail), we walked over to Dean & DeLuca (Yes, the Dean & DeLuca that you see in the Today Show crowd shots) for mocha, then to l'Occitane where the new fragrances were too expensive, the French bookstore where we invited to put our mochas down while we shopped, and to Gap where we looked at clothes that might make us look a little younger. We started walking back to the hotel and, right by the Rockefeller ice rink, a man in a hat stopped us and said we couldn't walk down the street because they were shooting and they didn't know what was in our cups. Gullible as we are, we started telling him our "Sex and the City" story. He gave us NYFD hats and went on for another ten minutes schmoozing us, and it turned out he was an off-duty fireman soliciting funds for the soup kitchen. (Yes, he had a badge that showed he was legit.) Feeling rather silly for swallowing his what's-in-your-cup line, we gave him a couple of bucks each and noticed he was truly the cutest of the three men soliciting for the soup kitchen.

Back to the hotel, changed clothes, and walked to 123 44th Street for our annual Cafe Un-Deux-Trois dinner, then to the theatre on 47th for Grease.

Now you're all caught up, and we've had our morning Starbucks and are heading out for Top of the Rock and matinee performance of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Having a wonderful time (more than a Little Bit!) and wish you were here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What Do I Really, Really, Really Want?

Oprah hosted Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the phenomenon "Eat, Pray, Love", the other day. I tend to shy away from books that become phenomena as this has. But that many people reading it, and that many weeks on the bestseller lists, makes some kind of statement.

One action Ms. Gilbert takes each day, first thing in the morning, is to write in her journal the answer to "What do I really, really, really want?" She says just one "really" won't get it. It needs to be something you're passionate about. And I believe she also instructed that it be written in the present tense, as an affirmation.

I was toying with this after hearing her speak. I think the best way for me to state what I want, really-really-really, is: "I am involved in the Youngstown renaissance movement."

Ideally, this will involve living and working in Youngstown and seeing les bebes on a weekly (at least) basis (as needed by Ty and Jaci). But really, if I am unable to relocate for a year, that has to be alright. I need to be patient and believe it's all going to work out.

One foot in front of the other.

Vertical and facing forward.

Where's Jan?

Either at work or at rehearsal or someplace in between. And exhausted.
Tuesday night I take Rudi to PetsHotel Plus, then practice. Wednesday night I have rehearsal. Thursday morning I leave for New York to visit PianoLady and see Grease and The Drowsy Chaperone.

I'll be home Sunday night. Then I have TSO rehearsal on Monday night, rehearsal for the St. Francis show on Tuesday and Wednesday, preview on Thursday, then shows on Friday night, Saturday matinee and Saturday night, and Sunday matinee.

I'll check in here when I have anything to say, but there might not be much content before November!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Yes, I Know the Way to San Jose

The concert was fabulous. At the end I turned to my friend Gail and said, "that was just over an hour." Gail's response? "Well, she's 67!"

I was terrifically impressed with the music director and pianist, Kathy Rubico. The highlight of my evening? Meeting Ms. Rubico as I arrived at the reception.

The other highlight was when the president of the university and his wife both came across the room to thank me for playing. And Jill told me he told her that he felt the background piano added greatly to the event.

I did not meet Dionne Warwick, but did see her across the crowded Green Room and she is a tiny little thing. She comes across, both on stage and across the room, as a lady. Simply, a lady.

As Jill and I parted, I told her I didn't meet Miss Warwick, but I met the woman I really wanted to meet.

Friday, October 05, 2007

New Music Friday

I've started listening to Pandora. This is a great way to become familiar with music I might not otherwise be exposed to.

You can set up a "station" based on music you like, and Pandora will determine the characteristics of that music and play other songs that share characteristics with your choice. I have stations for Singers Unlimited, The New Christy Minstrels, Josh Groban, Jane Olivor, Chicago, Michael Franks and Regina Carter. (I never said my musical tastes weren't eclectic!)

While listening to the Regina Carter station, a song that popped up was Pavane (based on Ravel's Pavane pour une Infante Defunte [Pavane for a Dead Princess]) performed by Arild Andersen with Vassilis Tsabropoulos and John Marshall. The album is The Triangle, and the music is absolutely yummy.

It's on iTunes if you want to sample it. Great jazz!

Love Song

I'm learning lots of new music for the show I'm doing at the end of October. One of the pieces that's new to me is "Love Song" from Pippin. It's a very difficult song to learn because of lots of changes in the time signature. But the words. Oh, the words. This is what I look for in a relationship. How lovely.

Sitting on the floor and talking till dawn
Candles and confidences
Trading old beliefs and humming old songs
And lowering old defenses
Singing a
Love song-- La la la la la la la la la la
Love song-- La la la la

Private little jokes and silly pet names
Lavender soap and lotions
All of the cliches and all of the games
And all of the strange emotions
Singing a
Love song-- La la la la la la la la la la
Love song-- La la la la la

They say the whole is greater
Than the sum of the parts it's made of
Well if it's true of anything
It's true of love

'Cause how can you define a look or a touch?
How can you weigh a feeling?
Taken by themselves now they don't mean much
Together they send you reeling
Into a
Love song-- La la la la la la la la la la
Love song-- La la la la la

That's What Friends Are For

I'm tanking up on Dionne Warwick tunes today. I ran to Amazon on Tuesday and ordered both her new duet album, My Friends & Me, and The Definitive Collection.

I began listening to the radio when I was about nine, and always loved the popular tunes. In my first marriage, my husband would allow only classical or Christian music in our home, so whenever I was in the car I would listen to the tunes I loved. I have such vivid memories of Scott and Tyler, at ages 5 and 4 or 6 and 5, singing "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again" at the top of their lungs—perfectly in tune, I might add. (Tyler tells me he has no memory of this, only of hearing me tell the story. I'd be curious to know if Scott/TJ remembers it.)

So when my BFF Jill called the other day to ask if I'd like to play for a reception for Snell & Wilmer after tonight's UAPresents season opener featuring—Ta Da—Dionne Warwick, in exchange for concert tickets, I jumped up and down and quickly said "Yes!" She said Miss Warwick should be at the reception and there's the chance I'll meet her.

Be still my beating heart. So I'm polishing my memory of the accompaniment for all her songs, just in case she thinks I'm wonderful and wants to sing along with something I'm playing, her tune or not.

I love it when my friends know what excites me. Thanks Jill!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Twisting One's Arm

I had a quick dinner at Rio last night before rehearsal and was able to spend a few minutes chatting with Karla, Frank's daughter, who works there as a server.

Karla has been with her boyfriend for two years. He is currently playing guitar on a cruise ship, and they had plans to tour Australia and New Zealand together during November and December, before heading off to the Far East to teach English. He called a week ago and said he had changed his mind. He felt he was finally being taken seriously as a musician and he didn't want to go teach English. In one conversation he changed their lives. And then he didn't call for four days. And then he called and said he was all wrong, that he did want to be with her and go teach English in Asia.

Guys! You don't get it. We woman have very speedy minds. You tell me you don't want to see me again and then don't follow up within a day with a contrary statement? I've replanned my entire life. And guess what? You aren't in it. I know how to take care of myself and I'm going to do so. If you don't want to be with me, I'm not going to force you to be with me.

I felt bad for Karla, who has had to deal with this "am I in or am I out" along with trying to figure out what to do next along with trying to support her dad in his grief over his dear friend's death.

As I stood in the shower this morning, pondering this and my current situation, where the Biker appears to prefer writing e-mails and watching TV to being with or talking to me, I remembered the breakup with husband #2.

Dick's daughter resented his having married me and told him all sorts of lies about me, manufacturing things I had supposedly said to her. He would believe those lies and stop speaking to me for three or four days. After a year or so of this behavior, I suggested we separate and try to diffuse the tension and work things out. I loved him very much but was so tired of being treated so unfairly.

His response? "If we're not under the same roof, we're not married." Alrighty then. We're not married. (This was, of course, after the therapist said of our five year marriage, "you know we've been beating this dead horse for two-and-a-half-years".)

Three months later, after having only his scheming manipulative daughter to listen to, he realized he had been a pawn in an evil game. And he called and said he missed me and wanted to get back together.

Three months of peace for me, after many months of turmoil? Sorry, I've moved on.

The point of this story? I'm not going to try to convince anyone that I'm the one for him. Take me or leave me, Baby. If you're not sure you want to be with me, then go find someone you do want to be with. I'm outta here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hills and Dales on the Road

As I grapple with last weekend's events and disappointments, and how to deal with those relationship possibilities, new things are popping up.

Mr. Match called last night and we have a dinner date for Thursday night. He then called back later last night and left a message saying he was glad we were going to see each other again.

And another very dear friend called me yesterday saying she has someone she wants me to meet.

I guess I'll have to admit that "hills and dales" are the antithesis of "boring".

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

'Splainin' to do

Can anyone explain why these grown men who shuck and jive constantly think any mature, desireable woman would think that was attractive?

If you answer the phone and I ask, "were you asleep?", a simple "yes" or "no" will do! And you say "I'll always tease, but I'll always tell you I'm teasing" doesn't get it easier. What a freaking waste of my time.

Men! Grow up!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fear of Flying

Are we, as over-50 single adults, so scarred from all the break-ups and disappointments that we're simply afraid to get close? And as a result we throw up all sorts of smokescreens to keep away anyone who could possibly hurt us?

I know I have a period at the beginning of a relationship where I go into Abandoned Adoptee mode and do everything possible to push people away — reject them before they can reject me.

It's sick, I know. But don't I get a few points for the fact that I realize I'm doing it and try to put on the brakes?

Is that what happened to me this weekend? Is the Biker so scared of some woman dumping on him again, stomping on his heart and breaking his dreams, that he couldn't risk being within arms-length of me all weekend?

My Wish for Us All

I mentioned a month ago that a friend of Frank's was going through horrible trials with her son in a coma from drug and alcohol use.

On Friday night I learned this woman, filled with desperation over the lack of hope for her son's continuation of life, had taken her own life.

My heart is heavy for Frank. My heart is heavy for Wendy, for being so desolate and not being able to reach out in her despair to friends, including Frank—who is one of the most incredible, supportive friends I've ever known.

My wish for us all? That we will never have to feel that kind of desolation and that we will always have the love and care of friends to sustain us through difficult times.

Chasing a Dream

Today's Real Simple quote:
There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream.

I chased a dream to Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon and came home last night disillusioned. Must I abandon my dreams?

The Biker is a good guy. Let me just hammer that home. This man is one of the finest men I have met in a long time. He's smart as a whip, honest, very handsome, a supportive and loving father, generous, gallant, fun and funny.

So where's the problem? He can't (or refuses to) give a straight answer. He's all about "shooting the shit", as we used to say. He made a lovely statement to me on the way to the airport last night, but I realized I didn't believe him. He has teased and bullshitted me so much that I no longer believe a single word he says.

And I think he's afraid of togetherness, of emotional intimacy. My goal for the weekend was to spend one-on-one, face-to-face time with him to see if the attraction we felt when we first met in a group situation would continue without all the noise around.

I didn't get the opportunity to find out. The only times we were alone together from 6:00 p.m. on Saturday to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday was either driving around town or sitting across a table from each other in a noisy restaurant. Where we might have spent Sunday morning strolling around Long Beach hand-in-hand, he slept until 10:00 and left me in my hotel alone to amuse myself. We spent lots of time with his sons and daughters-in-law. They were delightful and we had a great time together. But it's not focusing on each other, learning about each other.

I said on Thursday that this would either be the first date of the rest of my life or that last date of my entire life. I'm afraid it may be the latter. How sad.