Thursday, September 30, 2010

blow wind blow

Tonight the air is tropical-warm; the kind of night air you feel when you are on vacation in some lovely place that makes your skin glow. I've felt "breezes" like this in Mexico and the Caribbean, but in New York, wind this strong is unusual, with the kind of gusts that make you pause for potential impact. The wind chime on the front porch tells me in spastic fits when it's getting nutty out there. I have had two completely different friends, (different states, different time lines, different history) give me the exact same wind chime - several years apart - how nice is it when your friends know you in such a way that they would pick out the very same whimsical item such as a wind chime? I love the sound it makes, like a buoy on the water, the sound of growing up. Joseph has been away all week, with luck he'll be home tomorrow afternoon, so tonight is my last night of a wild week of single parenting. And now the winds are testing my fortitude.

I love foul weather, it's like something to survive, something to be sharp against, (got the flashlight handy? Matches/Candles? Got enough water and food provisions? Batten down the hatches, call on those who may need a hand). One of the best vacations I ever went on was a cruise. Not one of those bloated, floating shopping malls with swimming pools and food courts, no, a sailing vessel with a trim crew of 30 persons. The man who would be my husband, in a fit of rare spontenaity, once booked us on a trip through the islands and we had an adventurous blast; complete with night kayaking through a fosforescent laden lagoon, rope swinging over a beach bar, rock climbing through shoreline caves, and making fast friends with strangers.

The best night of all though, was the last night. One that, if it were an option on a pre-package menu I would have paid extra for. The captain had been legitimately steering our ship away from a tropical depression that was making it's way around the islands. During the course of the cruise he had to use avoidence tactics and did not port at one of our arranged destinations as the island was getting clobbered by winds, and on this night, the storm was gaining on us. So here we were, on our last night together after 9 days of a roucus good time, a night when we were all to attend a lovely formal dinner, with champagne (even the crew dressed special) and we were starting to pitch and roll. Several of the other passengers were not digging the thrill, but with each increasing rise and fall, whenever a bottle tipped over on the table or a glass hit the floor, my excitement grew.
Dinner ended prematurely for many, and I took this as an opportunity to become a kid again and disappear onto the different decks of the ship. I searched for the first mate, and when I found him, I pleaded for permission to shadow him on his rounds. He agreed under the condition that I stay the hell out of his way, and that at any time he could order me below. I was like a friggen kid at Disney World, (and I've never even been to Disney World, but I could sure as hell imagine that it might feel as thrilling as this did). The air was warm and soft, but the rain, coming from all directions stung my cheecks. I silently followed the first mate and another crew member as they went around the ship making sure sails were trimmed, lines were tied, and all communication was clear. The sturdy, roughly 300 foot vessel weathered the storm with our bearded captain at the helm as if this was all standard stuff - well, to them I suppose it was. After two hours of walking the decks and taking the wind and rain in the face, I retired to my cabin (ha ha ha, retired to my cabin, who am I, Ysmael?) where my then boyfriend probably thought I was either a wacko or the coolest girlfriend he ever had. (I think he thought I was the coolest no? He ultimately proposed marriage didn't he?)
By morning we had arrived to port in Puerto Rico and I felt like we beat it. We survived the storm. What a ride.
Sadly, a year later, that notion would turn vividly tragic, as I heard news that an actual catagory 4 hurricane took down one of the fleet's other vessels and the lives of 31 crew members. Not long after that, the company went into bankrupcy and the family who ran it spiraled into lawsuits and scandal.

Tonight, I skipper this homestead with my crew safely tucked in, the hatches battoned, and the eerily warm September wind blows.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bright Lights in the Big City

Once in a life time chance to go see West Side Story on Broadway - now, I know the reviews were, to be kind, "mixed" but I had to witness my favorite production live; so there was no question when we were given a choice - it had to be W.S.S.

So we showered and dressed, and sent the children (all three) to Grandma's house (blessed, blessed Grandma) and drove into town. Found street parking on 48th - what luck, and walked to Times Square....

It has been a long while since I've even seen Times Square, and on Friday night it was like visiting another country. In fact it felt like Tokyo. People swarmed - like moths to a front porch light on a hot summer night - SWARMS of humans walking, wandering, standing, glaring. I couldn't help but feel sad for the old Times Square of five years ago. It was nutty then but it moved. This Times Square just halted - it was like swimming in a fish bowl. Lit up ads and signage everywhere; the night sky barely has a chance to suggest that it is no longer day. We moved through the human soup towards our theatre...will call...concession stand...$16 drink and chips, ha ha that's funny.

I sat in my comped orchestra seat staring at the heavy red curtain, my hands holding onto my playbill, my ears filled with the din of the Friday night house, the orchestra just beginning to warm up....delicious anticipation. Then, the cell phone announcement, the lights dimmed and...then came the sound, that whistle, and the chills went up my arms the first of many times that night, I didn't dare blink so as not to miss a second.

From pretty early on, like in the first three minutes, I realized what I was in for. The bad reviews were not wrong. But the dancing was undeniably the best I'd ever seen outside of Lincoln Center (save one Fosse review show I saw years ago with Joseph). The men leaped with such grace and suspencion and landed so softly they looked completely effortless. The voices were lovely, of course, but the acting was so bad they could barely tell the story outside of what Bernstein's music dictated them to do.

There were so many things wrong with the production, beginning with the casting, most of the issues I had were directorial, but there were a few lighting gaps, and no joke, the orchestra hit a couple of cracked notes. The cast was young and mostly new (many Broadway debutes) but I don't know what to use as an excuse for the men who played Krupke and Lt. Schrank. Oh well, they were all doing their very best...

As bad as it was (Director Arthur Laurents, my deepest respect, but this one really needs help) I refused to be disappointed because, well, it's Goddamned WEST SIDE STORY - a fucking Opus of a piece of art. However, I will admit, that for the first time, I didn't cry when Tony died.

After the show, we poured out into the city streets and tried to come up with a plan for dinner - when we didn't really have one. Joe Allen came through, it was close by (on 46th) and we were seated right away, which was a good thing because I hadn't eaten a thing all day except a carrot and a handful of dry Cheerios. I love Joe Allen restaurant. Not for the menu (Steak tartar, or meatloaf? - you choose) but because it is such a New York joint. It was filled with mostly theatre people (possibly musicians, possibly crew, and waitstaff of all talent) and some theatre goers like us - but above all it was filled with New Yorkers. I breathed a sigh of grateful relief after the fishbowl experience at the start of the evening. Here was old New York, unchanged, unfettered, un-influenced by media and commercialism. I ordered the pepper steak over fresh spinach, Joseph ordered the meatloaf and mashed was hot and yummy.
I love New York.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Sound of Silence

Number 1 is at school (hallelujah), #3 is napping (damn straight, she had me up all night), and now, the gift...#2 has found her own personal Wonderland at the neighbor's house next door. And bless her, my neighbor delights in our charming 3 and 1/2 year old...Bless the Lord my soul it's the gift of a silent house for 90 mommy time that's like, like, that's like a cocktail, compliments of the handsome gentleman at the end of the bar.

Of course, because it is so rare an opportunity (as in, it never happens) I don't know what to do with myself, so I end up having lunch (hummus and carrots) while standing in the kitchen and drinking a light beer (in the middle of the afternoon - sakes alive) while I do the on the edge.

I have Friends who still work in the industry I used to work in, they meet dozens of people every week, their day is fired up, productive, full of accomplishments (that result in a bi-weekly paycheck) and I can barely admit that the highlight of my day is sipping a Corona Light in between washing and rinsing. Maybe this is all too sad to admit. Maybe I should just tap that delete button. Nah, I don't give a rat's ass. I'm embracing this life of mine. It may be dull, but it's mine.

So publish, and onto the next big adventure. This one is no joke. I'm going to finally get to those weeds out front, AND I'm going to plant the bulbs I bought today. Look out.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Slappin' the Bass

One of the saddest trade offs of becoming a "grown up" and in particular, a parent, is the loss of spontaneity and benign irresponsibility. Coming from one who enjoyed and cherished her wilder days, conjuring up thoughts of some of those glorious shenanigans is most lamentable. Of course looking back on what was hilarious or some of the "best times" at age 18 or 22 is now pretty embarrassing to admit, (well, who could deny the beauty of a broccoli and cheese crossiant sandwich from Duncan Donuts devoured in the back of a van returning from clubbing in Providence, RI at 3:00am on a weeknight...really who could deny it?) but nonetheless, those silly times were mine, so I might as well own them.

But wouldn't it be great, really really great, to retain or gain (depending on your stock of friends) one of those friendships with whom you can absolutely be the most relaxed and candid version of your self? A relationship where you can be the total loser that you are; let your geek-flag fly. A relationship where you can share the simplest of lifes joys like say...blasting a Duran Duran album without a hint of shame or irony, (or Ozzy Osborne, or Aerosmith, or Human League, whatever your pop poison of choice). Or actually go climb trees and sit in them and talk about anything, making sense or no.

I know there are some grown ups out there who have this. Perhaps some of them have married their best friends and can act like complete dip-shit assholes in front of them. To those lucky few, I tip my hat. Cudos to you, you uninhibited, easy-going lolly gaggers. My honest admiration. Anyone listening?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson

...and now I get it, I understand why there are women out there who are evening alcoholics whose children refer to the wine bottle as "mommy's soda," why they pop a few pills to get through each day and go running for the shelter of a mother's little helper. (Doctor please, some more of these.) And worst of all why, however horrific, some mothers lose it and do insane acts - because they have gone insane.
I can imagine that in the many "walks of life" their are things that are the most frustrating to people. Maybe if you are a statistician the most frustrating thing might be when the numbers don't add up. For a baseball player, maybe the most frustrating thing is when your injury won't heal and let you play at your best capacity. Maybe for a politician the most frustrating thing is on the one issue you haven't actually manipulated and lied about, no one will be believe you. I don't know. But I do know that as a full time parent, the most frustrating damn thing is when I cannot get anything accomplished because of a constant stream of interruptions.
Recent example:
Prepare to sit down to finally register online for volunteer job I have volunteered for...put infant to sleep and set remaining children up with various games, toys and other. Announce to remaining awake offspring that I am sitting down to a project and do not want to be interrupted. Sit down. Type in three words - Respond to panicked request to kill a large spider that is crawling on the floor. Answer ringing telephone. Fix broken toy. Run upstairs to find three year old bouncing in the crib with now wakened infant. Toss three year old out of the room (she begins to cry). Attempt to sooth infant back to sleep. Listen as eruption of tears come from six year old downstairs because of another "broken" toy. Bring now wide awake infant downstairs and try to go back online to finish registering on website required for new shut down, user names and passwords lost. Mother: exasperated.

Maybe this blog should be titled The Bitch and Moan Project...

Whose idea was it to start a family? Whoever said getting married was the thing we should all want most in life? What is so wrong with serial monogamy?

I am trying to envision that time in my life when I will look back and see how wonderful this all was, see how my children have grown into beautiful adults and have gone out into the world to build lives of their own...I look forward to that idyllic moment. I hope I am lucid enough to appreciate it. At the rate I am going, that moment may come as I sit in a sterile room wearing a bathrobe while my grown children speak in loud, clear voices telling me that they have brought me some ice cream, "PRALINE PECAN, YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR MOM, OH BOY!"

I got a phone call today from another mom. She was embarrassed to admit that she feels she is on the brink of loosing it. (She might be right, she recently went to the hospital due to a panic attack.) I calmly soothed her into telling me what was really bothering her. I listened with zero judgement. I got it. I empathized with her completely. Of course it was easy for me to listen, express my care, and give her small doses of advice and encouragement because her problems are as simple and clear as the summer sun. As for my own problems - solutions allude me like the prospect of a size 6 dress.

After a bit of decompressing, I find my three musketeers behaving themselves as if they were in a Disney movie. Even the under slept infant is blowing me sweet kisses from across the room. My heart swells and I become eager to make them lunch and give them leftover birthday cake.