Good times, tons of food, wine flowing like a fountain, frustrating first Wii experiences, and triumphal "Celebrities" playing ensued. Somehow, in the midst of the festivities, Molly managed a 30 minute nap on the living room sofa (it's her superpower - apparently, she can fall asleep just about anywhere, and in what I personally would consider non-sleep-inducing positions to boot), while the rest of us prattled away merrily.
High point of the evening: sitting on the back deck with Sibyl and P-Ratt as they both gushed enthusiastically (and admittedly a bit tipsily), about what a great guy I am: Sibyl claiming I had a heart "as big as the outdoors", while P-Ratt insisted I've done many things on behalf of her and her family (I let them stay in my apartment - once - after their house flooded a couple of years ago), and so-on and such.
It's a little embarrassing: I don't really think I go out of my way to be generous to people; frankly, it's not even something to which I generally give much thought. If somebody needs something, and I'm in a position to provide it without causing myself undue discomfort or inconvenience, it just seems like the right thing to do. But, I guess I have to learn to start taking these compliments with a little more grace, and just recognize that what may not seem like a big deal to myself can still be a big deal to other people.
But, it did get me to thinking, in observance of the spirit of the day, just how thankful I am to have generous, kind, thoughtful and loving friends. I try not to take them for granted, but perhaps I could do a better job of letting them know how much I value and appreciate their camaraderie - and their kind words. So, if you haven't heard it from me lately, "thanks for being my friend!"
Anyway, hope all of you had a festive and safe Turkey Day as well.
Before The Bulldozers Waltzed In And Killed The Old Street
I was adding some friends to my FaceBook account on my lunch break today (yeah, I know, but ALL the kids are doing it these days - MySpace is SO last year - apparently), and on a lark I started searching for the names of people I've lost contact with over the years; old college friends and such. And lo-and-behold if one didn't actually turn up!
We were pretty good friends in our undergrad days, and when I moved to Seattle after finishing grad school in Bellingham in 1985 we got re-acquainted; in fact she let me stay at her place the first week or so I was in town until I could connect with another mutual college friend with whom I was planning to share an apartment.
Over the next several years we kept pretty close; for awhile we lived just a few blocks apart on Capitol Hill, and we spent a lot of time together, just hanging out, playing chess (something I don't think I've done for years!), having these afternoon-long philosophical discussions (I still think Kant was full of B.S.) - and we were even involved in a theatre company together for a couple of years. Even though I frequently, vehemently disagreed with her on all manner of issues, I still held immense respect for her; I always thought of her as being one of the most intelligent people I'd ever met - far more so than myself - and she always challenged me to come up to her level, which I think I managed to do on occasion. I considered her my best friend at the time, which is odd in a way, because I don't think there was ever anything more than that between us; certainly nothing romantic, at least so far as I was ever aware.
After she got married in, oh, 1994 I think, we completely lost track of each other. Her husband ran in a completely different social group, and we just sort of fell off of each other's radar screens; in fact, if I recall correctly we haven't seen each other since her wedding day nearly 15 years ago.
But, I never stopped thinking about her, wondering how her life had turned out. I would occasionally drop her name into a search engine, to see if any sign of her would come back, but there were never any hits; some people just naturally keep a low-profile in this world where almost everything about us can be tracked to some extent. And so, I never really thought I'd ever run into her again, and I always rather regretted that, because frankly, she'd been a very good friend and goodness knows that's something rare.
So, I hadn't really expected to find her on FaceBook, of all places. But sure enough, her name popped right up, and she answered the somewhat tentative query I sent (well, I never thought I'd share my name with two other people in the U.S., so there was at least a reasonable chance of it not being her), and we actually had a very pleasant exchange of emails this evening.
As one would expect, our lives have taken their own unique turns, but we still seem to have some things in common: evidently, we're both hooked on Heroes, for one; another being that we both seem to have very full lives, which for the moment at least will probably preclude our being able to get together in person for some time. But still, a reconnection has been made - we both know we're out there, and we've got a line of communication open again after 15 years of silent running.
It's not going to be the same as before - how in the world could it be after that long an absence? But even in our brief conversation I had a sense of that temporal distance beginning to diminish. I don't want to read too much into a few minutes of typed correspondence, but I will say it felt really very nice to talk to my old, good friend again after so many years.
Last night was closing for the show. Frankly, I was rather sorry to see it go. We didn't do spectacular business during the six-week run, but audiences were definitely picking up, and we have been getting pretty decent word-of-mouth, which was encouraging. But of course, just when it feels like the momentum is starting to turn in your favor, it's all over. It's one of the frustrating things about how we have to operate: you can only run your show for so long, before you have to make way for the next one, so in a situation like this, just when you're just starting to build audiences, you have to stop.
And it's amazing, not to mention a little unnerving, how months worth of preparation, planning, rehearsal, building, sweating and laboring can be reduced in about 90 minutes to nothing more than an empty stage, with only a few spots of unpainted floor to mark that the show was ever there in the first place. Once it was done, we held our post-show celebration, and threw a little party for ourselves, but I have to say, I was feeling a little less than celebratory: I was really proud of this piece, of the effort everyone put into it, and the results that came out of their hard work. I wished it could have been seen by more people, I think they would have enjoyed it, just as those who DID see it seemed to do. It's been a long time since I've felt that good about something into which I've put so much of myself, and I suppose there was a bit of ego involved in not wanting to let it slip away so quickly.
But, as I said, that's the way things work around here. I had my time, took my shot, and now it's someone else's turn.
Thanks again to everyone who put in so much work on "The Moon Is A Dead World"; I couldn't have done it alone, and it wouldn't have been nearly as amazing without your participation.
A couple of months I bought an electric guitar at a theatre fundraiser, because, well, this is what I do - buy crazy things at charity events.
Be that as it may, I've been told - by people who know these kinds of things - that this is a very good guitar. But of course, the kicker is that I've never played a guitar before (a brief, fruitless flirtation with the ukulele not withstanding), let alone any other musical instrument more complex than a tambourine. But, it's something that's been perennially at the top of my "things I've always regretted not doing" list. So, I bought the guitar with the silly notion in the back of my head that I would actually learn how to play it.
The nice thing about musical instruments, as opposed to say, theatre, is that you don't need a whole bunch of other people to help make it happen. You can just sit in your room and practice all by yourself, whenever you've got a few spare minutes. And with modern technology, you don't even have to worry about annoying the neighbors - evidently you can plug a set of headphones into a modern, solid-state amplifier and blast away to your heart's content without so much as rattling the crockery in the next room!
Well naturally, my schedule for the past couple of months has precluded much more than picking it up on occasion, and trying to learn a couple of chords off Internet instruction videos, which - truth be told - aren't terribly helpful.
But, just by chance about three weeks ago I came across an advert for something called "Guitar 101" offered at EMP (Better known to locals as "that ugly melted-crayon building Paul Allen forced us to plop down next to the Space Needle".) The price seemed quite reasonable, and although it's group, as opposed to individual instruction, so far, two weeks in, it does seem to be giving us a fairly good handle on the basics - so far as I can tell. All I really know is that the ends of the fingers on my left hand are sore as the dickens, but toughening up. Our instructor, Amy Stolzenbach, is a bona fide "local rock legend", so we're learning from an actual working musician, which is also helpful, because she knows all sorts of short-cuts and "cheats" that you probably wouldn't learn from someone too caught up in formalities; like she says, "if you aren't having fun, what's the point?"
Now, I'm certainly not expecting to become some sort of Rock God after a mere six weeks of instruction, but I figure, if I can learn enough to give me a solid foundation (which may entail springing for "Guitar 102" in February), maybe - just maybe, I'll eventually feel comfortable enough with it to take some more advanced instruction from any of the several musician friends I know who teach such.
Chinese Kite, Folding Chairs, Lift On Where You Take The Stairs
I just got a phone call from Actors' Equity Association Western Regional Director Mary Lou Westerfield. She was calling to inform me that I have been selected by the Western Regional Stage Managers Committee, on behalf of AEA's Western Regional Board, as the recipient of the 2008 Lucy Jordan Humanitarian Award.
This is what the Equity web site says about the Award:
"The Lucy Jordan Humanitarian Award (LJHA) is the only recognition award given by the Western Regional Board of Actors' Equity Association. It was established by the Stage Managers Committee in 1992 to commemorate the unflagging spirit of former Western Region Business Field Rep, Lucy Jordan, who passed away unexpectedly in May of that year. The LJHA is given to honor any members of the extended theatrical family who go above and beyond the call of duty, who embody that spirit of show business in which we are at our best, our most unselfish, where we go to the nth degree to make the working experience magical and special. We, the Stage Managers Committee members, are delighted to see Lucy Jordan's heritage carried on by someone who shares so much of her spirit."
I've been forced to use a cane to get around for the past few days - a cane!
The "strawberry" on my left knee, plus the accompanying swelling in the knee and ankle have severely reduced mobility in the leg, and I've been having a bit of trouble getting up and down stairs. So Friday night while I was at the theatre, I borrowed a cane from the guy who runs the little vintage store downstairs, and have been limping around ever since.
Actually, I'm okay on flats and gradual inclines, it's just those dang steps that have been causing me problems, so most of the time I'm just carrying it around "just in case", and not in fact even using it for the most part. But still, just the idea that I need it at all has been a little depressing.
Today, however, I managed to get down my apartment steps and onto "Little Nellie" with only minor inconvenience. Hopefully, the swelling will start to go down fairly soon, and I'll be able to bend my knee enough to not have to hobble up-and-down stairs like the invalid I apparently am for the moment.
I was born exactly one week prior to the 1960 election, so of course I was far too young to have had even an inkling of the kind of enthusiasm that moment generated, and the spirit of hope and confidence that was its result.
But, I feel like last night, surrounded by crying, hugging, cheering, drunk-off-our-collective-asses friends, and standing in the middle of the spontaneous eruption of sheer joy that took over the middle of Broadway & E Pike last night, this must be what it felt like for the generation of Boomers who lived through that unforgettable moment in our nation's history.
Something has fundamentally changed within the collective consciousness of our nation, something that, while it may be resisted by some, can never be turned back. Racism may still exist in this country, but despite that we can still elect a Black Man for President. There will still be conflicts between generations, but for the first time in MY life at least, I had the privilege of voting for a Presidential Candidate who is YOUNGER than myself. Conservatives and liberals may still be at-odds in terms of how we view our country, and the path we wish it to follow for the next four-to-eight years, but WE chose that path in a demonstration for all the world to view with awe and wonder, that despite the deep divisions that exist between individual Americans, our people can still exercise the right to chose our own destiny - for good or ill.
McCain gave a moving concession speech in Arizona last evening, so much so that at one point I leaned over to a friend and said, "if he'd spoken like this over the past several months, he might actually have had a shot at this thing!" It was a call to Republicans, conservatives, and to the Religious Right to accept the loss, to move on, and to commit to working WITH the new leadership for the betterment of all. I have no doubt many on that side will fail to heed his words; there's too much animosity, too much hate, too much lingering mistrust and fear of The Other for many of them to be able to come to grips with the New Reality.
But, many will mark what was said, by both McCain, and later by President-Elect Obama (don't those words just send shivers of delight up your spine?) that WE ALL have to do this TOGETHER if we're going to achieve anything useful, lasting, and worthy of our history, heritage, and potential. WE ALL have to learn to be better Americans - first and foremost to each other. And I can only hope enough of us can set aside our differences, work for our common good, and fulfill the promise of what it truly means to be an American in the 21st Century.
But I Thought The Old Lady Dropped It Into The Ocean In The End...
Ugh! Dumped "Little Nellie" - again.
The scarred patch on my left knee is going to have a scar on top of it, but otherwise, I'm fine. Was coming down E. Union just past 18th, when a car crept out of an alley to my right. I tend to get a little cautious when this happens, because I never know if they've seen me, and are going to come all the way out into the street. So, I barely touched my brakes, but that was all it took. Only this time I didn't bounce right back up, because "Nellie" ended up on top of me, and I was basically pinned to the ground in the middle of the street. Fortunately, the driver and several passerby (one of whom claimed to be a doctor - there are several hospitals in close proximity, so not implausible) got the scooter off me, and then stood over me until the Aid Car arrived.
Once they determined I could be moved, they got me on my feet, and off the street, by which point at least one SPD unit had arrived. Needless to say, I was rushing on the adrenaline, and in some serious pain. Fortunately, I had most of my protective gear on: helmet, gloves and jacket - only lacking the overpants-with-kneepads - so I'm out one pair of khaki slacks, and some skin off my knee. Since nothing appeared to be broken, and there was no indication of back or neck trauma, I elected to forgo a ride in the ambulance to the E.R., and even managed to get "Nellie" back home; she of course, suffered only a couple of minor scrapes - in pretty much the exact same places as last time as well.
Oooh, now we BOTH will have new scars on top of old scars...
The Machines Have Been Drinking From The Waters Of Lethe
Thanks to everyone for the birthday shout-outs yesterday, whether in-person, by phone, e-mail, facebook, or even song. It was a great, and surprisingly productive, day and I think everybody had as much fun at the various and sundry scheduled events as I did!
It was a great way to start the second-to-last year of my 40's.