Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mine. Mine mine. Mine.

I didn't even orchestrate it. Mich came down for breakfast and mentioned that Abigail was coming over for breakfast. And for about 15 minutes, four of us (Josh was there too) sat around the kitchen table and talked and ate and laughed just like we used to, and it felt like it was all mine, just for me, mine mine mine, as the seagulls in Finding Nemo like to say. I know it wasn't really all mine. I know it was really for all of us. But life sure is good when it's for all of us but it feels like it's all mine. Mine mine. Mine. Mine.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring flowers!

I haven't been writing a lot in my posts lately, and among the things I haven't been writing a lot about is that this is not just a blog about joy, but about pure and selfish joy. I think sometimes I've lost track of that for myself as well, but I also think it's partly because it's becoming internalized and that I take it for granted that these minutes or hours in my day are all for me, and not for anyone else. Which has been making a significant difference in my outlook and enjoyment of life, and also has made me much happier to do things for other people (I have always liked to do things for other people, but I don't feel put upon anymore, because I'm also doing things for me EVERY DAY) and also it's made it easier for me to ask for help from other people. In all, a net gain all around.

And so, it's with this context, that I write about a day of doing joyful things that were NOT all for me, and were still completely brought me pure joy. It was Josh's birthday. He wanted to go to the gym and the botanic garden and to come home and bake birthday dessert. I wanted to do all those things too, so we went together to the gym, and I ran for 35 minutes on the treadmill. (I'm starting to feel better! My iron infusions are working!) Then Josh creamed me in a fierce game of ping pong. (He uses spin. It gets me every time.) Then we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and things are starting to bloom! It was in the low 50s, very Spring-like, and we got to see beautiful dwarf irises, a few dwarf tulips, and the very very very very very first magnolia buds starting to open. Oh yeah, and an early-flowering peach tree. Nothing opens my heart like these early flowers. Puts me right back to East Bare Hill Road, when I would go out barefoot even though the ground was still really cold, and I would basically just wait for everything to start blooming. Forsythia, flowering quince, lilacs, apples, iris, lilies, violets. And then eventually the ground warms up, and eventually everything's out, and eventually you take it all for granted—as if it's always Spring, and then it's always Summer. Or at least as if it's always supposed to be.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The best soup I've ever made

I invented a recipe for a smoked fish soup a couple weeks ago. I think I wrote about it. I replicated it for Soup Swap—tripled to make 8 quarts. I ordered fish from the Harbor Fish Market in Portland Maine, and had it shipped overnight. The key to the soup is smoked haddock—that's what gives the richness to the broth. That and some dashi (fish, kelp, and mushroom soup stock.) The joy in replicating the recipe was partly the joy of ordering fish from Maine. Not just smoked haddock but insanely large and beautiful fillets of fresh haddock. (Also smoked mussels, smoked shrimp and fresh lobster.) Another part of the joy of cooking this soup was that it was done, from chopping the fennel to cleaning the pot, in 2 hours. A rich, delicious, redolent soup—8 quarts of it (actually 11 quarts because it's hard to judge sometimes)—in the time it takes me to commute daily. I wish this blog had smell-o-rama, so you could smell what I smell now. Smoky and fishy and sweet, but all in a good way. Once again, I feel incredibly joy that Leila first gave me the idea, and that I had the gumption to start Brooklyn Soup Swap, and that people have joined me for so long.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Which came first?

Another holiday, another opportunity for food sculpture. If I've learned one thing this year, it's that I do truly enjoy playing with my food. a zisn peysakh, alemen!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Book Report on Peter Rabbit

When I was growing up, my family played a song game on long car trips. The game goes like this. One person sings a song, and stops on a word. The next person sings a song with that word in it, and stops on another word. The next person sings a song with that word in it, and stops on another word. Etc. In order to keep the game hard enough but not too hard, there's a system of challenging, which is to say that if someone stops on a really hard word that you think might not be in another song, or at least that you can't think of one and you bet they can't either, you can challenge them, and if they can't think of a song with that word, you win that game, or point, or they get knocked out of that round.

Josh and I drove his niece Jenny down and back to and from Potomac, and we played the song game. She's very good at it. She knows tons of songs, and she grew up playing Encore, which is basically the same game, but with a board. After a while, we decided we wanted to try to make the game harder by only allowing songs from musicals. Jenny landed on the word "teaching" and I couldn't think of anything for it, so we decided to go collaborative and all work on it together. We worked our way through 13, Spring Awakening, Bye Bye Birdie, South Pacific, and others, but we didn't come up with anything. Eventually I thought of A Book Report from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, which is one of my favorite musical numbers, but I couldn't come up with all the lyrics, so Jenny pulled it up on YouTube, and played it for us all. Joy.

A book report on Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit, Peter ra-

[LINUS (overlapping)]
A book report on Peter Rabbit, Peter ra-

[SCHROEDER (overlapping)]
A book report on Peter Rabbit, ra-

[CHARLIE BROWN (overlapping)]
A book report on Peter ra-


Peter Rabbit is this stupid book
About this stupid rabbit who steals
Vegetables from other peoples' gardens
[She counts the words so far]
Hmm. 83 to go.

The name of the book about which
This book report is about is
Peter Rabbit which is about this
I found it very-
I liked the part where-
It was a-

It reminded me of "Robin Hood"
And the part where Little John jumped from the rock
To the Sheriff of Nottingham's back.
And then Robin and everyone swung from the trees
In a sudden surprise attack.
And they captured the sheriff and all of his goods
And they carried him back to their camp in the woods
And the sheriff was guest at their dinner and all
But he wriggled away and he sounded the call
And his men rushed in and the arrows flew-
Peter Rabbit did sort of that kind of thing too.

The other people's name was Macgregor.
[counts to 23]

In examining a book such as Peter Rabbit, it is important that
the superficial chracteristics of its deceptively simple plot
should not be allowed to blind the reader to the more substancial
fabric of its deeper motivations. In this report I plan to discuss the
sociological implications of family pressures so
great as to drive an otherwise moral rabbit to
perform acts of thievery which he consciously knew were
against the law. I also hope to explore the personlaity of Mr.
Macgregor in his comflicting roles as farmer and humanitarian.

Peter Rabbit is established from the start as a benevolent hero
and it is only...

[CHARLIE BROWN (overlapping)]
If I start writing now
When I'm not really rested
It could upset my thinking
Which is no good at all.
I'll get a fresh start tomorrow
And it's not due till Wednesday
So I'll have all of Tuesday
Unless something should happen.
Why does this always happen,
I should be outside playing
Getting fresh air and sunshine,
I work best under pressure,
And there'll be lots of pressure
If I wait till tomorrow
I should start writing now.
But I if I start writing now
When I'm nbot really rested
It could upset my thinking
Which is
No good at all.

The name of the rabbit was Peter
[counts to 30]

Down came the staff on his head- smaah!
And Robin fell like a sack full of lead- crash!
The sheriff laughed and he left him for dead- ah!
But he was wring

35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.

Just then an arrow flew in- whing!
It was a sign for the fight to begin- zing!
And then it looked like the sheriff would win- ah!
But not for long.
Away they ran.
Just lke rabbits.
Who run a lot
As you can tell
From the story
Of Peter Rabbit
Which this report
Is about.

Rabbits rabbits rabbits rabbits...

How do they expect us to
Write a book report
Of any quality
In just two days

How can they
Conspire to
Make life so mis'rable
And so effectively
In so many ways


There were vegetables
In the garden

Such as carrots and spinach
And onions and lettuce
And turnips and parsley
And okra and cabbage
And string beans ans parsnips
Tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus
Cauliflower, rhubarb and chives.

Not to mention the extreme pressure exterted on him
bu his deeply rooted rivalry with Flopsy, Mopsy and

Rabbits, rabbits, chasing rabbits...

If I start
Writing now
When I'm not
Really rested
It could
Upset my
Which is
Not good
At all
Not good
At all.


First thing
After dinner
I'll start

The name of
The book
A bout which
This book
Report is
About is

Peter Rabbit,
Peter Rabbit

All for one
Ev'ry man
Does his part


What drove

An otherwise
Moral rabbit

To perform
Acts of



Simple plot

Peter Rabbit
Is this stupid
Book about this
Stupid rabbit
Who steals
From other






Find a rabbit
Do or die!

And they were very, very, very, very, very, very
Happy to be home.

The end.

...94, 95. The very, very, very end.


A book report on Peter Rab-


Just start

You can do it

Nothing to it

Got to



Peter Rabbit
A lot like
Robin Hood

Peter Rabbit
A lot like
Robin Hood




Joined with



Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit
Peter Rabbit







I haven't even started yet!

Peter Rabbit!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

White Peysakh (with apologies to Irving Berlin)

I woke up Monday morning to four inches of snow in Potomac, and still coming down. A beautiful, thick, Yuletide snow that inspired me to sit down to one of my most joyful pastimes. With apologies to Irving Berlin, but secretly knowing this is the song he wished he had written.


I’m dreaming of a white peysakh

With temperatures of 10 below.

Where the brisket glistens

Four children listen

To hear Elijah in the snow.

I’m dreaming of a white peysakh

With every plague that I recite.

May your herbs be bitter all night

And may all your Passovers be white.

I’m dreaming of a white peysakh

Just like the ones in old Poto.

Where the khomets is missin’

And the fireplace hissin’

To warm Elijah’s frost-bit toe.

I’m dreaming of a white peysakh

With every taskmaster I smite.

May your tyrants be stricken with blight

And may all your Passovers be white.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I've been coming to Potomac for peysakh for 10 years. So has Mich Kay.  Mich and I have been friends for 4 of those years, and for one reason or another, we have never seen each other in Potomac.  We first met at a community seder in Brooklyn (that was not on one of first two nights when we would have been in Potomac) so peysakh is actually our anniversary. Well, it came to pass that Michelle and I celebrated our fourth anniversary in Potomac by taking a walk around the oddly charming US Postal Service training facility-turned conference center where Josh and I are staying this year.

There's a stained glass hall. 

Where a lady bug crawled in while we were talking. 

The fitness center is near the Office of the Postmaster General.

And of course there's a statue of Samuel Osgood, the first Postmaster, in the lobby of the hotel.

Presidents Miniature Sheets outside the doors of conference rooms.

And a rural mail delivery wagon from South Dakota on display.

All of which is completely delightful, but none as delightful as MICH KAY!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

In a hotel bed watching The Blind Side

I'm not saying The Blind Side is a good movie; I'm just saying I found joy in the act of sitting in a hotel bed and watching it, and potentially more joy in turning it off at a particularly racist scene (when he goes back to find his birth mother and the drug dealers give him a forty and talk nasty about his white sister) and pulling the covers up and going to sleeeeep.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I started the day with Abigail

Abigail needed to come over to get something from me first thing in the morning, and it timed out exactly to when I was leaving the house, so I got to walk with her to the train, and ride together for the first few stations. A couple days ago, I ran into Audrey on the tracks and we got to talk and ride all the way to 34th Street. If either of them had asked me for a morning date, I would have said I didn't have time. But the fact that they were spontaneous dates gave me all the joy of the friendship without any of the angst of work week scheduling. I guess it goes to show—it pays to live in the same neighborhood with good friends.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nia for Parkinsons/Urban Bush Women

My artists in residence at the JCC this year are Urban Bush Women and Liz Lerman, who are collaborating on a dance piece about wealth and poverty in the US, and the ways these things are physicalized and embodied. Their work is fascinating and brilliant, and if you are near NYC, you might want to come see it. But the other thing going on during this residency is that two members of Urban Bush Women are working the the JCC's Nia for Parkinson's group, and creating a collaborative dance work about the wealth and poverty in the bodies and souls of people who have Parkinson's disease. I've been going to these collaborative workshops, and participating along with, and listening to, the people who have Parkinson's. It's been wonderful to be in that space, and to move my body, and to experience Nia, and to feel my own stiffness and my own expansion and my own body moving in the space with other people who were moving their bodies in the space. I just felt very connected to the other people in the room—everyone—and remembered that there is very little difference among us, really. Which is a simple yet beautiful thing to remember.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's a bird... It's a plane... It's .... SUPERMAN

I love Encores. Concert presentations of long-forgotten (or partially forgotten) musicals. A beautiful hall with beautiful lobbies. A good-natured approach to the art of the musical. And a second chance to work that hasn't been heard on a NYC stage in years. In January we missed Fiorello because of Niel's death. It's also worth noting that Niel missed Fiorello as well; he had a bus ticket to NYC just to see it with his daughter, and Josh and I had dinner plans, where we planned to talk all about it. (Fiorello was a favorite musical of his and Josh's.) This is the first year I ever subscribed to Encores. I've bought single seats; I've been brought as a guest; but I have never made my own commitment to the season, which is silly since there are few things I love more than Broadway musicals, and no better chances (that I know of) to see old forgotten gems.

So the second of the season is SUPERMAN—a show I didn't know. Sure the characters were, shall we say, cartoonish and one-dimensional. But you know what else? They had conflict! Superman loves Lois, but he can't tell her, because then he'll have to reveal his true identity, and he can't do that! All in a brightly colored 1960s pop aesthetic. A total delight. Can I maybe get a new job where I work with long-forgotten musicals, and also work to develop new ones? Does that job exist out there? Can we maybe create it?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Lincoln Lawyer

I went to bed at 9 PM, and slept all the way til 5:30 AM. When I woke up, I was rested but I wasn't ready to start being productive. So I searched about the interwebs to see if there was a good movie I hadn't yet seen, and I found The Lincoln Lawyer, which I had meant to watch way back when it came out. (I mean, who can resist some Matthew McConaughey, especially after seeing him in strut his stuff in Magic Mike?)

What a great way to start the day! 8 1/2 hours of sleep and a movie before 8AM. Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

As simple as tulips

I got my second iron infusion. I have decided these visits are great excuse for treats. So armed with a soy hot chocolate (I actually found a hot chocolate with no sugar, including no fake sugar. Just bitter chocolate and soymilk, which you might think sounds terrible, but I actually love it, and it's hard to find outside of my own house...) So, armed with a soy bitter hot chocolate, and with 10 minutes left before my appointment, I went in search of tulips. I've been craving tulips. I've been watching tulips poke up out of the ground, and I've been growing impatient for their blooms. I found some -- beautiful pinky orange ones with yellow insides. I bought a big bunch, and took them with me into the hematology lab. I figured that way I could think about putting them in water, something I was looking forward to, while going through something I dreaded.

As it turned out, the staff at the lab was insanely nice to me. (TRIGGER ALERT FOR MEDICAL STUFF, BUT I WON'T BE GRAPHIC. See, I might have cried just a little bit the last time I was there. I might have let them understand I am, let's say, maybe a little sensitive. They might have sent in a special nurse to do my IV because "I was a little nervous last time." They might have all reassured me that I was going to do OK. And in fact, I was appreciative for all of this. In the end, it went better this time because a nurse named Rosa gave me some topical Lydocaine and suggested I put it on before they started the IV. In 50 years of my being just a little bit nervous and sensitive, nobody has ever suggested this to me, and I am here to tell you, it made a huge difference. I'm not saying I enjoyed the hour I spent in the lab. But I'm saying it went better, and I'm saying that all the nurses were very very proud of me because I didn't cry. And also, I had some tulips. Which I went home and put in water. And this I did enjoy.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cauliflower pizza crust!!!!

Sometimes it amazed me to have lived 50 years on this planet and realize how very many things there are still to discover. Turns out that cauliflower pizza crust is a thing. A really really really good thing.

Nina had her 4th annual Pi(e) day party (a couple days late, since 3/14 was on a Thursday this year, which isn't the greatest time for a party.) I wasn't going to make any pie. I was just going to make PIneapple and PImms.  But then I was casting about for gluten free pie crust recipes, oh you know, just because, and I came across a slew of cauliflower crust recipes that I had never come across before. One photo, and I was hooked. So I decided to make my own. Easy peasy!

Rice two cups of cauliflower. This is easily achieved by grating raw cauliflower florets. Then roast them on a lightly oiled pan for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. They will come out looking like this:

Now mix that together with one beaten egg, one cup of grated mozzarella, a diced garlic clove, and some Italian herbs. I also threw in a pinch of salt. Pat that mixture out onto a piece of parchment, into a round pizza crust. Bake it for 25 minutes at 400. It will come out looking like this:

Now you can cover this with any toppings you want. I made sundried tomato tapenade and sauteed zucchini. I also used more grated mozzarella:

Now bake that for 15-20 minutes at 350, and you will have a gorgeous, delicious, joy-inspiring pizza pi(e)!

(that disappeared in minutes at Nina's party.) (Which was also super fun.) Which had Shaker Meyer Lemon Pie, Shephards Pie, Greenpoint Cabbage Roll Pie, Tomato pie, Mini Blueberry Almond Crust Pie, Strawberry Pie, Tarte Tatin, French Onion Tart, Banana Cream Pie, and very likely more pies I am not recalling. Pi(e)!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fuck anemia (yes it's about joy)

It's hard to describe how difficult everything becomes when you (I) have anemia. Literally lifting each limb is tough. Climbing stairs is exertion of the highest order—a relief to finally reach the top. And when you (I) live in NYC, there are a lot of stairs. Most every subway stop, and now, my own apartment has two glorious staircases. My head is heavy, and I am out of breath most of the time (there's not enough oxygen in my blood) and a slew of other symptoms that make it hard to tell if I'm a wimp, depressed, or just symptomatic (or a combination.) Still, I have been getting my ass to work and to shows and to parties and on walks almost every day, while wishing I could just melt into the couch and stay there for a couple weeks til the iron infusions do their trick and my energy returns.

Then, with no energy to speak of, I decided to spit in the face of my depleted cells, and join Josh at the gym. I didn't know what I'd have the energy to do, so I took a screenplay with me in case I wanted to sit in the corner and write. But I got there, and I didn't even ask myself what I had energy for; I just went to the treadmill and set it for 30 minutes, turned on Top Chef (tropical edition) and I started to run. Was it easy? Nope. But could I do it? Absolutely. Slow but steady (two 15-minute miles.) And somewhere along the way I felt a little bit of joy in the familiar feelings of movement in my legs and my hips and my belly and my chest—the familiarity itself being the joy. Fuck anemia—I'm still me, and I still like to run.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Organic smoothies. Friday mid-afternoon break. A good friend. A productive morning and early afternoon. Heading into the weekend with a sense of accomplishment. Salud!

Friday, March 15, 2013

A welcome fish (3)

I set out, with Josh, to do our grocery shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop. But first we stopped at a burger joint to get something to eat (you're not supposed to shop while hungry, right?) and while we were there we worked on the Harper's puzzle, which we used to do all the time til I let my Harpers subscription lapse, but which we received for the first time in a couple years after Josh resubscribed, and which is hard and fun and reminds me of my mom, who is the person who taught me how to do a cryptic. It was incredibly fun to ease our way back into cryptic clues. Do you know how to do them? Here's a real life example from the puzzle we worked on.

A welcome fish (3)

So the deal is that either the beginning or the end of the clue is the actual definition. The entire rest of the clue has to be used in one way or another, and there are a bunch of conventions as to how. In this case, it's common that the word A actually means to use the letter A as part of the answer. So we thought to ourselves, "Is there a 3-letter name of a fish that can be combined by the letter A and a word that means welcome?" And just like that, there it was. A hi  Ahi. I'm making it seem much easier than it is, because that happened to be a very easy clue. In the 30 minutes we worked on the puzzle we only solved 3 (so far.) But even so, it's fun to strive, and when I used to take the cryptic on my commute, I loved the way my brain would work and rework and rework with a rare combination of delight and rigor.

After dinner, we stopped off at the Community Bookstore on the way to the coop, because it was there, and we were ambling, and there's something I want to get for a friend, and we ended up giving the young woman who works there our excellent leftover homemade pickles from the burger joint, and also talking for a while about the book I wanted (the one I wrote about the other day: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. By the time we got done there, we both realized we didn't want to go to the coop. We wanted to keep pretending we live in a little tiny village in a copse, with one restaurant and one bookstore. And so we just listened to what our little souls wanted, and heading back home. We have enough soymilk to last another day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Where the Bears Are!!!!!!

What can you say about a comedy mystery web series about bears, with the tag line: THE FUR BEGINS TO FLY other than yes please. The Golden Girls meets Murder She Wrote (meets Veronica Mars.) With each episode (there are 25) clocking in at just about 4 minutes, this is a flawless hour of good-natured, narcissistic, episodic entertainment, which I clearly needed, because I watched them all in one day.  

Something new to add to my list. Good-natured narcissism=JOY.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

I met a writer when I was in Maine. She had been very sick when someone brought a snail to her room where she was convalescing. She couldn't do much; she couldn't move; she was completely bedridden. Over time, she started observing, and then engaging with, the snail. The snail moved extremely slowly, and she barely moved at all. They became companions. She eventually wrote a book about their relationship, with forays into the natural history of the snail. The book was extremely well-received. She was at the film festival, because she is now making a short film about the book about the snail. She had already made a trailer for the book which won best book trailer of the year at I bought the book. I started reading it. It is exquisitely observed and written. I read it on the way to get IV iron infusion, which scared me very much. (It turned out to be quite hard but ultimately OK. Nothing went wrong. I just hated it.) But the book helped  me a great deal. It helped me to slow down and think about how to observe something outside of myself. It helped me to re-frame time passing. It helped me just to know that someone had transformed her entire experience of having been extraordinarily ill into a stunning work of literature. I'm only about 1/4 of the way into the book, so perhaps the best part (for me at this moment) is that I still have so much to look forward to.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One perfect tea date

And it wasn't the tea (although that was good too) that brought the joy; it was the company. I got together with someone I've only known since early January. We met on a theater project (Ezekiel's World) and I  immediately liked him. We went on to work well together on the project, and I came to respect him while still liking him. In the middle of the project, Josh's brother died, and I invited him to shiva, and I felt like we were starting a friendship in addition to a work relationship. We haven't gotten together since Ezekiel's World had its first staged presentation, until yesterday when we got tea. I had been feeling quite down, but was looking forward to seeing him and moving forward on the project. What I didn't anticipate was that we were going to mostly talk as friends, and how much it was going to help, and how I was going to walk away from 90 minutes at Pain Quotidien feeling like doors can open, and not just close.

For those of you I have not spoken with personally about why I've been having a hard time these past 3 weeks, after the end of June, I won't be working as the Director of Performing Arts at the JCC anymore. They are making changes in how they do their arts programming, and will not longer have a dedicated person at the help of performing arts.  Please don't write to me about this in the comments of Facebook or this blog, but feel free to send me personal email. I'll be sending something out soon to help me find my next gig, but in the meantime, I will say that I'm enormously proud of the work I did there, and I am in a deep stage of reflection for what should come next. And I chose the perfect person for tea yesterday. Joy in friendship. Joy in vulnerability.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Company of Women

I spent the weekend in a rare little society that values the arts: a film festival. Not unlike being at an artist residency, being at a film festival makes me remember that what I do is important, and that even though it's not valued in the greater society the way we value the work of large corporations (monetarily) it's meaningful to people, and meaningful to me.

In particular, I got to spend time with a passel of women who are some years older than I am (8-15)  and who have dedicated their careers to making, distributing, and representing film. They've been visionary, they've been successful, they've had significant failures, and they are still working in the field. I found this to be enormously encouraging, and to re-examine my own successes and failures. And at some point, I picked up one of my screenplays, and I started to revise ......

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Just being in Maine brings me joy. I don't even have to be anywhere particularly beautiful. Here I am waiting in line at the DMV. Joy!

Maybe the joy comes from understanding the comparison of waiting in line at the DMV in Maine vs any government bureaucracy wait in New York City? And maybe I just feel a deep cultural comfort with New England and New Englanders that brings me joy.

I've never stayed in a hotel in Maine. I am staying in a beautiful hotel room. Here's my view.

Sure, there are buildings between me and the water, but will you look at that pristine, glistening harbor? I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow's blog entry has a photo of that close up. I plan to spend a good chunk of the day out walking.

Also, family! My weekend coincides with my cousin Kenny's birthday, so I got to go out for dinner with him and his wife Gwen and her son Kyle and my uncle Steve and aunt Julie and cousin Leigh. And eat mussels. Lots of them. In a delicious coconut broth with fennel.

Also, I recently learned that there is more heme iron in mussels than there is in liver or beef, which is great news for my anemic, mussel-loving self. Speaking of which, for close readers of this blog who have noticed that I've talked a lot lately about being very worn out, it turns out I am very anemic. So anemic, in fact, that I will be getting some IV iron infusions over the next weeks, which I'm told should make a huge difference for me. Mussels are good and all, but comes a time that you have to pull out the big guns, to use a terrible military metaphor. Let's re-write that. Mussels are good and all, but comes a time that you have to use your best organic compost on your garden.

But, Maine. Just being here. Brings joy. Such a pleasure. That I am getting off the computer now to go outside into the bright Portland day. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Prince, sans Prince

Carnegie Hall, sans Carnegie Hall. But 100% Karen. And 100% Bettye Lavette. And 100% The Roots (as the back up band. I mean, when are the ROOTS the back up band? I'll tell you when. At a Prince tribute show at Carnegie Hall. And they were wonderful. Truly, they are spectacular musicians. But what was totally weird, and the one thing that everyone was talking about after the show, was that the sound sucked. No, it really sucked. You couldn't hear the voices of famous singers. And when you could (they played solo) it was shrill and tinny. At Carnegie Hall. Having just produced a concert at Symphony Space, I believe I understand what happened. My guess is that it wasn't Carnegie Hall's issue. It was Michael Dorf, the producer, who rented the space, and brought in the sound company. So when people were saying, "It's Carnegie Hall! They can afford better sound!" I was thinking, "Yes, they can. But it's not on them." Just my guess. But wait, this is a blog about joy. And there was some. Seeing Karen walk into the restaurant before the show, beautiful and flecked with wet snow drops. Talking with her and going to the deep place quickly. Walking in together to Carnegie Hall, to our seats, sitting down, the camaraderie of us in the audience, in anticipation, the beauty and gift of the hall itself, visiting Osvaldo Golijov's score (that I love to see) on the way to the bathroom, the lady in front of us with her giant hat—yes, even though it blocked my view a little, I loved her for wearing it, because she was dressing up for Prince. All of these things brought joy, before the show even started. And then the show itself. Well, it was erratic. If I'm honest, only two or three things actually brought joy, but nothing compared. Nothing compared to Bettye Lavette singing my favorite all-time Prince song: Kiss. And it wasn't just that it was my favorite all-time Prince song; it was that Bettye SANG it. She PERFORMED it. She WORKED it. She did what you're supposed to do in a show like this, and got away from the "I'm so cool that I am going to do this understated" mindset that plagued many of the performers (but did not plague Sandra Bernhard, who knocked Little Red Corvette out of the park) and she gave us all what we came for. Bettye. Thank you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winograd: 1, Taxes: 0, or Win/Winograd

I'm not going to go so far as to say that I found joy in doing my taxes (Taxes: 0) but I did find joy in having completed my taxes. Especially since it was just about the only thing I could have done productively with my day. I was home sick, feeling very very tired but not horrible if I didn't get up off the couch. I thought about trying to creatively write something, but I didn't really have the energy for that. I thought about watching a movie, but I truly wasn't in the mood. I actually had wanted to be at work, because I have some budget stuff to finish up before I take next week off, but every time I got up to see if I could pull off the commute, I ended up nestling back on the couch. And that's when it came to me that I could do my taxes, which is 79% mindless and 97% on the couch. I'll spare you the details (even though they say the joy is in the details) but suffice it to say that by 6 PM, I had all my receipts organized into envelopes and in a box, and I had a document with all my numbers on it, and I had a pile of forms to bring to my accountant (my accountant thanks to faithful reader Barbara P.) and I was patting myself on the back and nestling further into the couch.

Earlier in the day, Josh had a music session with Winograd (Winograd: 1) that I was lucky enough to be around for. I think there's something extra joyful about the unexpected. Sad to be sick, cheered up by a friend making jokes, talking music, playing music. Not that an expected Winograd would have been less delightful, but when I found out he was coming over, I got happier right away, and I didn't even have to do the work of planning something joyful for myself. Let's call that a win/Winograd situation. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grapefruit with mint

If all it takes to bring me joy is to put some mint on some grapefruit, then why do I ever mope around?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New York actors amaze me

Every time, man. Every time. They are so good. They work so hard. For so little money. I don't actually want to validate that part, because I believe in paying people to do their art, craft, skill, brilliance. But in New York, the most disciplined, talented, dedicated actors show up and bring their best selves to week-long workshops for less than minimum wage, AND THEY ARE SO GOOD.
George Lee Andrews, Stanley Bahorek, Ruthie Baker, Tiffan Borelli, Kevin Duda, Michael J. Farina, Allison Fraser, Angela Grovey, Taylor Louderman, Christian Noll, James Moye, and Arbender Robinson. I am talking about you. Your work brings enormous joy to people—including me—and I want to thank you publicly for what you bring, what you do. 
And New York directors, let's talk about you. You work for years on people's shows, and then those shows get somewhere, and often you don't get to go with them. But you keep working, and you keep working, and you keep working, and you stay faithful to writers, and they stay faithful to you, and then—guess what!—your show you've been developing forever goes up at a major off-Broadway house! Michelle Tattenbaum, I am talking about you. Your work brings enormous joy to people—including me—and I want to thank you publicly for what you bring, what you do.
And New York writer and composers, what would we do without you? You (we) get an idea for a show, and you sink your heart and soul into writing it, when nobody is making any promises it will ever go anywhere, but still you (we) sit there and create entire worlds out your (our) minds with the vision that one day they might get taken into the hands of some great directors and actors and producers. Brad Ross and Mark Waldrop, I am talking about you. Your work brings enormous joy to people, and I want to thank you publicly for what you bring, what you do.  

Because remember, gratitude=joy. Among other reasons to be grateful.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Graciana played at the National Tennis Center

Graciana is a very good tennis player. I mean, she's not a pro, but her team advanced to the US Tennis Association Manhattan playoffs, where she played in the 8.0 mixed doubles, on the first team. Which I can break down for you, if you want. So, just like with swimming and other sports, there's a governing body for tennis: the USTA. Graciana plays in the Manhattan adult league. Players are ranked according to ability and records. In these playoffs, which was mixed doubles (a team made up of a man and a woman) the ranking has to add up to 8.0. So one player could be ranked 3.0 and one 5.0, or they could both be 4.0 (as was the case with Graci and her partner) or any other combination (3.5 and 4.5) that makes sense and adds up to 8.0. Are you still with me? The thing I love about this kind of thing is that there's a completely transparent line from amateur to pro. You win this, you get that, you go there, you play against them, you get a new ranking, you get to go there, you eventually rise through the ranks and become that. The winner of the Manhattan playoffs advance to the Districts, and those winners advance to the Sectionals, and those winners advance to the Regionals, and those winners advance to the Finals. If you qualify with enough wins and a high enough ranking, you make the Nationals.

But none of that is what I got to do that was so great and joyous. I got to go to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and watch Graciana and her partner Matt play great tennis in the Manhattan playoffs. You know I love sports. And I really love tennis. I was on the tennis team in high school. I played First Doubles and Second and Third Singles. (I miss tennis. I really loved playing it. Sadly, my neck isn't strong enough to play it anymore.) I have been to the US Open, on the outdoor courts at the National Tennis Center, but I had never been to a playoff on the indoor courts. It was great. Low-key, with tables, chairs, and couches in the viewing balcony. We brought snacks and drinks, including these fabulous looking tennis ball cookies that Graci's sister ordered from the Duane Patisserie:

And we watched the match. Graci's team won the first set, 7-5. When she nails her serve, she really nails it!

Then they lost the second 6-3. Third set is a tie breaker—first team to 10 points, but you have to win by 2. It was neck and neck, all the way, and in the end Graci and Matt lost, 10-12. But she played great and knew it, as evidenced by the post-match glow:

For me, I think the joy (and inspiration) really comes from knowing that Graciana is pursuing this thing she loves so much, while also having a significant career in a completely different field. I was truly happy to share the night with her and the rest of her fans.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Brisket and friends, shabes in Brooklyn

I made a brisket. (Actually, the slow cooker made a brisket. I just put a bunch of meat, onions, sweet potatoes, beer, tomatoes, and smoked paprika in there and left it on all day.) I invited some friends over. They came from Oakland, Washington Heights, and Newkirk Plaza. We we ate, we talked, we laughed, we listened to music, we reassured each other, we coveted each others shoes. Life, as they say, is good. Also, I'm prioritizing my time this morning to go to yoga, so I'm keeping this blog post short, but that doesn't mean that they evening was any less joyful than if I wrote about every bite and every joke. A real pleasure to be in community with smart, creative, funny friends.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I ran into Glenn Marla in a midtown subway station

Are there people in your life who you are not super close friends with, but who you have only incredibly positive feelings about? People who, when you see them, you think to yourself, "I love what this person brings into the world!" Perhaps you've never made plans to do things just the two of you, but you have hung out in groups, or in our case, in performance spaces? OK, think about all the people who you know, because I know you have these people in your life. Now. Maybe you're having a hard week but you're making the most of it and thinking a lot about I Ching (opportunity and change) and you're at that moment on your way to an event that could be a wonderful life changer, but you're afraid you're late, and you're a little scared in that anticipatory way that you are when you're on your way to something that could be a wonderful life changer, and you realize you don't have enough time to walk there, so you duck down into the subway, and it's midtown Manhattan, so you think you're in an anonymous space and don't even consider that you'll see anyone you know, and then you see this gorgeous person who you have such positive feelings about, and all of a sudden Manhattan is where you LIVE with people who you LIKE and you stop and talk and get some very real and honest time together, and then the train comes, and you get on, and you realize that they have brought you JOY by being themselves: present and warm and smart and creative and all the things you value most (and which are so often not monetized or valued in our society.) I had the incredible and joyful good fortune to run into GLENN MARLA in the subway, and they just opened my heart. (Look at this ponem! Your heart's a little wider open too, now isn't it?)

Maybe think about getting in touch with the person you thought about when I asked you to a couple minutes ago, and maybe think about letting them know what it means to you that they are in the world doing what they do and being how they live. And if someone doesn't come to mind, imagine that YOU are that person for someone else, and maybe think about telling yourself what it means that you are in the world doing what you do and being how you live. And then you get to thank yourself.