Sunday, June 30, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

It was raining. In the park. With friends. And people we just met. A jetlagged Australian family. A photographer. We all hung out together. We shared umbrellas. I let the jetlagged teenagers nap on my blanket. The first band was spectacular. Aurelio Martinez, playing music from the Garifuna community of Honduras. I could have listened to him all night. But then I wouldn't have gotten to listen to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who I have not seen in at least a decade. Wait, at least a decade and a half. And it felt like I hadn't seen my friends in that long either, even though it was really just a few months. All of it was worth it. And I wanted more of it all. And all of it was worth it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Emotions 1.0

Hmmmm. Not sure if this is actually about seeking joy, but it is about seeking a wide range of emotions, joy being among them. Alex showed this to me. It is very useful to me, because I can rarely tell whether I'm having an emotion, and if so, what emotion that might be, unless it's anger or frustration, which I'm unfortunately quite good at feeling. I am hoping that by being able to recognize a wider range of emotions (while they are happening, or later), even if they are in the more negative slices of the pie, I might be able to recognize joy more as well.

So I studied it for a while before I went to bed, and what was great about that is that I could recognize some feelings in there. Feelings I believe I have even felt! I think I'm going to laminate it and carry it with me, to help me out during the day, which is an analog version of what Alex's friend does, who has it as their iPhone wallpaper. Emotions 1.0—the new frontier. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I got a massage

Nothing is more selfish than getting a massage. It might be the only time in my life that I just give myself over to someone else and try really hard not to worry about taking care of them—but it's SO HARD not to, and I spend some time worrying about it and then reminding myself that actually, the point is that someone else who is really good at massage is going to spend an hour paying attention to my body and rubbing out all my fucked up muscles, and as Josh's mom used to say, "and that's OK."

So I got a massage. I get one maybe once a year or 18 months. I got a few more when I was doing the triathlon. That's when I met Karen, who is an incredibly skilled massage therapist (who I would highly recommend, if you are looking for recommendations.) Things have been hurting a lot lately. I recently got an MRI to find out why my right side of my head and neck have been so weird, and it turns out it's because I have herniated C5 and C6 discs. I have some weird shit going on in my right hip, and my right thigh, and my mid back and my low back and my left knee and my left leg in general .... not to complain or anything. (I think that joke only works with the intonation I hear in my head.) So things have been hurting a lot lately and I have been working a few jobs, and carrying things I maybe shouldn't be carrying, and I had to clean out my JCC email and google docs, which was a pretty hefty task that took a few days, and I had lined up a massage for the middle of the day, thinking I would have to get back to the JCC email task, but as it worked out, I completed that job with 45 minutes to spare, so I got to go to my massage with the JCC officially behind me.

It is always a great pleasure to see Karen, and this time was no exception. She is warm and focused and real, and she gave me a brilliant massage, and afterwards, I actually didn't hurt for a few hours!!! (Note to self, so maybe I should go more than once every 12-18 months....) Whoa. I just saw the time. I want to write all about my massage, but I actually have to get into the shower and into work. Sorry for the odd post. And yes! DOMA got struck down!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The honeysuckle is doing its thing

I planted it in the Spring, just after the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale, whenever that was. I drove in a pole for it to climb. I watered it. But other than that I generally left it alone. It bloomed. It started to climb. It wasn't very fragrant. Until now! It's suddenly doing its thing! Maybe it likes the heat wave. Maybe it liked all the rain. But when I walk out of my house, I smell it like crazy, and it's wonderful and makes me think of tropical places, like Puerto Rico, where I went when I was a kid, and it makes me VERY happy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An opera in the garden

I had spent all day in jury duty—the air conditioning was welcome, but the long unproductive waits not so much. I shouldn't complain; I met some very cool women, and I FINALLY got to see a little bit what the American jury system is like. (First time I ever got called in.) But after a full day inside, feeling anxious about the fate of a man who was going to be tried with police officers as the only witnesses in his case, and also feeling anxious about the fact that SCOTUS did not rule on DOMA, and rocking a headache all day long, I was finally released with enough time to get home to drop off my heavy bag, and to meet Josh, James, Andy, and Jesse for a night of opera at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

The Gotham Chamber Opera produced a wonderful new piece there—La Hija de Rappaccini—a piece set in a garden of trees, which was, of course, the entire reason they did it in the BBG. So much about it felt right. It was a beautiful set, casually situated amongst the cherry trees, and we the people spread our blankets out along the great lawn, and someone lent us some of those lawn chairs with no legs, and I still had my headache and the conductor (someone I've met a few times, but is a close friend of Andy and Jesse) gave me some of his personal Tylenol, and the singers sang their hearts out, especially when the generators went down and they were outside and unamplified and we could STILL hear them and they sounded fantastic, and when the generators went down the singers couldn't see a monitor, so the assistant conductor moved down and sat on the grass and conducted the actors from the front of the lawn while the main conductor continued to conduct the orchestra and it was all done with grace and flexibility and it just worked out. The whole event felt (and this is HIGH compliment coming from me) like being in Portland. I stood up at one point and thought, "I must know other people here," and then there they were—my other people—just a few feet away.

A perfect summer evening under the stars (OK, under the clouds.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

To wake, perchance to swim

I'm not saying that it was intrinsically joyful to wait on the pool deck for 30 minutes at 8 AM on a Sunday morning to get a lane to swim in, and I'm not saying it was the most excellent to swim in a crowded lane once I did get in the pool, but I do think I felt selfish joy in making the decision to GO to the pool early on a Sunday morning. Up and out before the guys were up, and I used the time on the deck to stretch, so by the time I got in the pool I was actually in a good place to swim, and I swam a steady 20 minutes, which was all the time I had left once I finally got in, but it was also not so bad to have an externally imposed limit, because maybe I would have otherwise overdone it after so long out of the water. And then there's the feeling that lasts all day long on a swim day—loose in the joints, a little hungrier, a little extra space in the brain. Summer is officially here, and I have started to swim. Now to find the good outside places. Lakes, especially. And rivers. Can't wait.

Speaking of lakes, there's this one I can't swim in, in Prospect Park, later that night, with the supermoon shining down upon it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A morning walk

Back to that simplicity. The fail safe. The thing I can do when I don't know what else to do. One foot in front of the other. This time, in the morning. Notice the birds, notice the flowers, notice the stiffness in my morning joints, slowly easing up. Notice the houses. Notice the sun. Notice the shade. Take in the morning. Join my neighbors. Walk.

This makes it sound like it was a joyless day, which it wasn't. At all. I had brunch with my favorite Brooklyn guys, I had a hilarious text session with my bestie in Chicago, I unexpectedly saw a friend at my theater fest who I always love to see. But each of those things involved obligations to others (good obligations!) that the walk lacked. On the walk, I could turn down whichever street struck my fancy. I could stop for tea (I didn't, but I could have.) I could run some then walk some. Self-determined joy to start my day. The simplicity. The fail safe. One foot in front of the other.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Joy fail 3

I am pretty damned proud that in 8 1/2 months, or however long this has been, this was just the third day I failed to get some selfish joyful me time. Impressive, yes?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Siri en francais (eh, beh, sinon, let's try British English, shall we?)

C'est super amusant de parler en Français avec Siri. Je me suis amusée chacque fois que je voulais téléphoner a quelqu'un, mais il (Siri en Français est un homme) a rarement entendu les noms de mes amis, alors il fallait que je switch to British English, whose Siri is also a man, a very refined man, who questions me every time I ask him to call someone. Which James do you wish to speak with? James Blois? James Levy? James McQuillen? James Polite? James Reese? James Sargent? James Yates? Revenend James Forbes?  David James? Juliet James? Tara Bahna-James? And whereas I would normally be frustrated with Siri for taking so long to get me what I had clearly stated the first time, I just love to hear his accent as he lists all the Jameses in my life (or former life. I had to google one of the Jameses.) Anyhow, for those of you with smart phones, I can't recommend this enough. Hours of entertainment and silly delight await you!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nobody Loves You

I am so excited for my friend Michelle Tattenbaum. She has been working on a musical with Itamar Moses and Gaby Alter for years. It's going up at 2ST this week, and I got to go to the invited dress rehearsal. Regular readers will know that this is exactly the kind of thing I love: a fabulous new musical, a sneak preview, an invited audience full of enthusiastic and supportive people, a long-realized dream/hard work coming to fruition. Also, hilarious physical comedy, wonderful writing, and a costume involving ankle slippers, a cardigan, and a T-shirt with a giant bear on it. In short, 1) I just sank back into my seat and soaked it in. True, it wasn't totally selfish, because I wanted success as much for Michelle as I wanted to enjoy myself. But also true, it was totally selfish, because I thoroughly enjoyed myself. So in case you missed it up there in the second line, this is the link to 2ST where you can get a ticket. If you get one for July 16, we can see each other.

My apologies for once again not having time to write this up as fully as I would want to—the festival I am producing has shows almost every night and I've been burning the candle on both ends. Life is full!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Much Ado About Joss Whedon (in black and white)

Another rain storm. A long, productive day with weird, unexpected parts in it. Then, finally, a movie all alone, at BAM. But not just a movie—a Joss Whedon movie. Not just a JW movie—Shakespeare. Not just Shakespeare—black and white, gorgeously lit.

I loved this version of the timeless comedy. It was fresh, fun, easy, contemporary and yet spoken in Shakespeare's verse. Shot in Whedon's own home, which I didn't know while watching, but I actually guessed, it gave the sense of being sort of in LA, sort of in Italy, but it didn't really matter, as long as we understood it was somewhere wealthy and cultured.

The black and white cinematography was gorgeous. Beatrice was perfect. The bumbling cops (with Nathan Fillion as the laugh-out-loud funny chief) were bumbling.

I'm not the only one who loved it. A.O Scott loved it too. So did other people but I'll let you google them yourselves.

Raining outside, laughing inside. A perfect solo evening. And a sneaky photograph.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


I love this place. I love this place. I love this place. I love this place. It was great to have a gym at work, but I missed the Armory Y, which I only went to occasionally. Now I'm no longer shlepping up to the Upper West Side, and I get to go back to my beloved Y. Here it is, 7;30 AM Monday, not a soul in sight. A glorious hour of me time. Of course, when I got back home, not so much, which is why it was so good to get the time right off the bat.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hipsters in Stone

This has been floating around the interwebs, and truly delights me. (Also, sorry for the short posts. Full days!)

I'll put one here, but it's definitely worth checking the link to see them all.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Panhandler Party

Jane Aquilina was in a play in our festival, and she showed us a hilarious sketch she was in. 'Nuf said.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A nap in the theater

I drank a liter of cranberry water. I had the berry mint B12 smoothie. But I was still nodding off. What to do? Push through? Drink caffeine? Or let myself stretch out on the theater seats in the middle of rehearsal and take a nap?  Do you know how great it feels to take a nap in the middle of a group of theater people? Almost as good as taking a nap on a friend's couch when you're with a bunch of other friends. The world is safe and going on without you, and you do the ultimate selfish thing—check out. And unlike most naps, which usually end with a loud noise, naps with friends tend to end when the noise subsides. A gentle way to awaken, just when everyone is done and ready to hang out with me.

Once again I come back to realize that I can mostly feel when I am doing something that is truly, selfishly joyful in opposition to other people. If it seems a little inappropriate, then I can tell it's actually for me. I don't think that's the end game of this practice of mine; I'd like to be able to notice that I love taking that nap in the rehearsal room without feeling that it's a little bit inappropriate.

But I did love taking that nap.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lesbian separatism, hula hooping, and The Fosters

The morning did not go well. I cried four times, once from worry, once from frustration, once from joy, and probably the fourth time because I was just raw and vulnerable and generally open to crying as a response to anything the day was about to throw me. 

(NB -- there was nothing to worry about, everyone is fine, and communication with men is sometimes hard. To think, 25 years ago I was part of a group of women building womyn's land, and I almost moved on to it, and I was seriously invested in a mostly female-oriented community, and today I live with 2 guys, and I have 2 landlords who are also guys, who are also in and out of the house all the time—all with, shall we say, different communication styles from me. Some days I fantasize about what my life would have been like if I had moved onto womb-land. Yes, that's what it was called. Also, not to point any fingers here, but I do want to point fingers away from my kid, who was not the one causing the worry and frustration.)

So the morning. Not good. But then I saw Laurie, and she helped with her clarity and groundedness and personal experience, and then I talked with Claire, and she helped by going out there at 50, pursuing what she has always wanted to do (and ROCKING IT, btw) and then I got home and had just a bit of time to myself before going back out into the torrential rain back to work, and I baked these insanely good no-flour brownies made with chickpeas (I used 1/2 the sugar) and while they were baking, I put on the DVRd episode of The Fosters, and had blessed alone time watching TV while doing jumping jacks, crunches, lunges, stretches, and hula hooping. Nobody to negotiate with, nobody to watch me, nobody to care if I back the show up to re-watch a scene, nobody to shush, nobody to block from seeing the TV with my hula hooping bad self.

True, I didn't make it to the gym as I had planned. True, I didn't get time to write the emails I had wanted to. True, my best-laid plans went awry. But maybe all that made my little window of womon-only time even more precious.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Garlic Scapes

This one's for you, David Levin! GARLIC SCAPES! I grew GARLIC SCAPES! Of course I am actually growing garlic bulbs (for the first time) but today I am excited about scapes. There comes a time in every garlic plant's life, when it wants to reproduce. And to reproduce, it sends up a curly stalk, and on it, a flower. Now it really really really wants to reproduce, but I really really really want some garlic. So I cut the scape off, so the plant wouldn't divert too much of its energy away from the bulb, and also because garlic scapes are freaking delicious. After cutting them off, I made a garlic scape and cheese omelet for Josh and James, and some garlic scape scrambled eggs for myself. There aren't that many foods I've never grown, but last year's potatoes and this year's garlic really have me delighted. GARLIC SCAPES!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Where the Bears Are, Season 2!!!!

Bless you Andy Mirer, because it was 11:30 PM, and while my day had been full and in many ways wonderful, it was definitely not in service to my self. We kicked off the Jewish Plays Project festival of new plays with a political thriller about Jonathan Pollard. I got to reunited with the wonderful actor, mentsh, and new-ish friend Ned Eisenberg, who played the lead in Ezekiel's World a few months ago, and this time played the Israeli operative who recruits Pollard. When I got home around 10:30PM, James was on the porch with a lovely and vulnerable young person he recently met, who lives in an LGBTQ group home a few blocks over. We all hung out on the porch, and I realized that this is one of the ways I had wanted my life to change—to start to meet younger people I wouldn't necessarily otherwise meet. It's so clear to me that our new way of building family is not a one-way street, that the enrichment and love goes both ways. And at the same time, boy was I tired. I am not much of a late night person, and it never occurs to me that people start hanging out with each other at 10 or 11 pm, and yet of course that's what young adults do all the time. So anyhow, this is a bit of a digression, but also it's not, because it was 11:30 PM, and I had not found any time for just myself, and I opened my email, and I saw that Andy had written to show me that season 2 of Where the Bears Are just posted! YES! Seven minutes later, my lights were out, and soon after, so was I. (I have already written about it on this blog. A good-natured mystery web series, set in LA, populated almost entirely by bears (the gay kind. Nancy Drew meets the Golden Girls. Check it.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The End of Scandal

It turns out that finding selfish joyful time when one is a parent is very different from when one is not. It's complicated. On the one hand, I tend to want to spend as much time as possible with my kid. I love being with him, even when it's hard, and obviously when it's bubbles and laughter. I love it when he exposes me to new things from his world, and I love introducing him to stuff from mine, and we already have some old standby's that I also enjoy. So then, there's lots of joy, but is it purely for me? Not often. Is that OK? It's great, but I still need the pure selfish joy as well. Why? Partly because I am dedicated to my year's practice, and think it's important to keep discovering what it means to do this. Partly because I notice how very much better my life is for myself and everyone around me when I stick with this practice—whether for 5 minutes a day or 5 hours. I'm more relaxed, I'm more interesting, I am not in a rut, I have a part of my brain that focuses on the question of what I like, I care about, I want, I hope for.

Also, I've heard about this thing? This thing where parents get a little overworked and overwhelmed and over-focused externally? Maybe you've heard of it too? So I am trying hard to keep carving out a little bit of pure and selfish joy time, even though I am very much digging the pure and UNselfish joy time.

And so after the load-in and first rehearsal of the theater festival I'm producing, I came home and went straight to bed. Except I didn't go straight to bed. I went into bed and watched the season 2 finale of Scandal. Whoa. Quinn. Whoa. Liv. Whoa. Cyrus. Whoa. David Rosen. (Actually, I saw that one coming.) Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Soup Swap field trip

Up at 5:45 AM, to the grocery store by 6:30, home and working til 1PM, and then Sunday started. I mean, there are probably people who didn't wake up til 1PM, and for them, that feels like a completely normal time for Sunday to get started. James and I headed over to Riis beach for a little while, where I got actual hang time with RGM and Strnad, and Rimma got me doing core strength—planks and cartwheels (and I did more planks later at home, while watching the Tony Awards.) But the part of the day that pure and selfish joy was the perfect evening walk with Kyle over to soup swap at Logan's. We stopped in at a new cafe on the way over. It was having a soft opening—a term I didn't actually know how to define until an hour later, after we had been to Logan's and picked up our soup, and picked up Liz and Marjorie and Joshua, and went back to free coffee drinks and pastries. After a while, many in our assembled party drifted away, and Logan, Kyle, and I discussed everything from the potential sexism in the DIY (canning and cooking, especially) movement to Obamacare. Soup Swap field trip on a perfect summer's night!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Best cocktail of my life

Was it because I was out with friends? Because I don't actually like a lot of cocktails? Because it had been a challenging day? Because it was a pouring rain and it felt great to be in a cozy bar/restaurant? Or was it because it's an exceptionally delicious cocktail. Whatever the reason, the Criterium is the best cocktail I have ever had, and I will definitely be buying the ingredients for this one.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Zucca amaro
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Soda water
  • 1 (1/2-inch-wide) strip of grapefruit zest
- See more at:


  • 1 1/2 ounces Zucca amaro
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Soda water
  • 1 (1/2-inch-wide) strip of grapefruit zest


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add  amaro, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, gin and sugar. Shake well and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with grapefruit zest. 
- See more at:


  • 1 1/2 ounces Zucca amaro
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Soda water
  • 1 (1/2-inch-wide) strip of grapefruit zest


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add  amaro, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, gin and sugar. Shake well and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with grapefruit zest. 
- See more at:


  • 1 1/2 ounces Zucca amaro
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Soda water
  • 1 (1/2-inch-wide) strip of grapefruit zest


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add  amaro, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, gin and sugar. Shake well and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with grapefruit zest. 
- See more at:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Black Gay Slang Explained to Suburban White People

We are a multi-lingual household. Josh and I speak English, and sometimes we speak Yiddish and  French.  Sometimes I speak Spanish, but not as well as I used to. James came into the household speaking another language—black gay slang—some of which I already knew, and some that I've been hustling to learn.

On a lark, I decided to google the phrase "to give shade" which has become standard lingo in our household. I knew what it meant, but I wanted to see what the interwebs would say about it. Imagine my delight when my first hit was this: Black Gay Slang Explained to Suburban White People. So maybe I'm not suburban, but I'm still the target demographic for this website. Maybe more than most, since I have high motivation to learn the language.

I recommend skipping the videos and just reading the text. In fact, I'll put the text right in here for you. And if any of you need a tutor, or just want to come over for remedial BGS lessons, the door is open.

Phrase #1: Read, e.g. Bitch I will read you!/Oooo was that a read?
Explanation: You may think you’re the cat’s meow, but let’s see how you feel after I tell you about yourself.

Phrase #2: Yaassss! (It’s not “yes” — it’s yaaaassss.), e.g. To a friend: “Honey I just landed a job at Vogue!” The friend says/texts: “Yaassss!”
Explanation: Wow, that’s amazing!

Phrase #3: Girl, what’s the tea/T?
Explanation: How was your day? Would you care to gossip?

Phrase #4: Worrrkkk!!! Work/werq/werk (See also “Yaassss!”) I’m about to WORK/WERQ/WERK this final paper Miss Honey, yaassss.
Explanation: You are incredibly good at what you do. What a great idea! I’m going to pursue this task to the best of my abilities.

Phrase #5: _______ gives me LIFE! E.g., Honey, Beyoncé’s performance on the VMAs last night gave me my life!
Explanation: I had a particularly riveting time/the experience was rather sensational and/or transformative.

Phrase #6: I’m not featuring that, e.g., His busted ass tried to talk to me at the bar last night. I’m not featuring that.
Explanation: I’d strongly prefer not to have anything to do with him.

Phrase #7: No tea, no shade, e.g., I would wait for you, but bitch the last time I did your ass was 40 minutes late — no tea, no shade!
Explanation: I know you don’t care to hear this because the truth hurts, but allow me say it anyway.

Phrase #8: Don’t come for me, e.g., That racist lady tried to insult me, but child I have a Ph.D. from Harvard. Don’t come for me.
Explanation: You have no clue just what you’re getting into, do you?

Phrase #9: Throwin’ shade, e.g. Girl why you throwin’ shade?
Explanation: Are you upset with me or something? Have I done something in particular to wrong you?

Phrase #10: Coin, e.g. Girl that job better pay me a cute coin. A bitch needs her coins! Bitch where my coins at, gur!
Explanation: I certainly hope the salary is up to par.

Phrase #11: I’m giving/serving you ___________ realness, e.g., I’m giving you Soul Train realness, honey. I’m serving you some serious suburban-bedroom realness.
Explanation: You couldn’t possibly tell the difference between me and people who were on actually Soul Train/in a suburban-bedroom.

Phrase #12: Gurl! (The “U” is crucial.)
Explanation: I think you might have lost your mind!

Phrase #13: Trade (a more old-school terminology), e.g., He always chasing a piece of trade.
Explanation: Why isn’t that puzzling — he seems to only be attracted to straight guys.

Phrase #14: OVAH!, e.g., Girl that look is OVAH!!
Explanation: That’s amazing!

Phrase #15 Gagging, e.g. As soon as I walked in the room they were all gagging, honey.
Explanation: They just couldn’t take their eyes off me. They’d never seen anything quite like it before, and they were completely stupefied.

Phrase #16 Girl/Gurl/Gur (a term of endearment) e.g., Hey girl! Bitch where you at gur!
Explanation: Hello you awesome person you.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Red Hook love affair, part two

I wanted to cook my kid some brisket, and I realized that I could get some meat at Fairway and I could do it first thing in the morning and put it in the slow cooker all day and it would be ready for us at night. So I dashed down to Red Hook at 7 AM, thinking Fairway was already open, but it opens at 8, so I got a surprise morning walk/run all to myself on the empty streets of Red Hook. My love affair continues. (I am especially proud of this first photo, which is a mini-golf course as seen through the slat in a weathered wooden fence.) Also, dinner at the end of the day with my kid? Delicious all around.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Putting the FREE back in FREElance, Red Hook

Ah, the freelance life!

I had a bunch of stuff to work on—a couple Jewniverses, some theater festival producing, a film job, some health insurance maintenance, the very end of my JCC work—and it was gorgeous out, and I could exercise the FREE part of FREElancing, and I could make the world my oyster. So I headed over to Red Hook, settled down in BAKED for an afternoon of work, and cranked it out. I mean, I CRANKED it out. Four hours in a cafe with wifi and pear something or other iced tea totally did the trick. And when I got done, I took a walk around the neighborhood, which felt strangely western to me. It reminded me of Olympia in 1986, when I spent a summer there, and it reminded me a little bit of Portland in the 1990s. It might have been the weather—cool, clear, and dry—and the proximity to the water, and it might have been the funky/artsy/entrepreneurial spirit of post-Sandy Red Hook, but I became simultaneously nostalgic and enamored. I'll be back Red Hook.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Malang Jobarteh

I adore kora music, and Malang Jobarteh plays gorgeously. I've passed him playing before, but I've never come across him when I had time to stop. But this time I did. I just stood and listened in the Union Square subway—his interwoven rhythms and melodies carrying me to a place of years past, when I used to pay a lot of attention to African music. And also carrying me forward, rooting in my mind and sticking with me when I needed to hear them. And also delighting me there in the moment, with the swirl of New York rushing around me.

That's all. Just the gift of noticing I could STOP and LISTEN to a musician of this caliber.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Air conditioning

Talk about selfish. Three of us live here. We own one air conditioner. It is now installed in my office. Not only that, but I didn't even carry it upstairs; Josh and James did. Not only that, but I didn't go to the hardware store to get the extra screws and parts we needed to install it. Josh did. Not only that, but I didn't even really install it. Josh did. I just helped a couple times.

Talk about joy. When the rest of the house was 90 degrees, my office was 72.

Selfish joy. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Far From Heaven

I almost missed it. The trains had signal problems (well, the tracks did) and the Q train was backed up in every station from DeKalb to Newkirk. I waited on the tracks for 20 minutes before they told us that, and then I ran out of the train, up the stairs, and as fast as I could in the insane heat, over to the 2 train on Nostrand. (I know this is a very Brooklyn-centric post so far.) On my way, a bus came, and I got on that, but then the bus got detoured because of road construction on Church. When I got to the 2, I dashed down the stairs, just in time for a train, which I got on at 7:20. I had an 8 PM curtain at Playwrights Horizons. It was not at all clear I would make it. But there were no train delays, and I arrived at Times Square at 7:50, and I ran the whole way to Playwrights, and I sat down in my seat at 7:59. And that's when the joy started. Because you know what it's like when you are running late, but you're sort of ambivalent? You don't really care that much if you make it to the thing you're going to? This is NOT how I felt. I was completely looking forward to making it to this. Far From Heaven, the new project by the creators of Grey Gardens (plus Richard Greenberg) starring the absolutely riveting Kelli O'Hara, and also featuring Nancy Anderson, who was flawless in her role as the conflicted best friend. (Side note. Nancy played a small but unforgettable part in this satirical media spot Josh and I made with Eric Ward, about the ways the anti-immigrant movement is trying to influence the environmental movement.)

I love seeing new musicals. I love seeing them when they work. I love seeing them when they don't. I love the process. I love the first passes. I love the glistening finished products. I love the interplay of music, lyrics, dancing, plot, character, and set. It's a complex organism, and I love it.

(I just got interrupted in my writing by something as opposite as my love for musicals as possible, and I am having a hard time getting my flow back. Please accept any shifts in tone you might notice.)

So it's 7:59, and the lights are about to go down, and I just LOVE that moment. Full of anticipation. I know the story, because I saw the movie. I know the themes are ones that matter to me. A picture perfect marriage. White middle class people from Connecticut. A society page gossip mill all around. The man in the perfect marriage actually gay. The woman actually likes black people. A society page gossip mill all around. Things unravel. Their heavenly corner of the world is much more complex than originally portrayed to be. But then again, we knew that was the case, didn't we? Because it's no longer 1957. And lots of people in 1957 knew that was the case, didn't they? Because they weren't white and middle class. And lots of white and middle class people in 1957 knew that was the case, didn't they? Because they had their eyes open. Or their husband was cheating on them. Or they didn't really have enough money. Or their wife was taking pills. Or their kid was getting beat up. Far From Heaven.

So it's 7:59, and the lights are about to go down, and I just LOVE that moment. And then the lights go down. And the unexpected comes right away. Photo projection on the screen. And immediately I am transported to Connecticut in the Fall. And the townspeople filter in, and eventually Kelli O'Hara comes center stage, and starts to sing, and I'm transported again, by the fluidity of her voice, and as my friend Jesse put it, by her hidden sadness.

So much more I could say, but that's enough. Sitting alone in the theater, 15 feet from Kelli O'Hara singing, with a stellar supporting cast without one sour note in the bunch.  Heaven. Not far from. Just heaven.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Timeless Torches

I tried hard, I really did, to get pure and selfish joy from my yoga class. But a presumptuous teacher annoyed me to the point of leaving class in the middle. I moved on from that, and sweated my way through a work day in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and got myself to the World Trade Center PATH train at the end of the day, experiencing post traumatic stress from the years in Jersey, the years on PATH, but then my friends arrived, and then we were on the air conditioned train, and then we were in Newark, and then we were walking over to see the New York Liberty opening game of the season, and then there were some hoops set up outside and lots of young people were shooting, and then I was shooting with them too, and sinking free throws - swoosh, and then we were inside the air conditioned Prudential Center, and arriving just in time to hear the announcer say AND NOW. YOUR. NEW YORK LIBERTYYYYYY! And on cue, I get all teary because I get all teary when stadiums full of fans cheer for women athletes. And then we see Jay-Z on the court floor, and I'm happy he's also cheering on the women (and then later we see Rasheed Wallace and some other Knicks), and then the game is on and the women are good, and the Liberty take a strong lead and it looks like it will be a blowout, but it turns into a real game, and then the moment comes. The halftime show. A bunch of people run out onto the court, and I see that they are the Timeless Torches -- a group of dancers of size and of age, and they start to shimmy and shake, and that's my moment. Seeing a fat, fit, 63 year-old wonderful dancer shake it shake it baby, shake it shake it baby. And not just one, but a whole troupe. Sometimes corporate (sports) America gets it so right.

The game went into overtime, and then came down to the final seconds. With 11 seconds, down by 2, we got possession and evened the game back up. With .5 seconds on the clock, the Shock got the ball, inbounded and scored! Looked like we were heading into another overtime, when the refs overturned the basked because it had actually gone in after the buzzer.

We went down onto the floor—not to meet the players, but to meet the Torches. Here we are meeting Gloria. Gloria, I can only aspire.