Monday, October 27, 2008

Subways


Today in supervision we were talking about transportation and the lack of public transportation in this town. We were asked what was the best public transportation we had experienced?

I started remembering the subway. In NYC when I first arrived my then boyfriend Mark and I rode the R train from one end to the other: from Queens to Brooklyn, through Manhattan. It was a cheap date, an all day adventure. For me it was thrilling. I got to people watch, Mark and I made up stories about everyone and wandered through the cars up to the front of the train to watch out the window as we traveled through the tunnels and came above ground in Brooklyn. We got out in Brooklyn and wandered around in a strange neighborhood, stopped in a deli had coffee and got back on to go the other direction. For a long time I enjoyed riding the subway. It was challenging, exciting, I never knew what to expect. It was almost always an adventure.

however after awhile living in Brooklyn, working in Manhattan, riding the subway 5 days a week, it became routine. I became one of the people wearing a Walkman, eyes closed or reading a book, tuning out the strangers closing in on me, but at the same time alert to any danger...

At times I was glad to get on a near empty car; no hustling homeless people, plenty of seats, room to stretch out and put my feet up. Other times it was a little scary ~ Not enough people when the crazies were mumbling or yelling and pulling knives to stab at each other or invisible enemies. In the winter after walking for blocks and blocks and then standing for an hour on a freezing subway platform, I was grateful for a crowded car, squeezing in between 2 heavily coated and scarved strangers, nestled in between their warm bodies, I would nap lulled by the swaying of the train, the softness of their shoulders pressing me against the seat.

In the summer the subways were hot and stinky. The hubster referred to the smell as "the warm piss~aire" I remember watching large rats the size of possums lumber around the tracks searching for food. I hated the subway in the summer. People were sweating and I hated touching skin to skin or grabbing the hand holds to find them wet and slimy. UCK. Often the airconditioning would not be working and people would open the windows which was great when the train was moving, but sweltering when the train was stuck and unmoving...

Other subways I have ridden were in Moscow Russia and Tokyo Japan. Both were more efficient than NYC's. Moscow subways were gorgeous. Huge stations with marble walls, carved pillars and beautiful chandeliers boggled my mind and made me feel tiny and insignificant. I think that all architecture in Russia was designed to make people feel small an unimportant though. The subway cars if I remember correctly had cloth covered seats and were clean. No graffiti. Elegant. Safe. Each station was just as lovely as the next. The lights were crystal and frosted glass. The people were silent, somber. Not much talking.

In Tokyo the trains were sleek and modern. Almost always crowded. But also clean and efficient. The stations were sanitized daily. The signs were in English and Japanese and I had no trouble traveling around the city w/ a map by myself. I felt incredibly safe and secure in Japan. Tokyo was so clean and orderly. People were polite. Russia had left me feeling depressed and oppressed, but Japan left me feeling excited and comfortable to explore. I enjoyed riding the trains in Japan. I got used to listening to conversations in languages I didn't understand. It was a shock when I finally returned to the states and realized I could understand what people were saying again! I was so used to tuning out people that it took awhile for me to realize that people were speaking to me...

Here there is no subway. Only a bus system that is neither efficient or convenient for most of the city dwellers. I rode the bus for a while. It wasn't bad. But I had gotten used to a 10 to 12 minute drive to work; when I took the bus it took an hour due to changing down town and having to wait for the cross town bus. So at the first opportunity I went back to driving. I wish in this time of high gas prices and sucky economy that there was public transportation that was worthwhile. I would use it. It would be nice to zone out on the way home and snooze between two warm strangers...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Greats 5, 6, 7 & 8

I have had the best time EVER this month meeting my newest great nieces. They are beautiful and wondrous girls! First up is Molly Girl (not to be confused with Molly Dawg). Molly Girl is less furry and much smaller but probably poops just as much! Molly Girl wasn't actually named after Molly Dawg. She was named after her grandmother. That's the official story. I will however tell her she was named after my dawg.


Anyway I got to see Molly Girl and her BBs (big bro's: greats 5& 6).
They are VERY lively! They give GaGa and Papa (my sister and bro in law) a run for the money!
But they are so adorable. Ages 4,2, and 7 months...
Baby Paul has potential as a stand up comedian. He has the art of the rubber chicken down!

My nephew got smart. He named his new baby Kayla. Not a name that any of my animals have! So I will have to think of some other tall tale for her!
Great # 8 Kayla is brand spanking new ~ not even a month yet!!! I got to feed her and change her diaper. Being the incredibly polite child she is she only made liquid and did not subject Great Aunt to foul odors! She is going to be a stunner too!




I remember when the parents of the greats were this little. I was only 10 when Mark and Debbie were born. I remember feeding them, changing their diapers. I remember how precious and miraculous they seemed. Now they are adults. They have children of their own. They have become fine upstanding citizens. I am immensely proud of them. I missed so much of their growing up into adults. I left for New York when they were just becoming teenagers. When I came back they were adults. It was a little strange. There is a part of me that will always see them as precious and miraculous. Because they still are. They have passed that on to their children. I see them passing on the love that has trickled down for generations. From my parents to my siblings, to them to their children. All the greats amaze me. I am doubly blessed. My nieces and nephew are some of the best parents I know. They are doing hard work really well. I am proud of them for carrying on the family legacy of love and integrity.

Theater

Once again, I have been nostalgic about NYC. I sat last night and discussed life in theater with a couple of concerned parents. Their daughter wants to get into theater as a career and the hubster and I were asked for our advice.
What to say?

I loved and hated the time I spent in theater. I wouldn't change a thing. I have no regrets. Well not many.

I got into theater in college. A late start compared to my peers; most had begun in elementary school or high school. But ever the late bloomer, I discovered theater in college, changed my major and dove in full force. I remember the thrill of learning, the excitement of watching people work together and magic happen. I still remember the first time I walked behind a set and was gobstopped that it wasn't real! It was all make believe. I remember laughing out loud at being tricked! I was incredibly niave.

Luckily for me, I was handy. My father had taught me about tools, and I could hammer and saw and wire things correctly. There were a lot more jobs for technicians than actresses in the 1980's. I hit NYC on the cusp of computer boards. I had a talent for programming the new fangled things and that talent took me far. That and the fact I was willing to work my butt off to be the best. (I still am somewhat of an overachiever, but I temper it a bit better now in middle age!)

I remember the first Broadway show I saw. I went to NYC from Glassboro NJ where I was doing summer stock with 2 friends and we saw Agnes of God with Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Ashley and Amanda Plummer. MY GAWD, I was enthralled!

My first musical was Dreamgirls which I saw I think with my friend Steven. We went to see the movie together as well...

In NYC I worked off off Broadway, Off Broadway, did some TV, worked a lot of Avant Garde theater at La Mama and The Brooklyn Academy of Music. I worked dance a lot. I got to see the big names up close. I got to meet Martha Graham. I worked at Spoleto in Charleston. I traveled to Russia and Japan with Peter Brook.

It all sounds very high falutin' and glamorous. At times it was. But it also was hard. The constant hustle for work. The travel that kept me away from my family, my loved ones. I missed so much. I missed my nieces and nephew growing up. I missed my mother's last years. I missed having a home.

I spent a lot of time crawling through ceilings, dragging miles of cable. I spent long hours riding the subway to and from work. I spent days putting up with jerks who didn't want a woman on their crew and made sure every minute of every hour I knew they thought I was less than them. I spent 11 years proving time after time that I was good enough to be on the crew, run the crew or hire the crew.

I got tired. Somewhere it stopped being fun. It wasn't art anymore. It was a job. The magic was gone. I dreaded going to the theater. I didn't want to work with those guys anymore. I couldn't laugh at their jokes any longer.

So I left.

Now, after almost 15 years away, I am asked, "Should we encourage our daughter to go into theater?"

So, what can I say? I followed my heart. I lived my dream. But somewhere my dream changed. And that was OK. I was lucky enough to realize when it did. I was lucky enough to try and find new things I was good at too.

I am glad I had a career in theater. I am glad I did it when I was young and resilient. I am glad I went to NYC. I am glad for the wonder and the woes. It made me strong. It made me humble. It made me grateful.

So, what I said to the parents was, let her follow her dream, just remind her, dreams can change.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A night at the opera


We went to the opera, La Boheme, on Saturday. The music was lovely. The story was familiar. A poor artist in love with a girl in a big city...
The hubster had wanted to see this opera with me for a long time and we finally got the chance. It brought back many memories for us. When we first met he was a starving artist, acting in Shakespeare and I was a stagehand working long hours just to survive. Our dates often consisted of long, meandering walks around NYC, laughing and talking, walking to stay warm. Once he came up to my apartment so I could sew a button back onto his coat. I remember him wearing a beret and a dashing red scarf. I believe that was when I first called him "my bohemian". (I still do).

Its hard to watch theater or opera or dance with my background. I have worked at some pretty impressive places and with major designers. I am not bragging, those are just the facts. Because of my past work experience, it is hard at times to silence the internal critic in my head. I end up redesigning the lights, scenery and costumes while watching the show. I cringe at a mistake that 90% of the audience would never even notice. It takes a lot to make me gasp in awe. Often with opera, if it is not a huge company, I find myself just closing my eyes and listening. I don't know anything about music. I don't know if someone is off key or singing the wrong Italian words. It all sounds lovely to me. So with this performance I finally stopped about the end of Act II and finally just listened. I stopped reading the annoying supertitles, stopped figuring out how the set worked, stopped playing "that dress doesn't belong in this show" and just let the incredible voices wash over me. We had great seats, we could hear without the aid of microphones and the acoustics were amazing. I got to people watch, saw a few friends and got to hold hands with my beloved while remembering what it was like to be young, cold, poor but crazy in love...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dreams

As you look back at your life,
there are just a million different things
that have happened, just in the right way,
to allow you to make your dreams come true.
And you know, Someone has all that under control.
-Michael P. Anderson


I am realizing my dreams. Its a little scary. To achieve what I wanted to achieve. To discover that the things I want are not so far away anymore. I am discovering my dreams have changed too.

Once I dreamed of going to college. It seemed impossible to the 7th grader in a tiny town that she would ever get there. She dreamed of a vague school, ivy covered buildings, sweater sets and wool skirts (too much Nancy Drew?) but in time she (I) made it there. It wasn't exactly as I imagined, it was more.

Then I started to dream of going to New York, of being in theater, making a living making art. I would be the most famous lighting designer ever. I made it to NY, I designed lights, I also did a lot of other things including finding new dreams along the way.

One was to go home. To be near family. To heal and be healed. I returned to KY. I worked for a veterinarian. I picked up a long ago forgotten dream of working with animals. I learned a lot. I learned about healing, life and death. I learned about loving and about letting go. Eventually I moved on to a different dream.

I went back to school. I loved being there, learning again, reading, writing, exploring new worlds, meeting new people. I took all that I learned and went once again into the world. I found a job with an agency that I wasn't expecting to stay at for very long, but I have found it is a good fit for now and I remain there.

I sit this morning in the quiet coolness of my favorite time of year. I am surrounded by my cats and my dog. My husband has just left, excited about his career for the first time in years. I have spent the weekend with my dearest friend, met my newest great niece, walked on the farm where I was born.I ate pears from the tree in my brother's yard from a tree that has been there as long as I have been on earth. I have all I need and most things I want.

My dream now is of being content with the life I have. I am holding my dream in my hands.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Respite

This weekend I received a wonderful gift. My friend invited me down to the place she was house sitting for a girls weekend. It was heavenly!

The time away was a much needed break. I love my job. It is challenging, stressful, hard and heartbreaking; but I am right where I am supposed to be doing what my whole life has prepared me to do. I love it, but in order to do it well and give it my best, I need to get away occasionally.

So I traveled to my friend Diane's house sitting gig. It was a lovely home; quiet, airy and light filled. Diane made fabulous food. We talked, laughed, cried, prayed and sat in a silence made comfortable by having shared a friendship of 34 years...
Diane has been through triumphs and failures with me. She has seen my worst being my roommate in college and loved me anyway. We share a bond that time and distance cannot put a dent in, no matter how long it has been since we talked, we pick up right where we left off. There has never been an awkwardness when we get together again. She knows me better in some ways than anyone else. She has grown up along with me. We have gone on a similar journey sometimes walking together side by side, sometimes our paths veer and we lose sight of each other for a while. But always we know our paths will cross again. There is a comfort in having a friend for this length of time. Having someone who knew you from adolescence to middle age and is still there for the long haul is pretty rare I think. I am blessed to have her in my life. I was certainly blessed to have her gift me with a respite weekend.

I got to relax, totally pampered and cared for, meals made for me, no pressure to do anything, no schedule to follow, total freedom from wants and needs.
I read a book. I nap countless times. I sat in the jacuzzi. I watched a little bit of TV and fell asleep listening to the ocean on the sound machine...

And now I am home. Recharged and ready for the week to come.

Thank you Diane for the gift of yourself. For being there time after time, for knowing when I need you and for coming through. Most of all thank you for being my friend.