Sunday, January 06, 2013

Second City's Guide to the Opera

Anyone who has ever been to the opera knows that it can be funny. Some of the plots are so far-fetched, it's ridiculous. My favorites are the ones when someone disguises themselves, like in The Marriage of Figaro. I'll put on this wig! He'll never know it's me!! Or when we are supposed to believe that a plump woman of a certain age is meant to be a consumptive teenaged courtesan... or, gosh, I could go on, but we don't have all afternoon. Sometimes the opera is unexpectedly amusing, like the time we sort of saw the woman without a shadow (frau of something something). I say sort of because we left after the 2nd act. True story. It's the only time I've ever walked out of anything. First of all, I know the singer actually has a shadow, but there must be a lighting trick to make it look like she doesn't yes? Because Lyric hadn't figured that out when I saw it, so old Deb Voigt was down there going on about her shadow and it was like, no, it's right there, problem solved. We can save ourselves 4 hours of this. That and they had this lame prop horse that lowered down from the rafters and it was supposed to be dramatic, but it hit the stage with a thud and rocked back and forth...

Ahem. Sorry. The point is, opera can be funny. So who better than the talented cast of the Second City to help demystify the experience and poke a little fun at the world of opera? Lyric teamed with Second City to present The Second City Guide to the Opera last night. The gorgeous and all-around fabulous diva Renee Fleming was on hand to host with Sir Patrick Stewart (yes. Because what I think of when I think "opera" "Chicago" and "Second City sketch comedy" is Patrick Stewart. But anyway...) and basically it was a pretty fun evening. It began with an overture, sung by the cast about... all of the stuff that happens during an overture. They did similar songs about the intermission and the finale. Other sketches included a master class with an ego-maniacal, multi-scarf wearing diva, whose star pupil turned out to be... Ms. Renee Fleming, a couple on a first date (to the Ring Cycle! The guy wanted to prove he wasn't afraid of commitment and pointed out that if you could survive 40 hours of Wagner together, you could survive ANYTHING), and "Doctor Opera" therapy sessions for operatic characters  including Mimi and Rudolfo, Hansel and Gretel and Elektra. Both of our genial hosts performed in sketches and were both quite funny (P-Stew, I am sorry I doubted you!).

There was an audience participation sketch which resulted in an improvised Shakespearean rendering of the selected audience member's life. Which was weird. Because, hello, how is that related to opera? And also, the audience member they picked was from the bank sponsoring the show and he seemed extremely uncomfortable and gave one word answers (clearly he never read Tina Fey's book, because she tells us the first rule of improv is to agree and add - so if someone says, do you have any pet peeves and you say "No", you've shut the sketch down before it's even started). So did they pick this guy on purpose? Because if they told him ahead of time, you'd think he would have been more willing to play along.  I find it a little weird that they picked him randomly out of all the people there, but it's not usually common practice to embarrass your lead sponsor.  They ended up having a good time with him because he's a banker and he said he didn't have any pet peeves and that nothing bothered him. That added a little humor, because like, really dude? Nothing bothers you in the world of banking? Are you not living in America right now?

There was also a funny sketch where Patrick Stewart taught the cast to find the opera in regular life situations - so you're at Starbucks and they're out of soy milk (holy crap, Patrick Stewart goes to Starbucks?)? Unleash merry hell on that barista in the form of an aria. Someone has stolen your parking spot even though you've claimed it with a folding chair? Whip out your sword and make that sucker pay.  Your friend loses your favorite sweater? Fall on your sword and kill yourself. That, folks, is opera.

In the middle of this mayhem, Renee sang two arias, as if to say, yes, the plots can be stupid and outlandish and unrelated to real life, but at the heart of it is this - stunning music and amazing singing and artistry. That's opera, too.

reading on the railroad

Happy 2013. I know I've been MIA for a while, but I'm going to try and be better about posting here this year.  It's hard to figure out what this blog should be about. It was originally about my quest to become a real arts professional, and now I am one, but posting about work would be boring. But I like to write and tell stories, so maybe I'll pop in now and again and do that. Cool?

So, I commute from the suburbs into the city to work. It's maybe a 30 minute train ride, followed by a brief ride by bus (don't even get me started on the CTA. Another time, another time.) - my time is spent usually with a good book (hooray for my new kindle!)

Some kind soul at the public library, recognizing that reading material is a commuter's best friend, set up a bookshelf in the station house. The books on there are.... interesting. It's a combination of books that people leave for their fellow patrons and cast offs/weed outs from the library's collection.  Sometimes you can find some good reads - I came across a Patricia Cornwell novel (it's one of her older ones, but I've just started reading her books, so I was excited to find this one), and once somebody left a (kind of old) copy of Studs Terkel's book The Good War.  I am a nerd, I know, and this one excited me a whole bunch.

Mostly though, the books on the shelf are old trashy romances. These were largely uninteresting to me until one day when I was bored and started checking out the titles. Since then, I've been making notes of some of the books featured on the shelf, which I am now sharing for your amusement (but mostly for my amusement). I have never actually picked any of these up, so I don't know what they are about, in most cases, I think it's more fun to speculate.

Recent titles on the shelf, with commentary (not surprisingly, most of these have been on the shelf for quite a while):
Loving the Lone Wolf
The Millionaire's Baby
Having the Boss's Baby  (ewwwwww - should have stuck with the millionaire)
The Outlaw Bride
The Husband She Couldn't Remember  (Help! There's a strange man in my house!!)
Passion's Far Shore
Desert Devil
His Very Special Nurse
His Child or Hers (Huh?)
Conroy Could Love Only One Girl (At a Time)  (that Conroy, what a cad)
The Last First Kiss
Defiant Surrender
Head Over Spurs (about a clumsy cowboy?)
Do You Take This Cowboy? (maybe if it's Tony Romo - ahahahahaaha)
A Montana Maverick's Christmas
Married in Haste
Mistletoe Mischief
Bride of the Night (well, because she had to marry in haste)
Rancher's Request
Riley's Retribution
Midnight Stranger
My Wicked, Wicked Ways (I was so curious about this one, I actually took it off the shelf to examine it - turned out to be an autobiography of Errol Flynn)

I will continue this list as long as the titles continue to be this good.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

how many days until rio?

I am totally unathletic. Do you see that tree stump over there? It is more athletic than I am. When I was a kid, I took gymnastics classes at the park district for like, a minute. I liked tumbling and stuff like that, but I remember walking across a balance beam and in the back of my mind, I'm going, yeah, this is nice I guess, but wait - I'm sorry? You want me to what now? On a four inch wide piece of wood? But I'll fall on my head and DIE! Do you want me to DIE? And, oh, what are those things? Uneven bars, you say? And what does one do on those? Hahahahaha, yeah, right, pull the other one! I don't suppose I need to tell you, but I didn't stay long in gymnastics class.

Also as a kid, my parents attempted to get me to do swimming lessons, but it was more of same. It was okay at first, in the water with a kickboard, all like, yeah! Splashy splashy! I'm liking this, sort of, but why does it smell so weird? And then, I'm like - I'm sorry? You want me to put my face where? Under the water? I don't think so! It really, really freaked me out. I didn't actually learn to swim for a very long time, because I was (and still am) afraid of going under water. No thank you. So, you guessed it - no more swimming classes either.

In grade school, I HATED gym class. This class was pretty much MADE for people who were good at sports. So I fit right in. Ahahahha. No, not really.  The teacher's pets were all the kids on the sports teams (which those teachers coached) and the rest of us shlubs were pretty much useless. While I liked playing silly games, I wasn't very good at organized sports. I was okay with soccer and floor hockey, but I didn't like playing basketball or volleyball. I wasn't good at them, I wasn't coordinated in the right way. It was not a very fun 40  minutes for me.  Gym class can be scarring anyway, because kids are little assholes, and all gym class did for me was expose all my weaknesses to my enemies. I mean, sure, I rocked it out in actual academic classes, but what are brains next to athletic prowess?  I remember very clearly being chosen as team captain for volleyball (not because I was good at it, I hasten to add, but everyone got a turn at being captain) and it while it wasn't like back in the day, when everyone lined up and teams were picked humiliatingly in front of everyone, it was still kind of a process, because you went into a room with the other captains and a list and chose teams that way. I chose my friends, because the ONLY way to make the combination of volleyball and gym class any more bearable was to have your friends on your team. Can I add here that EVERYONE did this. Everyone. All the little jocks chose their little jock-style friends to form one super-team. And they never got in trouble for it, even though it was, like, obvious. Do you want to know the ONLY person who got told off about it by their crazy bitch of a gym teacher? Yup, it was me. So it was like that.

High school was a little bit easier, because after 2 years, you could choose what things you wanted to play. So for two years, we'd have to do the usual basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, swimming thing. I had a really good strategy for baseball, though. I'd go stand out in the field as far away as possible so there was NO chance I'd ever see any action. Because during those odd times I'd actually GET the ball, I'd have no clue what to do with it, so I'd make the wrong choice and lose the game for us. Batting was also a disaster, because I'm a lefty and no one had any idea what to do about that, so I solved that by going to the end of the line for batting. Then I'd keep cycling myself back to the end. Voila!

When we were able to pick, I chose stuff like team games (with silly games like pillow polo and badminton) and social dancing, tennis and step aerobics and archery and cross country skiing.  The high school gym teachers were nicer and not as obviously biased towards the jocks in the class. I'm pretty sure I got pity A's for effort from most of them. And sometimes we'd get male gym teachers who pretty much did not give a shit. I kid you not - I remember once during a tennis unit, the teacher would spend all his time at the front court with the gym "peer leaders" (aka his jock-style pets - I never did understand what these "leaders" were "leaders" of actually) leaving the rest of us on the back courts, casually whacking our tennis balls over the fence and going "oh, dang" and then ambling off the court to fetch the ball and starting the process all over again. None of this taught us a lick about physical fitness, which I gather is the point of these classes. If they had tried to teach us anything about being fit and taking care of ourselves, it would have been more useful that forcing unathletic square pegs onto the basketball court to be mercilessly mocked by their peers. (Ah, but that's another story).

All this is really building up to tell you that despite my obvious lack of athletic ability, and the deep, deep psychological scars that I have gotten from my youthful athletic endeavors, there are sports I do like to watch, if not play, and every four years when the Olympics roll around? I am glued to the screen, watching everything and anything that happens to be on. Which is a little bit weird to me.

The first Olympics I remember watching were the 1988 winter games in Calgary. Since then, I've been hooked. This London games has been no different. Since the first moments of the (long, kind of strange) opening ceremony, I have been a slave to the NBC tape delay, staying up till all hours, watching Olympic coverage, trawling the web during the day to find the all-important gymnastics results. One of my coworkers called me an Olympic junkie and it's true, I am. At no time in my regular life would you catch me turning on the tv and settling in for a game of beach volleyball. Like, never. Ever. But during the Olympics, I will sit and watch with avid interest.

I'll watch ANYTHING during the Olympics. I remember one snowy winter day, I turned the games on, just to see what was happening and I found myself getting sucked in to a cross country skiing event, of all things. There weren't even any Americans participating, but I watched anyway, all in suspense. I also tuned in for a gold-medal hockey game once, with the Swedish team playing.  This summer, I've sat and watched diving and swimming of all kinds, gymnastics, cycling, volleyball, basketball, water polo, track and field, tennis, some equestrian jumping stuff, pretty much whatever's been on.

I don't know what it is that I love so much - the pageantry of the opening ceremonies? The feeling of coming together with the world? The rampant patriotism, shouts of USA! USA! (even if it's just me doing the shouting?), watching young people so amazingly skilled chase their dreams? Watching them stand on the podium with a shiny medal, singing the Star Spangled Banner (shoot, that makes me cry every time). I don't know what it is, but I love it. So, so much. I am glad that there are people so different from me, who are bold and brave and unafraid of death on gymnastic apparatuses (apparati?) or in the pool, or jumping off of three storey high platforms, because they have been thrilling to watch.

London, this has been a wonderful games. I've loved every minute of it. You should be so proud of what you've been able to do. I will miss these games when they are gone.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ravinia's Dueling Divas

So... when I was in New York last month, I saw Ms. Patti LuPone at 54 Below. More on this later, I promise. When we arrived at the club, the hostess asked me how close to the stage we wished to be sat. I said as close as possible without, you know, actually being on stage. Wish granted! While we were sitting there, the couple next to us wondered if it was too close. To which I replied (even though they were not speaking to me, per se) that, in the case of The Patti, there is no such thing as too close. She's Worth It.

Fast forward to last night - Gala Night at the Ravinia Festival, featuring Ms. Patti and soprano Patricia Racette. A totally odd and incredibly random pairing, but whatever, She's Worth It. (I am reasonably sure that I have actually seen Ms. Racette perform at Lyric Opera - although I am not officially sure any more what opera I saw her perform in. I think it's either Tosca or Madame Butterfly. Whatever. I had heard of her, knew she was pretty good, even if I couldn't remember specifics, so I was happy at the prospect of the concert).  Thanks to some wonderful friends, I had tickets in the pavilion in Row X, dead center, with no one in front of me.

The concert was billed as "The Leading Ladies" but I instantly renamed it "The Diva Duel" - and it was time for Round 1. It kicked off with the National Anthem (despite the fact that the Pretty Party People had not entirely taken their seats), and then the CSO played the overture to Rosamunde.

Then Ms. Racette came on, in a lovely dark blue dress (So.Much.Fabric. I was sitting there in a slip dress and I was hot. I don't know how all the Pretty Party People (PPP) were surviving in their tuxes and fancy dresses, let alone how the orchestra, conductor and soloists were coping in the heat). She sang a few arias - one from La Boheme, Un Bel Di from Madama Butterfly, the Song to the Moon from Rusalka, and Ebben? Ne Andro Lontana from La Wally.  And I'm really sorry to report, she was kind of boring. The arias were beautifully sung but just a bit bland. She performed the best in the Butterfly aria, but the others were kind of blah.

Then came Patti. This one knows how to command a stage - it took her a matter of moments before she had the entire audience right where she wanted us. She looked glam and divalicious in a strapless red dress (That's right red - as if to remind us exactly whose house this is, thank you very much, and you'd best not be forgetting it!) and some insane wrist bling, and sang Don't Rain on My Parade, Easy to Be Hard, Don't Cry for Me Argentina, and Being Alive. The audience totally came alive, and as she left the stage with a little wave, it was like, don't go, Patti! Stay and sing a while! Please??!?!!

Round 1 of this Diva Duel went easily to Patti.

How does one follow that? One sends the orchestra out with some Wagner. No kidding. The overture to Tannhauser. It put me in the mind of hell's waiting room - dark and hot, with Wagner playing in the background.

Out comes Ms. Racette, this time in black. She took the mic, and said "How about some Piaf?" To which we in the audience responded (mentally, anyway) Sure, what the hell! This program really couldn't get much weirder, right?  But the Piaf medley she sang was really lovely. Much more interesting, strangely, than the arias. The medley included Milord, Padam, Padam, La Vie en Rose nd Mon Dieu! for those of you keeping score at home. This would have been a great opportunity for Patti to join her, since she's got some Piaf up in her bag o'tricks, but no.

She did come back, though, in black this time, and launched into another section of Broadway selections - As Long As He Needs Me, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Everything's Coming Up Roses (with a special shout out to the Ravinia Festival and to Mr. Kauffman) and Ladies Who Lunch (a rather interesting choice, I thought, given that this gala was, in fact, celebrating 50 years of the Women's Board, the very embodiment of the song). On her last "Rise!" she flung the water out of her glass onto the PPP in the front row ("It's just water!" she said to the patron(s). I can't imagine that a little dousing wouldn't have felt good, since it was 2000 degrees in the pavilion, so hopefully they were cool about it, since it was just water, not battery acid, and there probably wasn't much of it. Being the North Shore and all though, I guess you never know how people are gonna react.

Then the two divas made an appearance on the stage together, singing Get Happy/Happy Days are Here Again.  And there the concert should possibly have ended, but the orchestra played a (long!) interlude from Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe (which I initially read as Dolphins and Chloe, which is a different story all together!)

Whatever. Round 2 - also went to Patti.

She clearly won this Diva Duel - I don't know why they didn't have her alone on the bill in the first place, or pair her with someone with whom she could have truly shared the program (Audra? Mandy? Laura Benanti? Someone a little less random?)

Saturday, July 07, 2012

to rome, with love

Like Midnight in Paris but without what's-his-name-Wilson and all of the French people. It doesn't have the same whimsical spirit and focus of plot that Midnight in Paris has, but it's a glorious love letter to Rome, which is the biggest star in the film. Cute, quirky, laugh out loud funny, it flits back and forth between storylines. Great cast with Alec Baldwin, Woody Allen himself, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page and Roberto Benigni, speaking Italian, what could be better? Made me want to go back to Rome (but stay in a place with air conditioning this time).

it's a good thing they're all so pretty

Not as much fun as I'd been led to believe.
Rather a disappointment.

abraham lincoln, vampire hunter

Went to see Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter last night. It was...well, yeah. Don't get me wrong - I read the book, and I enjoyed it very much. It was like a little hidden part of history, that was kind of like, you think you know what happened during the Civil War? Well, you don't.  This is what really happened, and here is the never-before-heard-story of Abe Lincoln, who was much more kick ass than we were ever led to believe in school. So I had high hopes for the film, especially given the fact that it stars Ben Walker, who I was extremely fortunate to have seen making history all sexy-pants (what?? that's what the poster said!) as Andrew Jackson in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway (again during that fateful trip a few years ago.).  Yeah, he was awesome in that. So much so that I was sort of calling it Andrew Jackson Vampire Hunter. Whoops. Wrong presidential mash-up.

Anyway, Mr. Walker was really good as the ax-spinning defender of human kind. And really? Was the ax spinning really that necessary? It looked really cool, sure, but did the vampires get any deader after watching Lincoln twirl the ax like a baton? Did they get impressed to death?  Abe survives just about everything in this movie - he gets pounded by the vampire who killed his mother (don't ask), he gets a crazy-looking wild horse thrown at him (really, don't ask) in a looong sequence that looked really crappy, during one of his vampire hunting escapades, the tables are turned and he finds himself hanging upside-down in a dungeon - and escapes! Unharmed! With another notch on his ax handle, of a vampire vanquished. And then, towards the end of the movie, there's a super long, extremely pointless sequence on a flaming train. Oh and the (long, tall, wooden) tracks have been set on fire too! And they're on the side of a cliff on the way to Gettysburg to deliver silver weapons to the union troops to defeat the vampire rebels on the confederate side (I told you not to ask). Super Hero in Chief!!

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show? (Ha! Sorry, couldn't resist).  I think it could have been better.  If it had been done in a sort of (don't laugh) more realistic way, like it was giving you a glimpse of an untold story, it might have worked better. As it was, people went into it (not many, though, from the look around the theater) thinking the premise was crap and then having that belief confirmed by flying horses and flaming trains.  I didn't hate it. It was enjoyable in a WTF is going on here, unintentionally funny kind of way. If you're interested in it, I'd suggest reading the book first.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

a note about shopping

When I was in New York, as I mentioned, I went shopping. I love shopping. But I tried to go places that I can't go to here in Chicago. I went to Uniqlo (two branches! wheee!) and the Strand, and the HBO Experience Store for True Blood stuff (whee!). But what I really, really wanted to find was New York Giants merchandise.

I am a converted Giants fan. I have divorced the Bears (and it wasn't me. It was definitely them.) and cheered on a new team to super bowl victory. When I was last in NY, all of the stores were PACKED with Giants gear. Packed, I tell you. And it wasn't just jerseys and boys' shirts. There were scads of cute  shirts and gear for ladies. But at the time, I decided not to buy (I had a worrying feeling and was trying not to spend crazy amounts of money).

This time, I decided to right the wrong. I'd get a cute ladies t-shirt! Maybe a pillow pet! Maybe another cute t-shirt.... except I couldn't. I went into several sports stores and all kinds of touristy I love NY stores, and NONE OF THEM had Giants gear worth mentioning. One of the sports stores had men's shirts and jerseys, and a shirt Victor Cruz wore (designed? Something?) for something (Puerto Rican day parade? Maybe?) but that was IT.  It was wall to wall Yankees. A little bit of Mets stuff. Some Rangers some Knicks stuff, and some Jets stuff (mainly Tebow jerseys. Don't even get me started on him). But I hate baseball, I don't care about basketball and Tebow? How about Te-NO?). But it was all guys' stuff. None of the adorable Alyssa Milano touch stuff. At all. It was baffling.

I was left wandering Times Square muttering "But... Super Bowl... WON... they did!" (in my confusion and angst, I had somehow turned into Yoda).

But for real. On Navy Pier, you can buy sports gear for ALL the teams, including the Bears. And they aren't even GOOD, people. But you can't find cute Giants gear for love nor money in NYC. Don't people want to support their team during the summer? It's a mystery to me. In the end, I gave up. I guess I shall have to buy my gear (AND my pillowpet) on the interweb. But really New York? Why are you making it so hard for me to be a Giants fan? Don't you think I'll have trouble enough without you giving me problems too??

i love new york in june...

So I was in New York a few weeks ago - the first time I've been back since that ill-fated trip I took a few years ago in November (okay, I guess the trip itself was fine. It's what happened after the trip that was ill-fated. I don't hold New York responsible for that flaming psychotic bitch I used to work for, even though I worried obsessively the entire time that something bad was going to happen, and I was right, as it happens. What a time for me to be right, huh?).

Well, quite.  I sometimes think that I've de-bittered from that experience just a little bit, but I guess not.  Anyway - THIS trip to New York was wonderful. Here's a little summary (pictures to come!)

Day 1 - I arrive! Awesomeness ensues! And then - a show!
woke up disgustingly early to get a 7:00 am flight. You know the worst part? I am not able to have coffee due to some gastric problems I have. My doctor said "you could try decaf" but WHY WOULD I DO THAT? I'm drinking it for the caffeine, silly man! Arrrgh. So I had breakfast and some orange juice and spent the flight reading celebrity magazines and also the SKY MALL catalogue. Some of that stuff is SO ridiculous, I swear.

Anyway. Land, get bag without any problems. Cab it to the UWS, only slightly thrown by the car with the Illinois plate that was ahead of us on the road. I was like, but wait!?! Didn't I leave? Was all this just a dream?  Got to the hotel (it's a sweet little gem and I'm not telling you the name of it, because I am keeping it all to myself!) on broadway and 70-somethingeth, dumped the bag, did a brief but complete bed(bug) check, and hit the town for some lunch and, naturally, some caffeine.

Stopped at the Shake Shack. Had a plain hot dog, fries, and an extremely large coke. Took a walk - did I mention the weather was gorgeous?  In the 70s and low 80s the whole time. Stunning, it was. Then I did some shopping. You know, like you do. Ended up in Times Square and I swear, it was like Navy Pier times a million zillion. People everywhere, most of them tourists, the Naked Cowboy, assorted people dressed up as assorted Disney characters... I was bored, so I went and high-fived Grover. You know, like you do.  Went back to the hotel, showered, changed and headed out to dinner. Did that great thing you can do in New York, just wandered the street until I came upon a suitable looking restaurant. Had a salmon burger. I didn't even know they could make salmon into a burger. Delicious.

Headed out to Show #1 (but of course!) - Anything Goes.  I know, I know. It's been around for a while (but closing this weekend - glad I had the chance to see it!) and the delightful an extremely talented Sutton Foster is no longer in the show. But I wanted to see it. Nothing else was really calling to me when I was making my plans, and I booked this one first. Well, okay, second. I'll give you a guess as to what I booked first.

And it was a wonderful show. Stephanie J. Block was good as Reno Sweeney (I'll give you a guess as to who I wished I was seeing... but I would have needed a time machine for that) and Joel Grey was hilarious. Also in the cast was Robert Petkoff who had recently graced the stage at CST as Buddy in the exceptional production of Follies. (I have such wonderful happy memories of that show and being in the same building as that great cast, I was happy to be able to cheer him on in a really awesome comic performance). The whole cast danced their collective faces off, it was so much fun to watch. I had never actually listened to the whole cast album, or known anything about the plot, which if you think too hard about it... well, never mind. It doesn't matter, because it just makes you feel good. It was delightful. It was delicious. It was delovely.

Friday, June 29, 2012

invisible me

so if you're on an empty street
and you hear the tapping of high heeled feet
or you hear a heart
like a phantom beat
or the scream of a woman
left incomplete

well, don't fear what you can't see
the odds are good
that it's only me
i'm invisible
i've vanished
in thin....

- from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

When I was in high school, I found my dopelganger. I didn't realize it when we first met. I think we must have been freshmen. We had a getting to know you thing in homeroom, and our counselor (a kindly old lady, played in the movie version of my life by Angela Lansbury) introduced me to Min (not her real name, short for "Mini-Me"). We got to be friends, and I guess we were kind of alike. Both small, petite girls, blonde haired (mine is more ashy, Min's is like crazy bright, you'd think she dyed it that way blonde) and quiet. We were both in honors classes (but we didn't have many together) so we were smart, and we had similar tastes in tv shows, music, clothes (we had a few of the same Express sweaters and stuff like that).

We didn't really look alike, but somehow, we started getting mixed up for each other. Or, more accurately, I was being mistaken for her. Constantly.

We had Theater Workshop class together. We had to act out scenes of our own choosing (don't get me started on this class. We learned exactly zero about acting. I took three years of this bozo's classes. And I am in theater - administration - but no thanks to him.) and she had one from the Secret Garden. He looked at me and said "How about the Secret Garden?" And I looked back at him and said "Do you mean me? Or do you mean you want to see the Secret Garden? Because I'm not doing that." And he said he meant me, but I really think he meant her.  (I knew then I wasn't cut out for acting, BTW, since I clearly wasn't memorable. No star qualiteee here, unfortunately. Plus, even though I can sing, I can't dance at all.)  Whatever. One teacher, a few times in one class. No big. He was burned out and kind of a dope.

But it kept happening. All four years, different classes, different occasions. I got cut slips when Min was absent. I have never cut anything in my life. I even called in on Senior Ditch Day. And then it turns out the cut slips weren't even for me. I had to have the teachers sign off on the slips to prove i wasn't absent. One time, the gym teacher looked at me puzzled and said "I thought you wouldn't cut!" through gritted teeth I agreed that I hadn't, in fact, cut, but Min, who sat behind me, had been absent. "Ohhh, right." she agreed and signed my slip.

My counselor/Angela Lansbury called us the Dolly Sisters (I don't know why) and then SHE started mixing us up, too. She asked me once how AP Biology was going. I wasn't in AP Biology. I got out of the sciences as soon as I possibly could. And I'm smart, okay, but not smart enough for that class. I gave her a blank look and was like "I'm not even in AP biology, you crazy woman! That's MIN you're thinking of!"

The worst part though? Was when our HOMEROOM teacher did it. He gave me a cut slip when she was absent.  Dude, come ON. You had us for four YEARS. You had me in CLASS. Arrghh.

Needless to say, I have a little bit of a complex about this now. Because, let me add, it always happened to ME. I'm the one who got called "Min". I'm the one who got the cut slips. It never, ever, ever happened to her.  Am I that unmemorable? Have I become invisible?

I'm better about this now than I used to be. I think it must have gotten to her too, though, because after high school we sort of stopped being friends. Creepily enough, we were both in education for a while, but she actually has a job as a teacher, I  think, whereas I jumped that ship a long time ago. I still kind of feel like I am not memorable,  or if I see people around, that they would not be interested in talking to me, and stuff like that but, as I say, I'm much better about it now.


summer time, and the livin' is...busy

Wasn't summer better when we were kids? School was over, so there was a feeling of accomplishment like, yes! I've finished my freshman year (or whatever!) and something to look forward to Hooray! I'm a senior (or whatever!) and you had several glorious months to do absolutely nothing. 

When I was a kid, the big thing was going to the pool to hang out. I'm not much of a swimmer, personally, but it didn't matter. You had to go. It was the Thing to Do. Everyone at our grade school/junior high school ended up at Harrer Pool in the summer - we even wrote about it in our yearbooks "See you at the pool. Hope you get some guys! XOXO!"  We all wrote the "hope you get some guys" bit, too. Not that we would have known what to do with the guys once we "got" them. 

So we'd go to the pool. We'd have the ritual of buying a new swim suit at the beginning of the season, we'd fill up little plastic beach bags with toys and towels and sunscreen. We'd swim and splash around and play and go down the water slide, until they blew the whistle for Safety Break. All the kids had to get out of the pool for 15 minutes or something, and that's when the adults would swim, and the life guards would change shifts (maybe? I'm not entirely clear about the mechanics of Safety Break, because I was out of the pool, see?). I'd go with my friends to the concessions stand and we'd get chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven (or microwave maybe? I don't know that there'd be an oven, but the cookies were always warm) and an ice cold cherry coke. 

Looking back, it seems like the perfect time. We didn't care about the economy, or global warming (90 degree weather just meant it was perfect pool weather, duh!) or terrorism, or who was president, or the price of gas, or the unemployment rate or any of those things. It was the summer time.

Now that I'm OLD I have to worry about that stuff. I have a job, and I spend my days, 90 degrees or otherwise, in the (nice, cold) office. There is never any time to do absolutely nothing, not like there was then. Even if you take vacation, it is not as strings-free as it used to be. You make plans, you worry about your flight, if you're me, you worry about bedbugs in the hotel, getting lost, getting mugged, spending too much money.

I have not been to our local pool in years and years. I think I stopped going once we hit high school. Every so often I think about going back there and doing something I was not allowed to do back in the day - swim during Safety Break, obviously.

Monday, May 21, 2012

he's back and so helpful!

Some of us have scheduled themselves two big back to back meetings tomorrow. Wouldn't it be nice to have some help? Maybe a cup of coffee before things get going?  Sigh. A girl can dream...