31 December, 2008
It's simple, really. And quite nice. A song of remembrance for times gone by, and days past, and friends missed, and growing apart... but somehow it's also hopeful.
For your nostalgic enjoyment:
Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne
And surely you'll by your pint cup
And surely I'll buy mine
We'll take a cup o'kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne
We two have run about the slopes
And picked the daisies fine
But we've wandered a many weary foot
Since days of auld lang syne
We two have paddled in the stream
From morning sun til dine
But seas between us broad have roared
Since days of auld lang syne
And there's a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o'thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught
For days of auld lang syne
29 December, 2008
But as I trudged up the 5 flights with my luggage, back to my own apartment this morning, I also felt a similar feeling of gratefulness to be home.
Perhaps home is where your heart is - and perhaps your heart can be in more than one place at a time.
28 December, 2008
but it does allow me to have one more night at home with my family, a few more precious hours of being with the people I love so much that even from 500 miles away I feel close to them.
What a blessing it is to have been with them for a whole week. And I hope I can remember that blessing when I get up before the sun rises to get to the airport on time!
And now I have a Marathon Buddy.
We're gonna do some "inter-city" training for the next several months while I'm in New York and she's in Akron. We're gonna get tips. We're gonna keep tabs on each other. And then she's gonna come to NYC and run with me. And we will go slowly. Because of her bad knees. And my simple need to go slowly (I figure my marathon motto is: "Be the turtle, not the hare").
27 December, 2008
Particular favorites include Scrabble, Scattegories, any Women vs. Men game, Cranium, Life... the list goes on and on.
But once again, the strong bonds of friendship prevailed and it was a true joy to spend a few hours together - catching up on work, relationships, ideas, old friends, high school reunion stories, show choir memories, plans for the future... just indulging in some simple time with each other.
I am grateful that we were able to reconnect so honestly. And it was a pleasure to laugh together again. In the future, I will take care not to let the all-too-convenient excuse of living far away get in the way of our friendship.
26 December, 2008
Oh sure - we might make fun of you (lovingly!) and we might make non-PC comments about your religion or political viewpoints (we're only teasing!) and we might especially enjoy a practical joke or two at your expense (hey, 7-year-old nephews think everything's hilarious).
But the acceptance that goes beyond believing in Jesus or chanting Hare Krishna, beyond the teasing about past relationships or new ones that are just beginning, beyond Obama or McCain (but not beyond Bush, I mean let's be honest - can't we all agree to joke about him?!)... THAT is the acceptance I've been taught. THAT is family I come from. THAT is who I have learned to become.
And I am incredibly proud to call myself an Ayers and be a part of that family.
25 December, 2008
24 December, 2008
And it will be beautiful.
The striking red flowers against the marble altar. The almost life-sized nativity scene. The sheer awe of being in a church that big. The thrill of singing my favorite music from the highest balcony. The feeling of familiarity with the crowds packing the pews. The magic of the middle of the night.
But tonight will be different, as my priest - the only priest I've ever thought of as "my priest" - will not be there.
And like the eventual change that is bound to come to all traditions, this one will be similar (and still good!) ... but not quite the same.
Yes, I'd rather sleep in... AND it reminds me that I'm grateful to have that warm, comfy bed. Yes, I'd rather not be around so many people who haven't had the luxury of a shower... AND it reminds me that cleanliness is a luxury I take for granted. Yes, I'd rather spend those 5 hours eating cookies or relaxing... AND it reminds me of the truer spirit of the holidays - giving, rather than receiving.
23 December, 2008
* the ever expanding array of cookies, candy, chocolate, nuts, goodies that slowly but surely take over the kitchen table * the dining-room-turned-present-wrapping-center where the gifts are so beautiful we could seriously start charging people for our services * the tree, complete with ornaments I fondly remember * the stereo filling the house with partridges in pear trees, hippopotamuses for christmas, and the YES take on the holly and the ivy * the striking difference between one hour of complete ruckus and the next hour of complete silence, save for the crackling fire
Shopping for a new apartment in NYC is feast or famine... and it can also take forever or only a matter of a few hours.
I'm in the market now - could this beauty be the one?
"Secret" those exposed brick walls, people! And that brand new kitchen - oh, the dinner parties!
22 December, 2008
Complete with popcorn garland on the tree, a french toast buffet, old friends who just moved to the city, laughing so much our sides hurt, and everyone singing along with the montage of carols at the end of the movie.
It was - and will continue to be - one of the best holiday traditions ever. One to warm my heart, not only with nostalgia for the Muppets but for that beautiful group of friends, too.
20 December, 2008
MAMA - "Because you have to."
4-YEAR OLD - "But I don't want to!"
MAMA - "I know, sweetie."
4-YEAR OLD - "Pleeeeaaase?"
MAMA - "I'm sorry, but you have to."
4-YEAR OLD - "Mama, we ain't friends no more."
19 December, 2008
From The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 12/19/08
New York has apologized to Cleveland. Really. Free tickets to Broadway shows beat roses, no matter where you live. All Clevelanders have to do is get there. The big-dollar mea culpa comes courtesy of an ill-considered quote -- "We hate tourists from Cleveland" -- from Broadway ad executive Nancy Coyne in Tuesday's New York Times. It became instantly infamous. The New York Post blared, in typical fashion: "P.R. Poobah's B'way Bomb." And bloggers in both cities traded insults. One Web site based in New York identified Cleveland as the place Lake Erie caught fire. Other New Yorkers, however, showed Cleveland some love by giving us free tickets -- free! -- that can cost upward of $300 a ticket. Deal No. 1: "Chicago Loves Cleveland." Not Chicago the city; "Chicago" the musical. Show up on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in January at Ambassador Theatre (219 West 49th St.) with a government-issued photo ID proving you live in Ohio, and you get in free that night. Deal No. 2: Coyne, who caused this drama and who runs an agency that represents 24 New York shows, will give away Broadway tickets in January and February on Cleveland radio.
18 December, 2008
Then he proceeded to tell me about the history of the subway. How it was in the 60's. How there used to be an AA train and then a K train. How there used to be wooden fans and straw seats in the 30's. How the N train used to run on the R line.
And although at first I was just smiling & nodding, I soon found myself thinking: I could either pay half-hearted attention to this guy or I could really engage and have a subway friendship for the next few stops. So I asked him his name. And we shook hands.
Then we talked about our neighborhood. And how the Mother Cabrini is odd. Which led to discussing funeral rituals in different religions. We covered a small array of topics in the short 1/2 hour ride. And it was nice. And it was genuine. And it was nothing more than a sub-friendship.
17 December, 2008
And this was coming from the EXACT person who was a source of most of my frustration. So it was infuriating and humbling to realize... he was right. I am responsible, as someone who produces theatre, to adhere to the budgets and to force people to think harder about things and to step it up and work through difficult problems.
REGARDLESS! I have seen this in other people in this industry as well: the fact that we can get so worked up about the challenges in our jobs that we can completely lose track of the joy. And I get to do theatre - make believe! - everyday. Every day. All day. That's my job. And it's amazing. And it's hard. And it's incredibly rewarding.
And a humbling day today can mean for a better day tomorrow.
16 December, 2008
15 December, 2008
14 December, 2008
I remember going to this service last year - during a time when the joy of Christmas was hard for me to grasp. I wasn't feeling that Christmas spirit... and being in a church, surrounded by uplifting music and the warmth of happy people really helped allow me to take that step from sorrow to joy. Or if not complete joy, then at least I could see the cracks of light.
This year, being a part of this service gave me a wonderful "circle of life" reminder - a karma of sorts. Having those two hours last December to lift my spirits was so meaningful, and being able to lift my voice with others today (and perhaps bringing a little light into someone else's life) is a gift I didn't even know I wanted. But it was a wonderful, wonderful present.
11 December, 2008
My mother is incredible. There are not words enough to describer her giant heart, her deep wisdom, her patience beyond patience, her bright smile, and her dedication to her family. I can only hope to be growing into half as wonderful a woman as she is.
Yup. My mom was born on her mom's birthday. That's a tiny family factoid that I've always loved. The magic, the gift of human life - of creating human life - and bringing it to the world on the day of your own birth. My grandma is still kickin' it well into her 80's - and today I wish her love and joy and many more years to come.
I have nothing too interesting to say (or perhaps I have several interesting things to say, but none that I want to risk writing on the world wide web at the moment)... however, I did have a lovely Wednesday evening into early Thursday morning seeing this. And eating here. And having a night cap here.
So there, Mr. I've-Decided-To-Re-Title-Your-Blog. By the time you read this you can think to yourself, "Wow - she was 20 feet from me only 10 short hours ago." And you can admit this blog has made you laugh.
08 December, 2008
PS - if you're unfamiliar with said "holiday classic" you definitely need to take the little more than 1/2 hour it takes to watch and cuddle up on the couch to enjoy it with friends and family.
07 December, 2008
When you listen to these things, buying gifts seems excessive. But then I read this last night from the Bhagavad Gita and it gave me pause: "A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return."
Perhaps it is less about a physical gift, a present wrapped in shiny paper that will only end up in the trash, an item that will sit on a shelf or get hung on a wall... perhaps it has always been less about these kinds of gifts.
Fah who rah-moose
Dah who dah-moose
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Maybe Christmas he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more.
06 December, 2008
For time spent with good friends over lunch. For being surrounded by beautiful, confident women. For the magic of being able to get real work done from home, from the comfort of your couch, in your pajamas, with the help of the Internet. For the foresight to buy 2 bags of english muffins the last time you went grocery shopping, and putting one in the freezer, so when you needed breakfast this morning you remembered them and were glad you didn't have to go out shopping until tomorrow. For projection designers who are interested in and available for the work you're offering, even though it's last minute. For a very intelligent co-worker who gives you smart advice the moment you need it. For the good idea of a prop storage sale, where you're able to buy an amazing blue cooking dish for a great price, providing for your own kitchen's happiness while supporting the theatre you love.
For the small joys that push their way up through the cracks in everyday life. For these especially, I am grateful.
04 December, 2008
When you've had the delight of singing one of the simplest (and one of my most favorite) carols, and when you're in a church, and singing in the company of others who have amazing gifts of music, and who want to lift up their voices with you - in harmony, in prayer, with open hearts... how can you not stand in awe?
Son of God
LOVE'S PURE LIGHT
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of REDEEMING GRACE
03 December, 2008
01 December, 2008
30 November, 2008
And I love my name. I believe it fits me. It means "little lamb or ewe". And my Chinese zodiac is the Ram which is described as one who is righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, artistic, creative, gentle, compassionate, understanding, mothering, determined, peaceful, generous, seeking security, wise.
This weekend, I met the son of the woman after whom I am named. He and I were connected by my aunt - and we happen to live only a few blocks from each other. We had coffee and egg sandwiches at the local diner. And we talked about living in New York, and working in the arts, and how we liked the neighborhood, and what we wanted to do with our lives, and finally - our connection to his mother. He was only 4 when she died - and so he said he appreciates any and all stories he can hear about her and how she affected people's lives.
I felt blessed to know this Rachel story - and now to know her son.
29 November, 2008
I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you.
28 November, 2008
I think Lucky Thanksgiving is very fitting, for I always feel pretty lucky on that day. Yesterday was a beautiful, indulgent, long day filled with baking and cooking and old friends and new friends and wine and cider and an evening walk and movies and bad TV and too much dessert and lots to feel lucky for.
I missed being with my family on that day of giving thanks - but as the five of us held hands around our Thanksgiving table and each expressed what we were grateful for, I felt so blessed and incredibly lucky to be able to spend my Thanksgiving with my New York family.
26 November, 2008
Replacing 1/2 a design team
Setting up house seats for a director
Arranging meetings with VIPs
Negotiating with agents
Fighting for what I think is right
Cutting $100K out of a budget
Researching union benefits rules
Making contract offers to actors
Giving a seminar to college students
... and that's just one day!
23 November, 2008
The book I'm reading now is that kind of book. And I've been on my very comfortable couch, in very comfortable clothes, indulging in it for the past 3 hours.
There's a lot you can do in 3 hours. Watch a movie, watch 6 episodes of the Simpsons, play a football game, take a class, run a marathon (or at least a 1/2 marathon), have a rehearsal... or you can curl up with a novel that makes you laugh and talk to yourself and tear up and fall fiercely in love with it's 9-year-old narrator, and you can call it a very good book.
22 November, 2008
The time is coming...
the time for one of my absolute favorite, quiet, reflective, winter, sit-with-a-good-pen-and-a-hot-cocoa activities.
I'd like to take a moment to highlight my friend Sarah Sloboda and her blog University of Sarah. You can read more about her in her bio below. And you can appreciate the instant beauty of her photography just by looking at the picture above.
She's working on a new book and is constantly feeding her soul by capturing creativity and life with her camera, her computer, her courage. I admire her. And I wish her nothing but good things and joyful days.
- SARAH SLOBODA
- is the premier rock-and-roll-style kids photographer, based in New York City. Publications include Disney's Wondertime magazine, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Brio and Brio & Beyond magazines. The Prix de la Photographie Paris [Px3] awarded her Top 2 Winner in the professional Portraiture category for her series, “Happiest Day in a Girl’s Life,” in 2007. She has been working as a documentary-style photographer since her time at The University of Michigan where she earned her BA in Film and Video Studies, and has since traveled the world on assignment. In addition to kids, Sarah shoots portraits, music, and photojournalist- inspired fine art work. Clients include Sephora, CW (television network), BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), and bands such as Sputnik Sweetheart, and The Fabulous Entourage. Visit http://www.sarahsloboda.com.
20 November, 2008
19 November, 2008
- Ellen Shanman, EVERYTHING NICE
About a year and a half ago, I lived a life only a few blocks from where I live now. I tried to integrate myself into the neighborhood and stopping into the local shops was an easy way to get to know people... the bodega where I purchased overpriced Ben & Jerry's, the 99 cent store where I got cheap toilet paper that lasted for weeks, the newspaper shop where I'd pick up a coffee and a paper on my way to the subway. And there was the same, small, nice man there to greet me almost every morning. And he'd say, "Morning, beautiful". And I'd smile and ask for milk & sugar. And sometimes if I didn't have enough pocket change, he'd say "No worries".
But a few months after that, life moved me. And although my new home is only a few blocks away, almost all of the daily places I go to are different now. I have a new bodega - and they have overpriced Haggen Dazs instead. I use a Duane Reade instead of the 99 cent store - and although the TP isn't quite as cheap, they do have a much better selection. But I have yet to find a replacement for the good newspaper shop, and the Dunkin Donuts coffee isn't as sweet, and no one since has been as friendly to me as that small, nice man.
Yesterday I was craving a good crossword puzzle and a warm beverage. So I took the a-little-out-of-my-way route to the subway and the bell attached to the old newspaper shop door rang a welcome when I opened it. There was only one other person in line before me. So I grabbed my Daily News and waited. And when it was my turn, the same, small, nice man looked up and hesitated only a moment before saying, "Morning, beautiful. Haven't seen you in a long time."
And I nodded. And asked for milk & sugar. And felt some need to explain where I'd been, why I didn't come in anymore, what happened over this past year to change my path. But he didn't ask questions. And I didn't offer answers. We just smiled at each other. And I told him to keep the change. And he said to come back soon.
And I probably will.
But then today, on the subway, I saw a man with his own orchid. It was smaller, looked more delicate, and was a deep and amazing purple. It made me happy to see another soul carrying a bit of spring around this city... especially when it's about to turn into blistering, wintry weather.
15 November, 2008
And he wrote some amazingly powerful, loving words that I'd like to share - because I support him with every fiber of my being, because I know he's not the only one who feels this way, because these issues of reconciling religious or "moral" beliefs with acceptance of your fellow human being have been weighing on my heart, because I know it will speak to many of you out there (no matter which side of the fence you're on), because I feel it is important...
I am gay. And I know this is going to test your faith to the nth degree, but guess what? I still consider myself a christian.
I am a good person, who (due to geographical reasons) is separated from his natural family and has surrounded himself with an extended family of good and kind and loving people with absolutely impeccable morals ---who love me and support me and who's influence I welcome into my life.
I may not be living YOUR plan for my life--but I know for a fact that I AM living God's plan for my life. I am happier than I've been in a long long long time, and I know God has rewarded me plentifully... He made me. He loves me. He and I have talked. A lot. And we're cool.
You are my mother and you will always be dear to my heart...
14 November, 2008
On the way out, Mrs. W and I were discussing what the title of this blog should be: "Climbing Up The Stairs (So We Can Get The Hell Outta This Theatre)"... or maybe "When Good Playwrights Make Bad Musicals"... or "I Thought The Fringe Festival Was Over Already"...
Oh - the list could go on and on, people.
But what I was really feeling for those two hours - through all the bad writing and the many genres of music and the lack of subtext - was how embarrassed I was for the actors. No - no, wait. Maybe embarrassed isn't quite the right word. It was more that I felt sorry for them. The reviews were pretty awful; the audience was laughing at them, not with them; and the applause was not even up to golf-clap standing. And they knew it. All six actors knew it. You could see it in their eyes when they thanked the audience (for making it through, perhaps?) and quickly bowed before scurrying off the stage.
The one thing I will say for this production was that I also felt a sense of pride swell in me for those actors. They were really giving their all out there. Even though their show was a not a hit, and a they played to a 1/3 less of a house after intermission, they still sang their hearts out.
And the other thing that boggles my mind is that I'm not sure I understand HOW this show failed. The man who wrote the book and lyrics also wrote this - and this - this, too. And the man who wrote the music wrote this all-time favorite of mine - and this. And the subject matter deals with the bound-to-be-funny fodder of relationships gone awry.
However, it seems that good ideas and usually reliable talent do not a good musical make. Godspeed to the company - who have to make it through another month!
12 November, 2008
- Rachel Kadish
And after a powerful show, and a round of congratulations and hugging backstage, and after a brisk walk with a friend - I made it to the opening night party. And after the eating, and the drinking, and the schmoozing, and a respite of quiet in a courtyard - I made it to the after party. And upon more schmoozing, and much laughter, and a serendipitous guest appearance - I realized that it was no longer the opening night but the wee hours of a post-opening morning.
11 November, 2008
"You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight.
You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.
You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know... that love is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person.
This is the only world we have. And the other guy counts too."
10 November, 2008
09 November, 2008
Sunday has long been my favorite day of the week. As a kid, it was going to a church where I had a lot of good friends. As a teen, it was going to rehearsal for show choir (yes, show choir - go ahead and laugh it up... but we were GOOD). As a college student, it was the day to sleep in as late as possible. And now as a New Yorker, it's the day when I most love taking a few hours to remember why I love living in this crazy city.
Sundays are reasonably quiet. Sundays are my day when I can truly enjoy the things I love to do. Taking some time to worship. Discovering a new brunch place. Being introduced to a delectable hole-in-the-wall treasure. Indulging in a sweet treat. Meeting up with old friends. And then spending a quiet night with them.
Yes. Yes, BLESSED is the right word.
08 November, 2008
And then when I realize that it's music I'm missing, I spend hours upon end listening and purchasing and remembering music I've thoughtlessly forgotten. And it's a beautiful & powerful way for me to re-charge my soul. Especially on a raining Saturday.
So, I've added a "Music I Like" section to this blog (over there on the right... scroll down... see it?). I'm going to try to keep it to smaller, lesser known bands - indie bands, if you will. Bands that may not get enough radio play or sell millions of CDs - but bands that I feel a personal connection to, bands that make me smile.
Have any suggestions?
"So, the truth is - something sucks. You feel lonely, disoriented, skeptical of the people you meet, and doubting that you will ever really know another person with good intentions. At the same time, something nags you inside to notice how glorious you are - begging you to step up to the plate. The more you don't, the worse you feel.
Just as soon as I had honestly acknowledged any pain, I felt the opposite - I felt utter compassion. In knowing what life really feels like, I can be a better friend, a better sister, a better vendor, a better customer, a better person to run into on the street. Because we learn compassion from acknowledging our fears, worries, faults and misunderstandings, those things have a strong and powerful purpose.
I won't pretend to really understand what troubles anyone else - the stories people have about their life are deeply personal and they are very attached to them, for better or worse. But I do think we feel the same pain, regardless of the story line. And there is something inspiring in that."
07 November, 2008
Some days are so enjoyable it's almost surreal.
When you work hard all day and accomplish more than you thought you would. When you have lunch with an old friend. When you see the art you helped to create. When you feel loved by the people you work hard to support. When you get the rare & enjoyable almost-empty movie theatre. When you drink hot cocoa in Union Square park. When you indulge in the company of someone with whom you are enamored.
And especially when it's a crisp, perfect 60 degrees in November.
05 November, 2008
"Above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you."
"I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation..."
"This victory alone is not the change we seek -
it is only the chance to make that change."
"For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."
YES WE CAN
YES WE CAN
YES WE CAN
04 November, 2008
(A few boos from the crowd.)
"His success alone commands my respect for his humanity and perseverance. This is an historic election and I recognize the special significance it has for African Americans. I have always believed that America offers opportunities for those who have the will to seize it. Let there be no reason for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on earth."
03 November, 2008
And it felt great to get back into my running shoes. And it felt good to start back up on that elliptical machine. And it was freeing to feel my heart pumping, my forehead sweating, and my mind letting go.
02 November, 2008
Kids' curiosity amazes me.
And young British accents make me giggle.
In just a few short hours, the ING New York City Marathon will begin. I know at least one fabulous woman who'll be running it along with the 100,000 other people. I raise my glass to her - to all of them. (And tomorrow, I'll put my glass down & start training!)
01 November, 2008
The Wii - apparently it's not only fun, it's hilarious.
I love the idea of a fresh chance, a new start, the turning of a leaf. The month of October was a beautiful month - birthdays, openings, discovering new friends, reconnecting with old ones. And a particularly lovely Halloween night.
So as I start this new month, I see it with fresh eyes - eyes that glisten with possibility.
31 October, 2008
* Reduce my personal debt by at least 50% *
* Have a new, fabulous apartment in Astoria *
* Run the New York City marathon *
* Possibly try vegetarianism for a year *
I've got another 350 days to make these things happen.
Hold me to 'em!
29 October, 2008
28 October, 2008
I take an elevator everyday - usually 2 to 4 times per day - which is something I'm not used to doing. And no matter what the ages of the men and women in the elevator, when we reach the lobby ALL the men ALWAYS stand there & wait for the women to exit first. A small gesture. And a nice one.
Turns out chivalry is not dead. At least inside the elevator.
Although my initial instinct was to protect myself and skip it right away... I chose instead to listen, and to sing the lyrics, holding my shoulders with both hands. And I took those 2 and a 1/2 minutes to let that beautiful, if heart-wrenching, music fill a crease in my soul.
27 October, 2008
26 October, 2008
25 October, 2008
These ladies are smart and funny and challenging and entertaining. It is a pleasure to spend time with them & it increases my understanding of the book we've just read. Rock on, ladies. Rock. On. See you next month!
24 October, 2008
22 October, 2008
20 October, 2008
whoever came up with the idea of having a photo booth at your wedding reception is my personal hero. The pictures are amazing and hilarious.
Can we please re-create this night every year on your anniversary?