Sunday, October 30, 2011

Post-blizzard sunset.

There was a rare early snowstorm in the Northeast yesterday. My parents and I left NYC early Saturday and managed to miss the worst of the snow, but did see flurries starting on our way through Connecticut. Although we didn't get any snow here on the Cape, we did get freezing rain and 65 mph gusts. Tonight there was the most amazing post-storm sunset.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Puppeteering premiere

So I have been in New York the past two weeks rehearsing a puppet show that we performed last night at the Henson Carriage House on the Upper East Side. Though I think of myself as a "theatre person" I haven't performed onstage in over two years. My sister, by contrast, is a professional puppeteer and puppet builder, and performs regularly as a part of her job (most recently on the Walking With Dinosaurs "arena spectacular" tour - I love that term, and wish I had more opportunity to use it in daily life).

Anyway, in mid-September she called me and said she needed an additional puppeteer for her show - that she wrote and built - going up at the end of October, and would I consider doing it? I considered it. I've never been a puppeteer before. But I had the time (see my current unemployment), it would be an interesting experience, and it would be time to spend with my sister. So, after my exhaustventure in San Fran, I flew to JFK on Monday the 17th and we started rehearsals the next day.

Y'all, puppets is HARD.

I've been attending my sister's performances for years, and they are always thoughtful, elegant, and avant garde. But until I actually put my meat hands on a puppet, I didn't realize how absolutely mind-bendingly difficult it is to make something look real. For the first 4 days we rehearsed for about 3 hours a day, working on both blocking the pieces (the show was a collection of vignettes, tied together by a narrator in the form of a giant elephant head.) as well as ensemble building. Oh right, not only do you have to make the puppets move as if they're real, but you're also manipulating them with 1 to 3 other puppeteers. It takes a lot of concentration, coordination, and rehearsal. SO MUCH REHEARSAL.I became pretty frustrated with myself after a few days, that I wasn't getting it, that I was holding the others back - the others, by the way, who are all professional puppeteers - that I would disappoint my sister and ruin the show. Needless to say, it was a pretty epic pity party.I thought about which would be worse: disappointing my sister by deciding not to do the show at all when she asked me, or disappointing her by doing it as best I could, but not as good as it could be if she had been able to find someone else? I chose the latter, ended my pity party, and got to work.

As of a week ago, we were rehearsing for 8 hours a day, and though it was still mentally and physically exhausting, and it was still hard, it also became fun. I had forgotten how much of a bonding experience doing theatre can be, how having the looming deadline of a show can force some of the best work out of people when they take it seriously, and how absolutely epic the inside jokes become within the cast. I definitely need to find a theatre community when we get to Sydney.

The performance last night went about as well as I could have hoped. We had a full house - it's a small performance space, so "full" meant about 60 people - and it was well-received. There was a talkback after the performance where she got some great audience feedback. It was such a high, so rewarding, to work so intensively on something and be happy with the results.

I'm incredibly glad I decided to do it and stuck it out, and truly have a better appreciation of what my sister does and how hard she works to achieve the level of success she has. It's truly admirable, and thought-provoking for me. I'd love to be as adept at and passionate about something as she is.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fangirl moment volume 2

Today we had brunch with Gabriel Byrne.
Ok, so we actually had brunch adjacent to Gabriel Byrne. And I didn't talk to him - he was by himself, on the phone, and I decided to play it like a cool New Yorker...well, except for taking this sneaky picture, that is. But still. Thrill!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fangirl moment.

Tonight I met Zach Condon of Beirut on the L train subway platform after rehearsal. The train was running late and the platform was really crowded, but as I walked by I thought "Wow, that guy is so cute." Then I realized I recognized him. And THEN I got super-giggly like a 12-year-old girl, because Beirut is my favorite band right now. I saw them in Portland, ME at the end of July and it was one of the best concerts I've seen in recent memory.
If you haven't heard them before, check them out immediately. They have an amazing sound - very old world, Eastern European, mixed with modern indie rock. 

I knew I had to say something to him - to make sure it really WAS him - with this opportunity staring me right in the face, how could I not? I hemmed and hawed, trying to come up with a good opening line.

And then the train (finally) showed up. 

"Ok," I said to myself, "if we don't make it on this train, and neither does he, then I'll just march myself right over there and say hello." Lo and behold, the train pulled away with us still standing there.

Deep breath, and I walked over. I pulled up the above picture on my phone, tapped him on the shoulder and said "Is this you?". He smiled, and said "Yep". We talked for probably about a minute and a half, we shook hands, and I walked back, as giddy as a schoolgirl and wanting to jump up and down and scream, but trying to play it cool and not make it seem like I was a crazy person. I saved that for after we got off the train.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

There and back.

Whoa. San Fran was a whirlwind. By Friday afternoon I felt like I had already been there for a week. Hannah keeps a pretty fast pace - certainly faster than what I was doing at the Cape (i.e. mostly nothing). But it was incredible! This was my third or fourth trip there, and I feel like I got a lot better sense of the city this time.

Hannah had to work on Friday morning, so I was on my own. It was a beautiful day for adventure, so I set out with a first goal of getting coffee (at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, of course), which was about 2 miles away. Once accomplished, I found a nearby park and meditated on what an amazing day it was, and how content I felt. How could I not? Look at this place!
I then continued on a wandering path, up and over some pretty incredible hills, and wound up at the Golden Gate promenade. It still amazes me to see people swimming at the beach right in the city - I guess that's what a lifetime of living in New England does to you.
Moments after taking the above picture, I turned around and glanced down at the sand - and was staring straight at someone's half-buried car keys. Damn. There was a couple sitting nearby, and I asked if they were theirs, but sadly, they weren't. I looked around, half-shouting "Did anyone lose their car keys?" Although I got some curious looks, no one claimed them. I told the couple that I would try to give them to the information center or the police, in case anyone came by looking for them.

I weaved my way back through the Crissy Field parking lot, randomly hitting the Panic button on the keys, to see if I could locate the car - although, in hindsight, even if I had found the car that way, I'm not sure what I would've done next. I finally found a police officer, who was riding the most enormous horse I've ever seen in my life, and gave them to her. She said they would keep them at the local station, in case anyone called looking for them. I said a silent little message to the universe, hoping that they were found. If I'm ever in that situation, I hope someone does the same for me.

I hiked back towards Hannah's apartment. It had gotten up to about 80 degrees by this point, which was amazing, but it made some of the hills, um, slightly more difficult. Ok, ok, I was sweating like a pig; sweat was dripping into my eyes, stinging them as I huffed and puffed up one of the steepest hills I've had to scale in a while. Here's a photo from where I had to stop halfway up to take a breather:
Like I said, halfway up.

I discovered I really like exploring a city on my own. Though I like to have shared experiences, I'm learning to appreciate time alone, being able to go at my own pace, wander off-track if I feel like it, and just attend to my own wishes.

All told, it was about an 8-mile exploration, which we then followed with an evening of martinis and debauchery at Martunis, a local piano bar. Word to the wise, if you're going to walk 8 miles and then drink martinis, for the love of all that is holy, eat something in between those two activities. I didn't and by midnight I was about to cut a bitch. Thanks to Pizza Zing to Pizza Zoom or Pizza Zomething down the street, I finished the evening without stabbing anyone.

Other weekend activities included more Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; going to Beauty Bar, a bar in an old Beauty Salon that keeps a manicurist on staff so you can get a vodka tonic & mani; going to the finish line of the Nike Women's Marathon to cheer on the runners; birthday brunch at Brunch Drunk Love; and lawn games in the Panhandle park.

As exhausting at the pace of the weekend was, it was so great, and I can't wait to go back to SF! ...someday...!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stomping grounds, ahoy!

I took the ferry from P-Town, a big step for me since it would be a huge understatement to say that boats make me nervous. They actually terrify me. Well, not so much the boat itself, but being on one, and knowing it could sink or toss me overboard at any second. It not that I get seasick - I don't even give myself the chance to be seasick. It's more seanxiety. Despite a few fairly rocky spots, the ride was fine, and I was one of only about 10 passengers - on a boat meant for 150 or so, it felt pretty spacious.

I went back to my old neighborhood, for a quick 2-night visit. I had a few mundane appointments to take care of (good news: no cavities!), but otherwise got to see some friends and former coworkers, and just hang out. I thought it would be bittersweet, and maybe it is a little - oh Dave's Fresh Pasta, how I miss thee! - but less than I expected. It's like seeing a dear friend that you miss, but not necessarily pining to see them everyday. The prospect of ADVENTURE! is still too alluring for that just yet.

I'm actually typing this up right now from 35,998 feet above Chicago - I love the little in-flight map that shows you where you are. Pair that with onboard wifi and, well, a six hour flight ain't so bad. After two nights under two different roofs, I'm heading out to San Fran for a few days to celebrate Hannah's birthday! (And to drink coffee from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Constantly. Why - WHY don't they open some locations on the East coast?) I am crazy person when it comes to getting to the airport; like the movies, I feel compelled to arrive obscenely early. I left Charlestown this morning at 6am for an 8:40 flight. By 6:12 I was at the airport, checked in, and deciding whether to sit at Starbucks in the terminal, or go through security. After staring into space for Idontevenknowhowlong, I went through security. Where I was the only person. 15 seconds later I was through security and sitting at the gate. By myself. With just under two hours to waste before boarding. Such good planning! Though I would rather be 2 hours early than 5 minutes late, so there you have it. I guess some things I just can't change. I think it must partially comes from my excitement and anticipation of the trip. For all of the delays, lost luggage, and sharing 200 strangers' personal space for hours and hours, I still love flying.

I am SO excited to get to San Fran, but I slept wrong or something the other night, and now it hurts to look to the left. I'll be spending the next few days orbiting people like their own personal satellite, trying to keep them on my starboard side.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy sigh

I wish I could bottle days like today, to store them on the shelf, and take them out again to relive or just brighten up an otherwise dull day.

What made today so great? 80 degrees and no humidity. Cloudless blue sky. Sitting on the deck in the sun all morning. Hot dogs on the BBQ for lunch. Sitting in the yard in the sun all afternoon with the puppy. Modified snack hop for dinner at my two favorite local restaurants that will be closing for the season after this week. Now I have a cup of tea made by my husband (which, according to science, tastes better when made by someone else for you. Thanks, science!), and we're going to watch a movie.

Not the most exciting day, but a perfectly contented one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I quit my job at the end of August, and though the first few weeks were a flurry of activity - moving out! wedding at the ends of the earth in Maine! moving to the Cape! - the ensuing weeks have been at a bit slower pace.

Unemployment is a funny thing. On the one hand, it feels sort of like a vacation, and I just want to relax. On the other hand, I know myself and that can easily I slip from "relaxing" to "obscenely lazy".

I got myself into a pretty good schedule pretty quickly, or rather, as much of a schedule as I could manage while being "funemployed". The weather on the Cape in the autumn is just beautiful, without the hassle of the crowds that come with the summer months, and so far it's stayed pretty warm. It was a few weeks of going for a run regularly, taking the dog to the dog park in Provincetown, going swimming, going to the beach, hitting the library, etc. Then I hit The Wall.

It started after a fun weekend with some girlfriends that came to visit, and I felt like I needed a day of recovery, so I parked myself in front of the TV for the day.

And that turned into two days.

And it snowballed from there to where I hadn't showered and was wearing the same pants for 4 days in a row. I watched so much bad TV, I could feel my brain cells dying. It didn't feel good, I didn't feel relaxed; I felt like an invalid, like a disgusting sloth. And yet, I couldn't pull myself out of it.

Luckily, another friend was coming to visit, so I managed to get it together before she arrived, and since then have gotten back onto my "schedule". But still. MAN, what was that?!

I consider myself incredibly lucky, that I have this time to be unemployed, without actively looking for work. I want to use the time wisely, and better myself, or work on a project that I wouldn't normally have time for when working full time, and yet I'm here on the Cape! It's so relaxing here, it's almost like a drug. I guess I'm just looking for balance. There are no external forces telling me what to do or when, no policing of my time, no real responsibilities for me to blame for my lack of time to work on what I want. Instead, the question looms large: what do I want?

This is a huge part of what we're doing; why we left our house, why I quit my job, why we're moving to Australia. What do I want? What do we want? What have we been doing that we can live without? What makes us happy? Big questions. Important questions. I feel like they should be easy questions. But they're not.

In the meantime, we still don't have a place to live in Australia. I'm not sure if we will before we arrive there in mid-November. Have you ever had to apartment search from a difference hemisphere? It's incredibly disconcerting, thinking about committing to living in a place that you haven't seen in person. It's a study in trusting humanity. On the one hand, I do believe that most people are good and trustworthy. On the other hand, crazy people flock to the Internet like seagulls to my french fries, and it's hard to tell if they're on the up-and-up. Especially if they misspell things in their apartment ad. I guess for me, good grammar and spelling equals trustworthiness?

However, almost equally disconcerting is moving 10,000 miles away without knowing you have a place to live when you land. QUANDARY.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What I did on my autumn vacation.

I used to think of Sundays as my catch-up day, or my sit-around-and-do-nothing-and-semi-dread-going-to-work-the-next-day day. But since we've been on the Cape, Sunday doesn't "feel" any different than any other day. But today really felt like we were on vacation.

Granted, I've been on "vacation" (cough*unemployed*cough) since the end of August, but today really felt like it. My sister and I went on a run this morning around Wellfleet - I'm relatively new to running, and have a few discouraging experiences lately, so it was great to run with her and get over my mental block. It was chilly and rainy when we started, but by the time we were finished the sun was starting to peek through. My sister and parents left by around noon, and it had turned into a full-on sunny day! Forecast be damned!

After spending a few hours sitting in the sun in the front yard, my husband and I went mini-golfing, the quintessential Cape activity. I always manage to start strong in mini-golf, and then get progressively worse as I play. Today was no exception.

On the second hole, I got a hole in one!

But by the 12th hole, I was 2, 3 or (ugh) even 4 over par. I lost, but not by a huge margin. It was still super fun!

Then we went for a drive on some back roads in the next town over...which I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of, since I was driving. But we saw some incredibly gorgeous scenery - I can't believe it's practically in our backyard, and I had no idea! We also saw a flock of wild turkeys; 18 of them! I actually stopped the car in the middle of the road and reversed back down to take pictures from the car. I even made gobble noises out the window at them; a few sort of looked up when I did it, but then went right back to...scratching in the dirt, or whatever it was they were doing.

For dinner we went to a local restaurant that we had never tried before, The Wicked Oyster. It was AMAZING. Everything from the whole roasted garlic that were served with the bread, to the amazing entrees (I had panko-crusted sole. So delish.), to the creme brûlée, it was all fantastic. It was a total indulgence, and totally worth it. I can't believe it took us so long to try it!

What a great vacation day!