Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving morning dawned bright and cold!  First thing to do?  Thaw out the goldfish.

Best way to do this is set a pan of boiling water on the
ice.  That way it just melts through the surface crust
without breaking the ice, which can hurt the fish.
Then off to the box for an early morning workout:  max effort bench press, followed by "Jackie" (100 meter row, 50 thrusters and 30 pull-ups for time).  Bench press is not my forte, but I kind of rocked Jackie.

I may or  may not have landed a 45-pound barbell
on my forehead during one of those 50 thrusters.
Then back to my apartment . . . and back to work.

Said the client:  "I don't expect you to work all day on Thanksgiving."
At 4:00pm I put away my contracts, called my mother as I packed up the little Mexican chocolate pots de creme that I made last night (with an extra scoop of chili powder!), and then walked over to Jeff and Paige's apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.

There were 7 cups originally, but I had to taste one this morning.
Dinner was delicious (oh man, the stuffing! those dinner rolls!!) and it was fun to hang out with Jeff and Paige and their other guests, Chris, Rebecca and, um, David?  It was the best sort of dinner party -- everyone was super smart and interesting, and the conversation flowed easily from literature to educational theory, international nuclear politics to the advisability of telling one's four-year-old that Care Bears are not cool, legal issues to the casting choices in Twilight and The Hunger Games, and, perhaps most pressingly, whether it was really a good idea to play "rhinoceros" in the hallway with the 18-month-old (as you may have guessed, the group consisted of three lawyers, a full-time mom, a fiction writer, a nuclear physicist and five children under the age of 5).

Was it the worst Thanksgiving ever?  No, that title goes to the Thanksgiving I spent by myself in Cancun.  Was it the best Thanksgiving ever?  Not that, either.  I would rather have been with family.  Or in Paris with Amanda.  So it was somewhere in between.  And I'm thankful for that.

I'm thankful for a healthy body and a good mind; a job that's exciting, intellectually challenging, and which I'm good at; a family whom I love and who loves me; good friends; and all the other blessings that so richly fill my life.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Turkey Bowl with the Elders Quorum

Okay, so the Elders Quorum president at church (who is also my home teacher -- the same who skateboards to Sunday meetings and refers to me as "dude" and "bro" and assumes I went to "the Cougs" for college -- we're basically from different planets) sent me an email tonight inviting me to join a game of flag football on Thanksgiving.  Normally this guy drives me nuts (for which I will surely go to hell because he's actually totally nice and completely sincere in trying to show good Christian fellowship), but this email cracks me up and I love it so so much.

I love how I fall on the wrong side of every judgment-laden distinction:  biglaw; yuppie (on bascially all counts -- no football games, Trader Joe's, cycling tights); kid/boy (by virtue of being a bicyclist).  And I love the irony that, of everyone on that email list, I'm the only one who spends the bulk of my time actually working for the NFL on the very deals that put football games on TV in the first place, and yet I still don't qualify for manhood because I haven't watched a football game in the past year. 

I almost regret that I'll be doing some crazy Crossfit workout at 8am on Thanksgiving morning instead of going to this thing . . . .

*   *   *   *
FROM:  EQ President
TO:  Arlington 1st Ward Elders Quorum

Elders, we need you to come trash our friends from the Arlington 2nd ward in our annual Turkey Bowl game of flag football.

Date: Thanksgiving
Time: 8AM, rain or shine.
Where: Yorktown High School Football Field
Bring: Footballs and cones if you have them. Water, crutches, and bandages too.

Frequently Asked Questions:
·        What are the teams? We were going to go with Lawyers v. Everyone else. But then we realized the biglaw lawyers would still be at work finishing up all-nighters. And even with just the government, non-profit, and small firm lawyers, the lawyers would still vastly outnumber everyone else. So we are going to default to men v. yuppies.
·        How do I know which team I’m on? To make sure there are more than 2 or 3 guys on the men’s team, men will have to be broadly defined as anyone who has watched a football game within the past year. That’s right; even if you shop at Trader Joe’s, drive a Prius, and/or own a pair of cycling tights, this is your chance to play on the men’s team (unless the only football you watched was BYU v. UVA in Charlottesville).
·        Can we invite others? Of course. You can even count it as your Elder Ballard gospel invitation before Christmas; but only if your guests are tackled by the missionaries – baptism by immersion in mud.
·        What about kids? The young men presidencies have organized a game for boys and bicyclists - same time and place.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

King John (or 18 down, 19 to go!)

King John?  Check.  One more history play off the list.

About a year ago a friend of mine, Melanie, decided that she wants to see all of Shakespeare's plays performed before she turns forty.  She knows I can keep up when it comes to theatre (she and I did theatre together while we were in law school together in New York and have been regular theatre friends since both moving to DC five years ago -- we go to everything from the crazy weirdness of the DC Fringe Festival to oh-so-established Shakespeare Theatre Company, where we've had seasons tickets since 2010), so when she informed me of this goal, the implicit assumption was that it would now be my goal as well.

Because of course it would be my goal.

If I can't sing in a choir or complete an interior design class or learn to play the piano or run marathons, I might as well see the entire Shakespeare cannon before I'm forty, right?  I've got to have something to show for myself.

Not that it's going to be easy!  According to the Internet (which someday I may verify by looking in any of the multiple the "complete works" tomes that have been sitting on my bookshelf since college), Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, including 14 comedies, 11 histories, and 12 tragedies.  Fortunately, I'm not starting from scratch.  I've been seeing plays for many years -- and since I've been writing down every play, opera and concert that I've attended (as well as every book I've read) for the past ten years, I've got a more reliable record than just my memory.  


As of this morning, I had definitely seen 17 of the plays.  A couple I'd forgotten even existed (Pericles, anyone?).  And a few -- such as Hamlet, King Lear and Othello -- fall into that grey area where I've studied them and/or read them and/or seen the movie and/or opera and/or ballet and/or wordless performance art version so many times that I honestly can't say whether I've ever seen the actual play or not.  (I'm putting Antony and Cleopatra in its own category for now.  I know I've never seen the play, but having studied it with Mark Matheson in college, I have more vivid memories of that play than any other Shakespeare play I've ever seen.  His lectures on Cleopatra, particularly her initial entrance and her death, still give me chills.)

Anyhoo, of the 17 that I'd definitely seen, only one fell into the "histories" category.  Which meant that when Melanie learned of WSC Avant Bard's production of King John that was about to close, we hastened to buy tickets -- even though it meant skipping most of church this afternoon.  King John is one of those plays that hardly ever gets performed.

Not hard to see why.  The historical context and network of relationships between characters is so complicated and far removed from any common frame of reference that the audience needs to be primed with several pages of background reading just to figure it out!  (Although, frankly, if someone would have just said that King John is the usurping lion who's friends with the snake in Disney's Robin Hood movie, it would have been a lot easier.)

I'd always wondered where the Plantagenets came from!
Eleanor of Acquitaine!
I bet you never expected that your lady parts would be displayed in
the form of a place setting in a feminist art installation in Brooklyn.

I'm not going to get into the details of the plot -- other than to say that it's basically just an extended family feud between the ruling families of Europe over who gets to be king of England -- so if you want the whole synopsis, you can read it here.  It actually ended up being pretty interesting, and for a community theatre company that I'd never heard of before, the production wasn't bad (in fact, they had some clever staging concepts that helped make the play more accessible, I think -- such as by setting it up as the imagination of a little boy who is playing with a castle and action figures in his basement).

So there we have it.  I've learned something about the history of the English monarchy, and I've crossed one more play off my list.  Wahoo!

(Btw, if any of you want to join in on the project of seeing the Shakespeare's cannon between now and 2020, let me know.  I have a feeling I may have to travel to Shakespeare Festivals and the like to see some of the more obscure ones, and it would be fun to have company!)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Living out of a suitcase

It's that time of year again!  The days get darker and colder, normal people start gearing up for the holidays, and I move into my suitcase.  It's the busiest season for the media-related transactions that I specialize in, and because many of my clients and their counter parties are in New York, I end up spending quite a bit of time up there.

You may recall how last year caught me somewhat by surprise -- I ended up spending the entire month of December working around the clock on a major regional sports network deal, missing nearly all of my holiday plans and only just barely surviving on a bare-bones wardrobe of two shirts and fourteen ties.

This year, anticipating much of the same, I've kept my winter-season plans to a minimum (no holidays with the family! no tickets to cool French theatre! my interior design class at the Corcoran has kicked me out for having missed too many sessions! so have all my holiday choirs!) and braced myself for the worst.

And if by "worst" I meant "going back to New York for an indefinite number of days to work on major sports media deals," then the worst seems to have arrived.  Almost.

This past Wednesday I got calls from two major clients (literally within half an hour of each other), both  exclaiming with great urgency that they needed me in their office first thing the next morning.  We were going to be "locked in a room" for however many days it took to get the deal done.  Obviously I couldn't meet both client's demands at once, so I conferred with the two relevant partners to devise a scheme whereby we would divide and conquer:  one partner would handle Client A, I would handle Client B, and the other partner would stay with his wife and kids and attend his father-in-law's unexpected funeral in an effort not to destroy his marriage.

Finally, I thought, as I packed a bag with sufficient supplies to last a month and scrambled to purchase train tickets and hotel reservations.  

Then I waited for the client to pull the trigger and tell me to get on the train.  Only it never did!  Every day since Wednesday the message has been, we're going to need you any minute, so don't unpack your bag, but don't come up here until we tell you for sure . . . .

Under normal circumstances this would not be a problem.  Better to be living out of a suitcase in the comfort of my own home than in a strange city, right?

Wrong!  Because if you're not going to be at home for the holidays, there's no better place to be than New York City.  Especially right now, since there are approximately forty-seven things that I want to do (like seeing Tosca at the Met Opera and Mark Rylance's new productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III, and finding the place that makes cronuts, obvi) but which I can only really afford to do if the firm and/or the client footing the bill for hotel, travel and food.  

Not that it's at all likely that I'd have enough free time to actually do all those things if I were up in New York for work -- but I'd have a better chance of it than I do from DC!

But the deal's not done yet, and I expect that I'll finally get the call to come up to New York sometime this week.  So until then, I'll continue to live out of my suitcase and compile my wish list of things to do.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

True love conquers all (especially if you're a vampire)

For the past few years I've had seasons tickets to the Kennedy Center's modern dance season, but this year I opted for the ballet season instead.  Largely inspired by my own forays into the genre, I wanted more exposure to the discipline, athleticism and rigorous aesthetics of classical dance.  And, I'm not going to lie, I wanted to rediscover the old familiar stories that are the core of classical repertoire. 

You know, familiar stories like The Sleeping Beauty, where the beautiful princess Aurora pricks her finger on a rose is thrown into an enchanted sleep, and then the dashing hero is bitten by a vampire fairy so that he's still around 100 years later to wake her up and rescue her from being sacrificed in a throbbing, red-lit night club.

What, did you forget that there are vampires in Sleeping Beauty?  Please.  If you've been paying attention to pop culture at all over the past five years, then you know that there's no story that can't be improved with a little vampirism. 

But let's back up a minute.  Matthew Bourne is one of Britain's leading choreographers, famous for creating fantastical new ballets (such as Edward Scissorhands) and reimagining the classics (a Nutcracker set in an orphanage; an all-male Swan Lake).  His latest tribute to Tchaikovsky is Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance, which is playing at the Kennedy Center this week. 

It's a relatively new piece (just a couple years old), and it's been touring the United States and receiving great reviews.  I saw last night's performance at the Kennedy Center and really loved it. 

The first act is much as you'd imagine it to be.  Set in 1890, the year Tchaikovsky premiered the original ballet, we meet the infant princess (a precocious and highly mobile puppet) in a stately, late 19th Century palace and witness the bestowal of gifts by all the good fairies.  Only in addition to the traditional gifts of beauty and grace, the fairies seem to bless her with mischief and a sense of humor as well.  She may only be a baby, but she's got more personality (and is way less passive) than your typical gothic heroine.

Then, inevitably, the evil fairy, Carabosse, arrives to place her curse on the baby in retribution for the parents' failure to thank her for helping them conceive in the first place.  What I loved about this scene was the depiction of Carabosse's dark prophecy.  The baby was spirited away and, in its place, appeared the adult woman dancer -- only she was faceless: a flesh-colored mask eliminated all features, to very creepy effect.

Fast forward twenty-one years to 1911, when the world looked like a Seurat painting and people played lawn tennis in white linen suits. 

You know what I want to see next? An episode of Doctor Who, in which the
Doctor saves Sleeping Beauty from the Weeping Angel.
Our princess is now all grown up and as mischievous as ever.  Bored by her aristocratic suitors, she runs off into the bushes with the game-keeper who is super cute and well supplied with roses.

One thing leads to another and, next thing you know, Aurora has pricked her finger on the fatal black rose and landed herself in a coma, leaving her parents, suitors and game-keeper in a state of woe.  Which is understandable given that they'll all be dead by the time she wakes up one hundred years hence. 

Which brings us to an interesting narrative point.  In the original story (Charles Perrault's La Belle au bois dormant), the prince doesn't show up until the end of the hundred-year sleep.  So it's the classic love at first site thing that so often shows up in fairy tales, but which makes little sense and holds very little dramatic interest (at least, until we learn that his mother is an ogre who wants to eat the grandbabies, but most people leave that part out).  Disney recognized this narrative flaw and solved it by introducing the prince pre-pricking and then cutting out the hundred-years' sleep.  Matthew Bourne also introduces the prince figure (in the character of the game-keeper) early on, but he doesn't shorten the sleep. Instead, he reveals that the fairies (even the good ones) are all actually vampires, and has the main fairy turn the game keeper into a vampire, too, so that he'll be around in 2011 when she's finally ready to be woken.

But here's another wrinkle.  In the Tchaikovsky version, once Aurora wakes up, it's all happy bliss for the next however long before the ballet finally ends.  They get married and live happily ever after and it's all excessively boring.  Pretty, but boring. 

So Bourne has Carabosse's evil son, Caradoc, abduct Aurora right after the gamekeeper wakes her up and take her to his evil lair (a bumping night club), where he plans to strip off his shirt and show off his tats and wings.  Oh, and stab Aurora in the heart, too. 

Of course, this is still a fairy tale, so it ends happily:  The gamekeeper shows up just in time and, with the help of another good fairy, defeats Caradoc and rescues Aurora once and for all.  (At which point we realize that this was all just a prequel to the Twilight Saga, because of course the gamekeeper then turns Aurora into a vampire and they instantly produce a precocious vampire baby of their own.)

And they lived (if you can call it "living" when you're undead)
happily ever after.

This was my first time seeing a Matthew Bourne ballet live, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I liked the imagination and playfulness, and how he was willing to turn a potentially stuffy old tale on its head.  I also really liked how he played with the time periods.  Francophile that I am, I like it when storytellers leave Perrault's vast timeline intact, and I love it when they have the integrity in set design and costumes to accurately reflect the passage of time.  So to go convincingly from the 1890s to the Edwardian Era to contemporary times was a fun little exercise in time travel. 

That said, I realized early on that Bourne's priority is telling an engaging and easily accessible story, not on presenting rigorously pure ballet.  The footwork did not seem particularly complex, and there was nary a pointe-shoe in sight.  I missed that.  But as a work of dance theatre, the piece was lovely and playful and lots of fun.

If you're interested for more of a taste, here's a video trailer for the performance:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Birthday weekend, part 3 - Falling with Alice

Birthdays aside, the main reason for Amanda's and my rendez-vous in New York was to see Then She Fell.  It's an immersive theatre experience roughly in the same genre as Sleep No More (which I saw and wrote about last year), only here the story was Alice In Wonderland, we didn't wear masks, and there were only fifteen of us.

That's right -- only fifteen participants each night!  Which makes it one of the harder tickets to get right now.  Amanda and I had looked at getting tickets during the original run, but the tickets sold out right away.  Back in August, when they announced that the run would be extended through the end of the year, I called Amanda and managed to snag two tickets; just happy coincidence that it was my birthday weekend, too. 

So after exploring Brooklyn and taking a quick power nap on Saturday night, we headed out to Williamsburg (just north of where we were in Brooklyn) to find the old mental hospital where the show would be staged.  It was smaller than I'd expected -- a modest, non-descript building nestled between a church and an apartment complex.  The exterior was unmarked except for a very small poster on the door indicating that we were in the right place. 

We went inside and were greeted by a nurse who verified our names and ID and directed us down the hall to the director's office.  There we met another nurse who pointed to the coat-hooks on the wall before handing us each a ring of keys (which we pocketed with eager anticipation) and a glass of wine (which we declined).  Then we set about exploring the room.  Opening filing cabinets; reading the files.  Some patients had been seen for anxiety.  Others for chills caught in the meadow.  One had been bitten by a jabberwock. 

After a few minutes, the hospital director came in and had everyone take a seat around the perimeter of the room.  She welcomed us to the institution and explained the two rules:  (1) Don't speak unless spoken to, and (2) Never open any closed door.  Otherwise, the place was ours to explore. 

Then more nurses came and started leading people away.  Some singly; some in groups of two or three.  Amanda was taken early on.  I stayed seated until finally I was left alone in the now eery room.  Finally a man who could only have been the Mad Hatter entered and told me to follow him.  Next thing I knew, I was in a tiny closet full of fabric and the Mad Hatter was throwing bolts of cloth and peppering me with questions -- Do I sew? Knit? Crochet? Macrame? -- hardly letting me answer before pulling me from the closet into a shop, where we found another participant waiting for us as if he were a customer.  I deposited my wares on the shop table and the Hatter asked if I took dictation, thrusting an ink well, an old dipping pen, and a sheet of paper my way.  Delighted, I said yes and took up my post at the desk. 

From there I passed through a series of fantastical and bewildering moments -- I'd call them scenes, but in most of them I was a participant as much as a spectator, and so they were different from "normal" theatre.  I was with Alice when she stepped through the looking glass and sipped her first size-changing potion.  I helped the White Rabbit paint white roses red.  I met Lewis Carroll and again took dictation as he composed a mournful letter.  The White Queen fed me a grape; the Red Queen offered me tea.  I played a shell game with the hospital director, where the prize was a tiny key to a box containing a photograph of Alice and a poignant poem about aging with one's lover.  Alice and Lewis Carroll danced sideways together on the stairs, and met for a secret tryst in the confessional.  I joined the Hatter, Alice, Rabbit and the Queens for their mad tea party, eating truffles and trying to keep up when the Hatter yelled out that he wanted a new cup and so everyone should move down.  Sometimes I was alone; sometimes with others.  There was little downtime, but in those moments I found old photographs of the real people who produced the Alice stories; biographical sketches about their lives and what happened to them as they aged.  Also fragments of stories and poems from the books themselves, which, when paired with the historical information and the experiences I'd had, changed and colored the way I understood the story. 

There was no linear narrative arc, but that didn't feel necessary.  I knew the narrative of the novels, and I knew the narrative of the real life events -- so the fragments presented to me in the hospital just fell into place within the larger tale.  It was as though nothing made sense, and everything made perfect sense, all at the same time.  The feeling was magical and detached -- the feeling of finally living inside a childhood book, only as an adult instead of a child when the dream of such a fantasy was strongest.

Finally I found myself alone in the Red Queen's cell, with nothing but a teacup and a poem, and I knew that the evening had ended.  Only it hadn't, really.  Because as Amanda and I walked from the hospital back toward home, we compared notes and discovered that we'd had almost completely different experiences!  Didn't you love the bath scene, she said.  And the mirror scene, I replied.  Only neither of us had experienced what the other had -- our paths had been different -- and so in addition to reliving the moments we'd shared, we also had the pleasure of telling each other tales of what we'd seen that night as we followed the White Rabbit or faced the Red Queen or sat with Alice alone amidst a pile of desks. 

I felt a little like Alice must have felt when she reemerged from the rabbit hole and told everyone of her adventures.  Only Amanda had been down the rabbit hole, too.  So even though she hadn't seen Alice grow to fill a room and then shrink to be so tiny she didn't come up to my knee, she understood that it must have happened.  And then she told me of her own adventures, and it all started again.


Birthday weekend, part 2 - Exploring Brooklyn

Like I said, by the time we finally turned out the lights on Friday night, it was well past 3:00am.  For some reason this prompted Amanda to ask if we needed to set an alarm and wouldn't it be nice to just sleep in for a while?  Fortunately, I saw through this trick question (it was actually two questions masquerading as one) and said, "Yes even though Yes."  Because it's better to take a power nap at 6:00pm (which I did) than to sleep past 9:30am and feel like you've wasted the entire day.

In other words, we set the alarm. 

Which meant that we were up and out of the hotel in time to have a meal that we could plausibly call "breakfast" instead of going straight to lunch.  We found a place called Woodland that seemed to satisfy the hipster quota of servers with gauges and tattoos (that quota being 100%, this is Brooklyn after all).
Open-faced chicken sandwich on English muffin with fries.
I took this photo for the name of the restaurant, but it
also serves for sartorial comparison:  If Amanda wants
to be a Brooklyn hipster, she's going to need WAY tighter
jeans and WAY brighter sneakers.  Her scarf is a good
start, though.
As we brunched, we tried to plan our day.  We had stayed out in Brooklyn on purpose so that we could explore a new part of New York.  But neither of us had had time to make advance plans, and so we started talking about things we've done in other cities when we didn't have plans.  For example, when we were in Paris for Thanksgiving and just spent the entire day walking around eating delicious food . . . .

Planning problem solved! 

Having just finished breakfast, though, we needed a theme to get us started.  Because "fried dough" is never the wrong answer, we charted a course to a bakery called Dough, locally famous for its doughnuts. 

This being Brooklyn, we soon came to a flea market that triggered every "browsing" instinct in Amanda's soul and, before you could say Little Red Riding Hood, we were off the path to grandmother's house and into the hipster woods.


Not that there were wolves here.  Just lots of knit caps and flannel shirts and facial hair and tortoiseshell glasses and ironic onesies for babies and t-shirts for adults with dinosaur silk-screen prints and outrageous second-hand clothes and bins full of "repurposed" junk that was called "art" that I would never actually put in my house and all sorts of delicious food that was called "organic" and "artisanal" that I definitely wanted to put in my mouth. 
We started with the mini-whoopie pies.
I got the rosemary and olive oil whoopie pie.
What's this I spy?  FRIED DOUGH!
I got the hibiscus frosting with mystery goop.
Mission accomplished.
Asian-inspired organic hot dogs?  Yes please!
Mine on the left -- topped with a mango salsa.
Artisanal sodas? 
I'll have a taste, but pour me a cup of that hot cider!

Once we'd eaten our way through the market, we decided we felt chilly (cider notwithstanding) and in the mood for an art museum.  So we headed back towards the Brooklyn Museum of Art, passing fountains and triumphal arches along the way.

Note to Apple:  Your iPhone camera needs to be adjusted so that I can take photos
of triumphal arches without having to tilt my phone.
Now, I know I have pioneer ancestors, and I'm all for walking back to Jackson County, Missouri, for the rapture or whatever, but I think we can all admit that life is a lot better when you can buy hot Belgian waffles along the way.

Waffles in hand tummy, we arrived happily at the museum.
Where we waited in line for approximately forever in order to get into the permanent collections (there was a temporary exhibition on fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier that I would have loved to see, but the expected wait-time for that was even longer than forever). 
So instead we just went inside and saw a feminist installation that was basically a giant table with vagina plates and a super-interesting list of notable women from history.

We also saw some period rooms that had been shockingly reworked with site-specific pieces by another contemporary artist. 


There were other exhibits as well, and something that may have been a wedding or a bar mitzvah happening in the central atrium.  But by the time we'd made our way through the period rooms, we were running short on time, and the sugar high was wearing off. 

So we walked back to the hotel through the chilly night (because apparently cabs in New York stay in Manhattan and are virtually impossible to find in Brooklyn) to freshen up, take a nap and buy theatre tickets for our next adventure (Lookingglass Theatre's The Little Prince, in Chicago in February) before heading out to Williamsburg to find the the mental hospital where we'd be spending the evening . . . .

Birthday weekend, part 1 - Work/life balance

While on train to New York for a weekend of theatre and food with Amanda, receive email from partner basically telling me to cancel trip and spend all weekend working for client who doesn't care that partner and I both have important personal plans this weekend.

Breathe. Eat some nuts and dried fruit. 

Don't cancel trip. Go straight to New York office and work til 2:00am to finish first part of assignment. Reschedule return train for first thing Sunday morning to maximize time for rest of assignment. Notify partner that I'm not available on Saturday.

Upside? Nighttime view of Empire State Building from guest office window. Wojama party with other late-working associates. (Learned that "wojama" means "work pajamas". What does it say about a workplace when there exists such a thing?)

Arrive at hotel and receive third degree from suspicious desk clerk despite the reservation's being in my name. Practice the virtue of meekness by pretending not to be irritated (perhaps he was just trying to protect Amanda from the high priced prostitutes and/or jewel thief that I appeared to be?) and arrive safe and sound to a happy but sleepy welcome from Amanda. 

Talk until 3:30am about books and plays and travel and work and everything else. Just as we would have done anyway.

Monday, November 4, 2013


I was in New York today for some meetings at the NFL.  It was just a quick one-day trip (up on the 5am train, back on the 4pm), so I figured it would just be all business trip no theatre or restaurants or friends. 

But then guess what?


I discovered through Facebook that Claudia was in New York to see her husband and daughter run the New York City Marathon yesterday.  I sent a message saying that I was in town, too, with free time between 1:30 and 3:00 this afternoon and did she want to meet up?  She said yes and we rendezvoused at the Citibank building at 2:30 and had exactly half an hour to catch up.  It wasn't nearly enough time -- not only has it been years since the two of us last met (interestingly enough, that was also in New York, back when I was in law school and she brought her choirs to sing at Carnegie Hall), but also because her entire family was there (whom I hadn't seen since high school, and who are all doing different and interesting things) -- but it was better than no reunion at all, and a wonderful reminder of just how small this world can be when we make the effort to stay in touch.

By way of background for readers who don't know, Claudia was my high school choir director during my senior year of high school in Utah.  When my family moved into town that year from Oregon, she graciously agreed to take a chance on Heather and me, letting us join her special, audition-only show choir.  That act of generosity (we didn't fully appreciate until later how big of a coup it really was) was undoubtedly the best thing that could have happened to us in terms of helping us integrate quickly into the new school, make friends and continue performing at a level that we had been used to in Oregon.  I've always been super grateful for that.