Tuesday, September 25, 2007

But Seriously, Folks

Not sure what's behind me pursuing two of my my cherished dreams in two weeks, but that's how it is. Thanks to a tip from my friend Amy, I registered for a class on how to become a stand-up comic, and last night I took it. The class was taught by Sandi Shore, who is Pauli's sister and Mitzi's daughter (they like "i's" in that family) and held at The Comedy Store in La Jolla.

I wasn't at all nervous because the description said we'd be learning about the biz and how to put together a set, and there would be an "opportunity" to demo three minutes of material for critique, if (the operative word being "if") one was up for it.

But that's not how it went down. I arrived, five minutes late, and grabbed the seat next to Amy at a cocktail table. It was very dark. There seemed to be about 30 people in the audience. A tiny red-headed woman (that was Sandi) was talking about a drawing of a tree someone had handed me as I came in. The leaves represented various aspects of a comedy routine--the falling leaves were rejection. The roots had something to do with confidence and material. I really don't remember because she must have talked about it for five minutes tops, very fast, and then we opened our books (she had written the book) to an exercise about how to develop a news headline into a bit. Suddenly, though, she asked for a show of hands of who had prepared material--about six went up--and she said, "Okay, we'll do those people first, then the rest of you will get up here and present something using this exercise."

Amy and I were confused. It sounded like lesson time was over, and EVERYONE would be going up there, to the lonely mike on the blinding stage. "This isn't what I signed up for," Amy whispered. Nor me. I had imagined us slogging through the layers of a routine, making diagrams and outlines and such. But I suppose that was foolish of me, since I actually wrote a 300-page dissertation on humor, and one of the things I said is "You can't explain comedy." So that's what I get for my expectations.

Amy said she was nervous. I was nervous, too, but moreover I was...annoyed? Unsettled? Bemused? Tempted to slip out at the break and go home to complain to David? None of my reactions seemed very useful in the moment.

Next we watched the routines of The Prepared Ones. A couple people were clearly budding comedians already, and had a fairly polished set. One woman, who said she'd never been on stage before, struck me as quite quirky and brilliant, ripping a complicated yarn about schizophrenia, Jesus Christ and Criss Angel with lots of "callbacks" (this means you revisit previous jokes during your set, rewarding your audience for paying attention.) I accosted her in line for the bathroom later, saying "I really loved how you trusted us enough to relax, and when you did that, I could relax myself." Once out of my mouth, this compliment didn't make as much sense as I'd intended, but she was gracious and thanked me anyway.

Another guy expounded for what felt like an hour about how women can kill people by swinging their underarm fat, and they practically had to drag him off the stage. Then there was Dogfood.

Dogfood was a big, bald man who had mentioned at the beginning that he liked to "work blue." So I should have been prepared for his set, during which I sailed straight past discomfort to a heightened state of revelling--nay, wallowing--in my own rich, soupy embarrassment. Dogfood's set included not one but TWO interminable interludes in which he pretended to suckle and slurp at his own floppy titties, and not one but THREE demonstrations of different kinds of doggie-style sex, accompanied by high-pitched intercoital dialogue. All the best to you, Dogfood. I have no doubt you'll be hugely famous someday.

Now it was break time, and Amy and I approached Sandi to confess our misgivings and unpreparedness. Sandi said, "I'm not going to force anyone to go up there. I just want to give everyone an opportunity to experience the mike, say their name and where they're from." The second this was out of her mouth, I felt a "ping!" as if my brain had just gotten mail. I knew instinctively that I could go up there, and that it might even be funny, but if it wasn't I was going to enjoy it anyway. All thoughts of fleeing into the alley slipped away.

We had a few minutes, ostensibly to work on the headline exercise, but as I'm not very bright I couldn't even figure out the instructions. I fixated on something Sandi had said earlier, that the headline could be "something from your day," and got an idea. Since I'd just said goodbye to my in-laws from Australia--maybe I could talk about them!

[A small aside here to my few and faithful Australian readers. It's only because I know you are a saucy people that I feel free to blog about the following. A belated thank you for becoming my first stage material.]

After the break, Sandi's helper whipped down the rows, calling each person to the stage. More than a few protested, but they went anyway, introduced themselves, and said things like "I really love the Dodgers!" It was a fun, relaxed crowd, and quite intriguingly, a diverse one. Evenly divided between men and women, from '20s to '50s, with a wide range of nationalities. It was interesting to watch the people who didn't know they were funny, being funny.

When it was my turn, I sprinted up to the stage. We've been watching Last Comic Standing, and the guy who won this time was a sprinter; I guess I was channeling him. I grabbed the mike out of the holder and walked to the front of the stage. It didn't feel weird to hold a mike; I've done it before for teaching. To be frank, I felt fabulous. I looked out at the audience and couldn't really see much except for some fuzzy outlines; the lights were so bright. But I didn't care.

I opened my mouth and my voice came out clear and calm. "Hi, I'm Sam." I said. "I just spent 10 days with my in-laws. I have the best kind of in-laws. They're really nice...[beat]..and they live in AUSTRALIA."

Everyone laughed. And I was off and running. I even remembered to tell them how I went to see what was billed as stand-up comedy when I was visiting Australia.

"And what I actually saw...was a woman hike up her skirt, stuff a microphone under it, and fart three verses of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'" [beat] "It was really wonderful getting to experience Australian culture like that."

Readers, I have no idea if people were laughing during my set. For some reason, I don't remember, or maybe I just didn't notice. But what I do know is that I felt totally, utterly comfortable up there. I mean, TOTALLY. I could have yakked at them for an hour. I was having the best time.

And it was a revelation. Because all my life, people have said "You should do stand-up comedy!" and a little voice inside me would chirp, "Yeah, you should do that!" and then a deeper voice with a scary rumble in it would add, "Yeah, and the first time someone heckled you, you'd crumple like a tissue, because while you seem tough on the outside, you have a soft, chewy center." And that's as much as I ever let myself think about it.

I was only on stage for a couple of minutes, but I felt like I belonged there. And then I realized something: while I think I've been avoiding my dream for decades, I've actually been in training for it. I'm not suggesting that I'm ready for the circuit (one of the working comics told us he writes for a month to get five minutes of solid, new material) but I do think I have a edge that a lot of novices don't--I've been honing my material on college students for 14 years. College students are a tough audience. They're in no mood to humor anyone. And, my friends, they may be hungover, but they are not, currently, drunk.

While I have the usual comedian bag of tricks at the ready--hideous experiences in junior high, neurotic Jewish family--I also have some on-the-job training in public speaking. I know that audiences are changeable as the wind--what kills in Lit 120 might bomb in Lit 24. I know how to "take the temperature" of the room. Most importantly, I am comfortable with silence. When I ask students a question, not only am I prepared for the chirping of crickets, I am strong like bear. "Is this silence making you uncomfortable?" I'll ask them cheerfully. "Because I'm fine with it. I can wait you out, no problem." They always break before I do.

We learned that pacing can make or break a joke. Sandi said you can say something unfunny and make everyone crack up, depending on how you say it. I think maybe that's my speciality.

So where do I go from here? I'm still a long way from midnight shows in Muskogee, followed by third-rate Scotch at a lonely bar to dull the pain of a night with no laughs. The next step is an eight-week course on building a set, culminating in a comedy showcase for family and friends. It will take some wrangling, since it's in the afternoons, when I'm with Jarrah. But if I can work it out, I'm going to do it. I'm ready. I've been ready for years.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Drama Queen

I wasn't enjoying high school very much until I became a drama fag. This is not a slur; for some reason, "drama fag" was common usage for all the creative people who wore black, smoked cloves, and hung out in the back of the quad, and it was a badge of honor. I became a drama fag, rather suddenly, after a childhood friend encouraged me to try out for the Woody Allen play Don't Drink the Water, and I was miraculously cast as Kilroy (played by a man in the original.) I say miraculously because the ranks were pretty hard to breach, and I most certainly did not squirm through with my talent--apparently, the director had a crush on me.

The show was a massive, staggering high. And a few months later, we performed a scene at a drama festival at Cal State Long Beach, where I had maybe four lines, but they must have been my best ones. At the awards ceremony, I heard my name called and raced to the stage, smacking outstretched hands, to receive a medal for Excellence in Acting. I remember hugging a short, bald man holding the medal, like he was giving me an Oscar.

A tiny taste of the roar of the greasepaint and I was hooked for life. But somehow, it's never been easy like that again. Sure, I appeared in a few shows in college, and even the musical Chess while in grad school (I was the oldest person in the cast) but auditions were my nemesis and I usually ended up in the chorus. And that was okay. Even singing one line by myself to the entire theater was a major buzz, and the rehearsals and particular camaraderie of a group of strangers who put on a show never ceased to jolt me with the horrible, wonderful state of being alive.

Often, I fantasize out loud about being in a show again, but I always turn out to be busy when it's time to audition. The fact is, just the idea of driving to a new place and waiting in line with strangers grips me with dread. Let's face it...I'm not a trained singer or dancer. Hell, it's hard for me to stay up late.

So I guess I'm kind of amazed that I even considered it when David forwarded me the audition notice. It was for a new kid-friendly musical called The Daddy Machine, for The Diversionary Theatre. David and I go there all the time, and the shows are always lively and funny, often featuring three or four actors in multiple parts. Now, the Diversionary is a professional theater, but the notice said "non-equity" and "we support non-traditional casting." I read it over and over. I needed a head shot and a resume, and didn't have those things. But David offered to make me the former and reassured me I had stuff for the latter. I also needed to prepare "32 bars" of two pop songs. I had no idea what 32 bars would be, or what counted as a pop song.

And the audition was in two days. Two days! I thought and thought, and then told David I just didn't have enough time to prepare. He understood. But then all of the sudden, I found myself sending an e-mail to the contact, Travis. I told him I just found out about the audition, and that "my qualifications include teaching Nia, acting in college, and being a total karaoke diva. Oh, and a mom. Does that count? :)" He wrote back in like a minute. "Come at 9:30. Just tell them what you told me."

David said, "Sounds like you have an appointment." Indeed it did. I worked on my resume, and Jessica kindly re-formatted it for me. I read on-line about how to staple the resume to the back of the photo, and lots of other helpful tips. I chose my songs--both of them more than 30 years old, but hey, I know them well and when I sang them for David, he said I sounded great.

Monday felt like a dream. I wasn't terrified, exactly, because I kept reminding myself that I've come a long way since high school. I've been in a musical; I dance around in front of strangers every week. But I definitely felt like I was going to do something bizaare, and kept trying to imagine the outer reaches of the bizaare-ness. Of course I couldn't. That's what's so bizaare.

Monday evening I said goodnight to Jarrah and goodbye to David, put on my spiffy new workout clothes (the notice said "be prepared to move") grabbed my book and bottle of water (suggested on-line, in case they were behind) and set off. I had planned to be at least 30 minutes early so I could review the script while I waited.

When I pulled up in front of the theater, it was flooded with light but I didn't see anybody. Inside, a smiling young man was making phone calls behind a desk, but the lobby was otherwise deserted. When he got off the phone, I whispered "Travis?" "Trevor," he grinned. I finally managed to tell him my name and time, and I watched him scan a printed list with teeny-tiny names all over it. "Actually, we've had a lot of no-shows, so you can probably go right up," he said. This threw me. "I was going to look at the script for a bit," I said, retrieving what looked like one from a sort of in-box on his desk. "Is this it?" But clearly there wasn't going to be time now. I was going to fill out an information sheet, and go right up.

"Do you mind my asking how many people are going to be up there?" I said, trying to smile ingratiatingly. "Three," he said, and I said "Oh!" because that seemed a very small number. (There were actually four.) My confidence, shaken by the knowledge that I was not going to see the script, returned somewhat when I realized that I wasn't going to have to audition in front of 50 people, nor was I going to have to wait in line with smoking waifs with jaded expressions. I wasn't going to have to wait in line at all, with anyone. I was the only one here.

While I filled out the forms, I tuned in to his phone calls, and realized pretty quickly that he was letting people know they were being called back. I heard some congratulations, and instructions for what to wear. It took me out of the moment, because my mind wandered towards, "Ohhhh, those people are so lucky. They're being called back. I wish I was being called back. I wonder if I'll get called back?" I tried to shake off these thoughts, but they beckoned to me with a long, evil fingernail.

I turned in my forms and it was time. I followed Trevor upstairs, at a distance, because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to burst in there or what. A friendly man met me at the door to the theater and shook my hand. Another friendly man followed suit. Sitting in the audience, there were two friendly, smiling women. Of course these people had names, but I was too nervous to process them then, let alone remember them now. Especially since, the niceties done, maybe three more seconds went by before one of the men said, "Okay, I'll just take your sheet music and we can get started."

I wasn't too worried. I figured I'd just explain. "I don't have sheet music," I said apologetically. "I was just planning to sing without music." I mean, how big a deal could it be? That's what they do on American Idol. So I was ill-prepared for the nice man's sudden frown and the lock-down on my plans. "I'm going to need to hear you with the piano," he said. "What are the songs?" I told him. More frowns. "I don't know those." And then...

"So...Happy Birthday?" He swooped onto the piano seat and fluttered a few keys.

Readers, have you ever sung Happy Birthday for a crowd of strangers? Yes, of course you have. Many times. Let me rephrase:

Have you ever sung Happy Birthday to a crowd of strangers and mused "Gee, I sound amazing. Listen to that vibrato. My voice just soars on that third line. I really nailed it. I sound like an angel on furlough from heaven. How can these people concentrate on that baby and those cupcakes when I'm singing like THIS?"

But I didn't have time to think about any of that. I was trying to stay positive. I smiled and faced the nice women. They were smiling, too. I missed the intro a couple times. Forgive me--I don't normally sing Happy Birthday with a piano accompaniment. Finally, I launched.

The first time through wasn't hideous, although I panicked when I got to "dear..." and said "Sammy!" and one of the women cracked up, not unkindly. When I was done, the piano man was smiling hugely (maybe he'd been laughing, but I hadn't noticed.) "Great!" he enthused. "Now, again." Suddenly the key was much higher, and I could feel myself kind of losing it. I did remember to breathe (score one for me!) but there were some scary trilling sounds at the top of the third line, and possibly some voice breakage. I don't remember exactly, because I swiftly blocked it. In any case, after the second time through, the piano man stopped.

One of the women asked me about my part in Chess. I told her I'd been the American Reporter, and she had no further questions, your honor. Then the non-piano man, located to my left, asked "So, you've mostly been in a lot of choral and harmony groups?" and I said, very honestly with what I hoped was charming self-deprecation, "No, I haven't been in any groups. I'm a karaoke diva, though." I started to say something about e-mailing Travis and yada yada yada, but there was a sudden sensation of all the air getting sucked out of the room, and a crisp "Thanks for coming in!" from the non-piano man.

I think I might have yipped "Oh!" before recovering "Thank you for your time!" and "Nice meeting you!" to all the others, but only because I couldn't believe I was being dismissed without having read. What I meant by the "Oh!" was a sort of "Oh, this is only a vocal audition, no reading tonight?" dipping to a minor key "Oh, was that karaoke comment the secret password to the exit?" dueting with "Oh, you mean my Happy Birthday was so abyssmal that a brilliant reading can't tip the scales in my favor?"

At this point, I would have sprinted to my car, but because my life is always more absurd than other people's, the non-piano man followed me to the door, and said, "Could you tell Trevor to send up anyone who's still downstairs?" I was a little surprised to be asked for favors, but I'm not spiteful, so I walked back into the lobby and lifted my chin, smiled casually, and acted my little heart out: "Hi Trevor! Just wanted to let you know that if anyone else comes in, you can send them right up. Have a good evening!"

Then I stumbled out to the car, blinking in the cool darkness, and marveled, "It's all over. In like five minutes. And really the whole thing was over as soon as I walked in because I was unprepared. Why was I unprepared? I can't believe I was unprepared. That really sucks."

Next time, I'm going to know to bring sheet music, even if it's not mentioned in the fine print.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Look Who's Highlighted

For the last four years, Samantha and I have put together a team for the San Diego division of the 48 Hour Film Project -- a contest in which you make a movie in a weekend. This year, we forgot to upload a copy for everyone to see.

So, here is the low quality YouTube version for this year's entry -- Sir Late-A-Lot -- in the required genre of Fantasy.

For those on a Windows PC, you can download a high quality version of Sir Late-A-Lot and last year's Burnin' Love from this location.

Have fun.

-- David.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Chocka Chocka Cheese

That's what Jarrah calls it. The place we went today--the place I swore I'd never go. Amazing how one's priorities change with parenthood, and sometimes insidiously, messing with one's ideals until suddenly you're saying things you never thought you'd say, like "Do you want to go dance with Chuck E. and his friends? I think he likes you."

That's right, Dear Readers. We went to Chuck E. Cheese today. I was a little nervous it would be a zoo on a Saturday. Jessica, already a veteran, confirmed that it would. But it wasn't so bad. In fact (dare I admit this?) we kinda had fun. All three of us. And (gasp!) I would go back.

For the uninitiated, Chuck E. Cheese is not just a place to get passable pizza and wings (in fact, the pizza wasn't terrible, and it was steaming hot and fresh. It's like the old joke: "How is pizza like sex?" "When it's good, it's great, and when it's bad, it's still pretty good.") It's a combination arcade/playground/birthday party zone. It reminds me of Dave and Busters, which is the same thing targeted to adults, except that I hated that place, and I didn't hate this. For one thing, we'd printed a coupon from the internet that entitled us to one ginormous pizza with anything we wanted on it, three refillable drinks, and 30 game tokens, all for the non-princely sum of $20. I figured 30 tokens would be like 30 tickets at the San Diego Fair--we'd get on one and a half rides. But at Chuck E. Cheese (am I starting to sound like I've been brainwashed?) one token equals one ride or game. Readers, we couldn't have used up 30 tokens if we'd spent the rest of the day there. And every time you play a game, the machine spits out a chain of tickets which are redeemable for plastic prizes. Tiny, crappy prizes, sure--but prizes! Jarrah was in heaven spending 10 tokens on a Tootsie Roll.

There was a giant climbing structure with tubes and slides that reminded me of "My Kids Clubhouse," and simulated rollercoasters and mini-carousels and lots of those coin-operated cars from the mall. There was Skee-Ball, dear to me from my own childhood, and I snuck away for a few games. Whee! David loved an arcade game called "Flaming Finger" (I'm going to delicately avoid discussing this name) which involved nothing more than one's own fingertip on a sort of maze, with a timer. David announced that he could happily play this one 10 more times, and probably would have, but alas, it was nap time.

The place was chockablock with birthday revelers, and we benefited from this in the "show room," since Chuck E. himself came out with a lot of red-shirted girls for some sort of cheerleading exercises and personal audiences with the birthday kids. Jarrah was so busy throwing her arms in the air that she almost couldn't eat her pizza, but she eventually managed to put away three slices. The rest of the time, some huge, furry beasts with snapping mechanical eyeballs simulated a rock band on the stage, and Jarrah eyed them warily, stayed in our laps, and announced that "the monsta not come and get me." I assured her that a rider in the monster's contract required that he stay on stage. I will admit that the mechanical furry things were pretty creepy, and I feel smug about the fact that my daughter clearly agrees.

Afterwards, drooling Tootsie Roll down her top, Jarrah said that her favorite part was the pizza, but she wanted to go back to "Chocka Chocka Cheese (aka Chocolate Choo-Choo Cheese) "for more show right now." So I have a feeling that this rite of passage, unlike mastering Everest, will not be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Luckily, we still have a whole mess of tokens.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ring the Bell; School's Back In!

Jarrah started school today. It was a long, hot August with no school or camp. Sure, we had a lot of fun at the pool and beach and park and zoo, and lots of quality time with "frenz," but some days got overshadowed by a long morning in the house in the era of "Childproof II: Someone Turned My Baby Into a Raccoon!"

Now that's she's learned how to carry her little plastic IKEA chairs, counters, cabinets and light switches that were formerly out of bounds have been reimagined as stimulating fun. Grocery bags, purses and stacks of mail are reconfigured as tableaux on the floor, with telltale chunks of partially gnawed snacks guiding the way. She stands at the bathroom sink, even without her stool now, for elaborate OCD handwash marathons; occasionally, I'll be lost in thought at the computer only to realize that I've been hearing the water running for 10 minutes. A couple times I've heard little footsteps and a slam, and by the time I've flung open the bathroom door, she's pantsless with armloads of TP, telling me "I need some privacy." Scariest of all, she can now open both the refrigerator and freezer, so I frequently have frozen or spilling items presented an inch below my chin with the command "Open."

Yup, school couldn't get here fast enough. And today, the day was finally nigh. Although I had somehow neglected to get any of her Sharpie-labeled ziploc posessions ready last night, I managed to get her kitted out in under an hour. This time, I didn't get emotional as I waved goodbye in my nightgown, and she knew the drill so well that she hoisted her lunchbox, blew me a kiss, and called "I'm going to preschool to see frenz!" on the way to David's car. It was gloriously, deafeningly quiet as I sipped my coffee.

When it was time for pick up, there were some subtle changes from last year. Last year, I slunk in and out while everyone laughed and gabbed; now I know a bunch of other moms, and there was a lot of yoo-hooing. When I went into the classroom, Jarrah was sitting on her tushie like a veteran of tushie-sitting, waiting patiently for her mummy. But she tore into my arms and buried her head in my hair and demanded that I carry her, just like last year, and sighed against my shoulder, just like the baby who first went to school. On the way to the car, like always, I asked:

"How was preschool today?" As usual, there was no answer. I tried again.

"What did you do today?"

"I ate an egg."

"You ate an egg? Did you do anything before that?"

"Mummy made me an egg. For my lunch."

"Yes, I know."

"I told Barbara that Mummy made me an egg."

"I'm sure she was very impressed."

That's all I got, Dear Readers. When I asked about friends, she glowed and said "Ethan!"--still in denial, apparently. I told her Ethan is not in her class this year--did she notice? She looked troubled, but said nothing.

So that was the first day. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Different Strokes

Until now, Jarrah has never noticed what she looks like. Oh, if she's dressed as Tigger, or has stickers all over her face, or is wearing a bucket on her head--sure, then she notices. But the fact that she is sleek and dark with huge brown eyes and we are white and frizzy with green eyes has either been irrelevant or not apparent before now.

A few days ago, David was putting sunscreen on Jarrah before a playdate. He slapped the thick, white cream on both her arms, preparing to rub it in.

"Look!" she exclaimed, holding out her arms. "I'm white like Daddy!"

Today, we went to the mall to escape the hellish, steaming heat, and along with every other person in East County, we encountered our friend Mari and her 4-month-old baby girl. Since for undisclosed reasons it was taking about half an hour to get a sandwich at Quiznos, we had lots of time to chat and catch up. Jarrah was very interested in the baby (though she did murmur, in classic Jarrah fashion, that "the baby not touch my bag." First, Jarrah tickled her toes (she asked first) and then stroked her little arm. "Isn't she soft?" I asked her. Jarrah nodded, and then with a delighted smile, stroked her own arm.

"You're soft, too!" I said.

"I'm brown!" she announced.

"Yes, you are," I said. "Brown and beautiful."

These are truly adorable moments that clearly have caused Jarrah no distress. She's simply making observations, which is what toddlers do in the most distinctive ways. But even as I'm laughing, I feel a little twinge of, as the poem says, "Time's wing-ed Chariot drawing Near," because eventually (who knows if it will be sooner or later?) these cute statements will lead to questions, and the questions will lead to hard answers.

Now I don't mean to get melodramatic here. I have done a lot of reading (and followed a lot of bulletin board threads) about a child's dawning realization that they are a different color and race than their parents (and all the "where did I come from?" queries that will follow) and I know that sometimes kids take it in stride, even think it's pretty cool. They might feel different than some of their friends, but it's special-different. Kids with a strong sense of self and good channels of communication with their families might skate by in these situations, and the answers to the questions assuage curiosity rather than build a hulking tower of Unknown in the living room.

Sometimes, though (and you can't plan for when, or if--such is the uniqueness of children) the answers cause pain, or confusion, or a mini-identity crisis. I read about one family who, after viewing Stuart Little with their child, had to repeatedly explain that no one was going to come "reclaim" their daughter in the middle of the night, that this was her home and she belonged there. Another girl, adopted from China and now about seven, wouldn't eat meals with her family for a couple of weeks, preferring to stay in her room, mourning another family she would never know. Stories like that frighten me, but I want to be prepared for any permutation of them, because, as I once read, "an adopted child is entitled to her feelings of loss. It's condescending to gloss over them. After all, if the adoptive parents were not adopted themselves, how could they possibly know how their child is feeling?"

A very good point, that. I try to keep it in mind when I start to panic about what form Jarrah's questions might take, and how she will accept the answers. It's not my job to decide how she should feel. But it is my job to love her, no matter what happens, and for that I am entirely qualified.