Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wet and Dirty Fun

Had a great birthday yesterday at Glen Ivy. Really, I'm not sure why everyone doesn't celebrate their birthday there, especially since the birthday child gets in free.

It's difficult to get people to road trip on a weekday, but since I'm in rehearsals most weekends I wanted to keep to the day. Celebrants were dropping out at an alarming rate, but then Karina came through, and her friend Jackie (who's now MY friend Jackie) so we had a merry trio on the road about 9:30, Starbucks in hand.

One of the great pleasures of late October at the hot springs is that there are no crowds or lines. Both the girls remarked on this with glee several times during our day. As for me, I've only ever been there at this time of year, so I'm a bit spoiled. We checked in and I got to whip out the very generous gift card I received from my VM cast, so that was the icing on the free birthday cake.

In honor of the proximity to Halloween (and because I get cold in a wet bathing suit all day) I'd brought a fuzzy black robe covered in hot pink skulls, and you better believe I got a lot of compliments on it. As we were shedding the trappings of the outside world and gathering just what we'd need to spa (my ever-present Carmex and my phone for [silent] birthday greetings) I discovered that two other women on our side of the locker room were also October 28 babies. This is a fun moment that only happens at Glen Ivy, and we all wished each other many happy returns. After a short silence, one of them added: "Let me guys are 29, too?" "Always, darling," I said. "Always."

We headed for the Roman saline baths just because they're so pretty, and the first gush of bubbly water over my body told me that I'd been right to brave disrobing in front of two nubile, long-limbed lasses with gallons of long, shiny hair. At Glen Ivy, no one cares. You see all body types, all ages, and all manner of, um, fashion. It's a cornucopia of physical diversity, and it's all about feeling good, not looking good.

Next, a beautifully leaf-shaded terrace with a feature I'd never noticed before: the hot/cold plunge. One pool 95, the other 55. My companions thought this was a smashing idea, and not wanting to be the uncool one I followed along. I did scream like an opera singer when I immersed myself in the cold, and then it was a bit disconcerting to feel the massive tingling all over after a few moments back in the hot. And we actually did this a few times! I had to admit after a while that it was strangely relaxing.

On to a Glen Ivy first, at least for me: tropical cocktails poolside. Heck, poolINSIDE. We floated on puffy blue lounges, enjoying the warm, clear, perfect day as I got a case of the happies from my Hurricane, which was like a giant pink slushie that somehow made me very slow. All too soon, we'd been there two hours and were in need of actual lunch to sop up the alcohol before our respective treatments.

I don't really get lunch at Glen Ivy. The system is confusing and unwieldy, you can't really see the food even though it's supposed to be cafeteria style, and it's laughably expensive for what you get. I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat, an oatmeal raisin cookie and a Pepsi. And these items together, Dear Readers, were over TWENTY dollars. And the sandwich wasn't even made to order--it had a distinct whiff of cold refrigerator--hello! No matter. I ate it (and must admit the cookie was sublime) and was off to the Massage Center after agreeing to meet the girls at Club Mud afterward.

The Massage Center was also new to me, and took me on a peaceful, winding path up above the main entrance and down into a set of shaded cabins. I love how there are so many possible locations for one's massages. I bonded with the ladies in the waiting room over how we need to remember to bring a second bathing suit for after massages--shimmying into a cold, sticky thing after being rubbed with hot stones is less than delicious. But the massage itself was a treat, and my therapist, Heidi, was a sweetie. We had a lot in common--single girl children of the same age, married to someone from the British Empire, and her birthday was the next day. "I won't be here," she laughed.

By the time I stumbled over to Club Mud, I was pretty noodly. Jackie was already clay-covered and lounging, so Karina and I waded into the warm, red pool and starting slapping our arms and legs with goo. I have no idea why this is so fun and satisfying, but it is. We proceeded to the land-locked mud mound and continued until we were red and crusty from head to toe. A little breeze had whipped up, so we waddled into the Wafa, like a big oven for clay-covered people, and settled on the stone benches with a friendly gang of women who were cracking me up. One of the best things about Glen Ivy are the crazy conversations you strike up with strangers, that often seem like you've just wandered onstage in the middle of their scene and just picked up wherever it seemed appropriate, or vice-versa. There's an ease about what to say, when and how. No one really worries about it. We've all been soaking in salt and mud all day and, like, whatever. Earlier, a tattooed gentleman begged us to eat the ahi nachos (see? weird food) he'd just purchased, saying it could be an appetizer for our lunch. "Trust me," I told him, "if I didn't hate raw fish, I'd be all over it." "You like a big bloody steak, don't you?" he said, staring into my eyes like he was telling my fortune. "Oh yeah," I said, though I really don't like anything redder than medium.

After scrubbing off the mud, we just had time to guzzle some water (an important spa activity) before descending in the magic elevator to The Grotto, which was closed for renovations on my last visit. Again, I don't know why I love this concept, because it's very weird, but I do. You emerge in a Pirates of the Carribean-like cavern and hand over your earthly goods (towels, shoes) at which point you are steered into a crevasse so a dimly-lit figure can slap you all over with a big paintbrush full of avocado-colored goo. In the next room, you lounge in steam while the goo moisturizes your bits. We joked that we'd never spent quite so much time massaging our own appendages in a rather lewd and lascivious way. The next door leads to a rainfall shower and big fluffy towels, which leads to a waterfall room full of dry-ish rocks for perching while enjoying some hot tea and green apples. I don't care for green apples, but I ate one anyway, since everyone says they can fix whatever ails you.

Now it was free time until closing time, and we happily traversed from pool to pool, doing a bit of soaking in the stinky sulphur (noticing that some people had been in there ALL day) and a bit more lounging in the lounge pool, now totally deserted except for us. After that, there was still time to singe our nostrils in the steam room (intense!) and do a bit of backstroke in the large Roman bath near the showers.

It's a little bittersweet to shower off the last of the rocks that have gotten trapped in your bathing suit bottoms at the end of the day, but at least we knew we were stopping in Temecula for dinner. I wish I had planned a snack, though, because by the time we'd showered, dressed, driven 30 miles, tried to park and discovered there was a 45 minute wait for a table, I was getting a bit light-headed. We sat at the bar but a table quickly opened up, and then we really enjoyed the goat cheese artichoke dip that tided us over until our meals arrived. Then I got seriously busted from the waiter for extricating the bacon from my otherwise perfect burger. I would have ordered it without bacon, but the menu said they'd charge me five dollars extra if I made any changes! This was at Public House in Old Town, a place that I love for the food and the sassy service, though this time we were overlooking the (surprisingly rockin') street life and I was deeply disturbed that the town pipes in hideous saxophone light jazz so that everyone within two miles has to hear it.

There was a lot of yawning on the drive home, and David told me Jarrah was upset that she had to go to bed without giving me my presents, but otherwise the day was a grand success. A trip to Glen Ivy on my actual birthday suits me so well because I have trouble admitting that my birthday is a regular day on which regular people go about their regular business. Heading to a tree-lined hideaway oasis in Corona is a nice way to pretend that I'm the one who's right.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

PSA Gone Wrong

Leaving the supermarket yesterday afternoon, we passed two @16-year-olds walking in, a boy and a girl.

Jarrah: Mommy! Were they teenagers?

Sam: I think so.

Jarrah: What? What are they doing shopping without their mommy and daddy?

Sam: Well, teenagers do a lot of things without their mommies and daddies. They're almost grown, so even though they live with their mommies and daddies, they do most things on their own. (pause) But they don't know everything. They just think they do. You know how I know that?

Jarrah: How?

Sam: Because I used to be a teenager. Teenagers do all kinds of things because they don't know better. Drive too fast. Um, stay up all night. They die because they don't listen to their mommies and daddies.

Jarrah: (wonderingly) How do they die from staying up all night?

Sam: Well, that was a bad example. But if you stayed up all night and then drove, you could die.

Jarrah: Well, I don't think teenagers know everything.

Sam: That's good.

Jarrah: I think they know half, because they're grownups-in-training.

Sam: That sounds about right. And how about first graders?

Jarrah: We know some.

Sam: A little?

Jarrah: More than a little.

Sam: And how about kindergartners?

Jarrah: No, they know nothing.

Sam: And how about mommies? Do we know everything?

Jarrah: Yes. You're Google.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Everything The Traffic Will Allow

I heart North Park Vaudeville. Why, Dear Readers? Let me count the ways.

1. Summer and Jeff (the owners) gave us roses on opening night and thank you cards (thank you cards! with a personal message!) after the last show.

2. The backstage is small, but there is a party in the alley behind the theater that goes on for three hours. I had heard about the popcorn, chips and soda--what I didn't expect were the homemade chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-frosted cupcakes. And champagne after!

3. My new best pal Alec told me I'm special and hugged me about 10 times an hour. Talk about feeling the love.

4. Every single one of my castmates seemed to be entirely freakin' awesome. We were hootin' and hollerin' like we'd known each other for years.

5. The stage has a real red velvet curtain that closes between scenes. While we're setting up back there, they play music that we get to choose. I picked out Barbra Streisand's version of "Luck Be A Lady." It was divine.

6. The front of the theater is a candy shoppe. Yes, the kind with the "e" and extra "p." Where they sell root beer barrels and Necco wafers during the intermission.

7. The 25 plays run in groups of 6 or 7 over four weekends. Jeff asked me if I was in the other weekends. When I said no, he said "Well, I sure wish you were."

8. Summer said to me, "You're a professional actress, right?" Um, no. But thanks for making my night.

9. The insane clown posse of John and James addressed me at each sighting as "Yo, Goldstein!"

10. One of the directors, Jayson, said to me, "You're very talented. Why haven't I heard of you? I'm very talented, too. Have you heard of me? Your number? Got it. Oh! That's me, calling you, in case you were wondering."

11. My director, Pat, came to see us three out of four performances. Her notes? "You guys were awesome. Keep having fun." I am so going to miss her.

12. Two people complimented me on my singing. After three lines of "Zippedy Doodah." The second guy grudgingly mumbled, "Yeah, and your acting's okay, too."

13. My house job (fitting, since I was dressed as a maid) was sweeping the lobby. Every night I asked if it was time to sweep. Every night Summer or Jeff said "Aww, it's okay, Sam. But thanks." But I like sweeping! Really!

14. How about they produce unpublished plays from all over the world, give interesting work to dozens of actors, provide theater opportunities of all kinds to developmentally challenged adults and genuinely care about every step of the process? I tell ya, the weekend was like opening a big pile of presents that just keep coming. I can't help gushing a little.

15. How about the raid on the massage parlor next door (they share stairs with the theater) on Friday night? Scantily clad women fleeing in SUVs, followed by two guys with badges and plaid shirts yelling "Did you see some diminutive Asian women run through here?" Meanwhile, they're squinting at us, some clad in pajamas and French maid costumes, loitering in the alley. "We're putting on a show, Officers." An hour later, one of the diminutive women tiptoed back up the steps in undies, a towel and an unlit cigarette in her mouth. When it was time for my entrance, I pushed past a large man receiving a hearty send-off on the landing. I remembered to say "Pardon me!"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Drama Mama

My little show at the North Park Playwrights Festival opens tonight. Last night we had a really fun tech dress. Turns out my play is on the program last, which is kind of cool.

Last night we got all the details and ran the seven plays for each other and our directors. It was a lively group. It was fun to see the theater with stage light and the red velvet curtain in operation--it's very cozy in there, as it seats just about 35 people. Unfortunately, we're having a freak October heatwave, but the wall air conditioner rattled away and gave us a reason to project.

It was really fun to see the variety in the other plays, including two rather raunchy clowns, an adorable old couple meeting in the park and comparing their meds, a confrontation over a peculiar fortune cookie, and my favorite--a deceased actress who's donated her organs visits the recipients in their dreams, urging them to carry on her legacy. I love insider theater jokes, and the plucky gal playing the actress from-the-beyond reminded me of a young me (or maybe I just wished she did.)

Our piece went well, though maybe with a little less energy than usual, since we'd been curled up in a warm, dark theater for over two hours, but we got some compliments on our blocking and our polish--if not as many laughs as I'd like--so I have high hopes for this weekend. I love the music in between scenes, and the sweet way that co-producer Jeff introduces us after each piece.

And my favorite part is the backstage camaraderie I've so missed these past months, the flurry of actors with their arms full of costumes, the complicated arrangement of "personal props," the clouds of hairspray, the lipstick touch-ups, the boosterism of the performers. Apparently, during the show we all hang together in the alley behind the theater (did I mention it's small?) and the producers provide snacks and drinks, like a little party. How delightful!

Oh, and last night I learned that not only do I have the opportunity to direct one next year, I can write one: playwrights from all over the world submitted 240 scripts for consideration, winnowed down to the 28 being performed throughout the month of October. What a great way to bring theater people of all kinds together.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Ahoy, Me Halloween Hearties

Last night marked the debut of this year's Halloween ensemble: Introducing PIRATE GIRL!

And in the Uncanny Coincidence of 2011, Joy ended up getting the same costume! So cute, though that ramped up the number of "Are they twins?" comments for the evening considerably (probably understandable.)

Their October coming-out party was Legoland's "Brick or Treat," a nighttime spectacular of candy, magic, music and spookiness. In a slightly weird move, we met Mary, Paul and Joy at the annual event (our first time!) at the tail end of our Yom Kippur fast. So David and I were a little woozy until the sun went down and we had scarfed an entire order of Granny's Apple Fries and Cream apiece. (Oh, that might have been a mistake, good as they are. It wasn't even my stomach that felt sick. It was, like, my neurons. Felt like they might burst with the sugar insurgence.)

The "Brick or Treat" trail was very cute and the line wasn't too long. It had individual stations manned (or wo-manned) by a costumed Lego sprite who was all smiles to encounter our matching pirate lasses. Most of the treats were healthy-ish--peanut butter, pretzels, organic juice, energy bars--but I had to laugh when one dude asked J & J to choose between "collector cards and candy." Had she actually stopped to consider this folly before shouting "CAAAAANNNNDDDDY!", she might have said "Are you entirely serious, with that question? Do I look like King Solomon to you? Hand over the candy before I make you walk the plank! AAARRRR!"

Mostly, we just had a lovely evening wandering around, appreciating the super-cool stiltwalkers and bones-players, a fortune teller behind glass named "Brickzini" with some mad improv skillz, and seeing the girls have an absolute blast. And now that Jarrah's pushing seven, I appreciate the opportunity more than ever to just bask in an occasion when she still finds every single thing to be totally magical. Because when she does? I find everything totally magical, too.

P.S. Jarrah volunteered to go on stage with the magician! And David and I missed the entire thing--she was with Paul while we searched for food! AAAARRR! She received a "real" magician's wand and a disgusting-looking marshmallow eyeball for her gumption. Later, she said that the magician kept suggesting she and the other kid up there were getting married. "I kept telling him it wasn't true!" she said, shaking her head like he might have been a little dim. "I said I didn't even know him! But he wouldn't listen."

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Trust In The Process

Rainy afternoon. It's been coming all day, wind whipping around the courtyard at school, steely skies where it's normally like being on the face of the sun. I've been looking forward to it, and how wonderful to be snug at home when it started, listening to Jarrah speak softly to her pile of naked Barbies (did they ever have clothes?)

Just had an indoor playdate with my friend Amy, whom I haven't seen in years, and her twin daughters Maya and Zoey. That triangle worked surprisingly well, with only one incident when Jarrah barricaded herself in her room claiming "You don't understand that I'm getting older, and becoming a more sensitive person!" Okay, Dr. Phil--easy now. Being sensitive apparently means that when one designs "rotations" for one's companions, and commands said companions to rotate, one doesn't want to hear that they're "boring."

We also had our first-of-the-year Daisies meet-up today, where I got incredibly cranky when I realized that we never did introductions, even though four out of 10 girls are new, with matching new parents. Sure, we're supposed to hang out every other week for the next six years, but no biggie to have us awkwardly smiling at people whose names we don't know. It wasn't until the drive home that I realized what was really bothering me is that the core group of leaders and leader-friends doesn't include me. Of course they all know each other, even the newbies. I don't like feeling excluded. In fact, I'd say it's my biggest emotional challenge in life. Jarrah, of course, didn't notice anything amiss.

Today was my second day as "Art Helper" in Jarrah's classroom, and it was a lot more anxiety-making. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say I was sweating it. I was pretty relieved when a second mom showed up because the task seemed Herculean: paint apple trees using only the kids' body parts. (Well, and paint.) It's not so much that this would have been HARD in and of itself as that I didn't want to send them back to their seats covered head to toe in glop. Considering I was the reason they were covered (they raised their little arm while I slapped tempera from elbow to fingertips [trunk, branches] I felt honor-bound to scrub their limbs after that stage so they could be smear-free for the NEXT, in which they dipped their thumbs (green, leaves) and pinkies (magenta, apples, yes, I know apples aren't really magenta) and then the washing started all over again. And we had just over an hour to get through 25 of these. Eeeeek! We sort of just barely finished when the bell rang, and that's only by rudely rushing the more thoughtful artists through their paces: "Yes, yes, Sara, lovely, lovely, I think that's plenty of apples, go-wash-your-hands-okay?" Still, I am happy to have this job, and would love to hear ideas from my artistic, crafty, kid-understanding readers about projects for future.

Still raining. Long frond waving in a dancerly way in my peripheral vision. Dinner ready, but no David to eat it because of the sad state of the roads. Jarrah standing over me, trying to engage me in this game where she's not Jarrah, she's my friend "Jenny" who stopped by for coffee. Periodically, she switches back to Jarrah, mostly so she can ask me if anyone stopped by, what we talked about and if I like them. I have to be on my toes, I tell ya.

Oh, and I learned today that all children are apparently tractable and patient as snow when an adult--any adult--grabs their digits and starts scrubbing stuff off of them. This is a skill they must learn very early. There's something very sweet about it. I feel there is a lesson about childhood scarcely concealed here, but I can't quite see it.