Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hands Up

Last week of rehearsal before Hell Week. And I'm already feeling nostalgic for something that's not over. A few days ago, our music director cut through the arrival hub-bub by plunking out the first few notes of "525,600 Minutes." Not only did a hush fall as thickly as snow, 40-odd voices rose with instant recognition: "How do you measure a year in the life?" It was the most beautiful, spontaneous thing, and one of those moments of sheer perfection that remind me there are others as sentimental about musical theater as I am.

I'm probably a little tired or stressed or something, though. A few days ago, I got this hive-y rash all over my arms and legs that itches like the dickens. I mean, so bad that I couldn't sleep through it. I went to the doctor and aside from saying "Any new stress?" he wasn't much interested. Told me to buy some Claritin. I didn't. It's getting better anyway.

Today we went with the Daisies to tour the El Cajon Police Station. It's brand new and gorgeous, filled with sunny workout rooms and terraces overlooking the mountains. But I actually got a bit scared when they took us into the jail. That gate clanging shut behind us. The big shower by the door which they said is used to rinse off pepper spray. And this great big wand on a hook--"Anyone know what this is?" our friendly Captain Tour Guide asked. "A taser!" I shouted. "A metal detector." Oh. And then the long bench inside with cuffs attached to the back of it, for check-in. "Sit down," he pretend-snarled. "Wanna know what it's like to be in jail?" Um, no, Officer, now that you mention it. No, thanks.

Then he took us to the cells. First he checked with a plainclothes detective: "Got a body coming through?" Yipes. A body. He guided pairs of girls into the plain white cells and shut the doors, showing us how if you're really naughty you get your food through the little mail slot half-way down. The cells almost threw me into a panic attack. They are really small, with just a hard bench, a metal toilet and a concrete floor. No windows. I am severely claustrophobic and if I'd been inclined towards a life of crime, the sight of that cell alone would have deterred me.

Jarrah was eager to ask the most important question, in her opinion: "What do you feed the prisoners?" Happy Meals, as it turns out. "With the toy?" she pressed. She's a hard-nosed investigator, that one. But her question was not the most fabulous of the day. That prize would go to the little girl who had been examining the orange outlines in the bullet-proof indoor shooting range.

"So, they just ask the bad guys to stand in front of these?" she asked, casual as a summer breeze. I snort-laughed into my arm but not before the girl's mom heard me. I think she was laughing, too. Priceless.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Jarrah and drove around on Friday trying to find waterproof clothing for our trip to the snow (which, in February in San Diego, is a fool's errand) so we spent a lot of time in the car. One of the radio stations was having a "Founding Fathers of Rock" weekend to go with President's Day(s.) I explained to Jarrah that this was the reason we were hearing so many great songs in a row.

Sam: This can be the beginning of your music education.

Jarrah: What music education?

Sam: Well, I figure you gotta choose: you can know the words to every song in the world like your mommy, or you can be like your father and not recognize any songs at all.

Jarrah: Hmmm. I think I'll do both.

Sam: Oh?

Jarrah: Yeah, I can listen to songs with you, and I can listen to the radio with Daddy.

Sam: Oh, and by radio, you mean all the talking, right?

Jarrah: Right. Stories.

Sam: And what are these stories about?

Jarrah: (smiling) Dead people!

Sam: Oh, dear. And you enjoy these stories about dead people?

Jarrah: (smiling more) Yeaaaaaaah.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Jarrah is feeling better, finally. She missed nearly a week of school, and has gotten rather skinny, but she's chipper again. We are having fun learning to tell time, as we've finally found a math-related area in which I feel confident. Sure, subtraction taxes me, but anyone can tell you that I'm always prompt.

David is still excited about his race car driving. Tinkers on the car, learning to install brakes (good lord) and whatnot. I guess I'm glad he's having fun without drugs.

I am attending several rehearsals a week, and despite wishing I had more to do, I am in love with the whole process. Learning the songs, and singing them in four-part harmony with other people, makes me incredibly happy. Speaking of happy, I'm pretty sure this is the nicest cast ever. Just hanging out with them would be reason enough to like rehearsals.

As the weather improves (like, from '60s to '70s--we really suffer here) I've been taking a lot of brisk morning walks. My main motivator is a little thing on my iPhone called "AOL Radio" that someone told me about. It has all these theme stations that continuously delight me, like "Gay Anthems" and "Party Tracks" and "Super '70s." Speaking of the latter, I have always bragged that I'm the ultimate expert on '80s music, and now I discover somewhat soberly that it's really '70s tunes where my powers of recall are unmatched. What a crazy decade, spanning disco, folk and classic rock--and all of it has its place on my walks.

Walking gives me a nice overview of the neighborhood, as I first pass two churches (Lutheran and Mormon) then the sprawling park where the ladies sweat at their morning Boot Camp Class (lots of pulleys and medicine balls, very scary) the municipal pool with gals in flowery bathing caps bobbing to the music, the library where I love to inhale deeply, the middle school. Then around to the main street where I pass the bank, the supermarket, a gas station, a taco shop (tantalizing early-morning tortillas wafting out the vents) the 50-year-0ld diner, the donut shop and dressmakers, a nail salon and finally, the shiny, new whorehouse.

Whorehouse, you say? Surely you jest. Well, help me out here: It's called "Massage Spa" and has a big "GRAND OPENING" sign hanging over the doors. Which are smoked, opaque glass, and there are no windows. With no advertisements of any kind listed--no menus, price lists, descriptions of the KIND of massages available therein. There's one of those neon "OPEN" signs that seems to be lit 24 hours a day. And I never see anyone go in or out. Yup, I'm thinking it's our spanking-new, friendly neighborhood whorehouse. Every 50-year-old neighborhood with the largest population of octogenarians in the county needs one, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Keflex and Freon

The little one apparently has strep throat. She's not really so little these days, but she always seems like my baby again when she's sick. Only more so, since I wasn't allowed to touch her when she was a baby. Now she's all very cuddly and needy, madly ringing the bell (really part of a drum kit from toddlerhood) I was fool enough to leave by her bed. She gets such high fevers, and then gets so intermittently listless and weird, that I worry. I walked into her room two nights ago to find her perched on a little chair in front of her ladybug nightlight, staring. "Hello, Mama." she said in a Talking-Tina-like-tone. "I'm just learning some things. Legend tells us there is a new world in each of these spots. Some represent solids, and some gases. We can give them names. What name will you choose?" I wanted to run screaming, but I stayed and thought of names instead. Still, I worry. And she mentioned headaches. Although it's a "think horses, not zebras" scenario of the first order, I don't like any mention of headaches. So today we went to the doctor. And by Jove, she has strep throat. She never even mentioned her throat. She's not the most reliable indicator of her own symptoms. It sounds weird, but strep throat is one of those illnesses I've always thought of as imaginary, since I have been whining to doctors about my viruses for years, and they never fail to stick that swab down my throat which every single time is negative. So I've come to believe it's just part of the procedure, like taking my blood pressure. The reading isn't going to help me feel better, and neither is the stick in my throat. It's just something that must be done.

So she and I have been home alone for a few days and I must confess, it's trying. I've either been wringing my hands with worry or bracing myself for an endless onslaught of loud, fast, nonsensical talking. Oh, the talking. Filling every available pause in the world. Today I actually heard myself say, in response to the question "Do you want to play 'Hangman in the Air,' or 'Hard Math Game,' or 'Word Scramble,' while you drive?" with "No, I really, completely do not. I just want to listen to this song and the thoughts in my head for a bit, if that would be all right."

But I was so, so relieved that her fever was finally down from 104 today. I should have played stupid "Hangman in the Air" and kept my mouth shut.

And then the fridge died. Well, David says it's the compressor, but I say it's a sign from the universe that it's time for a new fridge, one that does not leak vast pools of water all over the kitchen and slam itself open every time you look in it, and most importantly, one that does not turn all ice cream into a creepy, gelatinous soup. Tonight David and Jarrah trolled around town looking at fridges (the new fashion is something called "French doors") while I had a girls' night "which I totally needed" at this groovy wine bar called Splash. The name is deliciously descriptive because the whole place is tall metal spigots (with descriptions attached) under which you slide a glass and press a button and a perfect ounce of yummy wine pours out. Even more fun is the phone-card-like technology of prepaying so you can walk around splashing ounces to your heart's content, from spigots far and near. Don't be concerned--I put ten dollars on mine and took it home with five remaining. The first wine was good, the second was yummy, and the third (which was also the fourth) was sublime, and though that made a total of four ounces I decided then and there that I was cutting myself off until next time. And there will be a next time.

Thanks for your kind thoughts about my recent disappointment. They really helped. I think I am growing more stoic by the day. I also have some things to say about our recent Family Day weekend in another post which might actually contain photos. Since I know you like those.