what SWEETHEARTS - Mom & Dad

parent paradox
make me strong to fly away
catch me when I fall

Thanks to Anne and Paul Sherrell for their generous contribution to the fundraiser to record a demo for The Sweethearts of Swing

Please visit our fundraising page - only 28 hours left to reach our goal! Every little bit helps, and for a contribution of $25 or more, I will write you your own haiku!

Haiku #208 - Greeley, CO

Erin's family drove all the way from NM to see me in Greeley...
...and I'm lame because I kept forgetting to take pictures with the people I saw today!
got to spend time with
quite a few blasts from the past
in my college town

Whew, I am exhausted tonight! It is to be expected and totally worth it after a day of coffee dates, catching up, and conducting.  I had most of the day free before the show, so I got to see some old friends and professors.  I got to conduct tonight's performance, which was cool because I had a lot of people there.  My friend Paul even brought a bunch of his musical theater students from Ft. Collins!

Haiku #201 - Kokopelli Goes Home!

Kokopelli desk lamp at hotel! He's home!
in the arid land
of cactus and big sky where
kokopelli plays

I'm home!  Sort of.  Tucson is the closest this tour will go to my hometown, about a 3.5 hour drive.  My sister went to the U of A, and my aunt has lived here for a long time, so I've spent a fair amount of time in this town.  Looking forward to seeing family and visiting some favorite Tucson haunts!

Haiku #200 - Cousins!

holiday weekends
my cousins and I performed
in the living room

My cousins from San Francisco came down tonight - we had dinner and then they got to see me conduct the show.  Yay!  I have three cousins close to my age on my dad's side, and when we got together on holiday weekends growing up, we'd put on plays (or, as I fondly remember them, whimsical absurdtaculars) in the living room.  Usually twisted fairy tales, as I recall.  One of them is currently in L.A. going to school for animation, and he's the one who designed the playbill for our one-night-only production of Little Red Riding Hoodlum. Good times with family. Ciao, San Jose!

Haiku #92 - New York Philharmonic

in lieu of applause
please cough between movements - it's

Took Mom & Dad to the NY Phil tonight - Haydn, Schubert, Ravel.  The first movement of the Haydn was rather long, and the classical music fans knew it was a faux pas to clap between movements.  Yearning to show their appreciation, however, the audience erupted into a cacophony of midwinter hacking instead.  

A blurry ovation.
My favorite was the Ravel Valse, which closed the concert. I commented to my parents that both halves ended with the opposite of a musical theater button: the first half ended with Schubert's Erlkönig (part of a set orchestrated by Britten and Reger, performed by Anne-Sofie von Otter), in which the last word is "dead."  Dad said both halves ended with death - the Erlkönig literally and the Ravel metaphorically.  Happy new year?  Maybe Alan Gilbert goes by the Mayan calendar.  Anyway, it was a lovely evening, metaphorical death notwithstanding.

Haiku #88, 89 - Christmas Dinner

there is something to
be said for sticking to your
core competencies:

mom and dad and i
had a sumptuous dinner
cooked by fresh direct

I hate cooking, a trait I inherited from my mom.  Dad likes cooking holiday dinner, but he's a pain in the ass in a kitchen he's familiar with, so imagine a miniature kitchen he doesn't know.  So... I consider it money well-spent to have gotten a heat-and-eat turkey dinner delivered straight to my door on Christmas Eve.  It was yummy, and super-easy to prepare.  We hung out and relaxed and enjoyed the day in each other's company.  And Mom cleaned up (I did not inherit her affinity for cleaning.)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Haiku #79 - My Nephew's Nostrils

my nephew's nostrils
in Japan and also my
computer screen: Skype.

I finally got to skype (ah, the joy of turning nouns into verbs) with my sister and her family tonight!  It was Saturday midday for her, and the boys entertained me while she was hanging laundry.  My younger nephew was bouncing off the walls, so most of what I got was him either a blur in the background or VERY CLOSE to the camera.  They thought it was hilarious when I zoomed my (newly pierced!) nose up to my webcam in response. 

And here is my nose, which I got pierced by Colby at Adorned in the East Village: 
My dad will say, "Just what you needed -
another hole in your head."

Haiku #58 - Black Friday

spend money, not time
better for America:

I just have to wonder about a country whose political leaders tout family values and whose business leaders create ads encouraging us to buy products at stores staffed by people who are not with their families the night after a holiday because their store opened at midnight.  What do we really value?

Anyway, I had a really nice black Friday - my cousins and I hit the mall (in the afternoon) for an hour, then had a beer-and-cupcake pairing party at Susie's apartment.  We took a walk while the combined effects of sugar and alcohol wore off, and saw the beautiful Armed Forces Memorial at the harbor (speaking of people who have to be away from their families).

Oh yeah, I work away from my family, too...  But I feel very fortunate to do what I really love, and to bring my show to people who haven't had a chance to see it yet.  Back to tour tomorrow - Sarasota-bound!

Haiku #57 - Real American (Pie)!

BEFORE (clockwise from left): mixed berry, pumpkin, pecan 
jogging with cousins
in preparation for an
assortment of pies

Last night I made a mess in my Aunt Lynn's kitchen as I made a mixed berry and a (required in my family at the holidays) pecan pie.  Aunt Lynn made a couple pumpkin pies this morning.  Luckily, I'm ready for them (as well as the turkey, which I sort of consider a formality), because my cousins Susie and Joel and I went jogging about an hour ago.  After dinner, I'll edit the songs Aunt Lynn and I recorded yesterday - some favorites for Grandma.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Walking in Memphis

Visiting my roots
With blue notes and "bellypads"
Dixie feels like home

I fell in love with Memphis last week when I was there music directing for theater camp.  It is not hard for me to fall in love with a place that plays good music and feeds me well, but there was also the fact that my Grandpa was from the Mississippi  Delta just a couple hours south of Memphis.  

Grandpa made awesome, thick pancakes he called bellypads, and I ate them on a pretty regular basis growing up.  Grandpa smoked like a chimney from age 15 to age 85, and I nagged him to quit but still sometimes find a very faint cigarette odor comforting.  Grandpa couldn't hear so well as he got older, but he liked to listen to me play, and the night before he died, I called him from a practice room at school and got to play one last time for him.   This was in 2000, when cell phones kinda sucked and I barely got any reception in the practice room, but boy was I grateful for it that night.  

Grandpa and Grandma were married over 54 years when he passed away (she's still alive and causing trouble at age 93).  They met during WWII - he was a wounded soldier with tickets to a ballgame; she was a nurse/physical therapist with a car.  She liked his blue eyes, and I reckon he liked her moxie.  They were married six months later, and then he drove back with her to her hometown in Missouri to meet her parents (the nerve!).  

They tried farming in the Midwest, but, well, farming's tough, and Grandma developed severe arthritis in her mid-twenties and needed to live in a drier climate, which is how they ended up in New Mexico and West Texas.

So anyway.  I got Southern roots, and this song has a good piano part, so I'm making friends with it in honor of Grandpa and my week not far from his old stomping grounds.

Just a Glance; or, An Hour at the Met

Finally had a little time to get up through the instrumental section of "Hard Times" today, after exploring Central Park and the Met with my cousin, and meeting her other friends for brunch (complete with mimosas and a dimwitted, surly hostess).  My goal: get through the first three sections of the song without worrying if they were perfect.

Have been getting hung up on perfectionism again, which makes me not want to practice at all, but rather wallow in my belief at how great it would be to be able to play like that, which surely I could do it if I just tried.  I affirmed my hunch that the fills in the second verse are much the same as the second verse, noodled my way through the instrumental section.  I was just finding a stopping point when my cousin returned.

My imperfect but productive session today was inspired, if not by the mimosas, then by our trip to the Met: my cousin and I were both dragged through museums as children - dragged slowly, while our respective parents took in EVERY MORSEL OF INFORMATION in the building.

"Mom, I'll be in the gift shop," I would say to my mom after about 55 minutes of well-behaved tedium.

"Mmm-hmm ok honey," she would respond, her eyes not leaving the information plaque she was reading.

Consequently, my cousin and I both evolved brain synapses that fuse after about an hour in any museum.  The attention span we do possess, we prefer to spend by walking at a moderate speed, making cracks about the things we see.  Today, we made up bawdy alternate titles for paintings and decided that the Romans used ornate marble bathtubs which they repurposed as sarcophagi at the end of life (matching lids, half off!).  Sure enough, after an hour, we grew quiet and pensive, our brains turning into culturally overstimulated mush.  Time to get out of there.

You may think that we don't appreciate art.  Other museum visitors who heard us giggling our way through the 19th Century European paintings almost certainly thought so.  I assure you, that's not the case - art adds so much joy and silliness to our lives - why should we have to plod through and take it all so seriously?

Weekly Wish 3/14/11 - ???

Ugh.  I don't know.  I have a headache, and I keep getting sucked in to news coverage of the earthquake plus tsunami plus nuclear potential disaster in Japan.  I awoke Friday to my sister's facebook update that they were ok (she lives in western Japan, far from the quake, but close enough to feel the tremor that caused the tsunami), but that they hadn't heard from my cousin, who recently moved to Sendai to teach English.  Fortunately, my cousin was able to get in touch with her mom and sisters a couple hours after that to let everyone know she's safe.  Shaken up, sleeping (or not sleeping) at the school, but safe.    

Anyway, wishing is the last thing on my mind today, after family members' proximity to natural disasters, how many other people's family members are not ok and safe, and of course the usual din of 10 committee meetings going on in my head at once.  All is underscored by a steady drone of TIRED and CRANKY.     

...I guess I'll go back to Ben Folds.  I don't want to; I'm busy this week and would rather work on this one when I have more time, because I like it.  But I don't feel like breaking my no-two-weeks-in-a-row rule to repeat the Gershwin, and I haven't had time to get my accordion fixed, and I don't feel like starting anything new this week.  So Lullabye it is.  Harumph.    

I wish everything didn't take so much more time than I think it's going to take. 

I wish I didn't have a headache.  

And I wish I could play Lullabye, including the freakin' piano solo, well enough to record it with my buddies.  So there.  

I'm going to dance class now.  Hopefully I'll feel better after.  At least I'll look better.  Though I definitely won't smell better.