27 December, 2019

Entering the Mikveh

I dunked!

Hooray for the Mikveh! I’ve always been Jewish but it’s official. [Seriously. There’s like...*paperwork...*]

I will find the time to properly find the words to express what this entire journey has meant, but for now?
Today: I dunked.

The immersion in the mikveh serves as many things, but in this instance, it acts as a symbol of #affirmation— a return to a source — and an act of renewal.

The Mikveh experience can be a way of softening traumas of the past, or to start anew after a difficult life experience.

But for me (and for many) it is a way to celebrate something precious and/or something new...

 I have always had a questioning spirit, and used words like “Universe” or “Spirit” or “Fate” or “Nature.” Now I can add the word “God” without feeling squeamish. With no pressure to join me. With only hope for you to find your “way in” to a peaceful and meaningful life.

The word kav means “to be strong.” I believe a return to our source reinforces us. Mikveh becomes a reminder of the infinite within the finite, the eternal within the mortal.

Tomorrow (!) I will be called to the Torah to read in front of a small collection of my family and beloved peers, lead, coached, encouraged (and some days talked off a ledge) by my extremely awe-inspiring Rabbi Samantha Frank of the extremely beautiful Instagram account @modern_ritual.

L’Chaim!





20 October, 2019

I Wish: The Roles that Could've Been

Dear Friends.

I have started a concert series, and it is a miracle of hope and celebratory energy.
"I Wish: The Roles that Could've Been" is a chance for performers to live out their dreams-- the roles that passed them by, the roles that never will be, but TONIGHT: here we are.
Playing the role in living color at Broadway's supper club, 54 Below.

The first concert was an impromptu endeavor on June 2, the week before the Tony Awards. It was such a huge success that 54 Below agreed to make it a serial.

Behold the opening number (with lyrics co-written by genius, Brian Nash):



Once Upon a Time … 
I wish
In a far off kingdom
 more than HANNIGAN
More than THE LIFE
of Metro Detroit… 
More than TupTim
Lived a young maiden 
More than THE LIFE
With totally delusional casting dreams 
MORE THAN EPONINE! More than TiMoune!
YOU WISH 
I wish to play Mama Rose and Scar
I wish to play Mama Rose and Scar
George Serat!

The guests are gifted.
The evening is pure positivity and light.
It feels like a great big celebration of actualized possibilities.
A party.
A catharsis.

The wonderful October cast
my incredible producer Jen Sandler!
To view the ever-expanding playlist (all captured by Famous in NY) click here

In action!


As I say at the conclusion of the concert:

Octavia Spencer was told she was weird-looking and “not for Hollywood.” Suck it haters: she now has an Oscar.

Samuel L. Jackson recovered from a crippling addiction to cocaine and heroin before landing Pulp Fiction at 46.

And even though Angela Lansbury was nominated for an Oscar at 18, a Goldwyn girl, a movie and gigantic Broadway star, she wasn’t a household name until she starred on Murder, She Wrote which she began at the age of 60.

Not to mention Ariana Huffington starting The Huffington post at age 54.

Or Charles Darwin, who was 50 years old before he published On the Origin of the Species in 1859.

Or Julia Child who published her first cookbook at 39; and made her television debut at age 51.

PROOF that dreams DO happen, and it is never too late for ANYTHING

Tonight you have watched people live their dreams, and I hope YOU remember why you are pursuing YOURS.

02 October, 2019

"Never Again is Now" -- A talk with "Dr. Drama"

Enjoy one of the best and most difficult conversations I've had in years with "Dr. Drama" (a practicing psychologist and theatre-lover who uses theatre to explore and disucss psychological themes in the mainstream. She runs a brilliant blog featuring "Interviews & insight from Broadway's psychologist.")

*
 
[TW: This article contains a discussion of the Holocaust and pictures of white nationalists and Nazi Germany.]
 
As I prepared to interview sage actor and writer Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof, author of After Anatevka and White Hot Grief Parade) about her role in the Olney Theatre production of Cabaret, I kept thinking about the parallels between the nationalist, xenophobic song, “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” and the war cry of white nationalists saying, “The Jews will not replace us” during their march in Charlottesville in 21017. Cabaret is a show that both helps us elucidate the past and reflects upon contemporaneous issues. With anti-Semitism and other hate crimes on the rise in recent years, this show, its questions, and its provocation are the kind of theater that we need. I spoke with Al about what this musical tells us about how hatred takes hold, how this show is impacting audiences, and the ways in which doing this show is an act of resistance.



What do you think the show is saying about how fascism comes to power and how xenophobia gains ground?
It’s really crucial to draw contemporary social parallels that are at the moment all too prescient, such as the systematic hunting down of “illegals”, the trauma being caused, and dehumanization. 
One thing I think is really, really important to say before we get into anything else, just as a huge disclaimer, is that a crucial distinction is they [immigrants] are not being systematically terminated and murdered. In the Holocaust, we should never forget that 9 million people were systematically exterminated. (And for Russia scholars, they probably add 20 more million people to that.) I don’t want to say that in terms of exclusivity, what I want to say is those people’s memories are lost and need to be honored for what it is and not diminished by being compared to something that it is not. 

Torch-bearing white nationalists rally around a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Aug. 11, 2017. (Edu Bayer/The New York Times)


It’s important to make that distinction like you said, to honor their lives, to distinguish how what’s happening now in our country is different from what happened and also to move the discussion forward. There are important lessons to be gleaned from what did happen that we can apply to what’s happening right now.
Correct and also it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. I think that we’re starting to become even more aware of that as things become scarier in our waking world. The further away we get from the Holocaust and the rise of the Nazi party in time, the more it really does feel foreign to younger people, something that happened in the past, as far away as Medieval times and the dinosaurs walking the Earth. The way that we got there is exactly the way we’re walking there right now and that’s the beginning of this conversation.

‘Cabaret’ at Olney Theatre Center. (Photo: Stan Barouh)
Hitler and authoritarians like him didn’t invent or create racism. They didn’t create anti-Semitism or anti-immigrantion points-of-view or nationalism. They didn’t invent those, they have fertilized on those feelings that were already there and are lying dormant in our humanity. When people feel their survival is being challenged, they operate completely for the fear-based place and the worst of them comes out. 

Fascism and racists aren’t born, they’re made. As it is said in South Pacific, “you have to be carefully taught”. 
The rise of fascism and the rise of specific targeted hate associated with fascism, it happens in stages. It starts with dehumanization, it moves on to expulsion, the removal of rights and it ends ultimately with extermination. We are already at three out of four. When we start to be unmoved watching video after video of children being separated from their families, begging people to treat them like human beings, that’s how we know dehumanization is working.

And once upon a time in the rise of Nazi Germany, Jews were being compared with rats. First they said that they do not belong here, they are not German. Even Jews who were born in Germany were called, “generational interlopers”, which is exactly what is being said now about people from Mexico, central South America and the Middle East. They are generational interlopers and they are stealing our business. They are taking our jobs, they are ruining our economy for the people that “belong” here. And the more you compare them to vermin, the more palatable the concept of exterminating them because they’re not human beings.

Then second, we start to get into expulsion, now Jews can only live in this part of town. They have to identify themselves with a Star of David on their clothing. We have to round them up and put them somewhere and then suddenly we have the removal of rights, meaning you don’t get to vote, you have to pay higher taxes, you don’t get to have state benefits. That’s already happening in America with access to public services, even if you’re documented. 
Jewish families being forced out of their homes by Nazis in Poland (Photo: Getty Images)
The next thing we got here on the list is extermination. Once you have Hitler, it’s too late. That means that you have been operating inside your bubble for so long that you didn’t see evil right there. I think for a lot of people, they just felt so secure. New York City, Los Angeles, these cities were so incubated in their liberalism that they didn’t even connect with, speak to, pay attention to any other opinions that were happening in different parts of the country. It’s a lot like Berlin in the 1930’s. 
Cabaret is a play about the price and the cost of complicity. What does it cost to identity with evil? To actively do nothing? And the play is an answer to the question, “How did this happen?” Then the show ends with the question, “What are you going to do about it?”


Can we talk about what a song like, “Money” says about how economic fear and xenophobia? 
One of the things I don’t think I ever fully grasped is that the song is commenting upon how Cliff has decided to blindly smuggle money for the Nazis. Cliff is a protagonist, a “good American boy”. He has decided to ask no questions and go back and forth with these briefcases full of cash and do what he has to do to pay his rent. So many people were in precisely that position. I think what’s really profound about Cliff is that he has the ability to ask deeper questionnaires, he has the ability to comprehend their answers, he just completely declines to. He’s different from Sally who is operating in ignorance. She is like so many of us, her weakness is that she cannot bear the ugly. Of course we must laugh and celebrate and heal and continue on with as much joy as we can muster but there’s a huge distinction from that and blocking out reality. 

We have a responsibility to humanity. I’ll openly admit that five or six years ago, I was a person that thought, I don’t have a revolutionary spirit and I don’t find politics particularly interesting. A couple of causes mean a lot to me but on the whole, it’s not my thing. And then 2016 happened. I am Jewish and I am white passing. I’m an artist, but I live in a socioeconomic bracket that isn’t poverty. So I am privileged, it wouldn’t change my way of life whatsoever if I didn’t want to look. But my human conscience won’t allow me to have people and the news speak of my friends and colleagues as if their lives are worthless or don’t exist. Perhaps that comes from the echoes of 1930’s Germany that I feel in my DNA. 

In the Jewish community, we have this phrase “Never Again”. My question to the world who is listening to and reading this is, what does that mean? If it’s just something we say, then it becomes a trope without action. It requires resistance. If you ever wondered who you’d be and what you would do during the Holocaust, you’re doing it right now. 


There is this almost hysterical denial represented in the show. In 1930’s Berlin, it was music and booze and drugs. Currently, it may still be alcohol and drugs but it’s also our phones that we use to get those dopamine rushes that keep us satiated.   
 
We live in a society of decadence, the decadence is simply personal, external validation. Whereas once upon a time it was partying all night long, we’ve completely replaced that with our phones, which doesn’t make it any less decadent. We are distracted. 
Alexandra Silber as Sally Bowles (Photo: Stan Barouh)
Cabaret is a show that confronts. Given the world we currently live in, how have your audiences been responding?
In the original production, they very famously staged a mirror that was in the very back of the club that was revealed and audience saw itself in the final moments. What it says is you are now watching yourself watch as families burn. By confronting yourself in the mirror, the innate subtextual question there is, are you a different person than that person watching? 

What we all wanted with this production was for people in the audience to be so disturbed and so shaken that they donated money, that they called their Congress-person, that they did something. We have a Brechtian ending where we turn on the lights and we look directly in their eyes. We are all standing on stage, every single person in the company. I look in a patron’s eyes for 30 silent seconds. There’s some people that look all around, still trying to have audience-actor relationship.There are people that are extremely confrontational, that feel tricked that you made me laugh and you asked me to applaud and now you’re punishing me. And then there are people that are weeping that say I don’t know what to do but this 30 seconds of being held by your eyes is helping me find the strength to do something. 

The whole purpose of theater, going back to its origin, was to have a group catharsis and for political action because everyone in the community, including the Greek senators, were there. Actors were speaking directly to their representatives and in our society we have been told, and hopefully those truths will remain so, that we are in charge of our own political destiny with the power of our vote and the power of our voice. If that holds true, then hopefully when you attend any piece of theater you have your cathartic experience, whether it be joy or sorry, but please also leave the theater and do something with those emotions. Take action for it to make the world a better place.


We really need a show like Cabaret right now. We need to lean into the awareness and the political. 
One of my favorite things I’ve learned is the Hebrew phrase, chevak v’ematz, which means “travel bravely”. There’s this beautiful little micro scene at the very end of Cabaret where Herr Shultz stops to say goodbye to Cliff and Sally. Cliff says to him, “I wish you much Mazel [good luck]” and Herr Shultz responds, “Mazel. That is what we all need.” I always feel hit that he would say that, the ancient wisdom there is so crucial. It’s not travel safely, it’s travel bravely

Best,
Dr. Drama

30 September, 2019

'The New Year' by Emma Lazarus



Rosh-Hashanah, 5643
 
Not while the snow-shroud round dead earth is rolled,
And naked branches point to frozen skies.—
When orchards burn their lamps of fiery gold,
The grape glows like a jewel, and the corn
A sea of beauty and abundance lies,
Then the new year is born.

Look where the mother of the months uplifts
In the green clearness of the unsunned West,
Her ivory horn of plenty, dropping gifts,
Cool, harvest-feeding dews, fine-winnowed light;
Tired labor with fruition, joy and rest
Profusely to requite.

Blow, Israel, the sacred cornet! Call
Back to thy courts whatever faint heart throb
With thine ancestral blood, thy need craves all.
The red, dark year is dead, the year just born
Leads on from anguish wrought by priest and mob,
To what undreamed-of morn?

For never yet, since on the holy height,
The Temple’s marble walls of white and green
Carved like the sea-waves, fell, and the world’s light
Went out in darkness,—never was the year
Greater with portent and with promise seen,
Than this eve now and here.

Even as the Prophet promised, so your tent
Hath been enlarged unto earth’s farthest rim.
To snow-capped Sierras from vast steppes ye went,
Through fire and blood and tempest-tossing wave,
For freedom to proclaim and worship Him,
Mighty to slay and save.

High above flood and fire ye held the scroll,
Out of the depths ye published still the Word.
No bodily pang had power to swerve your soul:
Ye, in a cynic age of crumbling faiths,
Lived to bear witness to the living Lord,
Or died a thousand deaths.

In two divided streams the exiles part,
One rolling homeward to its ancient source,
One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart.
By each the truth is spread, the law unfurled,
Each separate soul contains the nation’s force,
And both embrace the world.

Kindle the silver candle’s seven rays,
Offer the first fruits of the clustered bowers,
The garnered spoil of bees. With prayer and praise
Rejoice that once more tried, once more we prove
How strength of supreme suffering still is ours
For Truth and Law and Love.

30 April, 2019

On Discovering a Butterfly
Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov wrote the following:
Listen: I am ideally happy. My happiness is a kind of challenge. As I wander along the streets and the squares and the paths by the canal, absently sensing the lips of dampness through my worn soles, I carry proudly my ineffable happiness. The centuries will roll by, and schoolboys will yawn over the history of our upheavals; everything will pass, but my happiness, dear, my happiness will remain, in the moist reflection of a streetlamp, in the cautious bend of stone steps that descend into the canal’s black waters, in the smiles of a dancing couple, in everything with which God so generously surrounds human loneliness.” 
— an excerpt from A Letter That Never Reached Russia

And then below that a poem, which, according to the marginalia, is only a part of longer text:


'On Discovering a Butterfly
' by Vladimir Nabokov

I found it and I named it, being versed

in taxonomic Latin; thus became

godfather to an insect and its first

describer — and I want no other fame.
Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),

and safe from creeping relatives and rust,

in the secluded stronghold where we keep

type specimens it will transcend its dust.
Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,

poems that take a thousand years to die

but ape the immortality of this

red label on a little butterfly.

© Australian artist, Ashvin Harrison

02 April, 2019

Questions from Book Tour - Part 7

Book tour!
1. In addition to grieving and overcoming pain, the book really seems to explore keeping up appearances in a lot of ways. What did this tragedy instill within you about that and how society so often avoids talking about death, in general?

     Death is the Great Unknown, and most human being love nothing more than snuggling up and getting all cozy with certainty. The trouble is— certainty hardly ever truly exists in our lives.

     The greatest fears all living things hold within them is the loss of someone they love and the loss of their own lives. Avoiding death and survival instinct is built into the tiniest amoebas, and they don’t even have intricate death mythology or structure of beliefs about an afterlife. Humanity has been mythologizing death since we had cognizance, one to make peace with it for our own demise, but also to ease the profound suffering of being left behind in death by anyone we love.


     Around Christmas, my mom and I were going through some of her life treasures in the basement.
    “Oh I like those shoes,” I said salivating slightly.
    “Patience, Al, you can borrow them now but you keep them when I’m dead.”
    “Roger that, Mom.”
    “Cheer up. You’ll get it all when I’m dead! Who am I gonna leave it to— the cat?”

     This level of banter is pretty standard for us.

     But the other day I experienced a very special career highlight, and my wonderful, witty mother was there to bear witness. We have an unspoken tradition where after every major life event of mine (such as an opening night, a book launch, a concert), she takes me aside and we pause a few minutes to revel in what has just transpired. After we did that, I paused as said:
    “Mom. Just so you know, this tradition means everything to me.”
    “Me too,” she replied.
    “And,” I continued after reflecting a moment, “I don’t know about the details of the afterlife and all that, but I’m just letting you know now, that if you do get to come back and haunt or visit or say hi, this ‘after the show’ moment would be when I’d really like to know you’re popping in.”
    “Okay,” she said, then smirking added “Good talk.”

     We laughed. Life and death and real-talk chat is no big deal to the Silber ladies anymore. As you can see, the ability to so blithely operate in that kind of dialogue does not put a damper on the joyous occasion, it made it even more memorable, without being a huge downer.


Ta-DA!!! Real Talk!
     Taking death and grief out and looking at them directly seems unpleasant, unnecessary and downright “grim,” but it removes the stigma from a human experience every single one of us is going to have sooner or later, and avoiding the subject is not going to prevent it, and certainly not the solution for making any kind of peace with it.

     My suggestion is to very simply: think and talk about it. Recognize that you might be avoiding the subject out of discomfort or fear. The more you accept the reality of death and grief, the more you can get on with the business of truly investing in and fully living your life.



the real Rabbi Daniel Syme
2. Why did you make the choice to fictionalize Rabbi Syme [in After Anatevka]?

     What a wonderful question. Ah, beautiful beautiful Rabbi Daniel Syme...

     I went about fictionalizing the real Rabbi Syme (who is chronicled literally in WHGP) into the fictional version that captured his spirit, in Rabbi Syme.

     The real Rabbi Daniel Syme was a crucial advocate to and for not only me, but to and for my father’s human legacy.

    Fictional Rabbi Syme (in After Anatevka) is based very loosely upon the real-life Rabbi Syme (chronicled literally in WHGP)—loosely because my description in the novel is not so much a literal, but more of an evocative recollection and honoring of his influence. Real-life Rabbi Syme and I only spent a collection of minutes together in 2001, but they were crucial minutes. He gave me the gift of delivering the eulogy at my father's funeral service, as well as bearing witness to it when he lead the funeral service, and above all, he gave me an hour of his time months later, reminding me of what was eternal, and chartering a map toward the beauty, strength, and individuality my faith. Irreplaceable gifts one can never forget.

     The fictional version of the character was my way of honoring the man who was my father's advocate, and thus, Perchik's (who is modeled in many ways after my father). He was also my first spiritual teacher of any kind.

    The influence of Rabbi Syme proves another true-to-life maxim: that we never know the depth of the influence we have upon one another. A fleeting moment to one, might bear a lifetime of profundity to another, for better and for worse. So it is in these tiny actions that we must recognize that our influence on earth is vast, has meaning, and should never be taken for granted.

To read more about Rabbi Syme click here:
The Real Rabbi Syme
The Real Rabbi Syme continued




3. What questions do you still have for G-d?

Why so many Fast and the Furious movies, Big Guy?



4. Later, with the chapter "Where Memories," you state that you "have always clutched fiercely onto ordinary moments." As I was reading the book, I had a pad of sticky notes + immediately scrawled "Anton Chekhov," whose plays featured plots with very little actually happening (The Cherry Orchard is a favorite of mine). Many people don't or aren't willing to find the poeticism in the mundane, the little moments that don't seem to many anything on the surface. Is it human nature to only remember the big, life-changing moments?

     It is interesting you mention Anton Chekov and The Cherry Orchard. I don’t state it directly, but the “mysterious man” Perchik meets in the Moscow bar in 1903 (about 2/3 of the way through After Anatevka) is indeed Anton Chekhov. I drop about a dozen or so clues, even going so far as to have Perchik inspire Chekhov with the phrase “All Russia is our orchard…” but I never state it explicitly. It was my little nod to the theatre.

     I don’t think it is human nature to only focus on big life moments— I think many people vividly recall the seemingly minute details of their lives. What I think most people do not practice is the meaning-making around and of these details. Making meaning of our lives is why many people participate in religion, why they read and go to the theatre, why they read horoscopes and attend spiritual gatherings. Not every human being finds meaning-making fruitful— some prefer to live utterly in the present and that is okay if it works for them.

     I happen to be a person who not only enjoys, but needs to make meaning of my and all human life. I do think I have a gift for creating a myth around an experience almost instantaneously, but as a few very wise friends have observed, sometimes my speedy ability to mythologize hijacks my experiencing of the moment itself. And noting that, I endeavor to stay fully aware in the present, and meaning-make later.

with Rabbi Syme



31 March, 2019

Risk by Anaïs Nin

And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to Blossom.


©Nick Bantock

29 March, 2019

Ask Al: Missing Shows

I realized recently that so many of my "Ask Al" questions come either from curious laymen, or artists who are either in training or embarking upon their careers. In other wordsnot from working professionals who are asking their colleague for support or insight. I exchange texts and emails (both asking and answering) with my friends and colleagues all the time, and I thought it might be interesting to hear about the cares and concerns of high-flying professionals and what concerns them on a daily basis.

In this instance, a friend in a Broadway musical reached out about missing performances due to illness. Many performers are flooded with guilt and shame, as well as fear and insecurity. What my friend and I worked through was a crucial part of self-love and acceptance, as well and, I believe, applicable to all professions.

Enjoy.

 * * *

    Dear P(al), 

    I have the fate of laryngitis from this all-over-the-place weather. As a result, I’m missing shows and feel totally defeated and unworthy and just plain gutted. The shame of being given the enormous honor of leading a company, only to let down that company, the producers and the audience is a level of guilt I can't bear! Yet, without my voice, I can't do the job I have been tasked to.
    Can you tell me it’s ok to be sick? I feel as though these thoughts are keeping me from truly healing!

Love you,
"Them"

*

    Oh, my friend.

    First things first— you are anything BUT unworthy. You are a beast of a performer, spirit, athlete, and artist. Illness happens to all of us for any number of reasons. It is not an indication of weakness or lack of commitment in any way. You’re sick. It’s not your fault. It’s not a crime.

    Second— missing shows is always hard because you’ve been tasked with a high honor that I know you revere. But if it is any help for a “re-frame” — I always like to think of the CHARACTER and what they need. Taking the pressure off of myself.

Ask:
     “What does this character need from me to get her story told today?”

And:

     “Am I the best person to tell her story today?”

— if the answer is no, then say:

     "I should step aside and allow someone else to take care of her story until I can return."
Because that outlook has the wisdom, maturity and ego-less energy of recognizing that this isn't about you and your fame or glory, it is ultimately about putting the character first, and that is the thinking of one's highest self.

    Finally — I know you (like so many of us) suffer from a mix of fierce ambition as well as imposter syndrome. I identify with that. I think moments like these can exacerbate that fear — the fear that somehow we don’t deserve these honors and opportunities we’ve fought and bled for. That somehow our luck is catching up with us and we’re going to be revealed as hacks.

That’s just your fear taking you hostage. It’s a liar.

    I love you so much.
    And I believe in you.
    And I’m really honored you trusted me with this.

Al


*

    You. Are. Yoda.
    I cannot thank you enough for this. 

— "Them"





27 March, 2019

Backstage at BC/EFA's Broadway Backwards


Sharing a dressing room at the New Amsterdam with Robyn Hurder and Bonnie Milligan:
©Michael Kushner
Preparing for "Louise" in "All I Need is the Girl" opposite Robyn Hurder as Tulsa.
©Michael Kushner
Robyn Hurder and I only take frameable photos. One of the greatest nights of my life.
A beautiful scene for a beautiful cause.

with Robyn Hurder ©Michael Kushner



02 March, 2019

I've Been: Winter 2018/19

  • playing Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • hosting the Chicago edition of The Hanukkah Hoedown!
  • feeling more lonely than I ever have in all my life
  • wondering why some people are absolute jerks
  • letting go
  • accepting
  • endeavoring to reveal my inner self
  • Writing writing wrting...
  • freezing my ass off in Chicago
  • "Chicago-ing"(at Steppenwolf, the Art Institute, IO Improv night, Magnificent Mile and many more wonders)


  • baking paleo bread
  • participating in a really interesting and genre-busting play-reading of The Block Association Project with a phenomenal group of talents

Reading:
  •  So Sad Today: Personal Essays by Melissa Broder 
  •  The Nightengale's Sonata
  • The Big New Yorker Book of Cats
  • New Family Values by Andrew Solomon
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  • Why You Are Who You Are from The Great Courses
  • The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
  • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
  • My sisters!
  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown


  • recording a cut song from Fiddler on the Roof titled 'Marry for Love' (which was ultimately replaced by 'Matchmaker') with Roslaind Harris and Neva Small (Tzeitel and Chava from the Fiddler motion picture, respectively!)
    with Rosalind Harris and Neva Small
  • hosting friends from far away (both named Alexandra)
  • reuniting with my Fiddler family at 54 Below!
  • re-connecting with old friends who live locally!
  • hanging with MamaSilbs
  • and (shockingly, surprisingly... in THE most unlikely of places and circumstances) falling in love... 



Him. <3

28 February, 2019

'Romance Sonambulo' by Federico Garcia Lorca


Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.

Green, how I want you green.
Big hoarfrost stars
come with the fish of shadow
that opens the road of dawn.
The fig tree rubs its wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the forest, cunning cat,
bristles its brittle fibers.
But who will come? And from where?
She is still on her balcony
green flesh, her hair green,
dreaming in the bitter sea.

–My friend, I want to trade
my horse for her house,
my saddle for her mirror,
my knife for her blanket.
My friend, I come bleeding
from the gates of Cabra.
–If it were possible, my boy,
I’d help you fix that trade.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
–My friend, I want to die
decently in my bed.
Of iron, if that’s possible,
with blankets of fine chambray.
Don’t you see the wound I have
from my chest up to my throat?
–Your white shirt has grown
thirsty dark brown roses.
Your blood oozes and flees
around the corners of your sash.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
–Let me climb up, at least,
up to the high balconies;
Let me climb up! Let me,
up to the green balconies.
Railings of the moon
through which the water rumbles.

Now the two friends climb up,
up to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of teardrops.
Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck at the dawn light.

Green, how I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
The two friends climbed up.
The stiff wind left
in their mouths, a strange taste
of bile, of mint, and of basil
My friend, where is she–tell me–
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times would she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!
Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water.
The night became intimate
like a little plaza.
Drunken “Guardias Civiles"
were pounding on the door.
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.

31 January, 2019

Kidspoem/Bairnsangs By Liz Lochhead

it wis January
and a gey dreich day
the first day Ah went to the school
so my Mum happed me up in ma
good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood
birled a scarf aroon ma neck
pu'ed oan ma pixie an' my pawkies
it wis that bitter
said noo ye'll no starve
gie'd me a wee kiss and a kid-oan skelp oan the bum
and sent me aff across the playground
tae the place Ah'd learn to say

it was January
and a really dismal day
the first day I went to school
so my mother wrapped me up in my
best navy-blue top coat with the red tartan hood,
twirled a scarf around my neck,
pulled on my bobble-hat and mittens
it was so bitterly cold
said now you won't freeze to death
gave me a little kiss and a pretend slap on the bottom
to the place I'd learn to forget to say

it wis January
and a gey dreich day
the first day Ah went to the school
so my Mum happed me up in ma
good navy-blue napp coat wi the rid tartan hood,
birled a scarf aroon ma neck,
pu'ed oan ma pixie an' ma pawkies
it wis that bitter.
Oh saying it was one thing
but when it came to writing it
in black and white
the way it had to be said
was as if you were posh, grown-up, male, English and dead. 


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