29 September, 2010

Happy 30th Anniversary to My Parents

As previously mentioned, during the bicentennial summer of 1976, my parents met on an airplane in Spain.

In one of those classic (and almost unbelievable) love stories, my parents were both on individual journeys to Europe to heal themselves-- Catherine from a not-quite-right young relationship, Michael from a painful divorce involving a very young son as well as an existential mid-life moment.

Catherine's parents lived in Barcelona and her summer with them had come to an end. In the airport, she burst into tears in her mothers' arms, having not discussed her inner turmoil all summer long. There, at exactly the age I am right now, Catherine cried while her mother held her, dried her tears and spoke the lingering words "you will never leave him unless you truly believe you can love someone else..."

At this precise moment, Michael was running through the airport. Having missed his train to Paris, he decided to cut his losses and head home early. Searching for the gate, he placing his bags down on the ground to grab his bearings-- and then he saw it: two women, a mother and daughter, one comforting the other in tears. "Beautiful" he thought. And as the flight was called, he promptly made his way through the airport once again.

But they did not meet there.

They met on the airplane after the flight from Barcelona landed in Madrid.

Michael (one of those people who got up before the plane had touched the ground), passed Catherine (one of those people who waits until everyone is off the plane so she can take her time), and stopped dead-- it was the beautiful tearful woman from the airport. He spluttered, his tongue turned to lead, unable to speak, he feebly gestured to the beautiful woman that he would like to let her out in the aisle.

"No thank you, I'm just gonna stay here until everyone is off the plane..."

He stood still, staring at the beautiful woman who was reading a book to pass the time, a sea of angry Europeans fighting to get off the plane behind him. Still unable to speak, he feebly gestured again.

Catherine, starring at the gorgeous, tanned, European-looking man repeated, "NO. THANK. YOU..." she spoke up "I AM GOING TO STAY HERE UNTIL EVERYONE IS OFF THE PLANE..."

"Oh," he spluttered, "I'm really sorry.... to have spoiled your plans..."

Michael stared, unable to believe the lameness of his response, but Catherine found this man so earnest, so charming, and his response so delightfully sweet-- she burst out laughing and did indeed get off the plane. . .

But who would've guessed that Michael and Catherine both lived in San Francisco? Or that they would spend the remainder of that journey Westward together, slowly falling in love in the airports, on the planes. . .

When they got off the plane, they went their separate ways. But Catherine immediately returned home, packed up her apartment and drove to Michael's office the next day.
"Buenos dias," she uttered to him on the phone, "are you still in love?"
"You bet."

And she moved in. That night. And that was that.

Years ago, on the anniversary of this fateful plane journey, the three of us went out to dinner and the two of them told me the "whole story"-- the bits with the fully explored emotions, the little details, the kiss just before the landing... I don't think I'll ever forget the looks on their faces as they told me the story and relived the memories. "Her voice was... like a bell," my father said, "I just couldn't stop talking to her..."And mom almost blushed, her eyes gazing up at him, smiling.

Their relationship, their friendship, their marriage inspires me everyday.

So. In honor of what would have been their 30th wedding anniversary, posts about my parents...

Love. Keeps. Going.


8 Years On

Happy Birthday Mom

Father's Day - a list

70th Birthday

and my recent favo(u)rite:

Men of Parts

22 September, 2010

Yeah, yeah I hear you...

Yeah. I hear you.
I hear you Nutritionist Lady. 
But look:
There are over 5 jars of Peanut Butter for any possible occasion in the cupboard and...


... Sorry, what was that? Be specific? 

Well there's 
                         and cracker. 

Some people drink, some smoke, some people go crazy with chocolate or sweets or cheese... but basically peanut butter is my thing. It is like being a wine connoisseur. I'm a peanut butter connoisseur. Self proclaimed, yes, but a devotee and expert nonetheless. 

And I'm okay with that. 

So I respect where you are coming from but it's just not going to happen...

20 September, 2010


Remain calm. 

As you read this please know that the story ends well. It ends with me going to a different grocery establishment altogether. It ends with me at home eating the one, the only, the superior, the very best of all jams-- raspberry jam.

Don't be alarmed.
Keep calm and carry on.


[At rise: Al does a quick late night shop at her local Astoria grocery establishment. It is nearly closing time on a Sunday night, and Al has realized that she, as usual, does not really have any food in the house aside from pickles. This is an emergency journey to the store. There is hunger within her and the clock is ticking...]

Al: Carrots-- check. Celery-- check. Giant thing of hummus-- check...

[she continues down the aisles placing essentials in her basket. She ignores the Halloween candy. Halloween is her favorite holiday-- Halloween candy is the perfect size. She ignores the Halloween candy with a pang. She quickly decides between Ryvita or Wassa crispbread. She picks up recycled paper towels thinking "one good replaces one bad?" as she indulges in a longing glance at the artisan cheeses and keeps walking...]

Loudspeaker: Attention customers. The time is now 9:45 and this store will be closing in 15 minutes. Please bring your final purchases to the checkout. Thank you.

['OhmigodIamnotnearlyfinishedwerenotevenattheyoghurtsection' she thinks. She prioritizes; and rushes to the all important peanut butter and jam aisle. She selects her peanut butter. And then she sees it. There are rows and rows of jam. Strawberry, Blackberry, Grape, Marmalade, Apricot. There are many brands. But not a single jar of raspberry. She pauses. She takes it in. She breathes. She nearly blacks out...]

Loudspeaker: Ladies and gentleman the time is now 9:55 and this store is closing in 5 minutes. Please bring all final purchases to the checkout immediately.

[Al sees a grocery employee and practically tackles him]

Al: Excuse me! Um, you seem to be out of raspberry jam.

Grocery Employee: Right. Well, it is the end of the day. On Sunday. We'll have more tomorrow.
Al: I understand that but-- don't you have any in the back at all?
Grocery Employee: [unimpressed] I don't know.
Al: Well... would you mind checking?
Grocery Employee: ...seriously?
Al: Yes?
Grocery Employee: Look there is a jar of redberry flavor right here. And I hear it is pretty good. It is basically the same. Red berry, it is a flavor but maybe you should just get it? I mean there are only 5 minutes...

[Al is flabbergasted-- 'Redberry'?!! ExCUSE me?]

Al: Eh... no, thank you.

[She proceeds to the checkout without this 'Redberry' monstrosity and proceeds directly to a smaller all-night shop and finds exactly what she needs. Peanut butter plus raspberry jam plus Wassa crispbread = DELICIOUS... Evening complete.]



Forgive me but this faux "Redberry" concoction has no business being a jam. And I resent it being foist upon me. Even with 5 minutes left of the work day, even with both sugar free and alternative berry options.

Redberry is not a berry.
It is a liar berry.
A liarberry if you will.
And oh I will...
. . . Don't mess with my jam... just don't. . .

06 September, 2010

Sometimes all it takes is one taste.

I've just returned from a magical weekend in the country. We ate. We drank around a bonfire until 2 in the morning. We Foxtrotted. We played lawn games. We partied like it was 1939. Oh yeah, and Oliver and Alex got married. Two of my oldest, my enduring, and very best friends got married to one another and it was beautiful.

You know? It is an incredible honor to speak in a wedding ceremony. I realize that sounds rather obvious but think about it-- to be the person asked to not merely articulate, but to publicly express, to speak to and on behalf of the love between two people you adore on one of the most important days of their lives? It doesn't get much more exceptional an honor than that.

I could not love Oliver Friendly and Alexandra Boule-Buckley more. Either as individuals or as a couple. I don't need a mirror when they are around so glorious is the reflection I see in their eyes. They make me feel the way we all dream of feeling appreciated and loved by the people in our lives. Living with them last Spring was like living in my own home. We ate Oliver's delicious food (he is a very clever and wonderful and successful chef donchaknow...) and Alex filled the house with music and art, and they were terribly supportive while I found my way in the world, in our Nation's Capital, not to mention to-and-from the Kennedy Center.
They treated me like family.
We are family.
This is what friendship feels like in its purest form. Its essence.
This is love.

And it was a joy to walk down the aisle on Sunday, to stand before the crowd, to speak the following words with an overflowing heart.

Today and always, I love the newly united Friendlys and consider them and their love, a total inspiration.


Sometimes all it takes is one taste.

If you ask me, (and, um, you are), I think on a certain level, Oliver and Alex both fell in love at first sight.
I was there.
I saw it.
We all did.
Perhaps the rest of us saw it before they would even admit it to themselves.
Call them ridiculous romantics if you want.
I have.
They don’t care.
Because they know.
They knew.

You see, I met both Oliver and Alex the summer they met one another— 1998 at Interlochen Arts Camp: where an eternal bond of friendship formed with an astonishing group of friends.

It is hard to be young and gifted. It’s lonely— and I think young artistic people treasure Interlochen because it is the kind of place where for the first time in their lives they feel more than accepted but understood.

Plus magical things happen.
Magical things like putting two plays and a musical on in four weeks and Gilbert & Sullivan operettas with casts of 150.
But mostly magical things like multi-decade friendships (that endure not only flighty teenage years, college, and the ‘real world,’ but great distances, personal triumphs, personal tragedies, and everything in between), all based on a concentrated eight weeks once shared together in the middle of the wilderness.

Oliver and Alex met that summer and I’m not quite sure you are grasping this but they are getting marriedCURRENTLY. THEY ARE LITERALLY CURRENTLY GETTING MARRIED. You see what I’m saying? The place is magical.

But the guy who played Sir Joseph Porter may be a big time conductor now but I never hear from him! And his understudy? This Josh Groban character? I can’t get the guy to return a single. email. And I went to the opening weekend dance that summer with some dude who isn’t even my friend on Facebook.

The point is: sometimes it isn’t about the time or the place— it is the people, and they are meant to meet, and they are meant to love one another wherever and whenever it is right.

Right at the end of that magical summer, Alex and Oliver went to a play reading. The night began with “the two who weren’t busy” but by the end of the night they were “the two who were glued to one anothers sides.

Walking home, at the conclusion of both a summer and an evening, they shared the first of many “tastes”— a heavenly kiss they can both still remember as if it happened yesterday. You should watch them talk about it...

They stayed in touch.
They reunited seven years later…
They shared another kiss on the streets of New York in a moment they describe as “plucked from a 50’s film”
And three months after that they were hooked.
So, after three months (okay three months and 7 years)
They realized this was far more than love.
This was it.

They saw through the layers of years
         Right back to who they had been as children.
                  Through all the things they had yet to share.

My guess is when the time came for love? They felt like friends— because they were.

Friendship better than the feel of a sweater you knit yourself, or pulling something out of the over that is perfect, or Sondheim or Comic Book Wednesday or Stumptown coffee or even Portuguese water dogs.
More familiar than all of Debussy art songs or Stargate, or correct knife holding.
Just like a favorite song or recipe, the one you instinctually start when you need everything to feel easy and taste and sound like layers of joy.

So you see, their love affair began with, and continues with, tastes:
dark and rich, full of goodness, and wonderfully sweet.
    … Sometimes so sweet that it gives you Diabetes… but it’s okay because Oliver will cook you up some steak that will bring that Glycemic Index riiiiiight back down again and it will be so delicious that you’ll be totally thrilled they grossed you out.

You are one of my best friends. One of my Alexandra Sisters. You are dazzling: beautiful, resilient, brave, gifted, bright. And above all, one of the most uniquely beautiful souls that I have ever had the pleasure and honor of loving and being loved by.
I am so happy that today, you are, to quote you, “marrying your soul-mate.”

You are one of my best friends—one of my most enduring, capable, sensitive, brilliant and strong. My whole family has loved your guts since the moment you entered our lives. You have become a man of blinding integrity with an inspirational capacity for love.
I am so happy that today, you are, to quote you, marrying your “wish upon a star girl.”

So much joy comes from watching your friends grow into themselves, find and feel contentment, experience love. In many ways I think they inspired one another to become the amazing adults standing before us today.

That is the kind of love and partnership all marriages should be about.

… And just think, if it weren't for marriage, people would go through life thinking they had no faults at all...

Alex, Oliver: You have already made a life together, and it tastes of joy.

…Sometimes all it takes is one taste.

01 September, 2010

Feinstein's Cabaret Debut

I'm so excited to announce that I will be making my solo cabaret debut at the nightclub of New York City-- Feinstein's at Loews Regency on 18 October 2010.

As you can see, the cabaret will in many ways be a 'musicalization' of this blog-- which is why it bears the same title.

There will be stories, familiar and new.

There will be songs. Of course.
Songs familiar (to name a few: Weill, Kander, Herman,  Kern, Blumenkrantz, Horne, Bock & Harnick and Rodgers & Hammerstein... of course...)

Musical direction will be by the in-cre-dible Andy Einhorn (MD of the famed Sondheim on Sondheim at the Roundabout last season.

See you there...

Click to enlarge - [photo ©michelle & ivan hoo]


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