Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy 40th Birthday, Eddie!

My Fabulous Friend, Eddie, turns 40 years young today!

Eddie, who was the one to teach me the Weapon Dance, is one of the most quotable people I know. Here are a few of my favorites:

"I can't . . . dance to that."
(said while dancing in a bar when a hair band/heavy metal song was played)

"Who took my picture without my knowledge and is using it without my permission?"
(asked in front of a Joe Camel cigarette ad featuring a Vegas Showgirl)

"Just take your cheap pumps, and your trashy blond hair, and get out!"
(said in a general fit of bitchiness)

"Ohmygawd, I would never get any studying done, here. I would just be running up and down the hallways all the time, screaming, 'Let's play Twister! Let's do the bunny-hop! Let's go to Burger King!'"
(said while visiting a friend in the UCLA dorms)

(said to me by way of greeting as I drove by and he hung out of the front door of his work place, Miller's Outpost)

"Ew. EW! EWWW! No wonder I'm gay! Ew!"
(said while perusing through the various pencil sketches in 'The Joy of Lesbian Sex')

"Welcome to Wicker Hell. May I help you?"
(said to me as I entered his work place, Pier One Imports)

And of course, worth repeating: "What color is it, and does it have a make-up mirror?"
(asked of his father who had bought Eddie his first previously owned car)

And one last final quote, said to Eddie by our friend Drea:
"You will not wear my tiara."
(said to Eddie when we entered her bedroom and he made a beeline directly to her Homecoming princess crown)

Happy Birthday, my Fabulous Friend, Eddie! I love you always, and I look forward to another twenty-three years and beyond of fun shared together!

"You no get da roll weed da combination plaaate!" (to be read in a very irate Chinese woman's voice)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Squawk! Spring is Here

The green parrots are back!

I'm not sure when I first noticed the green parrots that go shrieking through the sky in the greater Los Angeles area. Maybe a few years ago, when Domestic Partner and I still lived in Echo Park, near downtown L.A. They've been hard not to notice as they seem more numerous each year, in our suburban neighborhood.

Sometimes they fly by our street in small flocks, squawking all the while, and giving me a glimpse of the scarlet streaks in their outspread wings. At other times, I see them chattering in large groups in our neighborhood's trees when I take the pugs for a walk. Now and then, they rest on the antiquated telephone lines or swing from them, playfully hanging upside down.

Where did they come from? Aren't they tropical birds? Don't they belong in Africa, or at least Central America? One of our neighbors mentioned something about a local aviary that had burned down about thirty years ago. She thought that a few parrots had survived and had been flourishing since then.

We don't hear the squawks when the weather gets cold. Okay, cool. Well, cold enough for the parrots to fly south for the winter, I presume. I was happy to hear the first familiar squawk of the season last month. In a corner of the country that is seemingly without seasons, the return of the green parrots has come to symbolize the arrival of another new springtime for me.

The noisy, green parrots seem rather anageological (if I may use a made-up word) in everyday suburbia. And that just helps to make L.A.-la-land a more mystical place to live!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Perfect Workout Gear

BFF Kathy lives with her husband and two children in a beautiful seaside neighborhood, about a mile away from the beach. If you visit at the right time of day you can walk among the tide pools when the tide is low and touch sea anemones.

Usually we drive the mile or so down to the beach when I come to visit. This last time, though, Kathy suggested that we take the double stroller with her 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. I volunteered to navigate the stroller, knowing that it was a mostly downhill trip to the beach. And it wasn't so bad, especially when we stopped at a sandwich shop for turkey and avocado with Swiss cheese on squaw bread.

Near the beach, there was a small children's game carnival at a rec center. Kathy's kids threw bean-bags and hooked plastic fish to win various plastic toys. Everyone thought that I was the dad, which we no longer bother to correct since we are used to it, by now.

I also volunteered to push the double stroller back to their house, even though it was uphill all the way. Kathy does it every week, so I could do it at least once.

I thought.

It kicked my ass.

I have long had the theory that having your own child would be like owning the perfect exercise equipment. Your muscles could warm up with a newborn and then develop as they got used to the child's gradually increasing weight. Babies in car seats are great for building your biceps.

Simply carrying a child around would allow you to naturally incorporate lunges and ab work into your daily routine.

And I figured, if you can teach your toddler to hold her body as stiff as a board, then you've got an instant bench press. Your pecs would get bigger as your child got older.

Pushing Kathy's kids uphill in their double stroller wailed on my hamstring muscles and my glut's. I was out of breath for most of the return trip. It was good thing I flaked on my morning jog that day. No wonder Kathy's so amazingly thin, again, at age 41!

The next time we do this, I told them, I'll take my scooter down to the beach and just meet them there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Waiting Game

The auditions for Pippin were over two weeks ago. I haven't heard anything, haven't received a phone call.

I'm pretty sure that I am finished waiting. Well, most of me is. A more-than-small part of me is still hoping that they'll call in the next week or two before rehearsals begin. It almost feels good to be playing the waiting game again, though, to be hopeful everyday, every hour even, for that one phone call . . . it's been a while since I've last played.

But do I really want to dance, still? Or is it more about proving to myself and others that I can still do it at my age, that I don't quite have one (perfectly pointed, well turned-out) foot in the performer's grave, yet?

If I don't get this show, my disappointment will be small enough. My world will continue to rotate. And I'll continue to be just the normal amount of tired at work, not woefully exhausted everyday for three months, wishing I had my life back and looking forward to closing night.

Besides, rehearsals and performances would take away from my writing time. I don't mind the label of Retired Dancer, or Former Performer, but I sure would like to try the title of Published Author on for size. And for that I've got a lot of work to do. And some more waiting.

Don't clear a space on your bookshelf for me just yet. It may take me a while, but here I come!

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Feel Good Audition

I was excited about attending last week's audition, but also apprehensive. I hadn't seen most of the people regularly involved with East West Players, "The nation's premier Asian American theatre," for a few years. I was sure that I would look older and heavier to any familiar faces.

Call it 'dancer's pride,' semi-retired or not.

I shouldn't have worried. Those that I recognized were also older and heavier. It was both comforting and sobering. It was comforting to relax into the old, familiar sense of family, a sense created by the usual theater camaraderie, underlined by the pan Asian American solidarity (not always automatic among different Asian peoples).

It was sobering because our increased ages and waist sizes were only highlighted by dancing alongside a new generation of performers, some of them literally half our age or even younger.

The audition was for "Pippin," a show that has been around long enough to be considered a classic, right? Bob Fosse! Seventies style dancing! OLD SCHOOL!
But as I have mentioned, this production is going to be a contemporary adaptation--an Anime hip-hop version of "Pippin."

Oy, I'm old.

But I was also feeling very relaxed at this audition, during the dance portion, anyway (hadn't sung in years--felt the shakes during the singing portion!). What was different? I didn't have much to lose by auditioning this time, that's what was different. This is the first audition I've attended since working at my first full time day job.

How strange to not want a gig so desperately because I need to depend on it for income to support myself--and to get a breather from waiting tables. How refreshing to leave the former and pathetic attempt to extend and validate my desired status as a working dancer/performer.

And also, how wonderful that I could still dance. I still "had it." JOY OF JOYS! My body can still pick up the steps and move in a strong and confident fashion!

I am simply exuberant whenever I find that my body can still dance, no matter how much it may wear me out. I used to worry that each show would be my last, even before I entered my thirties. During the run of a few gigs I had wondered if I might never be cast again, and doomed to resign myself to the ennui of finishing my education and finding a real job as a consolation prize.

So, I left feeling good about the audition. Exhausted and sweaty, but good.

It's a been a week, now, and I still haven't heard from the theater. Rehearsals don't start until next month, so I may still have a chance. If they call and offer one of the ensemble roles, will I take it? You bet! The rehearsals and performances would be almost three months of hard work and incredible fun!

And if they don't call will I be disappointed? Maybe not. It's been one of my first thoughts this past week when I wake up for work before 6:00 am. Do I really want to do this every day on fewer hours of sleep after pummeling my body with grueling dance rehearsals?

At my age?

Yes, at least, just one last time. One more show. I've got it in me.

I think.

I still have over a decade to rest before I'm old enough to audition for the Palm Springs Follies.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Need to be Needed

I need some advice tonight.

How do you working, active artists balance it all, a professional life and a personal life, and living artistically?

Maybe this is normal, but I feel as though I suffer mild and constant guilt over neglecting Domestic Partner while trying to stay true to my artistic pursuits.

Domestic Partner is my stability, as I have said before and as I will always say. I will always be grateful to him for contributing that otherwise sorely lacking element in my life. That is one of my main Domestic Partner Benefits.

I'm not sure what good I do him. I can never quite put into words why he keeps me around, other than I was his first pug's favorite. I'm mildly suspicious (but not paranoid!) that it's easier for him to put up with me now, than to have to start all over again and go looking for someone else.

What good could I be doing him? What does Domestic Partner want? What he wants, I jokingly tell people, is for me to be home with him at night so he can fall asleep on the couch in front of the T.V.

Even when we are both at home, he'll claim feelings of neglect if we're in separate rooms.

"I have to work in the office, on the computer," I'll tell him.

"Awww, but then we won't be in the same room," he says, practically pouting.

"But all you do is fall asleep," I point out.

"But we should want to be together."

Later, after his evening nap, he'll wander into our office.

"What are you doing?" he'll ask.

"Trying to become a writer," I'll answer.

"Whyyyyyyyy?" he always asks. Always.

"Because I can be," I'll reply. I learned that handy answer from one of Shannen Doherty's lines in 'Heathers.'

I had a fun dance audition this past weekend for "Pippin." I told Domestic Partner that I'd really like to be part of this production, even though I know it will make me physically exhausted for three months. With rehearsals and performances, he will once again become the Performer's Widower for most of spring if I get cast.

Sometimes I wish I were still single so that I could get involved in any show or project that strikes my fancy without having to constantly consider how it will affect someone else. But the grass is always greener. I remember being alone and feeling wretchedly lonely. I know that I don't really want to be single. What I want is to have my cake and eat it, too. I guess that would mean being with a guy who wouldn't mind being left alone constantly and never seeing me.

Is that what I really want?

My friend Linda had survived a nightmare of a divorce. "You're lucky he wants you around," she tells me. "Don't take that for granted."

I'm lucky she pointed that out to me.

So. How do YOU do it all, those of you out there who are paired up (or used to be)?