Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reunited, and it Feels So Good

I blame facebook. Being middle aged seems to be defined by the growing number of reunions held and attended, at least for me. One of my high school friends thinks that facebook itself is a constant, ongoing reunion.

Even before facebook put me back in touch with literally hundreds of people from my past, I went to an amazing Disney Entertainment reunion a few years ago. It was like dying and going to heaven when I walked into the event. I felt like I was seeing actual celebrities - so many people that were famous (and infamous!) in our own little backstage bubble of our theme park years in the mid-eighties. There were Character Department friends, and parade dancers, and float drivers, wardrobe and wig people, union dancer-singers from the stage shows, not to mention various stage managers, directors, and choreographers.

It was a surreal evening, and unforgettable.

It was after that first Disney reunion that facebook became a catalyst for others. Earlier this year I had a memorable week in England with the dancers from my first cruise ship job, thanks in part to facebook reuniting us - yet again - online. And it's thanks to facebook that I will soon be seeing a dear group of friends I used to perform with in a dinner theater (in the photo above). The social networking site has also reconnected many of the performers that had worked together at the Ocean Dome theme park in Japan. Our reunion is slated for next July.

Why do I enjoy attending these reunions so much? What makes everyone else so mutually enthusiastic about showing up? We certainly weren't happy all of the time while working with each other. Many of us were homesick when we were away on a cruise ship or in Japan. Sometimes, conflicts would flare up among cast members, off stage and in the dressing room. Oh, the drama!

But it's no coincidence that my favorite reunions are all from performing days (I don't even attend my high school reunions, anymore). There was always music, and I associate the good times with very specific songs. With Disney, of course, there were the parades. I can now relive the 30th Anniversary parade or the Blast to the Past parade via youtube. When I think about cruise ship days, I think about dancing in such favorite numbers as "This Joint is Jumping" and "Hot! Hot! Hot!" Dancing behind Donna Kay as she sang "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is one of the stand out memories from our dinner theater revues.

Hearing the music, even when just playing back the tapes of my memories in my mind, brings back a lot, both the good and the bad. We were young, and sometimes we made foolish choices. But we could escape whatever was going on in our lives at the moment, while on stage, and for a few minutes we were able to be genuinely happy.

There was often an endorphin rush for me, physically and emotionally, while I was singing and dancing in a dinner theater, or on board a ship, or in Japan. And it is for that specific reason I attend these reunions and why I look forward to the next one. To recall and recapture those happy feelings with friends, and to laugh over memories we haven't thought about in years - that's a pretty good resource to have in life.

(Special thanks to Miss JAM for encouraging to blog about this topic.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have been feeling the need to counterbalance the 'I Hate You' post with a more positive one, even before I thought I was going to shut down this blog. Usually, I can remember to focus on the simple pleasures in life, the things that delight me. I have always been inspired by Katherine Hepburn in "On Golden Pond," how her character, Ethel Thayer, was delighted by even just the calling of the loons on the lake ("The loons, Norman!")

What delights me? (and why do you care?)

I get so much pleasure from my pets on a daily basis. Domestic Partner and I enjoy indulging the codependent nature of our pugs. And we are happy to have a new feline friend in the house, again, even if she is a little vampire kitty, always biting and chewing on our hands and fingers in her play.

Can you believe I don't watch "Dancing With the Stars?" I know. Chastise me all you want. But I am delighted to recently learn about Mark Dacascos. Why am I just now discovering this sexy man, this Chairman of America's "Iron Chef?!" I don't care if he is a flat-footed dancer, as my coworkers have told me. This man is fine. Call it a combination of narcissism and just plain lust, but this part-Asian man is my new role model! Yes, he has trained for decades as a martial artist, but if he can maintain such physical perfection in his forties, then I have no excuse to give up on any of my own fitness efforts.

I continue to enjoy the TV series "Glee." It's like a new version of "Fame" to me. I delight in the new "Glee" soundtrack CD that I bought at Target last week, and I can't wait for the second one to come out next month! The cheerleader character, Quin, sings a cover of the Supremes' "Keep Me Hanging On." It may be an even more watered-down and vocally vapid version than Kim Wilde's, but it's one of the stand-out songs from the album that's had me rockin' all week. This version seems to hit the girl-power/feminist message more acutely somehow, at least, in a white girl kinda' way.

I delight in my scooter ride to work on sunny mornings, especially when it's a particularly safe and timely ride. I delight in the endorphins I am able to easily access when I jog, or go to the gym, or just dance around my kitchen. I take great delight in eating chocolate every day, especially Snickers, even though I shouldn't.

And I delight in the anticipation that comes along in life. The dancers I used to work with in Japan have started to find some of us Americans on facebook, and they have already set a date for a reunion next summer. It gives me continuing delight to look forward to flying across the Pacific to see them all again, in person.

It also gives me motivation to get my middle-aged ass in the gym regularly and out on my neighborhood jogging route.

Like I told you, it's also for the endorphins, my organically manufactured high and delight!

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Person

One person can make a difference.

I had every intention of writing a goodbye post tonight. I was going to retire from blogging, at least for now. I was going to pop the bubble, as it were. Then I noticed another follower. From Poland? How can I quit now when this reader just recently added my blog to his reading roll? How could I possibly risk exacerbating the precarious global conflict that's already rampant around the world by giving up on my blog?

Okay, really: How could I be so lazy and give up so easily?

Why did I start blogging in the first place? Honestly, it was another fun way to get attention. Why do you think I used to sing and dance? (Why do you think I still force my coworkers to endure my singing and dancing?) Also, I really thought I might discover that I have something substantial to say, unremarkable as my life can be, most of the time.

Why was I going to make tonight's post my last? My writing is suffering in general. Continuation of My First Novel attempt has been shamefully neglected, and I thought that cessation of this blog might help to resolve that. I feel the need, yet again, to clear away the clutter, even though that means wanting to clean out closets and getting rid of old clothes before sitting down to do any actual writing.

Maybe I am just anxious over the fact that Domestic Partner and I will be hosting my family in our home again for one of the holiday dinners this year, and I want to do as much prep cleaning as possible before that happens.

Also, my life may be too easy. My life is great, actually, and who wants to read about that? We have a new kitten in the house, another preemie we had rescued from abandonment in our backyard. Baby Kitty is playful, affectionate, and just too adorable for its own good at almost two months. She sleeps between the humans in bed, and sometimes between the pugs. Life is cozy and sweet.

We think Baby is a 'she.' We were wrong with the last cat.

I have nothing remarkable to write, most days, but I have good things in my life, and I am grateful for that. I am grateful for safe scooter rides on the freeway, and for the fact that I am employed. Sometimes, while riding into work, I remember to pray for the chance to be a light in this world, and for the chance to make a difference in someone's life, no matter how small.

Adam-from-Poland, today you are that one person to me. Because of you I will continue to write new posts for Plastic Bubble World.

And for that I thank you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Hate You

I can't write. All I want to do is rant and rave about my pet peeves. I don't want this blog to be an outlet for that - a dumping grounds.

Oh, well. Too bad.

You people who leave your shopping carts in the parking lot? I hate you. If you can't push it back to the front of the supermarket entrance, at least take it to the designated area in the parking lot. Think of the people working on staff. Do it for them.

Stop littering in the parks and around the DMV by my house. I hate you for doing that. Bushes and small trees are not there for you to place empty soda cans and cigarette boxes. Trash cans are only a few feet away.

And stop leaving empty In'N'Out bags, boxes, and soft drink cups by the curb, in front of my neighbors' houses. And beer bottles. Take it away in your car, you know, in the same way you brought it to our neighborhood.

To the guy who dropped his salsa on the floor in El Pollo Loco. I hate you. I can't believe you just left it there and went back to the salsa bar to get some more. Think of the people working on staff and clean up your own damn mess. I feel sorry for your girlfriend/wife/sister (whatever). She has to put up with your apathy for however long you two are together.

Be reasonable. Be like me and do things my way so I won't have to hate you.

And to everyone driving in Los Angeles? Use your frickin' turn signals. Give me a clue if you are about to change lanes or make a turn, so I don't crash into you.

I know my life is good. If this is the worst my life gets, then I should just be grateful. But, still. Quit it.

Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Plaid Polyester and Plastic Name Tags

I served my time in the fast food industry, in the early 80's at Le Box du Jacque, and I had a great time. Usually. Once or twice, I had run into the freezer to yell and scream my frustration out. But as with most memories from more than twenty years ago, the good outweighs the bad.

We had fun at work. Half of the staff was comprised of high school band geeks, including BFF Kathy, Knucklehead, and BMWinLaguna. We called our place of employment "Jerk in the Box," "Jack in the Crack," "Jerk Off in the Box" - everything but the actual name.

I started out on fries, and eventually I was promoted to the grill. I loved working the grill because I got to eat the extra hamburgers when they became more than thirty minutes old. I probably made more hamburgers than I was supposed to, even for the dinner rush hour.

Kathy worked the front counter and sometimes the drive-thru. She would bag the hamburgers I had wrapped in the shiny, logo-marked foil before handing them through the window. "What if you took a single bite out of the burger before wrapping it up?" she had asked me once. That still makes me laugh. I can just picture the surprised or pissed off look on some one's face after they drive away and pull the burger out of the bag.

Knucklehead was a year older than me, and therefore much wiser and more dignified. We had been cast mates in the school musical, "The Fantasticks." I was comfortable singing show tunes in front of him while on dish washer duty in the back room. Sometimes I would switch from show tunes to Madonna.

"Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight - starlight."

Knucklehead's tone was thick with condescension. "Oh, those are difficult lyrics!"

The training methods were probably Pavlovian-based. We learned to automatically respond to a series of beeps and boops for taking the french fries out of the fryer before they burned, and for flipping over the burger patties in time, etc.

The taco salad (at the time) was crowned with a ladle full of seasoned, soupy ground beef. The taco meat was kept in a kind of crock pot and would congeal if it wasn't stirred every fifteen minutes.

"Doo-doo, doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo," was what I heard every time the short medley would play over the taco meat crock pot.

BMW, with his perpetually dry wit, came up with original lyrics on his own. "Stir the taco meat, yeah-yeah-yeah," he would sing in perfect pitch.

We had a great boss, Penny, a woman with a blond bun on her head and concerned blue eyes. She would let us eat anything we wanted, "as long as the customers don't see you." I guess she figured that we would end up eating much less that way than if we had snuck around behind her back.

So, we really liked Penny. She got fired. She had been collecting cash from the register drawers, to take to the back and count in the office. She wanted all of the cash in one place, so she grabbed the most logical and handy item available: a logo-marked paper bag. That paper bag got handed out the drive-thru window. The bag contained over $1,000.

It was never seen again.

Penny's career at Junk in the Box may have been cut short, but Madonna's is closing in on three decades.

Eat those difficult lyrics, Knucklehead!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ghosts of Halloween Past

Once upon a time, in the land of Boys Town, on a late October night, the Animaniacs met the Del Rubio Triplets.

The year was 1994. Pagers were still the rage and Billy Clinton was almost a quarter of the way through his time in the Oval Office.

The Animaniacs approached the three stately and elegant ladies a-strollin' down The Boulevard, to ask for a group photo.

The First Triplet was a little hairy.
The Second Triplet was more hairy.
The Third Triplet was too hairy.

The Animaniacs relied on the the kindness of strangers to stroke their egos and take their photos (the Kind Stranger was actually BFF Kathy).

The Animanics were chatty with excitement while arranging the tableaux of six, especially Wakko.

"Okay! One more, please."

"Peter?!" The Hairiest Triplet exclaimed. "Peter Varvel, is that you?"

Wakko wasn't quite sure how to respond. "Um . . . Sean?" Fortunately, Wakko was right. The six of them laughed and hugged and took a few more photos before parting friendly ways.

Later that evening, the Animaniacs came across a portly drag queen.

"Oh, look," she said. "The Disneys are here."

Silly, portly drag queen. It wasn't the Disneys. It was the Warner Brothers.

And sister!

Happy Halloween, Blog-o-Friends!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Put On a Little Makeup, Makeup

One of the reasons I love Halloween is that it gives me an acceptable reason to wear makeup. Having to wear makeup on stage showed me how much it can help to even out your skin tone, even with just a little foundation and powder. And some blush and eye shadow, too. Eventually, I learned what would read as subtle and appropriate amounts under the lights - for a guy.

I also learned what a hassle it is to try to towel the sweat off of your face backstage and avoid smudging your makeup, between aerobic dance numbers. Pretty as the full makeup job made me, I would end up applying only eyeliner for shows.

Eyeliner is my favorite. I love the way it makes me look, kind of like Keith Richards in a strange and mysterious way, maybe even a little dangerous. Or maybe it just makes me look really faggy. Whatever. I like the way it brings out my eyes and helps to highlight my dark hair and my features, in general.

I also use eyeliner to draw facial hair since I can't grow my own in very thick. I first started drawing in a mustache and goatee when I attended 50's parties in high school. I would go dressed as a beatnik, all in black and with bongo drums.

I drew in a a mustache and goatee last year when I went to Disneyland on Halloween day with BFF Kathy and her two kids. Of course, I also drew under my eyes and on most of my eyelids, to match. I was wearing a rocker pirate costume which I had bought at Target and thought was pretty cool - it was sort of Adam Ant-ish. Kids were encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes into Disneyland. Adults were not. I was made to take the costume pieces off and walk around the theme park in my boring plain tee shirt and basic black pants. I kept the makeup on, though.

I received a strange and direct look from Jack Sparrow when he came back out from his break in Critter Country. Kathy thought that he might be secretly flirting with me a little. My heart fluttered - a little.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lucky 13

I live in a dream world. I found my prince and I lived Happily Ever After.
But I’ll tell you a secret. Domestic Partner is not my soul mate and I am not his.

‘Compatible’ is not the most appropriate word for us. ‘Peaceful coexistence’ may be a better description, but that sounds too pessimistic to me. What we have is rather unremarkable and conflict free, on a day to day basis, different as we are from each other.

He is so introverted and I revel in being extroverted. Where he is practical and pragmatic, I am impulsive and emotional. I prefer variety and spontaneity, while he likes things organized, orderly, and under control. People perceive him as the quiet type. I talk too much, all of the time.

And I need him. He is my stability.

How many different ways can I say that? He is my anchor. He counterbalances my foolishness. He is the thinking brain to my bleeding heart. He grounds me, seemingly against my will. But truly, I wouldn't let him do that if I didn't want it.

“If we were not together,” I told him, “I would not have even gone back to school. I would still be trying to work as a performer on cruise ships and in Japan, as long as people were still willing to hire me - and my pending retirement and future would be more pathetic than it already is.”

This is not the type of man with whom I thought I would end up. I keep thinking about Chandler's ex-girlfriend, Janice, on 'Friends.' "This is movie love," she told him when they had gotten back together, briefly, one season. That's the kind of lifelong relationship I had imagined I would be in some day, the complete fairy tale.

But how long do those fairy tales last? I also think that if I were with someone who was more like me, it probably wouldn't last very long. We might even come close to strangling each other (as BFF Kathy says about us if she and I had ended up marrying each other).

Domestic Partner and I may not have the bright, flaring flame of passion that I used to think I wanted in a relationship. But I have learned from him to appreciate how steady and long-lasting a low burning flame can be.

We are not at all alike. Some days it seems as if the only thing we have in common is our love for our dogs. Do I wish he was more emotionally open and physically affectionate? Yes. Does he wish for me to be more sensible and to contribute more to house cleaning? Oh, yes! But he is very good about just allowing me to be who I am, so I can usually remember to do the same for him.

This month, it will be thirteen years that Domestic Partner and I have been together. I feel extremely lucky to have him in my life, and I sincerely hope that we stay together and grow old together.

Domestic Partner is on my list of a dozen items that I am grateful for on a daily basis. He is second on the list. First on the list is the dog he had when I first met him, Caesar, who was the First and Best Pug, Ever.

Happy Anniversary, DP. Here's to thirteen more years together and beyond.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's Important

Earthquakes and tsunamis. Hurricanes and floods. Fires burning out of control during the hottest days of the year. There are countless individuals dealing with death, and injury, and devastating loss, just in this year alone. Samoa is in the news. Noel writes about the death toll in Manila (click here).

Me? My scooter is in the shop for a shredded belt, so I have to sit in freeway traffic on the way to work and on the return home. I almost hesitate to mention that. But I mention it in order to illustrate how my own reality couldn't come close to comparing what these victims and survivors are going through. I can only imagine.

And I do. I imagine what it must be like to lose your entire home and all of your material belongings.

The recent summer fires were several miles away from where I live, but they were still too close for comfort. I saw more than one enormous black plume of puffy black smoke coming from the hills in the last month.

I think of the home owners who live frighteningly close to the fires, and the amount of notice they may have had before being forced to evacuate. What did they take with them? How did they choose, how did they prioritize?

The dogs, that's definitely the first thing I would take with me in an emergency, our two pugs. My heart breaks for the animals that did not survive Hurricane Katrina, and also for those who did survive but were homeless and owner-less after. The news showed some rescue boats approaching people perched above water on their roof tops or in second story windows. Humans had to be given priority over animals, so people with pets were not allowed to take their canine companions into the small vessels with them.

I couldn't do that, leave my dogs behind.

At least, I think I wouldn't. It's easy to say that from the comfort of my non-flooded home, easy to think so when I have never come close to being in such a desperate and dire situation.

But if I had any kind of advance notice, I'd try to my take my recorded history with me, my identity. I would take any and all photographs with me after the dogs' safety was ensured (and I would grab the plastic critter cage with the two dwarf hamsters). I have kept diaries and journals since I was in grade school in the 70's, and I would rush to find and rescue those.

I have over two hundred Furbies, the majority of which are still in their original unopened boxes. Sadly, I think I would have to choose to leave them all behind.

What's important to you? What would you take with you in an emergency evacuation?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Miss Heard, the Lyrics?

I love Miss Heard. She helps me fill in the gaps when I can't quite hear or understand the real words of the song. I have been thinking of her since yesterday, ever since the news announced the demise of the real life Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I keep thinking of the other girl referenced in the song,"the girl with colitis goes by" (the girl with kaleidoscope eyes).

Maybe Miss Heard first starts whispering to us when we're very young, shortly after we start learning to talk. I don't remember what lyrics she may have helped me to slaughter before I entered kindergarten. But I still giggle over one of my little sister's interpretations.

"Mister Doo-dah on my fee-nah!" she would sing boisterously from her car seat.

My younger brother and I, also in the back seat of the car, would snicker at her idiocy. We felt superior knowing the real lyrics. "Mister Bluebird on my shoulder," from "Song of the South," as sung by Uncle Remus (Did you know they are not allowed to show or release that anymore? Something about the Uncle Tom character - I mean - Uncle Remus not being racially PC or sumthin' . . . ).

Miss Heard stayed close by during my adolescence, always available. She helped me to sing along with the Police during the early 80's.

"I'm a pool hall ace!" I would sing along with Sting. I'm not sure if I was still in my twenties, or if it was during my thirties when I finally learned that he was really singing "How my poor heart aches," in their now classic hit "Every Breath You Take."

And guess what Miss Heard told me they were saying the very first time I listened to that Salt-N-Pepa hit while dancing in a divey gay bar? You know, when, in the chorus, they say, "Ah! (tsss) Push it!" It was the late 80's. I had reached full-fledged adulthood by that time, but it was an innocent time (*smirk*), and it was still rather shocking to hear the P-word mentioned in a dance tune.

One of my all time favorites, though, is from the early 80's. My youngest brother was singing the chorus of Romeo Void's one hit (wonder!), "Never Say Never," except his version was:

"My mama said sweater would never get better."

Despite Miss Heard's usual interference, even I knew that it was supposed to be, "I might like you better if we slept together." My youngest brother was eight at the time, so I just let him think that Miss Heard was right.

Now, "Excuse me while I kiss this guy."

With what lyrics has Miss Heard misled you?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Age Appropriate

I coulda' predicted it, practically, the fact that young men would be wearing black socks with sneakers.

In the early 80's, when I was a teenager, I swore that I would never do that - the way my father did, wearing dark dress socks with shorts and white tennis shoes at the church picnic. I had joked that by the time I was his age, dark socks with sneakers might become the trend for younger guys.

What's that bitter after taste? Oh, yeah. It's from having to eat my words.

Young men today wear this particular look much better, though. Most of them will wear black socks with black sneakers, giving their casual summer outfits much cleaner lines. Fosse would be proud.

I love that younger men seem to have more freedom of expression in the way they dress today. Style options include so many different bright colors, now, starting with just sneakers! These kids have it so easy these days. Why, in the old days (someone cut my tongue out now - now !) we toiled hard for alternate colors. Oh, how we suffered from the back-breaking chore of having to add our own Rit dye to the wash cycle, just so we could have a decent pair of purple Levi's!


I also love the retro look of black shoes with white socks, worn with jeans, of course. But even that look is getting more difficult to pull off as I age.

These days, I look a little wistfully at the louder hues and busier patterns of young men's clothing, but I hold myself back from purchasing any. Sometimes I wish I worked at a fashion institute so that I would have an actual reason to dress more flamboyantly, more outrageously, like those male fashion mavens on "Ugly Betty."

Simple is better, easier to manage. I wear brightly colored shirts but I stick to solids, and basic stripes and plaids. I love hounds tooth. That will never go out of style, not in my personal wardrobe.

And yes, I do wear white gym socks with sneakers, whether it's for cross-trainers, Converse, or Van's.

Hm. I might be getting too old to wear Van's Off-the-Walls anymore.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'm Gonna Live Forever

Often the anticipation of an event is better than the actual event itself. Happily, the new film version of "Fame" - something I had looked forward to - did not disappoint. I cannot disagree with the reviews that had panned this rather disjointed adaptation, with its inconsistent story lines and lack of follow up on some of the characters.

But I was still determined to enjoy this film.

And I loved it. It had everything I was looking for: dance auditions and dance classes, soulful singing, and excellent production numbers. And of course, it was chock full of emotions. I was looking for feeling, the way a movie like "Fame" makes you feel.

Even if this new version of "Fame" is not as successful as the original, I think it can still reach a large audience in the way it makes people feel. In an intense and satisfying way, a film like this deals with the universal feeling of wanting, with what you are passionate about, and what you are willing to do to gain what you desperately want most out of life.

Yes, the film does deal with the heartache of trying and trying and never making it, the heartache that we feel sometimes. A lot of the time (most of the time?). But it also deals with the feelings of possibility, of believing in yourself despite the odds - feelings that keep you hanging in there and coming back for more, because it provides optimism and motivation.

It provides hope.

I was a little surprised by theater friends who were ready to dismiss the film even before its release. "You can't mess with a classic," was a typical remark, as well as "They shouldn't try to remake it."

I didn't see it as a remake. I saw it as an update and as a continuation, and a belated one at that. It's been almost thirty years since the original "Fame" was released in theaters! I would think that my friends who are actors and singers and dancers would be happy that performing arts is still getting so much national attention.

Maybe we are just too old and jaded, now. Maybe we should leave a film like this to the twenty-somethings and teens. Unless they're already jaded, too.


It's a good film. It wasn't a great film, but I enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of scenes that paid homage to the original, such as the one that shows a dancer close to committing suicide in a subway station, after being told that he doesn't have what it takes to become a professional ballet dancer.

And this new version had qualities similar to what made the original such a favorite of mine. I am grateful for the cover of the title song, as well as for the cover of the ballad "Out Here on My Own," which had also been sung by Irene Cara. Naturi Naughton, as Denise, seems to maintain respect for the original recordings while punching them up with her own deftly controlled vocals. She is no "Coco Hernandez," and she doesn't need to be. Her portrayal of the shy, classically trained pianist/emerging R&B singer is a strong and satisfying performance.

Asher Brook's performance as Marco also appears to be a nod to the original film, if only in the pensive and wistful love songs he sings, reminiscent of Paul McCrane's character, Montgomery MacNeil. His vocal talent seems light and effortless, in a John Mayer kind of way. It is a welcome counterbalance among the many contemporary hip hop tunes in the movie.

I don't know how young people will respond to this new and latest version of "Fame," but it sure got the attention of my Inner Teen. I may not actually live forever, but this 2009 film confirmed that I will be a fanatical Fame-head for the rest of my life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Passive Pete

I know I'm passive-aggressive. I can accept that about myself. But how passive is too passive?

"Why you not married, yet?" she asks me. "You so handsome." She is the owner and operator of the dry cleaning service. She is an older Korean lady who looks younger than she really is. She reminds me of my mother, except with more make up and a better dye job.

"Oh, no. Marriage is too expensive," I tell her as I pay for my clean shirts. "I just finished college. I have to save up for retirement, now." My excuses sound weak, lame, even as they are coming out of my mouth. They hold for only so long.

"Why you not married, yet?" she keeps pressing, even months later.

Finally, I start to level with her. "You know the other Japanese guy that comes in here, the one whose shirts I pay for sometimes? That's my partner. We are together. He is my marriage."

She seems only mildly surprised. "No, but you should marry woman, have children," she insists. "It not good to be alone."

I remain polite, passive. "But I am not alone. He is like my husband. And it's too expensive to have children. I am in my forties. It's too late to start raising children."

I am not offended. I can take for granted that it's just her culture ingrained into her way of thinking, and that, for her, not getting married is unthinkable. She has grown children of her own. Her Korean daughter has married a white man. I told her that they will have cute mixed babies that look like me.

She continues to ask why I'm not married, each time I come in to drop off or pick up clothes.

Finally, I just switched cleaners. I wonder if she's wondering, "Why you not come here no more?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Think About

I think about quitting. I think about giving up blogging altogether.
I also think about deleting my facebook account, but I can't bring myself to actually do it. I enjoy the attention too much.

Something has to give. I can't do it all, as much as I would like to.

I think about not exercising at all in order to get more writing done. But my vanity won't let me stop jogging or lifting weights, difficult as it is to get myself to work out, sometimes (thank God for caffeine and creatine monohydrate).

I miss performing. "What if I went back to waiting tables and auditioning?" I ask Domestic Partner.

"No," he says, the Perpetual Voice of Reason. "You need regular income."

He's right. I've got too many bills and not enough years ahead of me to save up for retirement. So, I can't give up the full time working thang, not yet.

But it's something I think about.

How do you make time to write? What have you sacrificed in order to get more writing accomplished?

And has it been worth it?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bye-bye, Kee-boo

Cleo's been gone for about six months, now. Cleo was the feral kitten that we had rescued off of our roof top almost two years ago. Our dogs have access to the backyard all day, so we couldn't really train Cleo to be an indoor cat. Cleo and the dogs tolerated each other and even slept together sometimes. There wasn't any canine-feline conflict, so that wasn't' the reason he was gone.

One day he just didn't come back home. We knew it was a risk we were taking, having an outdoor, free-ranging cat.

I wasn't as emotionally attached to Cleo as I am to the dogs, so I don't really miss him that much. But I do think of him often, more so for Domestic Partner's sake. He was the one who was attached to Kitty.

Cleo would show up at the same time, every day. After roaming the neighborhood all night, he would sneak into bed with us in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as the coffee maker started dripping at 5:00 am, he would give a single "meow," letting us know that he was ready for his morning meal. Pavlov would have been proud.

"Kee-boo," as I had re-christened him, brought us gifts. One night, what I thought was a dead mouse on the patio turned out to be a temporarily traumatized dwarf hamster. Two days later, Cleo brought us a second rodent to keep the first one company. They are funny pets and they remind me of our lost kitty.

Domestic Partner misses the cat more than I do. He gets home from work first, and he is sad that Cleo is no longer around to greet him on the driveway. "Phantom Kitty" is what he used to call him since Cleo would materialize out of nowhere at the noisy, creaky opening of the garage each evening. And right before his evening meal.

Although Cleo knew it was time to eat when the coffee maker clicked on each morning, he was willing to wait a bit after his initial meow. Domestic Partner's alarm clock goes off five minutes after the coffee machine starts. The few minutes in between used to be Bonding Time for him and Cleo. The cat would sit on his chest and allow himself to be pet and scratched.

"Do you want another cat?" I have asked Domestic Partner, more than once. We have our pick since the feral felines in our neighborhood have a couple litters a year in or near our yard.

"No," he says each time. I know he really would like another one but our dogs have priority. We can't lock them indoors all day while we're at work, so we would be taking the same risk all over again with another cat.

We don't know what happened to Cleo and we're afraid to imagine. It's not like him to not come home. For all of his roaming around the neighborhood, we'd like to think that someone else took him in and trained him to be an indoor cat.

But we doubt it.

Rest in peace, Cleo. For all of your biting and clawing whenever we would play with you, we still miss you. You were a good pet. You made Domestic Partner happy, and that's what I miss about you the most.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Love Rice Balls!

It's easy to make. It is one of the simplest snacks, and also one of the most satisfying. It is comfort food from the part of my childhood spent in Japan. It is onigiri (oh-KNEE-ghee-ree).

Traditionally, the onigiri rice ball, wrapped in a sheet of nori (seaweed), will have a bit of pickled plum as the surprise in the middle, which wasn't my favorite. I like a little dried bonito fish mixed with soy sauce hidden in the center, myself. Mmm! My favorite though, will always be the tuna-mayonnaise version.

How I miss that part about living and working in Japan (as an adult), being able to get my daily fix of tuna-mayo onigiri at the nearest convenience store, and all for about the cost of a dollar. Back then, anyway, about a decade ago. It's not as if I couldn't make it myself, here in the states. How difficult would it be to combine the four ingredients of rice, seaweed, tuna, and mayo?

But I know it wouldn't be the same as the store bought onigiri. The packaging itself is a space age marvel. Most of us who ate home made onigiri as kids take for granted that the seaweed wrapping, crisp and paper-like at first, soon gets soft and pulpy from the moisture of the rice, especially if it's been sitting in a bento lunch box all morning. But not the convenience store onigiri, which can be found in the refrigerated section.

Much like the McD.L.T hamburger that kept the hot beef patty and the chilled tomato slice separate until right before being consumed, convenience store onigiri comes in a single wrapper that keeps the seaweed separate from the rice until it's opened - with no assembly required. It's an engineering miracle, I tell you! A couple of tugs on the plastic pull tabs, and the modern onigiri comes out of the wrapper fully wrapped in its still-dry jacket of nori. Delicious perfection!

I just miss being in Japan. I think the tuna-mayo onigiri symbolizes that happy time for me. I was doing three or four shows a day for a theme park job, and I always had enough free time to worry about being bored. It was one of the times I was the most carefree. I was able to indulge the hedonist in me, and the satisfying salty-fat combo of the tuna-mayo, rice, and seaweed was one of the primary flavors of that indulgence (along with daily and generous doses of chocolate).

I will go back some day. I don't know when, exactly, but when I do, I will eat tuna-mayo rice balls every day that I am there.

Maybe they sell pre-packaged onigiri in Hawaii?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why I Make the Bed

BFF Kathy stated in a recent facebook update how lucky she feels to be with her husband, and how that realization hit her like lightning, recently (even though she has been with him for twenty-five years).
I feel the same way about Domestic Partner.

Sometimes friends ask why Domestic Partner and I are together. Other than being Japanese we are nothing alike. He is practical and introverted, and he keeps a clean house. I am impulsive, overly chatty, and naturally untidy. He has amazing landscaping skills for our home's exterior and creative, tasteful design skills for the interior.

I have about two hundred Furbies staring at you from the bookshelves in our home's office. That was my contribution to the home decor.

Domestic Partner wishes I did more house cleaning on a regular basis. I wish he would be more physically affectionate. But he is pretty good about just letting me be who I am, so I have stopped wasting time wanting him to be someone different.

Recently, I went over my financial goals with him. Once my student loans are paid off, I told him, then I can start paying part of the mortgage each month.

"Don't pay the mortgage," he said. "Put your money in a separate retirement fund so we can eventually buy a place in Hawaii for our old age."

Okay! I am on board with that.

I have told Domestic Partner from the beginning that my goal is to spend retirement in Hawaii, at least part of every year. The idea didn't appeal to him when I had first told him, but we hadn't been together for very long at that point. He must have grown into the idea.

I get medical and dental benefits through Domestic Partner's job. I live a comfortable lifestyle because of his income, not mine. The last time we had a fight, I pointed out that I would not have even gone back to college if we weren't together, emphasizing the fact that being with him is good for me.

If I weren't with Domestic Partner, I might still be trying to work on cruise ships and in Japan as long as people were still willing to hire me. My pending future and retirement might be pathetic, even more than it already is, if it weren't for having him in my life.

He is also kind to our two pugs. To me, that is reason enough to stay with a guy and try to work things through with him. His kindness to our pets helps me to see more objectively his kindness to me, and I need to make more effort to reciprocate, even if only in small ways.

Usually, I don't make the bed before I leave for work, even though it only takes about a minute. Recently, though, I have been trying to do so more often, sometimes even on a daily basis.

It's a small enough first step to reinforce the good life that I share with Domestic Partner. Maybe I'll even scrub a toilet tonight.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Love Letter to My 17-year-old Self

(note: the following is not an attempt at neo-self-therapy . . . well, maybe it is. You decide)

Dear 17-year-old Self,

First of all, I love you. You are valuable to me. The memories you're creating at this time in your life will keep you happy for years to come (and they will come in handy for exploitation and fledgling writing material), so enjoy! Remember all the times you go club dancing at Grand Central Station, and at Cloud Nine in Knott's Berry Farm. Cherish your last year as a band geek and as a drama dork. Never mind that you didn't get to try out as a cheerleader.

You know that vague and fuzzy future of yours that you're always worrying about? Don't worry about it. Everything will work out. They will not work out smoothly, but you will always be okay, eventually. Stop stressing about college and what happens after. In a couple of years it won't matter.

Speaking of college, you will eventually realize that you should not believe everything you are told. Winding up at a Cal State University because you have less than a 4.0 GPA is not a bad thing. And going to junior college is not academic suicide.

Pay attention to that desire to dance and sing and act and perform. It's not unrealistic and it's not shameful. It will not happen for you as soon as you like, but you will get to perform, and you will love it more than anything in life.

There is so much I want to try to reassure you about, such as your secret feelings for guys. Don't stress or worry about that, either. It will take over a dozen years before you have peace of mind about that, and it will get a lot harder before it gets easier. But I promise you that it will not always be hard.

Try to remember me, your Future Self, when you can. Reach and grow toward me, in your mind and in your heart. I am here, loving you and waiting for you.

And I'm just the in between stop in my own here-and-now. Trust me when I say that there is an even older version of you yet to come, an older Future Self and also amazing things-yet-to-happen that neither you nor I can even imagine right now - I just know it!

Hang onto hope. Stay optimistic. Never stop dreaming or creating or imagining, even on your worst days. Allow some time now and then to let yourself feel hurt (you'll need it) but don't wallow for too long. Embrace it, try to process it, and move on, because you'll always be able to.

Whenever you're feeling insecure, inferior, or even just a little uncertain, try to remember that your Future Self loves you. Never forget that.

I love you. Always.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Way You Dance

I love facebook. I love how easily it helps to answer the question "What ever happened to . . . ?" Sometimes I wonder what Brent G. is up to.

Brent is a boy I had met in the 80's while out dancing one night. I had ridden into Hollywood with a few friends to the bar called "Peanuts." It was supposed to be a lesbian bar but it was more of a mixed crowd on the night we went. Brent was there that night, dancing by himself.

I loved his confidence and his style. His all-black outfit included a beret and a pair of gloves. I loved that he had the creativity to dress differently and the courage to dance alone in public. It was as if the Gogo's had written that song for him:

The way you dance, you move in self-romance
And you don't see me watch the way you dance
Your eyes close in a trance, so you don't see me watching

Fortunately, Brent did see me. I can't remember how I started talking to him. I was just happy that I got to dance with this boy I admired. What I do remember is the sweet kisses we shared later. I was 21 then and Brent was a little younger.

Brent and I had kept in touch after meeting that night but it was difficult getting together again. Neither of us had a car. I was getting around Orange County on a Vespa scooter back then. Brent, unbelievably, was riding the city buses to go out at night. I was impressed. He was that dedicated a club kid!

I have searched for Brent on facebook. Typing in his first and last names yields only one result, so I'm pretty sure it's him, even if there is no accompanying photo.

I have not friend requested him. After thinking about it, I decided that Brent is one fond memory I would like to keep as is, including the way he danced.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thanks for the Mammaries

I think the biggest laugh I enjoyed in England this past April was from Jo's breast feeding story.

Well, it wasn't so much about breast feeding as it was about breast pumping.

Jo's dear darling boy is three, now. He is her first and only child. Before he was born, Jo was sure that she would be ready to go back to work a mere two weeks after giving birth. Her friends with babies warned her to wait until later.

She should have listened.

Jo works as a television hostess in the UK, most prominently for a travel channel.
She could at least handle a work meeting soon after the baby was born, she had thought, especially if she brought along her hand crank machine for expressing breast milk, the one with two separate attachments.

Jo told us that while sitting in the meeting, she could feel her breasts swelling gradually and growing heavier - as if they were inflating! She excused herself for a quick break and looked for the nearest public loo, expressing machine in tow.

She managed to find an empty restroom but the stalls weren't close enough to the electrical outlet. The machine's electrical cord was too short to extend into a secluded stall. She would have to risk it.

Jo mimed cranking the machine's handle while telling us the story, as well as applying the attachments to her topless self. She was not prepared, she said, for a strange man to walk in on her in such a state.

I imagine the look of shock on the man's face must have matched the level of shock Jo was feeling, once she realized that she was in the Men's Room.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Kindness of Vicky T.

I cannot honestly say that I've ever had a hard life. Sure, I've had some emotionally tough periods and a bit of genuine heartache - all in the distant past, thank goodness. But my life has been a happy one, for the most part.

On the one hand, I am extremely grateful. On the other hand, I wonder how inept I might actually be, not knowing how to cope with adversity?

I am still the Perpetual Pollyanna Pete, however, and I believe in focusing on any silver lining available. Part of my effort toward keeping a positive attitude is to be more mindful of how kind people have been to me my entire life. One of them was Vicky T.

Vicky was a counselor I had met up at church camp when I was about 15. She was a Sunday School teacher and I quickly became friends with the girls in her junior high group. It was natural to add her to my new list of pen pals before camp had ended.
Since Vicky was a sympathetic adult, I suppose it was natural to start bending her ear in my letters, mostly pouring out my hurt feelings to her about my father.

Vicky listened. And she responded. She wrote lengthy letters back to match my long letters of self-pity. I don't think I kept any of her letters but I remember she shared personal information about when her husband had hurt her feelings and how she thought we should respond, as Christians, to family conflicts.

Vicky had two boys of her own, both in elementary school when I was an adolescent. Now, as an adult, I am humbly grateful that she had taken the time to nurse my emotional pain. I am thankful that she made the time to guide me through some of my early teenage turmoil when she had a family of her own to take care of and worry about.

The last time I saw Vicky was during the end of my senior year in high school. I was anxious to share with her that I had been accepted into UCLA, as if to prove that I was a successful 18-year-old and all of my former problems had been solved.

Recently, I have been looking in the phone book and googling her name online to see if she is still living in the same area - and with no luck. I imagine her sons are now in their thirties, and that perhaps she is a grandmother by now. I wish I could find Vicky T. and thank her for having been so kind and sensitive to the younger me.

For now, I'll just try to remember how kind Vicky T. and others have been to me throughout my life. And I'll try to remember, even on a daily basis, to pay that kindness forward to anyone I happen to come in contact with.

Hopefully, it will help me to accomplish my goal of not wasting my space on this planet.

(the above photo is of Vicky and me at winter camp, 1982)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pissed Off

He is an angry man. He is angry at me, angry with me. When I showed up at his door, peace offerings in hand, he told me that I was no longer welcome in his home. I knew it would be pointless to argue with him. So I left.

He is a depressed man. He has switched medications for depression as many times as he has switched therapists. My suspicion is that he is not willing to listen to what he does not want to hear.

And it feels like a nightmare, the deterioration of our relationship. Obviously I had crossed a line by speaking my mind to him if our relationship of forty years can be so easily disposed of by him. I am sure that he thinks that it was none of my business and that I should have kept my mouth shut. And I think to myself, That is a phrase for people with whom you have no emotional relationship. Or so I thought. I must be wrong if I've caused him to be so angry and closed off.

Or perhaps we never had much of an emotional relationship in the first place, even after forty years, if things were already that precarious between us? Maybe it was only a matter of time.

She was right to move out. His response of anger to me only seems to prove that she was right to escape such a negative and emotionally unhealthy atmosphere. No matter how hurt his feelings may be, she had enough sense of self-preservation to leave, at least, and to no longer be subjected to such an emotionally destructive environment.

Just my opinion, an unwelcome one, apparently.

"You piss me off!" I want to scream at him. Ironically, I wish he would have yelled the same to me when I had spoken my mind, instead of shutting me out. One of the ways we are similar is that we rarely express our anger to others. We both hold our anger in, letting resentment build up like toxic pus with no outlet or chance for being expelled.

After being told that I am no longer welcome in his home I wasted about three days wondering if I am bad person. After the third day, I decided to no longer let his negativity waste any more of my life. I have too many blessings to focus on and be grateful for. Too bad for him.

I am sad for his unhappy and angry life. I am sad that I cannot be more effective in helping him. He does not want my help and I should have never tried to help.

He hangs onto his anger, stubbornly clenching it with both fists until the day he dies, perhaps. He is like an injured, frightened dog who snarls and snaps at any human who tries to approach and offer help.

I will stay out of harm's way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Oh my God, ohmygod, ohmigawd! The new television show "GLEE" was just the bestest ever. The vocals were fantastic, the characters were funny, and the choreographed numbers were fulfilling. Did'ja catch that show choir performance of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab?" (a much better version, I might add). Astounding!

My niece's mother had just posted a question on facebook this week, wondering if we ever truly get out of high school. I think this new program reinforces the idea that high school is eternal, both the good and the bad.

At first, I was disappointed that there was so much focus on the teacher/new choir director's story line, since he is one of the main characters. "Get back to the kids!" I wanted to yell at the idiot box.

But I can't deny that the adult characters' story lines are part of what makes high school so perpetual. Much of the appeal of a show like this may be due to some grownups' desire - grownups like me - to recapture their youth. Later in the premiere episode, viewers learn that the teacher was once part of the school's show choir when he was a student.

"It made me want to perform again!" my friend Deb told me. I knew how she felt. And I knew that she would know that I knew that. Too bad we're "too old" now. But how satisfying to see a new show that will once again bond band geeks and choir nerds alike, as well as any other high school underdog stereotypes.

Is "GLEE" the newest version of 'High School Musical' on television? Perhaps. And it's just as delicious as a guilty pleasure.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Could Be Your Daddy

I am 43 years old now. In the past year, I've found myself looking at 18-year-old and 19-year-old boys more.

No, not like that.

I am now the same age my father was when I was a freshman in college. Holy crap! I could have a college-age kid by now!

Last year I met someone who could very well be like my son. He was the grandson of my aunt's friends and, yes, he was 18. Like me, he had a Japanese mother and a Caucasian father. Conversation with him was easy as we talked about our respective times in Japan and our mutual interest in creative writing.

And I felt protective toward this young man, even if it was more in a brotherly way than in a parental way. Perhaps it was just a temporary transference of feeling protective over my own inner youth? How much more parenting am I going to feel I need to do for myself?

For the rest of my life?

My paternal grandmother was 43 when I was a 1-year-old baby. I could be a grandfather by now. HOLY CRAP!

(the photo above is me at about 18 years old, summer of 1984)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

If I Could Rock With the Animals

It's funny to think about how I envisioned my future while I was growing up, and comparing it to how differently my reality actually turned out. As I kid, all I wanted to do was work with animals when I grew up. I thought I might be a zoo keeper some day. After reading the Henry Reed books, I thought seriously about becoming a naturalist, vague as that profession sounded (and still does).

I thought a lot about conservation and preserving endangered species. I wrote a fictional essay my freshman year, in the early 80's, about the earth being overwhelmed by toxic pollution in the far off year of 2001. In my imaginary future, humans could not go outdoors without wearing plastic bubble helmets and protective sealants. Most of the animal population had died out in their natural habitats the world over. The few animals that managed to be saved all lived underneath a giant plexi-glass dome called "The Last Kingdom," in various artificially recreated environments. In my pretend-future I was the Head Veterinarian in Charge of this indoor sanctuary.

That story stayed in its fictional state as I reached adulthood and beyond. Instead of saving the planet from further species extinction, I joyfully veered off into the selfish and sometimes rewarding pathway of dance and live performance. Now, I work in admissions for a vocational school and mostly like it.

I should have at least joined Greenpeace.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jo, Then-and-Now

Thank you, Cheryl, for a great blog post idea.

Jo was one of the dancers I grew close to during our first contract on board the Fair Princess. I believe she may have the been the one to re-christen the tiny and outdated ship as the 'Fair Bucket.' At nineteen, she was the youngest in our cast and I was the oldest, at age 26. We shared a special bond during our seven-and-a-half months at sea.

That bond was almost ruined at the very beginning, by me. I was physically attracted to Jo right from the start, during rehearsals. How could anyone not be, with her blonde hair and blue eyes? Back then, I was still involved in a support group for ex-gay ministry. I still thought it was realistic for me to pursue relationships with women. I could very well have made things very awkward for Jo and me.

Thank God I didn't. We were suitably matched in our friendship, the baby of our group, and me, the biggest kid-at-heart. When I remember Jo from back then, I think about how we bounced around the comfy love seats of the ship's show lounge during late night rehearsals, behaving like naughty children jumping on the bed. I picture her dancing in the rain on the back deck as the ship was leaving the humid port of Cartagena. We had been caught in a sudden and welcome cloud burst and instead of ducking indoors, most of our little group just let the raindrops soak our white cruise staff shorts and polo shirts. We were silly with happiness, and so we danced and jumped up and down in the rain, like young children.

At night, with neither smog nor city lights out at sea, we had an unblocked view of the stars on the back deck, right outside of our dressing room. Jo and I had shared a warm, wonderful evening between shows, staring in awe at the stars, contemplating the universe at large, and sharing whatever was on our minds and in our hearts at the moment.

I said good-bye to Jo in early '93, at the end of our contract. I still admired her lovely beauty, but I loved her like a close sister-friend, and I knew that I always would. A few years after that, I saw Jo and most of our cast mates at a friend's wedding in Scotland. It was a wonderful few days, but not nearly long enough.

Almost a decade after our trip to Scotland, Jo and her husband stopped by for a whirlwind visit in Los Angeles. We spent a precious few hours together, catching up over the course of one afternoon. We had a good laugh when we both confessed that we had each been mentally prepared for the other to have put on some weight and to have aged a bit. Neither of us had changed much, so maybe it was also laughter of relief - for our respective vanities!

I know I have gotten a little heavier since then. Recent photos are only too willing to prove that. I know that I look older too - I look like my mom! And I am okay with that. Jo, though, has still hardly aged, as we all saw at the reunion. She looks better, in fact. And she's still dancer-thin, and that's after having had a baby.

There's more to tell about Jo, but I'll save some for future posts. Like the time I was trying to amuse her with one of the classics from Kids' Greatest Hits:

Let's go on a safari inside my sister's nose
Maybe we'll find treasure like we did between her toes.

Jo did not laugh. She merely looked at the other girls and said, "I shall never again think of 26 as being old." Neither shall I, now that I'm in my forties.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Functional - and Fun! - Family

We were a family all those years ago when we first worked together as a team. The cruise ship contract was the first job away from home for most of us and we became surrogate family members to and for each other very quickly. Nine months of rehearsals and performances and working together as cruise staff ("Join Jill on the Lido Deck for an exciting game of shuffleboard!") was a bonding experience like no other.

The reunion in England last week was fulfilling. The same loving and supportive chemistry was evident among our group of nine. Instead of booking a hotel, we stayed in an old, lovely country-style home with several rooms, located right on a marina. We stayed in mostly, making meals together from the food that had been ordered and delivered to the house, cleaning up together, and watching DVD's of our shows (transferred from ancient VHS tapes) in the living room with six couches.

The weather was perfect. We had sunshine everyday. I didn't use my umbrella once, or even the pair of gloves I had packed. White apple blossom petals were blowing in the breezes and yellow daffodils dotted the green hillsides. The English dancers teased this California boy for wearing his coat inside the slightly chilly (to me) kitchen.

All five of the women in our group have children, now, most of who were able to join us for part of the weekend along with a couple of the husband/fathers (the house was huge, there was plenty of room). After observing my former dance partners interacting with their children, I joked about how we dancer boys had been their practice children while we had been on the ship.

Maybe it's true. We needed a lot of attention back then, being dancers/actors/performer types (read: insecure). It felt good to see us all slide back into our familiar roles of family and friendship with each other, as if we had been apart for only a few months and not sixteen years. Even Jeanette, our former line captain, was still like the mother of our small group, being willing to organise and delegate any small tasks. Grantly was like our dad, taking an abundance of pictures of everyone hugging each other in our first joyful evening together and building a cozy fire every night in the living room.

We were a family once again for a few days, laughing over memories forgotten and brought up by others in the group. A few cathartic tears were even shed over emotional hardships from recent years. In our familiar and comforting chemistry with each other, we were all able to let our respective guards down and restrengthen the mutual bonds.

We were a family all those years ago, three American boys, four British girls, an Englishman, and one bonnie lass from Scotland. And we will continue to be so as much as we can, online and at the next reunion already being planned.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Plastic Joy

I'm not really here, I'm just checking in.

This is not a real post. It is a figment of the imagination (a fig of the i-madge).

Oh my gawd. Does anyone remember Figment and Dream Finder, the Epcot characters in the 80's? Of course, we called them "Fagment" and "Wet Dream Finder." You know us Disney Boys . . .

The photo above is the costume that I wore in the 99 Cents Calendar Girl Competition show. It closed this past weekend. It was an unforgettable performing experience chock full of unadulterated joy and lovely insanity.

Once again, I must thank both Prince and Quin for leading me to this unique and oh-so-happy experience.

Tomorrow I am off to England to join a reunion with dancers that I worked with on board Princess Cruises.

I miss you. I miss reading your blogs.

Doing the 99 Cents show and the anticipation of going to England have both given me oodles of joy these past couple of months. But they have also been enormous distractions, albeit welcome ones.

When I return, it's back to business. Back to writing and blogging regularly. Back to reading your blog posts more consistently. And back to working on and completing Scooter Boy.

I promise I'll be back, Mikey. I miss you too!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Plastic Bubble Pathway

BFF Kathy loaned me her copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I had not heard anything about it, although I soon found out that many others were familiar with the book (I think Oprah touted it on her show). I enjoy diving into novels or even films that I know nothing about - without any hype - so that I don't have any expectations.

I am about halfway through. I did not enjoy it, at first. It was too much death and constant ashes and desolation. It was depressing.

Work has been difficult, lately. And frustrating. I feel isolated and cut off from the world now that we are completely restricted from Internet surfing, including from facebook and personal blogs. I want fun. I want escapism. Not the hopelessness of survivors of a nuclear holocaust.

Not to be too much of the drama queen, but I almost feel like the father and son who are traveling in the post-apocalyptic world of The Road. They are cold and lonely and scared and so very hungry and malnourished and not healthy and constantly feeling hopeless. And yet they trudge on.

The story line, in its extremity, is also helping to give me perspective. It's helping me to appreciate many of the little things in life. What if there were to be a nuclear war in our lifetime? And worse yet, what if we were to be one of the few survivors? So many things that we take for granted would be gone.

As much as I don't want to get up for work in the cold mornings, I'm lucky that I have a warm bed to get out of, and walls around me and a roof above. I'm lucky that I have two healthy snuggly dogs to make the bed even warmer.

I've become more aware of - and therefore, more grateful for - the fact that I can stand under hot clean water in the shower, every day, and sometimes more than once a day.

In this specific time in our country's history, I'm fortunate to even have a job to bitch about.

I'm lucky that I get to be in a show, right now, something that is really fun for me. It is my escapism. And all because Quin was willing to share her extra ticket with me and I saw it and loved it and wanted to be part of it, and so I asked the director about submitting myself and two months later I'm performing in it.

Life is not always that direct and simple. Or easy. Or even bountifully excessive.

I'm lucky that I have more than enough chocolate chip cookies to eat on a daily basis (to the point of needing to watch my weight) even if they are the generic brand from Stater Brothers supermarket.

Today, I was grateful for the fact that I still really enjoy the dance music from Britney's fourth album "In the Zone" and that I can easily access my own endorphins by dancing around the kitchen to her frothy bubble gum pop music.

I could go on and on.

And I do. I continue on my personal road, thankful for what I've enjoyed and loved in the past, and thankful for the good things I anticipate in the near and not-so-near future, all while trying to be fully aware and present in the moment.

I'm lucky to have such perpetual and continuing resources to fuel my optimism.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Imperfect, But Still Good

So, I was alone in the men's room at Coco's restaurant, standing at a urinal and thinking about how good life is.

It was a Saturday morning and Domestic Partner and I had decided to go out for a leisurely breakfast. We had just ordered and I needed to wash my hands. I was physically exhausted but still on an emotional endorphin high from the night before, having re-opened the second extension of the 99 Cents Only Calendar Girl Competition. I had a blast doing my first performance.

All of the work of rehearsal is over. It was time to relax and savor the sheer joy of performing live again. And I had the whole Saturday stretched out before me, before the evening's performance, a whole day to attend to what had been neglected. I actually looked forward to buying groceries, doing laundry and vacuuming.

I felt content and peaceful, savoring also the anticipation of seeing close friends in England next month, shortly after the show closes.

It was then that I finally noticed that my aim was off. I was missing the urinal and wetting the tiled floor of Coco's men's room.

Life is good. It sure ain't perfect, but it's good.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Hate This

I hate this. I hate not being able to continue nursing my addiction to facebook and reading blogs. During work hours.

Play time is over. The suffering and insufferable economy that continues to cripple our nation has forced many work places to reexamine every possible facet for improving efficiency, including the amount of Internet surfing.

For me, that means barely checking my personal email anymore. And I don't dare to even tune in to my daily dose of Dear Abby. Not while I'm at work.

I have to keep focusing on the fact that I am employed at all, and without a cut in pay.

But I still hate it. And I miss you. I miss reading your blogs, your wonderful, funny, and inspiring blogs.

Can I read them at night? Sure. But I can't do it all. I cannot also keep up with facebook on a daily basis, and continue working on the first novel, and do a little bit of reading, etc., especially while in rehearsal still, for the 99 Cents show.

I cannot do it all, and I have never been a person who has wanted to do it all.

So I will have to continue to work on achieving moderation, continue looking for that happy medium and healthy balance for all areas of my life.

Hopefully, I will be able to adjust to writing shorter blog posts. Hopefully, I will continue to work on my young adult novel just a little bit at a time, on a regular and consistent basis.

And hopefully, you do not feel ignored by me to the point that I lose both you and your interest.

I would hate that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Junkie Lite

Here's how I can tell I'm getting old - the fact that I want to describe to you the number and type of pills I now pop.

At length.

Every day I take a multi-vitamin first thing when I wake up, either with a glass of water or a mug of slightly microwaved chocolate soy milk.

After eating breakfast I take a glucosamine-chondroitin capsule with my coffee, mostly for my knees.

At work I have started taking a Mega-T green tea weight loss pill, because you know, the reunion in England this spring. With dancers.

I will try to wait another hour or more before taking two Advil Liqui-gels at my desk, if I need it. Fortunately, I don't usually need it. Tylenol's acetaminophen just doesn't do the job for me anymore.

I have a second Mega-T green tea weight loss pill in the afternoon. Yay, guarana power!

Dinner is consumed with a second glucosamine-chondroitin pill. Damn jogging days of yore . . .

I wait until right before bed time to take any additional Advil Liqui-gels, if I'm still battling cold symptoms and/or feeling any achey muscles. I swear it helps me sleep better, and I'm talking about the regular Advil, not the PM stuff.

On weekends, I still pop five capsules of creatine monohydrate before a workout with weights. Domestic Partner thinks that I will be paying the consequences later, for the long term use of this Red-Bull-in-pill-form.

What pills do you pop?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Seven Weeks

First of all, to those of you on my regular blog reading list, I apologize for being so MIA.

I was going to write a post about how facebook has become a full-fledged addiction, and how it has all but replaced my former time-burglar addiction of blog reading.

Less than seven weeks. I have less than seven weeks for a show to take over my life. First, three weeks of rehearsals for the 99¢ Only Calendar Girl Competition, and then four weekends of performances next month. Less than seven weeks of my life to devote to this sugar-sweet confection of a show.

That is really a small chunk of time to sacrifice other activities - and people - in my life.


And it will test my wannabe perfectionist tendencies a little, or at least irk them.

Day Job. Rehearsals. Learning lyrics, harmonies, and choreography, and practicing them on my own. Facebook (I can't resist). Take care of the dogs and cat. And hamsters. Give time and attention to Domestic Partner. Squeeze in housework when I can.

Write another paltry submission for the next writers group meeting. I feel as if I have to, somehow.

Exercise? Mmm, probably not.

So much for being perfect. But so far, I love my life this year.

Read friends' blogs? Write more blog entries? Maybe. I hope so.

And reading, even if only for a few minutes at a time, while in the loo and right before I go to sleep.

Seven weeks from tonight I will have just finished the last performance of this run.

And then, on to England in early April! I definitely love my life this year.

(P.S. a few of the original Calendar Girls from the show are in the photo above - note how their dresses are made entirely from materials sold in the 99¢ Only Stores!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Something Special

I get to be in a show again! I am a replacement singer for the second extension of Ken Roht's 99¢ Only Calendar Girl Competition, at the Bootleg Theater.

And I have Quin and Prince to thank for it!

Quin had won one of the many infamous contests over at Bamboo Nation, and she had shared her winnings with me last December - two tickets to this fabulous show! I was so enchanted with the performance that I walked up to the director during intermission and asked him if I could submit myself, should the show need any understudies.

How to describe the show? Without going into too much detail (and there is a lot of that!), it was worth attending a performance just to see all of the props and costumes made completely out of items from the 99¢ Only Stores, especially the beauty constestants' dresses.

And the cast was impressively talented. The show itself is all completely original material, including the songs. In addition to the contestants, there is also a small group of male gogo MC's, fully clothed. With their thrift-store wigs (also bought at the 99¢ Only Store, perhaps?) and striped costumes, they reminded me of very bizarre dancing Oompa-loompas, if that's not too redundant. I was very jealous, and I wanted to be one of them.

I was jealous not to be part of this production. So, how thrilled am I that I now have the chance to do so, for four glorious weekends this March?!

I have not performed in a full scale show for over four years. I am rusty as a performer, both vocally and with my dance technique. But I wasn't worried about that when auditioning for this show. Even though the 99¢ Only Calendar Girl Competition is hysterically funny with some solid touching moments, there is so much beyond what is seen and heard on the surface.

Without getting too sentimental, I knew instinctively that this was one of those productions that takes a lot of heart, for all involved. I felt that auditioning for it was beyond just being a good dancer or a well-trained singer. Before I even join a first rehearsal, I have the strong impression that performing in this show will require digging around for the best of myself, and even the worst of myself, and a willingness to be open and raw about that as a performer.

And I look forward to it.

Thanks, Quin and Prince! Thanks for fitting a small and wondrous portion of universal synergy into my little plastic bubble world!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Daughter Who Was Wanted

My cousin and her husband became brand new parents right around New Year's, last month. They adopted a precious and beautiful baby girl whom I'll refer to as "Lily."

I got to meet Lily for the first time at her baby shower this past weekend, right after she turned four weeks old. She was so peaceful and well behaved! My cousin semi-joked she was glad that that was my first impression of Lily, so that I might be more willing to babysit in the future.

Lily is biracial like me. At a little over four weeks old she is already displaying a Halle Berry perfection in her physical features, with her medium toned complexion and soft black hair.

And what I really want to say - the elephant in the room that no one seemed to talk about at the shower - is how happy I am and grateful, even, that my cousin and her husband were willing to welcome a child of color into their home and their hearts.

Are children of color harder to place for adoption? I don't know. I didn't ask, mostly because it doesn't matter. Or it shouldn't. My cousin and I are close and I am comfortable asking her these kinds of questions.

My cousin has blonde hair and blue eyes. She grew up with four very Japanese looking cousins, my siblings and me. When we were all very small and out in public as a family, I remember people would point and smile at my adorable cousin, who stood out like a bright sunflower in our dark haired clan.

Lily may be just as conspicuous in public with her new parents as she grows up. I don't know how difficult or easy it will be for her or her parents. Either way, I admire them for making this lifelong commitment as a family. And I would feel that way if Lily had been white, Asian, or any other ethnicity.

If Lily is ever made to feel singled out for having white parents as she grows up, I hope she will first feel how loved she is before that ever happens. I hope she will be aware of, from an early age, how wanted she is by her mother and father.
As a family member, I hope I can help my cousin reinforce those feelings in Lily of being loved and wanted.

I know my cousin and her husband feel fortunate that they are now parents. I feel lucky that I will get to see this beautiful, loved and wanted baby girl grow up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Coupon Queen

Vons can bite my butt. They took away my double coupons. I know the past year was a tough one, economically, for everyone. And I'm sure most companies had to tighten their belts where they could, including supermarket chains. But my coupons now have the same value elsewhere.

So, I started going elsewhere. I now grocery shop at Stater Brothers.

Vons did me a favor. Several items that I buy on a weekly basis are cheaper at Stater Brothers than they are at Vons, such as the MorningStar frozen veggie products. And every week, too. I don't have to wait for items to go on sale. Juicy Juice is cheaper there, and so is Don Francisco's coffee!

Vons can bite my butt, again, and then use its teeth to scrape off any crusty residue from my cheeks and save it as snack for later. Or they can plastic wrap it in their deli and resell it at a jacked-up, non-double-coupon price - those bastards!

Not that I'm bitter . . . well, not as much as I used to be.

The coupons I used at Stater Brothers this morning saved me almost five dollars. I went to Fresh & Easy after that and redeemed a six dollar coupon there after spending the required minimum of $30.00. I had a 10%-off-entire-purchase coupon for Petco, where I saved an additional eight dollars on kibble, canned dog food, soft & chewy dog treats, and hamster bedding.

For dinner tonight, Domestic Partner and I went to Marie Callender's because we had a dinner coupon - buy one dinner entree and get a second entree of equal or lesser value for free (when you also buy two beverages).

That's a total savings of almost thirty dollars in one weekend's shopping (for two people and assorted animals).

This afternoon, on facebook, a friend told me about and a second friend confirmed it.

Take that, you blasted economy! You too, Vons.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Personal Perfection

About twenty years ago, I came out to my parents and the world did not cave in. But I did start seeing a Christian therapist at Pacific Christian College shortly after that. During our discussions about the conflict of homosexuality and Christianity, he pointed out that I had 'perfectionist tendencies.'

What? Me? Hell no. I mean, no way!

I had dropped out of UCLA at the end of my freshman year. I was working at Disneyland and going to dance class at night. If I were truly a perfectionist, I would be able to stay in school and work and take dance class regularly.

I had thought.

The therapist used my messy bedroom as an example. I had told him that I can't truly clean my bedroom unless I have a block of at least seven hours to do it completely.

That example has stayed in my mind for the past two decades. It's helped me to realize that, for any overwhelming project, sometimes it is enough to just do a little bit each day. Not that my bedroom stayed consistently clean after that, not until I met neat-nik Domestic Partner, anyway. And not that he would agree, that I am clean enough.

What is enough? I still struggle today with feeling that I fall short of my own perfectionist ideals. If I were perfect, I would have both time and energy to exercise everyday. Ideally, I would blog every day and also write a little bit more of the first novel every day. In a perfect world, I would exercise and write on top of going to work for that paycheck thang and spend time with friends and family, and still feel that I was giving enough time and attention to Domestic Partner and the various pets and the house cleaning.

If I were truly perfect, I would be able to volunteer and join Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, and be a reading tutor, and take on more choreography projects, etc.

In a perfect world, I would sleep fewer hours and get more accomplished.

My life is not complicated. I do not feel overwhelmed. Lately, though, it has been easier to just channel surf from the couch and consume even more vast quantities of chocolate. Oh, and log onto facebook several times a day.

I am beyond glad that President Obama has been inaugurated. Finally. And I am inspired by his election into office. What I need is yet another swift kick in the pants. But for now, I am relishing the feeling of renewed commitment President Obama has been giving the public.

I actually like feeling that I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

What is your personal perfection?