Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Catching Up, Two Steps Back

I was unemployed for eleven months. I am now back at California Pizza Kitchen, the one in our neighborhood, a mile away. The "commute" is much more favorable compared to my former fifty mile round trip.

I am very fortunate. Tips have been good and I like my new coworkers. We've been having fun even though I am about twice the age (or more!) of most of the other servers. I like the changes that have happened in the last seven years since I was last with the company, including more casual uniforms (denim jeans and no neckties!).

California Pizza Kitchen had always been my fallback job in the past, whenever I was out of work as a dancer/performer, which was frequent. I had always looked for the first restaurant job available any time I was out of work. I wish I had followed that old instinct instead of applying for unemployment benefits as a handful of people, including Domestic Partner, had recommended.

But if I hadn't received unemployment benefits maybe I wouldn't have enjoyed being in three musicals this past year. Perhaps I wouldn't have signed with a talent agency for commercial and print work this year if I had taken a restaurant job sooner. Who knows? I am choosing to put performing on hold for now, conflicted as that makes me feel, so I can work night shifts and keep my day time free for auditions.

Okay, not really, not completely. I am also going back to working part time for a children's theater company, the Imagination Machine, a group that tours elementary schools. I had worked for them twenty-two years ago! My first show back is in ten days.

So, I feel as though I've taken two giant steps back. I failed in my attempt to be a real adult, although I deliberately avoided exactly that status for a couple of decades, mission accomplished (poor Domestic Partner!). I've been joking that I tried reality but I didn't like it.

It's good to be making regular, consistent income again. I appreciate the fact that I do not have to be at a job forty-five hours a week. I still feel I should figure out how to accomplish some sort of career, maybe get some additional schooling or training - I still have no actual real-world skills! Management training at the restaurant is one option . . . I'm not sure yet if I'll take advantage of that opportunity.

I've enjoyed my year off, my "vacation," but I'm glad it's over. Here's to 2014 and new beginnings, even if they're "old" ones. Happy Sorta' New Year to me, and also to you!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Grandpa Chuck

Grandpa Chuck was a mountain of a man, at least, in my 11-year-old eyes he was. He had a pot belly which, rather than making him look fat, only emphasized his status as an imposing yet gentle authority figure. He was my grandmother's second husband and the primary grandfather figure in my life.

Grandpa Chuck was brave. He had nicked his hand with a knife in the kitchen, once, and there was quite a bit of blood. I was awed and impressed as I watched him pour salt from a round, blue canister into his other hand before pressing it directly into the open wound.

I regret to say that I don't know or remember where Grandpa Chuck was from, originally. But I think he was from the Midwest, maybe. He seemed Midwestern because he was typical of traditional grandfathers from an older generation. He sprinkled salt on his watermelon, which I thought was weird. He took my brother and me fishing, showing us how to impale an earthworm on a hook.

Grandpa Chuck had an amazing tool collection on one side of his garage where he helped me to imprint designs on a leather belt, a craft needed for a Webelos badge. He grew zucchini and other vegetables in the backyard. Near the vegetables were the elevated cages where he raised rabbits. He had only one male rabbit which he gave to me for the asking when our sixth grade wanted to have a class mascot.

He also raised chinchillas for a while, which makes me a little sad to think about now that I know why he was raising them. But as a blissfully unaware 11-year-old I loved going to the middle part of the garage to look at the cute rodents in their stacked cages under the fluorescent lights.

I was surprised to see Grandpa Chuck be vulnerable. I watched this mountain of a man crumble in tears when my grandmother died of a heart attack. This strong, brave, traditional man stood between the dining room table and Grandma's organ and unexpectedly started crying in front of us, the whole family, as a church friend comforted him with hugs.

I haven't seen Grandpa Chuck in over thirty years. After my grandmother died he remarried. Our family get-togethers with him dwindled, being that there were no longer any blood ties. But he remains in my memory as a male role model. Like many "typical men" of his generation, he didn't talk much. But I'll always remember the example he was of a strong man - strong enough to be weak.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Who's Not Your Daddy?

I used to get asked, now and then, if Domestic Partner and I would ever consider adopting a baby. Domestic Partner always disagrees (or doesn't remember) but I would mention how he was the one to bring up the subject, more than once.

"I'm willing to make that commitment," I had told him. "But you have to think about the fact that it's going to be a commitment for twenty to twenty-five years. It won't just be a year or two of having a cute baby."

I asked him to look around the house and picture it covered in laundry and toys. "Oh, no," he countered. "It wouldn't be that bad with just one baby."

"What does your brother's house look like?" I asked.

Domestic Partner has a niece and a nephew. "Oh, yeah," he admitted.

"Your clean and tidy house would be history," I continued. "All of the nice things you have out now would have to be stored away if you don't want them broken. I imagine you never feel caught up on housework, once you become a parent, especially a working parent."

I also asked him to consider the fact that I would only work part time, if at all. I would be the Mom figure if we adopted one or more children. I would be the one driving kids to soccer practice and dance classes. I would be the PTA parent. I would have to learn how to cook and clean better.

I would also have a perpetual pot of coffee ready, 24/7. I think about BFF Kathy staying up later than her husband and kids - the only time where she can get a few minutes to herself to do things such as read - and getting up in the morning before everyone else. I know I would be tired all of the time, as a parent, but I would do it. You do what you have to do.

Domestic Partner made me really angry during a discussion a few years ago. He didn't think I could make the necessary sacrifices in my own life to become a parent. I guess he meant my selfish desire to perform, to sing and dance in shows. I argued that he should know how nurturing I can be from how I treated his dog when I first met him, although I'm going to guess that caring for dogs cannot be compared to the daily care of actual human children.

I didn't argue further. I was still mad but we had already decided by then that we were not going to adopt. There was no point in fighting about it, seething as I was at the time.

Domestic Partner is seven years older than me. I had asked him to think about how old we were going to be by the time an adopted child was college-age, or finally old enough to move out of the house, even if we adopted a child who was in grade school.

So, it never happened. We decided to continue adopting surrogate kids instead, the canine and feline varieties.

I used to think a lot about being a parent when I was in my teens and my twenties. I used to make plans about how I was going to raise them, how I was going to demonstrate love to them, and make them feel safe. During my thirties I realized that part of my desire to become a parent was to compensate for what I felt was neglected in my own upbringing. Once that realization surfaced, the desire to become a parent decreased significantly.

But I still think about it sometimes. I hope I would have had the patience to be a parent, even if I didn't always have the energy. I sincerely think I would have been able to give up what I need to, put my life and goals on hold, and put my family's needs before my own. I would have tried to be a fun parent, dancing and singing with my children in the house while they were growing up. I would have probably ended up being that Embarrassing Parent as they got older, so maybe it's better that we didn't adopt.

Still, if I hadn't met Domestic Partner, I could have dated a divorced dad with kids. I could have become the evil step-monster.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How I Spent My 48th Summer

Earlier this year I took Miss Jay's on-camera commercial workshop. I knew I was getting my money's worth when I recognized one of the classmates from a Nationwide commercial. I was actually the most inexperienced in our class of eight, having no film or television credits to my name, but I didn't mind being the beginner. It was a good workshop.

Miss Jay turned out to be the real deal. I decided to sign up for her second package where she works one-on-one with her clients to find a commercial agent. Miss Jay knows what she's doing. She is meticulous about details and very business-professional. Plus, she's been doing this for a few years (She's on a current back-to-school commercial that has been airing every day this month).

The process to actually start looking for an agent took longer than I had expected. I wanted to do everything right, as much as possible, so I was willing to wait. And Miss Jay's objective view of my "look" and how to market me turned out to be gold. Once I submitted my new headshots I started receiving responses within the first twenty-four hours.

Holy crap! Why did I wait so long in life to attempt this?

I had a few meetings with talent agencies this past week. They all told me the same thing: They need my look. They're all getting calls for older Asian males. One even told me that they have trouble finding older Asian males that can speak English without an accent.

Really? I find that hard to believe, knowing the competition that's out there, at least for musical theater.

I have a few more meetings with other talent agents this week. I feel like such a novice - again. So I'm a little nervous about making the right choice. I'm also anxious to get started. I'm hoping for beginner's luck.

I'm not so concerned about becoming famous as I am about finding gainful employment after being terminated last year. Fun gainful employment. I was also fired from Disneyland in the 80's. A few months after that I was hired for my first theater job, dancing and singing on stage, and for better pay. Getting fired turned out to be the best thing that ever happened back then.

It's a pattern I'm hoping to repeat this year but on the small screen. Fingers crossed!

The photo above was Miss Jay's first choice to submit to agencies, which worked like a charm! I am grateful for her expertise.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Old Man and the Cheese Sandwich

We still used the word "hobo" when I was a boy, instead of the word "homeless." Neither word seemed to apply to the old man sitting in the public laundry room. He just seemed out of place in his white robe and simple head covering. Only English-speaking Americans lived in our new apartment complex, as far as I knew. I was seven. My father taught English as a Second Language, and we had just moved to Saudi Arabia.

The old man wasn't scary-looking. I don't remember whether or not he made my mother feel nervous. He was probably just looking for a shady place to rest. His robe looked light, airy, and comfortable: ideal clothing in the oppressive desert heat. The white cloth on his head was shorter than what most civilians wore in the city. There were no black rings to anchor his head covering in place as I had seen other Arab men wear.

His beard and mustache were also white, both neatly trimmed. He didn't seem poor, exactly, just from a different era. He was like my great-grandmother in Japan, who still wore yukata robes and sandals on a daily basis, rather than adapt to western slacks and hard-soled shoes.

Did he speak to my mother, ask her for something? I can't remember. I doubt that he would have spoken much English, and we had not learned any Arabic yet. My mother went into the kitchen and unwrapped a thin square of cheese which she placed between two slices of bread. The old man accepted the sandwich silently and graciously.

We never saw him again, but I have never forgotten my mother's quiet, simple act of kindness.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Am the Girl in the Splits

There was a time when I believed I would never be able to do it. My body just wasn't shaped right. I would never be able to do wide second splits in dance class, no matter how much I trained. I was forever doomed to be merely hunched over, with my legs spread out and my back curved, hovering pathetically several inches above the floor. I didn't think I could ever "pancake" my upper body flat on the floor the way my dance teacher and some of the women could.

As I got older and started lifting weights more, I learned to use my increased body temperature and warm muscles to increase my flexibility. Certain weight lifting exercises put significant stress on the lower back (and no, I don't wear a weight belt). So, wide second stretches turned out to be a great way to relax the lower back and calm my strenuous breathing.

There was also a time when I was embarrassed to do dance stretches on the weight floor, especially dropping down to touch my toes for a hamstring stretch - as if I was "presenting" to anyone behind me. I had written about that before, when I had first started blogging. Funny how writing about certain fears and insecurities helps to diminish them, once you see it in print.

"Live here," I tell myself while in certain stretch poses. Not forever, just for now, just to give myself some patience to take enough time and stretch slowly. I would picture the girl from the 1980 movie, "Fame" (pictured above), the one who was effortlessly in the same warm up stretch during the dance audition scene. She was relaxed and casual, and so flexible that she could prop her elbows on the floor. I wanted to be like her.

Going to the gym regularly has taught me that it helps to pretend to be other people when I am feeling too weak or limited. Lat pulls are especially hard for me, but I've gotten better at them by pretending that I am Jackie Chan or Jet Li. In certain Pilates poses and exercises, I am Jane Fonda from the 80's. (Have you seen her lately? I'll take being Jane Fonda from this decade!)

I will always have role models, it seems, no matter how old I get. When I feel discouraged, when "being Peter Varvel" isn't good enough, I put on a persona, someone who inspires me, whether they're real or imagined. Just for now, until I can absorb it enough to feel better about myself.

I'm putting on costumes, playing different characters, even when I'm not on stage.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Real Granny Tranny

Granny Tranny is real! I thought I had made her up but she does exist! I met her a couple of weeks ago.

One of my close friends is a church choir director. He and is wife enlist me sometimes for the choir's special events and performances, to provide choreography or simple movements for the singers. They gave me the heads up about one of their new choir members, a senior citizen who cross-dresses by stuffing rolled up shirts underneath a regular tee shirt.

They knew that I would be neither shocked nor surprised. They had both been at my graduation ceremony when I had completed my undergraduate degree in Gender Studies. I don't think I had ever told them, though, about a character I had included in one of my final papers. I had written in Granny Tranny as a special guest on the fictional television show, "The Gender Kids Club." It was a show where kids could learn about the varying degrees of femininity and masculinity, and a place where they could fit in any place they wanted to along that spectrum, where they could just be their natural boyish and/or girly selves.

I described Granny Tranny as an elderly African-American wearing a salt-and-pepper wig underneath her church-going hat. She favored gloves and purple polyester suits as her signature look. She addressed the kids as "duckling" and "lambkin" rather than trying to learn all of their names.

The Real Granny Tranny was dressed more casually when I met her. She had rolled up her jeans for the 50's theme night. Her tee shirt did indeed look overstuffed despite the fact that my friend, the choir director, convinced her to reduce the double 'D' size she had originally sported. Her bosom still resembled a lumpy, uneven pillow.

I had met her on a good night, apparently. I was informed that the usual stench of body odor was absent that evening. I said a simple "Hi" to her during the microphone sound check, same as I would greet any other choir member.

My friend's mother-in-law was in town visiting, so she was able to attend the performance. She liked the fact that someone such as Granny Tranny was quietly accepted in the choir and church, that there was no open hostility expressed toward her appearance or private protests expressed to the pastor and church staff. I agreed.

I later told Domestic Partner about the Real Granny Tranny. When I described her appearance, he told me that he had seen her on the Metro Link trains and buses in downtown Los Angeles. She is a homeless person, which explains her usual body odor I suppose. It made me happier that the church was willing to let her in their doors on a regular basis.

Granny Tranny looked pretty cleaned up on the night that I met her. I admired the fact that, rather than wear a wig, she had grown out her own natural, silver-streaked hair. It was combed neatly from the top, curling softly on the ends, like a chorus girl from the 1930's. She had about a day's worth of stubble, white and prickly on her chin and jawline.

I later learned that the Real Granny Tranny still goes by her birth name: Joseph.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Princess Who Looks Like Me

I went to Disneyland last week with my Aunt Pat and her granddaughter, four-year-old Marlow, who calls me Uncle Peter. Never mind that she is my cousin's daughter. She's like a niece to me, in the fun and playful closeness that we already share.

I was happy to experience the Disney parks through a fresh pair of eyes. We started our day at the newer theme park, Disney's California Adventure. Marlow immediately wanted to go on the bumper cars in A Bug's Land. She loved Heimlich's Chew Chew train in which the overweight caterpillar-shaped vehicle eats his way through giant-sized vegetables, fruits, and desserts (um, does Eric Carle know that Disney basically ripped of his book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar?).

I quickly learned that tunnels were not an option. Marlow did not want to go any ride that took passengers into a dark and scary tunnel, including the new Little Mermaid ride. She waited outside with her grandma while I rode Ariel's Undersea Adventure by myself and took pictures (I was surprised not to hear a recorded announcement forbidding flash photography or use of recording devices). When I showed Marlow the photos, she was particularly interested in Ursula, the scary sea witch, and she kept asking me to page back to that picture.

Taking turns watching a four-year-old while she napped turned out to be an advantage. Aunt Pat let me go first in the single riders line of the new Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land. It only took me ten minutes versus the 45-minute-wait in the regular line. I loved the new ride, and I knew Aunt Pat would love it too, when she took her turn. Marlow had a long nap, so we also took turns going on Soarin' Over California, the hang glider flight simulator.

Marlow loved the Pixar Play Parade in California Adventure. But the best part of the day was when we went into Disneyland park to watch the Soundsational parade. Marlow was bouncing and dancing to the music playing on the speakers before the first float arrived. At one point, when she saw the princess float coming down the parade route, she dug furiously through the items in her stroller, as if she were looking for a camera. When the float passed by, she waved to Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Belle.

What had Marlow been looking for? And where were Mulan and Pocahontas? Where were the princesses of color? Oh, well. Each year, as the cast of characters continues to grow, I know it's not possible to include every Disney favorite in one parade. We continued enjoying the parade.

Once again, Marlow dug wildly through her stroller after seeing the next float coming down the street. She tossed items over shoulder, unknowingly hitting the people sitting next to us. Finally she found what she was looking for: her tiara from The Princess and the Frog.

Marlow had recognized Princess Tiana on The Princess and the Frog float several yards away, before it reached the spot where we were sitting. She was so excited! She wanted to show Princess Tiana that she had the same crown that she did. They were the same! Luckily, when the float passed by, Princess Tiana took a moment to acknowledge Marlow and wave at her.

Marlow is four. Her adoptive parents are both white. I think she understands at her age, already, the joy of identifying with someone in the media, someone you admire and want to emulate. The little Japanese boy that I used to be/still am silently rejoiced with Marlow. I spent part of my childhood in Japan, enjoying animé in the 1970's, so I don't think it bothered me as much when we returned to the states and I didn't see any television characters who looked like me (Does "Arnold" from Happy Days count?). Still, it felt like retribution when the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon series first started airing.

When The Princess and the Frog first started playing in the theaters, my coworker took her half-Jamaican daughter to see it. Her daughter was about Marlow's age at the time. My coworker told me that her daughter stood up on her seat and announced to the audience, "Look, everyone! There's a Disney princess and she looks like me!"

That made me tear up a bit, as well as smile.

As Marlow grows up, I hope she continues to find positive role models in the media to identify with and look up to. It's her turn.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Am the Girl in the Car

I have been a Madonna-fan from the very beginning. I identified with her music video for "Borderline," thirty years ago, especially when she was riding in the photographer's car. I was seventeen-years-old and I did not have my driver's license yet. I was dependent on my parents and friends for rides to school, church bible studies, theater rehearsals, etc.

The young adult novel that I am struggling to finish features a teenager who yearns for a Vespa scooter. Friends in my writers' group observed that the protagonist is always being driven places, given rides by others, instead of driving himself. I don't think that I was fully aware of that recurring theme until it was pointed out to me. But it's consistent with the character's desire for independence and freedom, and how the sought-after scooter represents both to him.

A used Vespa scooter became my "first car" in the 80's, once I had moved out of my parents' house. I couldn't afford a car. But the sleek, white Italian scooter was all I needed to get around town. I loved my little putt-putt. And it helped to give me the funky, avant-garde image I wanted for myself (at least I hoped it did).

I have had three more scooters since then (and three different cars). I gradually achieved some semblance of increased independence as I got older.

But not completely.

It bothers me a little that I never achieved full independence, at least financially. I have always rented rooms, always had roommates. Delaying college graduation and a "real job" until my forties probably had something to do with it. The best I managed to take care of myself was when I went away on contract in Japan, or when I worked on cruise ships. Housing was provided for both of those jobs - no rent to pay! So, I guess that I still wasn't completely independent with either job.

Even with my "first real job," though (which ended a few months ago), I didn't see how people could afford to live on their own in Los Angeles. I would probably have had to take a second job at night if I were single. I don't know where I would be without Domestic Partner . . . probably still on a cruise ship or in Japan (if they were still willing to hire me, that is).

I am grateful that Domestic Partner and I still together. I'm grateful for my own car, my own transportation, grateful that I am in the driver's seat sometimes. But every weekend, when we go out, I sit in the passenger seat of Domestic Partner's BMW convertible.

Some days I am still that girl in the car.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Back to My Future

This is my Back to the Future year. I turned 47-years-old last week. Not that that specific age makes this year any different than usual. I normally think about my teenage self on a regular basis, wishing I could start over.

I don't like admitting that, common as it may be for one to wish that they could have another chance to do things better. It's completely useless, wanting to be young again so that you can do things differently. It's never going to happen.

So, why can't I stop thinking about it? It's probably just typical of being middle-aged.

But just for kicks what would I have done differently? I would have found a way to be more courageous, in general, more confident. I would have pursued dance and performing more aggressively, instead of feeling so pressured to go to college.

Or maybe I would have mustered up the determination to finish college by my early twenties, all while attending dance classes regularly. I would have started drinking coffee much earlier in life.

And I would have stood up for myself more when it came to how I wanted to shape my future. I would have developed a backbone, despite my fears, especially when it came to dealing with my father and his good intentions.

I'm sure many fans of the Marty McFly trilogy felt the way I did after seeing the first installment: I wished that I, too, could go back in time to visit my parents when they were in high school and change our family's collective fates for the better.

I wanted to improve the foundation of my parents' young adult lives in the hopes of improving our family dynamics in the present, and my own life as a teenager.

Now I am like the middle-aged Marty in the second installment, strumming his guitar and nursing his regrets over dreams unrealized, the could've-beens and the should've-beens.

How pathetic!

How can I use my own regrets constructively? The only useful answer I can come up with is to literally rewrite my own story. I am more than halfway through the first draft of my young adult novel, what I've written so far. And I know how it ends. I know how I want to set it up the last chapter to lead to a sequel, a second novel. But it's been slow writing. I'm having trouble bridging the middle part of the story to the ending.

I owe it to my 17-year-old self though. I owe it to my inner teenager from 1983 to finish the book, even if it never gets close to being edited and published. If I can't do it for myself, my present self, I can do it as a labor of love for him.

This is my Back to the Future year. This is the year I will commit to completing the first draft, one page at a time.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Memories of Moxie

It's over. We said goodbye to Moxie the pug tonight. She was the last surviving dog of the three we adopted from the pug rescue group seven years ago, when she was eight-years-old.

She would have been fifteen this year.

Domestic Partner and I took her on that "last trip to the vet" tonight. I am grateful that she went quietly and quickly, thankful that we had that option. I am especially grateful that Moxie deteriorated so naturally and gradually in the last few months. Except for the last week, she had regular appetite and regular trips to the backyard, sometimes even making it on her own, still, on her frail, functioning legs.

She was a feisty one. She used to bully Prudence, pushing her around sometimes during walks and meals. We had to watch them when they ate. Moxie-the-gobbler would always finish first and try to bulldoze her way into Prudence's food dish. At the adoption fair Moxie and Prudence were one of the pug pairs that needed to be placed together, and we went in knowing that we wanted two. Oscar, the 12-year-old male, also at the pug rescue event, was given to us for free.

Moxie was called "Curly" when we adopted her. We were instructed not to change any names since the dogs had been through so many changes already, from the homes of their original owners to foster homes. Domestic Partner and I had always talked about naming a pug "Moxie" someday, specifically a black, female pug. So we broke that rule.

It was the perfect name for our feisty, bitchy darling. Every time we walked in the door she would assail us with energetic barks, as if to scold us for leaving her alone for so long, or to demand to be fed. She was very sweet, too, especially when she was asleep, or just cuddling next to us on the couch.

I will miss her. There were a few tears at the vet clinic tonight, but not as much when we lost our "only child," Caesar, a few years ago. It was a little easier this time, knowing that Moxie had more of a fair shot at living out her life completely. In addition to a decrease in appetite and losing strength in her hind legs, Moxie even stopped drinking water today, so we knew it was time.

"Are you guys going to get another dog?" people constantly asked us, even when our elderly dogs were still alive and in good health. We always say that we're going to take a break, even though they usually end up being famous last words. But this time I think we mean it. It will be easier to follow through this time because we still have a young, affectionate kitty who snuggles in bed with us while the nights are still chilly.

But I'll never forget Moxie, or her sister Prudence, or old man Oscar. I miss Caesar every day. He was the First and Best Pug, the one with whom I had the strongest bond. And I cherish the memories of all the family dogs before Caesar.

I don't know how it works, this life-after-death thing, but I sincerely hope I'll be reunited with the energy that was/is Caesar and all of the other beloved pets.

I'll miss you, Moxie, my surrogate child. And just like the others that have gone on before you, I will love you always. Find Prudence and Oscar, and maybe you'll get to meet Caesar.

Use some of that feisty bitchiness to put in a good word for me up there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hiding From Me

I don't like to admit it, but I've been hiding from myself. I used to hide from myself by not journaling at all, when I was younger. I guess the more contemporary version of that is not blogging at all.

I am still unemployed.

Some of my family members, including me, have an absolute gift for self-pity. We are experts at feeling sorry for ourselves. Fortunately, I am not as afflicted as other relatives with this emotional legacy. It doesn't take too much effort for me to keep even just slight depression at bay.

But I haven't been living very courageously in the last couple of months. That's what bothers me. That's what I'd like to work on, and that's why I'm writing this post today. Even if I feel as if I have nothing to write about, I still need to face myself.

What have I been doing? I've been taking care of our last surviving pug, Moxie, letting her sleep in more. She is fifteen-years-old this year. This past winter, I hated having to wake her at about 6:00 am on cold, dark mornings just so I could feed her before leaving for work. We didn't think she'd last this long. We kept thinking each month was her last. But she is still going strong. I'm glad I can be home with her during her old age and not just in the evenings.

I have a small but joyous part in "Born Yesterday," the current show with Inland Valley Repertory Theatre. I am optimistic about being in the ensemble for their next show, "Cabaret," the musical.

I did not get cast in "Sweet Charity" last month. I couldn't be sad or disappointed about it, though. My ankle is much better after last fall's surgery, but still not 100%. I was just happy to be able to get through the dance audition as well as I did. Something I do not mind admitting is how much the cartilage was crackling in my legs while dancing, like bacon frying, especially when doing the grand plíe. Oh, the plight of the aging dancer!

I just completed an excellent commercial workshop. It's silly how tentative I feel about wanting to find an agent. This is something I've wanted to pursue for most of my adult life. I am more comfortable in my skin, now, so the timing seems good. And as long as I'm free during the day I may as well try to audition as much as possible. This is one specific way I want to live more courageously.

But living as a responsible grownup? That's something I've avoided for most of my adult life . . . It's something I'm still not very skilled at, even after six years of working at "my first real job." That's what I need to be more courageous about, the older I get.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Little Things

I hate to brag (no, really), but I truly am one of the luckiest people alive. One of the reasons I feel so fortunate is that it's fairly easy for me to realize why I am lucky, even when things are at their worst (such as when I lose my full time job).

Most of the time, I can feel grateful for having Domestic Partner in my life. There are times, though, when I feel like he is always in the way when we're both at home, especially in the kitchen. And I don't even cook and clean that much. Is this how married people feel? How can only two people get in each other's way so often in a three-bedroom house?

He's always right there, too, when I want to brush my teeth at night. It's as if there's a magnetic tracking device in him, even when he's in the middle of watching TV. I've tried different times before bed. It doesn't matter what time it is or how silently I try to start brushing my teeth in our not-so-spacious bathroom. Whether it's before 9:00 pm or after, there he is, my pre-bedtime shadow, cutting in front of me to take out his contacts and start brushing his own teeth.

My life is a constant trial.

I've learned to put my frustration aside and just wait the paltry two or three minutes before I resume brushing my own molars.

Loud sneezes - he sneezes at a high volume, directly towards my eardrums it seems, when we're sitting next to each other on the couch or in the car. I've told him that it is possible to sneeze without employing your vocal cords. But I've since become resigned to the fact that I'll probably have to live with the unexpected explosions for the rest of our lives.

It's little enough. At least he covers his mouth.

Apple stickers. Those little decals that are stuck to every individual piece of produce from the supermarket. Those are always in the sink's drain catcher whenever Domestic Partner washes an apple, even though it's just as easy to stick it to the plastic bag lining the trash can under the sink.

Bright green loogie flecks stuck inside the toilet bowl when he uses the Crest mouth rinse. It's better than having them stuck inside the bathroom sink. But still: the toilet has to be flushed right after spitting so that the green loogie flecks don't get attached.


I'm sure there are several things I do every day that annoy him, too, things I'm not aware of. We tend to hold things in, Domestic Partner more so than me, even though we know it's not a good habit for couples - letting resentment build up.

But we rarely fight. We have a peaceful home atmosphere, which I usually remember not to take for granted. It's not worth expressing my petty irritation over the little things. I don't even to need to give much thought to picking our battles.

And so, I feel lucky.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bitchy Boy

Jalen (not his real name) was so bitchy. I met him in rehearsals for one of the shows I did this past year. Sometimes, he complained about the rehearsal process. And he was critical of everything in the entertainment industry. But he adored Britney, so we bonded over that.

Actors and performers who were not la Spears, though, were subject to his immediate criticism and disdain, whether on stage or in the media. He had an opinion, usually low, about anyone's and everyone's performance.

Jalen, himself, was a marvelous performer and rather awkward looking. He was a good "character type." You just knew that adolescence must have been absolute hell for him. It was easy for me to forgive him for his bitchy attitude, once I surmised that it must be a defense technique, built up over the handful of years of his young adulthood.

We shared a brief, memorable moment. On opening night, Jalen and I answered our call to places, squatting behind a set piece before revealing ourselves in the first number. In the dark, just before the curtain and the lights went up, I whispered to him: "Magic!" Jalen responded with a friendly, brotherly squeeze to my shoulder.

Before rehearsal one afternoon, I saw that I was right behind Jalen's car when we had both exited the freeway. His car was closest to the homeless person holding up a cardboard sign. I saw Jalen's hand reach out of his car window, a folded bill in his hand.

I never told Jalen that I had witnessed his act of kindness. But I am inspired by him to continue giving what I can, when I can.

Bitchy Boy has a soft spot.