Totally boss…

My boss is great – functional, perceptive, ethical and smart.  Most remarkably, he also has a great sense of humor*.  On the job for just over a year, he has started to figure out what that unpredictable hippy-chick on his staff actually does.  So far, i have apparently passed his initial ROI “pain vs performance” assessment, and i have not been sacked**.

But has he learned to read between the lines?

Boss:  The Director has asked for a Status Update on the Collaboration Workshop.  Have you been able to schedule a meeting with him?  Including the Equivalent Director Across the Street?

daisyfae:  The Equivalent Director has been elusive.  My colleague Across the Street has had great difficulty scheduling meetings.  We’re working it…

Translation:  i haven’t done shit with this since it happened – when the fuck did we do this?  October?  November?  Not only that, but i’ve completely forgotten why we did it in the first place, and suspect that if i spend a few hours rooting around in my e-mail graveyard i can resurrect some message traffic that will provide a necessary clue… without having to ask you to send me something from last year, thus revealing the magnitude of my ineptitude.

Needless to say, my colleagues Across the Street got the call today to provide a “Pre-‘Status Update’ Update” for the Equivalent Director, to bring him up to speed for a meeting that is resting comfortably on two executive calendars for a lunch hour next week. 

Stereo Rectal Extractions In Progress…

_________

* To understand someone, one of the first things i do is figure out what makes him laugh.  The boss passed this test with flying colors – covering the full spectrum from stupid potty humor to toss-off comments requiring intellect and agility to comprehend.  While he doesn’t directly make fun of members of our geek brigade, he has been known to stifle a snort should he overhear a “freak bashing” tirade.

** In any large organization, it can be difficult to fire someone.  Having done time as a supervisor, i am intimately familiar with the process.  It is difficult, can take years, and sucks for all involved.  As part of my professional therapy, i have often explored behaviors and scenarios which would get me fired on the spot.  Screwing a goat by the communal coffee pot?  Not on the list.  i’d simply be sent to counseling.  Probably with the goat….

Two conversations with my father…

On the drive back from The Park last Friday, i was tired.  I’d been up late the night before at an awkward dinner event, then up before dawn in order to pick up Mom in time to make an 8:45 am appointment with the cardiologist.  Events of the morning were exhausting, but i was still facing an afternoon in the office after an hour-long drive.

After leaving Mom’s house, i had a powerful urge to visit my father’s grave – but i had an afternoon meeting, and couldn’t take the time.  Instead, i just had a chat with him in the car.  Something i’ve done before…  Typically the conversations start with “I’m trying… ” or “I’m really sorry…”.

Last Friday it was “Holy Fucking Shit!”*

A little background is in order.  While Dad was dying, we had time to talk.  No, not the actual “moment of death”**, but the four months leading up to his death.  There were several lengthy hospitalizations, and i spent many hours in his room, reading the paper while he slept, providing basic care, talking to doctors and nurses, or chatting when he was in the mood to talk.

During one of these conversations, we discussed his concerns about the inhabitants of The Park after he died.  When i was about 30 years old, prior to a trip to Europe, my parents made me executor of their estate.  I’m the youngest of four, but it had become clear that i was the only one with sufficient stability (not to mention CRZY MATH SKILZ) to handle the task.  During this particular conversation, Dad was pointing out that it was going to fall to me to look after the family when he was gone.

daisyfae:  But i’m the youngest!  It was in my contract that i’m supposed to skip through life responsibility-free!  i’m the carefree hippie…. the baby!

Dad:  Sorry.  You’re “Number One Son”.  You’re it…

daisyfae:  [sigh] Ok.  i promise i’ll look out for them…

And i have.  Well, at least i’ve tried.  Dad died in 2001.  The past 7 years have contained multiple moments of “you can’t be serious?” sprinkled with way too much “i could not possibly make this shit up”.  i haven’t even scratched the surface yet in my posts…

i have followed Kipling’s advice – “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you” – to the best of my ability…

There is, however, a perfect storm brewing, and it’s testing the limits of my patience.  And my ability to keep the promise i made my Father.  As i spiral into menopause, no prospect of hormonal supplements because of that pesky breast cancer nugget last year, i have the potential to become highly nonlinear.  As the family faces “end of life” issues with Mom***, they have the potential to become highly nonlinear, not to mention, increasingly stupid.  Not a scenario for peace and harmony, that’s for sure….

Conjuring my Dad in the car that afternoon, i simply asked for a bit of clarification…

daisyfae:  Let’s take a look at that promise, shall we?  i said i’d “look out” for them.  Could that be interpreted as “Look out!  Here they come!”?

Dad:  [….]

__________

* It was Good Friday and all…

** Generally recognized as poor taste to talk about “stuff” when doctors are disconnecting life support, religious officials are attempting to officiate and the like.

*** Reference: The Lion King, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Mecchi & Roberts, 1994.

Crystal Meth-eatre

i know it’s not good for me – an uncontrollable addiction.  why do i do this time and time again?  yeah, i can quit anytime i want to…  right.  how many times have i quit before?*  but i keep coming back…

in the final weeks, it’s the worst.  fast food inhaled in the car while driving to rehearsal, with the shrapnel making my car a trash-can-on-wheels for weeks.  dozens of hours in the car, nearly running out of gas twice a week.  no time for exercise, eating right.  certainly no time for sleep.  cramming last minute prop, set and costume details into the time when i should be sleeping, working, or paying my bills…

more risks… not only eating in the car, but using all of my electronic appendages as i try to take care of my personal and professional business while rushing between the office and rehearsals.  high stress around the clock, and seething with impatience.  risking long-term relationships through short-tempered barking. 

i am a rational woman!  i’ve studied logic!  i know this is not good for me, yet i continue to dose myself.  isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome?

oh, but the high!  a group of strangers, gathered together on an empty stage around the template of a script and the vision of a director.  hours of intense work together.  relationships formed and tested – within days.  lots of drama – on stage and off.  quick-e-mart coffee, backstage slapstick, bummed cigarettes, alcohol, laughs and unexpected exchanges of body fluids**.

in this case, as assistant, a broader experience.  seeing performers grow as the show comes together.  watching as they develop nuances of movement, emotions, and expressions that bloom with just the least bit of encouragement.  sharing the moment when they gain new insight into the meaning of the show.  quietly donating cash to the young man who got fucked over by a roommate and couldn’t pay his electric bill.  keeping snacks, hugs and a first aid kit backstage for sustenance and repair.  being adopted as “tribe mother” – a coach and mentor.  seeing them all come alive with fire and passion when the butts are in seats and the house is sold out.

and then just like it started – poof – it’s over.  we strike the set after the final performance.  splinters from well worn 2×4’s.  cuts and scrapes from hauling wood and metal to storage sheds.  props, costumes and assorted gear stuffed back into canvas tote bags and hauled to the parking lot.  wearing out batteries on half a dozen cordless drills in less than an hour.  the stage is bare – as if it never happened.  more alcohol, cigarettes, screwing, tears and hugs… and we scatter to the winds.  relieved that the ride is over.  aching for a chance to go again…

_____________

* i hold the record for resigning the most number of times from my local theater board of directors.  i currently serve as ‘acting’ volunteer coordinator, since that’s a job i can do from home.  i’ll quit again as soon as i find some other sucker to do it for me…

** don’t ask.  (no, not the guitarist/stalker)

This just in…

Front page coverage for Hair in the local newspaper – trying to drum up some controversy regarding the nudity (which occurs over less than 5 minutes of a 2 hour show).

If we didn’t expect to sell out all four shows, i’d invite some friends to protest in front of the theater tomorrow night, and call the local tv stations – it is sweeps month!  As much as i love the free publicity, i’m surprised at the ‘above the fold, with photo’ treatment.  C’mon, folks… there really wasn’t anything better for the front page today?

From the article:

Getting naked during rehearsal at your local community theater is one thing. Doing so in front of a capacity audience is another.

It goes on to mention that the show is opening exactly 40 years after the Broadway debut, and 38 years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned attempts to ban it. 

I’m getting very attached to the cast, and it seems mutual.  They have adopted me as ‘tribe mother’ – maybe just because i feed them.  The article in the paper today includes a lovely quote from the young man playing Woof. 

…it was awkward until the cast began to develop unity. “Now it’s almost like being a little kid again, running around on stage naked for everyone to see.”

This is the same young man that i get to hang lights and glow sticks on before “electric blues”.  While he’s completely naked.  Oh, and he went to high school with my daughter.  We’re used to it now, but i’ll admit, it was a bit awkward the first time. 

For the Saturday performance, though, he is planning to have a special glow stick wrapped elegantly around his nutsack.  We did it in one rehearsal, and it looked quite fetching, but the director poo-poohed it – said it made his junk too prominent.  He has friends driving most of the day Saturday to see the show, and he wants to do it for them.

Stage crew gets to do lots of interesting things.  In addition to my job of hanging lights on the naked young man, i have to remove them quickly for a fast costume change.

I informed him that if he goes with the glowing cock-ring on Saturday, he’s got to remove it himself, or wear it for the rest of the show. 

In addition to developing a new sense of how i feel about my body, I’ve also discovered that perhaps i do have a few limits…

Some things never change…

I call Mom at least once a week, always on Sunday evenings.  Tonight?  I called from the car, driving home from a full day of ‘tech’ for Hair.  After the initial ‘how was your week?’ discussion, where i generally get a run down of everything she’s eaten since last Sunday, there was this:

daisyfae:  We had a good first tech run through of Hair today – still a bit rough, but it’s coming together.

Mom:  You’re doing another show?

daisyfae:  Yes, remember?  I’m sure i’ve mentioned it – i’m working backstage.  Couldn’t pass up the chance, since i’ve loved the music for this show since i was a kid…

Mom:  Oh, that’s right… but you’re not in it, are you?

daisyfae:  Well, as a matter of fact… i’m doing a short cameo appearance.  The director and cast have invited me on stage for the naked ‘be in’ scene.

Mom:  [pause] Naked?  You’re getting naked?  On stage?

daisyfae:  At least partially naked – tonight i went topless.

Mom:  But you’re wearing a bra or something…

daisyfae:  Nope.  Last time i checked, the definition of ‘naked’ was ‘naked’.

Mom:  Showing your boobs on stage?  At your age?

daisyfae: [smiling] Yes, Ma’am!

Mom:  ………

Let the sun shine in…

Two weeks before Hair opens, and i’ve attended rehearsals this week.  Beautiful voices, but still a few mised lines, confused blocking and dance misfires.  All in all, it’s in good shape going into the home stretch. 

I was curious to see the infamous “Be In” scene.   When Hair originally opened, the full nudity during this scene was controversial.   The show is dated, though, and not produced very often.  When it is?  The nudity isn’t a big deal for modern audiences.  Most people know what to expect and community standards have evolved over four decades. 

It is a difficult thing, however, for amateur performers to be nude on stage – this is scary enough to warrant an entire category of nightmares!  The directors vision is to see bodies moving, as much skin as possible, and clothing being tossed away.  He is allowing each performer to choose the degree of nudity that is comfortable.

Not knowing what to expect, i was delighted to see this cast embracing their nekkidness – and no, not just because they’re pretty…  Some performers went for “the full monty” (oops, that’s a different show).  Others went with partial nudity, or just removing layers of clothing down to their underwear.

My contribution to this show will be backstage, assisting with props, costumes and the like.  For fun (knowing how much i love this show), the director offered to let me be one of the policemen who arrest the audience and all those naked, stoned hippies at the end of the scene.

Earlier in the week, I was offered a different option.  I now have the opportunity to make a cameo appearance during the “Be In”.

Did i need time to think about it?  About a nanosecond…

Sorry kids, but Momma’s going to be showing some skin on a local stage!  I’ll go ahead and book the therapist now… Are twice a week sessions enough to get started?

Frame of reference

When i married in 1984, it was obvious that my in-laws were not ‘of The Park’.  Dignified, smart, hard-working and quiet people — they also had this annoying tendency to mate for life.  Celebrations of 60th wedding anniversaries are routine, and there are only whispered stories regarding divorces of more distant family members.

Over the years, our children quickly learned to expect different types of holiday gatherings, depending on which side of the family was involved. 

When visiting the in-laws:  Quiet dinners at beautiful tables, set with real linens and silverware made of actual metal.  Candles.  Many helping hands in the kitchen.  The eagerly anticipated arrival of vans full of tired, happy people who had traveled great distances to be with family for the holidays.  Holding hands at the table while someone says grace.  Thoughtful, tasteful and practical gifts.

When visiting The Park:  Chaos.  Too many people crammed into a too-cluttered house, with smoke so thick you can’t see the dining room from the kitchen.  Sandwiches and metric tons of cookies for dinner, with big, plastic 2-liter bottles of soda on the table.  Boisterous conversation, while gifts and food are thrown across the room — mainly because there is no clear path to walk without stepping on a screaming toddler.  People racing in to collect holiday loot, then racing off to go transfer the kids to the other parent to meet terms of custody agreements.  Gifts that vibrate, sing or both…

One Christmas, after a nearly side-by-side comparison of these disparate environments, my children made the following observation:

“Mom, how come on Dad’s side of the family, you are considered the wild, free-spirited, crazy member of the family, but on your side, you’re the one who handles every crisis and all the important stuff?”

“Relativity…”

[sigh]

Saturday Skinny Stoner Saga – the story of G

Because one person asked me to do it By popular demand, here’s another installment in the Saga of G, my oldest sister’s second husband.

Previously we learned that G revealed his interest in wearing his mothers clothing to my sister, S, about a week after they were married.  Rather than face another failed marriage, S, decided to stick it out.  Intrepid readers asked “if that didn’t get her out of the marriage, then what finally did?”

We’re not sure what really drove her to file the paperwork.  It was at least partially due the advice of her baby sister, who pointed out that if he got arrested for dealing weed out of the house, the local authorities could confiscate everything she owned – you know, one of those “it’s not violating the constitution  if we take away the rights of bad people” laws…

After the divorce, G went downhill quickly.  We learned that he was arrested for stealing angel figurines from graveyards.   Things escalated, and later that year learned that he was a fugitive from the law! [dramatic music goes here] Attempted Bank Robbery!

Continue reading

What a long strange trip it’s been…

While Dad was in the hospital, there were many opportunities to sit and talk – and more importantly, listen.  Towards the end some of his medications caused hallucinations.  We were never sure if we were getting history or electric dreams!

One night at dusk, i was in his room reading the newspaper while he dozed.  He quietly awakened and said “Did you know that G was a transvestite?”

I put down the paper.

G was the second husband of my oldest sister, S.  He was a tall, painfully thin, bearded stoner.  Probably 6’2″, with a 24″ waist – 130 lbs (soaking wet while wearing SCUBA gear).  Nice enough guy, but not a man i could easily picture in a dress.  Not a man i would want to picture in a dress.

“No, i hadn’t heard that… really?”

Dad got a goofy grin on his face, and nodded his head vigorously.  We both got the giggles, to the point where tears were streaming down our faces.  He seemed to tire, and was soon asleep again. 

Racking this up to another hallucination, i went back to the newspaper and didn’t give it a second thought.

Within days, all hell broke loose for him medically.  He was admitted to the intensive care unit, semi-comatose.   That night, after going over the medical information with my siblings, i remembered the moment. 

Looking at S, i asked “Did you tell Dad that G was a transvestite?”

“Yes…”*

“Well he got the biggest damn laugh out of that when he told me the other night… giggled and snorted like a school girl…”

And then she and i both got a ridiculous case of the “stress giggles”, which is more than a little bit awkward in the waiting room of a hospital intensive care unit.

___________________________________________

* A week after S married G, she woke up and found him in bed next to her wearing a silk nightgown and panties…. both items belonging to his mother.  Months later, S asked Mom what she should do.  Mom informed S that ‘all marriages have problems, and you just need to make it work’.  S stayed with her second husband for 15 years, and never told another soul about it.  I’ll probably have more stories about G later… he was pretty special.

Welcome, Sulfur Dioxide!

To avoid therapy maintain some connection with my creative self, i support local community theatre activities, from fundraising to management to performing.  I was recently asked to assist with a production of Hair – being performed in honor of the 40th anniversary.  My, how time flies when your brain is fried from acid and shrooms…

Rather than use original-esque cast members, who would now be in their 60’s, the director cast a collection of young, talented, beautiful 20-somethings (who will look nice nekkid).  After a few rehearsals he realized that these lovely creatures knew exactly dick about the culture that inspired the tribal rock musical.

Calling for a character development meeting with the cast, he invited me, and several other people who were at least alive in the 60’s, to talk about the times. 

ouch.  i had actually considered auditioning for this one…. with the newly reconstructed Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins, i might have pulled it off…[sigh]

So there they were – beautiful, groggy (it was 10 am) and hungry for insight.  The director started with a discussion of post-WWII culture, the creation of the suburbs and the seeds of dissent from the 50’s ‘beatniks’.  He also pointed out that concurrently, there was a great technological boom – we’d entered the space race, putting a man on the moon in 1969.

“Allegedly”, said the beautiful boy at the end of the table (playing Woof).

[light bulb goes off over my head]

“No, that was the 80’s – the cynicism, conspiracy-theory, oliver-stone era.  In the 60’s, it was idealistic – ‘we can make it better, here have a flower and mellow out…’.”

That was the magic of it all – then and now.   Things were bad, but we were going to fix it!  Not a clue how to do that, but it would be all right – some caring people, good music and lots of talking could change the world!

After the character development meeting, hugs all around from the tribesmen of the theater, and into my car.  And a moment of sadness.  When did we stop believing we could fix it?  When did we stop trying?  Why did we stop trying?