Monday, December 26, 2005
Venus Retrograde (as of Dec. 24)
Rainy and warm
Let’s take a few moments today to remember those who died or lost everything in last year’s tsunami.
Venus went retrograde on Christmas Eve, of all days – the planet of love. Be careful with your loved ones. Think before you say . . .anything. Couple the Venus retrograde with the Saturn retrograde (life lessons) and . . .let’s just say a lot of unhealthy relationships will probably be cleared out in the next few weeks.
It’s been quite a week. The transit strike is over; unfortunately, everybody lost. Until the labor movement in this country is truly unified – i.e., one union goes out, everyone goes out, in the spirit of WHY unions were created in the first place back in the early 1900s – everyone who works for a living on any level below CEO is in danger of losing pension, health, and raises all across the boards. However, there are too many idiots who can’t see that simply because it doesn’t affect them today doesn’t mean that it won’t affect them next month or next year.
And he who pays the best marketers wins.
Anyway, last Wednesday’s matinee was fine. The evening show, however . ..people were getting cranky. Not only that, but one of my tin man’s legs fell off . . .onstage. I waited until the focus was on the other side of the stage. I crawled out as far as I could without being seen, then stretched out flat and shimmied on my belly out so I could reach it and then slither back.
This is why crew is supposed to wear black backstage. So if you have to do something like this, you blend in to the blacks or the stage and no one in the audience can see you.
On top of that, I waited for the monkey who usually passes me to go out for his last cue. I follow him out and then do my preset and my cue. Only . . .the actor who usually plays that role was out and the monkey wasn’t there. Suddenly, an actor I never see at this point comes out and sits beside me and I think, “That’s not good.” And then, my actor comes racing off – because I wasn’t where I should have been. I got him dressed, he made his entrance, but I felt like an idiot – for good reason. It was inexcusable.
In celebration of the Solstice, I did some tarot and rune readings for my friend A. They made sense and were relevant to his questions, which is always good. I read for myself in the morning – the outcome down the road from this next rough patch is supposed to be very positive – I simply don’t see how I’m going to get there right now. I’m lost in the forest and I don’t know which tree has the information I need.
At any rate, I slept in on Thursday and then went out to the library. Pat and Fort never got their holiday collars this year, which is a little disappointing – even though they look a bit silly in them. Because of the strike, the main library was closed until noon; so I had some soup and then went to the 41st Street branch to do some research on something else (they had only a couple of floors open, but they were the floors I needed) until the Main Branch opened.
The tree inside the library is stunningly beautiful. It’s enormous, and decorated entirely in a woodland theme – only birds, pine cones, flowers, berries, and lights. Truly lovely.
I saw The Splendor of the World exhibit – the illuminated manuscripts. I could have just moved in there with a cot and a hot plate and been happy for months. It is wondrous to see the stunningly precise and beautiful handwriting and illustrations done in the 1400 and 1500s. The prayer books, the books of hours, the herbals and botanicals, the map books – and then, evolving into books of traditional tales, etc. So much is poured in to a single volume – so much love and precision and art and joy and sorrow – I want to find out more about them. Illuminated manuscripts have always fascinated me – ever since Highlights for Children had a story about the monks on Lindisfarne back in the late 1960s or early 1970s. That story caused me, years later, to journey to the island, which has become one of my favorite places on the planet.
I also want to find out more about Blanche of Burgundy. The little bit of her history given beside the copy of her book makes me want to know more of her story.
I went upstairs – up those massive, gorgeous marble stairs – to the third floor to the map exhibit. It was interesting, albeit slightly disappointing after the magnificence of the illuminated manuscripts. What is also interesting is how much the map of the world drawn in the 1600s looks like the current map we use today.
In other words, the early navigators and explorers knew what they were doing, and I don’t think we give early sea travelers enough credit.
What surprised me was that the Library’s copy of the Gutenberg Bible – one of the first books ever printed in the world – is up in the map exhibit rather than down with the books. Perhaps because it was printed and the other books were done by hand? It just seemed odd to me to have the Gutenberg in the middle of the maps. I don’t follow the logic.
Show was fine that night, thank goodness.
Friday, I was out of the apartment like a bat out of hell because of all my errands. According to A., his cats started screaming as soon as the lock clicked (even though I told them specifically to “let Daddy sleep.”) Dumped my luggage at the theatre, cashed my check, paid some bills, raced up to the Time Warner Center, got a few last minute gifts at Borders, got sidetracked to L’Occitane and got some more, picked up a bunch of stocking stuffers all over the place – and even had time to sit down and enjoy a leisurely omelette before the matinee.
Yes, folks, we had two shows on the Friday Holiday Hell schedule.
Both were fine, although I hurt my hand during the matinee on one of the big coats and had trouble gripping anything with the right hand for the rest of the day, which rather slowed me down.
My friend G. helped me haul all my luggage to the train, and I made the 11:40. I was surprised how few people were on it – I had a five seater to myself. I waited until I was sure no one needed the seat before I spread out.
It was good to be home, amongst family and loved ones after a week. I really needed the week in the city to rest and get some distance on The Situation and its fallout – but it was good to be home, especially on the night before Christmas. We all stayed up far too late catching up.
My SO had to make an incredibly difficult and painful decision regarding his work this week. It was completely necessary and he did the right thing (it’s always nice when you don’t just nod and smile and say you’ll be supportive, but know, deep in your heart that your partner is absolutely RIGHT), but he’s getting a lot of flack from it from people who are mad that he’s not conforming to their agendas. Few people would have had the courage and the maturity to make the decision he did. But he is physically and emotionally exhausted.
Christmas Eve was way too warm. Up early, hit the ground running. We went to the farmer’s market and the grocery store and the wine store – my goodness, the car was packed to the gills with bags! Good thing we had the windows rolled up or we’d have left a trail.
The original plan was to bake, but it was far too warm. We had the tree lights on, the candles on, carols playing. I started dinner early – roast pork with a special marinade I made up on the spot, roasting potatoes with the pork, spinach and red cabbage. We had stollen for dessert – people either love it or hate it, but I’ve eaten it at the holidays my whole life and love it.
We do our gifts on Christmas Eve, usually around nine at night or so. The gift opening was lots of fun, with lots of laughter – and, of course, the cats helped. I got so many books (I was thrilled): Julie and Julia, Giving Thanks (about Thanksgiving traditions), Pacific Palate, Team of Rivals, Cooking for Kings, Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life, His Excellency George Washington, 1776, Not For Ourselves Alone (letters between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton), a book on Stonehenge and a book on Labyrinths. And that’s in addition to everything else.
Christmas Day morning is all about stockings – we always do elaborate stockings with a mixture of very nice stuff and joke gifts. And, of course, the cats get a stocking, too, filled with toys and sprinkled with catnip, which encourages them to unpack it themselves. Now, if I could just teach them to put the toys away . . .
It was a very insular day. No television, no newspapers. We prepared the turkey and stuck it in the over just after ten. A big turkey. As in, I had to rearrange it in the pan to make the lid fit, and even then, it barely fit into the oven. So it was roast turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, cranberry sauce, and my special parsnip and carrot dish for dinner, along with steamed plum pudding and hard sauce for dessert.
While the dinner cooked, we just hung out with Gregorian chants playing on the CD player and read. It was quiet and relaxing and just what we needed.
After the meal, there was a mountain of dishes that needed attending. Plus, I had to strip the turkey carcass (I feel barbaric whenever I do it and seriously consider becoming a vegan). The turkey was so big that I had to boil down the bones for stock in two shifts – store half the bones in one pot while I cooked the rest in a soup pot – let it cool and put it in the jars while the second set of bones cooked.
I still have a couple of oranges to zest, too. One of the gifts was an enormous box of oranges – I’m allergic to citrus, so I can’t actually eat them or drink the juice, but I can squeeze them for others to drink the juice, use them in cooking, and also, as I squeeze them, zest them and save it for future cooking.
I read Julie and Julia. I looked forward to that book so much, and I finished it with mixed feelings. Yes, it was well written and entertaining. It’s based on a woman’s adventures cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. She’d kept a blog during the process and this book is, I guess, a memoir of the year. A couple of things disturbed me about it. One was the tone – it reads like chick lit. I kept feeling that she put on a persona, was playing a character if you will, for the sake of the book. I didn’t feel I saw the real person, but a fictional character in a chick lit piece. Since I am not a particular fan of chick lit, that aspect held me at arm’s length, when I wanted to be closer to what happened in the book. I wondered if that was her choice or her publisher’s. She admitted to changing names, etc. – but I sometimes felt things were stretched or changed so much that it stopped being non-fiction, and, if it wasn’t strictly fiction – it was riding the line of creative non-fiction into fiction, perhaps because it made a better read.
Perhaps I am hyper-aware of that because I’ve worked in theatre my entire professional life, which is all about illusion, and also because I write under a variety of names and each name has a distinct voice and, almost a “personality”. There’s nothing wrong with any of it. I don’t feel as though the author “lied”, nor do I feel betrayed. I simply was always aware of feeling removed and feeling that what I saw (read) was a mask.
There’s still a lot of good writing in it; it’s quite a read. For New Yorkers, especially, since it happened in 2002 when we were trying to recover from September 11 and figure things out, put lives back together in some semblance of something and then dealt with the blackout. She handles the conflicting emotions and the feelings the conflict evokes very well. She also dissects the relationship that grows between bloggers and readers well.
I missed any sense of joy in either the cooking she went through or the writing. She was always screaming or in tears during the cooking process. I never had the sense that she enjoyed any of it. And that lessened my enjoyment of the reading. I simply don’t find neurosis and diva drama interesting for prolonged periods. I’m paid well to deal with it at work – I have no interest in reading about it on my own time. Towards the end of the books she crows – in a grating manner -- that now she’s well-paid to write. Yet, never in the book did I get a sense that the process of writing brought her any pleasure. That did get on my last nerve. And I don’t get any sense of gratitude behind the words for the way her life has changed. There are words of gratitude on the page, occasionally, but they don’t ring true.
Again, since I don’t know the writer, there’s no way of knowing how much of that is due to the editing process. I want to be fair. But the book left me with mixed feelings because it is labeled non-fiction that I wouldn’t have had if it was labeled fiction.
Which also points out how restrictive the categories are for writing and how they affect our approach to what we read.
At any rate, today is back to reality, in spite of it being a holiday. I have a huge mountain to climb in the next few months – not sure if I’ll climb it, find a pass and go around it, or tunnel through it.
But it starts today.
I hope to get some writing done today. There are errands first, and, probably, yet more dishes. I swear, they are reproducing in the sink every time I turn my back.