I spent this weekend in "our Nation's Capitol", but, unlike Forrest Gump, I did not spend any time with anyone named Jenny. Nor, unfortunately, did I get to spend any time with Liz. We were both overwhelmed by obligations, and did not get a chance to get together, much to my dismay.
I spent most of my time there in the Hyatt, attending a teacher's conference. I walked the few blocks to Union Station for lunch on Friday, and on Saturday to take a "Monuments By Moonlight" tour which began at the famous train station. That was about the extent of my jaunting around Capitol Hill. We drove past: the White House, the Supreme Court, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian (the Smithsonian castle, the Air and Space Museum, and about five other Smithsonians as well...), some of the House and Senate buildings, the Washington Monument, and even over the river to Arlington. The tour did stop at some locations, where we could get out and walk around for a bit.
Our first stop was the relatively new park dedicated to FDR. The area has lots of statues and fountains, and was awash in golden light from the many fountains and fallen cherry blossoms. We had thirty minutes to explore the park, and we all took advantage of the time to wander through the memorial. The section devoted to the the "Faces of the Depression" was haunting and lovely.
The next stop was across the river, into Virginia: the IwoJima Memorial. I had seen pictures of it, including the iconic image of the servicemen raising the flag over Mount Suribachi which the monument depicts, but there's nothing quite like standing in front of it.
After IwoJima, we drove past Arlington, and across the river again to the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial has three monuments on its grounds: the Lincoln Memorial (obviously...), the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial. When we arrived, the sun was fully down, and there was a cool wind blowing. I headed first for the Korean War Memorial. There was something quite unreal about standing alone amidst the life-size statues who looked as if they'd merely been frozen in time. I was the only person around -- all of the others had headed straight for the Lincoln Memorial -- so it was quiet, with only the sound of the skittering cherry blossoms flowing around my ankles on the cooling breeze. The floodlights hit the statues, throwing faces from long ago into eerie shadow. The POW/MIA flag above the site fluttered with the wind. I walked away, feeling humbled; awed.
I walked through the dark paths, reading the names of countries chiseled into the granite as I headed for the Lincoln Memorial. As I reached the top of the monument, I turned to see the Washington Monument across the Reflecting Pool. It was breathtaking. Once inside the memorial, I stood at Lincoln's feet, and looked up at his marbled face, and wondered what he'd think of our country today.
Time was up all too soon, and I headed back for the trolley. The tour didn't stop at very many places, but I was grateful for having what little time I could squeak out for visiting the few I was able to see. I hope I'm able to visit there again one day, and to take my family with me. It really helps you put things into perspective when you can see it for yourself.
There is nothing more disgusting to me than to go into a bathroom stall (especially when you *really* have to pee) and sit down on what you thought was a clean, dry toilet seat -- only to find out that the seat was, in fact, not dry. So! Gross!
It seems like forever ago when Marni visited my area. I promised that I'd get around to posting pictures, and I'm now keeping my promise, albeit very late.
Marni, her lovely husband Carl, and my family all met up at a local restaurant for lunch. We did not even attempt to go to That Restaurant That Everyone Wants to Go To When They Come To Town. It's virtually impossible to get seats there, unless you want to wait for a couple of hours, and we had better things to do with our time.
At the top, Marni and Carl relax after lunch. Middle photo, Marni and I cavort like wild hooligans, and the bottom picture is when we took a pit stop for some ice cream.
After lunch, we spirited the duo off for a walking tour of our area. We had a great time, and I hope we didn't freak Marni and Carl out too much. I really enjoyed their visit, and hope they come back soon!
It is the human condition to want to label things. To pigeonhole life into something that we can categorize and understand. And, for the most part, that makes sense. It's a skill you learn early, like how to sort toys, and how all the socks go in one specific drawer. Learning your colors is visual labeling in action-- grass is green, the sky is blue, and the sun is yellow. God's coloring book.
It becomes less sensible when you're talking about people, however. There is the tendency to label people, because that's an easy way to keep track of who is whom in this constant stream of faces that pass before you daily. "Oh, you know who I'm talking about! She's that tall black woman who has the piercing in her nose!" While we don't consciously intend to insult the person we're describing, it does seem sort of callous to codify our mystery lady solely by race, or height, or by what we might think of as her "exotic" jewelry.
Some labels are just darn hurtful: spic, lesbo, retard. Why should ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical or mental infirmity carry any weight when we think of people? It shouldn't, and yet it does; quite often, in fact. I know I'm even guilty of it, and it's usually innocuous, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. I know that I'm often hurt deeply by the label "fat." It doesn't make it any less true, but it's a hurtful designation. I can imagine that it's also very painful to Latinos, lesbians, and the mentally handicapped. Small wonder.
We even label ourselves. Most of you reading this would happily add "blogger" to your life's CV. We pin on other labels as well: wife, uncle, mother, son, friend, teacher, pharmacist, human. It's the easy way out. We can group other people in with us -- with our likes and hobbies -- with barely a flutter of recognition that we may be putting a limit on what makes us who we are.
We are all so much more than the individual parts. I know that I would not be fully happy with only one label to my name. Is being a daughter more important than being a mother? Is being a wife not as important, somehow just *less*, than being a teacher? Why do we place such emphasis on ways to pin down who and what we are? When will we ever learn to appreciate each other for our diversity and unique talents instead of deriding them? It's far too cliche to say "Can't we all just get along?", but that's essentially what it boils down to. The human race is so competitive that we can rarely ever cheer on the 'other guy' without seeking to devalue him by placing a designation on him. And today, I just find that sad.
Our first rehearsal was tonight, and I must say that I think I'm really going to like working with this director. He seems very organized and together, which is not at all typical for a lot of the directors that I've worked with in the past.
I'm not needed every night, so that means as little home-life disruption as possible. Which is a good thing. I mean, I want to get back into doing more theater, but I don't want it to be at the detriment of my family. JF was expecting to see me drag in at about midnight after tonight's run-through, but he was pleasantly surprised when I arrived home shortly after 8:30.
I do feel a bit "fish out of water" as the main body of the cast seem to be people who've worked with this director (and core group of actors, as well) before. I think it'll all be good.
Our first performance is at the end of May, and continue on into June -- 13 performances in all -- so I'll be walking around humming show tunes for a while.
Sorry, all -- I've been away for most of the week. The fam and I took a few short days of vacation while Offspring and I were out of school for Spring Break. We loaded up the car and headed for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
* I spent a lot of summers at Myrtle Beach as I was growing up. My aunt owns some condos there, so it was always easy to get away for some fun by the sea.
* We decided to go there because my aunt still owns those condos, and was generous enough to loan us one for the week at no charge (Thanks, Auntie B!) Juggling Freak and I went there on our honeymoon almost 16 years ago, and we were curious as to how the place had changed. Offspring had never been, so we looked on it as something new and different.
* We took lots of pictures, some of which I'll upload later. We played typical tourists, taking lots of pictures and embarrassing the snot out of Offsping. As we all know, this is the primary job of the parents of teenagers.
* KMart pretty much sucks no matter what state or city it happens to be in. We were in need of some supplies mid-week, and we happened to see a KMart, thinking we'd stop in and quickly grab what we needed. Silly me for thinking "KMart" and "quick" in relation to each other. The place was pretty busy, it being the beginning of the beach season and Myrtle Beach *is* a tourist haven, with people who have disposable income at the ready. We got the things that we needed, and started for the checkouts. There was ONE checkout open, with one woman who was slower than molasses as the cashier. Of course, since we're sort of in a hurry, we had an item that just! would! not! scan!!! and she had to go to another register to call the toy department for a price check. Which takes eons, of course. Finally, after about five people in line behind us have dumped their items and left in disgust, she rings the toy up at five dollars. We beat feet out of there quickly before we got caught up in an endless, mind-numbing loop.
* We spent a lot of time at Broadway at the Beach, which is a big shopping and dining area, along the lines of Downtown Disney, and had a great time. Got some good pictures of places around here, which I promise to post later.
Now, unfortunately, we have to get ready to get back into the grind of work, work, work. It was nice having some time off, but it's all too short.
Friday night's callback went fairly well, I thought. I read for an older woman's role, complete with French accent. The dance portion of the audition kicked my butt from here to Nova Scotia, but the choreographer said that even when I was offstep or on the wrong foot, I still had very fluid, clean lines. Uh...yeah. Whatever.
The call came early this morning -- no speaking role, but a voice role in the chorus. It was a sop to my singing....we liked you enough to have you associated with the show, just not enough to give you a major part. Ah, well. At least I got a notification this time, and it's a foot back in the door. Community theater here (and most likely everywhere else, too...) is so insular and incestuous that it's hard to get into the inner circle, so this is a good way to transition back into more work. I'm slightly disappointed, but it's better by miles than not hearing anything at all. And, if this doesn't sound too terrible of me, someone could always drop out. I know that sounds positively awful, but the one thing about working as an unpaid volunteer is that people sometimes do drop out, and the role needs to be filled.
So, first run-through is a week from today. The two co-workers that I auditioned with are both cast as well. The female co-worker got a voice role, much like I did, and the male co-worker got a small older gentleman's role. I'm happy to be in the chorus, if nothing else.
We went to dinner tonight in a "famous" local bar and grill. We were seated near the game room, and there was a large party next to us that had about four children in tow. The parents were what I call the "yacht" set -- very Land's End/L.L. Bean yuppie types who care more for appearances than actual substance. There was an older girl who was about Offspring's age, a boy of about seven, a girl of about nine, and a toddler.
The kids started off in the game room, which had the swinging "saloon-style" doors. They were pretty noisy in there, but it wasn't so bad because it was, after all, a separate room. The doors did little to mitigate the noise, however.
After a while, the kids began running in and out of the game room, yelling and generally being rambunctious. We looked around several times, hoping the looks would get the parents to quiet them, but no dice. The parents were completely oblivious, sitting there eating their appetizers, drinking their little cocktails, and having a conversation.
Juggling Freak made a loud comment that the kids were being very loud, but this too, went unheeded. The kids proceeded to start turning flips over the brass railing that was next to the table behind us. The parents still do nothing to quiet the children down, or to get them to behave.
Then the kids start shouting as they flip over the bannister, and Juggling Freak has had enough. Usually, it's me that has had enough by this point, and I was on the verge of saying something out loud when JF lets loose. He says something about "why can't you little yard apes sit down and be f*#@ing quiet?!"
Well, of course, NOW the parents speed into action. The father puffs up like a little bantam rooster, and gets in JF's face saying NO ONE speaks to his kids that way; the mother stands there, stammering and red-faced that someone has *dared* speak to her precious babies; and the grandmother looks as if someone has smeared dung under her nose and told her that Martha Stewart really began her life as a streetwalker in Hoboken.
The grandmother gets all hot under the collar, saying that they come there every week, and that if we're so offended, we should move -- they *are* children after all. I calmly tell her that yes, they are children, but that we're dining with OUR child, and she has yet to vault over the brass railing like these children were doing. She reiterates that we're sitting next to the game room! Juggling Freak says, yeah -- it's a GAME room, not a Jungle Gym.
Snooty Grandmother acts as if we're just the most horrible people on the planet, and imperiously tells the others at their table to go get the manager to "deal with us." What makes me the maddest is that she acted like we were totally out of line, and she was perfectly within her rights to have us moved out of the way, as if WE were the people making the disturbance. Things eventually settle down, and everyone goes back to their meals. The wait staff look uncomfortable as they whisk away our dishes. The young man at the table behind us, however, gives Juggling Freak a thumbs-up as we leave the restaurant a few minutes later.
After my last disastrous audition, I thought I would more than likely not try to get back into the local community theater scene. The endless waiting and the ominous silence were pretty disheartening, so I thought -- eh. Why put myself through that? I had pretty much made up my mind that I wasn't going to audition anymore.
Then a co-worker lured me back in with one word: musical. I love to sing. I often embarrass Offspring by singing at the drop of a hat, and with very little prompting to boot. My co-worker had news of an upcoming audition, and wanted me to go along to try out with him. We were standing in main hallway at school the other day, discussing whether we were both planning on auditioning or not, when yet another co-worker heard us. We managed to rope her into auditioning as well!
So, the auditions were tonight. I did a blind vocal performance, meaning that I did not prepare anything ahead of time to sing, just went along and had the pianist teach me a bit of a song from the show. I was one of about seven people who just sang the show number, and I was a little nervous. I practiced outside with several of the other auditionees until I thought that I had the song down.
I thought it ended up fairly well. Several other people gave me compliments on my voice and I got a few "thumbs up" from the people who were still waiting their turn.