The Ultimate To-Do List (26–50)

There's a lot to talk about: my Bohème cast's upcoming performances, my summer plans (and more importantly, my cat's summer plans), and the Bossy parents coming into town.

Oh, and my Met contract that arrived today. Ahem.

But I haven't sorted through it all to coherently tell you about any of that yet. So instead I give you…the next 25 on my list.
  1. Drink something that comes in a hollowed-out coconut or pineapple.

  2. Finish a knitting project. Any knitting project.

  3. Have one of my photographs hung on the wall of someone else's house. Or, you know, a gallery. I'm flexible.

  4. Go to Vegas. Stay somewhere outrageous.

  5. Learn to salsa dance, or at least to fake it.

  6. Live in a house with a bay window, complete with window seat. (A dream of mine since I first read Jane Eyre oh so many moons ago.)

  7. Teach someone to read.

  8. Pet a koala bear.

  9. Spend an entire day at a spa getting pampered, massaged, exfoliated, and facialed.

  10. See an opera at La Scala. Or direct one.

  11. Design and create my own website.

  12. Learn to make Papa Bossy's famous biscotti.

  13. Grow my hair long enough to cut it off and donate it to Locks of Love.

  14. Go sailing. Preferably wearing a striped boatneck top.

  15. Play a piece from memory on the piano.

  16. Ride a horse on a beach.

  17. Bring back cocktail hour.

  18. Get over my fear of drawing.

  19. Stay at The Plaza.

  20. Be a bridesmaid.

  21. Stay up all night somewhere that the sun doesn't set in summer time. (Rekjavik, anyone?)

  22. Take a hot air balloon ride.

  23. Learn to whistle. I hear anyone can do it.

  24. Go to Disneyworld.

  25. Help someone else cross something off their list.

NSFW (Not Suitable for Work)

Billy Budd opens tomorrow night, and having seen the Final Dress Rehearsal on Tuesday I can heartily recommend it to you. Yes, it's a bit obscure. Yes, it's based on Herman Melville (yawn). But making up for any shortcomings are a) an incredible set and overall go-horgeous production; b) the HGO chorus doing some of the best singing ever; and c) 80 men on the stage, many of whom are shirtless and one of whom is…umm…less than shirtless. Trust me when I say, this is one you should see. Oh, and the music's incredible, too. Especially when sung by shirtless men. Ahem. All hail Britain Britten indeed.

I'm not sure if it was all the extra testosterone left over on stage, my recent change in marital status, or my sassy new ’do that prompted it, but the men at work were on fire backstage at last night's Bohème performance. First there was the super who told me my haircut “had a lot of body…as much body as its owner.” Gentlemen (and I use the term loosely, obvs), if you should happen to utter something this ridiculous to a member of the fairer sex, your best course of action is to just walk away. Don't keep talking, trying to play off the comment as a joke, because as soon as those words left your lips the lady in question had only 2 thoughts: Where is the nearest exit? and Ewwwww. Walk away, I tell you. Walk. Away.

As if that weren't bad enough, I was then accosted by a stagehand with the line "How do you do it? How do you always look so great?" followed by further probing into my personal life: "You are still married, right? Oh, you're not? Well, are you seeing someone?" (To which the answer is yes, if you're curious, but that's a story for another day). And then a heartfelt "Let me know if that doesn't work out." Again…ewwwwww. These tactics cannot possibly work on anyone.

I work with a lot of unmarried people in their 20's and 30's, along with a boss who, while neither unmarried nor in his 20's or 30's, is British. In that atmosphere, there's bound to be a certain amount of inappropriate talk that goes on, a liberal dose of innuendo, the occasional "that's what she said." Or, to be honest, the very frequent "that's what she said," coming from yours truly so often that CaliBoy has begun grading me: "Nice one! A+" or "A bit of a stretch. I'll give that a solid B" or "Come on, you're losing your edge! C-."

I also taught a couple members of the children's chorus to say "Get a room!" if they see people kissing in public.

And I might have used the phrase "bros before hos" in rehearsal for Bohème. Twice.

So I guess I have nobody to blame but myself. I had it coming.

That's what she said.

The Ultimate To-Do List (1–25)

I've been in a bit of a "where is my life going" funk the past couple days. I can't pinpoint exactly what brought it on, but I'm sure it has something to do with the impending end of the season, along with which comes the start of my freelance career, beginning inauspiciously with a 4-month stint of unemployment. While I'm excited to branch out and work in other companies, I'm also freaking out. A lot. This is the first spring in 3 years that I haven't known what I was doing for the next 12 months, and I don't love the feeling.

In the interest of looking to the future, I'm hopping on the bandwagon started here and picked up here and many other places. It's a list of 100 Things to Do Before I Die, but I'm going to narrow mine down to just the next 10 years because I do so love to procrastinate.

So here goes… The first 25.

  1. Stop waiting for a man to take me to Paris and just go there already.

  2. Take cello lessons again. Get beyond "Go tell Aunt Rhodie."

  3. Bake Christmas cookies with Mama Bossy.

  4. Own a Vespa. Start a scooter gang.

  5. Get a piece of my writing published somewhere other than on the internet.

  6. Live in Europe for at least a year.

  7. Go to a café enough times that I can order "my usual" without explaining it.

  8. Direct Figaro.

  9. Swim with dolphins.

  10. Drive across the country on a leisurely road trip, stopping often on a whim to see anything that looks interesting.

  11. Vote for someone who actually becomes President.

  12. Run a race. Finish it.

  13. Find my best friend from childhood and reconnect.

  14. Have a baby.

  15. Successfully teach someone to drive a stick shift.

  16. See a sifaka outside of a zoo. This might involve a trip to Madagascar.

  17. Take a girls only weekend away.

  18. Make a home that I love returning to.

  19. Grow a plant and keep it alive for more than a month.

  20. Take a tree-top canopy zipline tour.

  21. Get Elite status on my frequent flier miles program.

  22. Go on an all-day hike.

  23. Teach an acting class for singers.

  24. Get Jennifer Aniston arms (but not Madonna arms).

  25. Fall in love. Make it stick.

More to come in the weeks ahead. What are some of yours?

Recent moments

Today I got home from lunch and my kitten didn't greet me at the door like she normally does, rubbing against my legs and waiting to be petted. I called for her, and she didn't come running. I looked in her favorite spots: in front of the window, under the bed, in a box of socks in the closet, but she wasn't in any of them. My voice rose in panic, my mind racing to cover all possibilities. Could she have gotten out? Did she get closed into a cupboard? And then there she was, curled up in my desk chair, yawning and stretching. She got up and rubbed against my legs and waited to be petted. Now she's sitting on my wrists because she knows it helps me type.

I was sitting in the viewing booth watching Act IV of Bohème. Three of the kids in the children's chorus were sitting in there with me because their parents were in the audience. When Rodolfo carried Mimì onstage, they all started whispering. Is she dead yet? No, I don't think so. Watch her, and see if she moves. A little while later, it started up again. Is she dead? I can't tell, is she? I told them she wasn't dead, that she still had quite a bit to sing, and that they would know when she died because there was a big death chord in the orchestra. From that point on, pretty much every time the orchestra played any chord on a downbeat, they all looked at me expectantly, and I had to shake my head. Finally, the unmistakable death chord sounded, and I confirmed that this was the moment they had been waiting for. Oh yeah, one said. I guess she looks pretty dead now.

CameraMan and I were at a grown-up bar, drinking grown-up drinks and watching the sun set over downtown Houston from the 24th floor. There was a pianist playing cheesy arrangements of standards. He started playing "The Rose," and both CameraMan and I started singing along, almost under our breath but not, and we both knew all the words. Then we got into an argument about what Bette Midler album the song was on. He was right, I was wrong. Go figure.

A few weeks ago I noticed that a sundress of mine had come back from the dry cleaner some time this winter without its ribbon sash. I was annoyed, but it seemed useless to try to get it back from the cleaners. Then this week another of my dresses came back, again sashless. I called them up, full of righteous indignation, to complain, but I didn't get the chance because they immediately said, No problem. You can come pick them up. When I got there, I told them I was missing two belts. Just a minute, the man behind the counter said. He walked into a different room and came back with an enormous basket filled to the brim with ribbons, belts, and sashes. I looked through, found a couple that looked right, and left the cleaners. So apparently their policy is to keep them until someone asks for them. Is this normal?

I'm as corny as Kansas in August

It's only been a week, but I have fallen head over heels in love with my new camera, just as I knew I would. Since her (the camera is definitely female, but I'm so enamored that I haven't been able to name her yet—give me some time) much-anticipated arrival last Friday, I've taken her everywhere with me, much to the annoyance and amusement of my friends and colleagues. I can't help it. She's so pretty. And she takes pretty pictures. And, if you care to travel the geek trail with me for just a moment, she also has a giant 3" screen, 12.2 megapixels, a dedicated ISO button, Live View, 9 auto-focus points, and 3.5 frames per second continuous shooting. And did I mention she's pretty?

She came with me to opening night of La Bohème (you can read the review here, and check out the pic by CameraMan!), and to the 3 subsequent performances, where we wandered around backstage taking arty pictures of the props.

I also took her to the Zoo (of course), the brand new Discovery Green, the Orange Show, the Beer Can House, and the National Museum of Funeral History, most of which were included on the tour of Weird Houston that KT and I took to celebrate her birthday. Because nothing says "Happy Birthday!" like walking through a giant room filled with hearses, jewelry made from human hair, and a wax statue of Abraham Lincoln lying in a coffin. Am I right?

My favorite thing about the camera so far is taking pictures of people (and my kitten), something I always hated with my old camera. As part of the big camera purchase I bought a 50mm f/1.8 portrait lens, mainly because I want to be just like CameraMan when I grow up. The lens makes everybody look better, and the 1.8 aperture gives that awesome blurry background thing that I just can't get enough of. It's making me very happy but has the unfortunate result of nobody wanting to sit next to me for fear of having 80 pictures taken while they are eating and/or laughing.

No worries, friends, I'm sure that at some point the euphoria will wear off and things will go back to normal. But let me enjoy it while it lasts.

Because there's nothing like falling in love to put a smile on your face. And I seem to be grinning a lot these days.

If I could be any gangster*…

…I would be Dennis Farina in Get Shorty. Here's a little clip in case you missed it in 1995 when it came out. (Don't watch this if you don't like violence and/or the liberal use of the F-bomb.) Incidentally, if I could be anyone on Law & Order, I would also be Dennis Farina, but that has more to do with the time I would get to spend with Jesse L. Martin than anything else.

The key part of this video (although the whole thing is gold, especially the phrase "F***k you, f**kball") is about 1:30 in, when the other gangster says "Hey, get in line!" and Dennis Farina says, "Hey, but I don't like waiting in lines." Indeed.

I am an impatient person. I like my gratification instant (but my oatmeal old-fashioned). I make decisions quickly, but I rarely regret them. This has backfired a few times in the past (can anyone say "iPhone price reduction"?), but not enough to teach me the virtue of patience.

You see, there's this camera. You may have seen it mentioned on my sidebar for the past couple months. It's the Canon Digital Rebel XSi, it's brand new, it's amazing, and it's hitting stores April 27.

Except that this morning I got an email saying that it was available NOW. The email must have been written especially for me, because it used all my favorite phrases, like "limited quantities," and "first come, first served," and "Little Ms. Bossy, you know you want it." So I waited about, oh, 5 minutes, and then ordered one. It is at this very moment winging its way toward me, and it should arrive tomorrow afternoon (because when you're spending $900 on a camera you might as well pay $40 for next-day shipping, especially if the next day in question is an opening night).

I can hardly contain my excitement. I have already bought everything I need to give my new camera a good home: a case, a portrait lens, and a new 2GB memory card. All that's left is for the actual camera to arrive. Oh, and for me to learn how to use it. I'm counting down the hours.

Thank goodness KT is arriving from the Windy City for a visit tonight, so I'll be distracted.

It's also good that the camera is coming in the mail.

Because, hey, I don't like waiting in lines.

*not to be confused with gangsta

C'est fini

People talk a lot about closure: how to get it, why it's important, the impossibility of moving on without it. I've never really understood it, the need for something external to give you internal peace, the desire to bookend a relationship, a friendship, a job. It's rare that I have longed for one last conversation, one last letter, one last meeting. For better or for worse, I've always had an uncanny ability to simply not think about things that are bothering me. At this point all of you who have been/are in therapy are rolling your eyes, and I get why. No, it might not be the healthiest approach, but the truth is that if you don't think about something for long enough, it often ceases to be important to you. For me, at least. Out of sight, out of mind, or something like that. And it helps that I've led a pretty charmed life, with very few catastrophic events marring my view of kittens and rainbows and ice cream cones.

Tuesday morning at family court in downtown Houston I got some of the most definitive closure there is (if you're not in an Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton kind of situation, that is). I stood alone in a hallway full of tear-stained faces, sullen children, and couples not speaking to each other. I sat in court and watched as a boy who hadn't had any contact with his mother for the last 9 years was adopted by his stepmother into what was obviously a warm loving family. I waited patiently for my turn. I stood up in front of a judge and read aloud from a piece of paper provided by the court. No simple "I do" or "I will" here; I had to say things like "The marriage has become insupportable because of discord and conflict," and "There is no hope of reconciliation." A simple signature on a piece of paper, and I was done.

And then I walked out of the building, got in my car, and drove home. And I could feel it. Through the frustration and sadness and disappointment, it was there. I was still sorting through my feelings. I was still mourning the loss of the man and the marriage. But there was something else there, something new.


Closure is a freedom. It's an ending, of a relationship, of a marriage, of the life I thought I would have, but it's more than that. It's a beginning, too. It's an opening of possibilities. It's an endless horizon. It's a deceptive cadence.

And I think I finally get it.


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