I just discovered that thanks to one of the cast members of my current show I am now ONE degree from a certain Jedi princess. It's my closest celebrity pairing so far. Roommate K is 3 degrees from Dolly Parton, a boast that I could top now if I could come up with a way to link Dolly and Ms. Portman is only one person... can anyone do it?
Shelly suggested that one of my lists be either 34 major decisions leading you to where you are now or 34 life changing moments. I decided to sort of combine the two.
34 Major Events in my Life (in roughly chronological order). I'm intentionally skipping a lot of things, the picture I want to paint here is the throughline of my life, how events flowed from one to the other.
1. The Drawing In 11th grade I made a drawing of a teacher. I've mentioned it before in these pages. This was the drawing that started my life. I call it that because it was the first decision that I can remember making, independent of my parents, that had a major impact on the path of my life. I was 17. 2. The Contest Shortly afterwards I decided to enter this drawing in a regional contest for high school students. It was accepted and earned me a scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design. 3. Going to SCAD I decided to accept that scholarship, and so moved to Savannah for my first year at college. 4. Leaving SCAD At the end of that year I decided to leave SCAD. The reasons for this are several. Partly monetary, partly personal, and partly to do with the political atmosphere at the school during that time. 5. Meeting Carlton During my time away from school I met a man who would be my best friend for several years. He was a drag queen. He weighed over 600lbs. Anything else you need to know? 6. Meeting JC After about 3 years out of school, through Carlton, I met a man named JC. We... dated... if you can call it that... for a few months. At the time I was unaware of what was happening but JC manipulated me quite severely. Under his influence I decided to make a... 7. Return to Savannah When I decided to leave home Savannah seemed the logical choice. I was familiar with it, and still had friends there. So I moved back with the intention of eventually returning to school. 8. Working at Po Folks My first act after moving was to get a job, which turned out to be waiting tables at family dining restaurant called Po Folks. I'd work there for the next 2 years. 9. Leaving the Note Po Folks shared a parking lot with several businesses. After working there for several weeks I started noticing a car that had a gay pride flag on the bumper. I had only been out for a few years, and had no gay friends in Savannah, so I decided to leave a note on the car to see what I could cultivate. 10. Meeting John That note resulted in meeting John. In reality John himself had very little impact on my life, we were only friends very briefly, but he led to a much more important event... 11. Meeting Myrna John introduced me to a friend of his, Myrna South, who was a hotel manager and was looking for a desk clerk. i was looking to leave Po Folks, so the match was obvious. I would end up working for Myrna at 3 different hotels, and for over 5 years. 12. Following Myrna Myrna's move from the first hotel to the second had been an easy one for me to follow. The 1st hotel was being sold, so I'd be out of work if I didn't follow her. The second move was a bigger decision, but I enjoyed working for her immensely, and so I ended up at the final job I'd have in Savannah, and the longest job I'd ever have. 13. Meeting Aaron Aaron was also a "follower" of Myrna, who, like me, worked for her in several places. We were friends and even roommates for several years. 14. Meeting Michelle Aaron was instrumental in introducing me to BFE Michelle, who also worked at the hotel. Beyond the first item in the list this is probably the most important event enumerated here. I've lived with Michelle in 5 different homes, in 2 states for almost 10 years. I've lived in a home with Michelle for longer than I did my father, and nearly as long as I did my sister. 15. Meeting Brenda Michelle introduced me to Brenda, another important figure in my life. She shared a home with Michelle and I for as long as the three of us remained in Savannah. 16. The Death of my Grandmother She had long been one of the most important figures in my life, and her death shook me out of the malaise that my life had fallen into at the time. I had been in Savannah for 4 years at that point and had not returned to school. 17. NOT Returning to SCAD Having decided to get my act together and get back on a path I made the hard decision not to return to SCAD, but rather to go to the fledgeling Savannah branch campus of the School of Visual Arts. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. 18. Moving In I've already spoken about the time I spent living with Michelle, but it was at this point, at the beginning of my return to school, that I actually moved in with she and Brenda. It was a turning point, a new home, a new start on an old path. 19. The Miser Michelle was a theatre major. At about 10p.m. one evening she called our home frantically begging me to come down to her university's theatre to help them layout a tile pattern on the floor of a set. It was my first experience of working in theatre. It wouldn't be my last. 20. The Taming of the Shrew As the year progressed I became more deeply involved in the theatre program at Michelle's school. At first painting the sets, then acting in the shows, then designing the sets. Shrew was my first acting experience. 21. Staying In School All of this moonlighting in theatre was happening while I was still in art school. After graduating from SVA I was having serious doubts about the major I had chosen there, illustration. I decided to stay in school and enrolled in the college Michelle attended, joining the theatre department. It was my intention to quickly get a theatre degree, then go to grad school for illustration. 22. SETC After a year of school I was beginning to feel at home in theatre, but was still clinging to the dream of illustration. I decided to spend the summer working for a theatre to see if I enjoyed that. To that end I attended my first Southeastern Theatre Conference in order to job hunt. 23. Redesigning My Portfolio After a day of looking for a job with the goal of working in an office, hopefully either as a graphic designer, or aiding a graphic designer I was becoming a bit disgruntled. Almost no one was looking for someone for those positions, and the few that were hadn't seemed interested in me. Peter Mellen, the head of the theatre department, suggestion I reworked my portfolio, adding several photos from the college recruitment brochures of productions I had worked on. The new goal was to find a job as a scenic painter. 24. Meeting Bob Alpers With that goal in mind I had an interview with Bob Alpers, the resident designer for a summer stock. Bob took a risk on me, an untried painter, and gave me a job. He would later tell me that it was my drawing skills he was really after, and hoped that I would prove to be able to cartoon drops quickly. 25. East Carolina Summer Theatre That summer I spent at East Carolina proved a few things. First that I was indeed able to cartoon drops quickly, and well. And that I had a knack for painting them as well. It didn't take long for me to pick up the skills of a scenic painter. More importantly it cemented a decision that I had already suspected: that theatre was truly where I wanted to be. 26. Taking the Job Dr. Mellen approached me and asked me if I would consider taking over the scene shop, designing as many shows as I wanted, and building them all. 27. Meeting Mike The job put me in close proximity to another person who would impact my life for years to come. I don't speak of this relationship very much anymore. Last year telling the story of my love affair with Mike cost me a relationship, even though the events occurred nearly 5 years before. The short version is that this was a relationship that was at once the most significant one of my adult life... and a relationship that never really occurred. Though it was not meant to be I loved Mike, and to keep my sanity I have to believe that he loved me. 28. The Kiss It was stupid, I shouldn't have done it. It's one of the biggest regrets of my life, and one of my fondest memories. I only ever kissed Mike once. It was brief, and it caught him off guard. And afterwards he didn't speak to me very much anymore. 29. Mike Leaves Town The kiss had occurred while we were both away at summerstock. I had finished my contract, and rather than going straight back to Savannah I took a trip to Ohio where he was working and visited him there. At the end of the summer he called me, and with regret in his voice he told me that he had decided not to come back to Savannah. He was enrolling in the university that had hosted his summerstock. The day of the kiss was the last time I'd see him for two years. 30. Grad School I decided that it was time for me to leave Savannah as well. It's hard to say if Mike was the biggest reason behind that decision, but he was certainly a factor. I was graduating again, and Savannah no longer felt like home. I decided to start my search for a grad school program. 31. My Axle Snaps During my spring break that year I made a tour of universities in the North East, driving between a half dozen schools. When I arrived at the University of Connecticut I made a hard left into a parking lot and stopped moving. My front axle had snapped at the CV joint. 32. UConn UConn then became the logical choice to attend graduate school. Coincidentally Michelle would be working nearby and we would add three more years to our relationship. 33. The Metropolitan Opera My final year at UConn afforded me an opportunity that I had never anticipated, an internship at the Met. 6 months in New York on the school's dime. 34. New York City I had never wanted to live in New York. I had no intention of liking it, or more unexpectedly loving it. But I did. And I do.
So here I am, having followed the path of a drawing. A drawing done in black china crayon on newsprint in less than a minute. The drawing wasn't even a very good likeness, but it was the first major turning point in my path. At the time I was 17. That was 17 years ago. The symmetry is hard to ignore. I wonder what turning point in this year will impact the next 17?
For hours today I've turned over ideas that I could write about to commemorate this event.
34 things I want to do next year... 34 places I'd like to visit... 34 people I want to meet... 34 important things that have happened in my life... 34 guys I want to kiss... 34 books I should read... 34 things that make me smile...
So I've decided to do them all. One list a day for 34 days. (Hopefully this will get me over my blog slump too... I know I've been absent a lot lately.) I'm going to need some help coming up with 34 topics, so please feel free to leave me a suggestion. Consider it your birthday present to me!
There's a few things about the culture of the northern American states that I will never understand.
Okay... yankees. There's some things about yankees that I just don't get.
The first, and perhaps the oddest to me is saying "ma'am" and "sir." I was raised in the South there's certain things that you just... do. And saying "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am" and "yes sir" and "no sir" is one of them. I've very literally seen people slapped to the floor for failing to say it to their grandparents.
Issues of child abuse aside, I was raised to understand that it was proper to say those phrases to anyone older than me, especially if they are strangers. It's become a ubiquitous part of my language, and I find it very hard not to say it. At home it is considered polite, and mannered to say it. For some reason people up here... okay... yankees... don't like it when I say it. In fact a lot of them find it insulting, and this is what I don't understand.
I was reminded of this today. A woman came by the theatre where I was working, a volunteer, I'd guess her to be in her mid 40's. She asked me about several things about the theatre, and about the show, and where it was appropriate to answer with a yes or no, it was followed by ma'am. After a while she said "You don't have to do that you know, I'm not that old." To which I replied, "Oh, I was raised in the south, everybody's a 'ma'am' to me." Shockingly, her comeback was "Well, it's pretentious."
See? I don't get that. How is being polite pretentious? Somehow, up here, being referred to as ma'am or sir is a mark of age, and not in a good way. In the south "respect for your elders" is an important part of good manners. NOT acknowledging that someone has lived longer than you, and by extension must be wiser than you, is considered "getting above your raising." (Which is bad, in case you don't know.) So how does mere geography change that?
Whatever the reasoning, I refuse to change. Saying those words, those phrases, is an important part of who I am, and whether the rest of the world knows or not, I'm treating them politely by doing so. After all, aren't manners all about showing respect for others?
Like a lot of former Savannah residents, especially those of us who worked in customer service, I have a long standing tradition when it comes to St. Patty's Day: ignoring it completely. Savannah goes crazy on St. Patrick's Day, suddenly serving up debauchery on par with Mardi Gras. When I lived there I did everything I could to be out of town on this holiday. There really wasn't any other way to avoid it. The problem was compounded by the fact that I worked in a hotel when I lived there. It only took one incidence of having to scrub out an ice machine after someone urinated in it for me to know that I never wanted to experience St. Patrick's Day for myself.
I went out last year for a drink with Snowy, the guy I was dating at the time, and was treated to a display of corned beef and cabbage... partially digested corned beef and cabbage... all over a subway seat. It was all I needed to see to let me know that the holiday was no better here than there. So the boycott continues.
Instead I spent the day at work on various projects, and doing a bit of spring cleaning around my room, a little laundry here, a little rearranging there. Much more productive than Guinness and blood sausage in a downtown bar, huh?
Sometimes you just have to have trashy food. Even if you live in New York City, home of some of the finest restaurants in the world, there's just no substitute for it. Big Macs. Krystal. White Castle. Taco Bell. There are days when you just crave it. For me, this week, it was Red Lobster.
In some communities in the US, I know that Red Lobster is considered Fine Dining. But here in the city suggesting you eat at Red Lobster is like suggesting you eat from a dumpster, so... trashy food. After all Red Lobster is not only a franchise, which is always looked down on here, but is located in Times Square, putting it pretty squarely in the category "Only for Tourists." But they have one thing that I can't get anywhere else in NYC: cheddar biscuits, and earlier this week Roommate M and I decided that it was time for some of those cheddar biscuits. So, monday night, after our semi-regular card game we struck out for Times Square.
All things considered this is certainly the nicest Red Lobster I've ever been to, huge fish tanks in lobby, a very nice bar, a second floor balcony that over looks a school of hand blown glass fish. The food is the same as it is at every location, all over the US though. I guess that's the comfort of a place like this, that it is the same no matter where you go and you can be guaranteed a certain experience and a certain level of quality. Last night's quality experience? A coconut shrimp appetizer, and a fried seafood platter, and don't forget the cheddar biscuits.
Over on the menu bar at the right, down at the bottom, you'll notice a new addition: a world map that keeps visual track of my visitors, courtesy of Clustr Maps. Neat, huh? Now I can see where all my visitors are coming from.
One interesting pattern that has arisen is the distribution of visitors from Australia, 4 clusters all very even spread along the south east coastline. Is that the basic population distribution of Australia? Or are you guys down under just keeping things aesthetically arranged?
Back in the saddle again! Illness and circumstance have kept me in my apartment for a week. But today was the end of that! I had to get out, and get back to my normal routine. I hit the comic shop, which I normally do on Wednesdays, saw a movie, (Failure to Launch... really good, go see it if you like romantic comedy) had some Japanese at Kodama, one of my favorite restaurants, and of course... a few sketches. Happy to be back!
On one side the futuristic stewardess uniforms from the Fifth Element, on the other part of Chloe Dao's final collection from Project: Runway. Can YOU spot which is which?
Needless to say I was a bit less than impressed with Chloe's collection. Of course I can say the same for Daniel and Santino's. None of the Project: Runway finalists really held a candle to Jay McCarroll's astonishing work from last year. Yes, Chloe's seaming was innovative, but her color choices were uninspired, the fabric was all way too much like upholstery, and in the end the collection was just... boring. Santino could have really pulled something out and given everyone a show to pay attention to, but he chose NOW out of the whole season to mature. Sad. I may have disliked him as a person but his designs were often nice. Daniel just needs a few more years to mature. He has a nice vision for someone his age, but in a few mores years when he gets a better handle on concept and design flow... he'll be unstoppable.
Sorry to have been so quiet this week. I spent all day monday in bed nursing myself back to health. Tuesday felt pretty good, and I went out to do a little work that I had to do. Wednesday was a completely different story. My cold made a resurgence and put me flat on my back for a good portion of the day. I went out and got more cold medications in a hope to whip it back into submission with a chemical arsenal.
I'm feeling much better today, better even than Tuesday, so hopefully I've licked it and can get back to a normal posting and sketching schedule again soon.
I left the house this afternoon in search of that elusive beast: The Cold Remedy.
There is a small peculiarity in my self-medicating in that I cannot swallow pills. I know it's psychological, and for that matter illogical, but I just can't do it. Never have been able to. I resolved long ago to just get used to chewing pills, or dissolving them in something else. So, when I go out in search of various medicines I am always drawn to remedies that involve some alternative method of ingestion or application. Liquids, patches and chewables are my friend.
Today I was drawn to the Zicam line of cold remedies. Zicam seems to have been invented for me. They have so many different ways to get the medicine inside that it is an embarrassment of riches. There are q-tip type swabs to stick up your nose, sprays to put in either your nose or mouth, things to mix into drinks, liquids in pre-measured spoon-things, seltzer-style effervescent tablets, and either hard or soft candies. I decided to go with the soft candy style.
On first inspection they seem to have been the right choice. Opening the package greets you with a burst of sweet strawberry smell. Each individually wrapped candy has the look of a Now N Later or Laffy Taffy. After I popped it into my mouth I was greeted with exactly what I would expect: a rush of sugary sweetness, with a hint of an artificial sweetener back flavor. My happiness soon turned to horror though.
(Oooh! Dramatic!! What do you think happened? Let' see...)
The flavor and sweetness of the candy very rapidly faded away, leaving me with a lump of medicine flavored paste in my mouth, so sour that it was almost unbearable to finish. Seriously, this stuff tastes like ass. I'm stuck with it now though... I'm not going back out in the cold to retrieve an alternative. Not to mention the fact that this stuff cost me almost $10. I'm hoping that the answer is just chewing faster.
After 3 days of fighting and refusing to admit it, I think I finally have to say the words: I have a cold.
There's nothing I hate more than being sick. This cold is pretty mild so far, just a bit of coughing and fever, nothing overwhelming. Though the dry radiator heated air in my apartment has meant that there is a lot of blood in the tissue when I blow my nose. (Sorry to be yucky.) Hopefully admitting it early and deciding to nurse myself through it will get me over the hump and back to health quickly.
Being sick does mean that my thoughts start running towards comfort food. So for dinner tonight it is the simplest of my childhood comfort foods: macaroni and tomatoes. It's exactly what it sounds like, macaroni mixed with a can of crushed stewed tomatoes. Really simple, but really tasty and chock full of that "mommy made it just like this" goodness.
Tomorrow I'm thinking it may be time for a hamburger casserole. This is a another dish that I have very fond childhood memories of. Again, a very simple dish: egg noodles, browned ground beef, stewed tomatoes, and cheese layered and baked into a bubbly delicious casserole. Here's the kicker: my mom swears she has never made this dish. In fact she says she'd never considered the combination until I told her about it a few years ago. In my memory though this recipe graced our table once or twice a month. Clearly one of us has been abducted by aliens and had memories implanted, but which one? Maybe me... maybe that's what left me susceptible to this cold.
Does anyone have a copy of Guadalcanal Diary's album "Flip Flop?" It was released in 1989 and was a favorite of mine. I've really been in the mood to hear it lately. Unfortunately, the only copy I ever owned was on cassette tape and is now long long gone. It's not one of their available albums on iTunes, and Amazon doesn't have any for sale at the moment. Does a copy exist out there?