a little something extra

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I'm sure that in the past 24 hours, you have seem some footage, heard some radio coverage or read some news articles about the devastation that Hurrican Katrina has left in her wake. The people of New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, and the surrounding areas have lost almost more than can be borne. They are in grave danger still. When I heard someone refer to this event as "our tsunami," it immediately made me think, "It's not like everything is back to normal in the areas that were hit by the tsunami a couple of months ago. Why haven't I checked up on them? Why are they not still on my radar of concern?"

The faith I profess makes me responsible for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and comforting the sick, lost and imprisoned. Doing that is a lifetime gig, not a charge that ends when the news coverage tapers off.

According to Mapquest, I'm sitting 1884.43 miles from the center of New Orleans. How, then, can I help from here?

The International Red Cross is asking for online donations of money first and foremost, so that they can coordinate the donation of food, water and other key supplies in the massive amounts that are needed for immediate relief. They are also coordinating thousands of Red Cross volunteers to help staff shelters. If you're interested in that, please contact your local chapter.

The American Friends Service Committee
is also directing donations to its Crisis Fund towards relief for the people who have survived Hurricane Katrina.

And on the governmental front, FEMA is also collecting cash, which they are reissuing to people in need, through volunteer agencies. My sister's neighbor works for FEMA; I am guessing that Erin is pet-sitting and bringing her neighbor's mail in once again, making it a little easier for her neighbor to be on the ground along the Gulf shores for as long as she is needed there.

Please do what you can.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Riiiiight. What's a cubit?

A cubit is an ancient unit of linear measure, equal to the distance from one's elbow to the tip of one's middle finger. Thus, everyone's cubit is a unique measure. (Thank you, Bill Cosby and

On to more germane definitions -- and in this case, it's equally unique to the individual doing the measuring and defining.

What's a Companion Blog?

Well, let me tell you a story. Actually, this is my blog -- let me tell you two stories.

Back in the late 80s, I met a fellow Emory student named Ben and we became friends. (Shortly before I met Ben, I met Wanda, and we too became friends, long before they became Ben-and-Wanda practically or legally. But that's another story.) After I graduated, we fell out of touch, but never out of fondness.

Come up to 2001, and I moved back to Atlanta. A few months into my stay there an email from Ben popped up in my inbox. "Is that you?" "Yes, it's me!" I e-cried. Ben and Wanda were also living in Atlanta once again, and we enjoyed the chance to renew our friendship face-to-face over choral music (scroll down till you see the flyer that says "Sing Joyfully"), lots of food at each other's houses, and general carousing. You haven't really lived until you've heard Ben order a Spaten Optimator.

Rather than let my move to CA threaten that renewal, Ben and I set our minds to thinking up creative ways to keep it going. I suggested I start a blog, Ben immediately offered to host it for me and got it all set up, and voila! This blog was ready to be born.

Little did I know, Ben and Wanda had a blog of their own. We decided to braid our blogs together, making them Companion Blogs. Any day you visit Ben and Wanda's blog, you might find a posting in response to a "writing assignment" I suggested to them, and vice versa here. Ben and Wanda may also invite me, or I them, to comment on a post or something inside a post -- for example, in Ben's recent posting about adventures with the Indiana DMV, he might have asked me to see if I could top it with a posting in my blog about confronting the CA DMV. (I'm glad he didn't -- I haven't made my automotive presence known to the state yet.)

Of course, all nonspammers are welcome to leave comments in both blogs. The Companion Blog relationship is intended to be more extensive than that, but by no means exclusive. I believe that over time, it'll mean richer and more delightful blogs for us to write and for you to read.

Blog on, Companion!

Monday, August 29, 2005

To everything, Turner, Turner, Turner

My friend Turner visited over the weekend. I have odd patches of sunburn and excellent memories as a result of this visit. Turner and I worked together on a project last spring that involved his co-writing a play with another friend of ours. Since Turner was traveling hither and yon while the writing progressed, a lot of our collaboration happened by phone and email. It was great to get to spend some quality time in person now.

One highlight of the weekend: seeing Jefferson Mays in I Am My Own Wife at La Jolla Playhouse. All the awards this play and actor have won are richly deserved, in my professional opinion. We also had Belgian food, which was a savory first for me, and spent a golden afternoon on the beach. Turner is a sun worshipper who, despite deep British family background, inexplicably tans as the day winds on. I, on the other hand, take on closer and closer resemblance to a cooked lobster. Something tells me that living in California is going to teach me a lot about the even application of SPF30.

Twas a long day today, after Turner headed off to L.A. and then the beginning of the drive back east. I enjoyed my first rehearsal with the Pacific Chorale, working on Carmina Burana (which many members of the ensemble have sung many times before) and Stephen Paulus' Voices of Light. I was surprised to be placed in the second alto section, but whatever! I pride myself on being able to contribute to any section, and given how poorly I auditioned, I'm not going to draw further attention to myself just yet.

Tomorrow, an exploration of what a Companion Blog is. And for you Firefly fans, it's not what you might think. Sorry. :-)

Friday, August 26, 2005


The spiders have found my blog and begun coating it in spam. Now, isn't that a lovely image?

To foil the spammentary, I have enabled word verification on my comments. That means if you want to leave a comment, you'll have to respond to a prompt to type a word (often a nonsense word) before your comment can be published. I'm sorry to add even a tiny inconvenience, but it'll help keep my blog clear of recommendations that we visit other blogs for market advice or cheap Cialis.

Happily, Spamalot is also the title of an (apparently) very funny musical currently running on Broadway. Go here for a little collection of quotations from the cast, which features Megan favorites David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria, or here for the New York Times review.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

a view from the bridge

Today La Jersild, longtime friend of Clan Monaghan, posted a gorgeous tribute to my family on her blog. Which is named Fiendish Plot, perhaps the most perfect blog name I have yet encountered. Anyway, read today's entry. Then go back and read her blog frequently, because she's a fabulous writer.

Her view of my family is terrific to read. But I know I can never occupy the bridge she views us from. You have to be free of the genetic ties and the cultural matrix that I didn't even realize existed or was truly unusual until people like La Jersild and my friend Sean the Expat started coming along and pointing it out. I'm too much part of the land the bridge rests on, to take in the view from up there. (Okay, Arthur Miller. I'm going to stop torturing your metaphor now.)

Once it was pointed out to me, though, I grew into the idea that it was important to pull my weight. Being blessed to land in one of the last few fully functional families in North America, I knew I should do what I could to keep it that way. That meant things like final elimination of the inevitable adolescent conflicts I had with each of my parents, and instituting the Sib o' the Week calling system -- which I should resurrect, now that I'm out on the wild frontier. But that's for another post.

So even if we're the potential stuff of tweener novels. Even if we're a little Waltonesque. Even if the bridge was built of movie musicals and exclamation points, I'm glad people like La Jersild found it, or built it for themselves, and liked where it landed when they crossed over.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

cardboard box landscape

My process of settling into a new apartment has been poorly coordinated from the beginning. I had a hard time letting go of living in the townhouse I had just bought (^#&*#@^!!!) in Atlanta, and that folded out like a Jacob's Ladder into all sorts of problems choosing, renting and moving into my apartment in CA.

Nevertheless, I'm here now. It's been nearly a week since the movers (cursed be their name) delivered my worldly goods. And there are little pieces and parts of the apartment that almost sort of look like someone lives here. This corner, for instance, if you ignore the numerous empty, flattened moving cartons tucked behind my desk. I have to find out where I can take my household recycling, since the apartment complex doesn't handle recycling anything.

But for the most part, it's nothing but packed or partially unpacked boxes, as far as the eye can see. The ratio of boxes to civilized space will improve as I a. unpack and b. receive delivery of the new furniture pieces that are presently on order. At some point, though, I'm going to have to face the Bookcase Problem.


As another smart Southern woman once said, "I'll think about it tomorrah. Tomorrah is anothah day."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

long-haired hobby #1

As most of you who'll read this blog know, though I am actually a short-haired woman, I am given to long-haired hobbies. At various times in my life I've been into different forms of dance, needlework, poetry, literature... and then there's my profession, arguably the longest of long-haired hobbies. But that's for another post.

This post's long-haired hobby, hereafter designated Long-Haired Hobby #1 or LHH1, is choral music. It's uppermost in my mind because, despite an audition last night that could be very charitably described as mediocre, I have been invited to join the Pacific Chorale.

Filling out the audition form, I blanched a little to realize I was starting my description of my musical background with the phrase "25 years of choral music experience." Yes. I am Old.

But I could actually have claimed more years than that. My family influences made me musical almost from the moment I had any vocal control at all. There's a standing joke that my parents raised a combination choir/catering service. My four siblings and I can all sing and we can all cook, but it is arguably true that we do both best together. And sometimes simultaneously.

Anyway. From the early years of singing at home, I moved easily into singing at school. That lasted till I hit grad school, when I didn't believe I could commit to a rehearsal schedule for anything outside my field of theatre. And of course, it took a few years beyond that to wrap choral music back into my life. Then, as I started following my career opportunities around the country, I discovered that joining a chorus was a good way to put down a personal rootlet in a new city and start to get to know some people.

This leads us to last night's audition. The only part in which I displayed competence would be the last moment, during which the alto section leader joined me and we sight-read a piece together. That was much more relevant to actually making ensemble music, especially in a large choir like the Pacific Chorale, than my lame attempt at aria singing or the solo sight-reading I am eager to forget about.

Anyway. I'll start rehearsing with them next Monday. I know that at least four Monday rehearsals will conflict with play readings at work, but I'll address that when we get there. For now, there's Stephen Paulus to look forward to, plus a bunch of truly trippy medieval lyrics in Carmina Burana.

Mi mi mi mi miiiiii...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Good grief! The comedian's...

Those of you without Muppet backgrounds will not necessarily understand that title. But it'll make Colleen laugh.

So. July 16, 2005. The first day of my drive west from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was going to work for a couple of weeks before coming down to start my new full-time gig in SoCal. I had decided to make the first day my longest drive, from ATL to St. Louis, where some very charming friends were putting me up for the night. That day's drive took me from citified Atlanta through beautiful, increasingly hilly north Georgia and the honest-to-God mountains of Tennessee before depositing me in the heartland. About nine hours of straight driving, plus time for breaks for meals, gas and sanity.

About mid-afternoon, I realized I had been playing unintentional tag with a pickup towing a double horse trailer. I have some friends who ride, so I perked up with interest about the trailer. Sometimes I'd find myself ahead of the pickup, sometimes behind, but the truck was rarely too far out of my sight. However, at **mph (these numbers have been deleted in order to avoid retroactively tempting the highway gods), you rarely notice much detail on the other moving objects hurtling along.

Some time after the pickup and its trailer made themselves known to my consciousness, I was behind them in a traffic pattern that indicated I would soon catch them up. I decided to peek and see what the horse(s) were like.

I started my acceleration with the truck a few hundred yards ahead and one lane over. As I pulled closer, I soon saw that both sides of the trailer appeared to be empty. In the barred upper section where one would ordinarily see graceful equine necks and heads, there were only bars of sunlight. (This was in one of the sunny sections of the day, which occurred between the blinding rain showers. Note to self -- replace wiper blades!)

When I'd reached a spot about fifty yards behind the truck and trailer, I saw an animal bopping around inside. It clearly wasn't a horse; this animal's head would appear briefly in the upper barred space, then disappear again. "Aha!" I thought. "This driver is a very cool pet owner. He or she has put the dog in the trailer, where the dog can happily enjoy the sights and sounds and feel of wind in his/her ears."

Ten yards or so behind, and I started thinking, "Aha. That is one BIG dog. What breed would be that big? Airedale? Nah. St. Bernard? No, wrong coloring -- I don't see the white ruff around the neck. Hrm."

Final acceleration. I began to pass the trailer... and found myself looking out my driver's side window, into the beady brown eyes of a bona fide black bear.


I don't know whether bears enjoy car rides with the same existential joy that dogs exhibit. Nor do I know why the driver would be transporting a bear, though given the need to do so, I certainly (mentally) applauded the choice of transport mechanism and maximum separation of bear from driver. But the bear and its destination certainly crossed my mind a few more times as I crossed the country.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hello world.

Once upon a time, I told my friend Tripp ( that I wasn't interesting enough to have a blog of mine own.

Well, apparently I've gotten more interesting.

Or, more accurately, I've gotten harder to keep up with. In keeping with a recent, not entirely voluntary move to California, I decided to start a blog to make it easier to have some contact with my far-flung friends and family in an informal, fun setting. Et maintenant, voila le blog. (Are blogs masculine or feminine? Someone ask the French.)

In the great tradition of sudden blogslacking, I'm going to post and run for a quick trip to the Midwest. Really quick. 25 hours from takeoff of outgoing flight to touchdown of return flight.

More of this anon! In my next post, the tale of the black bear I saw on the highway on my trip out here...