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Someone Needed a Vacation! April 28, 2011

Posted by J. in Genius.

For anyone keeping track, my last post was more than a week ago and I’ve since missed a People’s Choice Monday, two or three Madhouse Wednesdays, and a couple two tree WTF Fridays to boot. What can I say? Sometimes life gets in the way of my forming coherent blog posts.

Fresh from their children's choir debut posing by the baptismal font...Bug and Bobo! *wild applause*

First of all, last week was Holy Week and there was much singing to be done.  I sang on Thursday and Friday night, then on Saturday I spent four hours decorating the bulletin boards in the church hall for the Vigil.  Sang at the Vigil Saturday night and stayed into Sunday morning to help clean up, then went back to sing with the children’s choir on Easter morning.

Being a Church Lady is fucking exhausting.

I could barely keep my eyes open on Sunday afternoon.  And that feeling lasted well into Monday.  I don’t normally get that tired, but my kids decided to give me a cold just in time for Holy Week.  Either that or my allergies kicked in.  It’s hard to tell.  Whichever is to blame, I’ve been stuffed to my eye sockets with copious amounts of snot, none of which goes anywhere.  It sits there in my head and my ears just making me miserable.  It feels like my noggin weighs about 50 pounds.  I swear my neck hurts just from lugging my gigantic cranium around.

So Holy Week was a bust, writing-wise. Then the next thing I knew it was Monday and I didn’t write about my scheduled People’s Choice topic because I was high on bite-sized Snickers bars and Claritin-D.  Before I knew it I was distracted by shiny things and Cadbury Cream Eggs and Wednesday came and went and now it’s Thursday and I realize I haven’t even mentioned my trip to Newport.


Perhaps if I do this in chapter-type installments?  Good?  Okay, let’s hit it.  First up, let’s get those pesky Madhouse topics out of the way.  It’s a good thing I don’t get paid by the word for those posts, eh?

Madhouse Wednesday, April 20:  A Perfect Moment

I tried writing about the Madhouse topic on Wednesday “A Perfect Moment” but again, the topic stumped me.  I think it’s because I’ve come to realize that there’s no real perfect moment.  There are great moments and memorable moments, but to say that a moment is perfect means that it couldn’t be improved upon at all, and God help me I just couldn’t find one example of a moment being so good that there was just no way to make it better.

And that tidbit of wisdom didn’t make for a very entertaining blog post, did it?  Sometimes I can be succinct.  Deep, but succinct.

Madhouse Wednesday, April 27:  Hidden Talents

If I told you about my hidden talents, they wouldn’t be hidden, would they?

Kidding.  I kid you.

I was trying to think of a talent I possess that no one knows about, but I think when you have a blog, it gets harder and harder to think of things that no one knows about.  I mean, someone always knows about something.

But here’s a little-known talent of mine:  I am an expert packer.  Suitcases, the trunk of the car, a package for mailing, moving boxes, a piece of carry-on luggage…I can make it fit.  Whatever it is.  You give me the container and the stuff that has to go in it, and I can figure out the optimal way to get it in.  And I can do it fast.  I’m good with spacial relationships.  I can look at an item of clothing and tell you if it will fit on a particular body.  I can tell if tab A will fit into slot B without trying it.  And I can get everything you need for your trip into whatever suitcase you want to bring.

I’ll also kick your ass at Tetris.

Newport:  The Return to the Alma Mater

So two weeks ago tomorrow, Sister and I loaded up the Lexus and headed south for Newport, Rhode Island.  Home of the Newport Creamery, Salve Regina University, and wretched excess.


Sister and me on a road trip is always a good time.  If there was one fly in the ointment it was that both of us had been felled a few days earlier by some nasty stomach bug and weren’t feeling in tip top shape.  Not puke-y, just no appetite.  Ooky.  Urpy.

But that aside, it was awesomeballs to get back to Newport.  We hooked up with Bob and Jeremy and after a quick, meatless bite at Panera and a drive-through tour of What’s New Since We Last Visited Newport, we decided to tour Chateau Sur Mer.  Now, I’ve been through a few of the Newport mansions and it’s usualy pretty impressive.  Marble House, the Breakers, Rosecliff, even Hammersmith Farm in its less-gilded simplicity are gorgeous to tour.

I got the feeling that CSM is the red-headed stepchild of the Historical Society.

One of the first rooms we saw had a nasty-ass lime-ish green carpet on the floor.  Sister commented, “Do they have dogs?”  I was more put off by the area rug that was on top of the horribly stained carpet.  It was threadbare and probably original to the house, but it looked like someone had just thrown it down on the floor and walked away.  It looked like a badly made bed, or like one of the curators had needed to hide a body quickly, used that particular rug to drag the deceased out a back door, and had to get it back down hastily before the next tour came through.

My OCD almost forced me over the rope to flatten it out, but I resisted.

The whole place was equally shabby and despite it being very chilly and windy out, it seemed close and stuffy in the mansion.  Which, in a place that big, is rare.  But that’s not the worst of it.

Sister and I kept getting a whiff of something.  Something ass-y.  Something funky and perhaps a bit unwashed.  Maybe with a hint of mold and an overtone of mustiness.  Not everywhere, not permeating the whole house, just a vaguely crotchy smell that you’d encounter here and there as you walked around.

I thought at first it was the house.  Old place, water damage, unused pipes…there’s a pretty extensive list of things that might stink.  However, as the tour wound on endlessly, we began to suspect it was one of the women on the tour with us, as her hair was kind of matted and unwashed looking in the back, and I’m thinking if her hair was that…let’s be kind and say “unkempt”…it’s not a reach to assume that her nether regions might be releasing a powerful and noxious scent.

Either way, we were all pretty glad to get out into the cold air.  I imagine we left just in time too, as I’m sure our giggling would have gotten us thrown out eventually.  In fact, when we caught a glimpse of a portrait hanging on the second floor landing and decided it was a guy in drag, we had all pretty much lost the thread at point.  It was time to go.

After the boys had a pre-show bite at Griswolds (and Sister and I sipped soda to try and calm our bajingo-assaulted stomachs) we dropped them off at the theater and made our way back to our little hotel to rest.  We stayed at the Inn on Bellevue and it was a charming little place.  A little shabby as well, but in a vintage/antique kind of way that was charming and not a “Fuck me, I’m not sleeping here, it smells like a dirty snatch” kind of way.

We were in Newport in the first place to visit see Bob’s big production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.  It was his first directing effort at Salve and we really couldn’t be more proud of him if we tried.  More theater companies need to hire him to direct.  And here’s why.

Right off the bat I had to question the choosing of the show.  Bob didn’t pick it.  Apparently the department head likes “themes” so all the shows this year had a Shakespeare theme.  Here’s my question:  why not pick a good musical with a Shakespeare theme?  Like, oh, I don’t know, Kiss Me, KateWest Side Story?

Despite this groovy poster from the original procuction, there was not one magenta nipple in the whole show.

Two Gentlemen is (in my not-so-humble opinion) one of Shakespeare’s stupidest plays, and that’s before you start screwing with it.  It’s full of plot holes so big you could chuck a baby through them, which is bad enough before someone bursts into fucking song out of nowhere; you know, like they do in musicals.  And then there’s the fact that when they made it into a musical, they kept the book in Shakespearean English and the songs in “modern” (meaning early-70’s) vernacular, which to me was just adding insult to an already weak play. The guy that wrote the music for Hair did this one, so it’s got a “rock opera” feel to it, but without the timeless “voice-of-a-generation” themes that Hair had.   I felt like it wanted to be Hair, or that the writers were trying to capture that kind of magic in a bottle again, but just didn’t quiiiite get there.  Okay, it didn’t come within a row of assholes of getting there.

So the fact that Bob took this show on in the first place is a testament to his bravery and vision as a director.  It takes a lot of imagination to polish a turd.

And Bob did it.  God love him, he put pulled off a show that the crowd liked and the cast had fun performing.  The kids were great.  They really seemed to embrace what Bob was doing with the show and their enthusiasm was infectious.  I can only imagine what they’d have done with a really good show to work with.  There were some excellent singers and dancers and the design was so vibrant that visually it was fun to watch.  And the music.  Oh.  The music was outstanding.  The band alone could make you forget that you were watching an amateur production.  It could make you overlook the fact that there’s not one memorable song in the show anywhere.

So good on ya, Bob.  I know I couldn’t have pulled that off in a million years, and I can’t think of many directors who could have.  And when you consider the roadblocks in his way which shall remain undiscussed here, it was a masterpiece.  If you’re a producer within the sound of my voice, HIRE THIS MAN.  He fucking rocks.

One of my favorite parts of the show is that I was seated right beside the parents of one of the leads.  His mom is an alumnus as well, and his dad saw me talking to Bob the Esteemed Director and asked if I too had a connection to Salve theater.  I confessed that I did indeed.  He said his son was a technical theater major, and I said, “Hey, so was I!”

He said “They just added it recently…there hasn’t been one in a long time.”  I agreed and told them that I think I was probably the last one before they stopped offering it as a major.  He said his boy had gone in as an education major but switched to theater.

“Me too!” I said, feeling a bit agree-ish, but I swear to God it’s true.  Then he asked the million dollar question.

“Do you work in theater now?”


I laughed, and dad got that crestfallen, oh-my-God-I’m-spending-two-hundred-grand-so-the-kid-can-throw-his-life-away look on his face.  “Nope,” I told him honestly.  “I don’t.”

Unfortunately at that moment, something happened and either the show started up again or I had to visit with someone…I forget, but I left the poor guy hanging on that little tidbit.  But at the next available minute I told him not to fret.  There were personal reasons behind my quitting theater that factored in, and also of the 7  of us that graduated with theater degrees, most of us (like Bob) are still active and working in theater or performing in some capacity or other.

I hope I made the poor guy feel better.

Anyway, Sister and I skipped the after-party because we are old.  We went to bed and rose with the birds for another day of basking in Newportness.  We had a lovely breakfast at the Inn (free with the room!) and then located a little yarn shop downtown to visit.  I got four skeins of yarn that looked fun to play with and then we decided to swing through campus to see if we could get into the new chapel and take a peek.

We could not.  Alas, for want of a butter knife, we were shut out in the cold.  It was so cold that Sister bought a fleece jacket in the campus bookstore.

All in all, the place is as lovely as ever.  More so, even.  And for almost $46,000 a year, it damn well better be.

We had a lunch that couldn’t be beat at the Brick Alley Pub before heading north again.  Bob and J were there, and Lennie and Devin who are a couple of our nearest and dearest beloved friends.  Bob’s mom and dad and sister came to town and there are no words adequate enough to describe how wonderful it was to see them again.  Just no words.  They were like family to me when we were in college and that has never, ever changed.  I love them like they are flesh and blood and always will.

"We're not really sisters, but we are really ugly."

We hugged and kissed and said our goodbyes while the theater-goers headed off to see the matinee and we headed for NH.  We made a detour in Plymouth, Mass. to pick up some Royal Wedding supplies at the British import store there.  Yes, Sister and I are going to watch the spectacle unfold live on TV tomorrow morning and you can mock us all you want.  We’re the Ugly Sisters Step and we loves us some royal wedding.

Of course during all of this, Larry stayed with the kids.  He took the day off on Friday so that I could leave first thing in the morning and had the trio all to himself both days.  He’s a good man, Charlie Brown.  (Which is also a better show than Verona, but not by much.  But I digress.)

CBS Presents How I Met Your Father

One of my Salve friends who was a couple of years ahead of me in the theater department posed “How did you meet your husband?” as a reader’s choice suggestion.

It was pretty simple, really.  I worked with his younger brother at Joann fabrics.

When I was done with touring and my plans to move to NYC had fallen through in dramatic and heartbreaking fashion, I picked up the shattered remnants of my life and came home to figure out what to do next.  Finding yourself isn’t cheap, so I took a job at Joanns and very quickly got promoted to management.  They’d have been stupid not to.  I worked as the fabric specialist and Larry’s brother was in charge of the craft department.

I got to know his whole family because they’d stop in from time to time.  His sister would bring his niece in for a visit.  She was a toddler then, but now she’s driving and babysits our kids, a fact that is still kind of weird to me.  His mom and dad would pop in if they were in the neighborhood, and because Larry was dating a girl who worked next door at the grocery store, he’d stop in to visit and kill time while he waited for her to get off work.

His brother frequently expressed his opinion that I should go out with Larry.  I assured him that I thought men were not worth the effort and I was quite happy with the idea of dying alone.  Not in a morbid way, but more in the way that you feel when you really don’t want to offer your heart to anyone to walk all over.  And besides, I liked not having to share my stuff.

But then I went to The Fair with another friend of mine and we ran into a couple of friends of hers.  Introductions were made all ’round and I small talk was made, and when we walked away she mentioned somewhat off-handedly that perhaps I’d like to go out with one of the guys I’d just met.  I said I was all set, thanks and let it drop, but when I got to work I asked Larry’s brother what the deal was with people fixing me up, as if I needed a man in my life to be either happy or complete.

He stopped putting stuff away and said it had nothing to do with that.  He said he was operating under purely selfish motives, because he knew if I married his brother that he’d have me in his family.

So let it be written. So let it be done. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

How do you not humor that?  Purely selfish motives are something I can appreciate.  I told him to set  it up and I went out with Larry and we’ve been together ever since.  In fact, we just had an anniversary of sorts.  He proposed to me during the annual Passover network airing of The Ten Commandments, during the scene where Moses turns the Nile into blood.  Every year when it’s on, we remember.  “Why is this night not like every other night?”

You know that saying, “A true friend is someone who knows all about you and likes you anyway”?  Consider it a free bit of marriage advice to say that you should never marry anyone who is not a true friend in that way.

Larry knows everything about me, and he not only accepts the less-savory parts of my personality, he loves me anyway.  I never have to feel like there’s something I can’t say or do around him because of how he’ll react.  I don’t have to keep anything hidden from him, ever.  He knows who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and supports me in getting me wherever it is I want to go.

Folks at church will remark that he must be someone special to stay home with the kids while I work at my many ministries in the Parish.  I explain that that’s his ministry: to be my support while I do the things I have to.

He understands that being home all day is confining and never says a word when I have something lined up in the evening.  He cooks supper when I don’t feel like it, understanding that I’ve already made breakfast and lunch, so he takes that off my shoulders.  He’s never said, “You’re home all day…why didn’t you do it?” because he’s put in his hours here and he knows that sometimes coming up with one more meal is just more than a person can take.

I’m a fairly lousy at being a wife and a mother, but he and the kids are very forgiving.  In fact, the girls have been keeping their little brother busy this morning while I compose this beast of a post.

But now the time for distractions is over and I have to go get dinner in the crock pot if we hope to eat tonight, and then the monkeys are going to be hungry for some lunch before I have to clean the living room (again) before Dave’s therapy this afternoon.

Peace out.



1. Sistah Nikki - April 28, 2011

God, Poops…I just love you. Simply stated.

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