Friday, June 24, 2016

I saw “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City”

What I saw: “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City,” a play, at MCC Theater at The Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, in the West Village of NYC.

What I wore: limited edition Puma X Swash States, white jeans, eShakti tunic top, tiny fancy dark mauve handbag with an extra-long strap.

What I did beforehand: braved a traffic jam without honking, rode the E train, tried unsuccessfully to get a smile out of a pair of bored and surly NYPDs, succeeded with a haughty hipster barista when I got my coffee and cookie at Joe on Waverly Place.

Who went with me: lots of strangers, including some women from Florida celebrating , a couple whose daughter was a gynecological oncologist in Madison, Wisconsin, grumpy old folks next to me who were quietly uncomfortable with my cackling.

How I got tickets: online, because I thought the name was stupid and therefore great.

Why I saw this show: having seen two hospital-room black comedies, I now hope to see them all.

Where I sat: row G, seat 107, behind a guy with a huge neck and head, and between some old people and some even older people.

Things that were sad: this is a play about people whose moms are fighting cancer. This is not a play about brave survivors, or courageous 5K fundraising participants. It is about people who are fundamentally broken.

Things that were funny: vibrator jokes, a long condom story, and that long name, which isn’t even accurate, since the funny things happen at the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, not on the way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City.

Things that were not funny: someone to my left fell asleep despite my loud laughing, and when he woke up he wanted his wife to tell him what happened.

What it is: a play, set in a hospital room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, featuring four skillful actors and lasting about 90 minutes. 

Who should see it: anyone seeking something better than the absurdly simplistic and unrealistic portrayal of people with cancer being “brave warriors,” audiences prepared for simulated oral sex onstage, fans of Law & Order.

What I saw on the way home: a warning light on the dashboard of my car alerted me that the front seat passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. My front seat passenger was my purse, made somewhat heavier than normal with the addition of my laptop. Nothing like the engineering choices of some German car-feature designers to remind me that I, being a hand-bag-carrying woman, may not always be thought of as a car-owner or otherwise relevant person. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

I went to a birthday party

What I saw: R’s birthday party, at her mom’s boyfriend's apartment on the upper west side, in Manhattan.

What I wore: Eileen Fisher black pull-on stretch pants that are neither too long (because I buy them in “petit” so they’re above-ankle length), too tight, or too loose, so they’re basically pajamas, but better because you can wear them outside and people don't ask you if you're sick; that weird new green blouse-top with a grey floral pattern; black Fluevog heels (which were appreciated by three people at the party); new tiny fancy turquoise cross-body Furla handbag that the Bacon Provider got me for my recent birthday; mascara, and, for part of the night, a party hat.

Always wear a seatbelt, even if you're a bouquet.

What I did beforehand: took off my party shoes and put on boots and leather gloves to go cut flowers for the hostess.

Who went with me: I went alone, but when The Graduate arrived at the party after I did, it seemed he hadn’t realized I’d be there.

Elevator Selfie

How I got invited: via email, from R's mom; it was supposed to be a surprise. It was not.

Why I went: when we first moved to NYC, in July of 2011, R (a college friend of The Graduate) went out of her way to introduce us to her family, take us to the opera, invite us to the Adirondacks, and make us feel like we actually knew people. 

Where I sat: between R’s mom’s boyfriend and her old roommate (who may have been accidentally responsible for the lack of surprise).

The hats lit up. I have food in my mouth.

Things that were sad: I have fresh home-brewed IPA to share and forgot that I meant to bring some until I was half-way there. Also, I was in the bathroom when they sang "Happy Birthday," and there were five opera singers in attendance. Lastly, I forgot my goody-bag, and it had a Toblerone in it.

Things that were funny: party poppers, party hats, Charades (I successfully delivered “The Geography of Sub Saharan Africa” and “Inception”).

One of the primary gestures of Charades

Things that were not funny: the dog hid the whole night; the cars I had to avoid, weaving on the Saw Mill Parkway on the way home; waking up the next morning for an 8:30 lesson.

He kind of always looks like this
What it is: in the United States, people often celebrate the anniversary of their birth with a party. Traditions include, but are not limited to, a birthday cake with candles, the singing of a traditional birthday song, games, a piƱata, the giving of gifts to the person having the birthday, and party favors for guests. When my children were young, we had many birthday parties at home, including one with a magician, another with the Reptile Man, and, a particular favorite, a spaceship party where the kids decorated a refrigerator box in the back yard and we had a countdown and blastoff.

Who should go: my brother once told me that you should invite everyone to parties. This is a completely unrealistic rule that I try to follow as much as possible. 

The Graduate had fun

What I saw on the way home: as I waved goodbye to R’s mother, I accidentally hailed a cab. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I saw “The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois”

What I saw: “The Purple Lights of Joppa, Illinois” at the Atlantic Theater , at 330 W 16th St. in, like, what fucking neighborhood is that even? Chelsea?

What I wore: mascara, gray Pumas, tan short jeans from Lands End that I bought when I read that they have a new CEO who is trying to make better, hipper clothes, Lilith striped tank top, Steven Alan plaid shirt, cardigan from the Faroe islands, sunglasses because I left my regular glasses back at the house in the suburbs  overlooked my glasses sitting in the center console of my car.

What I did beforehand: had a hotdog with a Bell's Oberon wheat ale and then coffee with my friend B, who used to be an "internet friend" (a.k.a., stranger), but is now an IRL friend who needs an apartment hella bad, and after that I bought a sympathy card for my mother-in-law because she had to put her dog to sleep, and I had a conversation with the guy in the card shop and he said they sell out of pet-death-sympathy cards all the time, so I'm thinking someone excellent should do a whole line of greeting cards for pet owners and I have a whole bunch of ideas around this so get in touch if you're gonna do it, and then I went back to the apartment to pee, and then got on the E train to the theater, and it was crowded.

Who went with me: several groups of older women, an older woman rocking sequined sneakers, two pairs of youngish guys, two pairs of well-groomed older guys, two guys with canes, two guys wearing suspenders, one guy with his Mets hat on backwards (he took it off), one guy in a straw fedora, and at least one grouchy old lady. None of the women wore hats. 

How I got tickets: online, from a chart where I clearly thought I was choosing a front-row seat (but wasn't, see "Where I sat").

Why I saw this show: relentless marketing

Where I sat: G101, in the back row, on the end, like I'm a trouble-making teen who expects to throw spit-balls and chew gum and bolt as early as possible.

Things that were sad: today I'm feeling like I've lived in New York long enough to know someone, anyone who would come with me to see more-obscure, off-Broadway shows on a Thursday.

Things that were funny: when there were only eight people seated, a white-haired woman in the second row loudly complained, "It's freezing in here." When no one replied, she added, "I told them, and they told me it'll warm up when there are people in here. What good is that?" New Yorkers like to complain out loud to no one in particular. Or, maybe, to everyone in particular. But actually, I noticed at 7:34 when the theater was almost full it was still cold.
Three minutes later, there was a lull in the audience chatter as everyone collectively wondered when they'd begin. 
The play was serious, and had funny things in it, especially related to the younger characters, and a couple of Facebook jokes almost landed. Almost.

Things that were not funny:  I can now tell the different between the dry cough of allergies and other kinds of coughs.

What it is: a ninety minute play, performed without intermission. It's about family dysfunction, and mental illness, and it isn't as much of a downer as that sounds.

Who should see it: people who enjoy extremely awkward silences, folks with compassion for the mentally ill, and anyone who believes in redemption.

She did not notice the frolicking rats.

What I saw on the way home: two rats hard-core chasing each other around the local tracks of the E train.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I went to the grocery store

What I did: grocery shopping at DeCicco’s in a nearby town.

What I wore: tall boots, black Pikeur full-seat breeches, turquoise polo shirt, blood-stained gray hoodie that I bought last year when I went to Miami without workout clothes, scowl. I don't know where the blood stains came from.

What I did beforehand: riding lesson.

Who went with me: rambunctious groups of teens from the local high school.

What I needed to buy: powdered sugar, quart-size Ziploc bags, something for dinner.

Why I chose this store: there is an excellent dry cleaner in the same strip mall. The uninspiring dry cleaner we’ve been using in Bedhead Hills has a dirty, disorganized store.

Where I parked: on the second lane from the south edge of the lot, between a Toyota SUV and a Hyundai that had backed in.

Things that were sad: the grocery store always makes me sad.  Our nation's last telecommunications bill was passed in 1996, before smartphones. Kids are graduating college under staggering amounts of debt and there aren’t any decent jobs. Our elected officials haven’t the courage to enact legislation to limit man-made greenhouse gases. The gun lobby has made even our elementary schools dangerous. Women in rural areas lack access to reproductive health care. Medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in American households. I am 53 and can’t get anything but a polite rejection when I apply for jobs. I’ve reached the point in my life when sometimes I feel I have no purpose. My parents died in their early 60s and I’m wasting my 50s feeling sorry for myself.

Things that were funny: at least I didn’t cry today.

Things that were not funny: “The glass ceiling is shattered, girls!” is a lie. You still make a lot less than your male peers. Your success is still mostly determined by how wealthy your parents were. Don’t let your patronizing acquaintances tell you how to feel about yourself.

What it is: where limp hopes and forgotten dreams go to die.

Who should see it: are you hungry, because dinner won’t make its fucking self.

What I saw on the way home: the dead bugs and road grit smeared with the first pass of my windshield wipers as it began to rain. But I summoned my energy after putting the groceries away and walked the dogs in the rain. The woods were very quiet. I was thinking about how different the world still is for women, and I heard a rustling. A big deer sprang away, more frightened of us than we had a right to be frightened of it; I was filled with adrenaline, thinking, "It might have been a coyote, or a golfer looking for a ball, or a varsity swimmer from Stanford, who the media should call a rapist." 

Monday, June 6, 2016

I saw "Turn Me Loose"

What I saw: "Turn Me Loose," a play at the Westside Theater on W 43rd between 9th and 10th Avenues

What I wore: black Free People top that's either an embroidered peasant blouse or a much-too-short mini-dress that I wear with pants, new white 7 for all mankind relaxed-hem jeans, orange Puma sneakers.

What I did beforehand: had lunch with the Bacon Provider and came home thinking that the only way I could avoid housework was to go to a matinee. After that matinee, I changed clothes. And I had a cappuccino and a cookie.

Who went with me: Phylicia Rashad and Larry Wilmore.

How I got tickets: a couple of weeks ago, online.

Why I saw this show: Even President Obama loves Dick Gregory.

Where I sat: A 108, front row, on the end

Things that were sad: "I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that." 

Things that were funny: Dick Gregory's stand-up is uncompromisingly forthright and quite funny.

Things that were not funny: the state of Mississippi took 31 years to bring the killer of Dick Gregory's friend and colleague Medgar Evers to justice.

What it is: a play about comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, in his own words.

Who should see it: people who like to laugh, fans of Joe Morton, liberals, heckling Klansmen, social justice warriors.

What I saw on the way home: taxi-cabs, heading uptown, as if this city was fair and equal and anyone could catch one.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I saw "Incognito"

What I saw:" Incognito" at the Manhattan Theater Club New York City Center Stage 1, on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in midtown, New York City.

What I wore: my favorite black eShakti dress with big groovy buttons and pockets, orange Puma sneakers, orange short socks.

Yes, I am that pale #luminous
What I did beforehand: went to a 9 am appointment, visited a stationery store that was hard to find in the bowels of Rockefeller Plaza, and had lunch with the Bacon Provider where we talked about what we really want to do with the rest of our lives. Then, I went back to the apartment, changed out of cute shoes and into sneakers, and decided that instead of cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming, I should buy tickets to a Wednesday matinee.

Who went with me: 314 strangers. 

How I got tickets: online at 1 p.m. 

Why I saw this show: anything to avoid housework.

Where I sat: in B 108, on one side next to two women who both held the ticket to seat B 109 and, on the other side, a woman who was reading "The Sympathizer" by Viet Thanh Nguyen on her iPhone. The reader said the author won the Pulitzer, though she did not attempt to pronounce his name. 

Things that were sad: I made her lose her place in her book because I asked her if it was any good. And when the lights went back on, at the end of the play, I hadn't finished crying.

Things that were funny: I think anecdotes about Einstein are boring, and had I known what this play was about (how someone stole his brain from his dead body), I would not have seen it.

Things that were not funny: I got blisters on my feet walking back from lunch.

What it is: a play, 90 minutes long, with no intermission.

Who should see it: ethicists, celebrity-stalkers, neuro-scientists, philosophers, physicists, physicians, and people like one of the women with a ticket for B 209, who was seeing the show a second time because she had a "thing for Charlie Cox."

What I saw on the way home: a dog on a walk and a pigeon that just wanted to walk, too.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I attended a wedding

What I saw:  my cousin's wedding at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City, Missouri. 

What I wore: black Fluevog stranger-friendly heels, new blue abstract-patterned Brooks Brothers dress that I may, on reflection, have purchased in a size too large, pantyhose  that makes my pale legs look so pale they glow in the dark, gold jewelry given to me by the Bacon Provider and my mother, eye-makeup, and, briefly, lipstick.

What I did beforehand: drove to Jeff City in a rented Cadillac, with my brothers first complaining that it smelled like cigarettes (it did), then navigating with only occasional input from technology, and everywhere urging me to back into parking spaces or to go faster.

Who went with me: my brothers and a hundred others.

How I got invited: I received a "Save the Date" card last summer, and an invitation in the mail this winter. In the End Times, will wedding invitations be the last items sent via U.S. Mail? 

Why I went: I think my mother would have wanted us to go.

Where I sat: in the third row of pews, on the bride's side.

Things that were sad: my mother would have been there, in a flowy floral dress or maybe a navy skirt and a crisp white blouse with interesting buttons and a long jacket with just enough unusual silver jewelry (but never too much) showing off the gleam of her now snowy-white hair. She died in 2004.

Things that were funny: a six-year old relative, whose mom was the bride, did his part in the procession, holding a baby by the hand and leading her down the aisle in her peach tulle skirt only to fall deeply asleep himself in the pew ahead of us, and there he remained, silent and still, until roused to leave during the recessional organ music, Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

Things that were not funny: one of the readings during the wedding mass was from the Letter to the Ephesians, and I laughed audibly when the brides aunties, recruited to go to the podium, read the words, "Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord."  I am one of those radical feminists that thinks women are actually people. What can I say?

What it is: I mean. What even is a wedding? Now we have gay marriage in America, so everyone can make an expensive, bad life choice. 

Who should see it: go to your cousins' weddings, people. Read books about feminism on the plane on the way there, and essays about the failure of the American Peace Movement on the way home. 

What I saw on the way home: the air above America was a great, green-gray spill, the color of industrial waste, flecked with the white foam of real clouds.