Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

The Mad Dash

Whoever thinks life is more exciting and glamorous in the movies doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Yesterday, I woke up less than two hours before my international flight.  That’s right.  Re-enacting the Home Alone racing scene was no picnic.  The frantic getting dressed picking up the first clothing I found on the floor, the not peeing, brushing teeth, or washing face, the frantic taxi ride screaming at the driver that I’d pay whatever fine he got if he was ticketed.  The stupid Israelis (I know, I know, I shouldn’t go there) who wouldn’t let me go in front of them and thus I was the last person to check in on the flight.  God!!! The running through the airport.  The catching myself in the mirror and nearly losing it.  Especially the, “I know I forgot something…” feeling that consumed me for hours…

Other joys along the way from Tel Aviv to Chicago:

  • Sitting next to a weird know-it-all with a world clock as a watch who when I asked what time is it when we landed said it was impossible it was 12:45 exactly in Frankfurt – that with the rotation of the planet no time zone was actually one hour different from the previous – and that his watch indicated it was 12: 17.  When I pointed out that I didn’t care what the actual scientific non-daylight-savings, non-regulated-by-time-zones time was, he got huffy.

Being targeted for random special treatment in Frankfurt, aka getting my bags ripped apart by complacent airport staff. Thanks.

  • After repacking and composing myself, same airport security staff seek me out again (while I was in duty free buying a snack), asked me if I spoke Hebrew (um, sh*t, yes…), and told me to come with them.  As it happens there was an Israeli woman who spoke not one word of English or any other language besides Hebrew.  She was tres young (20), religious, scared, recently married, and pregnant.  I was asked to translate everything, including figuring out an embarrassing episode involving her trying to sneak some sort of specialized religious ink on board (they wouldn’t allow it), and forced her to check it (in a tiny woman’s black leather clutch purse), sealing it shut with a mile of tape. 20 minutes of this. I was not compensated for my trouble. Can we say upgrade? Miles? A smile? Kindness, even…?

No. This was the most terrible international flight of my life, courtesy of the bitchiest flight attendants known to man.  I don’t want to sound ageist but, hell, these women were more than 60 years old, fat, tired, grumpy, and they treated us all like mean 4th grade teachers.  I’m not kidding.  They were literally seconds from retirement, and they didn’t care how much it showed.  I was embarrassed for the airline.  AMERICAN AIRLINES, if you must know.  My seatmate was appalled, as she thought American customer service was a matter of pride to us.  So has the world changed.  One lady in particular repeatedly scolded us for the armrest sticking out and bumping her cart, shot us dirty looks, was huffy when I hesitated with my drink choice, and at the very end when I was helping said prepubescent pregnant religious girl with her customs and homeland security forms, actually yelled at us to get in our seats, that we “should have thought about that earlier, now it’s too late.”  Thanks American.

Colon Cancer Cell - the kind she studies

  • Must mention my lovely seatmate. Match made in airline seat assignment heaven. We talked for much of the 9 hours. A brilliant young scientist attending the American Association of Clinical Oncology conference being held this weekend in Chicago.  She will make waves in this field.  We talked about everything, including her cancer research and my writing and relationships and the world and travel, and goodness I’ll regret it if I won’t see her again in my lifetime.  Which isn’t likely as we’re planning on having drinks on Monday.

The famous four in Memphis, December 1956

Upon disembarking, I hit my shin somehow on a seat corner or door edge.  It started swelling so quickly, it felt the size of a golf ball protruding from my leg in under 30 seconds.  Deep Vein Thrombosis flashed across my mind and as idiotic as it was, I spent the next half hour waiting for passport check in an utterly paranoid state, wondering what to do about the throbbing and whether or not it was going to kill me.  Right.

  • My parents met me at the airport (pleasant), got me ice for my leg at McDonald’s (thankfully), whisked me away downtown to a musical called The Million Dollar Quartet, a show that is spun around a real-life evening where Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis all played together at Sun Studios, and which my dad swears is going to win the Tony. Despite exhaustion being what it is, the show was very entertaining, and by the time we got him, it was almost 24 hours since I began the ill-fated journey. Or not so ill-fated.

Now I’m just overwhelmed, tired, over-worked (time always ticks everywhere in the world and clients always email).  It’s good.  Work is good.  My head is just spinning more than I’d like.  And I’m still thinking, “what did I forget…I must have forgotten something….”  But the house I grew up in is here.  Huge, full of tchochkes, bursting with food (weird as it is – my mother offered me vacuum sealed guacamole from costco this morning, alongside a selection of 5 cheeses, a defrosted cake-loaf of some sort, and commercial “fresh” squeezed carrot juice that they buy every week).

Can’t help thinking of home, my sister, the cats, the beer olympics I missed last night, the birthdays I’ll be missing, my dear sweet friends who came over to see me off the other night.  No, no.  Let’s get this visit started.

Funnies for you:

Not Always Right: a website about crazy customers, recommended to me by my seatmate. Hilarious!

Home Alone in Hindi! Yes, that’s right. You don’t need to see the whole thing. When I was searching for the airport racing scene, this was the first one to pop up several times.

Who you gonna call? Check out Improv Everywhere’s latest mission.

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Our own personal Proustian Madeleines.  In this case, an Italian sandwich.

If we’re attuned to it, I think we all have these moments daily. A smell we notice while walking down the street, a new food at a cafe, someone’s perfume, laundry, kitchen. And BOOM — you’re instantly transported into a memory.  Sometimes the memory is unclear for me — I can’t pinpoint it, but I can usually assign a time period or location.  Late high school.  Sometime at summer camp.  Ireland.

And sometimes, you know exactly where and when that trigger takes you. That happened to me at lunch yesterday.  I was trying to get some work done at the Loveat on Yehuda HaLevi (after having an awesome haircut at Tomer Reshef, I have to mention — best place in Tel Aviv for curly hair — bar none).  Lunch isn’t cheap at Loveat, but it’s vaguely organic there (perhaps just the coffee), and with the larger sandwiches, you get your choice of side dish — I had a cup of split pea soup — a real treat compared to what you get at most cafes.

Loveat - I really like the atmosphere at this branch

My chicken panini (or gabetta, as they call them here — I’m pretty sure they mean ciabatta; panini would be far more appropriate as that refers to a sandwich often made of a ciabatta; whatever, it’s Israel) was incredible.  When I took the first bite, I was transported back to the 2rd floor coffee shop of the Reynolds Club at the University of Chicago.  This cafe functioned on take out — basically, all the restaurants in the neighborhood brought their best takeaways — pad thai, pad seeyu, curry and rice, samosas, and tons and tons of sandwiches.  I was a vegetarian at the time, and I often got the roasted vegetable sandwich from Pizza Capri (it’s still on the menu!).  It was heaven: roasted red peppers, eggplant, perhaps zucchini, perhaps a slice of cheese, and tons and tons of garlic.  I can assert to the fact that it had peppers, eggplant, and garlic — the rest is a little hazy.

Although my Loveat gabetta had chicken, the rest of it was very much like my sandwich of yore.  The roasted red pepper I think was what took me back.  And why is this significant?  I almost lived in that building.  The theatre was on the 3rd floor, and I think I had 80% of my meals from that coffee shop.  I may have eaten more than 200 of those sandwiches over the course of 4 years.  When I had my internship at Steppenwolf Theatre, there was even a Pizza Capri across the street — and I ate it once or twice a week that whole summer.  The flavor and texture of that sandwich represents the blood, sweat, tears, and every ounce of passion I put into my undergraduate education.  It represents the grimy yet super-comfy theatre lounge I hung out at every day, where I ate half my meals, where I caught up and prepped before classes, where I piled onto ancient sofas with friends and collaboratively did the New York Times crossword, where I held weekly production meetings, where I memorized lines, where I read play after play after play, where I played snood and mac-brickout and checked my telnet email account on ancient computers, where I developed and fine-tuned proposals, where I planned my future and dreamed.

Reynolds Club 2nd floor coffee shop - much as I remember it

It’s almost ten years behind me now.  Seems like yesterday, and I can’t believe how far I’ve drifted from what that girl thought she’d be.  And that sandwich.  Do we go back and try to jump start what we used to love or thought we loved?  Is it pointless to try?  Is it too late?  I didn’t know it then, but it was the happiest time of my life.  Sure, I was miserable a lot.  But I was also challenged and busy and growing and trying and achieving and failing and was surrounded by some of the most interesting people I have yet known.  That sandwich yesterday highlighted my relatively isolated and somewhat stagnant state.

It’s time I announced my intentions: I want to go back into academia.  It will be very different this time.  Nostalgia will probably play a distracting and not-too-positive role in this.  But I’m doing it.  It will take time.  Part-time completion courses.  Maybe a second masters degree in order to get where I would like to be — an excellent doctoral program.  Not in theatre.  A social science/philosophy type course.  Life is horrible, complex, beautiful.  I study it anyway.  I want to be with people I can speak with, research with, and who have passion for these abstract and seemingly ridiculous and impractical notions.  Perhaps I’m sounding arrogant and idealistic here.  Probably.

Powerful sandwich, that. Wouldn’t you say?

A fantastic blog article – a picture-laden tour of the University of Chicago — with a particular focus on all its bizarre coffee shops (my fave was not focused on, however — although I am proud to say I frequented ALL of the ones featured).

Imaginative & refreshing cinnamon lemonade at Loveat

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