Wednesday, January 16, 2013


A collection of random thoughts on things you should be doing because it's a new year and in the new year we try new things. Or revisit old things. Or just make an effort to not be so completely antisocial. Maybe.

1. Live theater. (As opposed to filmed theater?) In case there was any doubt that I am incredibly spoiled, I am sometimes lucky enough to take advantage of my mother's season tickets to SHN plays.

A few days after Christmas, I got to see the very hot Book of Mormon. It was funny. It was funny in the way that it was a two hour live episode of South Park. Not that it wasn't completely enjoyable, it was. I had just been alerted that it was the funniest thing EVER and, well, my sense of humor is more Monty Python than a song performed on Broadway that involves heavy use of the c word. Which shouldn't dissuade you! I mean, it's a clever send up of the Mormon religion in particular and organized religion generally. But if you've ever watched an episode of South Park, it feels familiar. Just with more singing and dancing. (And to be sure, it's great singing and dancing.) Anyway, it's no longer in SF, having had a short run here before taking off for the West End of London but if you're in New York, you could still check it out. (Sorry! That didn't sound like a fantastic endorsement. It was great! Live theater! Hilarity! Songs! Dancing! Just...Spamalot, ya know? More my thing.)

Last night I got to see Anything Goes. And, frankly, I liked that more than I liked BOM. It's a revival of a '30s musical that originally starred Ethel Merman singing a bevy of Cole Porter tunes you know by heart even if you don't think you know any Cole Porter tunes. It's brilliant, happy, ridiculous farce. It's all glamour and mistaken identity and lounge singers and true love set aboard a ship to London where gangsters are running amok. Some of the comedy is a little bit dated, for sure. (Rayciss use of Chinese stereotypes alert!) But it's also got that rapid fire wit and dialogue that brings to mind His Girl Friday. It's playing through the end of the month and you can get discounted tickets via Travelzoo here. If you have a free night, go check it out. Definitely go check it out. $30! I mean, really. For jokes like, "Liquor has never touched these lips!" "You know a faster way?!" That's my kind of humor.

Oh! And if you're a girl: sailors in their white uniforms and incredibly toned bodies are heavily featured in the dance numbers. Just sayin'.

Going to musicals dredges up an age old argument between my mother and I.
"Tap is really fun. Why didn't you take tap?"
"Why didn't you PUT me in tap?"
"Well! You didn't show any interest in it!"
"How could I show interest in something I didn't even know was a thing!?"
"You were a really uncoordinated child anyway."
And scene.
Swear we have this argument before and/or after every single play.

Apparently she believes it was my responsibility as a child to show interest in things in order to be included in them and I believe it was her responsibility as a parent to just shove me in a bunch of things until something stuck. All I did want to do was ride horses, but I never really got over the "I'm afraid of them" part so my horse riding career was short and also my parents weren't thrilled with driving me to the stables IN GOLDEN GATE PARK. Then she made me take piano for two years when I wanted to play drums and I was horrible at it. Naturally. And that was the extent of our sort of organized activities growing up, other than the sports teams run through the school which I was predictably awful at and oh my god there's this awful seventh grade trauma...

So someday when I'm sobbing to my therapist that I'm crappy at everything, I'll blame my mother for not putting me in stuff to hone some innate skill no one knew I had and she'll blame me for not ever showing an interest in anything besides reading books and being left alone. Which still holds true.

Dear theoretical children, I'm sorry in advance, even if you are going to remain theoretical.

2. Traveling alone. Specifically: traveling alone to a foreign country. This one's a lot more abstract and maybe not doable if you have a significant other, which, hey! good for you!, or the funds, but I strongly, fervently believe in the transformative experience of traveling by yourself to someplace you don't speak the language or, at the very least, know the customs. (I suddenly find myself pricing out flights to Dublin, where I will traipse the countryside, that I can't afford even if I had money because travel! It's an itch...)

I started reading this Hairpin article on being in Paris alone and almost (almost!) started crying because it's so beautiful and relatable. I was pondering the other day what makes me happy, when I've been the happiest, and how to get back to some understanding of happy and the first thing that comes to mind is "when I was traipsing all over Europe by myself". A lot of that time seems to be spent sitting in the Jardin du Luxembourg or the Tuileries writing what seem like deep, but probably wasn't, thoughts in journals. I'd mimic this in the gardens of Schloss Schonbrunn or on Castle Hill in Pest or that park up on the hill in Prague. I realize this sounds so incredibly pretentious and elitist of me but...if you are lucky enough to have the kind of problems that being middle class affords, or the law school student loans you will get to pay off for the rest of your natural born life, and probably beyond that, actually, go explore. While you can. Ya know, gather ye rosebuds and all that...

Then I read Katie Baker's dispatch on being alone in Russia for the IIHF and nodded in silent understanding.

I remember cursing myself for eating at far more McDonald's in Nice, and then Prague, and then Budapest because it takes time to adjust to eating alone and being responsible for feeding yourself and not waiting until you are starving to make that decision. And there's something oddly, ridiculously comforting about being in France or Hungary and knowing that a quarter pounder, by whatever name, is a quarter pounder. By the time I got to Vienna, I'd gotten over my navigating restaurants where I don't speak the language fear and even felt a bit like an expert on traveling solo and avoided any further trips into foreign golden arches. Tip: there is an Irish pub in every city around the world you go to (well, at least in Europe) and that Irish pub will have Bulmer's on tap and friendly ex-pats sitting at the bar willing to offer you advice on where you're going next or where to eat and what to see in the country you are in. Oh, and don't ever just decide to pick a hostel when you get somewhere because it will be awful and horrible and not even the super hot Swedish dudes sharing your room will make it any better. And be aware if you're getting heat stroke or you'll end up really sick on the promenade in Nice trying to figure out how not to vomit in public. And fail. Friendly advice!

3. Land's End. I believe I've told you this before but I'm saying it again: San Francisco has a magical hidden trail called Land's End. Go walk there now! It's about three miles roundtrip and it hugs the coast from the aptly named Land's End lookout, near the Cliff House, to just below the Palace of Legion of Honor. It's really pretty and feels like you're communing with nature because it's a dirt path, mostly, and red hawks make lazy circles in the skies and perch on trees where you can see them and there are gophers and other critters and you can walk a good five minutes on an off-season day before seeing another person. The seemingly endless stairs in the middle also make for good endurance practice. Some day I will be able to run up them without dying. Some day! And by run I mean walk.

Because we have our bright, clear winter days and not our socked in foggy summer days right now, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and surrounding areas, all the way to the tip of the Marin headlands, is spectacular from Land's End.

I go with the little dog, who after a year and a half of caring for her and letting her sleep in my bed is still the most disloyal animal ever and enjoys the attention of strangers more than anything. Land's End is great for the being pet by strangers part for her but still not crowded enough for me to be annoyed by the presence of other humans. Leashes are required up there but on not crowded days, plenty of people have their well mannered dogs off-leash. My dog is never off-leash because  she would literally go home with anyone. Which...kind of relatable, no? (Jokes! I got 'em!)

I hope you're adjusting to the new year. Any plans for things you want to do? Want to share 'em? I could use more ideas. Besides the overhaul to, like, everything I need to do with my own life. Sigh.

No comments:

Post a Comment