Rent at the Saban Theater (Go See It!)

24 Jul

I love a good musical – Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, Wicked, Spamalot. Hey, (dirty little secret) I even liked Starlight Express. (But I saw it in London where everything is awesome.)

But my all-time favorite musical is Rent. So when I saw that it was playing at the Saban Theater and Marley asked if we could go I had to say yes.

Rent at Saban Theater

 

I have to admit I was a little worried. Rent is a tough production and I’ve seen more than one play mangled by a regional cast. It turns out I didn’t need to worry at all – the cast was excellent. Everyone had a great voice and the acting was superb. Marley found Roger quite dreamy. (She’s not wrong.) Carmen Jackson from the ensemble who sings the solo in Seasons of Love was especially amazing. That girl needs to get herself on The Voice. The audience was cheering throughout the play and the cast received an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end.

Rent is playing at The Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, a beautiful Art Deco theater on Wilshire Boulevard that opened in 1930 as the Fox Theater. These days the Saban usually houses concerts, but it’s the perfect place to see a play. The theater is gorgeous, there is a large lobby area with a bar and the seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom. Seeing a play in a majestic old theater really adds to the performance and the production company (Plan-B Entertainment) did a great job with the set design.

 

rent-the-musical

Yeah, my cellphone photo not so great. Trust me the theater is beautiful and the stage looked great.

The only problem with the show is there are only a few performances left: Friday, July 24 at 8:00PM, Saturday, July 25 at 2:00PM, Saturday, July 25 at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, July 26 at 2:00PM. So if you are in Los Angeles and love Rent or have always wanted to see Rent or are just looking for something awesome to do this weekend I highly suggest you go see it. There are still tickets available. You can buy them here.

I’m going to go searching for my Rent CD now. I can’t get Glory out of my head. I know I’ll be singing it all day long.

 

*I was given a pair of complimentary tickets to facilitate this review. But trust me when I tell you this cast and production is fantastic. Get your tickets now! Seriously what are you waiting for?

 

 

Kindness Counts

2 Jul

Last night at dinner we were discussing the trip Dave and I will be taking to Washington D.C. this fall to visit Chandler in college during parent’s weekend.

“Remember that woman who helped us in the subway station,” Chandler said. “She didn’t have to do that. That was so nice.”

It’s not the first time our family has talked about how helpful this stranger was to us. A random act of kindness, I suppose you could call it.

Random-Act-of-Kindess

Change the world!

 

Three years ago we traveled to Washington D.C. for a family vacation. We had an early morning flight that was delayed causing us to miss our connection. We eventually got to D.C. after a four hour layover and fourteen hour travel day. We landed sometime after 10PM and took the metro to our hotel. At the transfer station we encountered a huge mass of people. A Phillys/Nationals baseball game had just ended and the subway station was packed full.

Dave has lived in several big cities and I’ve traveled quite a bit, so we certainly know how to handle a crowded subway. But our kids? They’re Southern California suburbanites who’d only ever taken the LA subway (which can best be described as subway-lite) for fun day trips. As we stood at the edge of the line with our wheely bags, overtired, overwhelmed and completely out of our element, a woman approached us.

“Hi,” she said. “I can see that you guys are traveling. I’ve got an app on my phone and the next train is a short train. You’ll never make it on if you stand here. I know there are a lot of people, but try to move more towards the middle if you can. You’ll have to wait another twenty minutes if you miss this train.”

“Thank you,” we said as she and her friends moved up the line.

We mushed our way through the throngs of people and made our way toward the middle. She was right. The train wasn’t very long, but thanks to her we made it on.

It was such a simple thing she did, taking a few seconds to help a family she didn’t know and would never see again. She could have looked at us and thought, “Suckers.” Or just look through us and thought nothing at all. It wasn’t a grand gesture, but it certainly did save the day. It’s something we still talk about sometimes three years later.

In our day-to-day lives we’re met with rudeness or indifference all the time. The person who cuts you off or who doesn’t say thank you when you hold the door open for them. But those are not the people I remember.

I will always remember the man who helped me at the Chicago airport when I was traveling with toddler Chandler in a stroller and was faced with an escalator instead of an elevator. I remember the woman in Paris 29 years ago, who stopped to help us when she saw Rita and I standing on a street corner looking at a map (and probably looking very confused). I remember the two men in Ireland, on that same European trip, who helped us push (or rather pick up) our car out of the mud when we were stuck on a country road and then refused the ride we offered them once they got us out. (Okay, that’s hard to forget!)

What we do in our day-to-day lives matters. What we focus on matters. I choose to focus on the good, the beautiful, the inspiring and remember the kindnesses that are bestowed upon me, both big and small.

I’d love for you to tell me about an unexpected kindness that has been bestowed upon you.

 

Photo credit: Heath Brandon via Creative Commons

 

 

I’m 50

29 Jun

On Flag Day, I turned 50. (Did you hear?)

The first thing I thought when I woke up the morning of my birthday was, “I’m 50.” I wish, like Tim McGraw, I could say that it felt good on my lips, but it did not. Not that it felt bad, just weird. Like it did not belong to me.

I’m 50.

I had a lobster dinner the night before my birthday to celebrate my best friend, Dale’s 50th birthday. She’s two days older than me. We’ve been friends for 44 years, and she rubbed it in my face when we were kids –I’m two days older, I’m two days older! Funny, she doesn’t do that any more. (Pssst. Hey Dale, You’re two days older, you’re two days older!)

lobster-dinner

I ate every last bite!

 

It was so lovely being with Dale and her mom and three other friends of hers. She told us we the most important and influential in her life. Dale is one of the best people I know and I was honored and touched to counted among this group.

The day of my birthday I slept late. I probably should have gotten up early to run -that lobster made me gain three pounds (I’m not even exaggerating) but I didn’t feel like it. So I didn’t.

Dave brought me coffee and breakfast in bed. Then I went bikini shopping. (Because that’s what you want to do on your 50th birthday.) Fortunately it was for Marley and not for me. Or maybe it is unfortunately. I’m not sure what’s more unsettling – seeing my 50 year-old body in a bikini or her 15 year-old body in a bikini. We’ll call it a draw.

We went to my mom’s for dinner. The weather was beautiful and we ate outside. Barbecued tri tip, roasted asparagus, sauteed mushrooms and onions, salad, potatoes and garlic bread. I never eat garlic bread anymore. It was delicious.

barbecue-birthday-dinner

A birthday dinner fit for a 50 year-old.

 

My mom gave me my grandmother’s candy dish. Inside was my grandmother’s heart diamond necklace. These are two items I have always hoped I’d get someday, but someday far, far away. So to say I was surprised would be an understatement. I was moved beyond words.

The day after my birthday I got some good news. Excellent really. I’m not ready to share it, but I will say that it just might be the best birthday present ever. (Well, next to the candy dish.)

A few nights after my birthday I went out for happy hour with my girlfriends from the gym. They pitched in and treated me to a gift card to Lululemon as I am one of three people at our gym who doesn’t own any Lulu. Or rather didn’t own any Lulu. It was a very generous gift and I am extremely grateful, but also a little resentful, because how can I go back to wearing my Old Navy leggings now?

lululemon

The place where expensive habits are born.

 

The weekend after my birthday my friends threw me a surprise party at Ladyface Alehouse. My sneaky husband was a big help. Were you surprised? Were you surprised? everyone wanted to know. The answer is YES! What surprised me the most was how many different groups of people there were there – my family, friends from different walks of life. I felt so honored. So blessed. So loved.

Oh, and I had a lot of fun!

birthday-celebration-beer

Yes, I am wearing the same Winnie & Kat shirt I was wearing at Dale’s birthday celebration. It’s my new favorite shirt. So?

 

Because, as you can probably tell, I really like to celebrate, two weeks after my birthday me and a few girlfriends snuck away for a girls’ weekend at my friend Lisa’s beach house. Lisa is so lovely and generous and truly the hostess with the mostest. It was a mellow weekend that consisted of long walks on the beach searching for sea glass, wonderful dinners cooked by the awesome Chef Lisa, quite a bit of vodka and wine (not mixed together), a harbor boat cruise, a couple of trips to the dive bar, my first attempt at karaoke (um, I’m really bad at it) and big breakfasts at Mrs. Olson’s that looked like this:

Mrs. Olson's Breakfast Oxnard

Breakfast heaven! (Why yes that is a Bloody Mary you see!)

 

So I was starting to think that 50 might actually be kind of fabulous.

50-and-Fabulous

I’m 50 and I’m Fabulous!

 

Then I got this in the mail:

AARP-membership-card

WTF?! Wait… Free travel bag! Hmmm…..

 

Grumble.

Sigh… I might as well embrace it. As they say, it sure does beat the alternative.

I’m 50. It’s starting to feel good on my lips. And I’m going to make damned sure it’s fabulous.

 

Milestones

12 Jun

Chandler graduated high school yesterday. In two days I’ll be 50. I feel like I should write something poignant and profound and beautiful and maybe just a little self-deprecating and funny.

All week I’ve been waiting for the words to flow out of me – an emotional floodgate burst open.

But…

Nothing.

It’s not that I don’t feel anything. Of course I do. I just can’t seem to grasp hold of the words. (That’s kind of a bad thing for a writer.)

In hopes of finding inspiration I meditate before sitting down to write and try to block out the sounds of the morning. The sprinklers go off – one of our two allotted days to water our lawn in this drought. The birds sing their morning song. The dishwasher chugs and swirls as we forgot to run it last night (again). The hum of the refrigerator, another damn cricket somewhere in this house, and the tick tick tick of the kitchen clock all compete for my attention.

Perhaps the words won’t come because these milestones are hard things to face.

Chandler put on his robe and mortarboard last night and marched with 550 of his classmates. My eyes filled with tears when I first caught sight of them. I’m proud of him and happy for him and so excited for the new adventures he’s about to face, but of course I wonder if I’ve done enough. Have I given him the skills he needs to be successful in this next phase of his life?

He won’t let me talk to him about girls, so I fear he won’t know how to treat them. He will literally walk out of the room if I bring up the subject. (Sorry future first girlfriend, you might be screwed.)

My kitchen is not really designed for more than one person to work at once (and maybe I’m just a bit of a control freak), so I never taught him to cook anything but grilled cheese, nachos and poached eggs. Not that he’ll be cooking in his dorm. But still. One day he’ll need to know.

At least he does know how to do his own laundry.

And speaking of milestones that are hard to face…

50!

When you turn 40 you can convince yourself that you probably have more days ahead of you than behind you, but that’s most likely not the case with 50. So the trick is how do I make the most of the days, weeks, months, years I have ahead of me? I still have a lot of time left, sure, but not enough to waste it.

I guess I need to tell myself the same things I need to tell Chandler.

Eat healthfully (most of the time).

Work hard and budget your money, but every once in a while it’s okay to splurge. (And most of the time it’s better to splurge on experiences than things.)

You will meet people who find happiness and contentment uninteresting and boring. They are wrong.

Being cool is overrated.

Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be someone stronger, faster, smarter, more successful than you. Strive to be the very best YOU you can be.

Travel whenever you can.

Sing.

Dance.

Laugh.

Do not confuse the minutiae of daily life with dullness. Seek out the beauty of the everyday – the smell of ripe peaches in the fruit bowl, the vibrant colors of a summer sunset, a smile from a stranger, the wonder of all those stars in the night sky.

Savor every single bite of that bacon cheeseburger.

Make wishes on stars.

If you love someone tell them.

Follow your dreams. (Even if you’re 50 and your dream is to write and the words just won’t come.)

Don’t ignore the sound of the ticking clock. It ticks faster than you think.

Music That Made Me

19 May

Last week (or I guess the week before, I’m always behind) Rolling Stone Magazine had a cover story called “The Music That Made Me” in which musicians wrote about the songs had the biggest influence on their lives. A super cool blogger I follow named Nancy Davis Kho who writes about music and life in her blog Midlife Mixtape wrote her own list and asked other bloggers to link up and do the same.

I love music and feel happiest when I’m listening to it and when I think of the music of my life, the songs that made me, these are the ones that come to mind.

1. Crocodile Rock by Elton John

I grew up listening to Elton John and Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player was on heavy rotation at our house. (I was fascinated by the name of that album.) Oh how I loved to place the needle on the groove for “Crocodile Rock” and do the twist in my living room while singing, “I remember when rock was young. Me and Suzie had so much fun…” My mother’s name is Susan and my dad called her Suzie – and hearing your mom’s name in a song when you’re seven years old? What’s cooler than that?

2. Lyin’ Eyes by The Eagles

This is really something I probably shouldn’t admit, but as we discuss often in my writing group, if you want your writing to be good it has to be honest. Raw. And I don’t know what’s more honest or raw (or totally embarrassing) than me admitting that when I was in 7th grade I would listen to this song over and over again, acting out the lyrics and imaging myself performing it on The New Mickey Mouse Club with Todd Turquand who was a new mouseketeer and the object of my tween crush. What? You didn’t act out songs about adultery in your living room with obscure celebrities when you were eleven years old? That’s weird.

3. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac

I’m totally cheating here by choosing an album and not a song, but it’s my list and I’ll cheat if I want to. Fleetwood Mac was the first band I ever saw in concert. (I was eleven years old.) My sister is named Rhiannon. I chose “Landslide” as the song for the father-daughter dance at my wedding. The fact that neither of those songs was on this album is irrelevant, it just goes to show you how important Fleetwood Mac is to the background music of my life. This is a desert island album for sure and I won’t Sophie’s Choice one song. I refuse.

4. Vacation by The Go Go’s

I worshiped the Go Go’s when I was in high school. Belinda, Jane, Charlotte, Gina and Kathy were the coolest of the cool girls. “Vacation” came out the summer before my senior year. I like songs that tell a story. And what better story for a girl entering young adulthood than a summer romance and a broken heart?

5. Burn for You by INXS

Anyone who knows even the bare minimum about me knows that INXS is my all-time favorite band of ever. They changed my life. Literally and for the better. Michael Hutchence was the ultimate rock god and has spent more time in my fantasy life than all others combined. (Sorry Bradley.) Most casual INXS fans would probably pick “Don’t Change” or “Need You Tonight” or “Disappear,” but I’m sticking with “Burn for You” simply because it makes me feel good.

6. Slave to Love by Bryan Ferry

My friend Simmah and I backpacked through Europe during the summer of 1986. We stayed on a boatel (no that’s not a typo, that’s a hotel on a docked boat) in Amsterdam for five nights. Every morning at breakfast they played the same mix tape, but the only song I remember was “Slave to Love.” Every time I hear this melodic masterpiece I am immediately brought back to that boat and to the best summer of my life.

7. One Tree Hill by U2

I suppose I could say any song on The Joshua Tree, which might possibly be my most favorite album of all time, but I have always been particularly drawn to “One Tree Hill.” When I heard it was written about their friend Greg Carroll who was killed in a motorcycle accident in July 1986 I was haunted. When Simmah and I left for that trip to Europe, a girl that we worked with from New Zealand named Kim gave us the address and phone number of her friend Greg Carroll, a fellow New Zealander who was living in London and working as a roadie for U2. I still have his information in my scrapbook. We were in London in June and I think we tried to call, I really can’t remember, but we didn’t end up getting in touch with him. Still, the song makes me feel oddly connected to him even though we never met. Sort of in the way I felt connected to the people on Pan Am 103 that crashed in Lockerbie less than I week after I returned home from a semester in London. There were students on the plane on a similar semester abroad. One night a boy from that program flirted with me at a bar. I’ve always wondered if he was on that plane. I think my friend Harvey who went to London with me was supposed to be on that plane. Or how all of us feel connected to the people who died on 9/11. Not just because it was an attack on our country, but because we all know someone who lost someone or knows someone who was there. A brother. A cousin. A friend of a friend. “One Tree Hill” makes me feel connected to someone I almost knew but didn’t in that way. In a way that makes you feel that we’re all just hanging on by a thread that can be snipped so easily. That feeling is what makes me try to live my best life by recognizing the simple joy of ordinary moments in ordinary days. Savoring the smell of jasmine as I pass it on a run. Dancing in the kitchen to my current favorite song when I make dinner. Basking in the calmness of night turning into day as I sit at my laptop and type.

8. Thank You by Dido

Dido’s love song about how the crappiest day can be the very best day when spent with someone you love always brings me back to my very best day (which was not crappy at all). I do not seek this song out or listen to if often, but when I hear it on the radio it always makes me smile.

 

9. Have I Told You Lately by Van Morrison

I really didn’t start listening to Van Morrison much until I met my husband. Introducing me to Van the Man might just be the reason I agreed to marry him. Well, that and he makes me laugh every day. Still. This was the first song we danced to together at our wedding. Enough said.

10. I Don’t Want This Night To End by Luke Bryan

I know, I know. One of these things is not like the other. Two years ago my friend Trixie (you’ve all figured out I don’t use my friends’ real names right?) invited Simmah and I to join her at the Stagecoach Music Festival to celebrate Simmah’s birthday. I wasn’t a country music fan (at all) but Trixie was working for the company that put on the festival and it was a free trip to Palm Desert. (If it’s free, it’s for me!) I started listening to country music before the trip so I would be somewhat familiar and found myself singing along to this song the first time I heard it. I knew is was kind of hokey, and possibly even bad, but it was catchy. A guilty pleasure. And I loved it. (By the way, this is not the first bad song that I have loved.) It was my gateway to country music. I’ve been to Stagecoach three times now and hit the Go Country 105 button every day. I guess you could say I have this song to thank for that.

Now that you know how truly weird I am, I’d love to know what songs made you. Let me know in the comment section. And check out the songs that made other bloggers in the links below.

The Songs That Made:

Midlife Mixtape

Up Popped a Fox

When Did I Get Like This?

I Miss You When I Blink

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Butterfly Confessions

Good Day, Regular People

Smacksy

Arnebya

The Flying Chalupa

Elizabeth McGuire

Elleroy Was Here

Fine Tuning

Auditory Memory

Alone With My Thoughts

The Prodigal Son’s Mother

This is Me: Expressing Motherhood

11 May

April was a crazy month. I think I’m still trying to recover from it. (Note last blog post was from April 13th.)

We went camping for spring break, Chandler had to decide which college to go to (so glad that’s over with), Marley had daily after-school lacrosse practices and two to three games a week, Chandler had every other-day after school runs and one to two track meets a week, I went to the Stagecoach Music Festival. I took seven days off work and left early at least four or five times. (I assured my bosses several times, that yes, I did still work there!) It took the skill and ingenuity of a $100K/year executive assistant to pull of the coordination needed to get everyone where they needed to be when they needed to be there. (Yet, I did it for free.)

Oh and I was in a little show called Expressing Motherhood.

What’s that you ask? It’s a show that has been showcasing people sharing their stories about motherhood onstage since 2008. And last month I got to share mine on a stage in a Downtown Los Angeles theater. I felt honored that over two dozen people came to see me. The other people in the show were amazing. I can’t believe I was chosen to stand among them and share my story.

expressing-motherhood-dtla

Hanging backstage before my big stage debut.

And even though it will possibly mortify my children (like I’ve never done that before here), you can watch it below if you like. But only if you promise to focus on how great my hair looked and my awesome comedic timing rather than how the harsh stage lighting makes me look 1,000 years old and the dress I’m wearing makes me appear a little fat. (I swear when I looked in the mirror I looked awesome.)

But anyway, here I am, expressing motherhood.

 

Video shot by Stephen Burr • SeeHearStudios.com

So I Kind of Co-Wrote This Book…

13 Apr

Most people who know me (even a little bit) know that I wrote a book.

Like forever ago.

And I’ve been editing it, and editing it, (and effing editing it) and querying it and querying it (and effing querying it) off and on for years.

It’s chick lit (with a heavy emphasis on chick and not so much lit). It’s not groundbreaking or earth shattering or maybe even that original (girl’s life crumbles when she loses fiancé and loses job and has to pick up the pieces and start all over again), but it’s funny. It would make a hilarious romantic comedy. (In my humble opinion.)

But I digress…

This post is not about that book. It’s about this book:

The Making of a Picky Eater

 

One that I co-wrote and you can actually click this link and buy!

I know what you’re thinking… How in the heck did that happen?

Well, I’ll tell you how.

I met this really cool woman named Beth Robeson at the 2013 Middle Sister Wine Gathering. (Which I was lucky enough to attend because I won a contest on Pinterest.) Beth contacted me after the gathering and asked if I’d be interested in adding a bit of humor to a book she’d written about picky eaters being made and not born.

I told her she sure didn’t need me because that was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. My kids are picky eaters. They were totally born that way. (Or were they?) I mean, I certainly didn’t have anything to do with them being picky. (Or did I?)

She convinced me to take a look at the book and see if maybe I’d change my mind.

I have to tell you that the book was quite eye-opening. Turns out that perhaps I did have a thing or two quite a lot to do with my kids’ semi-picky palates. And by using some of the methods discussed in the book I’ve actually seen some changes in my kids’ eating habits. Admittedly they are small changes, but my kids are teenagers. If I had read this book when my kids were little I have no doubt that they’d be eating a much wider range of foods and I would have spent a lot less time in the kitchen being a short order cook.

So I did my best to add a little humor to the book. And I think I succeeded. (I hope I did anyway.)

If you’ve got picky kids you might want to pick it up. Even if you’ve tried everything. It might help you see “pickyness” in a whole new light. (And maybe even hang up that short order cook apron forever.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,998 other followers