Almost a year ago, to date, my brilliant - as in as brilliant and perfect and beautiful and smart as my Doberman is if not more and so we as a family have come to use the term Navalicious to describe that thing that is oh so good - daughter played the role of Amy in an extraordinary play at this most wonderful of theaters, The Echo.
This play, Dry Land, won the Ovation Award for best play at an intimate theater. And has also been selected to be performed again at the Kirk Douglas Theater as part of a three play production - called Block Party - that celebrates the best of intimate theater in LA and brings these chosen plays to a bigger venue.
Dry Land opens on May 12th, and you really must see it. I have so much to say about what unfolds on the stage and that I know will settle into your heart and mind and linger long after the action on the stage has ended.
But I won't.
What I will do is include, along with all the other links I've included already in this writing, the writing that I did about this incredible play a year ago when I first went to see it. It is below....and here, again, is a link to get tickets to see Dry Land this May. Don't miss is!
The Lull After The Storm
My daughter is in an incredible play. A deeply moving exploration of the relationship between two high school swim team girls who, at first not friends despite the dark and challenging places they navigate together, by the end are connected by their experience and a newfound love for each other. They are soul sisters, bonded by blood. Even though one of them does not quite yet know that this is true.
My daughter plays the other one. The girl who grows deep in her own, true self while she grows to trust and soon love her friend. We see this at the end of the story. She is engaged in a dance of friendship that is the foundation for self growth and confidence. And of love. And of loss.
For this is a play about loss.
If you live in Southern California and you can make the time, you must make the time to see this show. An Echo Theater Company production, you can find the play at the Atwater Village Theater. See it. Seriously.
And not just because my daughter is in it and is, (yes I am her mom and so yes, somewhat biased) quite amazing. Deep in her choices. Honest in her presentation. Hard on herself and her character - she makes her character real.
So yes, come see the show because I am a proud mama and want my daughter's gift shared so others can appreciate such depth and talent. But more, because this play gives pause and makes me think. And I know will make you think, too.
I did not find myself reminiscing about my own high school years or friendships. Or challenges. Or lies and truths that unfolded when I was just a girl. That was not this kind of play for me. What it did was make me reflect on what was happening now. In my life in this time. And how the navigation of those things have a rhythm to them that this play captured.
And so the story, though of a different time with, certainly, a different set of circumstances than what is occurring in my life now, was set to a similar drumbeat. And that is what resonates so well within me.
For in this play, as in life, there are those moments of intensity that we almost feel we cannot stand. And they are always followed by the calmness. The moments in between. The place where breath can be caught.
And so it was with this story. And I found, when watching the scene that was the calm after the storm, that this was where the truth lives. And so it is with life.
We think that our story is in the happening. The moments where we feel the intensity. Where the colors are strongest, the sounds loud and clear, the smells settling deep in our noses so that we can taste them on our tongues. We think that this is our lives. But really these moments of stormy winds are there to carry us to the lulls in-between.
The moments where things become clear.
So back in February I wrote a post about my skiing experience in the friggin, freezing cold up at Mammoth Mountain with my lovely husband. It was freezing. I need to say this twice. And I wrote, in this writing, that we would be going back up to ski again in May. When it is warm. And specifically wrote that my husband said we would go in April but we were going in May. Well, he won this one. We went, this past weekend. April skiing. And it was lovely. And warm. And also the last full days of skiing up at Mammoth as the mountain pretty much closes down so it is a good thing this was the weekend we went.
So this skiing weekend that was warm and sunny where my skin got fried and the snow was soft and the air was sweet, this was a beautiful weekend. But this is not what this writing is about.
It is not about skiing. It is about not skiing.
Because on Sunday I did not. Ski. On Saturday I did. All day. Quite well actually. Until I fell. A big fall. A backward-roll-and-I-lost-a-ski fall. A screaming-out-as-I-tumbled fall. An I-needed-a-person-to-get-one-of-my-skis-and-my-pole fall and a my-husband-had-to-pick-me-up-because-I-couldn't-get-up-on-my-own fall. And then, after that fall I skied ok. A bit more carefully. Which actually makes the likelihood of falling that much more possible. And then I fell again.
Not nearly as tumble-y but still upsetting. Enough that my screaming out turned to crying, too.
So on Sunday, when we woke up to another beautiful and sunny though a bit more windy day, a part of me did not want to ski. My neck was sore from my gymnastic role and my spirit was weary and my body was tired, too. But up I went, to the lodge, to set about skiing again.
My husband, this amazing saint of a man, got my boots all ready and helped me get in them and tightened them up and, after getting all his gear ready to go too, carried my skies up to the slopes for me. I got the full service, make it as easy as possible, kind of care. And up the chairlift we went.
And the whole time I was thinking that I really didn't want to ski on this day. But I wanted to be a good partner and companion and more, I didn't want to be a quitter.
But then on that first run down, with the snow as soft and the air as sweet as the day before my skiing sucked. I was unsure and so unsteady. And unhappy, too. And so, when we were almost down that first run I said I think I don't want to ski today.
I felt bad. Worried that I was letting my husband down. Worried that I was letting myself down. Was I quitting or just stopping? Was I copping out or honoring what was right for me to do?
This is always a tough question for me.
It was especially tough when my kids were little and not only did I have to worry about my own quitting verses stopping questioning but I had to walk them through theirs. Was my son quitting football or just honoring that the game - though fun to watch on TV - was not the right one for him to play? Was my daughter's desire to come home early from that one week soccer clinic a running away from a challenge or a deep respect for what she knew was right for her?
There is this funky balance that goes on, made more difficult by all the expectation that society lays on top of our own not-good-enoughs, that makes it really hard to wade through all the muck to what is true. That makes seeing the choice of whether to stop or not really difficult to see. Because that initial I think I don't want to ski anymore comes saddled with emotional baggage. We have imaginary backpacks filled with all the shoulds and woulds and what will everyone else think along with all of our other quittings and stoppings and questionings that came before this exact moment when we're trying to figure out if we should continue down the hill or sit in the sun and wait out the day.
We know what's true. All of us. This voice that is wise and tapped in and honors the core of who we are, this voice speaks up right away. Sometimes we miss it in our rush to move forward or because of all the other chatter that is gong on inside of us. But this voice - this knowing - it is right there and always right.
My voice, she is so smart. She knew that I needed to stop skiing yesterday. But her friends - worry and disappointment and ego (who is bossy and opinionated and often quite loud) - they chimed in and so truth had a hard time following through.
But in the end she was heard. I heard her. And honored her wisdom and her grace. And finished out the run before turning in my skies and sitting in the sun as my husband worked the mountain.
As that was what his wise voice told him to do.
My sister is with me again. The sister that I was with last week when we wrote about my awesome dad. Our awesome dad...it's her dad, too. And so, since we are together again, and it's again another Monday morning and so a writing morning for me, she is writing again with me. We are writing this together. But again, as I said last week when we wrote the writing together, I am still typing it as an I even though the writing is actually a we. You get this, right?
So, my sister and I, we are sitting on the couch in my house. She and her husband came to visit. He is playing golf with a friend of mine and my sister and I are drinking this most amazing Chai Tea that is made at this most amazing place called Farmer and the Cook. In Ojai. Google it. Better yet, here is the link to it. I love this place. Yummy food. And great Chai. My sister, she dreams about this Chai. And so this was stop number one when she got to Ojai,
Actually, this is not true. Stop number one was a hike yesterday. Into Matilija Canyon. Me and her and my husband and her's. Husband. Her husband. We hiked with my perfect and smart and so brilliant and beautiful Doberman, into the woods and to a small waterfall. It was fun. And tiring. And buggy. But for some reason the bugs only bothered us. Not our husbands. We did not find this amusing. They did. Well, not really. They actually didn't pay much attention to the bugs.
This is a great trip. The four of us have not been together like this for a long time. We used to spend time together a lot. But then decided we didn't like each other. Just kidding. Really. We moved. As in my husband and I. From Massachusetts to California. Four years ago. And so the togetherness that occurred quite often was much harder to do. And when we were together, the rest of the family - as in my parents, my kids, her kids, our other sister and her family - we were all together together. And so this lovely dynamic that is just me and her and our husbands, this is rare. So it's really great that they are here with us for a few days.
(My sister can't see color. I know this doesn't have a lot to do with the rest of this writing but as I am sitting here, writing about the togetherness that is occurring between the four of us, my sister said that my walls in my living room is the color of guacamole. It isn't. It's the color of mustard. And just to make my point, my sister, when she has to pick any color, for anything - her walls, a sweater - she asks me my opinion. Because she can't see.
Ok, back to us all together.)
So we went on this hike yesterday. And then today she and I are drinking this aforementioned and very delicious Chai. And then we are going to go to the Humane Society and hold cats and kittens. Because this makes us so happy. And isn't this the point of being together. To be happy.
And we are. Happy and together.
The end. :-)
This picture pretty much captures the life of my dad. Father to three daughters, husband for sixty years, loving pet owner to mostly female dogs and cats*. Surrounded by girls and loving it. And so when we have girl talk - or even when we aren't but he sees that there is a conversation going on - he has to get in on the action of it. And we know this, so tease him about it. A lot. Girl talk, we say even if we are just talking about what we did last night. Girl talk, even if we are just watching a video someone shared on Facebook about kittens. Girl talk, when we are just getting something to eat.
It's a standing joke in our family and a good one. We laugh every time.
Before I continue, I just need to make note that I am not writing this alone. I was. But then I read this to my sister and she became intrusive. Just like my father sometimes does. (This is a joke…more about this later) And so even though I am using I and My, you may want to picture in your head We and Our because this writing is now a team effort – my sister and I writing together. This is not the first time we’ve written together. We wrote a book. Here is the link in case you want to buy it. Not that this writing is about that. It’s about our dad. But hey, we can’t miss an opportunity to self-promote now can we?? Ok, Dad… Here we go…
My dad is a great playmate. From when we were really young we remember playing outside with him and our "girl" dog Blue. She was a Doberman, too, just like my perfect and beautiful and brilliant and oh so smart Doberman Dog, Nava. We would play football in the street - all three sisters can throw a great spiral. And we would wrestle on the lawn. And laugh. A lot. We still kind of wrestle. If we’re walking anywhere there will likely be a swerving into each other, or a leaning on each other in mock fatigue and the laughter will begin again.
My dad always has us laughing. Literally every time we see each other, every conversation that we have together, there is a moment or more where we laugh. We have this same sense of humor when things are funny or even when they are not. Its a laughing through life thing that makes the journey bearable when it seems hard and a capturing of moments that are joyous and light and sitting in the humor of those, too.
My dad is a great debater. And loves it. The sport of that certain conversation where the sides are quickly drawn. And the beauty of his love of this sport is that he can switch sides quickly. It's not necessarily the issue at hand as it is the dialog that ensues. It's fun to engage with him. Sometimes. When he's really in it, it can be hard to keep up. He's that good. Even for me. (Don't tell him I said this)
In keeping with this debater theme, my dad is also somewhat of an instigator. Like he will root for any other team in existence if they are playing the Patriots. Which he insists on calling the Patri-ots. He does this just to create that competitive dynamic because he loves it so much. He gets a twinkle in his eye, you can see it happening, and he’s ready to rumble.
My dad talks with his hands. Because he thinks he’s Italian even though he’s a Jew from Brooklyn. My sister and I have inherited this from him. This talking with our hands. In fact we cannot speak without this. Oh, and my sister’s daughter is taking Italian next year in school. She told him that she was going to be learning the language of his motherland. In spirit. You get the picture.
My dad is a lover of great food and greater wine. And Scotch. But he’s not a foodie in that trendy sense of the word because he also likes shitty food like Mallomars and cheap cake with sugary frosting and American cheese sliced really thin that we used to call Daddy Cheese and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise and Manischewitz wine. He won’t admit but we bet it’s his favorite wine. Nothing else to say about this.
My dad buys things he doesn't need - which is our opinion, because he thinks he needs all of these things – which is his opinion. He bought Alexa. Because he needs her. You know, that Amazon thing that answers any question you could ever have about anything. Other things that he buys that he doesn’t need include anything from REI, new computers and new IPhones and a gazillion Swatch watches, which are actually really cool and will probably someday be collector’s items. This is why it’s so easy to defend ourselves when we buy things we don’t need. Because we grew up with such a strong roll model. So when our husbands ask us if we really need that thing that we bought, we blame it on genetics.
My dad is an empath. This is a good thing and a not so good thing, too. Good because all through my life my dad has known, just from the way I would walk in a room or how my voice sounds on the phone, that something is wrong. Not so good because he knows, just from the way I walk in a room or how my voice sounds on the phone, that something is wrong. And so if I am planning to share something with him, or even just call him to say hi, I have to be prepared to share it all or understand that I'm going to have to tell him it's private.
He's usually good about that.
Not really. Which brings me back to that invasive comment I made earlier. Because it’s not invasive. That was a joke. It’s because he cares so much. And wants to make it all better. My sisters and I, we have inherited this from him, too. Genetics again. We want to make it better for our kids – just ask them – just as he wants to make it all ok for us. Which brings me to…
My dad is a great caretaker. He doesn't think that he is because he's impatient. I get this from him. This impatientness. And so understand it. But he really is a great caretaker. Because he is loyal. And he is kind. And because he sees quickly where the need lies and respects that sometimes he can fill in the space and other times he knows that he needs to let the process unfold more slowly. Which is hard for him. In much the same way that not being part of the girl talk conversation is hard. He likes to be in it. But he knows that sometimes he can only watch from the side. He knows that this is what care taking is - knowing when to step in and knowing when to step back - not too far - until he's needed. Actually, he's not really good at this. He tries. He really does. We try, too. We suck at it also. Just ask our kids. Must be genetics.
My dad is a teller of funny and also completely inappropriate jokes. We actually compiled a book of them altogether. We named the book "Completely Inappropriate Jokes That A Father Shared With His Daughters" because over the years he has sent us way too many of them. I love this book. We tried to publish it in Amazon but they said the jokes violated copyright laws. I will never tire of his jokes. Ever. Even the bad ones.
My dad is very brave. Whether it is chasing a bear off his back porch to pulling quills out of his granddog's face or ticks out of his other granddog's ass (that is very brave) to saving his sister from a bat to taking risks and standing firm and fighting for what he knows is true to advocating for my mom and for me and my sisters, and everyone else that he loves and believes in.
My dad understands day light savings time. How many people can truly say this.
My dad is a world traveler and a world class business man. My dad is a great driver. I get this from him even though nobody else in my family would agree with me. My dad is an intellect. Not just smart but more because he takes in the information and then forms his own opinion. He is a leader. He is a great dancer. And a great tennis player. And a great father-in-law. And an amazing Grampa. And an amazing friend. And awesome brother. My dad loves cats. And dogs. And my mom. And my sisters and me. And his grandchildren.
I can keep going but writing cannot really capture him. My dad is an exceptional man.
*(My dad's current dog is a boy. His name is Lucca Brasi and he and my dad have this long and deep connection that comes from that man/dog place. It is a beautiful thing. Lucca is a special dog. He is lucky to get to spend his dog life with my amazing dad)
This is Ophelia. I believe I have talked about her before. In the body of a different writing that was about more than just her. But I remember I did mention her because I told the story about her name. Which I am going to tell again. Right now.
I named her Ophelia, after Hamlet's girlfriend, English Literature major that I was. I thought - still think actually - that this was very clever and pretty funny and the name made me smile back then when she first got it and makes me smile still.
However, she became a member of our home and was so named around the same time that Natalie Merchant came out with her famous album Ophelia, and so most everyone, when told my sweet cat's name, assumed that she was named after the album. Not the girlfriend and so the humor and cleverness and basic genius of her being named was lost on most everyone. It bummed me out. But it is a good story. I am happy that I got to tell it here twice.
She will be seventeen years old on July 4th of this year. It's pretty cool that she was born on the 4th of July. Almost as cool as her being named after Hamlet's girlfriend.
We wanted to have her have kittens. That was the plan. When we got her from the pet store down the street from where we lived at the time. Newton, Massachusetts. West Newton Hill, to be exact. And we - as in me and my kids - would head down the hill, a lot, and hang out at this awesome pet store. Debbie's Petland. It's not there anymore. But when it was, it was great.
We were there at least once a week. We bought and sold gerbils there. And got a really cool snake. And hung out with puppies that would run around the store so that the customers could play with them. We got fish there. And an aquatic frog. And bunnies. And we got Ophelia.
The woman who sold the kitten's to the store was a breeder from Sherborn who also had a farm school for home schoolers. We were homeschooling at the time and so my two older kids would go to this school at this woman's home and hang out with animals. A goat that thought it was a dog and an alpaca and chickens and a rescued squirrel and horses and cats and I'm sure there were other animals there, too, but I don't remember them all.
So, back to Ophelia, we got her from the pet store and that is how we found out about the farm school. And got to know the breeder/farm school person and this is how we got to talking about Ophelia having kittens. We thought this would be so cool.
We were breeding other animals at the times. Our gerbils were having lots - and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots - of babies that we would sell back to the pet store in exchange for more gerbil food. And our bunny, her name was Clover - though we first named her Whore Bunny because we bought her for our bunny named Calm because he hit puberty and needed a girlfriend - had a litter of bunnies. So we thought having kittens would be kinda cool, too. But alas, it turned out that Ophelia had a tipped uterus and there were no kittens to be had.
We took this in stride. It was actually to be expected. It seemed that most of our pets had something a bit off about them.
Our first dog, a massive Standard Poodle named Ruckus - so named because we got him when my son was just one years old and just learning to talk and we knew he could say Ruck because he could say truck, though often he would say fuck. I thought this was very cute. Anyway, Ruckus had a problem with his tongue.
At first we thought it was diabetes because he was drinking water, constantly. And we were told that this could be an early symptom of puppy diabetes. So we brought him to the vet. The vet called with good news - he was not diabetic, he was inefficient. His tongue was not attached correctly in his mouth and so he could not lap. He bit the water instead and so was not getting as much. Hence the constant drinking. And also the mess around his bowl.
The vet suggested we let him drink from the toilet. Which I thought was a great idea because then I would never have to remember to fill the water bowl. And so he did. As did all our dogs that came after him. And our cats, too.
Including Ophelia. Except now. Now she is old and jumping up the toilet seat could prove dangerous so she drinks from a bowl on the floor.
Our cat, Phoenix, however, still balances the bowl like a pro.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.