lillibet: (Default)
While I was in Northern Ireland last summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

A few months after I moved to Berkeley I threw myself a birthday party. One of my friends brought along another guy from MIT, who hadn't realized it was my birthday and apologized for not bringing a present. I said he was plenty of present for me and he promptly put a bow around his neck. As the party wound down we ended up in my bed. Before anything much had happened, he paused to explain that he was in the midst of founding a start-up and didn't have time for a relationship and didn't want to engage with me under false pretenses. I appreciated his forthrightness and we went merrily on with the evening's activities.

So there we are, amorously involved and chatting playfully, when he suddenly looks down at me and asks "Do you know a guy named Dave Policar?" I laughed--this is not what I expect to hear from my lovers--and asked why. He said that we tell stories the same way, and I laughed some more and explained that we often even tell the same stories, and that we were former housemates and very good friends. Dave, by the way, was very amused when I told him this, and gave permission for his name to be used in this story.

On Sunday morning he thanked me for a lovely evening, I thanked him for a marvelous birthday present, and he asked for my number. I gave it to him, but didn't actually expect to hear from him, so I was surprised and pleased when he called me on Tuesday afternoon. He said that he was stuck in traffic after a very good meeting and had thought of me as someone he'd like to share that good news with. We chatted for twenty minutes or so and then he asked if I was free on Friday night. I said "What about the start-up?" and he explained that he didn't have meetings or need to be out of town that night and thought we might see a movie.

That sounded good to me, so we met up on Friday night, saw a movie and spent the night in my bed again. He once again explained that while he really enjoyed spending time with me, with the start-up at a crucial phase he really didn't have time for a relationship and hoped our date wouldn't raise expectations on my part. I said that was fine, I was glad to see him, all was well, and when we said goodbye the next morning I didn't really expect to hear from him again.

On Tuesday afternoon, he called me to say that he was thinking of me. We chatted a bit and he asked if I were free on Friday evening. We went out to dinner, spent the night together, had the same conversation and a lovely time and he left in the morning with no plans to see each other again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For six weeks running.

On the seventh Tuesday he called and said that he had just bought a JEEP, so rather than getting together on Friday night, he'd like to take it off-roading on Saturday and invited me to join him. I drove down to his place in Palo Alto--he was paying a couple of thousand a month to rent a garage with no bathroom behind a house on University Ave--and we went from there up into the mountains and then down along the coast. We walked hand in hand along the beach at sunset and he told me how much he wanted to someday be married and have children. It was horribly romantic.

As night drew on we went back to his place, ate some take-out and settled in to watch the version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth that his mom had just sent him. At midnight I asked if I should go. He said no and drew me closer to him on the couch. By 2am I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and suggested that we should go to bed. He explained that he was happy to make up the couch for me, but that he had decided that we shouldn't have sex anymore, because he was afraid I was getting too attached. That woke me right up and after a few tense words I got in my car and drove forty-five minutes back to my home and figured that was the end of that.

On Tuesday afternoon he called me and asked if I were free on Friday. I explained that I was going to a party with my housemate and when he enthusiastically offered to come along I explained that would not be appropriate, as I didn't know my hosts and was, in fact, hoping to meet new people. He said "But Friday is my only free night this week! What am I supposed to do alone? You know we always spend time together on Fridays!" I pointed out that he was sounding very much like a man in a relationship with expectations and that while I would be happy to entertain future offers to spend time together on a case by case basis, he should not expect me to keep my time free for him.

He didn't contact me again. For five years. And then I got an email from him saying that he understood that I was back in Boston and married, and so was he, and inviting the two of us to get together with him and his wife for a movie followed by dinner at their apartment in Cambridge. I accepted and we met them and had a very fun conversation with him and his wife on the way to the movie. We all enjoyed the movie and on the way back I was chatting with his wife while he and Jason talked tech, when she asked exactly when he and I had met.

"Well," I said, "We started dating on my 27th birthday and that was in..."

"Dating who?" she asked, sharply. I explained that I was referring to her husband and she said "Wait, you two dated?!"

"Yeah," I said. "We dated casually for about six weeks. It didn't stick," I added, a bit obviously.

We continued to their lovely apartment, had a very nice dinner while she continued to watch me carefully and the conversation got more and more stilted until we took our leave without lingering over coffee.

And I have never heard from him again.
lillibet: (Default)
While I was in Northern Ireland last summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

Like most families, I assume, we have running jokes and catch phrases within the family that persist over decades.

One day in the early 80s, I was sitting around the living room of my sisters' apartment on Prospect Hill, reading. Anne was reading TV Guide when she suddenly said "What?!" and thrust her magazine at Beckie to read. B. read the article, looked at Anne and said "There's no way to tell?!" and Anne said "Exactly!" and B. handed it to me.

It was an article about the record companies being annoyed with MTV, because the contracts under which they provided music videos to the channel stipulated that certain of their videos would be played at various frequencies--once an hour, once every three hours, once a day, etc. They suspected that MTV was not actually honoring their contracts, but since there was no way for them to tell, they were just having to take MTV's word for it.

This became one of our long-lasting catch-phrases. Wonder if Royal East is open on Monday's? There's no way to tell. Wonder what's playing at the Somerville Theatre this weekend? There's no way to tell. Wonder what George wants to do for dinner? There's no way to tell.

There's just no way to tell.

So weird

Aug. 4th, 2017 10:17 pm
lillibet: (Default)
While I was in Northern Ireland last summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

My dad was a United Church of Christ minister. For twenty-seven years (from before I was born until after I went to college) he served a church in a small town in Upstate New York--population right around 3000. While he had a good ministry there, I never really felt at home there. We had no family within hours of us, and we valued education and travel and culture much more than the local average. I was a precocious kid with the vocabulary of an early reader and a tendency to talk about things that few kids cared about.

One day I was playing in the shrubbery outside my dad's office. I didn't know that the window was open, but my dad was working at his desk and half listening to my conversation with Evelyn Ottaviano as we played.

"Elizabeth," said Evie at one point, "You are SO WEIRD!" My dad paused, wondering how I would respond and was very proud to hear me reply, with a sigh, "I know. But I'm perfectly normal for a Hunter."

Jeepers!

Aug. 4th, 2017 10:07 pm
lillibet: (Default)
While I was in Northern Ireland last summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

As anyone who drives Rte. 16 through the western suburbs knows, there is no safe lane. You are always either in the right-turn only lane, or the left-turn only lane, but unless you are very familiar with the road, you will not know which until you arrive at the intersection and see which arrow is painted in your current position, assuming that the street-painters have been out recently enough for them to be readable.

One night I was performing No Exit at Wellesley and my whole family and my best friend, steve, came out to see the show. I wanted to go back to Boston afterward, so we piled into my folks' car. Beckie was driving, with my father in the front seat and my mother, steve, and I crammed into the back.

At one intersection, Beckie suddenly realized that the lane she was in had become left-turn only. She was facing oncoming traffic with another vehicle to our right, so she gunned her way through the intersection and swerved into the right-hand lane ahead of the other car.

As she completed this maneuver, we all swore, loudly. Beckie said "Jesus!" and Dad said "Damn!" and I said "Shit!" and steve said "Fuck!" and Mom said "Jeepers!" And she really meant it, because she was distracted enough not to scold any of the rest of us for our language.
lillibet: (Default)
I had a unique theatrical experience tonight.

What role does fear play in your life? )

I think this is the purpose of theatre, distilled: to enter a dark room not knowing what to expect and to find yourself there on the stage.

The Fear Project runs until May 13th.

*That story...content notes: drug abuse, violence, suicide. )
lillibet: (Default)
While I was in Northern Ireland this summer, I started making a list of all the stories I tell that I'd like to write down. This is one of them.

Last year, Alice had a bit of a crisis. She told me that she didn't know what she wanted to be when she grew up. This was news to me--the last time I'd checked in, granted a few years ago, she'd wanted to be a ballerina/astronaut/chef. But now she didn't know.

When I was six years old there was a special on TV called "Really Rosie". Based on various stories by Maurice Sendak, set to music by Carole King, it was the story of a girl named Rosie keeping the kids on her block entertained on a boring summer day by convincing them all to be in her movie. I loved that show. I convinced my parents to buy me the album, which included a bunch of songs not in the show. I knew every word, I acted them out in front of the mirror, I was Rosie. The following year my elementary school did "Really Rosie" as our annual pageant and I was the only first-grader recruited for a speaking role, as the Narrator.

The first time this came up, I told her that nine is a great time to not know, that there are many more things to do in the world than she can really fathom at this point, and it's hard to choose when you're a smart kid who's interested in a lot of different things, and it's completely ok not to be sure. "OK, Mama, thanks," she said.

When I was eight years old I decided that what the world needed was a modern adaptation of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," so I wrote one. I reserved the hall at our church and recruited everyone in my third grade class to be in it and my mom to provide punch and cookies. We had a single performance, to a standing ovation of our parents. When it was over my mother asked what my next project would be and I said "Directing is too much work! I'm not going to do it again until I'm...nineteen!"

The second time this came up, a few weeks later, I tried to explain the timeline for making this decision: a sense of whether and what kind of college by junior year of high school, a major a couple of years later, whether or not to go to grad school in that field or something else a couple of years after that... "OK, Mama, thanks," she said.

When I was nineteen I somehow ended up directing "A Little Night Music" for the Tech Random Music Ensemble at MIT. That was the second of four fledgling theatre groups I was involved in, at four different schools, during my college years. When I graduated I had this idea about going out to Minneapolis and trying to become a stage manager, but never really figured out how I would do that. By the time I was 25 I was tired of theatre, tired of Boston, tired of a lot of things about my life, so I moved out to California and didn't do theatre for ten years.

The third time this came up, a few weeks later, I finally figured out that this was a real crisis, so it was a longer conversation and I asked more questions until I finally understood what was bothering her: not that she didn't know what she wants to be, but that she didn't know how to answer grown-ups when they ask her what she wants to be. OH! I explained that it's not a test--what they are really asking is what they might talk to her about. I suggested that she reframe the question in her own mind to "What are you really interested in at the moment?" Instantly she said "Interior design."

When it looked as though I might not be able to conceive, I felt a deep need to create something. Jason and I had talked for years about doing a show together and other opportunities emerged that led to the creation of Theatre@First. And then Alice was born. When she was four years old, we introduced her to "Really Rosie" and at dinner one evening she asked me if I knew who Really Rosie was. I told her yes, that when I was six years old I wanted to be Really Rosie. And as I said that I realized that's exactly who I am.

Six months later, Alice wants to be a fashion designer. We'll see.

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