Sunday, June 18, 2006

To everything there is a season

And this would be the season for haircuts, mild shoping, and trips to the beach house. Lets start with the haircut bit.

On Friday, I met for lunch with John Sauvey, who was here for an audition in the city. After he was done, he had jus enough time for lunch with me before running to the airport and going back home. Ah, well... at least we got to spend a little time. Anyway, it was nice, and we were both really grateful for the date. After parting ways, I went to the Lincoln Center campus to turn in some graded work and do a little busy work online. Then I decided I'd get some cigarette treats for people... beach house trip in a couple of days, you see, and I wanted to come bearing gifts.

When one wishes to buy fine tobacco products in New York, there's only one place to go: Nat Sherman. It's a posh cigarette shop just across the street from the New York Public Library, and the Nat Sherman products are the best all-natural whatevers anywere. I walked from 59th to 42nd, then turned the corner and found the place. When I got in there, I was overwhelmed by the poshness. Very swank. Lots of finery and shiny wood and all that kind of thing. Anyway, I bought some cigars, which are always nice at the beach, filled some orders for specific Nat Sherman cigarettes, and got a bag of pipe tobacco. WHen I left, I looked pretty damn cool with my super-neat Nat Sherman shopping bag. No, really. I actually had someone stop me and ask about it. Ooooooooh.

That being accomplished, I decided I would get a haircut. Someone once told me that you should have your hair cut before going to the beach so the harsh beachy conditions don't do too much damage. I don't know if it's true, but I haven't had a haircut since August, so it couldn't be a bad idea. I found a spot off of 40th street that seemed pretty nice and was run by a bunch of Russian women. In about fifteen minutes I had been convinced that not only did I need a haircut, but I also needed long layers and highlights. Who was I to argue? These are professionals. Besides, they kept yelling in a frightening combination of broken English and excitable Russian... and giving me wine. Three glasses later, I was theirs to toy with. And it was pretty good red wine, actually. Given that it was free, it couldn't have been much better. Anyway, here's the result:

I don't know if the photos show things very well, but I tried, so there you go. And the best news of all: I still liked it after the wine wore off.

Today will be a day spent preparing for the trip to Florida. John and Chuck are already on the road, and they'll arive at the end of their drive some time late tonight. Then they get a day's worth of private together time before I fly there on Tuesday morning. I would have gone sooner, but I have to do that silly teaching thing on Monday. Anyway, I'll be back on Saturday, so I'll be back in time for teaching again with no worries. That's the nice thing about having them once a week... I get the rest of the week to hop on a plane and do stuff.

So, in preparation for the trip, I have to do some light shopping. Target awaits me. I haven't bought a bathing suit since the weight loss, so that's definitely on the list. Mind you, I still have no business being seen in a bathing suit in public, but that's not going to stop me. Besides, who's out there that I have to impress right now? John could care less. Chuck's like a brother. And the whales might make an unprecedented visit to the gulf coast to visit a possible relative. So yeah, I think I'll be fine. I'll buy a cover-up, of course, but I think it'll be okay. There'll be pictures, sure, but don't expect too many to include me in my new swimsuit. I'm brave, but I'm no sadist. Okay, maybe a little bit of a sadist, but I have my limits, and so does the world of cyberspace.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mere observations

I have the time these days for things I don't typically do. Reading magazines, for instance. And, thanks to my recent perusal of Time Out New York, I've discovered that my husband is a male diva. Don't worry... I'll explain.

According to Time Out, a male diva, or "divo," is best described as an "impatient, demanding, entitled he-beast." These are men who take themselves extremely seriously, men who actually manage to make narcissism and competitiveness look good, even kinda hot. Not only did the magazine give examples of famous people through history who fit the bill (if you want the list, go find it), but it also provided a list of "divo rules" which all divos live by. I read through them, sighing and shaking my head at each one... there, too, goes my John. Here... you'll see what I mean:

1. The divo has an entourage. John not only has an entourage... he has acolytes. No matter where he goes, he accumulates followers. He also gathers folks who don't so much idolize him as want to be around him because he makes them laugh like hell and makes for really snazzy conversation. Those end up as followers, too, though... eventually.

2. The divo never sits down on the subway. This one has yet to be seen, since he hasn't moved here yet. Still, I wouldn't doubt that this ends up being the case. Why, after all, would he want to mess up all the new clothes?

3. The divo has perfect hair. Dear gods, don't get me started on his hair. Yes, it's long and in a pony tail, but I've said it for years... they use the back of his swishing-hair head for Pantene commercials. Most importantly, he loves his hair and its appearance more than just about anything in the whole wide everything.

4. The divo "trims the hedges". Yeah, um... just take my word for it on this one.

5. The divo stays in shape. Lately, it's become a bit of an obsession of his.

6. The divo is impeccably dressed. Yeah, this actually includes John these days. He's been a bit of a clotheshorse since his fitness kick has proven so fruitful. And who could blame him?

7. The divo doesn't merely eat, he dines. Okay... he sort of falls under this category by default. He's a finicky eater, so he sort of has to favor the nicer, better-cooked foods. Still, it counts.

8. The divo doesn't take one for the team. This one goes without saying. John will be the first to tell anyone that he won't put himself out for anyone unless he's the anyone. He'll help a friend, of course, and help him quite a lot, to the point of indispensibility, but I wouldn't go so far as to say he'll make significant sacrifices... thing is, he has logical reasoning for this. As far as he's concerned, the people closest to him are self-sufficient badasses like him, so they shouldn't really need him to go any kind of extra mile on their behalf. Besides, it's every man for himself, and he's as good an everyman as any.

9. The divo doesn't do shots. Again, by default. the man doesn't drink. At all. Go figure.

10. The divo enjoys cocktails. Sort of. John actually really enjoys being around cocktails, and around people enjoying cocktails on his behalf. That counts, I think.

11. The divo weekends and summers out of town. Typically, no, but only because of financial constraints and scheduling issues with work. Whenever possible, John fits this category just fine. This, of course, is in light of next week's John-centered trip to the Florida beach house. So there you go.

Apparently, this is the make-up of a divo: 30% self-importance, 10% insecurity, 10% envy, 10% brushed cotton, and 40% narcissism. Some might argue that this pertains to most all western men, but I disagree. A divo wears this all on his well-groomed shoulder, unabashedly and unyieldingly flashing its splendiferous grandeur to the lesser-than-him world of stylistically bland and socially flailing underlings. He's fully aware of his pompocity, but he also believes in it fully, and believes in himself just as much. Sounds scary, no?

Actually, it's rather fun to watch.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Drifting through June

I've been to Texas and back, and I've been in New York for almost a week now. I flew in on Monday, taught on Monday night, then did very little since then. Okay, I recorded some, and I've spent a little time with family... I saw a movie, read a book, whatever. I'm not entirely bored, though. I'm writing things, at least. Hopefully, a new song or two will come out of me in the next few. Oh, and we've officially nailed down our new apartment... it's a three bedroom in Brooklyn, and I'll be moving there in July. John joins me there in August, so that gives me time to go over there and spruce it up before he moves in with the vast majority of our stuff. I'll be painting, wallpapering, cleaning, and moving things around, so I doubt I'll be bored much.

Thing is, I'm bored now.

Not really, though.

Oh, I don't know. I'm just a little lost. I'm so used to doing twelve things at once, and doing one thing at once seems a little bizzare. I'm not sure I love it, but I'm willing to try. So now I'm faced with what to do with the rest of June. Mondays are already taken care of, since I'm teaching then. Tuesdays through Fridays are free, so I'll be doing some CD-related mixing work, a little work here and there on the conference I'm trying to put together, and some early packing before the move to the new place begins. Of course, there's a week in there when I'll be in Florida... Panama City Beach is calling. Let's see... that's not till the week of the 20th. So this week is about teaching, a recording session, and packing. Oh, and writing a little. Okay. That's more than one thing. I'm starting to feel better. Then I'm in Florida, and then I'm back for more of the same. And that's June. Man, that sounds lame. Oh well... it's something, yeah?

July... well, that's different. That's going to be more my speed. I'll be taking two classes, moving into my new place, finishing up my CD, and prepping everything for John's move. I'll also be in touch with people for the conference, performing every weekend or so, and writing regularly, which will feel really good to be doing again. Okay. It'll be fine. Everything'll be fine.

When it comes down to it, though, I'm petrified. John's moving up here, and I'm elated about that. Just really scared about it, too. Really scared. Um... really, really. No idea why. I'll have to think on that one. I miss him like mad, but I'd love it if he could just be here all of a sudden, without the whole moving-in part. I can handle stress. John-related stress, on the other hand... I can handle that, too, but it takes extra coffee. it's killing me that I'm not able to fix up the new place just yet... some silliness about the current inhabitants still being there. And, given that they're my relatives, I ought extend the courtesy of waiting till they move out before repainting and wallpapering. Then, there's the issue of my getting the apartment ready for both John and me... in large part (if not entirely) without John here to help. I'm sure he'll give plenty of opinions on what should be done, but he won't have much time here to help do any of it, so it all rests on me to accomplish. Yeah, okay, I'll do it. But it's impossible to avoid the pressure this whole situation implies, and I'm not particularly enjoying it... let's just say it's not my favorite kind of stress. John, a well-established New York skeptic, may either love or hate his first year in New York based on what I end up doing with the apartment. Great. No pressure, right? Ah, screw it. How badly could I possibly botch things? Besides, the place is huge... the worst that could happen is that he hates it, and we can give him his own little room somewhere in the apartment, a space in which he can execute his every slightest decorative bidding. At least, that's the fall-back plan I'm going with for now. See? Fool-proof. Emily-proof, even.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Planes, something, and automobiles

I'm going on record in saying that I absolutely love train travel. At lest, train travel under certain conditions. But when those conditions are met, there really isn't any other way I'd rather travel over long distances, crazy as that may seem. If it isn't obvious, I had a lovely time on my trip... I'll provide you the sort version of my travel log. (And yes, I kept a travel log... how do you go on a cross-sountry train trip and not keep a travel log?)

On Monday, I arrived at Penn Station with no hassle. I got there in plenty of time to print out my pre-paid tickets, then waited around with the other expectant passengers to see and hear the announcement of my departure gate. Once we got the information we were waiting for, a herd of us slowly made our way through a turnstile, down an escalator, out to a platform, and down the length of the outside of our train until we each reached our designated car, based on our travel destinations. I was headed for Chicago, so I'd be in the last car. I sat in coach, next to a really nice woman, a special ed teacher who was headed home to Indiana.The seats were very large, very comfortable, with footrests and leg room aplenty. There was also an electrical outlet right next to me, which made my movie-watching and general laptop endeavors a sweet reality. Dinner was spent in the dining car with a retired couple on their way home from seeing their grandkids... they lost their house in a tornado a year ago, but they're in a nicer house now and doing very well. Then, I went to sleep in my chair... not bad, considering it was a little tough getting perfectly comfortable. Still, I've certainly been through worse.

The next day, we arrived in Chicago. I skipped out on breakfast, not feeling too hungry. It was about 10:00 AM when we got to Union Station, and I made my way immediately to the first class lounge, which I was now allowed to use because I'd gotten a sleeper for the second train. Oh yes... things were going to be a little different from this point on. I got free coffee and soft drinks and snacks, complimentary lugage storage while I waited for my departure time, and lots of cushy seating and big screen TVs everywhere. Since I had a few hours to kill, I walked around in Chicago for a couple of hours, then read my book in a park across the street from the station before going back inside and sitting around with my free coffee and couches. We were then escorted to our train, which was a two-story superliner. I would be in a roomette for this leg of the journey, a small sleeper designed for two and with plenty of room for little me. It was awesome... the food was already included in the price of the ticket at this point, plus complimentary bottled water, juices, shower facilities, and a 24-hour attendant who saw to my every need, including turning down and making up my bed like some kind of ninja... I have no idea how she knew when I would be gone or how long I'd be, but she always did.

The meals on this train also included more great conversation with interesting people. A mother with two small kids told me she was excited about having gone back to school to get her BA, and was looking forward to continuing on to her masters. Another woman was visiting relatives she'd gotten separated from when she escaped from her home in New Orleans during Huricane Katrina. A lovely elderly genleman was on his way to his 29th national bowling tournament, and was looking forward to seeing San Antonion again for the first time in about twenty years. Pretty cool. Oh... and on top of all that, the food was great. Needless to say, I was never bored... between the conversation at mealtime, the reading, the laptop for movies or work or journaling, the newspaper the attendant brought to me in the morning... I definitely found ways to keep myself occupied, and it was never a challenge to do so. By the time I got to Dallas, I actually didn't want to get off the train.

The verdict, of course, is a glowing review of my overall experience. Frankly, I never want to fly anywhere again. Okay, sure, it took a while to get from point A to point B, but it was so enjoyable and relaxed that I could have stayed another day. There's a lot to be said for looking out the window and seeing the country as you travel through it, of meeting is people, even in passing... Yeah, this was good, and I highly recommend it, especially if you get a roomette. the train rocks around a little, and it's a world of small spaces... it's also not a great place to be if you can't stand being around people much at mealtime (although there are ways around that, but that takes the fun out of things). If those things aren't an issue, though, and you have the time in your travel agenda, definitely take a look at AmTrak. There. Hopefully, someone from AmTrak will come across this blatant little commercial and thinking kindly enough of me to treat me to a free ride. You know... for all this good press I'm giving them. But seriously... if you've never done it, you should, and make your own judgment. Obviously, I've made mine. I don't think it'll be long before I'm on my next train trip, and I almost don't care where it's going, whether it's to glory, love, or Clarksville.