Friday, January 22, 2010


It's Sunday afternoon and I feel like I've been run over by a truck. In actuality, I have been run over by a set piece. A small one, but the impact to my achilles was enough to warrant an ice pack and a painkiller. I sat down backstage left to assess the damage and fought back tears while the stage manager asked if I wanted the swing to go on. I declined, but did decide to sit out part of the next scene, the one where I just sit on the dune as part of the set. The rest of the act went pretty well, hobbling a little here and there- but right about the end of act one I remembered what I had to do in act two. It entailed jumping around in heels on slippery surfaces, and I decided my ankle didn't need any of that.

In my experience, it's always been hard to call out of the show. I hate doing it. You feel like you're letting everyone down. Then you feel like some sort of a wimp for not being able to tough it out. That's old school. The show must go on. Then after all that guilt, you feel like everyone's judging you for calling out. I once had a stage manager say to me, "It's only your toe". At the tender age of 22 in my first Equity show, I took that to heart and tried to tough it out and prove something. Years later, the chronic pain and injury that resulted from that tiny toe injury taught me firstly that dancers need their toes. Secondly, your health comes first. You are the ONLY one who can take care of yourself and know what your limits are. That stage manager whose name I can't even recall gave me some very bad advice, but now I've learned: Unfortunately it was the hard way. Down the line, you are the one that has to live with injuries you don’t take care of.

So now I sit waiting to see how serious this thing is. At this point, I’ll just gage it by pain. If I stop limping by dinner time, I’ll do the second show. If not, then I wait it out. After all, one day out of the game is better than weeks on the sidelines.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Don’t Tell Paris I’ve fallen in love…

I’m lost in Amsterdam on my last day here. I’ve taken the ligne 2 tram to Dam Square, meandered about the cobblestoned streets lined with forward- tilting buildings and arrived at a bridge with a beautiful old church- one I’ve admired many times before. I know exactly which direction ‘home’ is- but ligne 2 is nowhere in sight. I have no idea how I’ve gotten here.

Ah wait, there’s a tram station, two blocks away. Exhale. Ha no…It’s the 4, 16, & 24. I weigh my options: It’s too far to walk. Like, 2 hours far. A cab? Taboo, absurdly expensive and nowhere in sight. I gathered my nerves and bolstered myself. Rogier, my Haarlem-bred boyfriend, had been trekking around New York & navigating the subway system like a pro after 2 days on his first visit. I could already hear him chastising me, as this was my 3rd trip here, my days totaling around the 30-day mark.

I saunter to the tram map; the 2 ligne simply could not be that far. The map is completely in Dutch, no kind “You are here” sign a la NYC’s maps to be seen. I meet eyes with a rosy cheeked woman, so characteristically Dutch. I make a point to first ask if we could proceed in English to which she replies, “Sure, I speak a little”. They always do that, and they’re always fluent. She aptly suggests I take one of the similar lines that all lead to the central area, hook up with the 2 there. Crisis averted.

On my journey back to Rog’s apartment, I get lost in the sights and sounds of this city I’m about to leave. I feel comfortable, familiar. I think about how hard it was in my first few visits here to ‘get it’ here; it perhaps being a true sense of the national identity. France, Germany, pretty obvious. In cartoons, there is always a caricature. There had to be more to the Dutch than the blonde braids, wooden shoes and windmills. I stare out the window to try and find a cafĂ© for my last decaf cappuccino in Europe as we pass a take out named “Mech: Make and Take”. I giggle to myself as I find that so Dutch. Equal parts kitschy, blunt, innovative and efficient. Funny enough, that is exactly how I’d describe the best parts of my boyfriend. He and his friends once told me as I implored about how they’d describe their national identity that there is a saying: “Just be normal- that’s weird enough.”

I think about this and try to assimilate it with what I have observed in my time here. …And I don’t really get it. To my eye, people here are easy going, considerate, sharp and open. Legalized taboos aside, there’s the fact that the International Court of Justice happens to be in the Hague; People here are relentlessly green: riding bicycles in the dead of a winter rainstorm with nary a frown, all the while looking effortlessly pulled together in a manner rivaling fashionistas in Paris; On mass transit, people pay no mind to delays, in sharp contrast to NY where people would be shouting obscenities into the air in protest. Not only did I find Amsterdam completely ethnically diverse, EVERYone is fluent in English and don’t give you funny looks when you don’t attempt (it’s scary to dare) to speak Dutch. People have accused them of being cold, but I find Dutch folk unharried. Perhaps because their level of health and retirement care is so comprehensive, it leaves the citizens unstressed and free to attend to other matters. Like teaching other nations how to build dikes and dams as they did in New Orleans after the floods. I don’t know…

So I suppose I have yet a lot to learn, perhaps there is a secret dark side to the culture I’m just not grasping. Yes, they used to want to take over the world. There are very few places in New York, for example, that aren’t named after something Dutch; But that evil empire stuff seems to have died off a long while ago. My time in this freethinking & easygoing place has been a respite from the bustling pace stateside. I can’t wait to come back and mark it as perhaps my favorite City in the EU. Don’t tell Paris.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

San Francisco! (aka Tales from the Tenderloin)

In retrospect, our time in the Tenderloin was humorous. Here we were, the 1st National tour of the Tony-award winning revival of South Pacific (or SPOT, as we like to be called) in our glamorous, inaugural city of San Francisco, wading knee deep through passed out crack addicts on our way home. We were warned about the depravity of this neighborhood which housed the famous Golden Gate Theatre: there were constant reminders to never walk alone after dark, we were to always walk home in groups. I was gearing up for the hills, fog, gorgeous seaside vistas and receptive gay audiences, but wasn't prepared for dodging drugged out homeless people who were so high, you could see the light of sanity completely extinguished in their eyes.

Through our misadventures of jumping over pee puddles, escaping proposed duels by scorned natives at the late-night Walgreens, or skirting love struck street residents (my fave quote was probably: " Hmmm. You so fine, you finer than fine. Ima stick witchu."), there were also high points to be enjoyed. San Francisco has a flavor all it's own from any city in California; Inherent is the free-spirited whimsical feel personified in the art, local neighborhoods, and the typical Californian cuisine that overstates smoothies and avocados. However, there is a certain sophistication and irreverence that is reminiscent of my beloved Manhattan. Couldn't put my hand on it, but perhaps it's partly due to the proximity of the nearby world-renowned Napa Valley (An entire valley designated for producing wine? Heaven. Possibly one of my favorite places on earth).

Or maybe because it's one of the most culturally diverse places I've been to. In addition to hearing every language in spoken in Europe (okay, maybe counting tourists in there) I haven't been around that many Asians since I lived in China. Loved it. My Peeps! This also equated to having every favorite ethnic cuisine you could get a craving for, a stumble away: Thai. Indian. Italian. Pakistani. The SEAFOOD. Chinese. (And I mean the real deal, half my time was spent in Chinatown.) Vietnamese. The cast found this little hole-in-the-wall Pho place that was apparently dubbed the best in the world by Julia Child. And lets not even get started on the progressive fusion places- Heaven's Dog had not only the most unique cocktails that would give Soho mixologists a run for their money, but the pan-Asian inspired fare had me braving dark walks after shows for their noodles. For southern breakfast enthusiasts, most mornings we'd lose half the cast to Dotties, where the line on weekends spanned the block. Hands down however, most of my money went to this one little Japanese establishment that boasted the best noodles in California. And I sorta believed them. The wait list was packed with Asian People, that's how you know it's good. San Fran is your own gastronomical world tour.

Aside from blowing entire weeks of per diem on rampant sushi excursions, yet another pet spot of the cast was The High Tide. This amazing establishment became the watering hole of choice in my estimation partly due to its proximity to our hotel (across the street) and partly due to Kim. This delicate whippersnapper of a bartender extraordinaire was our host who addressed all her dive bar clientele with a Sweetie or a Honey. She had flair, tough love, and was kind of like your hip Korean mom. But there was always the 9mm by the register to remind all to stay in line. We loved Kim, and Kim loved us back. Before we left town, she invited us all to the bar after the closing show for a full Korean dinner she cooked for the cast. It was never clear whether she owned the bar or was related to the older Asian lady that would help her handle the busy Sunday nights (Sunday is our Friday) or how old she really was. But she indubitably kept us properly libated and coming back for more.

As far as opening cities go, we certainly departed with our share of tales from the Tenderloin. Not all shared my enthusiasm for the vivid neighborhood that we lived and worked in. But all in all I personally was grateful for such a colorful experience. It always kept me on my toes, awake and open to what would come at me on any partiucular day. This, in addition to the bonus of the world's fare being a hop skip and a trolley ride away, made for delicious and fond memories of our first city on tour. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this amazing country has in store for us. Stay tuned for more from the Road Gypsy Diaries.