Archive for October, 2014

Study abroad…way abroad

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Around the time Jennifer Lynn was in 4th grade, a primary topic of conversation around our house was how my sister and Steve’s sister were consumed with making arrangements to care for our aging   mothers.

I remember saying goodnight to Jennifer Lynn one night and watching the light bulb go on in her head when she realized that the daughter living in closest proximity to the elderly parent was usually the child saddled with the responsibility of making sure Mom had a place to live as her physical and mental health declined.  Jennifer, at age 10, said her prayers that night and then asked me, “When I graduate from college, can I go live in London?”

So you see, her goal from a young age has been to be sure that when Steve and I can’t remember what we had for dinner the night before, that she is far, far away, leaving her older siblings to push our wheelchairs down the hall of the assisted living facility.Jennifer - Lady from Shanghai

It was no big surprise then, that when Jennifer Lynn had the opportunity to apply to Pepperdine’s study abroad program, she didn’t waste any time. But wait there’s more! Just in case London or Buenos Aires or Heidelberg wasn’t far enough away from her AARP parents and our condo in Cotati, Pepperdine offered a year-long program to study in Shanghai!

So when I got a text from her last week that she had been accepted into the Shanghai program, the text had many exclamation points. “You know, you won’t be able to see us for that year, right?” I asked her. From her point of view, the news just keeps getting better and better.


Best of Broadway

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

You know that you’re really enjoying something when you don’t want it to come to an end – that was the experience I had on Friday night.

My boss was unable to use her two tickets to a performance of Pippin at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco so she generously offered them to Steve and me. At 10:50 p.m. when the actors took their final bow on stage, I could have happily had the show start all over again and enjoyed every minute of the almost three hour performance – and enjoyed it even more than the first

There are several reasons that this was such a wonderful evening for me starting with the history I have with Pippin. This production is a 2013 revival of the play that originally premiered on Broadway in 1972. The play was still going strong on Broadway in 1976 when I spent the summer in New York City. My best friend, Janet, went home to Stamford, Connecticut in the summers and she would often join me in New York City for the weekend.

Being dancers, we loved Broadway musicals and would go to the TKTS Booth to buy half-price tickets for a Broadway play the same day. We were one year away from graduating from college, so the story of the play which is Pippin’s quest to find himself, spoke very strongly to where we were in our lives. We probably saw Pippin four or five times that summer, listened to the soundtrack over and over, and worked on perfecting our Bob Fosse jazz hands.

But even if the play hadn’t transported me back to a memorable time in my life, Friday evening still would have been hugely entertaining. Our seats were on the first row! Unlike when you’re sitting on the front row of a movie theater, there was still the orchestra pit between us and the stage so you’re not forced to sit with your head looking straight up. Instead, the closeness made the actors seem more accessible. Sometimes watching actors from a distance makes them seem like extremely well programmed animatronics but not when you’re seeing them sweat and can appreciate their subtle expressions and gestures. It made the emotion behind their acting seem that much more real to me.

All the members of the cast were wonderful but it was a real treat to see one of the actors perform the role for which she had received a Tony Award last year. I came home and looked up Andrea Martin who plays Pippin’s grandmother and at 67, she truly is old enough to be his grandmother. Yet she looked adorable, sounded fabulous and totally stole the show when she and one of the handsome dancers went through their moves on the trapeze bar.

When Pippin ended, I felt like our youngest daughter used to when she was pre-school age and we would go to see a Disney movie. When the lights in the theater came on and the credits started rolling, she would immediately start sobbing because the transporting experience of being immersed in a fantasy world was over. Sure, I was a little teary on the way home; it was that good.



Monday, October 13th, 2014

An added blessing for us that Jennifer is attending Pepperdine in Malibu is that it puts her in the same part of the world as her older sister who graduated from Chapman in Orange County last spring.

However, just because two sisters live within 60 miles of each other, it certainly doesn’t mean that they will want to have any kind of a relationship with one another. As I have seen between me and my siblings, just because we share some DNA doesn’t mean that we share much of anything else – things like our sense of humor, values, and core beliefs are fundamentally different. To share an example from my life, the only communication I have with one of my brothers are the Christmas and birthday cards we exchange through the mail.

We can choose our friends but not our families. If the siblings who were so annoying when we were kids happen to become true friends and people who we choose to spend time with when we’re adults, it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

That said, it made Steve and I very happy when Valerie told us that she didn’t have any plans for the weekend so she was going to make the hour and a half drive north to see her sister. Knowing Valerie, she wouldn’t want us to know that she might actually like spending time with her little sister.

Up to now, Valerie has been very invested in developing plenty of sibling rivalry; creating less then flattering nicknames for her sister and teasing her at every opportunity. Just to keep up appearances, she made sure when she told us she was reaching out to her sister at Pepperdine it was because she was really bored. She made it sound like her social prospects this weekend were so dim that the choice was either go visit her sister or go bowling – which as comedian Jim Gaffigan says, is the activity you do when you’ve exhausted every other entertainment option.

Only time will tell if Valerie and Jennifer will develop a friendship that withstands the transitions of moving, marriage and kids. For now, they have something they can bond over: making fun of their old parents.

A ticket to drive

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

When I was driving home from work on Wednesday and glanced at my rearview mirror to see the flashing lights of a police car indicating that the cop wanted me to pull over, you can image that “thank you” were not the words that flashed through my mind. However by Friday, while I still wasn’t cheering that rolling through a stop sign in Novato was going to cost me about $300, I had come to the realization that the cop had done me a big favor.

You see, when the officer walked back to my car with the registration, insurance and my license, he asked me how long ago I had moved from Petaluma. I stammered that it had been three years ago. “Did you know your license has expired?” he asked.

WHAT?! How is that possible? That’s the kind of thing that happens to people without teeth and open containers of beer who get pulled over on “Cops” – not someone like me who compulsively puts the due date of every bill and renewal notice in RED (all caps) on my Google calendar with pop up emails and text messages as reminders.

But yes, I had somehow overlooked changing the address on my license. And now I was a scofflaw, commuting two hours every day with an expired license in my purse. Seeing the horrified look on my face, the officer took mercy on me and cited me only for the rolling stop. He admonished me to get the renewal taken care of quickly and he parted with the ominous words that “the Highway Patrol might not go so easy on me.” Okay, I’m really scared now.

The question for me the next day, was how quickly could I make an emergency trip to the DMV. I was able to fit it around a business appointment. I know people love to hate the DMV but I have found them to be incredibly efficient in moving the snaking cross section of humanity clutching their little numbers…”now serving G128”…through the system.

Renewing my license only cost me an hour of my day, $33 and a bottle of hand-sanitizer. That guy I sat down next to was coughing like he had Ebola. I was disappointed however, that I had to get a new photo taken and update my stats. On my expired license I was five years younger, two inches taller and 10 pounds lighter.

But when I think about what could have happened in the future if pulled out an expired license, the inconvenience and cost of the ticket doesn’t seem nearly that bad. What if I was waiting in line to board a flight, and the TSA agent checks my ID and it’s expired? That would be really ugly. Or if I had a fender bender and the CHP officer discovers that I’ve been driving a year on an expired license? I shudder to think what the fine for that would be.

It’s all a good reminder to keep perspective: Be grateful for what you have. Things could be worse.