Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The recycling trucks are loud outside my window, and the sun has burned off the fog. Yesterday it rained a little, much-needed. Ruben, my Mexican next-door neighbor, weeded and turned over the earth on my weed-patch, I mean garden, out back, where the kale is flourishing. Then he wouldn't take any money for it, because we'd given him a chair from Ikea, and because he said it only took him twenty minutes. It would have taken me half the day and I wouldn't have done such a good job either.

C has been working intensively with several kids who were never read to as children. He tutors them, encourages them, bribes them with burritos, does phonics and math with them, and all the required curriculum, and then he reads to them. Reading aloud, just the simple pleasure of it, which my siblings and I got every night as children, which my nephews and nieces are getting now, getting initiated early into the seduction of stories. What would my life be like now if I hadn't been read to as a child? Unimaginable.

Can you give that to a fifteen year old kid who never got it when he was six--that sense of being safe and warm and enthralled by a story? That's what C is doing--tirelessly, even visiting some of the kids after work hours to help them do their homework and stay off probation--I shouldn't say tirelessly, because he does get tired, but he does it. (Yes, I am bragging.)

We had a great impromptu first night of Chanukah last night. Beth called me as she was getting off work, and came over bearing matzoh meal and apple sauce; I had potatoes, onions, a couple of eggs, a food processor, oil, salt and wine. All you need, really, to make it through the darkest part of the winter.

C joined us, and our housemates David and Libby and Masankho; we ate latkes, lit the candles and sang. First time all five of us housemates were even in the same room together, in the warm cozy clean kitchen that smelled of fried potatoes and onions.

Beth said the new version of Hot Tub is much improved; Ruth, whom I also emailed it to the other day thinks I made it worse since the earlier draft. (Ninety percent of the time Ruth prefers my earlier drafts. I have failed to calculate what percent of the time she is right.) Rebecca loves this draft, but I don't think she saw the earlier one. I am still waiting to hear from my playwright/dramaturg friends, Stuart and Suzanne, both of whom were kind of lukewarm on the earlier draft ("well-written but I didn't like either of the characters," would be a good summation. Plus Suzanne had some structural issues which I tried to address in this rewrite.)

Revision by committee is not the easiest way to go. I wish I trusted my own voice more. I'm the same way in singing, always needing--or thinking I need--someone else, someone expert and outside myself--to tell me if I'm on pitch or not.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to juggle dates and plane tickets and logistics to go to Detroit for the opening of Kaddish. They are having a "friend-raiser" at which I'm supposed to make an appearance, unfortunatally on the same day I'm scheduled to teach one of the Memoir classes at New College. If I can get my father and stepmother to switch the weekend they are coming, then I can avoid flying back and forth from Detroit three times. I'll only do it twice, which, in January, is plenty. But I haven't even confirmed that I can get a sub for that class yet.

At least now I have some peace of mind that maybe Hot Tub is nearing completion and I can turn my mind back to the musical and the other projects.

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