I had lunch today with my new co-worker Mina. Mina is from Beijing, and has been living in the U.S. for the past three years.
"The United States are so boring," she said to me over Thai food.
"In Asia, there are so many clubs and restaurants; so many places to go," she said. "Every week, it seems there's a new club to go to, or they've changed the club's decor or given a restaurant a new theme. In the United States, everything's the same, and there's really nowhere fun to go."
We got onto the subject of siblings. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" she asked.
"Two brothers," I said. "And you?"
"I was born the year that the one-child policy was put into effect," she said.
I felt kind of old, because we discussed that policy in school. "Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have siblings?"
"No," she said. "My boyfriend's parents came over here in the 60s, and they say it's a human rights violation. We argue about it sometimes. I don't think anyone should tell me whether or not my human rights are being violated. I don't think I'd ever want a brother or sister."
It was pretty eye-opening, actually. I don't speak too much with the folks who came directly from Asia about the difference in their experiences there versus here, and I'm so indoctrinated into the idea that China is a place where people feel the sting of a loss of human rights all the time, hearing someone so adamantly defending the opposite position was quite a lesson for me.
We talked about a bunch of other stuff too. Mina said that she was happy I came into the department, because the only other man in our little group is Giovanni, who doesn't work a full-time schedule. "I don't mind having meetings with all women," she said, "But it's good to have a guy in there for a different point of view."
Considering how wildly different the five women in the department are in personality, I thought that was kind of funny. Everybody is nice, in their own way, but I wouldn't think that they were screaming for some new perspective.
At any rate, it was good to be invited to lunch by one of my new co-workers. When I started in design, I was a temp, and I didn't get invited out to dinner with anyone. It wasn't until Laurie came on-board that I started getting social.
I've been changing that pattern a lot, lately, which is making life a little more interesting.
And now I really want to go to Asia to check out the hot night-life. My cousin Jimmy lives in Singapore, I could visit him (I think I've met him in person twice; I'm sure he'd love to put me up). Then again, he's not exactly the nightclubbing type.
After work, I picked up The Fabulous Robert for dinner and a show.
My sort-of-aunt Nancy is a well-respected director in the professional and community theater around the Boston area. Her latest production is Three Days of Rain, a play that I absolutely love, and tried to direct for another theater company, except they didn't like the play itself.
Robert was introduced to On the Border, as is only proper for any of my friends. We had possibly the perkiest waitress in the world, but not in an annoying way. She called us each "love," which you would expect from a veteran waitress in a diner somewhere, but she was about all of twenty.
We had to wait almost an hour, but didn't lack for conversational material. Robert actually used the expression "laughed like a drain" twice, which must be an Interlochen thing, because he's the only other person I've heard use it except Kymm (who updated based solely on my request, imagine that!). It's an interesting concept, though if my drain started laughing at me, I'd most likely scream like a little girl and run away faster than you could say "Stephen King Novel."
On paper, Robert and I have little in common. I'm a pop culture princess, and he's all about the ballet and networking. I dress like a slob who somehow wandered into a J. Crew store but never learned to iron, and he wears snappy suits with bow ties. Just about the only thing you'd notice in common about us is the fact that we both have "power hair." (His term, but I like it. Fear my power hair!)
Still, he's turning into a much better friend than I expected. Maybe it's just that my issues about myself have dissipated quite a bit; maybe it's six years of knowing each other just a little bit here and there and now staying in touch. Maybe it doesn't need definition; I'm just happy we're back in-touch.
We got to the theater, and I was immediately assaulted with a, "PATRICK!!!!!" It was my friend Phyllis, who has been in my play Statics and Dynamics as well as being co-stars with me in Shadowlands, The American Clock and Much Ado About Nothing. She's a total sweetheart.
I also saw Judy F., stage manager extraordinaire, who met me with a flat, "Where have you been?" I told her about the weekend supervisor job and the new job, and her first question was, "So are you going to be back?" People soetimes wonder why I do theater. This is a large part of it.
I saw my sort-of-aunt Nancy, who was a bit flitty (she always is), and nervous about making the curtain speech that evening.
During intermission, we ran into Mo, someone I tend to see at every show I ever go to. Mo is a nice woman, but she loves to tell anyone within earshot about any tragedy that happens to be in her life at the drop of a hat. One doesn't ask, "How are you, Mo?" because she'll tell you, and if you sympathise and say that you've been through something similar, she has another tragedy to add to the one she just told you about. Still, her heart's in the right place.
After the show was over, I met Sigrid, who I worked with on The American Clock. It took her a moment or two to recognize me, but she seemed happy to see me. I like these kinds of reunions!
Three Days of Rain is one of my absolute favorite shows. Richard Greenburg can be difficult to take, as most of his characters to be over-educated and wordy, but this play is so casually cruel, so full of despair and love and rage and comedy and pathos that it's a director's dream.
Essentially, the plot is that the children of a pair of architects meet to attend the reading of the will of the longer-lived of the pair. There's a love triangle of sorts, and a surprise twist that none of them expected. Plus, a journal that is incredibly cryptic, including entries like, "Theo is dying. Theo is dying. Theo is dead." and the title of the play, which is the opening line of the journal, "Three days of rain." The adult children try to figure out what the entries mean, and they come up with an explanation that satisfies them, to an extent.
In Act 2, the same three actors play their own parents. We see what actually happened during those three days of rain, and in doing so, see what the entries in the notebook really mean. It's a study in misinterpretation, deliberate and accidental harm, and making choices that have repurcussions for many more people than you expect.
I've read and re-read this play so many times, first in preparation to present it to the reading committee for a theater (they didn't like the play), and after then for inspiration for my own work. I have a whole show plotted out in my head. I know what the characters look and sound like; how the loft where the action takes place would look, and how the rain would be produced in the second act.
What Nancy and her crew did is so wildly different than what I envisioned, I can't really critique it. It was a moving night of theater, especially since Robert hadn't seen or heard one word of the play, and the casual cruelty of the characters can be devastating to someone who fully invests himself in the theater experience.
Oddly enough, I felt myself thinking, "I wish I were involved in a production" a couple of times during the show, and then realized that I am in a production! It's been so long, I'm still used to being jealous of people on-stage. It gave me a boost towards trying to improve my own performance as much as I possibly can, because that's only fair to an audience. I also got some ideas to improve Parthenogenesis, which desperately needs Act 2 revisions.
After the show, I drove Robert home, and got a full tour of his house.
Like me, Robert isn't afraid of color. I didn't think much could top my blue-and-yellow kitchen, but his bedroom is painted an almost emerald-green. He promises to never have beige walls in his home ever again, which is a sentiment with which I concur entirely.
He gave me Gene Wilder's book to read, which I'm looking forward to. I was exhausted, so I wasn't able to stay long, but it was a good visit.
Tomorrow night is more theater with John and Donn (blind date from April 1st and his boyfriend), preceeded by dinner at a vegetarian restaurant. The show is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, another show I have really strong opinions about, so I'm anxious to see how it's presented.
I can only see this for the good, because I really want to direct a show sometime in the near future. The summer is generally "dark" for community theater, so I may look into the possibility of producing another evening of short plays (Statics and Dynamics was really fun to do) or something I haven't written (right now, Irma Vep is at the top of the list, though Blown Sideways Through Life is now available for performance, and I've always wanted to direct that).
I also want to find out if anyone's planning on performing The Santaland Diaries this year. I love that piece, and I think I could carry it off.
Of course, I first have to get through this show. Now that I've run into a bunch of people who have promised to see the show, I guess I'm going to have to try to act well.