Friday, September 27, 2013


More adventures. This morning at 4, I was awoken by the smoke detector in my room. It wasn’t really “going off” or whatever the expression is; it was chirping. Intermittently. It took me a minute or two to even figure out where the sound was coming from, owing to the fact that it was 4 in the morning and I was alone and not in my bed or anywhere near home. Ever since those years of living on the road, I wake up – not infrequently – disoriented, not having any idea where I am or what time of year it is. It feels almost like amnesia, and sometimes lasts for several minutes.

I got my bearings, but I so did not want to get out of bed and investigate.

I stared at the round plastic thing on the ceiling for a while, figured it was probably just low on battery power since it wasn’t ringing loud or long enough to motivate anyone but enough to keep me awake. I thought about ripping it out of the ceiling, but then I thought, “What if it’s detecting carbon monoxide and if I go back to sleep I never wake up?” Jesus fuck. I have such a hard time getting back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night, which is pretty much every night. And I do not like to be dragged out of bed.

I called the front desk and it rang a dozen or so times. Eventually someone picked up. I told her what was happening. She said, “Can’t you turn it off?” I said, “Well, I suppose I could, but I’m slightly concerned about going back to sleep in a room where the smoke alarm is ringing.” She said, “There’s no one here but me, and I’m in the laundry room.”

Well, I’m sure the laundry is more important than me dying in my sleep. I didn’t say that. By then it wasn’t beeping any more. I told the woman it had stopped, and I went back to bed. Just as I was drifting off, it started again. I called again. The laundry woman said she’d meet me at the desk and let me into another room where I could sleep and someone would check out the alarm in the morning.

So that’s what I did.

I did not sleep well or much. I had a dream in which I was watching a high school friend portray a tragic but funny drunk in a play, and another in which I ran into an old friend whom I haven’t seen in years, and she had gained about 500 pounds. She was so fat I couldn’t reach her face to kiss her.

I’m glad to know I’m staying in a hotel where, if the smoke alarm goes off at 4 a.m., there’s no one here who can do anything about it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Houston is trafficky. It took me an hour and a half to get back to the hotel from the Hobby Center last night. I could have walked faster and enjoyed it more. I’m exaggerating; it’s 8 or 9 miles, so it would’ve taken me twice that long to walk and it’s 90 degrees out so walking would have been very unpleasant, but the drive was excruciating, inching along Westheimer with the sun in my eyes. The one good thing about how long it took is that eventually the sun disappeared behind some buildings so the last 15 minutes of the drive was slightly less painful. My commute to work in Brooklyn is roughly as long, but I can sit (usually) on the train and read. I hate driving. Hate it.

Its still very hot here, but the outside temperature is almost irrelevant. I’m rarely outside, and the rehearsal studio is like a walk-in refrigerator. It can’t be even 60 degrees in there. We step outside for a few minutes on our breaks to thaw out. The music director asked yesterday if we thought it had maybe gotten a little warmer in the room, and I said no I think that’s hypothermia.

This morning at 9, they asked us, all the LIZZIE folks, to drop by the TUTS staff meeting so they could check us out meet us and say hello. There were boxes of donuts and kolaches, and it was the first time I’d seen kolaches since I left Texas.

There are many kinds – kolaches are basically filled yeast rolls not unlike donuts. They can be filled with preserves and other sweet things, but the ones that stand out have hot dogs inside. They’re like hot dogs with the bun baked around them. I know they sound weird and maybe sort of awful, but they’re pretty good. They’re soft and warm and hot-doggy in a good way, and they’re for breakfast! I know you don’t believe me, but I managed to not eat one or two or five. I just enjoyed the smell.

I felt pretty proud of myself. Traveling always makes me think I can eat whatever I want and it doesn’t count, but when the gig is 3 weeks long it kind of (not even kind of) does count. And, well, free donuts (or kolaches) is definitely permission to indulge, in fact it’s almost really a command.

I guess I’m well trained in “no, thank you” by my Brooklyn workplace, which, as I’ve said before, is a virtual conveyor belt of candy and donuts and pizza and burgers and cookies all day.

But we’re only 3 days in, so …

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Heart of LIZZIE.

When I was in high school – it must have been my junior or senior year because I wouldn’t have been allowed to go to Indianapolis to a rock concert unchaperoned before that, and besides I know for a fact that my first 2 concerts were Rod Stewart and Black Sabbath, both in 1977, because I kept the t-shirts until I was 30 – I saw Heart at the Indiana State Fair.

I was already a fan. Barracuda was everywhere (at least where I grew up in Disco Sucks territory). I had the Little Queen album, played it to death (literally) while I stared at that picture on the cover of Ann and Nancy and the boys as rock and roll gypsies or whatever. This was the era of me trying desperately to be turned on by girls and if any women were going to turn me on it would be Ann and Nancy Wilson. But I was more turned on by their clothes, and the rest of the band behind them. Turns out I didn’t want to fuck them, I wanted to be them, riding around in that covered wagon full of long-haired rock and roll boys.

It all sounds like a cliché now, but at 16 I didn’t know from gay icons.

I was a Heart fan, but after that concert I was obsessed. Crazy on You started with Nancy in a spotlight for that long gorgeous acoustic intro and when the band kicked in the whole stage lit up and I was lost forever. This youtube clip might be the same tour I saw. It looks like how I remember it.

Not just Heart, but that particular Heart concert at the Indiana State Fair in the late seventies is deep in the DNA of LIZZIE. In my mind, this kind of huge outdoor venue is where LIZZIE lives. It’s funny because we’re here in Houston doing the show in a 500-seat theater now and everyone keeps referring to it as “our small space.” Someone yesterday used the word “tiny.” 500 seats is bigger by a few hundred seats than any space the show has ever been produced in. We're gettin' there.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Access Road.

I’m in Houston, arrived this afternoon and checked into the Extended Stay America, my home for the next three weeks. Theatre Under the Stars is producing LIZZIE, and we begin rehearsals tomorrow. After a gorgeous weekend writing retreat upstate where the leaves are just beginning to change and the air is crisp and chilly, I was bracing myself to hate the weather here in the land of eternal summer, but when I walked out of the baggage claim the warm, damp evening felt sweet and, I don’t know, promising, like a cold beer on a back patio. I love Texas.

I have a rental car. As soon as I’d hung my shirts and texted C, I drove to the HEB about a mile and a half away. HEB is one of the big grocery chains here in Texas and was my favorite when I lived in Austin. Well, Whole Foods, say what you want, was, is, my favorite grocery store, and there is one here but it’s farther away and more expensive, so I drove to the HEB and spent about 100 bucks on breakfast and snacks, wine, stuff to make salads so I don’t have to spend a ton of money on meals out while I’m here. And not just the money, but if I eat at restaurants every night I’ll head home 10 pounds heavier.

Driving in Texas is all about the access roads. I’d forgotten that. The hotel is on an access road. Getting to the HEB was easy. Turn right out of the parking lot, then right again onto Westheimer. Getting back could have been a nightmare – the road the hotel is on, the access road, only goes one way of course, so you have to overshoot, end up on the other side of the freeway, and figure out how to get back around. Fortunately, I know how to negotiate the access roads. Far left lane to make a U-turn. Easy. I know it’s silly to be so proud, but driving does not come naturally to me, and learning how to use the access roads was a real triumph for me during a time in my life when there were few.

So, coffee, milk, fruit, raisin bran, cheese, hummus, crackers, wasabi peas, salad greens, a rotisserie chicken, salted almonds, olives. And little bottles of shampoo and conditioner – I don’t pack that stuff if I’m staying in a hotel, but I guess “extended stay” means bring your own hair products. There is soap.

I love hotels. I wish I had a real wine glass so I didn't have to drink out of this nasty ass plastic cup. I wish my husband was here.