The Opera

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I was well into my 40s, and I’d never experienced the opera. It’s not like I’d purposefully avoided; I’d just never had an opportunity to attend.

My computer guy friend and I were IMing one day, and he mentioned the opera. He attended. He enjoyed it. I might enjoy it too, he said. He offered to treat me to a performance of the San Francisco Opera next time I was in town. I was excited to take him up on his offer, but I didn’t make it to San Fran for over a year.

When I started planning my visit with Bay Area friends in 2016, I contacted my computer guy and asked him if we were still on for the opera. He said yes.

My short visit to San Francisco coincided with a Sunday matinee of The Makropulos Case starring Nadja Michael. I’d never heard of this opera, but when I did a Google search, I found information on San Francisco Opera webpage (https://sfopera.com/discover-opera/201617-season/the-makropulos-case/).

The seductive diva Emilia Marty has broken hearts for over 300 years and yet she doesn’t look a day past 30. Now that the magical elixir granting her eternal youth is wearing off, can she seduce her way to immortality?

Music by Leoš Janáček | Libretto by Leoš Janáček

Sung in Czech with English supertitles

The story sounded interesting enough for me want to see the show.

I was concerned because don’t people dress up for the opera? I asked my computer guy. I’m not exactly toting around an opera worthy wardrobe in my van, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I had to dress fancy.

My computer guy didn’t seem worried about the opera dress code. Hwwever, he is a man who–for the last couple of decades–has partially based his acceptances of job offers on whether or not he’d be allowed to wear shorts to the office.

Are you going to wear long pants to the opera? I asked him, and he said he supposed he could.

The afternoon of the performance came. I wore a long, straight black skirt and a colorful 100% cotton top. My computer guy friend wore full length black  pants and a dark shirt. We may not have looked fancy, but we looked respectable, much like everyone else in the audience. I was relieved to see no one else at the matinee wearing evening clothes. (I guess by definition, “evening clothes” are not worn at two o’clock in the afternoon.)

The day of my first opera attendance was also the occassion of my first ride with an Uber driver. Before we left his apartment in the Mission, I asked my computer guy if we would be riding the bus so I would have adequate bus fare if necessary. He said no, so I assumed we’d be walking. When we got out to the corner of his block, he raised his phone above his head.

What are you doing? I asked.

Hailing our ride, he told me.

I was a bit confused when the car that pulled up had no markings distinguishing it as a taxi.

I set up a ride with Uber, he said.

Oh, yes, Uber, I thought. I’d heard of such a thing.

The driver was friendly and polite; the three of us chatted about the opera. The car was exceptionally clean, and I felt safe for the duration of our short ride.

My computer guy had the driver drop us off so we could walk through the lovely Memorial Court. After we climbed the steps into the War Memorial Opera House, we picked up our tickets at the box office and found our seats under the balcony.

The War Memorial Opera House is a beautiful building, inside and out. According to http://www.sfwmpac.org/history,

The cornerstones of the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building were laid on November 11, 1931. These two buildings and the Memorial Court between them formed the original San Francisco War Memorial.

The War Memorial Opera House has been home to the San Francisco Opera since it opened on October 15, 1932. Despite the nation’s severe depression, Puccini’s Tosca, conducted by Mr. Gaetano Merola, saw its original schedule of nine performances quickly sell out and three additional performances added, due to the incredible anticipation of opening season in the new house.

The Opera House is also home to the San Francisco Ballet, and served as home to the San Francisco Symphony until Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall opened in September 1980.

We only had a short while to flip through our programs before the performance began. Of course, I don’t understand Czech, so I was glad for the subtitles projected throughout theater.

I must have stayed up too late the night before, because my head was nodding and I could barely keep my eyes open by the time intermission rolled around. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying the performance; I was enjoying it–but damn!–I felt sleepy. While my computer guy went off to stretch his legs during intermission, I took myself a power nap. Staying awake was easier during the second half of the show.

We walked back to my computer guy’s apartment after the performance, and it was a lovely afternoon to stroll through the city. As we walked, we discussed what we’d just seen.

We agreed the diva, Nadja Michael, was a lovely woman with a great voice and a commanding stage presence. I highly recommend seeing any show she stars in.

My computer guy didn’t enjoy this performance as much as other operas he’d seen. First, he thought sitting under the balcony had detracted from the sound quality. Second, he thought some of the performers were not giving their all since the show was near the end of its run. Finally, much of the opera consisted basically of sung dialog rather than full-on operatic singing.

I enjoyed the opera, I really did, but I wish we’d have been able to see something more traditional and well, famous. In any case, I really appreciate live performance and will choose live performance over a recording any day.

As I told my computer guy friend, I’m glad I was able to attend the performance. (I’m so grateful he bought me a ticket!) I enjoyed going to the opera house (and wish I had taken photos!) and experiencing the performance, but it’s not like opera is my thing now. It’s not as if I’m going to follow the opera like Deadheads followed the Grateful Dead, but I will attend the opera again if a free ticket is involved.

 

 

 

My Jobs (Nine Truths and a Lie)

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In response to the Facebook nine truths and a lie game about concerts, a couple of my friends played by listing jobs instead of music shows. I wanted to play too, so here today I give you nine jobs I’ve actually held and one lie.

Can you guess which job I never worked? Leave your guesses in the comments below.

#1 Worker at dog food factory. I made sure bags of Kibbles & Bits didn’t jam the equipment, and I picked up any bags dumped on the floor because of incorrect weight. I lasted at this job literally two days before swearing I would never go back.

#2 Lunchroom lady at a junior high school. Specifically, I was the dishwasher. I mostly ran the red plastic trays and the silverware thought the dishwashing machine, but I did wash some pans and utensils by hand.

#3 Photographer at a camp for kids with disabilities. I took posed group shots and lots of candid shots. I developed all the film and printed all the photos for the camp yearbook.

#4 Switchboard operator at a bank. I wore conservative dresses, covered my tattoos, answered all incoming calls, and routed them to the proper department. Between phone calls, I did light typing and read magazines.

#5 Worker at a scanning service. My job consisted of removing staples and stacking papers neatly for eight hours a night. I saw people’s financial information, including mothers’ maiden names and social security numbers.

#6 Picker at a chestnut farm. Chestnuts aren’t picked from the trees, They are picked up from the ground after they fall from the trees. I sat on my butt on the ground and gathered all the chestnuts within arm’s reach before moving to the next spot.

#7 Birthday party clown at a fast food joint. When I was over the job and had to do a party for kids too old for a fast food joint party, I told a boy my clown name was “Dildo.”

#8 Sales associate at a t-shirt shop on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. I was fired for being aggressive and having a bad attitude.

#9 Concierge at a French Quarter guest house. I got cash commissions for booking tours and spoke to people who made pilgrimages to see the place where Johnny Thunders died.

#10 Scorer of student responses to standardized tests. I’ve actually worked this temp job on four different occasions. It’s a physically easy but mind-numbing job.

New Collages and New Necklaces

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This post is just a quickie to let folks know I’ve posted photos of two new collages and a WHOLE BUNCH of new necklaces to the appropriate pages of this blog. All items are for sale at very reasonable prices.

If you are looking for a particular type of pendant on your hemp necklace and don’t see a photo of what you want, let me know. I have many, many, many more necklaces not pictured on the blog, as well as lots of beads and pendants I can use to do custom pieces.

I will have all necklaces pictured on the “Jewelry for Sale” page available for purchase by tourists starting tomorrow. You might like something, only to find it is gone when you contact me. I apologize in advance if such a thing happens. I will update the page as soon as I can after an item sells, but I am moving into the time of the year when I may not have internet access every day. I appreciate the patience and understanding of my patrons.

If you are in Truth or Consequences, NM, you can see more of my collages at Grapes Art Gallery (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grapes-Art-Gallery/451084888328312) at 407 Main Street.

And if I could just ask for a little more support…

If you read a post you like, please click the “Like” button at the end of it, or leave a comment. It helps me to know folks are reading and enjoying my writing. Readership has been really low this week, and I’m beginning to wonder again why I even bother. If you want to keep seeing these posts, please let me know.

And while I’m asking for your attention, if you are on Facebook, please consider liking my pages, Blaizin’ Sun Creations (https://www.facebook.com/Blaizin-Sun-Creations-291317231259583/), where I post the items I have for sell, and the Rubber Tramp Artist page (https://www.facebook.com/Rubber-Tramp-Artist-1582864462007151/). Also, you can invite your Facebook friends to like those pages too.

I’ll leave you today with images of the two collages I posted today.

This collage, entitled It Is What It Is, is 4″ X 6.” It is made from paper on a postcard that was intercepted from the recycling bin. It costs $20, including postage.

 

This collage, entitled Keep Growing, is 4″ X 6.” It is made from paper on a postcard that was intercepted from the recycling bin. It costs $20, including postage.

Concerts I’ve Attended (Nine Truths and a Lie)

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Recently on Facebook, folks I know were playing a game in which they listed ten concerts they’d been to. The trick was, one item on each list was a lie, a concert that person had not actually attended. Friends got to guess which concert was a lie. It was a fun game, but too time-consuming for me to write it all out on my phone. So here today I’m sharing the concerts I’ve attended in my life–nine truths and a lie style.

Can you guess wich concert I did not attend? Leave your guesses in the comments section below.

#1 Information Society at Disney World during Grad Nite. Samantha Fox and New Kids on the Block played at that Grad Night too, but I couldn’t get anywhere near the stages. I saw them from a distance, and they looked like ants.

#2 Tribe 8 (Bay Area queer punk rock) at Zeitgeist Theater in New Orleans.

#3 Crash Worship on two occasions. I don’t remember the venues. Once I was really high on really nice drugs. Once I was totally sober. Both shows were great!

#4 Toshi Reagon at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I believe in kindness too.

#5 Billy Idol in some big arena. I told my parents I was spending the night at a friend’s house. I used my babysitting money to pay for my ticket.

#6 Barenaked Ladies at the House of Blues. My roommate bought me the ticket as an early birthday present.

#7 Blues Traveler. Blues Traveler. Blues Traveler. Once at Jazz Fest. Once at Tipitina’s. Once some place I don’t remember.

#8 Blue Scholars in NYC. Hip Hop fantastic!

#9 Bo Diddley at House of Blues. I won tickets from a local radio station and got a man I had a crush on to go with me. Bo Diddley rocked the House!

#10 Ani DiFrance on two occasions. Once at House of Blues where I met up with the woman I had a crush on who told me she’d had sex with the man I had a crush on. (It was a very Ani DiFranco moment.) Once at Jazz Fest where C.J. Chenier (who played before her) must have thought he had a huge new lesbian following.

 

 

 

Another Cop Knock

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The Man and I had worked at the Bridge during Spring Break, then went off on an epic adventure in Arizona. On our second day in Flagstaff, we decided to end the Arizona trip and head back to New Mexico.

Let’s go home, we looked at each other and said.

These are some of the new necklaces I’ve made recently.

We spent a week on the land of a friend who lives ten miles from the nearest town. The Man carved wood spirits, and I made new hemp necklaces, and we took turns cooking delicious food we shared with our friend.

On our first day back at the Bridge, I got us there early. By early, I mean around 4am. I admit it: I’m a bit obsessive about arriving at the vending area early and getting the spot I want.

As we approached the vending area, I noticed something a bit strange. An old SUV I didn’t recognize was parked in the vending area. That wasn’t the strange part. The vehicle could have belonged to a new vendor I didn’t know or it could have been the new vehicle of someone I did know. What was strange about the vehicle was the way it was parked. Instead of being parked parallel to the highway as vendors usually situate themselves, this SUV was parked perpendicular to the road.

As I pulled off the highway and into the vending area, I noticed something even stranger about the way the SUV was parked. Just beyond where vendors park their vehicles, the land drops. I can walk up and down the incline if I concentrate on my movements, but it’s rather steep. The SUV was sitting at a strange angle because the back tires had rolled beyond the drop off of the land.

Because Northern New Mexico is full of drunk drivers, I assumed someone had been driving drunk and had backed up beyond the point of safety. Of course, the driver maybe wasn’t drunk at all and simply hadn’t seen the drop off in the dark.

In any case, I parked my van and crawled back into bed. The SUV didn’t seem to be damaged in any way that indicated a violent crash or injuries, so I wasn’t worried about anyone being hurt. I didn’t want to disturb anyone who was sleeping it off inside the vehicle because I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with a possibly drunk person in the dark.

The Man and the dog were sleeping peacefully, but I was wide awake. Once in bed, I tried to lie still so as not to disturb my companions. I heard at least one other vendor arrive. I heard voices, but couldn’t understand the words being said. I was maybe drifting off when Bam! Bam! BAM! someone knocked on the van.

The dog sprang from the bed, barking fiercely. The Man sat up from a dead sleep, shouting incoherently. I untangled myself from the blankets while trying to calm The Man and the dog, asking them to let me find out what’s going on.

I pulled the curtain aside and saw a young man in a uniform standing outside the van. I popped open the window, and the young man said, I’m with the sheriff’s department. The knock had sounded like a cop knock because it was a cop knock.

The officer asked me if the SUV had been there when I arrived. I said it had. He asked what time I had arrived. I said I’d gotten there right around four o’clock. (It was now 4:30, according to my watch.) He asked if I had seen anyone in the vehicle or walking around, and I said no. The officer then dismissed me, but I don’t think he thanked me for my time or apologized for waking me (and The Man and the dog, whose commotion he must have heard).

I was awake for a while more and heard chains being attached to the SUV to pull it up to level ground. After that, I managed to fall asleep.

It was after 7am and full daylight when I woke up again. The Man was still snoring, but the dog was awake and whining to go out. I dressed quickly, then harnessed and leashed the dog. After he attended to the call of nature, we walked down the line of vendors, saying hello to our friends.

Dee told me four cops had arrived shortly after she did. (She said she hadn’t called them.) They questioned her about the SUV, but she knew nothing. A tow truck arrived and took the SUV away, then the officers left. Sometime after the cops left, a man walked up to Dee and asked her what had happened to his vehicle.

Did he get dropped off? I asked Dee. Or did he crawl out of the sage? She said she didn’t know, hadn’t seen where he’d come from, but she’d told him his vehicle had been towed.

I walked farther down the line of vendors, and Mr. Leather asked me about the morning’s excitement. I told him about the cop knocking on my van and questioning me, and I told him about the stranger asking Dee where his SUV was.

I guess the moral of the story is stay with your vehicle so it doesn’t get towed, I said to Mr. Leather.

Actually, he said, if you’re drunk, it’s better to leave the vehicle so you don’t get charged with DUI.

I hadn’t thought about it that way. I’ve never once driven after drinking alcohol, so I’d never given any thought to what I should do if I got my vehicle stuck somewhere and risked failing a field sobriety test if the police showed up.

I’m not positive the man who belonged to the SUV was indeed drunk, but if he was sleeping it off in the sage that probably saved him from getting charged with a DUI. I hope getting stuck saved him from getting into a worse accident and possibly ending his own or someone else’s life.

 

 

 

Turtle People

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It was a hot summer afternoon at the Bridge, and Tea and I were talking between potential customers. A couple of young people (maybe early 20s, maybe late teens) came up to our tables sitting side by side.

Hello. How are you? Good prices on everything, we told the young people.

It seemed they were lookers, not shoppers, but it was a slow day, and we were happy to have new people for company. Where are y’all from? we asked.

One of the young people was a woman, a young woman, maybe even a girl in many people’s eyes. She had shoulder length dark hair and carried a guitar. She explained she and her companions lived at a local shelter for runaways and other young people who were having problems and could no longer live with their families.

Tea felt a connection with the young people because 50 years ago, she’d been a teenage runaway. After her beloved mother died, she’d been forced to live with her father and a stepmother who didn’t want her around. Life in her new family became too difficult and she’d bolted. Her experiences on the street gave her an understanding of the lives fo these young people, despite the decades stretching between them.

I felt a kinship with the young woman with the dark hair and guitar. She admired the hemp jewelry I’d made and had for sale. She was interested in my van, especially after I told her I lived in it.

Oh! she said with a smile. You’re one of the turtle people. You take your home with you wherever you go!

She wanted to travel too, she told me, when was 18 and on her own. She would be 18 soon, she said wistfully.

I encouraged her, told her if I could thrive living alone in my van, she could too. She could take her guitar on the road and busk to make enough money to see the world, I said.

In repayment of a debt, I’d recently been given a big bag of beads and pendants carved from bone. In the bag, I’d found several pendants shaped like turtles. I quickly realized that soon after I put a handmade hemp necklace adorned with a turtle pendant on my table, it sold for $20. People love turtles on hemp necklaces.

On the day I met the young woman with the dark hair and guitar, I had a necklace adorned with a turtle pendant on my table. The young woman admired it, but said she didn’t have any money.

What about a trade? I asked. Do you want to trade for it?

She said she didn’t have anything to trade, and I asked her to play her guitar and sing a song for me. I’ll trade you the necklace for a song, I told her.

She looked young and shy as she sat on the floor of my van where the side doors were open to the world. She adjusted her guitar and said she’d sing a song she’d written herself.

I didn’t hear the traffic on the highway or the conversations between the other vendors and their customers while the young woman gave her song to me. My ears listened only to her guitar and the words of joy and longing and promise she sang to me. I heard only her beautiful song.

When she finished singing, all of us who’d listened to her told her she’d sounded wonderful and thanked her for her gift. I got the turtle necklace for her. She placed it around her neck, and I fastened it for her. We were both smiling and a little teary when we said goodbye. I watched her and her guitar walk away and disappear.

I’ve thought about that young woman as the years have passed. She’s turned 18 and is in her 20s now. I hope she was able to get a van and take her guitar and lovely voice on the road. I hope she’s seeing the world. I hope she’s happy, joyful.

I wonder if she still has the necklace I made. I wonder if she thinks of me, her turtle sister.

 

Snow in the Night

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I’d spent the afternoon in the small town library, while The Man sat in the van carving. The sky had been overcast when we’d left our friend’s land in Northern New Mexico, and both the weather forecast and word on the street called for snow in the mountains and rain everywhere else in the area.

I did see rain through the big north-facing windows opposite the table where I sat with my laptop. It came down in sheets. It was blown diagonally by the wind. The first time it came down that afternoon, it chased black cows and their adorably tiny black calves out of my view. I hoped the bovines had a dry barn to go home to.

Fifteen minutes before closing time, as I was checking out some videos and paying for a printout, The Man opened the library’s door and looked at me with wild-eyed concern. We need to go! he said.

Sleet was falling, and he must have thought it was going to last, not understanding the quick variability of Northern New Mexico weather.

(People in nearly every place I’ve ever visited like to joke about their town: Don’t like the weather? Wait fifteen minutes! However, Northern New Mexico is the only place I’ve been where the weather can change drastically–sun to clouds to wind to lightning to rain to hail to rainbow–in literally fifteen minutes.)

I told The Man I’d meet him as soon as I collected my things, and sure enough, by the time I got outside, sleet was no longer falling. Slush covered the door and window on the west side of the van, and the ground was wet, but there was no accumulation. The sleet hadn’t caused any big problems.

There was a bit of drizzle and brief periods of heavier rain on the way back to our friend’s place, but when we turned west, we saw the mountain in front of us bathed in beautiful late afternoon sunlight. The sky above the mountain was filled with puffy, white curlicue clouds. I half expected to see the hand of God reach from the heavens and touch the earth.

We thought maybe the storm had passed over the valley where we were staying, although The Man and I were hit with small ice pellets (snow? hail?) while we cooked dinner outside. The surrounding mountains were hidden by low-lying clouds at eight o’clock when The Man and I headed to the van after an hour of television with our friend. All was quiet when we crawled under the covers and went to sleep.

The Man woke at first light and looked out one of the van’s windows. It’s a winter wonderland out there! he exclaimed.

There was about an inch of snow on the ground, and a dusting on all the things scattered about on our friend’s property. I went out in pants over my Cuddl Duds and a sweatshirt over a t-shirt and was plenty warm. I walked around and took photos of the snow before the sunshine melted it all away.

I took all of the photos in this post.