Saturday, April 28, 2007

About Alice

I just finished reading the most amazing book called About Alice. Calvin Trillin has been a favorite author of mine since my friend Zack told me about him back when we were both in college. Zack is a writer, an intelligent and likeable guy from Memphis who ran with the same crowd I did in college. Even back then he had a subscription to the New Yorker and I found that incredibly impressive. Zack was a sportswriter for our school paper, and before long I found I had been talked into writing a column for that same paper. I wrote about musical things, usually. I interviewed George Crumb when he came to visit our campus and I made a pilgrimage to Chicago one spring break to a week-long seminar featuring John Cage as the distinguished guest. But in my column, which was truly an editorial in the "Perspectives" section, I also wrote weekly about sorority life or campus politics or interesting people I encountered in the cafeteria. Back in the days before everyone was blogging, I enjoyed having the chance to write about whatever was on my mind. People read my columns, too. I recall once a professor of mine pulled a folded up square of newspaper out of his wallet and quoted my own words back to me. He was challenging me on a point I was trying to make, but what I remember about that moment was that he read my writings even when he didn't have to.

I loved working in the newsroom among people I suspected would go on to do it for a living. Many of them did. I knew my calling was elsewhere but I really savored the twice-weekly deadines and the general camaraderie of that room. The honest truth is that I think I learned more about writing from that group of my peers than I did in any English class along the way.

I sat on my couch this afternoon reading Calvin Trillin's shockingly moving book (which should only take an hour or two, it's such a compact little thing) and twice found myself sobbing. Maybe it's because I'm a mother now and I look at the world so much through the eyes of children. Maybe it's because I savor the eloquent and precise ways Trillin puts words together to portray a marriage so intimiate and so nurtured. Maybe it's because my own husband is out of town and I know he was moved by the book when he read it a few weeks ago. (At the risk of being way too narcissistic, read his blog entry here and tell me you aren't bowled over, too.) All I know is I can't recommend it highly enough. How lucky we are.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Home Calls

Two years ago my husband and I moved to Los Angeles from New York. People ask me all the time why we made such a change, and sometimes I, too, find myself wondering. There seems to be so much more work for me in NY. I have a large circle of friends there, not to mention my collaborators. Mother, mother-in-law, and even mother-like friends are all on the east coast. It's maddening how much I ache for the relationships I spent years in New York nurturing that now seem like buttons hanging tentatively off a favorite old coat. And yet, after having spent a busy and exciting month in New York, I am so grateful to be home.

Two years ago we packed everything from our apartment and two storage units into a moving van and sent it west. It took three weeks longer than we expected for the van to arrive in sunny Southern California, and by the time our boxes showed up I was so far into my pregnancy that I wasn't allowed to lift any of them. Slowly we unpacked, making sure the nursery was set up first, and of course the baby arrived well before the house felt ready. But we did it; we made a home. Our first. We built a studio -- a dream room that has a grand piano and shelves and shelves of music -- which was something we never could have afforded in New York. We bought cars. We got insured. We built a deck.

This morning my daughter, now 18 months, and I spread ourselves out on a blanket in the back yard and I decided to pull some wild grasses up from the flowerbeds. She's in a phase where she repeats everything I say, so I was teaching her words -- "rock" and "dirt" and "weeds." (She also really likes to say the word "cheese" which is part of how I know she's actually mine.) We found a roly poly in the mud. She picked him up with her tiny fingers and dropped him on the ground. As expected, he collapsed into a ball. A few seconds later, she squealed with delight as he found his legs and scurried back off under a rock, and I thought, well, this is just it, isn't it? A lazy hour or two with a baby and a roly poly in your own back yard on your little plot of earth. That's the American dream. That's home.

In my writing I find I come back to the concept of "home" over and over again. When I started writing my show The Water, I brought several questions to my collaborators. "What is it about a place that draws people back to it even after destruction? Why do people risk everything to live in areas that are inherently dangerous -- coastlines, faultlines, fire-zones, hurricane zones? What makes people leave, and what makes them come back?" We're working on answering those questions, at least for the sixteen characters in that show.

I'm learning that for me, I need a little bit of both. I need the professional thrill of the work I do in NY, and I'll happily keep returning for opportunities that excite me. But I'm so grateful for my home, my little haven of quiet in the sunshine where my child can dig in the dirt and I can take a minute to mend the buttons on my coat.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The CD is out! It's amazing how these things happen. I had the big Birdland concert on the 9th. Full day of rehearsal that day then I raced over to Birdland for the sound check, then suddenly it's 6:45 pm and the photographer has shown up and I'm not even dressed yet. The whole thing was a whirlwind, but I suppose that's good because it didn't allow me too much time to get nervous. The concert was amazing, if I do say so myself. If you weren't there (and many of you were... sold out... thank you!), you can only imagine how great those performers sounded, but thanks to you can see some photos of the event here.

If you haven't had a chance to pick up the album yet, I am happy to announce that it's now available on iTunes! You can also order it at amazon or psclassics. And order it you should, because Derek Bishop did an amazing job designing that booklet, and there are some fun essays and a cute photo of my daughter. I figure if I sell enough of them to break even, then I'll release another one. And that's how this self-promotion thing goes.

So let's see. Now that I'm blogging, what else can I tell you about? I'm working right now on gathering singers and musicians for my LA Concert on June 2nd at the El Portal Theatre. Watch here and I'll announce who's gonna come play with me on stage.

I think that's enough talking about myself for one blog entry. I want to make sure that this blog is used for other things besides selling my CD and promoting my concerts. Though those things are really important to my career and my ability to get my work out into the world, I also want to be sure to give a little bit of space to talking about other things. So, I'm hoping to close every blog from now on with something that has caught my attention.

There is nothing quite like writers writing about writing, but if you're a person who enjoys writing and thinking about writing and (like most of us) avoiding actually writing, you'll find that you look to other writers for insight into how they manage it all. And that's why this essay by playwright and director Craig Lucas really wowed me. Enjoy.


Saturday, April 07, 2007


Okay, it's official. The new website is up and running, the big concert is Monday night in NYC, and the album will be released next week. I think things are definitely starting to happen. At last.

Welcome to! I'm hoping that as soon as I learn how to update this website myself it will be a place where I can talk about my experiences in the entertainment industry, and I can share with you the music that thrills me, pieces of theater that move me, books that are beautifully written and people that are inspiring. I encourage you to do the same. In the meantime, come to the concert, buy the album, post a comment. Let's start a community.

More to come...


Just a reminder that the concert is on Monday night at Birdland in NYC. 7 pm show, and ticket reservations are going well, so if you want a seat call now and reserve it! 212-581-3080 or

I have so many special guests. Maybe you've heard of some of them?

Andrea Burns
Matthew Morrison
Jenn Colella
Will Chase
Lauren Kennedy
Tituss Burgess
Cheyenne Jackson
Kelli O'Hara

Ashley Anderson
Chad Doreck
Kevin Greene
Juliana Hansen
Derek Keeling
Austin Miller
Kathleen Monteleone
Matt Nolan
Kate Rockwell
Allie Schultz
Ashley Spencer

Gary Sieger, guitar
Randy Landau, bass
Norbert Goldberg, drums
Sam Davis, guest conductor and pianist

Check out the new album "THIS ORDINARY THURSDAY" here:

or here:

And take a look at the new website! Go to the forum and let me know what you think!

See you very soon!