Friday, May 27, 2011

You're Always Kenickie To Me

I grew up watching Grease constantly.

I knew every song by heart, loved all the dance moves, and at eleven years old, was totally and properly scandalized by the racy Greased Lightning scene. And even though John Travolta's Danny was the real heart-throb, I always had a soft spot for the weird-talking Kenickie with the goofy laugh who gets hit in the head with the car door right before his big drag race.

I saw Grease on Broadway when I was a senior in high school, wrote an essay about Grease's influence on my adolescence, and have spent countless Nonesuch road trips singing along to the soundtrack with newer, younger Grease fans who adore "Freddy My Love" as much as me. And I might as well admit it: I even liked Grease 2, the inferior sequel.

So the news that Jeff Conaway passed away today at the still-young age of 60 makes me sad indeed. Until today, I had no idea he'd become an incoherent, flailing drug addict on Celebrity Rehab thanks (in small part) to a back injury suffered during the filming of that gyrating Greased Lightning scene. No idea he'd lived a life beyond the grinning Rizzo-loving bad-boy who cheers with delight when he finds out she isn't pregnant after all.

I guess life goes on no matter how hard we cling to our childhood iconography and mythology. And yet I'll always be grateful to Jeff Conaway for teaching me that the side-kick can be just as cool as the leading role, that it's okay to back down sometimes and let someone else be the hero.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turn Turn Turn

A short history of my weekend:

On Thursday a student called me a f*$&*ing bitch! and slammed out of my classroom, leaving me with enough adrenaline to break my bike trail record on the way home. I haven't been yelled at by a student since my very first year at Nonesuch, when take-no-shit Ariel screamed "suck my cock" after I made her leave class for antagonizing another student. But at least her insult was peppered with verve, creative license, and, dare I say it, an admirable use of metaphor.

Friday was our annual photo scavenger hunt in San Francisco, and thanks in large part to my giggly group of students, I had a blast. Highlights included dressing Maddy and Alana up in biker gear, creating a found object masterpiece on a sidewalk in Fisherman's Wharf, blowing up balloons with a spry old man, getting the paw print of an adorable black and white hound, and all of us rolling down a grassy hill together.

By Saturday I felt so wiped out that I slept through my Pilates class. In a rare show of self-forgiveness, I let myself spend a good part of the day lounging on the couch, finishing Hamlet, reading about Osama bin Laden in the New Yorker, and watching my two new favorite shows: Parks and Recreation and The Twilight Zone.

I woke up this morning to a hail storm. I love the quiet calm of Sunday. Everything feels just right: iced coffee and journal writing, a great yoga class, M still sleeping off his accumulated debt. I've been trying to keep my mornings Internet-free, but boy am I glad I checked my email this morning. Perched in my in-box, like a bright piece of candy, was an acceptance letter from Frostwriting, the online literary journal that has chosen to publish my story "The Girls." Suddenly that f*^&*ing b*&tch outburst seems so far away, and so small.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

happy may!

there were so many things going on today, a may pole gathering I once cherished, an immigration march I usually attend, but instead of doing the obligatory I did just what I wanted, which meant coffee and croissants in the cemetery this morning, an hour of glorious lane-all-to-myself lap swimming, digging up (with permission) and replanting poppies, lilies, and lambs ear in our exploding garden, reading Hamlet on the front porch, eating lots of purple cabbage salad and tangerines, and last but verily not least, preparing for my interview tomorrow with acclaimed author Pam Houston, whose writing makes me glad to be alive...