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On this foggy Saturday morning by the beach in Pacifica, I am prying my eyes open with a Japanese thermos full of hot black tea. I have time to noodle around on the computer for a couple of hours, then take the train into San Francisco to play the matinee of “South Pacific”.

The show schedule is intense with eight performances a week. This is the standard across the country, but most theatres do single evening shows Tuesday through Friday, then double shows on Saturdays and Sundays. Mondays are almost always off. (In theatre lingo, this is called “dark”.)

The show schedule for the San Francisco theatres is different than venues in the rest of the country. We’ve got double shows on Wednesday, and then only a matinee on Sunday.

This is both good and bad. The “bad” news first: there are only two consecutive evenings with single performances. The good news is that we get off work early enough on Sunday afternoon to actually have the semblance of a normal life; there is time to go out to dinner or a movie, or veg at home during prime-time TV.

In my case, getting off work on Sunday afternoon at around five o’clock gives James and me enough time to drive back home to The Woods, which takes about four hours from downtown San Francisco.

We usually arrive at 9 p.m. If there were an evening show, we wouldn’t get home until two in the morning. So the Sunday schedule works well.

We’ve been able to go home only once during this six-week run of South Pacific, a couple of Sundays ago. It was so nice to touch base, even though the visit was so brief; we had to drive back to the City on Tuesday morning.

We drive home again this Sunday for the last time before hitting the road in earnest. James needs to winterize the various water pipes (PVC) and the fittings near the well, since we won’t be back in The Woods until mid-January.

Today (Saturday) is a double show day. South Pacific is a three-hour show, so I don’t have time to take the train “home” to the beach to eat dinner and take a nap before the evening performance. A home-cooked dinner and nap is my usual routine whenever I play Phantom, which is twenty minutes shorter. It’s amazing that twenty minutes can make such a difference, but it does!

So James has been coming into the City to meet me for dinner between shows, which is a nice break for both of us. We’ve found three favorite restaurants not far from the theatre which are good and inexpensive: Indian, Middle-Eastern and Thai. We usually end up at the Indian restaurant, which is the most consistent, flavorful and overall best value. It’s also closest to the theatre.

We’ve been there often enough to be instantly recognized by the staff when we walk in. The one waitress always greets us with a smile.

Perhaps tonight we may try a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that’s next door to the Thai restaurant we’ve been to on several occasions. It’s been highly recommended by the three trumpet players who are on this show — they take their eating VERY seriously!

James will drive me to the Colma train station at about 12:20 this afternoon (only a seven-minute trip over the hill from the beach), and I won’t see the inside of our little Airstream home again until nearly midnight.

Both Wednesdays and Saturdays are very long days when I can’t come home in-between shows, but somehow I make it through.

In fact, I do feel very fortunate to be employed these days, challenging as the show schedule can be at times.

“You must WRITE more”, a little but persistent voice whispered to me over and over as I tossed and turned in bed last night.

Little Voice added, “You must also curtail playing games on Facebook — it’s a huge waste of time!”

My husband James reiterated this last sentiment to me only a few moments ago. So I know that I need to pay attention.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve felt so blocked writing in this blog, for months now. What’s going on with me?

Well…part of me wants to avoid the tendency to become mundane, which can happen in blogs. But people seem to like the day-to-day musings and ramblings of Life, even if they seem trite at times. Bloggers often refer to their posts being mundane, yet their readers always assure them that the posts are interesting.

Hmmm. So maybe I should just GO for it, and run the risk of being mundane.

The definition of “mundane” is indeed illuminating:

mun⋅dane [muhn-deyn, muhn-deyn]
–adjective
1.
of or pertaining to this world or earth as contrasted with heaven; worldly; earthly: mundane affairs.
2.
common; ordinary; banal; unimaginative.
3.
of or pertaining to the world, universe, or earth.

So in other words, people are interested in feelings and events having to do with the world in which we live. And that’s exactly what a blog is.

(Lightbulb turns on.)

Perhaps what is ‘common; ordinary; banal; unimaginative’ to some people is not to others.

I was thinking the other day — always a dangerous enterprise — that blog-writing seems to be an all-or-nothing thing. Either post every day (or at least every other day) or don’t do it at all!

I believe that my many three faithful readers enjoy reading my very occasional postings. But there could be much more of a sense of continuity in my blog, a consistency, a regular “checking in” which has been absent thus far.

Well, we shall see.

So what am I thinking about, today?

Yesterday, I discovered a new place to hang out near the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco. Occasionally I am able to catch an earlier train to work than I had planned to, which gives me enough time to sit down with a cup of coffee and write in my journal before heading to the theatre. I’ve done this at Starbuck’s on a few occasions, but it’s in the opposite direction from the theatre and I usually don’t have enough time to go there.

Yesterday I had an extra service-call which involved videotaping the entire cast in costume and orchestra in tuxes. We taped the most popular numbers from “South Pacific” for advertisement purposes. The call was from 1:30 to 5, followed by our usual show at 8. Busy day!

I emerged from BART onto Market St. and walked the two blocks towards the theatre. I took a slightly different route this time; usually I take a short-cut on Jones St., wending my way around the homeless lying on the sidewalk. But I stayed on Market St. in order to look for some place nearby to have a cup of coffee, since I had an extra half-hour.

There was a “donut”/coffee shop on the corner of Market and Golden Gate which I had never noticed before. It had about fifteen tables and picture windows giving out onto both streets, affording an excellent view of the colorful passerby.

For the life of me I don’t know why I hadn’t see this place before. It was as though it suddenly materialized out of thin air just when I needed it. I suppose that’s the way it is with many things; we tend not to see them until we look for them.

I went into the bright and airy room and walked up to the large glass counter containing many different kinds of doughnuts and pastries. I was reassured to see an espresso machine, so I could have a “specialized” coffee rather than just a cup of regular joe.

I ordered a capuccino and a butter croissant. The coffee was better than average and the croissant was pretty much just a big roll with a slight butter glaze, not at all like what I envision a croissant to be — flaky and buttery — but it was passable and accompanied the coffee nicely.

I found a tiny round table by the plate-glass window overlooking Market St. I could see the Golden Gate Theatre a half block beyond. I took a sip of cappuccino and a bite of the croissant and brought out my journal and pen from my knapsack.

Several working-class black men were talking in loud voices at the adjoining tables. They really didn’t have to speak at such a high volume; there wasn’t much ambient noise and the tables were close together, but this is the nature of people everywhere. I am often amazed at how unncessarily loudly most folks speak.

It’s as though they want an audience. But these men were in the middle of a conversation about one of their cronies, which I wouldn’t have been able to follow or relate to anyway.

One of the men left and the remaining two immediately started talking about him. “He’s juss like his biological father,” one of the guys stated. The other one responded emphatically, “Sho’ is!” Then the first one went into great detail about the father’s physical characteristics and tendencies to womanize, a bit more sotto voce. But I got the gist in spite of myself.

I wrote a few lines in my journal, took more sips of cappuccino and bites from the doughy roll. I looked out onto the Market St. sidewalk, where a parade of interesting characters ambled by. One middle-aged man, with greased-back dirty blond hair and attired in plaid shorts and clashing print shirt open to expose his fish-white Buddha belly, staggered up to a trash can and dug for treasure. Then he approached the plate-glass window with me on the other side and gestured at me…for something…maybe money? I contemplated giving him the rest of my croissant, but then the man abruptly staggered away from the window and ran across the street.

A group of German tourists arrived and sat down at a table, not realizing that they needed to go to the counter first to order. They sat there for the longest time before realization set in, whereupon one woman, serving as spokesperson and interpreter, got up and placed their order in a thick Teutonic accent. The man behind the counter responded in an equally thick Asian accent.

That’s what I love about San Francisco — the rich variety of people from all over the world. It’s truly a melting-pot; quite different from the almost exclusively white (and American) population of Nevada County where I usually call home.

As I got up from the table to go to the theatre, the more verbose of the black men nearby said with a smile, “Have a good day” and I responded, “And the same to you, sir”.

Yesterday was one of those days in which it was easy to embrace the City life and not feel overwhelmed by it, as I sometimes am. On its best days, I am wonderfully stimulated. I think it has something to do with being able to go with the often intense flow, instead of resisting it.

The longer I go between writing posts, the more difficult it becomes to resume.

Part of me resists writing because the blog title “Living in The Woods” does not currently fit my life working in the San Francisco bay area.

Lame excuse, I know.

I keep telling myself that someday we WILL be back in The Woods permanently. But for now, financial necessity requires me to go far afield to make a living. I’m still not ready to retire from active professional horn playing, for personal as well as financial reasons.

I figure that I can continue playing horn at a high level for another five to ten years, if I choose to. But I’ve finally grown smart enough to avoid giving myself a deadline; who knows how I’ll feel in five years (or even two!), and what my life circumstances will be then?

For now, I am thankful to have show work in San Francisco a few times a year. The long-running show “Wicked” has created opportunities for more musicians to be hired to play other shows which come to the City. I have been lucky to play three shows since late November: Phantom, Spamalot and now South Pacific, for a total of nineteen weeks’ employment.

Along with this work is my occasional subbing with Phantom. After the six-week run of South Pacific is over in San Francisco on October 25th, I’ve got seven consecutive weeks of work lined up with Phantom in Tempe, Durham and Ft. Lauderdale. The last city is during Christmas week.

After that…who knows?

My first blog in 2005 was entitled “On The Road”. Should I rename this blog?

After this show closes, James and I will take the Airstream down to Arizona, where I will play the last two weeks of Phantom’s run in Tempe in mid-November.

Before I resume work, we will have two weeks to get our house ready to sell, in a certain small town in the extreme southeastern corner of Arizona. We left there over two years ago and the house has been vacant; we decided that it was too much of a hassle to be long-distance landlords.

We recently contacted a close friend who still lives in the area, to go over to the house and assess what needs to be done. Spiderwebs and dust need to be vacuumed, the fridge needs cleaning (someone turned off the breaker box at some point and the inside of the fridge is black with mold!) and of course the jungle of a yard needs to be hacked down. We’ll probably do at least some of this work ourselves.

We’re going to stay in the Airstream in an RV park on the edge of town while there. The house is livable but our little trailer is really our HOME — everything we need is already in place and we enjoy living in it.

I could write a lot about what’s been going on in my life since my last posting in mid-August — or very little. I’ll opt for the latter, since most of it is work-related, anyway.

James and I have been busy composing and arranging music for recorder ensemble, and have gotten together with a core group of four excellent players several times over the past few months. Our eventual goal is to sell our music online. Someday this will happen when we’re more settled.

The beach at Pacifica has been beautiful for nearly two weeks now; no fog! Autumn is the best season in the Bay area, I think.

We like our little spot in the back, in the corner of the RV park. It’s close to traffic but is actually quite private; most of the short-term tourists rent the spots in the rows closer to the ocean.

We arrived here on September 11th. Here’s a video of our drive from The Woods to The Beach:

Well, this isn’t the most exciting blog post in the world but it will have to do! 🙂