30 May 2007

our opening move

So, we sent off a letter to our landlady and her brother. (Long story on why her brother is involved.) Essentially, we laid out two options. First: if they give us two months' rent, plus use our security deposit as our last months' rent, we would agree to leave as early as September 30th. Second: we would give them two months' notice as soon as we know when we can move, which may be as late as the end of our lease (end of February 2008).

September 30th may seem really far off, but seeing as it's already June, and that I'll most likely be in Japan for at least six weeks around August, Mark & I agreed that's the earliest sane option. Still makes my stomach turn to think about it, but if we get those months paid for, maybe we can hire real movers for a change.

Anybody care to hazard a guess on their response?

P.S. The pic is of our oft-flooded basement.

29 May 2007

good question

Mark got an email from our landlady's brother this morning, asking (with no question mark, thank you): "Have you set your plans for moving."

Plans? What plans? ... Set plans??

They want to bring real estate people in ASAP. So now we'll have people coming in and out of the house all the time. Lovely.

28 May 2007

speeding up, slowing down

It's the end of a precious holiday weekend... and after 3 days of sleeping in all morning, reality is creeping in: pressure's cranking up at work (let's just say I got script notes at 11:54pm on Sunday night); next weekend's busy with rehearsals and an upcoming film project; the weekend after that, we're in LA; we'll also be out of town the last weekend in June -- for starters. You get the idea. I've also got to figure out when exactly to go back to Japan this summer. Really, when or how are we going to pack up and move any time soon? I suppose it will somehow happen whenever we need it to... Just feeling rather panicked. Summers always seem to fly by faster than other seasons, and this one in particular promises to be full of rather dramatic events. I feel dizzy just thinking about it.

Time to go out into the sun and take a few deep breaths. Need to stay focused on taking things slowly, easy, one step at a time. Thank god I have the cats to remind me how.

P.S. I had no idea Sumi had that pattern on the roof of her mouth...

26 May 2007

cameo at carnegie

Lest you think I spend all my days moping about rewrites and procreation, here's an entry about my most beloved activity in the Big Apple: singing with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York.

You can read all about RCCNY on the website, so I won't go into it here. But suffice it to say that I've been in choirs for almost 30 years (yikes!?), and I've never, ever experienced singing as I have with our maestro Nikolai Kachanov. He's a philosopher, a teacher, a father-figure, and above all, of course, an incredible incredible musician. (And that description really does not do him justice...) The group is an eclectic little family. Every rehearsal is not only a mini vocal lesson but also a spiritual exploration, a salve to the all-consuming exhaustion of modern-day existence. My music sheets are filled with notes and quotes that apply to both how to sing and how to live.

I've lately started to think more and more about the power of the universe that draws us to the people and events that change our lives; certainly, finding RCCNY -- out of the billions of choirs in New York City -- was no coincidence. I firmly believe that. It's been an incredible 5 years of performances in Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and some of the most beautiful churches in the city -- at times with some of the best orchestras, soloists and conductors in the world. But every rehearsal is just as intriguing and mysterious an adventure, and I couldn't imagine life in NYC without RCCNY.

There will be future musings about RCCNY and the life lessons therein; the actual point of this blog entry is to say that our next mysterious musical journey brings us to Carnegie Hall, on Monday June 4th, for a concert performance of Pietro Mascagni's Zanetto -- an opera that hasn't been performed in New York since 1902. It's perhaps the funniest little cameo we've ever made (at least in my 5-year tenure in the group): 4 minutes, off-stage, in a piece with no words. It's like the polar opposite of our all-night vigil performance of John Tavener's The Veil of the Temple, which involved much choreography and ran for 11 hours straight (no joke).

That's it. Just a little announcement, preceded by an effort to describe the inexplicable wonder that is RCCNY. Stay tuned.

22 May 2007

for example

Here's a piece of the fertility*-obsessed mind:

One of the stories I'm writing for work is about a young woman who dies from mysterious blood clots. Now, the series is a melodrama disguised as a medical mystery, so there's always a fine line between writing just the facts ma'am, and pumping up the drama. I tend to be rather subtle, and prefer to let things unfold naturally, but that often falls short when it comes to precisely structuring story points...for TV. Anyway, I unexpectedly got a bunch of rewrite notes from the network executive, which threw me off; of course it bothered me, despite knowing there's major upheaval going on at Discovery, and both my bosses telling me repeatedly that they never once thought this script was anything but brilliant.

So I'm doing these rewrites, which are coming along fine, and then I find myself staring down at the exec's comment: "Writing is too sterile." Sterile. I'm sterile.

I know I'm not, technically. Our baby-making predicament is not so dire. But it feels like I am, every month. Every month, when the blood begins.

So the tears came. Softly.

Like always.

*Apparently, the terms fertility and infertility are interchangeable for the most part: i.e. "fertility problem" and "infertility problem." So "they" suggest using "fertility" as much as possible, since it's more positive-minded. You be the judge.

21 May 2007

the highlights

Having promised to explore all the life issues above, I suppose I'm going to have to bite the bullet and start writing about this whole infertility thing. So here goes -- starting with the highlights to date:

Went off the Pill in January '05; started feeling a little inadequate by end of that year; got a slew of tests done in early '06, all of which were fine, and so were officially diagnosed with... "unexplained" infertility. Consulted a highly recommended doctor in the early summer, but then Mark and I were both traveling, then my mom wound up in the hospital, and I went to Japan for six weeks....so we didn't actually get around to treatment until October. By treatment, I mean going to acupuncture, as well as trying artificial insemination -- otherwise known as IUI, or intrauterine insemination -- which is essentially the process of stimulating my egg production, then turkeybasting in the sperm.

Unfortunately, we did this twice to no success, by which point I'd developed a cyst from the medication (a common side effect, apparently). And it was December and time to head back to Japan for family time and holidays, etc., so I focused on taking Chinese herbal medicines. The timing was such that there was the possibility we'd conceive right on Christmas Eve/Day....but didn't happen.

THEN, the insurance provider at my job changed... so I could no longer go to my regular doctor to continue treatment. In fact, this provider claims I'm not covered for ANY fertility treatment anywhere, which I'm still disputing. Meanwhile, I've done more acupuncture, yoga, herbal medication... still to no avail.

Now, there are still many options at this point: continue trying to naturally conceive; leave my insurance provider and find another one that will cover treatment here; look into adoption (?? we haven't really talked about that...) and our current top choice, try IVF -- in vitro fertilization -- in Japan. That could be as early as August, if we can figure out work & my cycle.

So, there it is, where it all stands. Now, it's time for bed, so I'll leave all the introspective stuff for later. Suffice it to say that these two and a half years have been full of hopes, tears, and general confusion.... all of which were tougher to handle without wine (well, at least for me). But, we have faith -- and we know we're not alone.

Hope that answers some questions you've always wanted to ask but never did. More to come.

20 May 2007

the sounds in my house

KCRW/Café LA on the radio downstairs. Mark's footsteps, confident in his flipflops. The rustling of newspapers. Birds outside. Sumi's nails skittering across the floor (I REALLY have to trim them...she's just hard to, um, nail down). The wind, rustling through our (overgrown) yard.

Sunday afternoon. Peace and quiet...without the silence.

off the bone

Went over to the Turks' last night for dinner. (Russ and Michele are Mark's best friends from Boston College, who now live about 3 minutes away). We celebrated the first farmer's market tomatoes, berries, and fiddlehead ferns, and the mushroom risotto was perfect for the sudden dip in temperature (it's mid-MAY and I pulled out a black turtleneck sweater). But the gold star goes to what is now officially Russ' signature dish: luscious, silky, fine-tuned osso buco. Bravo!

Frankly, I'm a little hung over today, but it was well worth it...

Note to Mark: don't forget to check out the storefront next to Fjord's that the Turks mentioned.

19 May 2007

pick a spot, any spot

Cast your vote by posting a comment to this entry. No holds barred...

chicken or cheese?

Planning a trip to Los Angeles for June 7th-10th. Airline prices keep bouncing around (and creeping up), though, which is never fun. What a mystery. It's going to be so weird going back to LA thinking we might be moving back there again. Wish we could stay longer than three nights, but we can't bear to use up all our vacation days just yet. God knows we'll need them later this year.

A little background info: LA is on the plate (no pun) as an option for the store, because Mark has a best friend there who would be the perfect business partner -- food-wise, experience-wise, personality-wise -- but he's got a wife and two kids who are rooted in SoCal and we couldn't ask them to pick up and move. Plus, LA could use a good gourmet store.

But -- the other question is: will this be a chicken store (specializing in real, organic, local-farm rotisserie chickens, marinated in a choice of gourmet flavors) -- or a cheese & homemade foods store (think: Boulette's Larder in San Francisco, or Little Next Door in LA, or Formaggio Kitchen in Boston)? The chicken joint, which we call Firebird Roasting Company for now, could turn into a money-making machine with possible franchising opportunities. But in the end... I think the food store, which we call Bluestone Market, is closer to our hearts. I can't wait to decorate that place.

So, we'll see. I doubt the answers will be clear even after the trip. But you never know.

gray days

A beautifully gray day outside and procrastinating to no end. (But this picture is from near the sand dunes in Colorado.)