New digs

Come on in

About 2 days ago it looked like this:

which mostly obscured it’s amazing qualities.

It took two days of unpacking and rearranging, buying a few things and repacking all the stuff I had brought over and didn’t need (“furnished apartment” is a very loose term with a very wide range of possible furnishings…).

But now it looks like this from the front door:

With St. Camille in residence.

I’m calling it Hemingway’s hideaway because the leather furniture and wood/rattan accents make me want to drink bourbon and write the next American novel. I figure I’m capable of at least one of those things.

The door straight ahead goes into the bathroom, which has a beautiful though perpetually tarnished copper sink:

And this back towards the front door-ish. The mirror makes everything slightly distorted:

There’s a wee kitchenette – emphasis on wee:

That I can hide when I have guests:

While I distract them with views of my (equally wee) patio:

Did I mention the pool?

I love this place. It rained last night and the roof leaked in my “bedroom” and I still love it. I’ve woken up both mornings happy. I feel like I can do some solid work here and it’s making life in Tucson in the summertime very bearable.

Come visit. I’ll have a bourbon waiting for you.

Saying goodbye to Noelle

One of my best girls is moving away this week. Her husband got a job in Chicago so they’re leaving the land of endless sun and heading north for the winter. The pros include close proximity to their parents and siblings and the cons include a lack of proximity to me. I’m happy for her, I’m bummed out for me, you know…

To celebrate our last weekend in close digs, Jen, Noelle and I took 3 of their 4 collective children to a resort for a mini weekend.

I got there late because I moved into my new place this weekend (more about that tomorrow) so I arrived just in time for dinner, which is always my favorite time to show up anywhere.

We started with chips and salsa and martinis

That salsas on the left has roasted tomato, cucumber and corn. Delicioso.

You’d think we’d know better than to order a second round… but you’d be wrong. Apparently we think we’re still 21.

We’re not.

At all.

To counter the vodka, we upped our dairy quotient with some queso fundido con chorizo

And a curious roasted duck quesadilla.

which seemed like a good idea but in fact is not a combination that should be repeated anywhere.

After dinner the kids watched a movie

Noelle’s kids love Jen’s baby Ruby

while we three sat on the patio and talked about how long we’ve known each other and how nice it’s been to live close to each other for the past couple of months. We’ve known each other 20+ years and all moved around a lot during that time but still managed to keep in touch and stay close. I know that this move is just another in the series of life adventures even though I’m still sad.

Miss Noelle, I wish you a safe voyage north. I fully expect that you’ll have your house unpacked, kids in school and know all your neighbors within days of setting foot on Illinois soil. Arizona is poorer for losing your focused cheerful energy.

I already miss you but I know you’ll be back to visit in October when I’ll insist on a picture of the three of us together! But until then, this is one of my favorites of you and 2 of your boys.

Travel safe. See you soon. XOX

A Kaitlyn and Ryan Retrospective

Ryan left today to join the Les Miserables tour in LA. I hope they have a great time together for the next 6 weeks.

Some friendships are hard to encapsulate in words. Ryan and I do better in pictures. So, here’s a taste of the past 5 years.

Arcata, California

It all started with a tour bus (Lucy) and a rug that Ryan “borrowed” from somewhere in Idaho. This rug still resides in Ryan’s work box and gets pulled out for special occasions.

Climbing a giant rock on the beach in Arcata California. We also saw the Redwoods on this day. A perfect memory that stands out from our Producers tour.

Miami, FL

Halloween in Miami FL, the year that everyone threw a costume together at the last minute. I went as Mrs. Bob the Builder and Ryan bought his $5 cop costume in the kid section of the local Walgreens. He also spent the night writing people citations for behavior ranging from “not enough enthusiasm” to “boring costume idea.”

Photo fun in Washington DC

It’s hard to comment on this picture but I feel I should include it…

Dallas TX

Our Wizard of Oz closing night  in Dallas TX.

And San Diego, CA.

I’m expecting him to shake things up in Les Mis and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Until next time, McAlpine…

Apparently It’s Next Time

I saw my brother yesterday in Gilbert AZ:

This marks the first time ever that I’ve seen all my immediate family where they live within the space of one week. Nate and I hung out last night and then went to breakfast this morning. The breakfast loving gene runs strong in our family and the Farmhouse Restaurant in Gilbert, AZ:

Offers a whole variety of egg scrambles – mine had potatoes, bacon and green onions – in a sweet little space with accomodating waitstaff. I’d recommend it in a minute.

We then parted ways. Nate drove to Globe and I drove to Tucson, staring at the horizon and taking really deep breaths the whole way.

I lived in Tucson for 10 years before going on tour with musical theatre shows. When I left, I packed up my stuff and put it in a storage shed, parked my truck in a different storage space, arranged for my friend Karen to forward my mail and took off.

Since I started touring, I’ve been back to Tucson every year and it goes like this:

1. A month before I arrive, I decide how long I’ll be there and figure out how many social engagements I can fit in. I send out a bunch of emails asking if my friends have time to hang out and then spend the next 2 weeks fielding return emails and scheduling lunches, dinners, drinks etc. and fitting everyone in. Sometimes this means a day where I have breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night drinks all with separate people. On those days I have 5 opportunities in 24 hours to try not to talk nonstop about my crazy job. A blog has been a good solution to this problem. Now I can write about my life and my friends can read, which frees me up to listen to their stories over food and adult beverages and we don’t have to talk about me at all.  Note to all my friends who don’t read my blog, if you start reading we can talk more about you.

2. I pick up my truck and spend the first afternoon getting it through emissions, registering it and changing the oil. Every year it develops another tic or some kind of weird behavior that I chalk up to abandonment issues and power games. I’m pretty sure I’ve given it a complex by leaving it alone so much of the year. I fear it’s turned into one of those weird hermits with no gauge of normal truck behavior because it’s segregated from society and forced to recreate with the RVs stored around it.

3. I check on my storage shed, which is more and more of a mess every time I visit. I wade through dusty boxes filled with God knows what, knowing that there are things in there I’ve forgotten about and no longer want or need or would use or have any idea why I kept. I’m always searching for something and trying to remember where the 5-years-ago me might have stored it, usually with little success. I throw some stuff out, pack a lot more things away, rearrange a few things and hours later covered with dust I look at the giant mess, shake my head, roll down the door and drive away thinking “The next time I come into town I really need to figure out a different way to store everything.”

4. I collect my mail. Then I look at the giant pile and know that I’ll lose an hour of my life going through all the junk mail and cursing the credit card companies that won’t stop sending me card offers. Trees are dying, I don’t want another credit card, if I bake you cookies will you please for the LOVE OF GOD stop sending me mail??? Seriously, send me an address. I’m getting out the butter and sugar right now.

5. I spend every remaining waking moment seeing friends, running errands, complaining about the heat and saying “I will NEVER live here again” in very disdainful tones.

6. Right before I leave, I email the people I didn’t see and say “I’ll see you next time. How in the world do you live here? It’s hellish!!”

7. I jet out of town after too few days saying “Next Time” to everything I didn’t finish.

Now, for the first time in 5 years, I will be stretching the above madness over 6 weeks instead of 6 days. And while I have big renovation plans (STORAGE SHED) I also have a lot of writing work to do so I won’t be a whit surprised if I fly out of this city with even less done than I usually accomplish.

So, for the next few days I’ve got a truck whose ego needs stroking so it will run for the entire 6 weeks I’m here, a laptop that needs technical attention because it’s acting all feverish and virus stricken, apartment sublet keys and instructions to procure, a rental car to return, loose ends to wind up, a weekend in New Mexico and THEN finally, I move in to my own little place for 6 blessed weeks and stare at the wall in silence for the first 24 hours until my brain reboots.

Welcome to the official season known as “Next Time.”

Fishnets and a Bordello Boutique

If you haven’t seen a Roller Derby game, now’s the time.

 Two teams of girls on skates going in circles. What’s better than that? How about fishnets? And great names.

I mean, Bev Rage?? Kinda awesome. She’s a part of the champion Tucson team, the Furious Truckstop Waitresses, who laid waste to the Prescott team, the Whiskey Row-llers, on Saturday night. It was a bloodbath with a final score of 224 to 80. That’s an obliteration. But the FTW is a better team with better skaters. The Whiskey Row-ller’s only strong point is this chica:

Buffy something or other (the FTW also have much better names and better outfits…), a bruiser with a black mouth guard, a fierce neck tattoo and a general crushing demeanor who spent most of her time on the penalty chairs for her casual dismissal of every rule.

Skates in the air: never good, though Buffy looks pleased.

We spent a couple hours watching Buffy body check the opposition and yell at the ref through her mouth guard while the FTW sidestepped all the Whiskey blockers and scored points until they got tired and called off the jam.  A very solid Saturday night.

My friend Missy and I spent Easter Sunday in Jerome, a little mining town over the mountain from Prescott, AZ.

Virgin Guadalupe gets a lot of love in the Southwest.

More strange yard art:

Why does the hulk have a dryer on his head and his leg in the air? Why ask why… At some point, I expect to see John Dempsey’s backyard turn into a type of Tinker Town.

He and his wife Mary run a shop called House of Joy, housed in the building that once held a brothel in Jerome. They call their shop a brothel boutique (very likely the only one in all the world) and they sell brothel-esque paraphernalia (sequin pasties, anyone?), original brothel inspired artwork inclusive of pin up girls and glitter and a fair amount of antique pieces found in and around Jerome. I was kind of intrigued with their brothel tokens that looked like metal poker chips. Miners bought them and redeemed them with prostitutes, which is a reasonable system that kept all the money in one location thus reducing risk to the girls who could have gotten robbed in addition to everything else

In continuation of our bordello themed exploits, Missy and I ate dinner at an Italian place called Belgian Jenny’s Bordello Pizzeria. I’m going to classify the name as incredible, the food as good, the décor as disturbing (Christmas decorations should come down by April…) and the service as abysmal. I wouldn’t recommend it but I do love the name.  We then came home to watch trashy movies and hang out.

I’m calling that a great Easter. I hope yours was equally as interesting.

Tomorrow, California.

See you then.

For you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup

Woke up crabby and tired. Never good. Went to my favorite breakfast place in Tucson only to discover that they’d changed the menu and I didn’t love their food as much as I remembered.


I felt at loose ends anyway since I had nothing specific I wanted to see, a doctor’s appointment for my annual ob/gyn check up smack in the middle of the afternoon killing my ability to make plans and several failed attempts to see my friend Jen. I gritted my teeth and did some writing and hated it. I wrote an angry facebook status about wanting to punch someone in the face, got caught in traffic on my way to the doctor’s office and arrived late to find the waiting room crammed full of people.

Then I waited two hours to see the doctor.

Two hours during which time a 2 year old child (with stained pants and the continual smell of pee wafting around her) ran around next to me hollering and watching a hyper frantic anime cartoon repeatedly on her mom’s phone, cried when she was told not to pick her nose and then peed her pants (again??) in the chair next to me and was led sobbing out of the room.

Two Hours.

Two hours in which the receptionist’s face got grimmer and tighter and less friendly as ranks of women filed up to the counter to ask when the doctor might see them and she kept shaking her head, walking into the clinic and coming back with no good news.

Two hours in which the boyfriends of some young looking girls grew restless and asked louder and louder questions about how much longer? Exactly?

Two hours in which I watched my last chance to see Jen drift away and I had to go out to my car and eat a protein bar so I didn’t rip off the receptionist’s head and feed it to the loudest boyfriend. I tried to heed Bruce’s advice and “control my breath so I could control my life” but anger and irritation is SO much easier.

Two terrible no good very bad long boring hours.

I finally got in the clinic to be seen and met the sweetest most apologetic nurse, Margaret, who did everything she could to get me out of there as quickly as possible and filled up my water bottle twice (in Tucson that’s better than someone handing you free money). Then I met the doctor who was also great and apologetic and worked fast but didn’t seem aggravated or annoyed. Good people. Sucky situation. My best suggestion is that the clinic teams up with (insert giant chain restaurant here) and get those blinky flashy coaster things. Give them to patients when they check in, tell them not to go more than 15 minutes away and call them when the doctor’s ready. How hard would that be? Can’t be worse than a waiting room full of agitation.

I left the clinic at 5 and contemplated – with no pleasure – a 530 yoga class. I didn’t want to go but figured that with a facebook status about punching, the least I could do (karmically speaking) was sweat out some of the hate. So I showed up at the studio (and PS Tucson, replace the carpet in your studio. It smells terrible. Or better yet, rip it out and get hard wood floors. Otherwise, the room is great.) Anyway, I go into the room and get into savasana and try to breathe before class starts.  People are drifting in and out of the room and then two women start talking! In the studio!! This is not right. The Bikram studio is a quiet zone and there should be no talking. Go outside! But these two girls are chatting about vacations and husbands and kids and what all and then other people in the studio sit up and start talking amongst themselves while I’m lying in savasana with my fists clenched channeling my inner librarian and thinking SSSSSSHHHHHHHHH! as loudly as possible hoping my thought waves knock them silent. I think this is using yoga power for evil, but I’m not certain.

Finally the teacher, Bob, comes in and turns on the light and says we’re getting started. We stand up to start the first round of breathing and a late person arrives. Tucson is the only Bikram studio I’ve been in that allows latecomers and this is the second class I’ve taken where people have been late. Late guy #1 bumbles into class and sets up right in front of me. I try to ignore him in the mirror and breathe when late guy #2 comes in about 20 seconds later and sets up right behind me.

Really really???

Again, I try to ignore them while they fumble around with towels and water and organization and find the rhythm of the exercise when late guy #3 (!!!!!) comes in after we’ve completed the first set of breathing and walks through the whole class to set up on the far end of the room.

By this time my outrage is barely contained and I’m bound to make this the most focused intense class of my life when Bob starts in with the Bikram dialogue and something seems… different about his approach.

Oh, I know. Clearly he’s an auctioneer in his other life.

An AUCTIONEER! Who does Bikram! What does a yoga auctioneer sound like? Here’s a sample:

WE’re gonna start with half moon pose feet together HEELS touching TOES touching ARMS UP fingers interlaced release your index Fingers And REACH! (breath) REACH to the right and then to the left GO all the way down PUSH your hips out (breath) DON’T let that hip roll in CHIN up THROAT visible! (breath) Now go down go down go down left right Left Right LEFT RIGHT COME TO THE MIDDLE AND STOP!!!

Are. You. Serious???!!!!

And so it went for the whole class. (Right leg right leg right leg lamppost concrete no knee LOCK that knee FOCUS on the thigh YOU HAVE NO KNEE Pick Up Your Left Foot AND BREATHE!) Plus he told stories and counted one Mississippi 2 Mississippi and referenced that old joke about the little boy misspelling and the teacher asking where the other “p” was and the boy saying it was running down his leg.

Pee jokes! In Bikram!

Man, I tried to hold onto the anger and outrage and then I just gave in and started laughing. I couldn’t help it. So ridiculous.

And this all leads to my Bikram lesson of the day: it doesn’t have to be serious.

It’s not all about the pain and agony and discipline. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s silly. Sometimes you get an auctioneer.

And this marks the end of my Tucson stay. I’m driving up to Prescott this afternoon and headed to California on Monday.

Roller Derby Girls tonight!! So come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.

Happy Easter weekend.

See you tomorrow.

We are what we repeatedly do.

I met my friend Carol at one of my favorite Tucson places for lunch.

Vegetables! For a change of pace…

Carol is one of my (non-smug) married girlfriends who loves what I do. (See also Jen, PN, Diane, Jess and Bet) Were these girls single, they’d be out wandering the world. Instead they’re immersed in the important business of looking out for their husbands and raising their kids to be good citizens, work both critically overlooked and underappreciated. Because I’m unobligated in that way, I feel like an advance scout sent out to experience foreign lands and come back with stories. When they have the time and wherewithal to travel, they’ll have plenty of ideas of where to go.

After lunch I went to the Sam Hughes neighborhood near the University of Arizona area and tracked down a metal artist I remembered seeing there. Please meet Ned Egen:

His truck:

His work bench:

And the yard around his house:

Isn’t that a terrible picture?? I had such difficulty photographing his yard.

Between the light and the negative space in his sculpture against a unsolid background of trees, cactus and vines my camera did. not. know. where. to. look. I had much more success in his back yard.

But back to Ned. He walked out of his house right when I drove up and spent about an hour and a half walking me around and talking to me. Delightful.

Ned’s a former chemistry professor at the University of Arizona who also developed, started and ran his own biotech company and made his yard into a metal jungle. He says he fell in love with steel in his 20s when he lived on the east coast. He’d photograph bridges and girders and junk piles, fascinated by the way metal rusted and cured and looked. He started collecting steel pieces and when he moved to Tucson, he moved about 1000lbs of steel with him and started creating a junk pile in his back yard that quickly grew to about 10 tons.

He learned to weld in his 30s so he could make wood burning stoves for his house. He made two stoves and put his welder away but continued to collect steel pieces and take pictures and he says he made his first sculpture when he turned 40.

 His wife, Sue, is a fiber artist and loves flowers. Ned says Sue always incorporated flowers into her artwork so it seemed natural that he would make flowers.

They remain his favorite subjects.

He recycles old water heaters and uses the blue enameled inner lining to for these flowers.

He also loves faces

 And many of his anthropomorphic sculptures are kinetic with springs that make them bend and spring and boing when you touch them.

I photographed about a quarter of his work and thought to ask him a question that’s been on my mind since seeing so many prolific collectors and artists across this country. Namely, how long did it take him to do all this? He said it took him several years but he was also working 2 full time jobs. He looked around the yard while we talked and said he thought he could recreate the whole thing in a year if he did nothing else.


I was shocked. He was amused. He says he works quickly, he doesn’t stockpile ideas and he usually has about 30 things he’s working on simultaneously. If he gets stuck in one project and can’t figure out how to move forward or finish it, he moves on to another project and finds that it unsticks him. He had a very practical attitude towards work. He loves metal, what it can do and how it looks. He likes to work. He works every day.

He said he’s had a lot of walk up business in the past week and it makes him a bit nervous because he doesn’t want to sell more than he can easily replace. He wants the yard to continue to look like it does now. I think he was intrigued by my questioning, my interest and my itinerant lifestyle and figured I had things on my mind that went deeper than just his artwork and his yard.

He’s right.

But that’s a subject for another post. I think I need to mull it all over a bit more before I write about it.

One more day in Tucson and then I’m headed north and west.

See you tomorrow.