The Set Designers

chairI went to see The Year of Magical Thinking at the Dali Museum yesterday. It was a good play … sad, but good. Let me explain what the play is for those of you who don’t know. It’s a one woman show written by Joan Didion based on her book of the same name. It chronicles her life the year after her husband’s death during which time their daughter was extremely ill and in the hospital a number of times.

Before the play I scanned the playbill and noticed there was a listing for set design. Under that listing there were two names and I wondered what those people did exactly. You see, this play has no set. There is just a chair for the actress to occasionally sit on in the middle of a totally bare strange.

What did the set designers do? Why were two of them necessary? Did they have intense meetings about the placement of the chair? Did they argue over whether it should sit slightly to the left or right of the stage before agreeing to place it front and center? How long did it take them to come to this decision? Did the actress have to object during rehearsals when much to her dismay she discovered that the set designers had made a poor decision?

“… I think I’d be able to better connect with the audience if the chair where facing them, don’t you think?” she’d say observing the chair sitting at the left side of the stage facing the white backdrop.

Oh, yeah there was the white backdrop that they lowered just as the play started. It probably took them a few days to come up with that. There were only two of them after all and set design is a hard gig.

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Open Sesame

My problem opening doors continues. The other day we went to the shops down the street to buy electricity (we have a prepay electric meter). When we got to the shop door I immediately started trying to pull it open. When it didn’t open I pulled again harder. My husband of course said nothing he just stood behind me watching until the person working in the shop opened the door for me.

My husband finally decided to try to tackle my door problem on the way home.

My husband: Just so you know all doors open in here.

Me: No they don’t.

My husband: Maybe not all door, but definitely all shop doors.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve tried to commit this possible fact to memory so I don’t make a complete fool of myself again. Okay, I probably will make a fool of myself again but it won’t be because of a door.

My Next Video

My Husband: My next video is going to feature dancing. (He gets up from the breakfast table and start dancing around    wildly while looking at himself the mirror.)

Me: Really?

My Husband: And at the end I’ll take off my shirt.

Me: I think you should leave your shirt on.

My Husband: It’ll be like in the movies. It’ll be funny.

Me: Like in what movies?

My Husband: You know, the movies.

Me: I really think you should leave your shirt on.

Face Value

We all have talents. Some people can play an instrument. Others are great at public speaking. Others excel at shadier things, like lying. These are all respectable talents to have, but I think I have one of the best talents out there. I excel at making faces.

The only way to get as good as I am at making faces is with practice. Let me tell you, I’ve put in many hours of practice. I’ve spent hours in front of the mirror contorting my face until the muscles cramp. That’s the kind of sacrifice I’m willing to make to develop my talent.

Here’s an example of one of my best faces.

This face required a lot strength in the forehead and mouth muscles. Luckily, I’m in shape so I can handle it. The best thing about my talent for making faces is that my face muscles are very strong. This comes in handy when you have to do something strenuous with your face.

Something in the Bathtub

It was about 2:30 in the morning and I had to use the bathroom. I slid out of the warm bed into the cold and wandered to the bathroom not expecting anything out of the ordinary. I’d used the toilet in the middle of the night many times before so why should this time be any different. These middle of the night ventures to the bathroom are never done with the lights on. I don’t want to wake myself up.

As I sat on the toilet, I noticed something unusual in the bathtub. It was a dark, terrifying object that shouldn’t have been there. “Oh no. There’s a rat in the bathtub,” I said aloud. My heart pounded in my chest and I tried to move as far over on the toilet seat as I could without peeing on the floor. I wanted to hurry up and get out of the bathroom, but I just kept peeing. I swear that was the longest pee ever. When I was done, I jumped up off the toilet and fled the bathroom without even washing my hands. I made sure the door was securely shut. Then I did what anyone who’d just found a rat in their bathtub would do, I went back to bed. My husband was working and I thought I’d let him deal with it when he got home. Rats are his department.

I lay in bed just thinking about the rat, wondering how it got in there, wondering what I can do from keeping more rats from getting in the house, wondering how my husband would catch the rat. I was only in bed for ten minutes when my husband came home. My stepson, who should’ve have been sleeping, came out of his room immediately to start talking. I could hear them in the hall. I didn’t know if I should warn them about the rat or just let them find it on their own. I decided the scare of finding a rat might be too much to handle, so I got up and opened the bedroom door. My husband was facing me and my stepson’s back was turned. “Hello,” my husband said.

“There’s a rat in the bathtub,” I silently mouthed the words and pointed to the bathroom door. I didn’t want to upset my stepson.

My husband looked at me with a confused expression as I started to point at the bathroom door more intensely.

“You’re up,” my stepson said as he turned to face me.

I stopped pointing.

As we moved into the living room, my stepson announced that he had to use the bathroom and headed back down the hall.

“There’s a rat in the bathtub,” I whispered to my husband, grabbing his arm. “I think it’s dead or tired.”

We heard the creak of the bathroom door opening and closing, then the click of the light going on.

“How did it get in the bathtub?”

“I don’t know.” I didn’t know why he was asking me such a question. Maybe it was thirsty. Maybe it was lost. I didn’t ask it. I was sure I’d hear a hysterical scream from the bathroom any minute, but there was none.

“How do you catch a rat?” My husband picked up the colander and considered using it to trap the rodent.

The toilet flushed. The water in the sink ran. The door creaked open. The light clicked off. My stepson appeared holding a wet black sock and laughing. “Look what I dropped in the toilet.”

“Where was that?” my husband asked.

“The tub. I dropped it in the toilet and I didn’t know what to do with.”

“Put it down and wash your hands,” my husband said.

My stepson scurried back to the bathroom.

So it wasn’t a rat, but it really looked like one in the dark. Really it did.

A Shocking New Development

My husband made a startling observation the other day. When I heard it, I nearly fainted. Before you read the rest of this make sure you’re comfortably seated. Are you ready?

I’m 34. When did that happen? I’d been walking around for the past seven months living the life of a 33 year old. I’d been thinking 33-year-old thoughts and saying 33-year-old things. And all the while, I was 34.

This whole turn of events happened when I mentioned being 33 to my husband the other day. “You’re not 33,” he said. I was excited by this statement because I actually thought I was rounding up and that maybe he’d say, “You’re really 32.” He didn’t say that. This is what he said, “You’re 34.”

“No, I’m not.”

“You were born in 1974. This is 2008. That makes you 34.”

“No, I’m not,” I insisted. He obviously had no idea what he was talking about.

“You’re birthday’s in May. You’re 34 and I’m 43.”

“You’re 43!” This was completely astonishing to me.

“Unfortunately,” he said.

I’m glad I’m not the one that’s 43, I secretly thought as I left the room.

English Lesson

The most surprising thing about living in England is that the English haven’t yet mastered the language that bears their name.

First of all, they don’t know how to spell. It’s not just a few cases either. I see misspellings everywhere. They’re even in the newspaper. The mistakes are small, like for some reason most everyone seems to think that when spelling words like labor and favor, they should add a random u that just doesn’t belong. They also tend to replace z with s in words like realize. I tried to point this mistake out to someone once, and that’s when I discovered that part of the problem is that no one ever taught them the proper names for the letters in the alphabet. I don’t know what this zed thing is, but it needs to be corrected.

Are You Alright?

When people greet each other here they often say, “Are you alright?” I know they say this in the States too. But, in the States it usually sounds like, “You alright?”

The “are” in the beginning of the question really changes the meaning for me. “You alright?” is a causal greeting like, “What’s up?” or “How you doing?” but “Are you alright?” seems like a sincere query about my well-being to me. I still feel confused whenever anyone asks me, “Are you alright?” I start wondering if I look like there’s something wrong. I take a moment to assess my situation. Am I hungry, tired, sick, poor? They don’t want to hear about any of that so I usually just say “Yeah,” in after a pause that took a little longer than it should’ve. I’m usually so confused that I forget to ask the question back to the person in turn. They’re probably thinking, What’s with the crazy American who can’t seem to answer a simple question?

Dearest One

I got this email the other day. I thought it was quite interesting. I hope you enjoy it. I like the fact that it open with “Dearest One.”

Dearest One,
I used this means of communications because
of time Shortage, so please kindly bear with me.
However, permit me to inform you of my desire of going
into business relationship with you.
I am Jackline Doe the only child of late Mr and Mrs
James Doe, My father was a very wealthy GOLD merchant based in MONROVIA, the economic capital of LIBERIA before he was poisoned to death by his business
associates on one of their outing to discuss on a business deal.

When my mother died on the 21St October
1985, my father took me so special because I am
motherless. Before the death of my father on 29 Th
June 2004 in a private hospital here in Abidjan. He
secretly called me on his bedside and told me that he
has a sum of US$ 10.300,000 ( TEN million THREE hundred
thousand, United states Dollars) left in a suspens
account in a local bank here in Abidjan, that he used
my name as his only daughter for the next of kin in deposit
of the fund.
He also explained to me that it was because of this
wealth that he was poisoned by his business
associates, that I should seek for a foreign partner
in a country of my choice where I will transfer this
money and use it for investment purpose, (such as real
estate management). I am honourably seeking your
assistance in the following ways.
(1To provide a bank account where this money would be transferred to)
(2To serve as the guardian of this fund since I am a girl of 21years)
(3To make arrangement for me to come over to your country after the money has been transferred. Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15% of the total sum as compensation for your effort / input after the successful transfer of this fund to your norminated account in overseas.
Furthermore, you can indicate your option towards
assisting me as I believe that this transaction would
be concluded within seven (7) days you signify
interest to assist me. I will appreciate your early
respones. Anticiapting to hear from you soon.
Best Regard


I hope Jackline finds someone to help her with her problem. After all, she is only a girl of 21 years and can’t manage this situation on her own.