Posts Tagged With: Stephen Sondheim

Day 3287: My Best and Worst of 2021

Hello, best blog readers! It’s time for my personal best and worst of the year.

This was not the best of years nor the worst of years, personally. I did my best to compile my lists and here they are:

BEST

My son Aaron and all his wonderfulness.

My husband Michael and all his wonderfulness (including his delicious meals, taking care of our home, and making me laugh every day).

Good health for me and my loved ones.

My therapy groups.

My friends.

Adopting our new adorable cat Joan and our old adorable cat Harley adjusting so well to that.

Walks near the water.

Sustaining music, including songs from Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown.

Trip to NYC with Aaron, including the Sondheim musical Company and the Stephen Colbert Show!

Trip to Nashville on my own, including a very successful Open Mic and meeting fellow blogger Chris!

The book “Radical Acceptance.”

Connecting with people here and on Twitter.

WORST

Climate change.

COVID.

January 6 insurrection and other threats to democracy.

Pain, suffering, and deaths of good people.

Systemic injustices.

Toxic narcissists.

Gun violence in the USA.

Miscommunication and misinformation and the painful divisions those cause.

Extensive (and hidden) water damage to our home because of a leaking shower.

The nosebleed from hell (caused by a combo of Joan’s claws and my anticoagulant medication).

Joan’s medical problems which necessitated her being in a cone for MONTHS.

Stephen Sondheim (one of my musical heroes) leaving this earthly realm.

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Do you see any bests or worsts in my images for today?

I celebrated Make Up Your Mind Day by making up my mind about what to include in my best and worst lists for 2021!

I think it’s best if I include my favorite song from Hadestown here.

What is your best and worst of 2021?

Thanks to all who made it to my best list, including YOU!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 3284: Roads not taken

All of us have roads not taken. Some of us have regrets; some of us have reached a level of acceptance about the choices we’ve made.

Last night, I took the road of asking this question on Twitter:

My roads not taken include (1) finishing my thesis on the modern movie musical to get my Masters degree in Film Studies, (2) traveling more, (3) getting a dog, and (4) show biz. The first one I’m good with; the others still seem like possibilities to me.

Do you see roads not taken in my other images for today?

The roads I’ve taken include this: I’m revealing my Film Studies road-not-taken on National Short Film Day! Also, the rocky road to chocolate candy might not be taken by me today, even though there’s plenty of it around.

Here’s Robert Frost reciting his poem “The Road Not Taken.”

I’m going down the familiar road of including a Stephen Sondheim song in my blog posts.

The road not taken for me, up to this moment, includes sharing my attempt to do justice to a Stephen Sondheim song with my voice and my new ukulele.

Another road not taken for me includes doing a version of that I’m happy with, which might be further up the road.

As we move on to the end of this blog post road, I’ll take the opportunity to thank all who ease my way along the road of life, including YOU.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 3270: What I’m waiting for

What I’m waiting for includes:

  • the next step to repair the damage to our home caused by a leak in the upstairs shower,
  • an in-person appointment with my Primary Care Physician on Thursday,
  • an appointment with a veterinarian on Friday to find out if Joan’s ear infections have come back,
  • information on how to deal with food allergies if Joan’s ear infections have come back,
  • a decision about what song I should sing Friday evening for my first open mic in months (candidates include a new original song and a Sondheim song),
  • Christmas and New Year,
  • finding out where my son will be attending a PhD program in mathematics next year,
  • the end of the pandemic,
  • justice for all, and
  • your thoughts and feelings about the contents of today’s post.

I’m also waiting for inspiration to finish my latest original song — “Spoiler Alert” — which includes rhymes like toxicity, authenticity, and epiphany. Here’s a Sondheim tune I might sing on Friday instead of “Spoiler Alert”:

Now, of course, I’m waiting for your comments.

If you’re waiting for my thanks to you, wait no longer!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 3269: Do you want to have a conversation?

Yesterday, I asked our talkative cat Joan, “Do you want to have a conversation?”

According to the definition …

… maybe “conversation” is the wrong word. However, I seem to be having conversations with many non-people these days, including conversations like these:

Do you want to have a conversation about what it’s like to have those kinds of conversations for months and months? Or do you want to have a conversation about my other images for today?

Do you want to have a conversation about the conversation that the Daily Bitch is describing today? Or do you want to have a conversation about the Stephen Sondheim song I quoted in my Twitter conversation?

I love the way that Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, and Meryl Streep are having conversations with each other and with Stephen Sondheim during his 90th birthday celebration in 2020.

Do you want to have a conversation with other people in this blog? If so, please leave a comment, below.

Do you want to have a conversation about gratitude? I do! Thanks to all who are reading this conversational blog post, including YOU.

Categories: definition, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 3268: There’s a place for us

Yesterday, there was a place for us to see Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story, with Leonard Bernstein’s incredible music and a young Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, including “There’s a place for us.”

There’s a place for us to share the beautiful song “Somewhere” (and that place is here).

The place where the PPAS choir is singing “Somewhere” in that video is New York’s Lincoln Center, a place whose construction is displacing the characters in Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s version of West Side Story.

There’s a place for me to write that I loved the movie, except for (SPOILER ALERT!*) the decision to take “there’s a place for us” and Somewhere away from the young lovers Maria and Tony.

There’s a place for this excerpt from Tasha Robinson’s West Side Story review:

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There’s a place for us to see all my images for today.

There’s a place for us to celebrate those National Days, or anything else we choose to observe every day. There’s a place for us to find out what National Ding-a-Ling Day is, and that place is here.

Also, there’s a place for our cats, and that seems to be wherever they want.

There’s a place for you to leave a comment about this blog post, below.

There’s always a place for us to express gratitude to all those we appreciate, including YOU.

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* Here’s the place for me to share that I’ve been meaning to get back to songwriting and there’s a place somewhere that I’ve stored the lyrics and the tune for one of my unfinished pieces, “SPOILER ALERT!”

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 3258: What’s a great gift for you?

Yesterday, when I was thinking of great gifts I’ve been given, I posted this on Twitter:

The answers I’m getting to that question are great gifts for me.

Do you see any great gifts in my other images for today?

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The greatly gifted Stephen Sondheim left great gifts for me and so many others. Here are Broadway stars sharing their gifts this past Sunday to sing Sondheim’s “Sunday” in Times Square.

This “Remembering Stephen Sondheim” piece from the New York Times is a great gift for me.

What’s a great gift for you?

I hope you accept my gift of gratitude for all the gifts you bring, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 3257: Relationships

As I look at my photos and the news for today, I am thinking about relationships.

It occurs to me, here and now, that people can have relationships with

  • other people,
  • animals,
  • themselves,
  • food,
  • machines, including their cars, and
  • guns.

This article about the latest deadly school shooting in the USA includes this quote from Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer: “This is a uniquely American problem that we need to address.”

The late, great Stephen Sondheim, who wrote profound lyrics and music about so many types of relationships, created this masterpiece, from Assassins, about relationships with guns:

I depend on my healthy relationships to help me make meaning of the disturbing relationships in the world. What are your thoughts and feelings about the relationships described in today’s blog?

Every day, I am grateful for all my sustaining relationships with others, including YOU.

Categories: life in the USA, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day 3253: Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, musical genius and creator of tunes, words, and musicals that have sustained me for decades, died yesterday.

I just took this photo of these books that are always near me:

Those books — “Finishing the Hat” and “Look, I Made a Hat” — contain his lyrics for all his musical numbers and descriptions of his creative process. I love his creations so much that two years ago, my request to Michael for a birthday present was that he just find the blue book, which was packed away in boxes after our last move.

Stephen Sondheim’s music moves me like no others’. I’m sure there are hundreds of blog posts here that feature his music.

Stephen Sondheim’s music has always spoken to me, even when I didn’t know it was him. One of the first songs I chose to sing in front of an audience was “Do I Hear a Waltz” when I was a little kid. Years later, I found out that he had written the lyrics for that. When I was 13 and struggling to physically and emotionally survive heart issues, I was completely captured by a TV production of “Evening Primrose,” which sent me to John Collier‘s incredible short stories. Years later, I found out that Stephen Sondheim had written the lyrics and music for that. When I was dealing with heart problems in 2016, I chose to share this beautiful song from “Evening Primrose” in this blog.

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Before A Little Night Music opened on Broadway in 1973, it came through Boston and I saw it with my beloved late parents, who took me to many, many musicals. I was completely enchanted by all the music, including this:

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Today’s Daily Bitch Calendar mentions clowns!

Honestly, everything is going to evoke Sondheim for me right now.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was part of The Vocal Minority for a local production of Company. Sitting on stage with the musicians, I hit all those high notes and, to this day, the score feels like it’s a part of my mind, body, and soul. Eleven days ago, I saw the latest version of Company on Broadway with my son Aaron, (who appeared, when he was in high school, in a local production of Assassins in the role of John Wilkes Booth).

My cherished, late friend Michelle loved “Being Alive” from that musical, and her partner, Joe, recounted at her memorial how Michelle insisted he listen to that song the night they met. Joe played “Being Alive” for us as we gathered in 2018 to grieve her loss.

Stephen Sondheim, who is no longer being alive on this earthly plane, has helped so many of us in being alive.

One of my most memorable experiences in the theater was seeing the original production of Sweeney Todd on Broadway in 1977. I can still feel the startling whistle blast and see the stage in my mind, as the chorus sang the opening — “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.”

A few years later, in the early 1980’s, I tried out for a local production of Sweeney Todd, hoping to be in the chorus to sing this amazing music. For days and days after I auditioned, I waited painfully to hear back from the production. I did not get the call and rehearsals began, as I grieved the chance to participate. The day after the first rehearsal, I got a call from the show’s producer. She said, “Ann, why weren’t you at rehearsal last night?” I said, not adjusting to this new information, “I wasn’t there because I didn’t get in.” She said, “What? Nobody called you? Oh no! You’re in!” I was ecstatic, and that was a peak experience of my life, learning and singing that profoundly gorgeous music for months.

Sondheim seemed to focus on and create works that have deeper meanings for me. In the 1980’s, I became obsessed with the Italian film Passione D’Amore. A few years later, Sondheim created the musical Passion based on that film, which includes this incredible song:

One of the reasons I cry and grieve today is that, at the time of his death, Stephen Sondheim was working on a new musical that is based on two films of Luis Buñuel, one of my favorite film directors. I wanted to see and hear that musical, but I also have faith that Sondheim has left us enough.

I could go on and on with more memories about how important Stephen Sondheim’s music has been to me. Instead, I’ll just share images from yesterday, captured before and after I heard the news of his passing.

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Here is “No One is Alone” — the profound Sondheim words and music I shared last night on Twitter:

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No one is alone. To Stephen Sondheim, to all who have interpreted and been moved by his artistry, and — of course! — to you, for sharing this with me, here and now, thank you so much!

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 3004: Learning the hard way

Do you see examples of learning the hard way in today’s images?

We seem to be learning the hard way about gun violence and common sense gun laws in the USA.

There is some learning the hard way in The Gun Song from Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins.

Thanks to all who helped me create this “Learning the Hard Way” post, as we all keep learning the hard way together.

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 2874: I know things ordinary people don’t know

I know things ordinary people don’t know because I

  • was born with a very unusual heart,
  • grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household,
  • had an incredibly funny, creative, and kind father, who loved to make people laugh,
  • had an incredibly caring, kind, clean and neat mother, who loved to laugh,
  • realized I had a connection with cats when I was very young,
  • had my first major heart surgery when I was 10 on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated,
  • have relied on cardiac pacemakers to keep me alive since that day,
  • spent a lot of time in hospitals where I met many different types of people,
  • danced in our basement to musicals when nobody was watching,
  • read voraciously when I was young,
  • learned to play the piano, guitar, and ukulele,
  • attended three schools where everyone there knew I had a heart condition,
  • travelled across the USA by bus when I was 21,
  • visited many different countries,
  • danced, danced, danced in the 1970s even though my heart rate was fixed at 72 beats per minute,
  • majored in English literature at college,
  • worked as a technical writer, marketing writer, teacher, manager, and psychotherapist,
  • volunteered for several years at a suicide hotline,
  • attended graduate schools for film studies and social work,
  • love hearing other people’s stories,
  • married two extraordinary men,
  • gave birth to an extraordinary son when I was 45 years old,
  • saw people behave at their best and their worst and everything in between (including me),
  • survived the coronavirus,
  • have kept learning from all the people I have encountered in my long life, and
  • have the Daily Bitch calendar, which knows a lot.

Can you tell that I know things ordinary people don’t know from the rest of today’s photos?

Harley knows things that ordinary cats don’t know, but he’s not telling.

It’s a good thing I know things that ordinary people don’t know, because I’ll be teaching several interns about my Coping and Healing groups this morning at 9.

Here is “I Know Things Now” from Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim, whom I’ve known I’ve loved for a long, long time.

I also know gratitude that ordinary people don’t know, every day, so thanks to to all the extraordinary people I’ve known, including YOU!

Categories: group psychotherapy, heart condition, heart surgery, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

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