Sunday will go down in history as the first time the soon-to-be auspicious singing group, the Sally Tomatoes took to the stage (or conference room at an apartment complex leasing office) to the delight of friends, family, and future fans. Though the mid-December day was scorching hot (80+), they braved the weather to see their favorite ladies bring down the house with our catchy ditties, mellifluous harmonies, and gobs of charisma. Highlights include our opening number of "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes (from Dirty Dancing, yay!), "And So It Goes" by Billy Joel (because what's an a cappella choir without Billy, I ask you?), and an assorted selection of holiday classics made new with our fresh and cheeky approach.
The Sally's being silly. We're adorable.
The climax of the night had to be my own personal solo, "Hallelujah," the Rufus Wainwright version (as it appears in Shrek, though that in no way affected my choice). And when I say 'climax,' I mean it wasn't a total disaster. I've been in choirs and musicals all my life, but I'd never really had a full-length solo, just me and the song (I don't count the songs I sang in character for shows like Annie in which I played a drunk 8th grade Miss Hannigan. Not exactly American Idol material). I've always been more of a team player, harmonizing alto singer, not the Star (insert jazz hands here). I was terrified, even though there probably weren't more than thirty or so people in the audience. What I can remember of it (for I tend to forget stressful situations. I have no memory of singing the national anthem in three part harmony at a homecoming game), was that it went pretty well. Not amazing, but I have no specific regrets. Which is a big deal because I always pick apart my performance even while I'm in the midst of it, causing me to forget the words. But I managed to remember this time around. It helps that the entire chorus consists of "hallelujah."
Overall it was an incredible experience that was a long time coming for us as a group. For a while there, it didn't seem like it was going to come together. We're all busy and stressed, and sometimes this one extra obligation seemed like the straw on the tomato's back. But for me, singing with my girls is often the highlight of my week. It's awesome to finally be part of a choir consisting of people who genuinely want to sing. There's no school credit, or money, or religious guilt involved. We get together and just laugh our asses off. We sing what we want to sing, and have a ball doing it. So cheers for the Sally Tomatoes! Be sure to catch our act next Spring!
After the a cappella holiday concert in Marina Del Rey, I proceeded to get lost on the way to West Hollywood for a massive gay-themed AA meeting. No, I'm not gay nor in AA. But I was there to celebrate, or "give a cake," to one of my very best friend's two year anniversary of sobriety. The recipient gathers together their closest friends who literally hand him/her a cake. They playfully refer to it as a 'birthday,' in AA, which I think is a great term for it. It is a milestone that demonstrates how far you've come in your new life. And it is not easy. I've been there through it all, and I am just so incredibly proud and grateful that he is still in my life. I cannot say enough good things about AA. I've been to maybe 4 or 5 meetings, and visited the recovery house that espouses its teachings several times more (not to mention barbecues and drag bingo night). I no longer believe in organized religion, but if I did, I would go to AA just for the uplifting feeling I get after I leave.
For these purposes, we'll call my friend "Marco"
For one thing, alcoholics, especially gay alcoholics, have the best stories. They are the life of the party, even without the sauce, and have a wry sense of humor about the awful turns their lives have taken. So even though they are recounting these horrific events, you find yourself laughing right along with a group of people who have definitely been there before. While I've never been to rock bottom when it comes to drugs or alcohol (my addictions are pretty much food and television related), I can empathize to being in a dark place. As with a regular church, AA believes in a higher power, but as you understand it. There's no denomination and no particular dogma other than "progress, not perfection." When people share, there is nothing but love, respect, and friendship. It is a vast and unconditional circle of support that welcomes everyone, even outsiders like a straight, female, non-alcoholic like me. Upon leaving, I feel happy and grateful that an organization like this exists and that it has the power to change lives.
Practically everyone you meet automatically introduces themselves with a hug or a handshake and makes sure to remember your name, even months after meeting you. They also compliment your shoes or your sweater, or notice when you lose weight. And while many are struggling with their own problems, they focus on the positive. Like taking over the Kung Pao Bistro in WeHo in a grand birthday celebration, complete with cake. I've mentioned before that the very thought of Chinese food is revolting to me. But that night wasn't about me, it was about my friend and his peeps. So I oh-so-graciously agreed to come along and brave the Kung Pao. Plus I was starving and would have eaten almost anything at that point.
I ordered a chicken salad, since I figured I couldn't really go wrong. I just wouldn't eat the sour-smelling and foul-looking dressing and I'd be ok. Wrong. The ginormous plate arrived and the lettuce was covered in sesame seeds and mandarin oranges. (I don't believe in putting fruit on things that should not be fruity, and seeds just get in the way). And the chicken, which I was expecting to be grilled, or at least microwaved, was freezing cold, boiled white, and was clammy, chewy, and altogether unappetizing. It took all my focus just to swallow and not throw up (that's what she said.) One piece was all I could manage. I am not the type to send food back. I believe in suffering in silence (at least until I can get back home to rant about it via the blog). But I was surrounded by strong-willed gays who insisted that I get my money's worth. So they sent it back for me, bless them. I then got vegetarian firecracker chicken, because I shockingly loved what my friend had ordered. Vegetarian chicken, you ask? How is that possible? Well I'll tell you...I didn't ask and I don't want to know the answer. It was ten times better than the real chicken on my salad.
The true measure of adulthood.
The long, non-sequitur evening ended and I took my friend back to his place. It's not been an easy few years, but things finally look like they're turning around. He just got a new job, and I'm like a proud mama. I drove back home, feeling content and accomplished (having sung a solo AND eaten Chinese food all in the same night). Of course three hours later, I awoke from a deep sleep and had to spew up all that firecracker chicken. I knew there was a reason I don't eat Chinese food. It might have been the disgusting salad chicken causing me such gastric unpleasantness. But in any case, I still ate my leftovers for lunch the next day. I felt so cosmopolitan with those little white square takeout boxes in my fridge. Almost like a real grown-up. Strange how that's my definition of being grown-up: Chinese takeout.
Ok, done rambling for now. But just you wait, big things are a-brewing here at Sporadic Sporkitudes! First of all, today is my Twelve Days of giveaways show on ELLEN!!!!! They seriously called me to recommend bringing a "large vehicle." Apparently we are going to score on a massive scale today, so wish us luck! Also, tomorrow is the first day of my new job, so huzzah on that note as well! Done for real now.