Jams I’ve Been Jammin’ To

One of my jobs right now is writing study guides about musicals and plays for a new website. It’s a shit-ton of work for shitty pay, but it’s really fun for the most part. One of the parts of the job that is the most fun is finding video clips for every show and every character. I love musical theatre songs because A) I’m a theatre nerd, B) it’s my job to be nerdy about theatre, and C) each good song is a glimpse of a moment in time for a character. More than songs of any other kind, musical theatre songs are about people and their stories.

So. Here’s some fun stuff for you.

First, a little girl who KILLS it. Sydney Lucas singing “Ring of Keys” from my favorite musical of last year, Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about growing up a lesbian with a closeted gay dad. SO. GOOD. (this video is from an event, not the show)

Keeping it in the same with the same composer, Jeanine Tesori. This is “Lot’s Wife,” the insanely amazing 11 o’ lock number from Caroline, or Change.The whole musical is on YouTube– I highly recommend it.

This wasn’t from a show I did a guide for, but it came on shuffle and made me feel good. Lots of good songs from this show, but this week in my life, this was the one. “Remember This” from The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown.

So… Newsies doesn’t always do it for me, but this song gives me serious shivers EVERY time. “The World Will Know.” Super good dancing in other clips– recommended for that.

Love this musical. If you loved the 1970s documentary, you’ll love it too. This is my favorite song, but there are lots of good ones. “Around the World” from Grey Gardens.

The harmonies!!!!!  “Sunday,” Sunday in the Park with George

I love this whole musical. I don’t get why not everyone does. Here’s just a little taste of The Secret Garden.

And, because there’s never enough Matilda:

“I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed.”

Last week, I spent three whole long, terrifying, unreal days with L as treatment began. I posted last on that Thursday, I believe, and much has happened since. Here is a quick run-down.

After L’s initial results on Wednesday (indicating lymphoma, though not which type), I accompanied L to all her appointments on Thursday and Friday, during which we learned that her particular lymphoma is an aggressive T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. After L’s two Friday appointments (an echo of her heart and a bone marrow extraction), that afternoon we decided to go speak to a doc a friend’s father had referred L to at Sloan Kettering, just for a 2nd opinion. Our day had started at 9:30, and by the time we finally talked to this new doc, it was 4pm. We’d been going all day, and were both slumped in chairs next to each other when he came in and informed L that from her scans and test results, she should be admitted to the hospital THAT NIGHT, and that he’d already spoken to another doc at the Pediatric Cancer wing at SK about admission. It was a game changer if I’ve ever experienced one.

Walking into the Pediatric cancer unit, L started crying harder than she had yet. We were exhausted, hadn’t eaten, were confused about what exactly was going on, and surrounded by young children with bald heads attached to IVs. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for her if I hadn’t been there. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like for her even though I WAS there. I have never been in the kind of situation where vital health depends on a matter of hours. Over the next few hours, they drew tons more blood, took more scans, and we spoke with a very wonderful doctor who said that he wanted to admit her right then and there– and no, it wasn’t an option to go home and get her stuff, because the mass in her chest was so concerning. Basically, L had to decide in a MOMENT whether she wanted to stick to the original plan at Beth Israel, or begin treatment immediately at SK. I knew how I felt, talked briefly with her about it, and we decided to stay at Sloan Kettering to begin treatment. By this point in our journey, I’d gotten fairly good at asking questions that may have embarrassed me, or that I thought I didn’t have the authority to ask. My final one of the night was: “How long can I stay?” They graciously allowed me to stay through the night with her, which was a MAJOR relief for both of us. I literally cannot begin to imagine leaving that night. They helped us get settled in her inpatient room (which was very nice), gave us PJs and toothbrushes and helped us order in Thai food from Spice.

Halfway through our meal, her doc came in again to tell her that he wanted to start chemo even SOONER– the next morning. That scared L too, more than much else prior, as she still hadn’t talked to or seen her parents, her girlfriend, or her other close friends, and it all became very real. Around this point was when it became hard for me. When it was just knowing what questions to ask, carrying her results, holding her hand– that I can do. But helping her through her anger and fear, her really powerful emotions, was tough, and I was getting worn out. They kept doing tests and catscans through till around midnight (which I was able to accompany her for), and unfortunately through the night they came in every two hours to check her vitals. We barely slept, and certainly reached new levels of friendship intimacy as she began to deal with the first physical trials of treatment (exhaustion, diarrhea, constant shots/IVs). They very kindly let us sleep together in her bed, and I KNOW that gave her great comfort.

I sent an explanatory and introductory to a long list of people she dictated to me– people who she thought would make her smile if they visited and people who she just wanted to be on the same page with all that was going on. I’ve been helping field her friends’ concerns and desires to visit (she’s really tired and overwhelmed), which is exhausting, but I don’t mind doing it. After that long weekend, I was honestly so exhausted it was unbelievable. It was hard to come back to life, and to my ED, and to my pure exhaustion– once the adrenaline wears off and real life kicks back in (which it is, with my show opening in less than a week), I found it hard to put the pieces back together.

Now, she’s home, and tomorrow I’ll go with her to chop off her hair (she’ll lose it anyway from chemo). I miss her, but it’s been hard to muster the energy to do much but take care of me for the last few days, and I know that’s fine. Plus Thanksgiving was a nice break, which I spent in CT with some friends and their family.

Also, by the way, this song is on repeat right now for L & I:

“I’m sad but I’m laughing /
I’m brave but I’m chickenshit /
I’m sick but I’m pretty, baby.”