What was a strange day on the roads (driving to Dundee and back to do that laundry at my parents' place, and dealing with wet weather plus drivers who were DOING IT WRONG, and that's all I say on that) was more than balanced by the energy the people who actually know me were sending me for my birthday. That's what I meant by last night's subject line "The people I know have treated me well."
Getting to this West Hills house was a challenge, especially as the route I saw on the map and decided to take turned out to include a road that didn't exist, so once I parked I felt relieved. A little antsy from the driving and the caffeine, but I knew I could relax; I could picture getting less antsy, and that's exactly what happened as the night went on. The lithe and elegant Betsy Tinney (who's on LJ as the lithe and elegant stealthcello) was the first person I recognized; I hadn't realized she'd be at this show, so she was a pleasant surprise. A huggable surprise. I joined the eating and visiting crowd: they had a good energy. (And were attractive, I'll admit that too!)
s00j didn't appear for a while, because she was getting into costume: Sweeney Todd. ("Who would've thought getting dressed as a boy would take longer?" she later said.) The house, even being a good-sized, open place, became pretty stuffed with our audience. s00j and stealthcello played in a corner of the living room; people were sitting in that and two other rooms, all with sight lines into the living room. (For part of it, co-host Nicole and I sat on top of a kitchen island!) Sooj and Betsy began with Betsy's crowdpleaser "Alligator in the House,' which makes me smile every time, and I know I'm not the only one; and in a real surprise, a few songs in Sooj turned to me and led the crowd in singing me "Happy Birthday." I melted a little bit.
Sooj kept the music mostly on the gentle side, except for the raucous show closers of a song about a randy male cat (no i'm not telling you who wrote that) and her political activism song "Mandolin Holy Man." (There also was a song about ninjas. Yes, Sooj's written a song about frickin' ninjas, as a smart-ass response to someone who'd asked So you've done all these pirate songs, why not a ninja song? She's, um, not a ninja fan. She knows kung-fu, but she's not a ninja fan.) Before she played "Mandolin Holy Man," Sooj turned to me -- by then I'd moved to the living room rug in front of her and Betsy -- and said I could make a request. I blanked. What I should've requested was "The Rainbow Connection," because she's gotta know that, but that didn't come to mind quickly enough. But since Sooj has the election on her mind, same as the rest of us, she made a political point -- the election CAN NOT be the end of activism, because even if we feel better about who winds up in the White House post-Bush, we have to make the new crew work for us as much as possible -- and started the song. I hadn't been in the mood for a political song, but I'd blanked on that particular song, which is kind of a nostalgia trip for me: it's Sooj's recounting of taking the Metro Orange Line from Northern Virginia into the Washington, D.C. monumental core, and drumming near the White House and the monuments. Plus walking ("and walking, and walking, and walking, and walking...") between the White House and the monuments. I did all that A LOT when I lived in Northern Virginia. Well, except for the drumming. That was an apt, and happy, show closer.
Many of us hung out for a while post-show, glad we didn't have to hurry away. Some of us (not me) relaxed in a hot tub outside. I gifted Sooj with a copy of Peter David's novel Tigerheart, because like him she has a thing for things Neverland-ish; I read her the first couple of pages of the chapter "Straight On Until Morning," and she liked what she heard. She cracked that it was weird that it was my birthday and I was giving her the gift, but hey: friends give. I give what I can.
I drove home carefully after that.