Friday, December 24, 2010

Older, negative and cutesy. What's up with that?

One of my sisters sent me an e-mail titled "Flu kills 27 in Britain, spreading in Europe!" and follows with the text  "Has everyone gotten their flu shots?"   A friend sends me a cutesy e- mail that gives you all kinds of cute,  cuddly sayings and then says you will die at dawn if you don't forward it to 20 friends within minutes of receiving it.   Another "used to be sane and hip" friend sends me a power point presentation of the castles of the Rhineland, when I am in the middle of a crisis of gigantic proportions.    Also,  God save me, from the political and "support the troops" or religious "Jesus died for your sins and we deny him today" pass on at your own peril,  types.  UGH!

What is it about reaching 50 that suddenly fairly sane people all of a sudden feel the need to send this kind of stuff to their friends?  Yes I am past fifty....but I never send this kind of stuff and hate to receive it!   I want to know how YOU FEEL about what happened to you today, or how angry something on the news made you react, or how you hate getting older, but not how feebleminded you've become when the only thing you have to say is included in  sending out sudden alarmist Armageddon type e-mails or cutesy, full of emoticon, want to make me vomit stuff someone else has sent you with the promise that you will not see tomorrow if you don't pass it on.   

Does one go brain dead at 50?   

Please tell me about how great that new restaurant you went to was and how much you loved a great dish....or tell me how horrible you feel that someone you love is ill, or how your guts are bleeding because the guy you love no longer loves you, or that you are so happy to be alive....and still out there trying to live life to the fullest and still brave enough to run right through your fears and do something you've never done before no matter how difficult, because that's what being alive is all about, whether you are 25 or 50.....I want to know how you FEEL about it...not some substitute.

AND if you love me because I am a hard headed, sometimes perverse, but mostly kind, funny and willing not to let life make me old or jaded or afraid person,  then send me a note saying so...."I love you because you are a nut and I love nuts!" kind of thing.    Don't give me substitutes for your feelings or send me dire warnings about all the unfortunate things out there.    I live in the world too and i know they are there....but I choose not to dwell on them to the exclusion of LIVING!

So if you feel the same way...start telling the people that you care about that you'd prefer a two line e-mail about what pissed them off that day or made them smile, than some cutesy "forward" type that just makes them want to delete it.   Cut down on dumb e-mails.   I support the troops every time I send in a donation to the VFW or the Disabled Vets or I vote to end wars....and  I don't need anyone to teach me how to be PATRIOTIC!  Patriotism  is in our actions and how much we educate ourselves on our history and the history of the world we live in and be the best kind of citizen we can be by voting and supporting the things we believe in.  I don't need a lecture by someone who gets their news from the various talking heads on radio or TV!

Think about it.   The world, with all it's bloody problems, is a pretty damned interesting place to inhabit.   Don't let life make you old!   It's not so much about   how up to date your electronics are today...but on what you do with them and what you send over them.  Be bold!   Stay vital and alive!   Communicate!  Don't let your brain get old....and please don't forward that chain letter to your friends.  Give them a hug and tell them you love them instead next time you see them!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from my forever young alter ego!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Next to Normal...

...lived up to its credentials and awards in every way possible.   I absolutely loved it!   To think I almost didn't go because I had flown in late the night before and was exhausted and mortified that I might cough during the performance.

There are two places I absolutely do not want to be if I have a cold (cough) is an airplane and the second,  the Theatre.  I don't want to be that person who coughs at the most poignant part of the performance or the one your seat mates would like to vanish to outer space on the plane, afraid of being infected by your germs.

Because of the latter (as I mentioned in my post before), I postponed by return,  paid full first class fare, and took  a window seat so that I had only one seat mate to contend with and with more personal space between us,  and so I could unobtrusively turn my face towards the window to cough into my kleenex, use the lav to blow my nose more frequently and,  thanks to the airline, which let me keep my bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer,  let him know I was conscious of not spreading my germs beyond my person so he could also enjoy his flight.

Hanson, Ripley and Asa Somers
To my credit and effort, I only coughed three times on the 6 hour flight, and once at intermission during the play, at which time I scooted out to the lobby to blow my nose and sip my water until the tickle in my throat passed.   Not only did my efforts allow me to see this wonderful musical with first rate performances by the cast, but to enjoy a convivial dinner at the much improved (due to new Chef and menu)  Kendall's Brasserie with my sister and brother in law, who both unanimously agreed the play and performances were right up there with Osage County.

I've never watched a musical where the dialogue was so precise and enunciated with such care by each and every cast member so that not one word was missed.   The excellent story about a household coping with the mental illness of the mother is so up to date and relevant and the music and set designed so perfectly to enhance the performances with the musicians housed on several levels of the multilevel set, that it all worked together flawlessly to move the players through their paces ... the whole of it  just one  wonderful and mesmerizing piece of theater that got a very "spontaneous" standing ovation for its players.  There was not one false note and the audience was right there with the story every step of the way.

Alice Ripley and the wonderful Curt Hansen
On a very inconvenient, rainy Los Angeles day, I truly thought that the attendance would be sparse, with people not willing to tackle the freeways.   Not so!   This excellent piece of theater played to a packed house and this was absolutely theatre at its very best.

I'm so glad I pulled myself together and went!  If you can scrape together a few nickels to see this, do so.  You won't be sorry!


Alice Ripley        Diana
Asa Somers         Dan
Curt Hanson        Gabe
Emma Hunton     Natalie
Preston Sadleir     Henry
Jaramy Kushnier  Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine

Directed by Michael Greif
Music by Tom Kitt
Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Frigid In Manhattan

Bryant Park's Blue Tree
Well I'm still in New York City and getting a taste of some real eastern hospitality, via the frigid winter weather.  While I am feeling much better and venturing out despite the occasional snow flurry,  I am still struggling to master the art of layering for warmth while hoping to look somewhat fashionable and hip (as in cool verses hippopotamus).  

Despite the cold weather and muscle spasm a few days ago, not to mention a few sniffles,  as always, I'm enjoying Manhattan.  Due to said sniffles I've extended my stay until Saturday, which means I had to fork out a little extra cash (always a bad thing this time of year)  for a first class seat, which was all that was  available  on Virgin America.    I usually fly business class (or in the case of V/A,  Main Cabin Select),  however it will not hurt my feelings to be able to sleep most of the way home in the roomier, reclining seats.

As I sit here,  I am recapping some of the highlights of my stay.   Besides some shopping for some things for her apartment, to me the best gift one person gives to another is the gift of memorable times together.   It is something my daughter and I always strive for and the best present we give each other .

From our swing at Bryant Park
A few places we spent time together was at Bryant Park,  bundled up and watching the skaters for a while then grabbing a swing under the heaters and enjoying an Orange Liqueur spiked Hot Chocolate with some hot Parmesan Popcorn.   Personally I think this is where I got the sniffles as it was bloody cold, but we enjoyed it none the less, especially since it was more orange liqueur than  hot chocolate and it went down very well.

We also made the trek to Saks and Bergdorf  to see the windows and do some shopping.   Upon leaving Bergdorfs we found it was windy and starting to snow so we retired to The Plaza Hotel for some hot Lobster/Mushroom Bisque and watched people scurrying for cover from our window seat.   

Gramercy Tavern Dressed for Christmas
Gramercy Tavern
Another  highlight was dining  at Gramercy Tavern.   The restaurant was cozy and warm and all dressed up for Christmas.  I especially loved dining in the tavern side and seeing the Christmas tree and the profusion of beautiful  pomanders hanging from the ceiling, as well as the bright red amaryllis and red rose laden sideboard beautifully put together by a very artistic soul.  The friendly staff and the great service was equal to the robust and tasty fish stew,  and all of it contributing to warming up the body as well as the spirit and giving one a great taste of the season.  I recommend it highly for its festive ambiance and tasty menu.  The desserts are especially yummy.

Tuesday night we had dinner in the West Village after making the rounds of West Elm, Crate and Barrel and Home Depot in Chelsea for some cellular blinds and area rugs (sheepskin) for D's apt.  

Last night we decided to try  the trendy (for Sushi lovers) Omen in Soho.  Small world that it is, we ran into one of D's ex boyfriends dining with one of his agents.  He looks great and the guy rattles off a list of all the great places he's been and traveling to in the next few days.    I couldn't figure out how the guy could fit so many exciting sounding things into the few minutes he spent conversing with us.   After he left to go back to his table it took some doing to cheer her up, especially when he is going to Costa Rica where she was supposed to go for New Years but the plan fell through.  She wants to know why some men just get better looking while women just get older?   This said by the person who was carded at two restaurants this week.    It's a good thing we ran into another friend of hers waiting  outside another restaurant,  a very cheeky fellow who was happy to see us and remarked how stylish we both looked.  I thanked God for gay men who notice such things!

As for Omen, the food was good, but perhaps a little overrated for the prices they charge.    I liked the simple, Zen atmosphere which befits Japanese Restaurants though and next time will order a la cart rather than trying one of the chef prepared tasting menu.

Tonight I very reluctantly passed on  a documentary at NYU about Uganda and some people doing some good works there to help some of  Joseph Kony's  young victims through teaching them breakdancing.   I still have the sniffles and am trying to baby myself so I can enjoy my last day tomorrow.

I hear they are expecting rain in L.A. this weekend and I have tickets to see Next to Normal on Sunday,  so I will say  adieu to the city until April and head for home and put up my Christmas tree before D flies out on the 21st.  I have several packages waiting for me and tons of mail to sort through and I am not looking forward to that.  It is strange facing the holidays without my Mom this year, but life goes on and D will be home and we will try to make it a merry one with my siblings and their families. 

I love NYC.   If all goes well perhaps next year I may just start shopping around for a small place of my own here so I can spend some extended time during certain parts of the year.  Maybe the timing will be right.  We'll see.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New York City and Murphy's Law

Well,  here I am in fabulous NYC on a Saturday night and sitting home working on my computer.  Home is my daughter's apartment, a cute two bedroom located in LES  (Lower East Side) a block from Houston.

What am I doing home on Saturday night when I am only here for 10 short days?  I am resting  after having pulled a muscle in my upper back that had me clenching my teeth to keep from screaming because when I moved a certain way, raised my arm or took a deep breath, it felt like I was being stabbed between the right shoulder blade and my spine.   Went uptown and had it looked at at Beth Israel and the doctor confirmed severe muscle spasm, probably aggravated by the cold and sent me Relafen and Flexeril.    He said I should be feeling better in a few days and told me to go home and rest.

Well, I immediately took the Flexeril (a muscle relaxant) washed down with a Starbucks latte and D and I headed over to MOMA for a couple of hours.  I was still  very stiff and in excruciating pain and should have gone home and to bed, but of course, I didn't.    After two hours, we tried to hail a cab to take us to Jules Bistro to meet some friends and it was entirely the wrong hour for hailing a cab.  It was so cold I couldn't relax, which makes the spasm worse.  We tried for 20 minutes.  We had already taken a limo to the doctor and not even they were available, so we trudged to the subway in the bitter cold.   By the time we got to Jules we were half an hour late and I was still in serious pain, but feeling a little more relaxed from the warmth, the jazz playing and especially after my first glass of a wonderful Pommard.

The doctor said I could have one as long as I wasn't driving and didn't take the pain killer too, but I had more than one and I was fine as long as I didn't move.

This was our first time at Jules and the food was good as was the company, an Israeli friend of D's whom I'd met on a previous trip and another friend who is British travel  journalist who travels and works all over the world but is back at school at Columbia getting a Masters in writing non fiction.

Some great conversation, rich comfort food, two bottles of wine and four bottles of sparkling water later, we were ready to hit the road.  It was after midnight and, as is our custom, D and I decided to stretch our legs and walk  back to the apt, as we had done the two nights before from Raoul's   It was still bitter cold and, of course, that didn't do my back any good.

We were supposed to see The Rockettes the day before, but I was hurting too much and had to cancel.

I can't figure out whether I pulled the muscle hauling around the new MacAir Notebook (yes I finally crossed the river to the promise land of Steve Jobs)  and super drive I'd bought  or stretching to pull off my clothes while trying on a sexy, black Flashdance forming string body suit from Wolford.  I loved the thing and it it works wonders under the  knit cashmere dress I wore to the art opening in Soho the night before.    I bought D one of her holiday presents there, a limited edition signed print of Andy Warhol and Basquiat.

Either way, here I am, under the influence of Flexeril and Relafen,  and content  babying myself while D went to a couple of Christmas parties.   Unlike L.A.  it is so wonderful to be able to have serious  food delivered to your door and  had  a lovely  meal from the French restaurant a few door down consisting of medallions of pork with a wonderful sauce, mashed potatoes, and sauteed leek with mustard sauce accompanied by a small french baguette and butter.

Raoul's Bistrot
Speaking of Raoul's, there was an actor sitting in the booth behind us that night and since I would not look around,     D and I played a guessing game with her giving me clues.  The funny thing is that one of the clues could have meant two different actors who were in the same movie and coincidently both had long time relationships with the leading lady of a very quirky cable TV series.     I finally guessed it after a while and D learned some more useless trivia on Hollywood hookups.   It was fun and the food at Raouls never disappoints.  Their pepper steak cannot be beat.  We had squash ravioli as our pasta course, and a wonderful salad.  I love that place.

Well, it was warmer today and hopefully tomorrow it will be warmer still.  I am looking forward to checking out the shop windows and to looking for a coat.  I've realized that even though it's nice to have a decent wardrobe, a few fashionable coats are the order of the day because sometimes that's all you see of a person when the weather is cold. I bought my warm long black wool Calvin Klein coat and my trusty yellow cashmere scarf, so I looked okay...but a warmer, more lightweight coat would be best.

Luckily  and as a consolation prize, I   managed to find a great pair of lace up black boots I'd seen in the store for 350 on sale for $200 plus free shipping and they will be waiting for me, along with all the bills when I get home.

D just walked in and I realize it's 3:30 a.m.  I'm still on L.A. time and better hit the bed so I can get drag myself out of bed early tomorrow.  Adventure and lots of good food await me in this fabulous place.  I am not sure why, but D marvels that wherever I go, I make friends with the owner/chefs and dessert is always offered on the house.  It's lovely really.    Now if I can stop this muscle spasm nonsense, I will be fine.

I'm in a "New York frame of mind" and know exactly what Billy Joel was talking about.  Hopefully I will have a few more interesting things to to recount that have nothing to do with pain and that Murphy's Law has exhausted itself in my case so it can stop  intruding on the best laid plans of mice and men...or in my case, woman.

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

City Island - A sweet little Indie!

Saturday night I curled up with a great dinner and a glass of wine and watched my latest Netflix movie, City Island.   I had been hearing good buzz about this little indie for a while now.  It made a very decent showing after its release, with some good legs to carry it over for several months.   Now I know why.

I recommend it to those of you who want to enjoy some good acting and a well written story featuring some great characters, all members of the Rizzo family.

Bent on living their lives and each holding a secret that pulls them apart and makes them feel at odds with each other, it is a sweet, feisty little tale with wonderful performances by Andy Garcia (Vince) and Julianna Margulies (Joyce) as the parents, Steven Strait as Tony Nardella, the prison inmate brought home by Corrections Officer, Vince,  Dominik Garcia-Lorido (a Garcia progeny), playing the daughter who is supposed to be in college, and  Ezra Miller, as Vince Jr., the son with some interesting, but secretive appetites.

Alan Arkin has a small role as Vince's acting coach and the luminous Emily Mortimer is Molly,  someone Vince meets in acting class who has her own secrets, but ultimately helps Vince come to grips with his secret desires and thereby transforms all the Rizzos.
City Island

Directed by Raymond De Felitta, this movie portrays a lovely little slice of life and an affectionate look at a dysfunctional, but entertaining family, living in a place called City Island, which is a little island in the Bronx.    Yes, that Bronx.

Who knew such a place existed?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Whole Body Scan or Pat Down and Pneumonia? Decisions, decisions!

As I prepare to book my trip to NYC for some Christmas shopping and the holiday festivities only  a big city like New York gives one, I am starting to ponder the  TSA security measures recently instituted to protect the traveling public.

Personally speaking, the whole body scan, while seeming innocuous to some, is a big turn off to me.  Like with so many things, years down the road we will find out that the machines, with repeated use,  subjected the flying public to more harmful rays than was first anticipated....and guess what...?  To the people that were harmed by taking Avandia or many of the other drugs that were eventually taken off the market after they were found to do more harm than good,  could this be another case of  "repent at leisure?"

As it is, too many doctors already subject too many patients to unnecessary X-rays and CT scans to protect themselves from lawsuits.  And,  to be fair, too many patients ask for them to put their minds at ease about some nagging sense of doom of diseases,  real or imagined.  We are already accumulating too many "rads" as it is and adding another unknown when we fly is just one rad too many for me.

So the question remains,  take the rads or subject to a pat down?

Much as I don't relish it, I'm afraid with me it will have to be the pat down.   Preparing for the pat down will require some defensive maneuvers and these are the best I can come up with at the moment.  

I will be wearing a pair of stretchy, snug fitting, soft denim jeans and a very fitted t-shirt with a non padded, no under wire bra.    The only big decision here is:  Should I wear a "see through" tee as well?   I could easily  wear one under the cardigan sweater I will remove, along with my jacket when I go through security. Not usually my style, the see through, but I'm willing to sacrifice style for less patting.

Will my plan of  "less is more" work towards  making the pat down a little less invasive, as in a case of "what you see, is what you get...or have?"    I've heard some people, as a protest, are going to strip down to their skivvies.   Hopefully I  won't be driven to this,  because while I still have a pretty decent shape, I don't relish  the thought of catching a cold.

The irony of some of these plans, will be the fact that contracting a bad cold or bronchitis may  later necessitate having to submit to a chest X-ray to see whether we have contracted pneumonia.  Why did I not think this would be another Catch 22, like everything else?  Stupid me.  Can we sue the TSA for our medical bills?

As a thought, couldn't the TSA at least get some agents who look like Tom Selleck, Pierce Brosnan,  Denzel Washington or  Gerard Butler to do the pat downs?   Better that then a burly female TSA agent!  Yes,  I know it would be discriminatory for the TSA to only hire good looking agents, but couldn't they add a $10 fee (the fee to go towards researching better screening methods)  for this extra added service of choice?   I would pay it.

Would you let this guy pat you down?
At least choosing the agent to do the pat down gives you sense of some kind of control over the process and to quote Mary Poppins, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!"   A frisk by a serious faced,  Brosnan look alike would certainly make the medicine taste a little more like dessert.  Not a bad way to kick off the season.

Anybody else with me?

TSA?   Are you listening? 

Songs out of tune, the words always a little wrong...Canzoni Stonate

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Once Again...

...I am making attempts to chase the muse and start writing again.   I have been a little lost for a while, letting the days pass me by, drifting in a fog that made one day seem very much like the other...  You know how it is?  You hide from life because it is too painful sometimes and in the hiding it is more painful still.

I am still feeling numb, but little parts of me seem to want to reach out and find the me that is lost....the joyous me that loves life, the me that several years ago decided to reach out and grab it by the balls because not to do so would be death, a living death, but yes...death.  And I'm not ready for the coffin yet.  So here I am, giving it a try again.

 I was looking at some drafts of posts I started but never finished.  One of them was titled "My mother is dying...a little every day."  Well she finally managed to do it.  She went reluctantly, but she was ready.  The pain was too much.  The final sleep was welcomed after so many years of saying that she didn't want to leave us.  Us as in my siblings and I.   Us as in my sister A.  They had never been apart.

My sister A has Down's Syndrome.  As if that weren't enough, she is also suffering from Alzheimers, as many Down's syndrome citizens do when they reach a certain age.  My mother never wanted to leave A behind.  I think she actually wished for some natural disaster to occur so that they could go together.  But it wasn't meant to be.  Man proposes, but God/the Universe disposes.  After several falls, mom started to go down hill very quickly.  She told us she didn't have very long.  No hospital for her.  No dying among strangers.  She wanted to die at home, surrounded by her children.  If we were going to be out of town, she would wait.   She wanted us there.  She didn't have long.  We didn't believe her.  She was always there....the core of our family.  Mom.

The pain was constant and one of her legs was badly swollen.  I had taken her for x rays and ultrasounds.  Nothing broken in the leg and no blood clots.    The fracture in one of her vertebrae was healing, but probably pinching on a nerve.  The next day she fell again getting out of bed.  That night she fell again, stubborn thing that she was.   No Depends for her.  She would get up and use the bathroom or else.  That was really the beginning of the end.  The pain was too much.

We called the doctor and he called hospice.  She had stopped eating.  She wasn't hungry.  I had already read the signs on her last blood work.  Her albumin levels were low.  I knew it was coming.  I thought we had a little while though.   We had round the clock caregivers, but they made way for my siblings and I.  I called my daughter.  She flew in from NYC  and went straight to mom's house.  The vigil began.

My brother was the worst.  He couldn't believe Mom was really dying.  All he could do was hold her hand and cry and cry.  We took turns holding her hands and turning her.  A whole day and night, and then her breathing changed.  I called my elder sister, who had gone home to care for her husband who had had knee replacement two weeks before and she came.   It was a good thing.  We were all there, loving her.  It was so strange...I'd done this before...

I was waiting for a certain breathing pattern, but all of a sudden we knew...I leaned over and whispered "You can go now mom.  I promise we are going to take care of A and we are going to take care of each other.  You can go to Daddy and Grandma now.  It's okay."   Two breaths later and she went.   Just like that...  My daughter was there holding me,  because it hurt so much.  We held each other.  My brother was bereft.  He had been asking her forgiveness for all the "stuff" he put her through when he was younger and he simply couldn't  let her go.  That was the kind of mother she was.  Her kids....her family, were everything.

 After a while, one of the caregivers  brought out her long, soft, black dress, the one I had bought her to wear to my niece's wedding years earlier.  She carefully pressed it.   Mom had told her this was to be her burial dress.  My sisters and I and my daughter bathed her lovingly with Mustela baby soap and washed and brushed her hair.  We put her favorite cologne on her and put on her black dress, black stockings and black ballerina slippers.   The funny thing was that the dress had a boat neck and was the same in front and back and we put the dress on backward.  We started laughing through our tears.  If mom had been there, she would have been the first to laugh.  As she would have done, we simply cut the tag out and let it go.  Mom had a wonderful sense of humor and we honored it in that act.  No one would know.  But we did.   An inside joke.

The swollen leg was down to normal size.  She looked so beautiful and  regal lying there with her flawless skin and white hair.   It was heartbreaking, yet comforting.   Her skin was still warm to the touch when my brother came back in to sit with her.   Her sister and a childhood friend arrived to pay their last respects.

A beautiful, classy lady, my mom.
One is used to seeing women cry, but when a man cries, it is so heart wrenching.  Her childhood friend just saw her laid out in the bed and turned around and walked out.  I brought him back in and set him down and he sobbed like his heart would break.   My mom had been the first person to hold him when he was born.  She was the link, through her stories, back to his own mother...and now that link was gone.  He and my brother were inconsolable.   As the day wore on, we finally called the hospice and let them know she had passed and hours later, we called the mortuary.  No embalming for mom.  She wanted a simple graveside service and she wanted her children to say some words over her grave.

Days later, at the cemetery, as we waited for the minister, people started arriving.  All her old neighbors, my cousin's wife and her married children, her friends, our friends.    They all knew Mom.  She had affected them all.  To many, she represented the ideal mother...a warm hearth, the wonderful smells from her kitchen.  Her children were a testament...we loved each other and never fought.  She would never have stood for that.  And she had managed to keep us all together.  That was a source of pride for her.

We waited and  waited and still no  minister.  It was getting late.  The funeral director was kind, but he kept looking at his watch.   We would have to do it.

I got up and recited  the 23rd Psalms.  It was her favorite. I fumbled over a passage.  It had been a while.

My daughter had found the poem that my mom had told her was her favorite and it was called "La Despedida"  (The Goodbye).  It is a beautiful  poem about a great love.  My mother was a romantic, always.  My daughter was going to read it, but her Spanish was heavily accented and she didn't want to trip over it, so I gave it to my older sister to read.  She wasn't sure she could do it, but brought it along anyway.  After apologizing to those who didn't understand Spanish, she told them a little about the poem, then read it with great feeling   It was a wonderful moment.  Just then one of the large flower arrangements fell over.  We put it back against the coffin.  My sister is quiet and not one to speak in public.   Mom must have been turning over in the coffin with glee that she did it.

Next,  two of the grandchildren spoke and broke up talking about their beloved grandmother.   My brother and younger sister both spoke.  Mom was a classy lady.   It was easy.  It was hard.

 Finally, I got up and thanked everyone for coming, then spoke of my mom's wicked sense of humor and how we could never look at her at funerals or weddings or other such occasions because we knew that when her nose started getting red and twitching, something had tickled her funny bone and she was going to whisper some astute observation and we were not going to be able to contain ourselves.  As a child she had been her mother's representative at all the Cuban wakes (very similar to Irish wakes) and the stories we heard as children would keep us in stitches.  As a young women, she had written  gossip columns  for several small town newspapers and her arrows always found their targets.  She was never mean, but she knew human nature and people's foibles and she was wonderful at pricking pomposity wherever she found it.  The stories were legendary and told and retold by those who knew her.  She was also a ham.

Mom  loved to sing and play the piano and in her youth she and her friends would stage talent shows and she would  make her older sister (who wanted to kill her)  play the piano so that she could sing and entertain people.  Later many of them would go on the famous CMQ radio station and compete for prizes and dedicate songs, recite poetry to lovers, etc.  Sometimes even that was fodder for her stories.  She would recount them  to the caregivers.   It was her way to entertain them.    Her arthritic fingers could still play the piano and she would play for them.  It was her way of telling them she knew it was sometimes a shitty job they had to do, but they had to know her as the person she used to be.  They loved her.

I also addressed how happy she would be to see so many of the people that came to pay their respects to her memory.  I called out the people by name and they were pleased.   I know she was there.   I know that she was responsible for the minister not showing up.  She wanted her children to speak ....and she ended up getting exactly what she wanted...kind of like she always did in life.

We miss her.  And we are taking care of A.    Funny thing is, A had a major seizure a few days ago, and, in the middle of my fright,  I thought for sure Mom was trying to take her with her.   The caregiver was besides herself, saying that mom had told her that she and A would follow one another, no matter which of them went first.  She firmly believes mom is there watching over A.  We know she is.  Her physical  remains may have been in that coffin, but the spirit that was my mother, is still very much alive.

A is still living at home with round the clock caregivers.  I go almost every day and spend time with her and sit with her.  My brother is the only one who hasn't been able to go back in the house yet.   He's been taking off  and going up to the mountains and communing with nature, fishing and taking long walks to get his head together again.  We go out to dinner sometimes, but he's very subdued.   He's on anti-depressants, but he'll be okay.

The rest of us are trying to pick up the threads of our lives and we seem fine on the surface.   We are planning things together.  But for me one of the hardest things to get used to is not seeing that light on the answering machine when I get home late at night sometimes.  I live alone, so she always worried about me.  She would call me up every night to say good night and if I wasn't home she would leave the message:  "It's your bothersome mother calling to wish you a good night."  Often she would add  "You have no idea how much I love you and thank you for being such a good daughter and, by the way, I read in the paper where ....."    and she would  then cite some horrible thing that had happened to a women out and about on her own.   I know she wanted to protect me, but it drove me crazy sometimes.  I feel badly now, but  I don't miss my gilded little cage made up of worry bars.  I do miss the unconditional love that my mother always gave me, though. We had a special with my daughter.  We were soul mates.

And so now I am trying to recall the muse again.  I need to move on.  I need to remember how much I love life and to laugh.   A few weeks after mom died and the last night before my D went back to NY,  I dropped her off at a restaurant, where she was meeting a friend for coffee and girl talk, and  took my birthday $50 gift certificate from Diane Von Furstenberg and went shopping.  I spent a few hours trying on dresses and ending up buying three of them (two on sale).  I felt a little more cheerful...normal.  D's friend dropped her off at the shop and D and I decided to go for pasta at one of my favorite Italian restaurants, a popular celeb watering hole.   There were plenty of tables that night, but we sat at the bar, like we do when we don't have reservations.    The bartenders are great , very complimentary and always happy to see us.  It's cozy.

This night the owner came up and we started talking and I mentioned my mother had passed away recently.   He was very close to his mother, who had passed away the year before and when he finished telling me about her,  I raised my glass of wine and attempted to make a toast to both our mothers.  He asked me to wait, went and got a bottle of wine, and came back and filled my glass.  I was drinking a French wine and he poured a very good Italian wine into it to the chagrin and the rolling eyes of the bartender behind him.  We drank a lovely toast to our mothers.  He kept telling my daughter what a beautiful mother she had and that we were now officially friends.  When I got the bill, he had comped my dinner and the wine.   It made me smile and I felt beautiful that night...the first time in a while.  A little of the old spark was coming back....

And now,  I have to start writing again.  No more excuses.  I have to.  I've started entering all the changes I've made to one of my screenplays.  I need to wrap up one of the silly stories I started a while back on another  blog.  I can't leave it unfinished.  I've done that once too many times before....left things unfinished.   I'm still waiting for the muse to visit me so that I can get on with another script I'm working on.   Nothing I write seems to sound good.   It has no passion.    I have to get my passion back.  It's who I am.   It's where I live.

Tomorrow is a new day.  It has to be different then the one before it.  Perhaps I will feel beautiful again tomorrow.   Perhaps my sister A will recognize me again for a little while.  When she smiles at me, the sun comes out.  When she calls out for Mom, my heart breaks all over again.  But life goes on.  And I must too.  I'm not ready to die yet.  Not for a while.  So here I am again.    Let's hope I can find something interesting to say, something that has stirred my passion and hopefully will stir a little of yours too.

Life is good.  Time to seize it again.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earth, Wind, and lots of Fire

Yes, that's exactly what the venerable R & B  group Earth, Wind and Fire provided for their sold out fans at the Hollywood Bowl last and lots of it.  The fireworks, lighting and talent spectacular  went off without a hitch and the resulting enthusiasm of the audience matched the show inch per inch.   I understand that Maurice White joined them on Friday and that would have been nice to see, but the Saturday show couldn't have been beat for entertainment value.  They were sizzling...and so were we...and the warm Los Angeles night was only partly responsible.

The weather was perfect as we uncorked our first bottle of a good Napa Sauvinon Blanc and stayed with us through out the night as we settled into our box for another great evening of food, comraderie and Los Angeles based entertainment, Hollywood Bowl style.  However, for a great many of the audience, they didn't stay in their seats for long once the music started.  I tried very hard to rock out in my seat, and moved every single part of my body until the last half hour of the show, when I couldn't stand it any longer and got up and did my thing...move to the lush rhythms of familiar old tunes.   My friend, sitting behind me observed that my curvy figure dancing, reminded her of some of the women of Mad Men.    I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or not, as I am a size 4, but curvy non the less.  However,  I think she was more speaking about the movement of my my hips that absolutely cannot sit still when there is any kind of music with a decent beat....and last night the beat was more than decent. 

There was a moment 3/4 of the way through the show when I almost got a little teary as I watched an older couple get up and dance to a ballad as if they were in the privacy of their living room probably reliving a time when they were younger...but not more beautiful because there was a lovely beauty in their dance that said..."we may be older, but we are young at heart."   I think there were many there last night thinking the same thing as they were taken back in time to their youth,

As for the group, who was at times backed up by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra under the expert hand of conductor Thomas Wilkins,  they were in fine form and the newer members have only added to the mix.  The bass guitar, the saxophone, keyboards and drums as well as the back up vocals were great and  lead singer Philip Bailey (born in 1951), (along with other members, Verdine White, B. David Whitworth, and Ralph Johnson)  is still going strong,  his vocal range magnificent...and to me that tells me this is a generation that is not going into the "good night" dociley.   I think that I would willingly go into the "good night" if I could take my time getting there, and definitely to the beat of Earth, Wind and Fire.  But this show had nothing to do with time running out.   It was all about a celebration of being alive.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Harry Connick, Jr. Rocks the Bowl...

... and I do mean rocks it! I, along with my sister and brother in law, are lucky enough to be into the second season of having a box at the Hollywood Bowl. We've had some fun evenings and watched some fabulous talent, but I have to say that Harry Connick's performance last night ranks right up there with last season's Pink Martini (a Bowl favorite). For those of you familiar with the talents that make up Pink Martini, they always put on one hell of a show!

Along with a few of his usual ballads, Harry decided to give his audience a vicarious trip to his beloved New Orleans and some of us came back craving for more. His New Orleans style jam with several musicians, a bass, saxophone and trombone, with him taking turns at the grand piano, honky tonk piano, and trumpet, as well as shaking his booty with so much rhythm and gusto, he took the audience for a ride on the groove he was so obviously in last night. I've always known the man has talent, but it was his unassuming charm and the obvious love for what he does, that made me love every minute of it. I think that if they would have let him, he would have performed all night. It was lovely.

What is ironic to me is that I once commented to one of his movie co-stars that he didn't have any chemistry with the leading lady. The very charming co-star informed me that he was a very good actor and was "not supposed to have chemistry" with the leading lady in the movie. He was right of course, and looking back, I blush at having even uttered such an idiocy. After watching him last night, what is more important then having chemistry with his leading lady, is the fact that Harry Connick, Jr. has loads of chemistry with his music and his musicians and, when he is on, like he was last night, with his audience.

Thank you Mr. Connick and New Orleans here I come!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back Again

I'm back again to try and get this blog going in earnest. I've decided to let it ramble like a vine and go where it's going to go. I'm also going to be posting some of my old Gerard Butler inspired writings on another blog for the benefit of newer fans. They will recognize some things that have become part of the Butler fandom lexicon. I have come to feel that, in my own way, I have added a little to the legend of this popular actor that has been perpetuated by the fans that originally read my little stories and perhaps even a little by Butler himself. I say that because reading back over them (they were posted in late 2006 and early 2007) makes me wonder if I had some secret insight at the time, or whether some of my writings served as a script for some later things that have again become part of the Butler story. It would not be strange. He has borrowed something else from me....but that is another story for another life.

Butler's fandom has also, of course, been instrumental in the development of these stories. I have never participated in any fan site (other then seeking photographs) and have relied on those that have and posted on his IMDB board in past years (when it was a more pleasant place and he was still a novelty) for some of the inspiration, thanks to their devotion to the actor. My thanks to them (they know who they are) for the support I received when they were originally posted.

As for this blog, let's see where it leads and what comes to mind. Life is still exciting and I am going to share some of here.