Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Xmas stress less

So my daughter was in perfect health this year, as our annual ny xmas trip approached. Every year prior she has had a winter cold and we are always in the doctors office the day before we fly making sure she is ok enough to go. This year was a dream…until 2 days prior to the trip when I heard a tiny cough. It was a tiny cough so I did not worry.

That night the sitter called to let us know that our daughter was running a fever. OK. We still had 36 hours till flying so if the fever broke in the morning we would be proceeding as planned. It didn’t break, it went up.

The night before the trip we packed everything and set the clock, hoping her fever would break during the night. It did not. This year we were at the doctor’s office instead of on the plane. We had to cancel our trip.

I felt so sad that I would not be seeing my family. It is hard enough living across the country and having a limited amount of time together, especially for my daughter, but then having that limited amount of time become even less was just devastating. I felt overwhelmed that there was no food in the house, because we planned it that way. I felt horrified at the thought that we now had a week with no plans at all, no Christmas eve plans, no Christmas day plans and we were house bound. And every present was in nyc. I cried.

But then I got over it. We would make the best of it. My sister kindly over-nighted the gifts which was so sweet, as my daughter would have her first Christmas here at our home, where she gets to wake up and open gifts. I also like the idea of having nothing to do and nowhere to go. So this is what rest feels like.

Then my daughter started to feel better and I looked at flights and realized we could still go see my family. I did not book it because I was not certain that was what I should do. Was my daughter well enough? Should I spend the extra money? When I finally decided that yes she was well enough and yes we should spend the money, the airfare prices had gone up an additional $200 per person, $600. I needed a Christmas miracle. 

I called the airline and told them the story. I was hoping they would feel sorry for me and give me the earlier fare or maybe they could comp me some points. I know it was crazy to think that but I tried. They could not help me.

I hung up the phone and put my dates into their website one last time and low and behold, one crazy cheap flight appeared. There were only 4 seats left at that price and the price was low enough that my points would cover one of us. I booked it. Hell yeah, I am going home for the holidays.

The over-nighted Christmas presents never came, but they still might. It is only 8pm, Christmas eve. Who knows. My daughter may not get any gifts until we get home. Lord have mercy, I worked so hard to get those gifts coordinated and shipped and blab blah. Oh well. I am not stressed. She will be fine. The house sitters will have them ready and waiting for when we get home. These are just luxury problems.

My daughter is falling asleep as I type. My husband and my daughter and I watched The Grinch before bed. We will spend Christmas on the plane, on the plane together. We will be with our family in New York after all. We are alive. We have our health. We have a few dollars to burn. I am so happy. I am so lucky.

Let us remember everyone who is going to be alone for the holidays with a kind prayer.

For 2014, my wish for you: may you have love and luxury, peace and presence, safety and beauty and health and joy inside, and may your cup floweth over. Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bad boyfriend

I had a string of 'em, bad boyfriends. There was one in particular who was not nice and not good-looking. And I would wonder about that when I looked back on him. Why?

The truth is that water seeks is own level. We attract what we are, pretty much. I was not in a great place at the time and thus I was with him, pretty simple.

The bad part was that he was quite a bit older than me and he took advantage of that age difference, He just had more life experience and my best was no match. I would get mad at something he did and we would fight, and he would manage to turn the tables and I would be the one apologizing at the end of the night. Tragic and predictable. The whole thing was pretty cliche, almost like math.

The thing is that he also provided me with so many amazing “gifts”, or experiences, that altered my life in amazing ways. He got me my first job where I was making great money, not scrounging like I had my whole life. I had cash and for the first time ever and I was able to take cabs and eat in restaurants and  buy dresses at Betsy Johnson and Pat Fields. It was amazing. I had grown up working class in a lot of deprivation and went on to support myself after college in a just getting by way. I had not gotten to experience what  many of the people I knew did, the simple luxury of walking into a cool store and buying what I wanted or going to a decent restaurant and ordering what I felt like. It changed my life. Thanks, Buddy.

Also he got me to be in my first band. It was an unspeakable dream I had: to play in a band! Unknowingly, he brought me to the studio, showed me a mike and an amp and then said lets play a show. I jumped at the occasion. I had never performed before and I decided I would be the guitarist and singer. It may sound insignificant perhaps, and I am not sure I have the time or capacity to explain how tiny my life and my  vision was and what that experience did for me. Basically, the band being handed to me on a platter gave me the courage to do something I dreamed of but might never have done. He affected my destiny. Thanks, Buddy.

He also talked me into going to Europe for 2 weeks. I cannot stress how small my life was up till that point. I had no cash, I had not flown on a plane until I was 21. I didn’t even have a color tv until I was in my twenties. And here I was going to Europe, something rich kids did on their parent’s dime, not something a working class lost girl did. The funny thing is that I took advantage of his gifts, (not what he paid for, but what he exposed me to), knowing that he was a bad boyfriend. I told my sister that I was scared to be so far from home with him, in places where I knew no one. She got me the phone number of a friend to carry, just in case I needed it. The trip had some rough spots, some awful moments, but all in all the experience was so liberating. Thanks, Buddy

Lastly he taught me how to stay up late and just have fun, how to do what I wanted, buy stupid things if they made me happy, not get up for a lame job. sleep in, watch cool films, dance all night, live, really. The guy was a really bad boyfriend but he changed the direction of my life for the better.

When he dumped me I remember I prayed because I was in such pain and I did not know what else to do. I was not religious or even spiritual, just a mess and maybe even an atheist. And I prayed for guidance. He dumped me and instead of curling up in the bsll of my long history of abandonment, I just accepted it, and walked away. He never seemed to get over that, probably expected me to act like the younger, less experienced one in the relationship and get rocked  to my core by his casual decision. Hell, I even expected that. I got rocked for an hour or so, but then some cool grace descended upon me and I just accepted it, left him behind and moved on like the woman I would become, but at the time still longed to be. He was a real asshole in the grand scheme of things, but one that I attracted, dated, stayed with, suffered over and eventually outgrew. I learned a lot about life from that trip. Thanks, Buddy. 

Ah, life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My fav films of 2013

I have not seen them all, but I have seen a lot, both the big budget Hollywood studio stuff an the independent as hell, along with many of the somewhere inbetweens. Many were ok and good, a few are great. My taste is specific, I like good characters, good acting, good stories that make me feel something worth feeling, that I care about and that go somewhere. Pretty simple. The two best films of the year for me were Rama Burshtein's Fill the Void and Rebecca Thomas’s Electrik Children. You may have missed them.

Fill the Void was an Israeli film written and directed by Burshtein, the first orthodox woman to direct a film intended for wide distribution. It is the story of “an 18 year old girl who is pressured to marry her deceased older sisters husband, following the death of her sister in childbirth.” It is exquisitely shot and acted. As I have said before, I love foreign film because it can be a tool that reduces racism, showing us other cultures in a way we need to see them, in their humanness, human beings just like us.

Electrik Children, written and directed by Thomas, herself a mormon, is about a fifteen year old girl who is a fundamentalist mormon, and who gets pregnant by an immaculate conception. The film is magical and it rocks, as the immaculate conception has something to do with the song (Don’t Leave Me) Hanging On The Telephone written by Jack Lee, put on the map by Blondie, covered by Flowers Forever for the film.

I’d also like to include Jeffrey Schwarz’s documentary on Divine, called I am Divine. Divine is such an inspiring human being, so revolutionary, wild, free, beautiful, cool, incendiary really. Hell, just see the film, it will remind you of so many brilliant things about the world and it will make you want to love your body, live large and destroy something!! Go see all three! Halelluia and Ahmen!

I have only seen one of them so far, but I plan to see at least 6 others based on his recommendations. Sending love to all, stay cool for the holidays, no need to stress. Be kind to everyone, you have no idea what burdens they carry. I write that to remind myself.

ohh, i can't control myself

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

my formal religious education

In my catholic high school, Cardinal Spellman, you had to take a class called religion. Miss Tomasiello taught my freshman year class, which I thought was weird since you would expect a nun or priest to teach it, since they were experts. But I was thrilled to have a lay teacher any day. Tomasiello was short and plump and wore short hair and big oversized plastic glasses, which was the trendy thing. I wore them too. They were not the Run DMC kind that would later be super hip, but just the old lady kind that were in style in our neck of the woods and that they sold at the classy Sterling Optical on Fordham Road. Just about all of the girls who wore glasses sported this putrid style. There was no edge or irony in the choice so we just looked middle-aged, yet somehow I thought we were looking cool.

Tomasiello would have us read the bible and she would try to explain and justify the storyline, try to make sense of the rapes, or  “taking” of wives, and the murders, and the other bizarre and seemingly unholy occurrences that the chapters told of. She would try to engage us by focusing on the sex and drama, but the class was still endlessly boring, like a daytime soap opera.

One particularly unbearable day the boy next to me was reading the graffiti carved into his wooden desk in big letters. “Suck me off,” He lasciviously read the words to the girl behind him as he laid his head on the desk and stuck out his tongue in a suggestive manner. “That’s gross,” she said with matter of fact distain, peering at him through her oversized plastic framed glasses. Being the naive freshman that I was, I did not know what that phrase meant. I knew that we all used the expression “suck” as in you suck and that sucks but the “off” confused me. I made a mental note to ask a friend to fill me in.

We were all bored and distracted as Tomasiello rambled away. Then one kid got the great idea of trying to distract her from the boring lesson by asking her off topic questions. She tried skirting around them but then he asked her if exorcisms were real and Tomasiello took the bait. She got all excited about the topic and started telling us everything she knew about exorcisms, which was way more interesting than the bible, to us and to her. She even looked around before tiptoeing to the back of the room to close the classroom door so that we could talk off topic candidly without getting “caught”. Class got fun as Thomasiello told us all kinds or gory details which she claimed were indeed real, as she had seen and heard about some shocking events. She even promised to bring in photos.  As interesting as things got, when the bell finally rang we all jumped up as fast as always to get out of there.

In the end, Tomasiello never did remember to bring the photos. Eventually, I was enlightened as to what the carved phrase and the word “off” was referring to.