Saturday, December 27, 2003

Whenever I need a good laugh, I go here
Or here

Monday, December 22, 2003

Today is the birthday of my favorite opera composer.

I am ready to sing Mimi. Anyone need a Mimi? I'm ready!

Friday, December 19, 2003

At some point when I was in college, I realized that I had several very high-maintenance, borderline sociopathic people in my life, following me from class to class, wanting to plan vacations with me, and basically pinning their hopes for friendship on me. I was nice to them, so they thought I would be their new best friend. I realized that I had attracted people like this all my life. Once I realized how much these people were draining me, I let them go, as gently as I could, one at a time. I remember weighing the possibility of having no friends against the agony of dealing with these toxic personalities. I decided in favor of peaceful solitude.

I have never been alone one minute ever since.

Little did I know that with them gone, I would be free to pursue friendships with the people I actually admired. So... I did. Now I am surrounded by people who I generally think are amazing. Brilliant, talented people.

Now I'm the nutcase of the group.


Monday, December 15, 2003

Hard to write these days. I've turned into one of those lame bloggers who just disappears. Although, I'm pretty sure I have no regular readers, so I doubt anyone will notice. Ah, the freedom of solidtude and anonymity!

Zenchick is going through a significant period of loss. We managed to have a brief but meaningful phone call while I was en route from Nyack to Manhattan sometime on Saturday. I was previleged to have met Zenkitty. She actually allowed me to pet her once. She was truly a unique personality, very selective of her company. Part of me wished my own kitty Marge could have met her - but they probably would have hidden under furniture in seperate bedrooms. Marge would have meowed loudly from there. A funny thought in itself. So.. much love and peace to Zenkitty on her new journey. And, of course, to my girl bets.

As for me, I had a fantastic time letting my hair down at my company's annual christmas party, and spent a subsequent lovely weekend learning about Astrology, meeting some West Village Yuppies, eating baked Ziti while watching Angels in America, and in general hiding from my life. Relaxing positive weekends are, as my blog states, what I live for. Today I'm back at work and things are quiet. I'm always grateful for quiet days at the office. I'm even more grateful that I have half of next week off and all of the following week. And I'm most grateful of all for the friends who are thinking of me, who call and email from time to time, even when I don't see them.

I will miss my parents this year. It's looking like they won't be coming east, and I'm definitely not flying anywhere. I just can't handle any more traveling. I am just too tired. I am glad I got to see everyone at Thanksgiving. Right now the prospect of spending Christmas week alone sounds wonderful. I want to CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN my apartment, clean out my fridge, everything. I want to start 2004 with a relatively empty life. I'll buy new groceries, cook for myself and the stray friend who may pop by, and do some Yoga in my living room. I will likely go away someplace north for a few days around New Years - an even deeper retreat. That's all I want. Retreat. Quiet. LOTS of sleeping. Lots of sleep.

I want to blog about my relationship, but I am too nervous to state my emotions, and too afraid to admit some of them. I want to blog about my job - but I'm afraid of getting caught.

Writing has been an outlet of mine for years. I feel, however, jammed.

"There's no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves."
Darwi Odrade, Chapterhouse: Dune

I'm currently working on creating a meditation for a New Moon circle I'm co-facilitating on 12/22, the day after the Winter Solstice. I have to come up with something that will help us to visualize the things we want to manifest for ourselves in the coming year. I tried that already. It didn't work. I'm trying not to feel defeatist. That's no way to enter a ritual circle. Hell, that's no way to live.

A friend recently asked me to define the nature of my current depressed state as "relationship," "Occupational," or "Existential." I said the best word for it was "Cumulative." Too many things have been wrong for too long a time, and more things seem to pop up all the time to add to the pile of crap. As another friend pointed out to me, yes, I do still have a job, I do have a man in my life, and I Marge is still healthy and waiting at home for me every day.

It's the prospect of losing my apartment that's really killing me these days. Sure, I'll find another one. But not like this one. Not even close.

My roommate has the lease. I am a mere sub-tenant. She will move if she finds a new job that's not in convenient commuting distance. The Landlord will not allow me to take over the lease because I don't meet his minimum income requirement. If my roomie goes, I go.

I am currently living in the apartment I have pretty much wanted all my life. It's a medium-to-small sized flat on the third floor of an Upper West Side building, with a small elevator, overpriced laundry machines in the basement (hey - they're THERE!), and lots of friendly neighbors. I am 1/2 block from Riverside park. I am 2 short blocks from the Express Subway stop. I am surrounded by groovy restaurants, fun bars, organic food marts, ATM's, and fun little shops. My church is 20 short blocks away - a lovely walk in nice weather and a short cab ride otherwise. I have big windows, lots of sunlight, a nice kitchen, a large bathroom, a coat closet. This is the home of my dreams.

If I made 25K a year more than I do, I could stay. Right now, at my age, and at my level of career uncertainly, it is hard for me to picture myself EVER making that kind of money.

I have changed career directions several times. I just haven't found the right fit. According to my Astrological chart, this makes perfect sense. However, I hate it. I feel as though I have been pigeon-holed into jobs that I never chose - they were what was offered to me, and I had to survive. The jobs I want have never materialized. So I do what is needed while continuing the search. Now, I am 32 years old with a resume full of experience in things I don't want to do. I feel completely trapped and used.

I try to be grateful for my income. but these days, I see a storage cube full of my belongings and a plane ticket back to my parents house in my future. It has been too long. I am starting, very slowly, to break down, tiny piece of belief by tiny piece. I can read all the platitudes online, all the good books, I can spend al week in prayer and with friends trying to "Buck Up." I am sending out an average of 3 resumes a week. No Responses Whatsoever. When I call to follow-up, I am told basically, to quit bothering people. I am polite and professional. I am an incredibly good actress. However - I feel a hole inside me getting bigger and bigger. That hole is right smack dab in the middle of my belief in life, and in people. I don't expect God to swoop down and fix things. I don't expect the job fairy to drop an offer letter in my lap.

I think I've stopped expecting anything at all, ever, from anyone. I'm starting to have a rough time simply hoping.

Yep, this is depressing alright.

I will feel better. Something must happen. It has to.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Been gone a while. So much on my mind.

I've realized that while I may feel out of control of my life in many ways, I am able to step back from it and look at it somewhat objectively.

One of the "church ladies" at my church pretty much cornered me a few Sunday's ago and guilted me into agreeing to come early and help out with the coffee and bagel setup. Of course I said I would. How could I not? She's a dear, sweet lady and I am after all a member of 5 years.

Of course, when the Sunday morning in question arrived, I

a) completely forgot
b) was snowed in out of town anyway.

I couldn't help being snowed in. But - would I have remembered to go if I had been in town? Not sure. Would I have been happy to do it, if I had remembered. A definitive NO.

Part of me is saying "that's what she gets for trying to strong-arm people into volunteering." Part of me is saying "Why didn't I just say no?" Another part of me says "I am useless, worthless, unreliable and good-for nothing." The first part of me slaps the third part. "No you're not, you're just going through a really rough period.

It's winter. The sun is gone. I get sad every year when this happens. My job stress is pretty extreme, and to top it off, I find out that my roommate is likely moving out in the spring, and my landlord won't let me take over the lease and find another roommate, because I don't make 75K a year or more. So if she's out, I have to move.

So I'm able to look at the big picture and say "ok, I'm stressed, and hibernating, and feeling guilty for doing so. I miss the old boyfriend, am feeling guilty about the new one, and my job is such a burden to me that I'm loathe to assume ANY OTHER responsibilities anywhere else in life, no matter how small they may seem to be”

Why can’t I just STOP IT then?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

In other news....

This is the coolest thing I've read all week.

Thanks to Laurensophia for the reference!
I’m part of a women’s spirituality group called "the Weavers." As in weaving your own spirituality from many threads of world traditions, and exploring more deeply the ones that resonate most with you. We’ve been meeting once a month for a year, ever since January. As part of the program, we each complete a “priestess project.” I decided to write some sacred songs that reflect my personal spiritual beliefs. I have written a choral hymn to the Goddess for 6 women to sing. I have a cute, sweet song, more like a lullaby, to Bridget, the Celtic Goddess of the Hearth. I have an arrangement of Amazing Grace. And I have one big, long epic musical poem, basically, about the eternality and interconnectedness of life.

I was supposed to have been working on this all year. I didn’t even start it until about 4 months ago. I didn’t get anything down on paper until about a month ago. I have to present the work on Sunday, and I’m just today finishing the Big Epic Piece.

For me, this feels like being in college again! I was always the one who wrote the term paper - the one we were supposed to be working on all semester - in about 4 days - and I always got an A. I work well under pressure. And, I love writing.

Just this morning on the bus to work, the rest of my big ritual song bubbled forth from my subconscious and flowed through my brain. I've never been so disgusted for myself for not having a pad of paper handy. So now that I'm at the office, I'm scribbling it down. I feel divinely inspired. I was actually a little afraid of it. It's going to be a challenge showing this to people, I feel very vulnerable. (But then, before God, aren't we supposed to be?)

The other day on the phone, I had a neat conversation with one of my “Weaver Sisters” about creating personal rituals – which is the subject of her project. We talked about how making something specific focuses the magic and makes it more personal, more directed, and more potent.

I would encourage all of us to try and make our work somehow personal to us. Many of us do not realize that our personal needs are often others' as well. Why am I doing this project – writing hymns and sacred songs? Why did I choose to indulge (exploit?) my own creativity? Because I felt an inner pull to do so. I have since realized, however, though feedback from my friends at church and from other musicians and writers, that when I express myself musically, when I sing at church, when I share my writing, that I’m not being self-indulgent or grandstanding. People actually look forward to it, and several have told me that they felt inspired and hopeful listening to my work. I feel arrogant in saying this, but perhaps I am able to fill a small portion of a need that’s out there. A need for beauty, a need for inspiration, a need to hear someone express love and hope.

Sometimes we think we choose things in a last-minute panic, negating any thoughtful contemplation of the choice, and rendering it impersonal. I posit something more. Perhaps in panic we simply open ourselves up and let someone else do the choosing for us. Perhaps the adrenaline rush of panic is the breath of the divine.

Not always. But sometimes.

I have focused so much on this one epic piece, and the choral number, that the other songs I wrote seem trite. (I'll bring them in anyway. The one to Bridget is kind of cute.) I was frustrated for awhile, feeling that I hadn't done enough. I wanted to come in with 5 or 6 or 7 songs, with paper copies of the research that I did while writing them, so I could explain everything, very scholarly and such... Nope. Sorry. After my revelation this morning, that all just doesn't seem necessary... I'll still bring in what I have and prepare as best I can. But I somehow feel that it's incidental. The real work of this project has gone on inside of me. Something has opened. I hope I can share this in a tangible way.

My mother told me last night that I put far too much pressure on myself for the smallest things, for things that ought to be someone else's responsibility. She was sad for me about it, and also impatient with me. Well, it's not just me. I think it's a tendency that women have to nurture - to take responsibility for all sorts of things - that gets out of hand. It' not a bad thing - but it can be unhealthy if you punish yourself for not living up to your own expectations. Let's give ourselves a break this holiday season. Don't break the bank on Christmas gifts. Give yourself free evenings. Ask people to come visit you instead of the other way around. RELAX. Let the winds of heaven blow around you and though your personal space.

I am SO looking forward to this month. To seeing the work of my weaver sisters this Sunday, to co-facilitating my last New Moon Circle of the year on the 22nd. To singing in church and going caroling at Christmas. To retreating to some quiet mountain cabin just for a few days between Christmas and New Years, to just breathe. To talking to my loved ones on the phone. To the holiday party my office is throwing, and the few private holiday parties I’ve been invited to. To seeing people open my small but thoughtful gifts that I’ve purchased. To putting a red ribbon around my cat’s neck and watching her scowl at me for it.

Good feelings today. Blessed be.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Zenchick has seen "Love, Actually" and gave it a positive review:

"...we went to see Love Actually, which I can't recommend highly enough. Sweet and inspiring, and just a little offbeat, but not too schmaltzy (walks that tightrope)."

Now, this is interesting. Zenchick has some of the most sophisticated taste in movies I've ever seen. Generally, if she likes it, it's a good flick, or even if it's not to everyone's taste, it's at least a meritorious film in some way. So, this makes me want to see it.

I have another close friend who has also seen this flick and described it as:

"Sugar Coated”
In short, the movie deserves to be DISSed.

Now, this guy and I have very similar tastes in a great deal of things. If he hated it, I am inclined to think that I will too.

This makes me want to see it even more. I’m losing sleep here.

Ok, maybe not really. But it’s the most interesting conundrum of the day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I'm very excited and happy to read this:

“Also, keep in mind you don't have to limit yourself to water. You can drink highly diluted fruit juice, herbal tea, or a well-watered-down sports drink. Sparkling water with a little fruit juice or lemon is also nice. All of these count toward your 64 ounces a day. Drinks like cola, though, work against the count, because caffeine is a diuretic and removes fluid from the body. Three cups of coffee or tea are comparable to just two cups of water."
(source: Dr. Andrew Weil, Mar. 05, 1997 issue of “Wired News,”

I've been wondering if I could drink 4 16-oz cups of decaffeinated herbal tea and 4 glasses of water and get the same nutritional benefits as 8 glasses of water!

Although, the guy does seem to have some sort of hidden agenda:

"While you're doing all this drinking, make sure you're not adding new toxins to your body. Drink high-quality bottled water or, better, get a water-purification system for your home.”

Oh come on.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

In May of 1995, I was dumped by the love of my life.

(collective groan)

Yeah, I know, everybody has their sob story. The point is, if I have my dates correct, I wrote this poem the day before it happened. Basically, I wrote this poem, went to his house, had what I remember being a lovely evening, and the next morning he rolled over and dumped me. On May 11th. Mother's Day.

I swear I didn't see it coming. But... it's kind of spooky.

Tell Me, Sappho

“It is no use, Mother,
I cannot finish my weaving.
You may blame it on Aphrodite,
for she has made me near sick
with love for that boy”

Let me ask you: how does the mind control the body?
Where is the battleground of intentions? Is it, as one
philosopher said, in the pineal gland? Or is it some
angry Goddess, whispering in our ears, moving our limbs like

marionettes? Example: I sit at my desk, working, actively
thinking and typing and correcting, and suddenly, I stop.
Some word I wrote - “sofa,” or “green,” some random idea, or
even the act of writing itself - has brought him to mind.

I fight distraction - too late. My work, my office, the
very building in which I sit, disappears, my hands become
weak, and my eyes cloud, lids drooping. Thoughts of him
break over me in waves, as I rest my chin in my hands,

steady, cool hands, very much like his. Was it “sofa?” I
see his sofa, worn and faded, where we first kissed, in his
living room, with out-of-date furniture, and the lamp with a
green bulb... Maybe it was “green.” Green like the shirt I

wore that night, green, like how he made me feel, with
newness, and energy. Green, my favorite color, which has
many meanings, growth, disease, shamrocks, M-n-M’s, and
mildew... My mind wanders farther and farther away, in his

direction, while my work sits, waiting.
So tell me: why does my mind override my
hands? It was so last night, as I went to dial his number,
but thought worse of it, and didn’t. Where is the

connection? I may not dial his number, but may not work
either? I must spend my time thinking of him, but may not
reach him? Of hands and thoughts, I often feel my hands are
wisest, more sympathetic. I should listen to my hands, work

at the office, dial his number, touch and hold things, reach
high into the sky, because it feels good, but my thoughts
drown out the cries from my hands, and so they hang, limp.
Hands don’t obey every thought, but they have no freedom

either, and my hands and I, we are not puppets, but pets.
Caged, corralled, repressed, restricted, restless, raging red
and white nails and skin, lips and teeth smiling and
smoothing when I should bite and scratch and fight -

No. We don't fight, do we, my hands and I? They wait, I lie, and
we lie in wait... Tell me, Sappho: Couldn’t you have
sweated it out? Could you have finished your weaving?
Could I have finished that report this afternoon?

Could I have dialed his phone number?
Could I have gone to him?

The Pineal Gland?
"If they believe that the purpose of my life
is to serve them, let them try to enforce their creed.
If they believe that my mind is their property --
let them come and get it...
[W]hen robbery becomes the purpose of law,
and the policeman's duty becomes, not the protection,
but the plunder of property -- then it is an outlaw
who has to become a policeman."-- Ragnar Danneskjöld

Friday, November 21, 2003

Instead of the very sad, Chekhovian post which I initially wrote for today, I have decided to blog about crunch-n-munch.

Damn I love that stuff. I am, as I may as well confess and get it over with, a closet junk-food-junkie. I say closet because I do a pretty good job of hiding this. I eat almost exclusively organic. I don't fry. I like cheese, but in moderation. I recently switched to Tofutti - but Ben & Jerry's From Russia With Buzz creeps into my fridge about twice a year. I do have dessert in the cafeteria at work quite often - bread pudding, a slice of homemade cheesecake, an occasional chocolate-chip cookie. But these things all seem to fit into what is, overall, a pretty healthy, natural diet.

It's the candy that's out of control.

I have a large stash of Hershey's in my house. Miniature candy bars, kisses, hugs, the fancy toffee-almond kisses. I have mini Reese's often as well. Chocolate is truly my worst vice. I eat astonishing amounts of it. And it's not like I eat just one piece at a time. I'll grab ten or twenty pieces and eat them in succession, eyes fluttering. Like taking a really big hit. Granted, I don't do this every day - but I do it at least once a week.

At work, I have a bag of Limited Edition Hershey's Mint Chocolate Kisses in my drawer. I don't think anyone knows I have it.

Well, now they do. Shit.

This started about Crunch-n-much because somebody put a tin of carmel-corn-and-peanuts (not Crunch-n-Munch, a designer brand version) on the filing cabinet at work for us all to help ourselves. MAN I love that stuff. I never buy it. But when I see it at a ballpark, or someone else's house, or at work, if it's just THERE - Mmmmm. Bad. Very very bad.

Now for the kicker: I have never dieted in my life. I have never needed to. I have always been one of those disgusting people that can eat constantly, whatever I want, and never get above 118 pounds, which at 5'4, is fine. I was a semi-professional dancer for years - I worked off every calorie that I took in before it ever had a chance. During especially stressful periods of my life, I was frequently underweight to due lack of appetite. I have the metabolism of a mosquito.

At least, I used to.

I developed severe aniemia about a year ago. I had no idea that I was aniemic. I thought I was just depressed. Between my job changing, my marriage disintegrating, my family being so far away, my best friend moving back to Korea... I had plenty of reasons to not want to get up in the morning. Plenty of reasons to feel too tired to do anything at all. I went to therapy, cried a lot, talked to friends and family, and kept plodding forward with the daily routine. Finally, one day, I hit a work crisis, and I fell apart emotionally. I went to the doctor. Upon describing how I'd been feeling for the previous six months, she decided to take some blood, and lo and behold, I was at around half the iron levels I should have been.

The happy ending to all this is we found the cause, removed it, and restored my iron levels with supplements. I feel far better. BUT - in the meantime, I have been practically immobile for over a year. During that time I have GAINED WEIGHT. >gasp!<

Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE my new shape. I have CURVES! I can fill out a dress like a real healthy woman! No more twiggy here! This is awesome. But. It is starting to get a bit out of hand. Suddenly I don't look so good when I tuck my shirt in. My stomach has become quite visible. My muscle tone is practically non-existent. I didn't recognize my own thighs last summer when I put on shorts for the first time. Why is my skin all puckery? It used to be smooth!

My doc says that my body is suffering the effects of inactivity more severely than most because I used to be so highly active.

Well, Shit.

Now I have to do something. I have to LOSE a few inches. I've never had to do this before. So where do I start?

#1 - no more Crunch-n-Munch.

Most people I know go to Gyms for this sort of thing. Was I ever astonished to learn how expensive Gyms are. I can barely afford my monthly living expenses these days. The Gym is out.

I could take Yoga classes. I'll lose about a pound a year that way.

I could go back to Ballet.


Anyone willing to be my personal trainer for free?

One thing I have started doing is Yoga in my living room. I have a tape. And I do exercises that were given to me as physical therapy, to rebuild my muscle tone. I have no idea if that will help with the appearance problem. Or with the fitting-better-in-my-clothes problem.

I'm thinking of trying Weight Watcher's. Two of my closest friends have had excellent results with them. So have two of my not-so-close acquaintances. But that carries an expense as well.

Not sure what to do here. Suggestions are welcome.
Well, maybe some other time

Saturday, November 15, 2003

This is a VERY long post, but I hope that some of you will read it and like it. It's an essay I wrote a couple of years ago when one of the trees in the yard at my parent's house had to be cut down.

I have always loved trees. They are not just plants to me; they are benevolent spirits, lives that share the planet with us. Call it my Irish druidic roots. I watched a TV documentary once about the loss of the rainforests, and they showed a very graphic film of a huge rainforest tree being cut down for lumber. I shuddered and sobbed. It was traumatic.

So, when we lost the tree that lived outside my bedroom window, I wrote this.

Some of you may have noticed that my recent posts have been "pre-fab." I'm exhausted. My job is draining all the energy out of me. I keep meaning to post about my job. Part of me is terrified that my boss will surf in and read it. I think I really just don't want to feel all the emotions that will come up as I write that story. And it is a story indeed.

So, as I'm pondering the changes a person goes through in their life, some necessary, others which could have been avoided, I'm reminded of the loss of my tree. I couldn't believe that this poor tree really had to go. I couldn't accept it. How do we protect the things we love from things we can't even see?

The Life and Death of Trees

I grew up in a small, two-bedroom, one bathroom house with a finished upstairs. When I was 13 I convinced my parents to let me move up there, and I spent my adolescent years looking out the window at the life and times of the inhabitants of the mid-to-upper branches of a medium sized Silver Maple tree. This November, during a mighty thunderstorm, a 6-inch limb broke off the tree and crashed to the ground, inches from our next-door neighbor’s driveway. No property was damaged. The limb was examined. It was diseased through and through. The tree doctors came to evaluate my tree, and sure enough, it had to come down. That Sunday, the 30th, they chopped it down.

The lives intertwined with this tree were incredible. There were two nesting pairs of birds there: a pair of doves and a pair of robins. The Robins only lived there one summer, when I was about 14, but I remember admiring the pretty, fawn-colored Mother Robin sitting still in her nest for hours daily, and then one day she was gone, and I saw the tiny pale blue eggs. I watched that nest religiously, every morning and every afternoon. Finally, the chicks hatched, and a few magical times, I watched her feed them. They were so tiny I could barely see them, and Mommy bird had built the nest up protectively around them, but I could catch a glimpse from time to time. They were so tiny and helpless, they couldn’t even stand, and would fall over themselves reaching for the food. Their heads were all closed eyes and screeching beaks. I watched them grow bigger and fuzzier, and venture out of the nest. I went outside a number of times that summer to bring my cats into the house, imprisoning them until the younglings learned to fly in the yard.

The doves, however, were a different story. I never saw the Daddy Robin, but the nesting couple of doves came to court every spring for about 10 years, perched on my air conditioner, cooing. There they were, inches from me! Not even in the tree itself, but on the air conditioner, sitting a few inches from each other, cooing and cleaning each others’ feathers, and hopping from side to side, spooning. They were small, delicate, pale grey things with black pearls for eyes. The female was practically white, with greyish underfeathers that showed when she languorously stretched her wings. The male was slightly darker in color with thick, muscular legs, and he hopped all around her, showing off. They were avian versions of us, entrancing to me, and therapeutic to watch, as my own turbulent dating relationships came and went. They were like newlyweds, and they chose my tree as their first home together. Their large nest was too high for me to see into, but I voyeuristically watched them court, flirt, and squabble, envying their growing, dedicated relationship, their settled home in the beautiful tree, and their obvious love for one another. These birds had obviously figured out the relationship thing far better than I had.

At the base of the tree, parallel to the house, grew a peony bush, with it’s huge, pom-ponish blooms, crawling with ants and therefore unsuitable for bouquets, but perfuming the entire side yard. Also growing in the shade of the tree, facing the house wall, were tall purple irises, obviously planted by the house’s former owners, but delightfully bold and colorful, decadently thrusting their petals into view, demanding attention, and of course always getting it. Some more genteel daffodils grew in the shade of the tree, wrapping around the trunk, waving their cheery yellow trumpets just under the iris’s gaudy blooms, which the daffodils never seemed to resent. Daffodils are such community flowers; they grew all around our house, sharing soil with trees, lilacs, shrubs, dandelions, violets, anything, and always just happy to be alive. Squirrels dashed up and down the tree daily, some leaping acrobatically to the TV antenna on the side of the house, a silver triangular ladder covered in milkweed vines. The squirrels would dash blindingly fast up the tree, leap to the TV tower, climb down it, run around the house, and back up the tree again. It must have been one of the best obstacle courses in the neighborhood. Somehow the doves never seemed to be disturbed.

This tree was just as much home to my friends as my house was to me. They were my neighbors, and we respected each other’s space, even if I did peep from my window. However, if my house got termites, we could call the exterminator. When the tree got sick, we had no idea at all.

It had a virus. There is some insidious virus that is particularly voracious to “soft-wood” trees, like Silver Maples, and the Tulip Tree that used to inhabit our front yard. It attacks the roots and goes directly to the center of the tree, eating away the inner root and nutrient transport system, invisible from the outside. Unlike Cancer, it affords virtually no early detection opportunities.
Some years ago, the Tulip Tree in our front yard had to be removed, stump rooted out and all, because of this horrible disease. My mother and I were devastated. “Removed?! You mean killed! We can’t just destroy it! It’s a living thing, older than all of us! We’ve got to heal it, not just euthanize it!” We could not believe we would lose our 50-foot friend with its wide, waxy leaves as large as your hand and delicate yellow blooms. We refused to acknowledge it for months, even when whole limbs began to lose leaves, until half of the tree was yellow and desiccated, and several tree experts had diagnosed the same sickness, shaking their heads sadly at my mother’s wrath. One day, Mom and I finally stood together in the yard, looking at the pathetic thing which had once been so proud, and held each other while Daddy called the tree removers. It was gone by the following week, stump and all, the soil treated with anti-viral and anti-fungal chemicals. All that remained was a 3-foot bare spot in the lawn. We cried.

Of course we planted a new tree in its place. Mom and Dad waited a sufficient amount of time, a respectful mourning period, and then they went tree shopping. Mom had always wanted a dogwood, so that’s what they got. It turns out Dogwoods are not susceptible to the type of rot that had felled our Tulip tree. I was away at college, but Mom called me the day they brought home a tiny, 5 ½ foot tree and planted it carefully in the spot where the Tulip had been. She was thrilled. I sent her a pink greeting card that said “Congratulations on the New Arrival,” and when I arrived home for that weekend’s visit, I saw it, bright and new and sweet, a vivacious baby girl tree, limbs already starting to show the characteristic gnarly quality of Dogwoods, and little buds at the ends of the branches. She won’t get her first blooms for a number of years yet, but that’s ok. These early years are magical in their own way.

My Maple is a different story though. There was no extended diagnoses, no multiple opinions sought, no long-drawn out suffering, watching it waste away. We know this disease now. When the tree couldn’t save its own limb from being torn off in the high winds of that thunderstorm, its condition was clear to all. We knew what must be done, and my parents wasted no time. One day we took it for granted; the next, we knew we had to say goodbye. My mother, despite her grief, knew it had to be, given not only the tree’s disease progression as evidenced by examination of the severed limb, but also the proximity to the neighbor’s house and ours. If another limb fell, it could destroy a car, cave in a roof, part of a wall, or even seriously injure or kill a person. I know that tree. It had nurtured life all the years I’d known it. We could never allow such things to happen. We acted quickly.

My father took photographs while the tree was being removed. The tree specialists removed the minor limbs first, with a chain saw. The major limbs came next, cracking away from the trunk and hitting the earth with mighty thuds. Finally they felled the great trunk. The men chopped away at one side of the tree, exposing the diseased insides, then moved around to the other side and resumed chopping, so they could control the fall. Daddy photographed everything. They chipped the wood to be used as mulch, returning it to the earth, completing the circle of life, so to speak. They left some chips of clean, uninfected wood in a small pile in the spot where the tree stood. I can’t decide if this is poignant or macabre. I do not know if they dug up the flowers before they began work on the tree or not. I am sure, however, that they too are now gone. I pray fervently that they forgive us, and forgive my tree, who could no longer care for them, or protect them from the workmen’s spade.

I will be flying home for Christmas in a few weeks. I know there will be a wide, sunny space between our house and the neighbors’ house, where my tree used to live. My Silver Maple was easily 50 or 60 years old, likely much more. I remember it was just big enough that I couldn’t get my arms around it. I also know the peony bush will be gone, as well as the arrogant irises and perky daffodils. Thankfully, I know my doves haven’t nested there for a number of years, so wherever they are living, they are safe, and didn’t have to witness the destruction of their newlywed home. I doubt very much if squirrels care for one tree any more than another, and anyway they still have 3 others around my house to play in, and the TV tower is still there.

I will feel the emptiness like a cold spot in my chest. I will stand in bright, unobstructed sunbeams in the very spot where my tree lived for all those years, and cry. My Mother will probably join me there. Our neighbor will probably come out on the porch and ask us what in Heaven’s name is the matter, did something happen, drying her hands on a kitchen towel. We’ll all laugh at our seemingly inappropriate emotional attachment to a plant, and let the neighbor in on the joke, and maybe all have a cup of tea together and talk about what kind of cookies we’ll all bake for Christmas this year. But Mom and I understand. It wasn’t just a plant. It was a very large, old, respected, loving, generous, hospitable, vibrant life form, cut down in life by a sickness that nobody could heal. We will miss it. We already ache for it and the memories from my childhood. We will talk about it long after we plant another tree in its spot. We loved it, and we will remember it.

Friday, November 14, 2003

I realized today that I haven't applied for any jobs this week because I'm feeling unqualified for anything that doesn't have the word "assistant" in the title. I've lost faith that anyone out there will give me a chance, and I've resigned myself to not being hirable for anything more than a department assistant. Worse than that - I'm beginning to lose faith in my own ability.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

This was fun. I must agree, I love this book.

You are Psalms
You are Psalms.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

In reponse to some recent emails from my best friends from High School, who now live in Chicago, I was prompted to write the

10. The Mid-American Playwright's Group. You never knew what in the name of God they were going to try and pull off.
9. Washington Park. The Rose Garden, the Carillon, the memories.
8. Lincoln Memorial Gardens. The quietude, the lake, the memories.
7. People who actully read the rules of the road at some point in their life
5. The Ethnic Heritage Festival
4. Going dancing at Limey's - that raised dance floor was off the hook
3. Steve Sykes's dance auditions for Puny (er.. I mean Muni)
2. Jazz at Norb Andy's and Union Station

and the #1 Reason I miss Springfield...

1. Hangin' with my PEEPS!!!

I realized after I sent this how inaccurate it really is. Here is the updated version.


10. The Mid-American Playwright's Group. Many crappy plays, some great ones, and all the best talent that had gotten sick of casting their pearls before the swine of Muni Opera and the Theatre Guild, may it rest in Peace.
9. Washington Park. The Rose Garden, the Carillon, the memories of being in love.
8. Lincoln Memorial Gardens. The low concentrations of rollerblading hillbillies, the lake, the memories of Keith.
7. People who actully read the rules of the road at some point in their life
5. The Ethnic Heritage Festival
4. Going dancing to 80’s music at New Dimensions with David Aikman – the only man to make a fag hag of me.
3. Steve Sykes's dance auditions, and Becky doing anything at all onstage. Just stand there and smile, honey.
2. The “scene.” Jazz at Norb Andy's and Union Station. Yuppie boys at On Broadway, farm boys and bikers at the Lake Club. Mm mm mm.

and the #1 Reason I miss Springfield...

1. My Mom’s Cooking.

(Not what you expected, was it!)

Friday, November 07, 2003


Saw the Matrix Revolution last night. I'll do a review over the weekend. Today, I'm just focusing on being grateful for the things I have. It keeps my mind of my fury and rage over the crappy thing in my life.

Zenchick has the words for the day. Words to live by. Remember them.

I'm posting them on my cubicle wall. In 12-point typeface.

peace all...

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

My friend Naomi adopted a baby girl from Kazakhstan. She’s Russian, so Nay kept her name, which is Irina. She gave her the middle name Ruby. Irina Ruby. A precious, exotic gem at 10 months old.

This child is perfect. She’s gorgeous. She’s super healthy. She’s always happy, having a great time, real party baby. If you make too many weird noises at her she looks at you like “what are you, nuts?”

Now, I’m just going to be blatantly honest here. I don’t like kids much. I generally avoid them. Especially if they can move around independently and speak. I don’t mind tiny babies, because basically they’re quiet and they sit still. And when they’re really small, they are still miracles. You look at this tiny, helpless life form and think “Man. I used to be that. That thing came out of that lady’s holy place! That thing might be the CEO of something. It might be performing open heart surgery in 40 years. That wrinkly, delicate thing will be cracking rib cages and sewing aortic material in place. Or, it could just as easily be recommending a nice Chablis with my fish dinner (an equally important job).” They really are miraculous things. That are for the most part quiet, cute, and sleepy.

It’s when they get older, louder, and mobile that I don’t want to be anywhere near them. I make no apology for this. I was raised by a very strict Mom. I was a very quiet child myself who usually preferred to sit under a tree and read than play run-around-the-playground games. I was very cute – blonde curls and so on – but I was one of those quiet smart kids who got straight A’s, virtually never talked. In short, I was a nerd – but for a number of years, until peer pressure took over, I was a happy nerd. All through elementary school, I read, I wrote poems and short stories, and I drew. When I was given the chance I sang, and shocked everybody. I think the teachers resented the fact that I obviously wasn’t shy (I sang after all) but I had no interest in actively participating in class. The teachers eventually stopped defending me from the kids who were overly mobile and verbal. Those kids tended to make the teachers mad, make classes irritating, and make fun of me. In public. Brats. I didn’t like them then, and I don’t like them now.

So, when I see kids misbehave, even when they’re (as a lot of parents say) “just being kids,” I get REALLY irritated. There are restaurants I won’t go to because I know the local families frequent them and I only have to have brats weaving under my table while I’m trying to eat ONCE, thank you. The Moms (Aunts? Older siblings?) who really don’t care what the kids are doing, as long as they’re not getting themselves run over cars. (I man, a person could go to jail for child endangerment.) The Men (Dads? Who knows?) who encourage the little boys to hit each other “So they’ll grow up tough” and teach them curse words because its hysterical hearing a six-year-old say “Dat’s da shit!” I have no sense of humour for this. Sure people will say “But it’s not the kids’ fault, it’s the parents!” Yeah, ok, so what? Adults are of course the assholes, but I’ve yet to have an adult chase another adult under the table while I’m eating. I don’t blame the kids. It’s not their fault they’re not being raised and that I don’t want them around. It’s the parents, it’s the welfare system, it’s the lack of funding for inner-city after school programs. I agree. I still am not eating dinner there ever again, no matter how good the fried plantains are.

Which of course prompts the revised statement: I don’t like misbehaving kids. I know most people don’t. Well, I have FAR less patience for them than most. I tend to assume that even the most well-trained child will have it’s moments, and avoid them altogether. I prefer to attend parties and social events where there will NOT be children. I will NEVER volunteer for my church’s RE program, I’m sorry guys, you’re doing fantastic work, but I would be the “mean teacher” making everyone cry after the first 20 minutes.

Here’s another weird thing: I love teenagers. Go figure. Usually they are the nightmare creatures that everyone dreads having in the house. I love them. You see, I’ve always appreciated that teenagers make informed choices – even if they’re bad choices, or based on bad information - at a much more advanced level than 7-year olds do. They can eat and go to the loo by themselves. They don’t feel the need to be the center of attention all the time. They actually want to have intelligent conversations, be respected, etc. No really, all the ones I’ve worked with (I’ve had some experience with this) really do want to be liked and respected by adults. Music is often the pinnacle of existence for them – I’m 32 and it still is for me. Some of them test you. So pass the test. Some of them are lying, cheating, sneaky felons-in-making. But I find these to be the vast minority… and I also have seen these types get bored with lying and cheating and straighten up once they get out of high school and start escaping the age-ism of teendom. I love teenagers. They have accountability.

I would say the stupid teenagers are the only ones I don’t like, but even that’s not true. I have patience and understanding for a 15 year old who seems to have nothing between his years. If you’re 15, you haven’t been alive long enough for the damage to be irreversible yet. I have far less patience and understanding for stupid adults. There’s no excuse for allowing your brain to atrophy for over 10 years. Get out my sight.

So. Back to my perfect niece.

I told Irina’s Mommy that I was very scared of how I was going to be around this kid when she gets older. I stood there and looked Nay in the eye and said “I don’t want her to think I don’t like her anymore. I don’t want to hurt her.” Nay just looked at me, with this perfect “patient Mommy” look. I half-expected her to pat me on the head. “Dee, have you ever grown up with a child before?” “No,” I said. “It’s not going to be like that, Dee.” “I hope not. I really do.” “It won’t.”

This child reaches for me when I walk in the door to the apartment. I hold her and play with her and she laughs and smiles, and I swear to God I am a fool for that. Last week, I went over there after I had gone through some incredibly difficult emotional stuff, and the world went away when Irina laughed at me. She grabs my face with her tiny little fingers. The top of her head is covered with blonde fuzz and feels softer than my most expensive velvet dress. Her blue eyes are enormous and they don’t miss a thing. This child is incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it.

There was a time in my life when I wanted this. Another lifetime ago, I was once in love with someone, and I wanted all of this. Our kids would have looked a lot like Irina. I thought remembering this would make me sad. It doesn’t. It’s impossible to feel sad thinking of Irina. Instead I’m starting to think maybe I could have a great kid someday even without that guy.

Whoa. Wow. Did I just say that? Damn. I’m shaking here. Ok. Sip the tea. Deep breath.

Babies make us think things. That’s good. Anything that makes you really think is good.

This kid is really good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I love to cook. I’m pretty good at it too.

The other night I stir-fried chicken in Asian fish sauce (yeah, you can actually buy that all over New York) and Thai Spicy Pepper Paste (that too) with enough sugar. You know, just enough. I got the idea from the label on the Thai Spicy Pepper Paste bottle. I thought it would be good with a box of instant organic couscous. The couscous had pistachio nuts, pine nuts, almond slivers, and dried black currants in it.

This was so yummy. Who knew? It smelled hideous when I was stir-frying (fish sauce, you know). But that subsided and I got a deliciously pungent, spicy dish. That couscous was awesome. Next time, I’m going to use plain, regular couscous and add the nuts & stuff myself – do the whole thing from scratch. And drink tea with it.

This goes to show: for a really fun evening, ya gotta have a few nuts.
My new favorite ethnic expressions:

Kvelling To quote the Zenchick: "I was kvelling every time my Yoga instructor said "Good, Betsy!" Although she would point out that it's not correct Yoga to be kvelling. But come on. Don't we all? (Note: Kvelling is the opposite of Kvetching, as in "I took too long getting ready to leave so he's been kvetching all night.")

Woolly Jumper From my dear colleague and friend Esme, who sadly left our office to return to her home of county Tyrone, Ireland. On our way up the elevator to begin a day at the office, we were all wearing sweaters and kvetching about how cold it was, at which point Esme exclaimed: "Everyone's got their woolly jumpers on!" A Sweater! I swear I swooned with delight.

To “be after” an activity From my roommate Irene, another lovely Irish Lassie from County Cork. “Will you be after eating?” It took me several months to break the news to her that I had no idea what she really meant. Does it mean “Will you want to eat” or “Will you already have eaten?” It means the latter.

Dupa Polish for butt. As my dad used to say “Talk about a pain in the dupa.”

Towlie (pronounced towel-ee) Ok, this isn’t ethnic, but I heard this from a quartet of dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkas, which is definitely a culture of its own. Now, the name Towlie comes from one of the first South Park episodes. Towlie was, literally, a walking, talking dish towel who only appeared in that one episode. The last two lines before the credits rolled were:

Eric: “Man, Towlie, you are the lamest character on this show.”
Towlie: (sadly) “I know…”

SO: I was on the subway train, and these 4 enormous, hockey-player looking guys sitting across from me were talking about somebody that they all work with. “I tawked to Bill about it but he’s such a damn towlie, there’s no tawking ta him.” They all chuckled. I did too. One of the guys noticed me giggling. “You eva know somebody like dat?” He asked me, grin on his face from ear to ear. I started asking him about the expression. For them, a “towlie” is a person with no personality, brain, or any defining characteristics. Basically a walking shell of flesh and bone. Of course, the grins and chuckling disappeared when they realized that they were being analyzed by a linguinerd. I felt bad. They were all very cute and seemed like good guys. During the course of the conversation I gradually slid into the New York accent and used a couple of off-color words, and one by one they all started grinning again. I keep forgetting how important it is to blend in while doing dialectal research.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Some comic-book philosophy from my buddy at the office:

Less is less.
More is more.
More is better.
And twice as much is good too.

Not enough is bad.
While too much is never enough,
Except when it's just about right.

I like to insert the word "beer," but other ...ah.... commodities... work just as well too. Use your imagination....

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Jackie Mason's Time Machine

It's funny - but you have to get in the spirit.

In the 1950's, the country was a different place. Civil Rights hadn't happened yet. Neither had feminism. The holocaust had. Jews, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks were the predominant - at least according to TV and the movies - minorities. Vaudeville was everybody's parent's entertainment.

I saw Jackie Mason's "Comedy Musical" show today. Now, generally I don't go to shows, which will shock most of my older friends, because Theatre used to be my LIFE. However, once Disney took over Broadway, and then the revivals, and then people stringing stories around 20-year old pop music... The Broadway of Lerner and Lowe, Sondheim, and everything that I loved and dreamed of doing when I was 15, is brain-dead. Every now and then an anomalous quality show pops up, and then I try to make it. But, for the most part, I'd rather watch TV.

This time, a friend has free tickets, and a bunch of my fave peeps were going, so what the hell.

I appreciate the personage that is Jackie Mason. I think he's funny in the way that old vaudevillians from the 50's are funny. I can appreciate this humour - I think this is the only reason I can appreciate it - because I'm trained in theatre styles from a very young age. My parents raised me on old musicals - Camelot, Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof. In the 80's, I because a Sondheim disciple. I also discovered Stephen Schwartz. There was so much to love, so much to do. I decided to major in Acting, and later attended a performing arts academy in New York where I learned the detailed history of musical theatre, vaudeville, and Broadway. I understand why Ethel Merman was so important and popular, how she uplifted people's spirits during a time of economic catastrophe. I know where the stereotypes of the effite (Read: gay) butler, the black housekeeper, the Irish cop, the Italian con-Artist, the Jewish Business Man, and the Puerto Rican hoodlum came from.

Back then, the only way to begin breaking down the racial barriers was to start laughing at each other - and do that, we had to laugh at ourselves. People went to see WC Fields, Sammy Davis Jr., Milton Berle, Desi Arnaz... they saw themselves up there, and things that would have sent them into a fighting rage suddenly had them looking at each other and laughing. It was an important step toward understanding.

Many people in my generation just can't get this. We weren't there; we don't know what it was like. Nowadays , as Jackie Mason style of "making fun" (his words!) of ethnic minorities is just not PC. His jokes really go far. He crosses lines. His "I'm so sick of those people" humour is shocking today. But the reason everyone laughs is because it's ridiculous. He's a proud Jew. He skewers his own tribe as much if not more than, the Indians, Puerto Ricans (Talk about dated, Jackie! These days it's Latinos), blacks (yes, he says black), Italians, wives (Oh, yes! Women aren't safe either!)... It's incredible. Frankly, people, it's South Park. Trey Parker and Matt Stone became Oscar-nominated millionaires for skewering Jews, Canadians, and in one especially offensive episode, the Japanese. Where do you think they learned how to do this? Jackie's been doing it since before they were born.

He's still doing it, and South Park was a fad.

I don't know Jackie Mason as a person. I have never read any interviews that he gave, and know nothing of his life. For all I know, maybe he really is a racist, who think Indian Cab drivers stink and believes that a good woman keeps her mouth closed. However, I wouldn't judge that to be the case from watching this show. I know Vaudeville. I know the history of Broadway in this country. I know a little bit about the history of race relations, and I know a lot about ethnic minorities in the performing arts and the struggle it’s been for them to escape the stereotypes that have been imposed on them. Jackie may not realize it, but he is presenting himself as a representative of another time – a time when people were less sensitive, when the race relations struggles were far less advanced than they are now. I think it’s important to know what things were like. Too many people take the advances of the times for granted. I am proud to be the grandchild of his generation. Jackie showed very clearly just how far we’ve come. This is not the message of a real racist.

The man is, frankly, hilarious. If my Irish Grandpa were alive today, he would have loved the show. He would have added some jokes about the Irish.

Here’s the best part: The most brilliant piece in the whole show, hands down, is a scathing review of Starbucks Coffee Bars. Jackie does a whole stand-up routine about it, then there’s a song-and dance number with an elderly Jewish couple and a hip, young Hispanic couple trying to find each other on cell phones to meet at the Starbucks, and eventually emerging jittery from caffeine overdose, while a green-aproned, black-capped Starbucks barista dances around them like a drug dealer – evoking the “American Dream” sequence from Miss Saigon. Let’s skewer corporate America while we’re at it. It was completely appropriate, hysterically funny, and something the whole audience could relate to.

He gets political as well. Even that didn’t bother me; he was bi-partisan.

So, I gotta give it a thumbs-up. And - hey - this was yet another occasion where I was one lone schiksa in a sea of Jews... I don’t think any of my Jewish friends have seen this yet!

Friday, October 24, 2003

My Favorite Cole Porter Song

Well, I don't really have just one favorite - but this one is definitely in the top 5.

The Physician

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Movie Review: Mystic River

I have to agree with the New York Times: Clint Eastwood does seem to be a whole new man. There is no gratuitous violence in this movie. There is, however, plenty of gratuitous emotion. There is no denying the powerful performances in this film. Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Laura Linney, and Marcia Gay Harden are always good - but in this film, they are incredible. Penn is especially riveting, playing an Irish mob boss whose daughter is found murdered. The film is largely about how these adult men deal with the violence in their community, after having experienced it as children, Robbins directly. (I was at times reminded of the film Sleepers - another Bacon project - at several times.)

I just couldn't help but feel impatient - and then felt guilty for feeling impatient - with the excessive emotional scenes. These are Oscar-quality performaces. A 19-year old girl is murdered. Everyone is, of course, devastated. There is a lot of mourning onscreen. We see not just the sadness and grief, but we see how each of the different personalities experiences it, and we see how they are all filtering the experience through their own personal histories and viewpoints. It's psychologically riveting. It was just a bit much for me. Maybe it's because I was tired, the end of the workday, a Tuesday night, whatever. I felt like I should have been better able to empathize. Instead I found it indulgently maudlin.

When they started unraveling the murder mystery piece by piece, I was riveted. This is a great, well-crafted whodunit. The end is positively chilling. I won't say anything more about it.

So, Clint, you've done a fantastic job of showing us that there's far more to your understanding of violence than "Dirty Harry." And the core, by the way, composed by Mr. Eastwood (Paint Your Wagon isn't his only musical credit!) is beautiful and appropriate. I highly recommend the film - but be prepared for a lot of uncomfortable feelings. The quality of the acting makes it seem extremely intimate. Disturbingly so.

And, damn, Sean. I mean dammmmn. Were you always this good? I wish I had seen your other films. Maybe I'll go check out Dead Man Walking and I am Sam.

Monday, October 20, 2003

A New Alzheimer's Drug was approved not too long ago. I haven't had the opportunity read about it until today. I have an interest in these things, since my Grandma suffers from the advanced stages of what her doctors call an "Alzheimer's-like Syndrome." Which basically means that she has Alzheimer's, minus a few identifying symptoms.

My Grandma was my best friend in the world for most of my life. I am her only grandchild, so you can imagine how strong that bond is. It gets better. Mom is her only child. Poor grandma was just not built for having kids; Mom’s birth was very difficult for her and it took her years of trying, so once Mom was born, that was it. Between the 3 of us, Mom and Grandma and I comprise all 3 earth signs: Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo respectively. We also totally embody the 3 aspects of the divine feminine: maiden, mother and crone. We have been a pretty formidable force for years, when we are together. The knowledge that one side of this amazing trio will soon be leaving this earth is almost too much to handle. My Mom and I talk several times a week. It's not easy.

Grandma's disease has progressed very slowly. She started out just forgetting more and more things. Then she began having a hard time keeping food down. Walking became more and more difficult. Then the tremors in her hands became more and more pronounced. Then she became confused and paranoid. Finally the basic toilet functions went out the window. Now she can do nothing at all herself. I mean nothing. She can't even talk most of the time, she sort of babbles into the phone at me. Mom still dresses her up like a little doll, in her favorite red clothes, makes sure her nails and hair are done, because Grams is miserable if she feels like she looks less than her best. However, Grandma thinks that my Mom is her Mom and that my Dad is her brother Bill - both of whom have been dead since the 1950's. She hallucinates. She screams and kicks and bites when you try to wash her face. Her rage attacks are incredible. She doesn't know who I am anymore, really. She recognizes my face, and knows I'm someone very special to her... but she can't make the connection that I'm her granddaughter, and she can’t think of my name, even when I’m sitting in front of her saying “Do you remember my name, Grandma?” The first time I realized this I freaked out and cried for days. That was over two years ago.

The positive thing in all this is that my Dad is a Mental Health professional who has spent a significant portion of his career specializing in geriatric disease syndromes. He knows all the research and medicinal practices going back to the 1980's. He headed up an Alzheimer’s wing at a hospital for awhile. He teaches classes in it. Neurology, neuropsychology and neurobehavioral syndromes are his bag. He has received national awards for his work in the field. (Yeah, I'm bragging, I'm proud.) Anyway, he knows all the doctors who have the best knowledge of this. Grandma couldn't be getting better care. She also has a fantastic cocktail of meds, which her doctors adjust from time to time when certain symptoms become more pronounced. She is always clean, well fed, and generally in good spirits. My mother dances with her when she takes her from room to room, humming little tunes and bopping along in front of grandma's walker. It's adorable. Grandma giggles. Whenever I visit them I live to hear that giggle and see her smile.

The latest Alzheimer's drug takes a different tack than previous ones. Usually the drugs protect the proper workings of the brain, to slow down the disease process. To quote the article,

"The four other Alzheimer's medications - Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl and Cognex - work by delaying the breakdown of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which is vital for nerve cells to communicate. In contrast, memantine blocks excess amounts of another brain chemical, called glutamate, that can damage or kill nerve cells.".

My grandma is already too far along. Her disease stage is far too advanced for this to have any effect except to prolong her agony.

The thing is, I want her back, and know I can never have that again. The lady who was so much fun to go shopping with and gossip about men with is already gone to me. My Mom misses her Mom dreadfully. Mom and I have each other, but we're sad. We just miss her so much, already, and she's still living in the house. At least, her body is, and her stubborn spirit. It's the mind that's all but gone.

I’ll be seeing her at Thanksgiving when I fly home to visit.

A couple of weeks ago, my parents had to move her to a nursing home. It’s a good home, but this is never an easy thing. They try to see her every day but I know that’s hard to do. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, seeing her there. I don’t know how the house is going to feel without her in it. I want to make a pumpkin pie and feed her some. She’ll love it, she likes desserts. One of the many things we have in common.

So, that’s my entry about my Grandma. She’s been symptomatic for around 4-5 years now. My memories of her stretch back for 30 years. I have tons of photos of her, of her and me and Mom together. When I have a daughter someday, that’s how she’ll get to know her great-grandma, augmented by stories from me and my Mom.

Crap, its late. Gotta run. Tomorrow’s entry will be more upbeat.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Guggenheim on 89th and 5th Avenue is my new favorite building in New York City. After 8 years of living here I finally went there for the first time with my friend Betsy.

(By the way, that's a phrase I'll probably use a lot: " After 8 years of living here, I finally..." I feel like in so many ways I have just moved to New York. More on that later.)

This building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He got a lot of flack for wanting to build it the way he did - it's the only round structure on a block full of square, rectangular, typically shaped buildings. It's extremely anomalous. And, of course, it works. It just looks fantastic sitting there. It makes all the other buildings look boring. It's the jewel of the block. And, for all its seven stories, it's a surprisingly small space.

Betsy informed me that the best way to "do the Guggenheim" is to go in, take the elevator up to the top floor and spiral your way down. We did. I was so enthralled with the building itself I had to make myself look at the art. Now, the current exhibit there is not to my taste. I felt assaulted by all that color. It was like 1986 fashion on those walls. There was one enormous canvas that was postitioned behind the balconies so that you had different views form different levels of the spiral. It broke the piece up into easily swallowed chunks - and being behind that giant white stone wall, I felt safe from it. Sort of like a zoo.

Enough about the art. The building IS ART. I remember leaning slightly over the top balcony saying "I'm not afraid of heights, but looking down, I can see how easily I could die now." (Why did that thrill me so!?) I remember being on a lower level and looking up through the spiraling balconies to the skylight. Just black metal and white frosted glass. Bright sunlight beyond. I trembled. I could have just stood there like that for half an hour.

Someday, if I ever do anything with my music (something else I'll have to write more about later), and become famous enough, I'd want to do a concert in this building. There is a small "stage" on the ground floor. Room for a small ensemble. I'd make it a party. Let people wander around. Let me sit on a stool with the band around me on that little platform, we'll jam, and everyone can listen actively or passively. There is an outdoor balcony on the 4th or 5th level; people can drink cocktails there. What an incredible space to be myself in, to feel myself and my sounds within those round walls, those spirals of stone. I'd feel as though I were being absorbed into the walls. Wow.

Some people fantasize about singing at the Met or at the Garden. The Guggenheim? I'm different.

Other awesome things about this weekend:
1. The Station Agent. Bets and I saw this at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, the 10:30 showing. It's so cool about New York, you can go to the late show and it's packed. This is an awesome movie. I'll probably see it a couple of more times, just because there is so much in the film, it will take a few times to get all the layers. Just my kind of picture. Betsy fell in love with the Italian guy who runs the coffee truck. I fell for the dwarf.

2. Dim Sum in Chinatown. Betsy's going to blog the Dim Sum experience. I can't possibly describe it funnier than she can. I'm laughing right now just remembering.

3. Shopping in Chinatown. After 8 years of living here, I finally shopped Chinatown - REALLY. Not just get off the train, hop quickly into one little storefront, grab something and dash the hell back out of there. I walked the blocks on Canal street with Betsy, we went into several nearly identical cheap-shit-but-gotta-have-it places, then turned down Mott Street to find the Dim Sum place. I didn't get the bubble tea drink that I had wanted, but I had so much fun just shopping down there, I may very well go back next weekend and get the bubble tea, and maybe this ultra-cool knockoff purse I saw for $20. I kind of have to go back down there because I want to get a set of blue china dishes for my friend in Chicago as a Christmas gift. Chinatown always scared the crap out of me because there are just too damn many people there. I mean, you can barely walk! The streets are packed. People brush past you constantly. Personal Space doesn't exist. I get edgy in crowds like that. I just hate them. I had to live and work here in Manhattan all these years before I learned to tolerate it. So, better late then never. I had great fun today. I bought myself a silver watch with a leopard-printed leather strap for $8, 5 star fruits for $2, and 2 bags of incense cones with burners for 6 bucks! Bargain shopper's paradise, if you can take the humanity.

4. Simchat Torah. Whoa. I have a lot of Jewish friends and have dated lots of Jewish guys (was married to one for awhile). I don't know why, but Jews love me. I like them too. They're smart, well educated, and funny, beautiful and articulate. I've been to Passover seders and hung out with friends where I was the only non-Jew there, but I have never experienced anything quite like last Saturday night before. I also learned the term "Jewish Geography" and all that it entails. Wow. I will have to do a whole separate blog entry about this.

5. Walking through the Guggenheim, and along the Museum Mile with Betsy, Amy was there. For the brief time I knew Amy, I knew I was lucky, and I miss her a great deal in my own way. Walking through the city with her best friend, I felt her. I think Betsy probably felt it too, though we didn't really talk about it. What an honor.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Several people have told me my blog is too personal. I almost feel like I'm embarrassing people. Sorry! I guess I'm just so out there. Most people who know me know there's very little I won't talk about. It is true that people who don't know me so well probably are a bit shocked at my first entry.
Well, maybe this will turn out to be sort of a test. If you read this blog, all 3 entires of it, I pretty much don't have any more secrets! So, crash-course in Deidre, maybe. If someone wants to hang around me, and isn't sure what Ms. Hyde will pop out, they can read about it first. :)
Sort of like a label in the grocery store. Warning: watches Bravo, talks about feelings, likes cats and has sick relatives.
I wish everybody came with one!
Yesterday a friend gave me a ride to the Metro North Station. For some reason, the little shuttle bus wasn't running, so I hopped a ride. We soon discovered the cause of the bus's delay: there was a horrible traffic jam, caused somewhat indirectly by the flooding in Manhattan. Well, since we were stuck in traffic, of course the conversation turned to baseball... and I learned that my friend is a Boston fan. Shouldn't have surprised me, I knew he was from Boston. He's also a stereotypical intellectual Boston type who seems to know the history of everything. He took the opportunity of an enclosed space to rant for a few minutes. I realized that I may be the only person in our immediate "crowd" who can listen to this objectively. To me, baseball, although thilling to watch, and fun to play, is, after all, in the grand scheme of things, just a game.


No, really. I can't help it. There are wars going on. There are people in this country killing each other and getting away with it. I have very sick family members who I care deeply about and can only pray they'll be alright. My cat doesn't seem to be able to stop throwing up. All these things matter a great deal more to me than the outcome of a sporting event.

That said, when I woke up this AM, and the first thing I heard was exciting, drama-filled music, I knew the Yankees had won. The first thought that ran through my mind was "my poor friend!"

Don't get me wrong; I enjoy sports. Some of my older friends would never believe it, but I've gone to several Yankee games, a Mets Game, I've seen the Nicks play at the Garden, and had a great time. There was a time in college when I could sink a basketball with respectable accuracy and distance. I've watched the Packers win in a sports bar, cheering over hot wings and beer. Heck, I have a Yankees T-shirt in my drawer! I have as good a time with this as anyone does. It's just that I never feel the agony of defeat because, really, to me, it's just a game. Hearing someone say scornfully "You're not a REAL fan" just doesn't bother me. My identity comes from plenty of other sources.

And, I know there are people who turn to sports to very important, excellent reasons. That's great, that's one of the best things about sports. It helps kids find a way to get through school, find self esteem, discover their own talents and self-respect. It's a great escape, like a good novel is for me or a great movie. (Oh heck, a great salad, who are we kidding.) I think all that is great! I just don't feel it myself. I don't begrudge anyone. I get it! It's just not for me.

So, New Yorkers, congratulations! Boston Fans, wow. You came so close. That's huge in itself! And Chicagoans, come on. Everyone tries to grab that ball. Don't scapegoat the poor guy. If he was a ten-year old - like at that Baltimore game a few years back - nobody would be making death threats. Come on. It's a game.

But it is fun to win. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2003

If your immediate surroundings become a hurricane, be the eye. It's safe.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

My 100th Journal, my first Blog

Ok, maybe not the 100th, but it feels that way. I've been journaling since I was around 10 years old. Frankly I don't remember my first journal, but I do remember writing something about a summertime visit to Grandma and Grandpa in Jersey. Hopefully this blog will NOT turn into online rantings and ravings. The idea of writing something you KNOW everybody's going to see is pretty intimidating.

SO: enough of the disclaiming. There is so much going on in my life right now that I don't know where to begin.

I'm broke and trying to turn my financial situation around
I'm going through a divorce and trying to turn my depression around
I've been anemic, anxiety-ridden and just plain unhealthy for the last 14 months and am trying to turn my health around.
shall we say... I'm unhappy... in my job and am trying to turn my professional life around - preferably in a whole new direction
My bedroom in my apartment is tiny and I'm amazed I can turn around. Sometimes I think my cat can't turn around
My grandma is dying slowly of Alzheimer's and I'm trying... I'm just trying to deal.

In spite of all the above, I'm a pretty happy person. I have a lot of friends at my church (Look! a Link!) and am finding myself more and more involved there. I have a lot of friends just from life in general, and though we all live spread out over the country, I think we do a decent job of keeping in touch. I have 4 in Chicago, 1 in Colorado, 1 in Baltimore, 2 in Virginia, 1 in DC, 1 in St. Louis, several in downstate Illinois (I'm from there), 1 in Korea, and several in New York (where I live now). My parents and I have a fantastic relationship (believe me it took a lot of work) and we miss each other dreadfully. Not to sound wimpy, but I call them almost every day. Add to that all my family - who I actually don't mind being with - and my cat, and I am, truly, never alone. I also have strong spirituality and faith in the divine spirit. So, yeah. I mean yeah. I'm sayin' yeee-ah.

You know, I perked myself up just writing all that.

I have to thank Betsy for getting me started. She and I have this mutual admiration society - we each see things in the other that we wish we had. I think all friendships should be that way. I have an apartment in Manhattan and I sing. She has... Oh, man, she's almost got it all. Her blog doesn't do her justice. Maybe through my blog she'll start seeing herself through my eyes. (Getting nervous, Bets?)

Tonight at 6:30 PM I'm going to a Full Moon Circle at my church. Now, don't get me wrong - my church just lets us use the space. I'm a good, intellectual, feet-on-the-ground Unitarian Universalist. But, I happen to practice earth-centered spirituality. Do the internet research, I'm not going to bother explaining the details of Paganism or UUism, etc. The women I circle with are all smart, professional, funny ladies who I just love being with, and who I learn so much from every time we hang out. I get the majority of my spiritual sustenance from those circles.

Tomorrow I'm having a massage therapy treatment (Look! Another Link!) for the nasty huge knot deep underneath my left shoulder blade. I figure it will take about 4 or 5 treatments to work the thing out, then a few more to make sure it doesn't come back. Regardless of the name of the place, these are not spa massages. They usually hurt like hell. These people dig their fingers into the knots and break them into smaller ones and then massage the smaller ones until they disappear. I just take deep breaths and endure it. The fresh water afterward helps. The pieces of chocolate in the bowl by the door help even more.

Saturday I'll be dragging my lazy, tired ass and sore shoulder to Columbus Circle at 10:30 AM to register for the Walk for Farm Animals. My friend Marisa is the organzier for the New York Walk, and how could I not go? Animal rights are a sensitive issue for me. I'm by no stretch of the imagination a vegetarian, but the extremes to which the farming industry goes are unecessary... I just think that chicken I'm going to eat ought to be able to peck and scratch contentedly until its head gets chopped off. And don't get me started on downers.

Sunday I'll be singing at my church's annual Blessing of the Animals service, where everyone brings in their pets (seriously) and the minister blesses them. Well, not everyone brings their pets, some just bring pictures. (I'll be bringing a picture. Marge would freak out.) It's a way of honoring their companionship, and the interdependent web of life of which we are all a part. Singing at church is a huge part of my faith.

This blog will get more personal at time goes on. Right now, the only people reading this are my friends... and thanks guys! Gimme a while, eventually I'll start making socio-political commentary and bitching about Yankee Games and whining about how boring top-40 radio is, and all the usual stuff that we seach for to read in blogs. I'll pepper my entries with quotes from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and describe the socks I'm wearing. It'll be great.

Oh yeah, and i'll get some pics too.