Monday, August 30, 2004

MzOuiser Does Film Noir

MzOuiser Does Film Noir Posted by Hello

Hello, everyone. That's a joke. I'm playing with Hello, that new Bloggerbot program you download for free and upload pics with. But first you have to download Picasa and install that... Frankly when Blogger says "find out about free webhosting," I thought it would be something like, oh, a few MB of space we could upload jpgs to... It gets to a point where I'm spending hours figuring this stuff out, and that's too much work. I changed my template, that's enough for one day.

Several folks have asked to see my old headshot, so here it is. This was shot in 2000, but I pretty much look the same.

This year was the best birthday I've had in seven years. Highlights:

* If you have $200 to blow, take someone special for a late dinner at Cafe Pierre in the Pierre Hotel. Take it from a true voluptuary - The food really is that good. Fantastic wines as well. The restaraunt is beautiful and if you make your reservation for like 9PM, the place won't be crowded and the waiters will spoil you. Real old-fashioned New York Class.

* So far the New York Renaissance Faire is the best in the country I've visited. It's a high gate cost, but it's worth it. The food is very good - from Steak-on-a-Stake to the Vegetarian Hummous wraps. The shopping is to die for. The wandering musketeers are dreamy and the wenches are witty. The games are actually fun to play (just don't try the he-man stuff if you can't take heckling). Did I mention the shopping is to DIE for? Outfit yourself for every fantasy. And the little hidden glens with the tarot card readers are wonderful - shady, quiet, evokes magic and druids and hidden secret truths. At the end of the day the Tavern crowd is a blast, and the musicians are top caliber. Fantastic way to spend a beautiful summer day.

* The Philly Folk Festival is heinously overpriced - over $50 per person just to walk in for half the day. The people who take the tickets are surly and snotty. The Craft Vendors aren't many, and they are all outragreously overpriced. Yeah yeah yeah, I know it's artisan work, but get real. I'm not paying $110 for a pair of batik pants, even if they are silk. The food is a nightmare - hot dogs, pizza, fried stuff, or chinese meat and rice. $4 for a 20oz bottle of coke. The worst part was the CDs were marked up. These are artists you will not hear on Clearchannel, or find easily at HMV or Tower. I specifically went to hear this brilliant woman, and would hve bought all of her CDs if they had been priced at least near retail! I can only imagine that her promoters (and all the other artists' promoters) are fleecing the already overcharged patrons without the musician's consent. The Festival workers manning the CD tables were actually discouraging us from buying CD's!

All that said, the musicians were brilliant, of course, and well worth sitting on the ground for hours to hear... but frankly, I doubt I would ever go back at those prices. Please, Natalie, I'm begging you... come back to New York! I'll help you line up a venue!

* at the Festival, I entered a raffle ($4 a ticket) to win a Martin Guitar - Eric Clapton edition. I have always wished I had learned to play the guitar, so what the hell. About an hour before the drawing, it was announced that this was a rosewood instrument - a $10,000 guitar. All of a sudden I felt somewhat unworthy, which is fine, since I didn't win. But can you imagine? a $10,000 guitar for $4? That would take the sting out of the gate price!

So, since I bought no overpriced CDs at the Festival, I am now searching online for them at more reasonable prices. Some Amazing musicians we heard:

Chris Smither - I'd heard of him, but man am I glad I finally got to hear him. He's amazing. Blues, baby, blues all the way.

DaVinci's Notebook - These were the surprise hit of the day. Extrememly entertaining, by far the funniest. 4-part A Cappella harmonies and topical, relevant humour. Sort of a cross between BNL and Rockapella. Canadians, you know.

Sones De Mexico - Several different styles of Mexican folk music, which I wouldn't normally choose, but I absolutely loved. So much more than just Mariachi!

Robin and Linda Williams - Bluegrass, of Prairie Home Companion fame. Just great American music.

And of course, the incredible Natalie MacMaster. If you've never heard her fiddle, buy a CD. If you've heard her but never seen her, find her and go. There's few entertainers quite so... well, entertaining. She's beautiful. And dynamic. She really gets worked up playing that fiddle, huge grin, bouncing all over the stage, and from time to time the mood grabs her and she puts the fiddle down and dances. REALLY dances. It's amazing. Traditional step dancing with tap infused, and last night, a few seconds of moonwalking - which coming from her was adorable. But her fiddling is ethereal. She was a child prodigy, and she gets better and better. A true Cape Breton Island virtuoso. It's been 3 years since I last saw her play, and I don't plan on waiting another 3 years!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Birthday Goodies

When I stumbled out of bed at 8:30-something this morning, my roommate, in a contralto voice not unlike Daphne Zuniga's in Spaceballs, immediately sang to me the following birthday song:

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Mournful noises fill the air
People dying everywhere
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday

Hm... does she read his blog?

So far I have received three e-cards and one mass e-mail from my work friends, known as the mafia. It's 10AM

Not a bad start. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Another Year of My Friday-to-Sunday Life...

My birthday is tomorrow. Despite my youthful appearance, I will be 33 years old, so I need some Aveda All-Sensitive Moisturizer for my birthday. Just a suggestion. Or you could check out my wish list, conveniently located to the right. I am planning to spend the entire day at home, so I can receive deliveries.

Beating everyone to the punch was Zenchick, with a gorgeous magical fairy-themed e-card. (Like Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy, not the other kind.) However my first actual birthday gift came from this bad influence just this afternoon. He sent me some unbelievable gourmet chocolates that most certainly are NOT part of a good Weight Watchers plan, but it’s my birthday dammit. Yummmmm.

Significant event on this birthday: I had to get my New York driver’s license renewed. This is the first time I’ve ever had to do this. I also had to update my address and change my name back to my maiden name, which I have been mildly trepidatious about… feels like a rite of passage of sorts. I was pleased to see that New York City has a special office just for Driver’s license stuff - so you don’t have to wade through the madness of the regular DMV. Not only that, the “NYSDMV License X-Press” office is very well run, and I was cleanly processed, photographed, read the eye chart, paid the exorbitantly high renewal fee, and outta there in less than an hour.

However, I was disgusted to learn that even though I have a legal, notarized Separation Agreement from my attorney, I cannot resume my maiden name on my driver’s license until I receive the actual court-stamped divorce papers. Which won’t be for a good long number of months. I did update my address and register my address change with the voting commission, so I can perform my vital civic duty in a few months.

I loved being part of my Ex’s family, and wore the name with pride. However… it’s just not who I am, and I want to resume my own family identity. If When I get married again, I may not change my name this time. I really like being me, and retaining my name feels like an assertation of my history, my loved ones, my family, which is so vital to who I am. The first time I changed my name, I really didn’t put any thought into it. Everyone did it where I come from. It never occurred to me that it might not be the best thing for me to do. Now I’ve had years to think about it. It’s funny how we revert to the familiar sometimes.

So… I have to keep this name for a while longer. No matter. I’ll change it back when I can. My life is my own, and that’s what matters.

Last night I was out until 2AM celebrating someone else’s birthday. Actually, that birthday party was lame once the entertainment was over, so I ditched at about 9:30 and headed to my favorite Bleecker street dive, where I proceeded to drink several beers and sing along with a very grouchy cover artist who really is much better when he’s not so desperately in need of a vacation. At 2AM he finished his set, so on my way to the Christopher street 1/9 station I stopped for a couple of slices at this place. I swear of all the pizza I’ve eaten in my life, nothing beats Joe’s at 2AM after boozing it up.

Then it took me twice as long to get home than it should have, since the subways are fucked up. Not only that, the orange-vested MTA employees were telling everyone at Christopher street that they could take the B to 59th and pick up the 1/9 there - which was FALSE. The 1/9 is OUT altogether!! So me and a bunch of other grumpy half-sober people had to get BACK on the train at 59th, head to 42nd, transfer to the 2/3, and ride to 96th, where some of us went home and others grabbed the necessary 1/9 to beddy-bye.

Now, I was alone. Picture this, a long-haired hippie white gal in an ankle-length batik dress and chandelier earrings, wandering the streets of the village at these hours, slightly sloshed, on a relatively deserted Tuesday night. When I first moved here, I never would have dared. Now I thought nothing of it. Have I lost my look of Midwestern naiveté?

Now that’s a birthday present. Maybe, at 33, I finally look like a grown-up who can take care of herself, rather than a good target for assault. Or maybe I’ve just become that confident. Or maybe I was tipsy and exhibiting very poor judgment.

I sure felt safe though.

Today I am getting practical things done. Tomorrow, the actual DAY of my birthday… I have no real plans. My jazzman friend is going to take me out for dinner… but how boring is that? I want to party! It’s been so long since I went anyplace with a lively atmosphere that wasn’t a gay bar… man, about 2 years I think. Not that there’s anything wrong with gay bars, but any suggestions?

And yes, I did think of asking the boys to liquor me up, but I’ve gone out drinking 2 nights already this week, and my liver will not take that much additional punishment. I have to be healthy enough to enjoy this on Saturday and this on Sunday. The bf has been out of state on business all week, but he’s flying home Friday, and taking me on a multi-leg weekend-o-birthday-fun. The darling. Actually I should also mention that he bought me a present as well. A practical one… but hey. I really need it. At some point I’m going to have to, like, start job-hunting.

This is the most un-emotional birthday I’ve had in years. Maybe I’m numb to them now. That’s kind of sad, but it’s also a relief. It’s better than being depressed as hell that nobody remembers it or being bitter as hell that all my other Virgo friends here in NYC get actual parties and I don't. I mean, most of my closest friends are, let's face it, in other states. They're off the hook. But I have a nice assortment of New York girlfriends who love to throw parties for themselves and each other, but my birthday is always overlooked - for years in a row now. Bitches. Would you believe one of those girlfriends actually called last Monday to invite me to some anonymous party at some midtown bar Friday night? IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, BITCH.

Oh well, fuck them all. I have chocolates to eat. Lots of them. And they're all mine...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

A Little Fun from my Past...

When cleaning out my file of Word Documents, I came across this. This was one of those question-answer “getting to know you” quizzes that people pass around the internet among groups of friends, except this one is specific to theatre. Since I am not really a theatre person anymore, I at first deleted the email. But, after reading everyone else’s (I received 10 of them, mostly from people I have never heard of, who have probably never heard of me), I somehow felt compelled to do it. It was actually quite fun, so I thought I’d share.

1. What is your stage name?

Oh give me a break. Even the Equity people I know don’t bother with this unless they have an issue, like their name is something like Avi Kharamakazwicz, or someone else already is using their name, or whatever. As for me, I should go by “Mary Smith” since nobody can spell my real name anyway.

2. At what age did you first appear onstage?


3. What was your first show?

"Hang Loose, Mother Goose," when I was the above-mentioned age. I was the Little Lamb (as in “Mary had a…”). I don’t remember what the show was about, but I had an adorable costume. My mother has pictures. And I do remember sadly remarking to the audience that “Old King Cole won’t be a merry old soul anymore.”

4. Do you prefer comedies, dramas, musicals, or dramadies?

Oh, God, anything with a good script, which usually means dramas...

5. Name your top 5 favorite shows that you've been in

“42nd Street” in 1987. I was mentioned in the paper for just standing around in a bikini with a tassel on my tit. God Bless that Director and Choreographer. I never worked with anyone that good ever again.

“Holy Days” with Mid-American Playwright’s Theatre, a small company that produced shows written by Midwestern playwrights. I’m not sure if they are still in existence, but they were a lot of fun to work with. Some of those shows were just damn good all around.

“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” in 1989. Not the best production, but DAMN did we have fun. I did the dream ballet. Rrrowr.

“Maura’s Wedding” with MAPT in 199-something. Fantastic cast. Insightful director. GREAT script. Yummy costume. And one of the best roles I’ve ever played. I wore a sexy black minidress and swilled champagne throughout the whole show. At the end I staggered up the aisle of the theatre in 4-inch heels with a bridesmaid’s bouquet in my hand trying to look as though I were trying to look sober. And throughout I was wearing this fantastic short-hair wig that made me look like a young Julie Andrews.

“Gianni Schicchi” with New York Opera Forum. I got to sing a high D for my Mom. Puccini makes a gal not need chocolate. Oh man. I can’t wait to do “La Boheme” next year.

6. Name your 3 worst shows that you've been in:

Whoa. I did SO much crap in Illinois.

“Cinderella” in 1989 (90?) Someone broke an arm doing that one. No kidding.

“Murder on the Nile,” around the same time period. We called it “Slumber in the Aisles.” The director was very gifted, but I was surrounded by horrible - HORRIBLE actors. Given that I was 17, I probably wasn’t much better, but I had the best role in the show, dammit, and the reviewer liked me. Which means I probably was awful. I did get to shoot someone in the knee onstage though, which provided an opportunity for the worst bungled special effects ever.

“Eye of the Bewildered” with MAPT in 1991 or 92. Title says it all.

7. Name 3 roles that you've never played, but want to:

Just 3? I’ll start with Lady MacBeth from That Scottish show, Elena in “Uncle Vanya,” and Sally Bowles in “Cabaret.” I also have always wanted to do Evita. I know the whole damn show. Also Harper from “Angels in America” and Hedda Gabler would be a blast.

8. Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?

For two years, before every performance of the Nutcracker (I did 5 years hard time with that Ballet Company) I would rip off those fucking false eyelashes off my eyelids 2 seconds before I went onstage, then claim that they had “fallen off” during the show. I was twelve for God's sake, and they itched like hell. After the 2nd year I claimed to be allergic to the glue, and that dumbass makeup lady with the ghetto-fabulous nails and the vacuous personality believed me. (Hey, with all the itching, it could have been true.) After that my ritual was eating candy in front of the snobby anorexic rich-west-sider ballerina girls. It was all I could do to get even with them for hiding my underwear and putting pins in my toe shoes. Bitches. Fucking bitches.

9. What is the worst show that you've ever seen?

I saw a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Muni that was so bad, I would have left at Intermission if my Mom hadn’t dragged me to it because several of our friends were in it. Mom apologized to me. She knew it sucked. The worst part was that after the show, I waited out front while my Mom went backstage and greeted her friends. I knew I’d have to bullshit people if I went back there NOBODY'S that good an actor. Unfortunately, once the performers found out I was in town, they came out front to see me after the show. I couldn’t escape. “So, how did you like it?” they asked, hope gleaming in their eyes. “It was great,” I lied.

Oh yeah - There was a Muni production of “Kiss Me Kate” in 1996 or ’97 that I brought my best friend from New York home to see. This girl is a professional actress from Korea with National Award Nominations and a recent Actor’s Studio MFA diploma. I wanted to slide under my chair in embarrassment. She stared at the stage in bewilderment. “THIS how you start!?” she asked me (she’s Korean). “Is so sad…”

10. What, or who made you get into theater?

Oh, I was doomed from birth. My Mom has a Master’s degree in it. My Dad is a musician. My Grandmother was a dancer, my grandpa a Ragtime Bandleader, my great-grandmother sang opera. You get the picture.

11. If you are a musical person, who is your favorite composer/lyricist?

I suppose I’ll always be a Sondheim fanatic, but I also appreciate Maltby and Shire - music and lyrics. Alan Menken does very emotionally manipulative clever music as well. Frank Wildhorn should trip in traffic, and sorry, Elton John just bores me.

12. Who is your favorite playwright?

I can’t pick just one. Anton Chekhov, John Patrick Shanley, Shakespeare, Neil Simon, Tennessee Williams, Wendy Wasserstein (showing my age here), Eugene O’Neill, Samuel Beckett.

13. Name your most embarrassing stage moment (falls, slipping of lines, etc.)

Hm. Probably slipping on the stage fog and falling on my butt during the Nutcracker. And yes, I was the first one onstage, so it was nice and visible, but I got up so quickly the audience thought it was a step. Of course the company girls made fun of me. Bitches. Fucking bitches.

14. Which do you prefer...acting or directing?

Acting. I’ve never directed. No WAY would I have the patience. Can’t you just see me? I’d make Martha Stewart seem sweet.

15. Have you ever had sex in the theater?

Wasn’t that the whole reason to get involved in Midwestern community Theatre? I only did once. He was lousy. I did several times in College, but who didn’t? In New York, well… I think we were all kind of over it by then.

16. Do you have a "theater crush" currently?

When I was in Illinois, all my crushes were gay, or in the orchestra pit, which is just as inaccessible. As for my adult life, my fetishes are brains, singing, and Jews, so I have a bizarre obsession with Eugene Levy. Does Opera count? Bryn Terfel. Come and get me baby. If he’s not interested, I’m hot for my buddy Mr. C., although he's married and not Jewish. At least I can succumb to his onstage advances.

17. Have you ever done a show intoxicated? What were the ramifications?

I am shocked and amazed that I have never done this. I must rectify this. Ask me in July how the drunken Zerlina went.

Postscript: I did not get a chance to sing Zerlina drunk. But I will have other chances. Oh yes.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Suicide or Lynching?

From this brilliant blog, who read it here.

A commentor on his blog, who identifies himself only as RA, makes an interesting point:

"Reading this, I realize suddenly the ways that hate crimes, like lynching, function like terrorism. I thought "What if this fellow was murdered by only one other person, and it's not a lynching?" And then I realized, "Making this look like a lynching is a way to scare African Americans in this community into silence, and to scare away allies." Like acts of terror, hate crimes function to frighten innocent bystanders into inaction. "

My prayers to Mr. Carter's family, and to all who have been victims of senseless, violent, hateful crime. My prayers to the Spirit of Love that our society - our entire society - will continue to evolve beyond this.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Turning Points

I moved to New York nine years ago. I have lived in seven different apartments, had four roommates, one husband, a dog and a cat. I have worked in two non-performing arts related fields. I have sung roles large and small in 7 operas – and have done Carmen and The Magic Flute twice. I and my cat currently live in a small two bedroom apartment on the upper west side with a young roommate and her two cats. I have nice furniture. The place is cramped, but pretty. I have a collection of books, a computer, and an organic grocery store nearby. I have good friends. I like my life.

Last April, my parents and I laid my Grandmother to rest alongside Grandpa at the Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City on a perfect sunny spring day. The flowers were perfect and bees buzzed around, reminders of life and growth and newness. Mom and I looked a long time at the headstone, engraved with Grandpa’s name but not yet Grandma’s, feeling... well, bereaved. We stood there, with our arms around each other. Grandma had finally left Mom and me alone. We cried.

We headed back to the apartment in Jersey City, which she and Grandpa had moved into when Mom was just 14 years old. All my grandparents' things were still in it; my parents had been paying the rent for years. We looked around at all the furnishings, the photos, the dishes, the knick-knacks, the 44 years of papers. The art deco bedroom furniture. The priceless china plates from Great-Grandma. Grandpa’s piano.

“What the hell are we gonna do with all this?” I asked. Mom sighed. “Donate it,” she said, “unless you want it.” We looked at Grandpa’s piano, covered with framed photos of us, and a thin layer of dust.

My Grandpa’s piano is from about the 1940’s, possibly older. It is of a make I cannot recall – “Werther Brothers” or “Warren and Company” or “Wally and the Wallflowers” for all I know. Not a name like Steinway or anything easily recognizable. And it’s small. It’s a “spinet,” which I think just means small piano. 2 feet deep by almost 5 feet long, maybe 4 feet high. One of the strings snapped years ago, and several of the hammers don’t snap back into place after being deployed for their string-striking, note-playing purpose… they just sort of sigh and hang about ½ of the way back to their home position. It hasn’t been tuned in well over ten years. Possibly 19 years.


When I was about three years old, my grandpa was playing piano, and I grasped the edge of the piano bench to look up at his hands. To me, everything seemed big – his hands, stretching to reach all the keys in a chord, the way he towered over me, the way my feet dangled off the edge of his piano bench, the way I couldn’t see the top of the piano unless he lifted me up. At some point he stopped playing, picked me up around the middle and sat me on his lap. “Wanna play?” he said. I just grinned up at him, not sure what to say. I knew I couldn’t make the sounds he did… maybe he meant play a game? He took my right hand and folded all the fingers into my palm except my index finger. “Start with this one,” he said. “Your pointer.” He pointed down at a key, then jabbed at it. Ding, it said. “You try,” said Grandpa. I pointed at the same key, then pressed it with my finger. Ding! Grandpa smiled. “Good job!” he said.

The he took my other hand, folded it like the first one, and held my two index fingers in his hand. He pressed down on a series of keys, one after the other, using my fingers. “May had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb…” It was fun. I just sat and smiled and let him use me to play a simple nursery rhyme. “See?” Grandpa said. “It’s easy.”

Then he put my hands down into my lap, and began to play.

First just a few notes, then a few at the same time. Then chords. He didn’t say a word, and neither did I. It was a slow, rolling melody. I didn’t know the song, but I watched his wrinkly fingers making music, and stayed quiet.

Eventually somebody called us from the kitchen. “Ops, another country heard from,” grandpa said. “WHAAAT?” he bellowed into the other room. Grandma’s cackly voice hollered something back. I was lowered to the ground, and I tottered out of the living room, following Grandpa into the kitchen.

****************************End Memory****************************

Yeah, likely 19 years since it was tuned. Grandpa died on July 4th, 1985. I was 14.

I’ve always known Grandpa’s piano was mine. He left it to me. Everything in that house was willed to Mom and I, but the piano is mine. Over the years, when we would visit the apartment for some reason or another, I have sat at that piano, just feeling the bench under me, touching the warm, dark polished wood, lifting the keyboard cover and lightly feeling the keys. Since I cannot play, I have never tried to plunk out a tune on those keys. Not since Grandpa died when I was thirteen years old. Daddy has played it a number of times… but I just look, and feel. Grandpa’s spirit was musical, and I feel it in that instrument. He moved that piano up flights of stairs into this apartment. I knew I would eventually move it into my own place… as soon as I had a place of my own.

Of course, at the time, my parents and I couldn’t get ourselves organized enough to deal with emptying the apartment. We made tentative plans to try again over the summer. They flew home, I went back to work. Life moved on.

My grandpa’s piano was on my mind. At one point I asked a pianist friend of mine to help me with getting an estimate to move it from Jersey City to my little Upper West Side apartment. I’ve got an elevator, but Grandma doesn’t, and there are a lot of stairs. Happily, my Piano Man got a me great estimate. I can afford to move it no problem, and tune it afterwards, maybe even get that brokenstring fixed and the sound board looked at.

My apartment is small. Ok, all New York apartments are small. I can find a spot for my piano. But there is a bigger problem. I don’t own my apartment, and it’s not rent-controlled. I barely scrape by for a living. I might have to move when my lease was up and my landlord raises the rent. Even if I could re-sign the lease… who knows if I could stay a third year? That piano certainly wouldn’t be getting a permanent home… not if it moved in with me.

I looked at my life. I am legally separated from my husband. Last April, when Grandma died, I was working at job I hated. Recently my position was eliminated, which is a relief to me, but let’s face it: I’m unemployed, and living on severance, which is going to run out in four months. I have no job prospects as yet. I will be filing for divorce in November. I may have to move in February. I do not know what I want to be when I grow up. I do not know where I will be living six months from now. I do not know if I will even still be in New York. I have no savings, and plenty of debt. I have no car. If I have to leave this apartment I will likely have to sell or donate all my furniture.

This is not a safe place for an antique piano, never mind a priceless family heirloom.

I looked at my life. I have a degree in acting with a minor in writing, and have never made any money doing either. I had to beg for the meager salary I have. I have a resume full of jobs – not a career track – and all my experience on my resume was in doing jobs that I didn’t like, which I had taken for the money. I am currently unemployed due to "corporate Restructuring" - which is fine, since I hated what I was doing, and can now take the time to look for work that I won't despise - but I have no “industry experience” doing any of the kind of work which I'm interested in. I am, professionally, in a very difficult place. I must start over again, like a college graduate from a General Studies program, hoping someone will take a chance on my talent and unique collection of skills, and pay me a mid-career level salary as well.

My marriage lasted about three years. I paid my attorney almost $1000 for the Seperation Agreement so that after one year I can get a no-fault divorce. (It's a New York thing, it's how the law works here.) In November I’ll shell out God knows how much more for the divorce papers and filing.

I am a single frustrated artist who can’t make enough money to keep up with rents, despite years of prostituting myself to Corporate America. I own no home, no car, and now I have no job. And I have a piano to adopt.

Last Thursday evening, I sat at the kitchen table in Grandma's apartment with my parents and cousins, trying to find some options for me. My parents flat-out refuse to take it to Illinois with them. "We'll just have to move it out again!" It is abundantly clear from discussions with my cousins that any relative who might be willing to keep the piano in their home for me would never give it back when I ask for it. I had to take it now, or lose it.

This, I thought to myself, is the price of an unsettled life. I am a failure, I thought to myself. I’m 32 years old. I am alone, and in debt. I should have a home. I should have a family. I shouldn’t be divorced and transient. I am a disgrace.

I have disappointed everyone who believed in me.

On Sunday, I walked into the back bedroom of the apartment, where Grandma and Grandpa slept, sat down on the bed, and cried. I cried for myself, for not showing my grandparents that they were right about me. I cried for my abandoned career. I cried for the cold ashes of my marriage. I held my abdomen and cried for the great-grandchild I have yet to bear, that they will never see. I cried for the trip to Italy that Mom and Grandma and I talked about but never took. I cried for all the hopes and dreams that my grandparents had for me, dreams that I realized were also mine. Dreams that for some reason I believed should have all been realized by the time I reached my 30’s. I cried for my wasted 20-something years, spent dallying in various jobs and moving from apartment to apartment, boyfriend to boyfriend, living the high life, spending outrageous amounts of money on transient things. Eventually the shame gave way to simple sadness, and I just cried for seeing my life in this way, bereft of my grandparents, of that unique type of overpowering love, that nobody will love me the way they did. I mourned my losses - all of them.

At some point my father wandered into the room where I was crying and placed his hand on my head, just standing there like that for a few minutes. “I’m sorry,” he said softly. “It’s not supposed to be like this…” I said. Daddy had no answer for me. After a few more seconds he withdrew his hand and left me alone again.

I didn’t sit too much longer. At some point I wiped my eyes, which surprisingly weren’t red or puffy, and went into the living room where Mom and Dad were fussing with moving boxes. I picked up a large amethyst crystal with two small tubes sticking out the side, some knick-knack from God knows where. “Isn’t this a lamp?” I asked Mom. “No, it’s a geode,” she said. I persisted. “But look - there are holes in the side. I think those are connectors for a lamp apparatus.” “I don’t know,” she sighed, “maybe it is. Put it somewhere.” “I’ll keep it,” I said.

I looked at the piano. The piano did not look back at me. It sat there, shiny, old, damaged. My parents ignored me. I fingered the amethyst crystal, knowing there was a light bulb somewhere inside it.

The next day, the Daughters of my landlord resolved this problem for me. They do not want to rent out my Grandma's apartment - they want their Dad to use it as a bedroom. Their parents are in their 80's, and their Mother is very ill. This old couple is not related to us, but the families are so close, we are, in the real sense of the word, family. I call them Aunt Mary and Uncle Rocky, and they still call me Little Girl. Their daughters are cool, hip ladies about 10 or 15 years older than me, and we enjoy spending time together.

I found myself explaining my dilemma regarding my piano, and they told me that I should leave it there as long as I need, until I am settled. The burden is lifted. But a charge has been laid.

No more surviving. It's time to live. With or without New York, which has been a playground, boot camp, and the biggest educational institution anywhere. If I can't afford to live here, I'll move. If I can, I'll stay. But wherever I live next... I'm staying for awhile.

I have reached a turning point in my life. I believe that from now on I will live my life very differently. I will not prostitute myself again. I can't afford to. The price I have paid emotionally and spiritually far outweighs the financial rewards. Yes, my twenties were fun. I am not really, deep down underneath, ashamed of how I have lived my life. Frankly, I'm proud. I enjoyed my twenties to the hilt. Sure, I was irresponsible many times - but I will have fantastic memories all my life, and I had many experiences which have shaped me into the person I am now. I get disgusted with myself, angry with myself, and embarrased over and over, but underneath it all, I believe I am a a worthwhile person. Worthy of my grandparents pride.

I have already changed mah evil ways in many areas. I am not a disappointment because of what I didn't do - I am a fuller person because of what I did do. And I did a hell of a lot. A friend of mine told me just last week that I sure am full of surprises, she never knows what I'll tell her I'm doing next. She's right. Life is like that.

This story should be decided by next February 15th, when my current lease ends. At at that point, either I'll have a new job, or not. Either I'll have to move, or I won't. And if I do have to move, where? Will I even stay in New York?

Well, at least I know how much it will cost to move my piano.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Air... Air...

Wow. From the minute I got off the train from Work Friday afternoon - that would be my LAST DAY at work (yes I'm still high about it) - I haven't really had any time to myself.

My parents are here. My final Don Giovanni concert was Friday night, and the parents were there, and we all had to have desert after... and then Mom stayed with me the next two nights at my place while Dad went to a business conference... Then Dad came back, picked up me and Mom, and took us to Jersey City (ugh) to begin the arduous taks of cleaning out my Grandma's apartment. (God rest her soul).

I have been there ever since.

Today I have a break - the bf is picking me up for a nice luck with him and his Jewish Mother. Actually it's his Jewish friend's mother, but that family has practically adopted him, and his actual mother isn't really Jewish.

Never mind. I'm having lunch with friends.

Then tomorrow, hopefully I'll be "down the shore" with cousins for the day, hoping the hurricane is done for a short while.

The Monday it's right back to work packing moving boxes in Jersey City.

Oh - and of course, there's no computers in Jersey City. At least not that I have access to.

So... Maybe after a few weeks... I might be able to blog? Oh, and maybe look for a new job?

In the meantime, WSSSHHHhhhh-CHK! Pack that china! Lift that box!

I should have such the deep, insightful post about this... maybe next week.

Peace, all.