Friday, April 29, 2005

Introducing: Deidre

I believe this is the first time I have used my own name on this blog. I may regret this. But, after he and he did this, I couldn't resist any longer. And I looooooove my results:

Deidre is the type of person we all benefit from having in our lives.
Deidre is an active member of her church
Deidre is more than amazing!
Deidre is an amazing actress with immense talent
Deidre is still alive somewhere but scared to come out of hiding.
Deidre is definitely not black
Programmed for evil, DEIDRE is a super computer housed in a secret location.
Deidre is the founding owner of Sports Massage and Integrated Therapies
Deidre is surprised, but snuggles tight against him.
Deidre is silent.
Deidre is also a volunteer at the Hospital.
Deidre is available for in-person consultations
Deidre is a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda
Deidre is willing to use powerful magic
Deidre is quite proud of her work in “Hidden Obsessions"
Deidre is now working as the media liaison for the Mayor and life is looking good.
Deidre is to be the buffer between the police and the media.
Deidre is now desperate
Deidre is my fav actress of all time.
Deidre is the best!
Deidre is a native of Wisconsin.
Deidre is fully capable of taking outdoor shots of your family and/or pets
Deidre is Placed in the Watchhouse.
Deidre is a minister and one of the "emerging" prophets at Valley Kingdom
Deidre is very excited about her first book
Deidre is a wonderful example of a medieval woman.
Deidre is killed. The Youngs chop her up stuff her in a toy box and bury her under the pool. (That second sentence was too priceless not to include)
Deidre is very suspicious that everything pleasurable is merely a ruse
Deidre is Arrested.
Deidre is one of the songwriters showcased on the SGS's Songwriters Compilation disc, Volume II.
Deidre is completely shut out of the picture
Deidre is pushed a little further
Deidre is at the all-new Tabu Lounge on Rt 1 North in Saugus starting at 11pm!
Deidre is an abandoned child
Deidre is actually a witch in training
Deidre is an ex-cop and wire junkie
Deidre is adept and capable at logical and analytical thinking
Deidre is a respected literary agent with her finger on the publishing industry's pulse and strong ties in Hollywood.

This one is inverted, but, again, too awesome not to include:

I had been told earlier that I wouldn't believe just how BEAUTIFUL Deidre is

All you do is go to Google and type in "yourname is" - the quotes are the important part. See the amazing lives you didn't know you led...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Crazy for a Day

Today is one of those days when, if I lived in the city, I would have left the office and gone home sick. I say that because I could always take the MNR to Manhattan easily, but getting over the Tappan Zee into Rockland County is a nightmare. There's only one bus. It's doesn't run often. I'm pretty much trapped here.

For some reason I cannot fathom, possibly severe brain disease that my doctors have yet to detect, I got into a political discussion with G this morning on the way to work. He dropped me off at 7:30 to the tune of me barking "You just watch who you're handing your country over to." I have been uspet to the point of distraction all day. ALL DAY.

I can't just have nice political discussions with people. This stuff matters to me. I cannot tolerate certain viewpoints. I cannot just shrug my shoulders and say "What a moron. Hm, orange or grapefruit juice this morning?" And believe me, I wish I could. I would give anything to be vapid sometimes. If my biggest concern was my manicure, I'd probably be a much happier person. I'd probably still be married too.

I am so angry. I am so angry. I am really, really angry. I am so unbelievably angry here. My God I am SO FUCKING ANGRY.

I called my Dad, my favorite mental health professional, and vented a bit.

"What are you so angry about?" he asked me. "Is it just the argument with G?" Oh, how well he knows me.
"No," I said. "That's what's killing me - it's unfocused frustration. I'm a powder keg. G just set me off."
"That's not good for your health," Daddy said.
"I know it," I breathed, gripping the cubicle wall.

The thing is, I'm full of shit. I know this feeling. Every time I don't want to admit what's bothering me, I say that I don't know. But somewhere underneath, I do know, and I'm terrified of it. I've been suppressing anger and hurt for so long that for the longest time - like during all the years of my marriage - I actually buried Truths so deep that I developed psychosomatic symptoms, like dizziness and nausea. My husband saw through this on one or two occasions, and tried to bring it up, but I think once he realized that his behavior was at the root of a lot of my "episodes," he stopped digging. That's what we do when we dig, and find stuff we don't want. We bury it again and pretend we never saw it.

Thank God for therapy.

The thing is, I'm doing it again. I know I am. Today, after I got off the phone with my Dad, I went into the bathroom, had a teeny tiny little cry, looked in the mirror and said " Who do you think you're kidding."

I wiped my eyes, got some hot cocoa, returned my desk, and tried really hard to work. I couldn't concentrate. I made mistakes and had to re-do things. I could feel the anger boiling through my limbs like the blood in my veins, flowing viscously through my arms and legs like magma. My stomach was churning, my elbows ached, my fingers and toes were tingly, and I could not focus on my job.

It's 4:01pm right now, and this is the third time I've tried to write about how I feel today. I tried once early in the morning, but it denigrated into such nastiness that I felt ashamed. I tried again shortly before lunch, and found myself rambling off into multiple depressing topics.

At some point I took drastic action and went to lunch. And stayed there. I actually ate in the cafeteria, instead of bringing a box of food to my desk, something I never, ever do unless I have a dining companion. I got a tray of food, sat in an empty corner, whipped out the cell, and called my Dad again.

I don't remember the conversation. I inhaled my food and tried not to taste it. Our cafeteria is beautiful. I looked out the 3-story floor-to-ceiling windows at the pond, the trees, the geese, the azure blue sky, the puffy white cloud floating gently along... Chew. Swallow. Look.

Then I whipped out my cell phone again, and called this guy, who is not only a fabulous friend, but, conveniently, also a mental health professional. (I choose my friends wisely.) He wasn't there... so I pretended he was. I sat there at an empty table in a nearly emtpy office cafeteria and poured my heart out to an inanimate object. That's right, nearly empty. People saw me doing this. They thought I was really on the phone.

It made me feel a lot better.

I am certifiably insane.

The next time you see someone on the LIRR or MNR or in Starbucks animatedly conversing on their cell, ask yourself... how do you really know there is anybody else on the phone?

On the way back to my cubicle, I rode an elevator down three floors. A handsome young man in a sweater and baggy dockers, with a shaved head and a sweet face rode with me. I could feel his eyes on my face as I walked into the 'vater. I had been muttering to myself. How embarrassing.

"I don't talk to myself every day," I tried to say apologetically.
"Were you talking to yourself? I didn't hear you talking to yourself," he said cheerfully.

I smiled, in spite of myself. Amazing what a little kindness from a pretty boy can do.
"Good," I said.
"How's your day going?" he asked.
"Pretty shitty!" I turned full face on him, feeling at once desperate for someone to talk to, and utterly furious for having my emotional space invaded. "How's yours?"
"Really?" He said, genuinely sounding concerned. "You don't like it here?"
"I love my job." I said. "This is all personal."
"Oh..." He said. "Aren't you temping in... ah..." he pointed in the general direction of my department.

This company is just small enough that pretty much everyone in both buildings knew my face within a week of my arrival. Everyone - I mean everyone - says hi to me in the hallways. If I were a generally happy person, and able to handle random socialization, I would LOVE that. But in my current incarnation as a grouchy depressed misanthrope, I tend to stare at the floor when I walk through the halls, and walk very, very fast. I'm not surprised that this random cutie knew who I was, but I'm amazed he had the guts to talk to me.

"Yeah, temping in (my department)." I couldn't help but smile. I really do like this job.
"Well, you've got beautiful hair."

Now I almost lost it. I swear, that is a completely irrational (no pun intended) hair trigger with me. I am already in an explosive mood, and you say the most unimaginative thing possible? The thing people say to me when they have no idea what to say? The thing I hear even on bad hair days? The complement that has ceased to mean anything to me due to its overuse?

I grabbed my two-foot-long fuzzy mane. "REALLY?" I nearly shrieked. "WOW!" I laughed somewhat maniacally.
The guy stepped backward. "I'm sorry..."
I thought I might pass out. "No, really, it's ok, really." WHERE ARE MY CRAYONS AND MY PADDED CELL.

The vertically plunging tiny room halted. My stomach lurched. I prepared to sprint through the soon-to-be-opening doors.

"I hope you feel better," he said.
"Thanks, I'm sure I will." Over my rapidly disappearing shoulder, I threw him as warm a smile as I could manage. "I've lived through worse!"

I really hope that, someday, I'll be working here for real, and not just temping, and then, maybe at the company Christmas party, I will see this guy again, so I can personally mix him the drink of his choice, and find out what his name is, where he works, and if he has ever considered a career as a mental health professional.

After writing this, I feel better.

Thank god for writing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hope -> Fear -> Hope

I almost typed something wonderful, but I don't want to to jinx it.

Tune in next month.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day 2005

Time for me to show my Granola side. (Which I had for breakfast this morning, in my cereal.) I received this today from a friend:

10 Simple Ways YOU Can Save the World in a Day:

1. Take out the mail
Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Believe it or not, 100 million trees are felled each year to produce junk mail.

2. Crack a light bulb joke
No joke: If every household replaced one lightbulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, it would be the equivalent of eliminating the pollution from 1 million cars.

3. Watch the stars
Using appliances carrying the Energy Star can save the average family $400 per year in energy bills.

4. Locate organic produce
Use the LocalHarvest map of organic food producers to pinpoint farmers markets and producers of environmentally friendly, locally grown food.

5. Teach a child
Invest in our future by teaching kids the importance of Earth Day. Find fun ways to get children involved.

6. Park your car
Carpool or take public transportation to work once a week, and walk or ride a bike for short trips. Don't forget to celebrate Carfree Day.

7. Make yourself at home
Find an environmental group, volunteer in your community, and donate your unwanted but usable items.

8. Recycle that purchase
Spare the environment by recycling your old mobile phone or PC, after erasing your personal data.

9. Pull out the plastic
If every plastic bottle were recycled, landfills would be 2 billion tons lighter. Reusable bottles and water filtration systems make an even bigger difference.

10. Try something new
Take a closer look at what you're throwing away--it could have creative potential. View artwork made from discarded materials for inspiration. Then, make your own masterpiece.

The only ones on this list I don't do are 5 and 7. Probably that old misanthropy thing again. But great ideas all 'round.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Faces of the Goddess in my Life

Perhaps I never looked closely enough. Perhaps I was too blinded by my own neediness to see. But then, I am certainly feeling very needy now. I imagine I simply needed to reach a certain stage in life, a certain level of maturity, a certain awareness of the world and of people, to be able to see it. I doubt I would have understood so clearly last year, the revelations of who we are. That is, who we are today. Who knows what we may be next year.

Lisa, my Rock. Kristin and I like to say she never changes, but she does. She grows. She's soft and sexy and frighteningly intelligent. Artist, scientist, bookworm, Broadway lover. Townhouse, Honda, cats. Her husband is the stuff of romantic poetry: physically beautiful, artistic, sensitive, and utterly devoted to her. But one cannot describe Lisa through her home, her loved ones, or her job. These are external things. The essence of Lisa is hard to describe.

She is a classic Pisces. She reveals parts of herself according to the circumstance of conversation, and who she knows is listening. She does not actively hide herself, but she doesn't display either. She moves directly through her life, pragmatically, and fear does not motivate her. She is a vast, deep ocean of which I have never glimpsed the bottom, and my fascination grows each time I swim in her fresh, clear personality.

Lisa does not wish to think of life in the grand ways that I do, always searching for deeper meanings in things. She looks for tools she can use to build the life she feels is best for her, and her dreams are private. There are windows which she does not look out of... which I cannot resist gazing through for hours.

Lisa is the flip side of myself.

I am a mountain, straining toward something I cannot quite reach, trying to be content resting, letting others climb me and conquer me and leave their footprints in my outer layers, hopefully learning something or finding something valuable by reaching my summit, then feeling stronger and better equipped to move on, forgetting me in the face of new challenges. A lot of people have climbed Mount Ouiser. Plenty others couldn't reach my peak, plummeting painfully after only making it halfway, storming off, licking wounds and telling others that I'm too dangerous or not worth the effort. Yet others were content to camp out in my foothills awhile, returning from time to time for a pleasant rest from life. My icy peak isn't everyone's idea of a good time. it's awfully high up, and awfully cold up there. Get me at the wrong time of year, and you'll wonder why you bothered. But get me in the summer, when my trees are leafy and my flowers are blooming, and I'm in my glory. The sun melts my icecap, and I and all who visit me are quenched with fresh cool rivulets of belief in the future. My warm inner core heats up, I stretch myself to the sky, and I stand proud against the horizon, daring anyone to try and tame me, inviting and forboding at the same time. My ground is fertile, my foundation is solid, and I have braved the elements for more years than mankind has existed, yet I know that in this form I am ephemeral, and will eventually be reshaped like the rest of the earth.

Lisa is the ocean, teeming with life and feared by people who prefer to believe they are masters of her. She has no need for excessive adornment, because the essence of who she is ripples and sparkles in the sun, and compels with gentle undulations in the moonlight. She touches the oldest, most essential layers of the earth, and on the surface appears unaware of this. Depending on where you touch her, she is warm and inviting as bath water, or frigid and lethal, hiding herself in dense fog, protecting herself with icebergs that deflate arrogance and sink the folly of pretense. She is benevolent, but powerful. Most who float across her never even try to see her depths, and some regard her as nothing more than a resource to be exploited, but she ignores them, knowing she cannot be depleted, that her surface scars are merely that. A few who might begin to understand her vastness will back off quick, afraid of drowning. Some thought they could handle it, and dove in, only to paddle frantically for the shore, exhausted and spitting. But those of us who know her, who can relax and allow ourselves to float gently down to her deeper blues... we know we are special. We also know that even we may never experience her deepest layers. She reaches farther and farther into the world year after year, at her own relaxed pace, impossible to hold back, as the world evolves and inspires her to create more and more beautiful things.

I like to believe that, aside from Lisa's husband, who has known her only half as long as Kristin and I have, Kristin and I know Lisa better than anyone in the world. And yet, how much do even we know of her?

Kristin, The Scorpio, who I have often nicknamed Perfect Kristin, who reveals in the subtlest of ways that she is as human as the rest of us, with as many human needs. Her outer layers reveal the gifts from her ancestors: petite, blonde, blue-eyed, pale skin, elegant long fingers, adorable tiny feet, impeccable fashion sense. Over this, she cloaks herself in the American Dream, and wears it like a crown: Private college education, big house in a lovely chicago suburb, supportive husband who is a great daddy to two perfect kids (boy and girl), pre-owned Mercedes which she calls "my fun car," solid career in the corporate world, unflappable extrovert, limitless energy, gaggles of friends and a fearless view of the future.

Inside these trappings, Kristin is flame. Brilliant and beautiful, violent and necessary. Those who play with her get burnt, and healing can take a long time. Her destructive powers inspire respect in some and fear in others, and many will dismiss her as too dangerous to have around. She can be dangerous... yet in the right environment, she glows warmly, and makes a house a home.

Kristin's exact nature is a mystery. What is she, after all? Fire is unique. She is the newest and most volatile of elements, her energy bursting forth like the future from the mundane, the manifestation of the primordial spark of life, asserting itself with explosive greeting, determined to break free, demanding to be acknowledged. We only see what she chooses to show, and her twisting, turning flames are so intricate that we dare not ask what lies beneath. I know her, yet do not know her. I trust her, yet she is a very young soul, so I still get singed from time to time. All that heat attracts beings of every shape and size, and in her illumination we all feel exposed. Some can handle it, some can't. Some learn more about themselves, but many don't bother to look. Some simply get lost in the crowd. She's too blinding to look into for long, and if you get too close, she may lash out. Her energy is addictive, and we follow her everywhere she goes, knowing how cold and grey the world is when she is gone.

In every candle I light, I hear Kristin's laugh. Silly Didi.

I, the Virgo, feel the nourishment from Lisa's waters, the arms of the Mother holding me in Her Restful assurance that we will all be ok. I feel the warmth and vitality from Kristin's elemental fire, the Great Spirit of the Amazon, the fourth and newest face of the Goddess, challenging me, encouraging me, flying me over my own mountaintops, never letting me forget the power within me. Lisa slowly erodes away my surface, and I feel the life stirring within me, as she inspires me to create. Kristin's cataclysmic force inspires abrupt change in me - I make resolutions that starting here, now, today, I will do things differently, feel things more, look in new directions. I am a healthier, happier person in their presence. We all work together to make our world what it is.

I am the Maiden, still learning, still searching, still unknown. I have such wonderful teachers.

Blessings to you, my sisters.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Overheard Friday Night in Schubert Alley (Updated)

MzOuiser: (Holding out a logoed notepad from the Roger Smith Hotel) I'm sorry, I lost my program!
Hank Azaria: (Signing notepad) that was very naughty of you...
MzOuiser: I know, I should be spanked.

Other delights from my weekend with the Chicago Blondes:

A manicure for less than $10 that lasted for 5 days without chipping

Watching Perfect K try 5 or six dresses from Bebe on her perfect body, that she worked like hell to acheive

Knowing that I will never look that way... and wondering why it didn't bother me more than it did

Hearing L say, when K was in the dressing room, "When can we get outta here? This is depressing."

Dinner at Turkuaz: yummy dessert, yummy wine, and a very yummy waiter, who teased us with photos of his fantastically yummy oceanside home in Turkey

A long talk with K about spirituality and the ways in which the divine speaks to us

A long talk with L about life, and how we flucutate between relaxation and fear, and the demons in our psyches, and the blessings of our friendships

Photos of the three of us in $5 bling sunglasses from Canal street

Soup Dumplings at Shanghai Joe's, and Bubble Tea afterward

Feeling, I think for the first time in my life, that maybe I'm not the Skreech of this group

Watching my boyfriend chat with my oldest friends

Hearing them all gang up on me in the loving way that family does

Flirting with L's husband over the phone (he's irresistable)

L describing dryly that Ron Jeremy is ugly as sin but supposedly has "an enormous penis"

Realizing that the three of us haven't just gotten older, we have deepened in ways I never would have imagined

Watching all the boyz on Saturday night laugh at K's amazing self, and feeling so proud of my association with them

Getting the first faint glimpse of where our life paths will lead us next

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Inspiration, Gratitude, Presence, Rest

Sometimes small, quiet, special things happen to you. Things that you know you will remember for the rest of your life, even though objectively they are not exactly unusual. Why one hug seems to mean more than the rest, why one handmade thank-you card stands out in an ocean of thoughtful gifts over the years, why one view of a room can leave a permanent print on your memory, so that years later you'll recall the exact pattern on the lampshades.... We don't always know why this happens, but it does.

And then, sometimes we do know why, and we realize we are all the more fortunate for the awareness.

We choose which intimacies to hold close and secret, and which to share. I am a brave person, and I share a lot of my most intimate stories, but like everyone else, I also have my secrets. Soft, sweet, silent moments that perhaps no one could appreciate but me, or so I might feel. Or things that I simply do not wish to share, keeping them tucked inside myself, to peek at from time to time, glowing with the knowledge of some special thing that is mine and no one else's. I make these choices too.

Tonight, my heart is swollen with love, and it overflows through my tear ducts. To one sweet man, I am his Goddess. To another, I am a memory. To another, I am a true friend. To yet another, I am true love. Do these men know what I am? Some of them do. The rest... it doesn't matter if they know. I simply am what I am. I know.

To one beautiful woman, I am a little sister. To another, I am a big sister. I, my mother's only child, have sisters of the heart. To one woman, older than myself, I am an eager pupil. To another, I am her guide. And to many wise spirits who gaze upon me from the other world, I am beloved, in all my roles, in all my forms, in all my phases of life.

The men may not always know who I am. The women always do. Regardless, there is joy and discovery and delight and rightness and the knowledge that everything is as it should be when someone looks deep into my eyes, and I know that they see me. They see Me.

Isn't this what we all want most? Simply to be seen? Because when we are truly seen, we are also heard, and known. When we are known, we are not alone. And people are not meant to be alone.

Tomorrow I will walk through a world filled with people who cover their eyes, and go about the mundane activities required by life in this place. My inner eyes will be covered as well, and my deep awareness will drift off from boredom. But only for a few hours. Later on, I wake up again. What is there to see tonight? Who is there to see? Who will see me today?

Tonight I sit in my home, holding precious things in my hands, and treasures in my heart. What they are is my secret. What they mean to me is private. But the fact that they exist, that I have joy, that I am thankful and blessed, I will share.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Sometimes, I Love Surprises

I had a great time because the bitchy cousins who piss me off were NOT there, and the really cool people I never get to see WERE there. Also I had new shoes.

My parents arrived at around 1pm Saturday. Dad chatted with G while Mom and I perused my limited closet. "Ouiser, wear the dress," Mom said. "This is a big deal." I sighed and didn't argue. I went with the Grandma-Would-Have-Approved look. We had to stop by the ubermall so I could buy high-heeled off-white sandals, but once we arrived at the party and handed the keys to the valet (gasp) I realized that this event was not a typical family party, and went far beyond the dress code.

My aunt and uncle literally threw themselves a second wedding reception. One Hundred and Fifty aunts, uncles, and cousins were in attendance. We filled a banquet hall! There was a gourmet Italian buffet, a dance floor, an awesome DJ, an open bar all night (THANK YOU GOD), and an A/V presentation that some cousins had put together with pictures of the family going back three generations. Aunt and Uncle had a whole new wedding, fifty years after their first one.

Aunt was in a wedding dress. It was a modern, rather subdued one, but the woman bought herself a wedding dress! Their best man and maid of honor were there, in full attendant regalia, these tiny little old people with ears sticking out and happy creases around their eyes. A priest said a blessing, and we all stood and held hands.

This particular aunt and uncle have a rather dynamic story to their marriage. Their lives haven't been easy. Uncle was a fireman, and almost died on the job when he fell through a roof. At the time, they were young adults raising a family. Aunt not only nursed him back to health but kept the kids going while she did it. In more recent years, they took care of Uncle's mother as she gradually succumbed to Alzheimer's. Aunt's mother - my grandmother's only sister - died when Aunt was very young.

This couple eloped out of state when Aunt was fifteen years old; their first child followed soon after. Looking at my aunt in her new wedding dress, I wondered if this was the only wedding dress she had ever worn in her life. A long time to wait for the Great White Dress, I thought to myself. My generation whines if we hit 25 without a wedding dress fitting. Aunt and Uncle's kids have all grown up to be fantastic people, some of the "cool" cousins that I wish I saw a lot more of. They all have kids of their own, adorables in smart clothes with smarter things to say.

And here's me, with a failed marriage that didn't even last three years, hanging out with my cousin Slick, a salesman who's 43 and never married, who can *almost* keep pace with me at the bar. His two brothers have long-standing successful marriages and great kids. My two best girlfriends, who are like sisters to me, have also managed to pull this marriage thing off. I wonder if my cuz was wondering, like I was, how people with so many strikes against them managed to succeed at something we haven't been able to get right.

Slick didn't waste any time getting in good with the bartender and the DJ, and they kept my glass full and my feet dancing. I managed to knock back somewhere between six and eight vodka tonics (I lost track). I danced all night with Slick and his cute brothers, and chatted with their wives, and sang "Proud Mary" with the DJ.

Eventually Slick and I got Mom to do a shot with us, and I realized something was different about the air in this place. Maybe we were all inspired my the happy occasion, especially after there have been so many funerals in the past year. Even my dad was having fun, dancing with the pretty Italian girls, swapping stories about when he first met Mom and the rest of this crazy clan. Frankly, it was the best party I've been to in years. It was a celebration of life.

I stayed with my parents in a hotel that night, and at about 3:45am my cell phone rang. I ignored it. The next day I checked my messages, and it was Slick, drunkenly proposing marriage to me. Sheesh. Whattapahty.

Sunday was spent in my new hometown of Nyack, sitting in the courtyard of our apartment building with G and my parents, drinking wine and snacking on cheese and bagel chips and fruit, feeling slightly buzzed at 2pm. It was about 75 degrees and perfectly sunny. Flowers were blooming, bees were buzzing but mostly minding their own business. For a few hours, I thought I was dreaming.

My parents seem to be getting along with G very well, which was an immense relief to me, since their first meeting didn't go so well. The old hippie parents and the Massachusetts Republican boyfriend have heard many stories about each other, and when I first introduced them over dinner in Manhattan last fall, everyone was
nervous, and the conversation was awkward. I had to smooth things over a bit after the fact.

Over the months though, G and I have only gotten closer, and of course are now living together. My parents know this isn't just another boyfriend. I guess they decided to give him a real sporting chance. Everybody was in a good mood. The folks and I had just been to a fun party, the weather was nice, and we had no schedule and no rush to the day. G had been relaxing and enjoying a quiet Saturday while Mom and Dad and I were in Jersey. Everything seemed to come together perfectly.

G and Dad had no problems chatting away while Mom and I got distracted and went off on tangents about girl stuff. We lounged in the cast iron chairs, clinking wine glasses and telling all sorts of stories. G bustled about being the happy host, running in and out the house getting more snacks, bringing pillows, fetching sunscreen for Daddy's head, etc. At some point we took a leisurely stroll into town to the local pastry shop, and we lingered in front of shop windows, feeling free to take all the time in the world. Later on, G drove us around the neighborhood in his convertible with the top down, showing off the beautiful old mansions along the river, with flowering trees and the views of the water through the shady trees.

I've never had a boyfriend make so much effort and do so well entertaining my parents. We even navigated a brief discussion of communism, where they managed to find common ground. Maybe - just maybe - this might work after all.

Man. Just when I expected to have a lousy, stressful time, and for everybody to piss me off.

What was that I said about continuing to hope?

I think it works.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Woman Makes the Clothes

My parents are in New Jersey right now. They are in town for my Aunt and Uncle's 50th Anniversary party. They're not really my aunt and uncle, as my mother is an only child, but they are of her generation, so I call them that as a term of respect.

Anyway. This party is tomorrow night. I expect it will be large. There are rules (unspoken of course) for attending my mother's family's gatherings:

1) We have a dress code here. If you are female, no jeans or sneakers. Conservatively cut dresses are preferred. Heels are expected on women, or nice flats. Makeup is preferred. Hair is expected. Men can wear whatever they want. The default color for all events, even weddings, is black. If you must wear a color, take care not to stand out too much.
2) You will eat. You will not ask about ingredients. Ladies look nice with wine glasses in their hands.
3) You will answer all questions asked to you by aunts, uncles and grandpeoples. You will answer them sweetly and with a smile on your face.
4) You will kiss and hug everyone in the room, no matter how strong their perfume. We're Italians.
5) You will make every effort to socialize with your own generation.
6) If you find yourself in a group that is discussing religion and/or politics, you will either pretend to agree with them or leave.
7) When someone of the previous generation gives you advice, you express gratitude and reassure them you will follow their advice immediately.
8) If nobody wants to talk about a subject you have introduced, they will communicate this by interrupting your conversation with a new discussion thread. You are to follow it without question.
9) Women will remain in the kitchen or dining room. The living room is for men. If the gathering is at a restaurant or other public area without a kitchen or living room, women will not infiltrate clusters of men and try to converse with them, unless they are invited.
10) If you are female, unmarried, have no children, don't live in New Jersey, Upstate New York, or Connecticut, then you do not interest us. Do not try and talk to us about your life, because we will only pretend to be interested for a few minutes. Enjoy the food.

The vast majority of my clothing is in storage. The dresses I have in my closet are not black, and they are not conservative. I am going to be in CLEAR violation of the dress code tomorrow night.

Given my current state of disillusionment, I'm less able to enjoy pretentiousness than usual. Often I find it highly amusing, and I can play along with the best of them. But I am SO NOT THERE RIGHT NOW.

I am in a very needy place right now, and this is like, the exact opposite of what I need. I am very nervous about this. I know I'm going to look either underdressed, or overdressed, and this will remove the one possible topic of conversation I might have with my female relatives. The men don't talk to me because they can tell their wives don't like me. I will henceforth be more bored than usual, which will drive me to the bar sooner than usual, where I will show them how nice a lady looks with a shot glass in her hand, thereby cementing my reputation as That Cousin Who Is Nothing Like Us. Although, I will probably feel much better and begin to enjoy myself after a couple of whiskeys.

My mother has bought a new dress for the occasion. Her first cousin is the guest of honor. Both my mother and this aunt are the only daughters of their mothers. Their bond is very deep, and stretches back so many years that no matter how rude this aunt is to my mom, Mom will always make excuses for her.

My mother and I are very different people.

My mother's new dress is pink floral on a white background. She will also be in violation of the dress code, but she doesn't care. As the only daughter of my grandmother, the recently deceased matriarch of the family, (If there was one), my mother's place in her family is secure. She has also had her hair and nails done. She is very concerned about me looking "like a schlub." (No, I swear, we're not Jewish, my mom just likes Yiddish words.)

I told her with a great deal of indignance that even in my schlubbiest outfit I would be the best-dressed girl in the room. She had to concede that this was true. I know how to wear clothes, goddammit. The problem is that this time, I am lacking three things necessary to pulling off a look:

1) a complete wardrobe
2) time to try on various outfits (or in the absence of said wardrobe, an opportunity to shop)
3) any interest whatsoever in making a good impression

I realized this morning that the only person I want to see beam in appreciation of my outfit is my mom. Not because I want her approval, but because I know how proud she feels when she goes places with me when I look nice. I see how happy she is to show off her "beautiful daughter." Even when I was a gawky kid she would call me that, if I got the outfit right. Mom has been through a lot lately, and so have I, and for the first time in my entire life, I think I actually want to wear something for the sole purpose of making her happy.

I like making my Mom happy. Not because I'm afraid of when she's NOT happy, but because she deserves it. Because she busts her ass for everyone else around her. Because she has lived an underprivileged life. Because she thinks that underneath it all, people don't really care about her. And that's awful. For one evening, I want to see her smile light up the room. I'd like to give her some validation that she did something right. Something big. Me.

I feel like that's a narcissistic thing to say, but then I feel like maybe it isn't.

So tomorrow night, I can either dress for my Mom, or dress for me. All my dresses in the closet right now are too sexy, and Mom would be uncomfortable with that. Frankly, so would I. I don't want to look like a lonely divorcee, especially when I'm NOT ONE. So... I'm narrowing it down to the following options:

1) The Beatnik Look: black tights, high black boots, a miniskirt in either raspberry silk or a funky orange swirly pattern, a black high-neck shirt, and funky jewelry. Heavy black eyeliner.

2) The Artsy Look: fine-wale cords with a green burnout velvet flutter sleeve top from Bebe, with short suede boots, all in moss green, with jewelry made by local artisans, and light, "natural" makeup.

3) The Manhattan Look: Black pantsuit with a red-and-black sleeveless velvet top with cowl neckline, and garnet jewelry. Slightly glam makeup.

4) The Grandma-Dressed-Me-From-Beyond-the-Grave Look: Peach-and-white lightweight rayon dress in a paisley pattern with spaghetti straps from Banana Republic, pantyhose, white high-heeled sandals, minimal makeup with pinkish lipstick and a white purse.

I'm most likely going to wear the green cords, because I'm comfortable in them. They ride low, they're boot-cut, they're soft. They're green. I'm just afraid my Mom might find them Schlubby. Opinions welcome.

There are a couple of other cousins who are slightly outside the mould, like me, and who knows, maybe they'll show up and I'll have someone to drink with. If I really get bored I can always flirt with the bartender. But I hope I'm not bored.

Odd how in spite of everything, I continue to hope.

Different Countries, Different Republicans

From today’s New York Times:

France may be a predominantly Roman Catholic country, but it is also officially secular, with separation of church and state one of its most sacred tenets.
So while the death of Pope John Paul II has brought widespread mourning, there has also been pressure on the French Republic not to honor him officially.

For the moment, the political instinct to please voters has won out: the government is marking the pope's passing in a variety of ways across France, and President Jacques Chirac and his wife, Bernadette, will attend the funeral Mass at the Vatican on Friday.

But defenders of the country's republican tradition as well as some foes of the center-right government have charged that by doing so, the French state is violating a 100-year-old law dictating church-state separation. They contend that any gesture that gives the appearance of favoring one religion over another is forbidden.

French Republicans are very different from American Republicans.

I got into a conversation with my Mother recently about the difference between Irish Republicans and American Republicans. Among my Irish family, Republicans are the good guys. They admired America for accomplishing what they couldn’t – ousting the oppressive English rule. Their version of freedom of religion involves the right to be Catholic and not be murdered, raped, kept out of the most respected schools, etc. In Ireland, it’s the Republicans who focus more on social injustice, as most of it is directed at them.

They’re overwhelmingly Catholic, you see. Not like DeLay or Cheney. Or the Bush family.

So we have three groups in three countries who call themselves Republicans. They are all fighting for their definition of a Republic. They each want very different things for their republics.

I’d love to get George Danton and Robespierre in a room with Padraic Pearse, Constance Markiewicz, George W and Ken Mehlman. Heck, let’s throw in Gerry Adams, “good” Catholic Alan Keyes and the guy who published “L’Amie du Peuple” for the fun of it. How I’d love to be a fly on that wall.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Somebody Tell a Joke

Life has gotten far too serious lately.

I've been in and out of jobs for the better part of a year. Both of my grandmothers have died. I lost my beloved apartment in Manhattan. Friends who I thought I was really close to have disappeared from my life, some deliberately, some due to apathy. Ex-boyfriends turned clingy, the ex-husband refused to communicate in any way with me. My dad has been less than well. Mom has become dismissive. My family of 200 relatives has forgotten that I exist. And now I owe $3000 in taxes for 2004 - one last fuck you from that French company where I wasted two years of my life.

This has all been one major buzzkill.

I used to be the life of the party. If I came to the party, I'd bust up those cliques and get everyone singing showtunes and trying new drinks. At the bar, everybody had more fun. I used to be a really fun date - OUT of bed. I used to be funny, brash, and quite well-dressed. I laughed really loud, and got others laughing too. I liked to think that I helped people out of their shells a bit. I was certainly out of mine. Out and proud. So to speak.

I would say I miss the friends I left behind in the city, but I saw them so seldom in late 2004... none of them have noticed I'm gone. Or at least, none have bothered to call or email me. What is there for me to miss? The emptiness inside me is a hunger that food cannot assuage.

I scowl a lot when I'm at the grocery store. I used to luxuriantly smell the fruit at the organic shops, and finger the many kinds of pre-packaged grains available, like a jewelry-maker in a bead store. Now I scowl at calorie/fat/fiber ratios and grit my teeth at the limited options in the Stop-n-Shop. Between my finances and my fitness regime, I have lost some of my love of cooking. A couple of weeks ago I held a container of Polly-O Whole Milk Ricotta cheese in my hands, thought of great-grandma's bite-sized deep-fried Zaples dusted with powdered sugar, and cried.

That night, I tossed a package of Skinny Cow ice milk sandwiches in the freezer, ate one, checked the two points off my Weight Watchers's food diary, took three Advil, and went to bed.

When G drives me places, I stare out the window, or look for CD's to play. Sometimes I babble about whatever's irritating me at the moment. When he wakes me up in the morning with a cup of coffee in his hand, I often launch into a sketchy description of a disturbing dream. When he snuggles me on the couch in the evening, I turn the TV on, and fall asleep.

I have become a drag.

I feel myself becoming, as he once said, a grouchy old fart. I used to laugh about being jaded, thinking it was somehow sophisticated and adult, but now it's not so funny. I no longer take much solace in friends, because for all their well-intentions, they seem to have to work so hard to fit me into their lives. Is this friendship? I look back on my life and the "friends" I've had - even the "best friends" I've had - and they all walked the road beside me for a short time, then vanished.

The constant battle with my finances has caused me to choose a rather spartan existence, so there's not much glitter in my life anymore... and no substance has yet emerged to take its place. My living situation has me in a state of relative dependency... and I struggle with that. I have invested some of my freedom in a vision of the future. The present is a porous paper cup, half-full. I can see the water stains on the outside. Time.

I stand in G's apartment sometimes, when I am alone, and stare at the walls, which look like porous paper, holding me and the remants of my dreams, willing them not to fall down around me. Demanding my ghosts to leave me alone. Howling battle cries to my demons to GET OUT. Insisting that I am not afraid. Listening to the pounding of my own heart.

I no longer feel free to wander and explore life. I feel homeless.

I say all this when I'm on the verge of having some really great weekends. If I can survive this upcoming weekend (a family event), the ones thereafter are looking sweet. More than sweet. Exciting. Friend-filled. Booze-filled. Food and music and art and theatre and (let my aching breast swell with love!) New York-filled. I will be able to scrach many itches, as G would say.

Goddamn do I need that. I need it bad. I need it like Bette needed a drag.

My two best friends from High School are coming to see me next week. They are largely coming because New York is a cool place to visit, but I can say with honesty and belief in the veracity of the statement that they are also coming to see me. They are two people whose love I have no doubt in.

My joy at their visit is frustratingly diminished by the knowledge that, once they leave, I will not see them again for many months. Possibly years.

A drag ain't enough. A tobacco plantation couldn't satisfy this need.

As you can see, I have yet to find a therapist.

There's more to it than people. Music is a big part of this. I have pretty much complete lack of music in my life. My CD collection is in storage, and I'm reduced to about 10 CDs. Dinah Washington may never leave the stereo. G's little laptop doesn't do much for MP3s. I found a jazz club in town... I'm going to try. I haven't sung in public since last August. I'm frighteningly insecure about how I'll be received when I get up there and jam with those fellas. I always do well.. but a part of me feels like a poseur. 10 years in Manhattan, and what have I got to show for it? A bunch of songs on paper which nobody has ever heard. Forgettable roles in a bunch of concert operas that I paid through the nose to be part of, which nobody saw except my parents and some nursing home residents. I never got in with the right bunch of fellas, or gals. I would say I feel like a failure, but I feel something even worse than that, something darker, deadlier.

I feel like I could have tried harder. I feel like I might have had a chance... and blew it.

I pray a lot these days. I do rituals in my little corner of the living room, listening for the voice of the Goddess. She does talk, and it's comforting. She keeps telling me to be patient, let myself think and feel and relax, to write it all out, and keep my hands busy. So I've started making jewelry again, a hobby from my childhood. She tells me to trust that everything will work out fairly, justly, and that I must remember how strong I am. She tells me that I shouldn't back down when I'm discouraged, and that I must fight my hatred by drowning it in the well of love that I carry inside myself. This last part is not so hard as it sounds. I forgive easily. I want to love. I want to be happy. Hatred is poison. Fear is its fuel.

Today I am wearing a necklace of red and gold beads that I made last Saturday, while I burned Spring flower incense and listened to Dinah Washington singing "This Bitter Earth." Red is for passion, firey spirit, and power. Gold is for abundance. I faced the east as I strung the beads, the direction of air. I'm open, I thought to the world, I'm wide open here!

I have never been good at waiting.

I carry a green stone with white lines in my pocket, another symbol of power, and groundedness. I bound it with a gold thread. It reminds me that I have power within myself. It reminds me of the abundance that is already in my life.

I have a rather prickly relationship with this stone. It's a lot like my mother.

It's spring. I'm ready to crawl out of my cave again.

Goddammit, where's the fucking party?


Saul Bellow, Great Chicago Novelist, Dies at 89

Friday, April 01, 2005

Happy April Fool's Day

I love it when cultural icons make fun of themselves!