Friday, March 31, 2006

Just Do It

From my "Mondo Beyondo" List, a little over a year ago:

8. The CD I record will not hit the billboards, but it's tracks will be the most requested songs at every karaoke bar in the country.

9. I'll pay off my student loan, my divorce attorney, my MasterCard, and the rest of my parent's house. In that order.

10. I'll buy a house overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, cut my hair short, marry my boyfriend, and start life all over again with a huge kitchen, my cat, and my Grandpa's piano.

During an email with Steven, I was inspired to looked this up again. It really got me thinking about the desires that lurk within us. They leak out as jokes, or dreams, and somehow, over time, they morph into goals.

I’m not about to send demo tapes off to Rounder Records, but I would like to record a CD. Get together with my old accompanist, maybe find a guitar player, and really do it right. I’d just like to have it, for posterity. In 2007, I’ll be largely out of debt, and done with school. I may very well be done with temping as well, after a period of time. I’ll have the time to devote to a project, and might be able to scrape up the money.

I should seriously think about making this happen. Why shouldn’t I just do it?

As I told a certain sax player awhile back, I’ve never had any desire to be a recording artist. It just never really moved me. It sounds like a horrible lifestyle, always on the move, always working, not conducive to relationships or family life, no real chance to put down roots anywhere. Maybe if I was an air sign, I’d have been more into that when I was eighteen, and might have had a real shot. But I’m me. I like to stay still.

The problem is, there are no recordings of my mother’s singing, or my Great-grandmother’s, or of my grandfather’s piano playing. All of this musical talent just disappears. I’d give anything to hear my grandpa play his ragtime, and not just because I miss him. I’ve dreamed of hearing my great-grandmother’s voice all my life. And my Mom? By the time I was old enough to really pay attention, she had lost most of her tone, and virtually all of her breath support. She let her instrument go… and at age 60, it’s likely gone forever.

Her friends, however, remember. I’ll never forget the far-off, wistful look on our friend Thom’s face when he talked about my mother’s singing. “No one had ever seen anything like her,” he said. “No one could touch her.” I felt envy spread through my stomach like a cold blackness. I strain to remember some of the shows he remembered her performing in – Pirates of Penzance was mentioned – but all I remember is her lavender gown, her long black curls, and her dancing. She was in the chorus. I never noticed her voice. And I was, after all, about seven years old.

I want my daughters to hear me sing. And my granddaughters.

Ach, I’ve written about this before. Next item:

My divorce attorney and my Mastercard are paid off! My student loan won’t take as long as the last one did. And my parents house, well, they took out a second mortgage a year or so ago. That was more than I bargained for. My father, however, in the meantime, has taken a new job in the Chicago area which pays well enough that I don’t really worry about them like I used to. He stays with an elderly aunt of ours during the week, and drives home to Mom on the weekends. They miss each other, but he says that the time they spend together is even more special now. And Mom has an excuse to visit Chicago from time to time. I’m hoping they will bite the bullet and find an apartment there. There’s no way they’d move permanently, at least not anytime soon, but I’d love for them to enjoy the city together more often. Mom could use some spoiling.

The truth is that someday, I will inherit that little house in Springfield, Illinois. As much as I avoid thinking of such things, it’s going to happen. When it does… Oy. We thought absorbing my Grandmother’s things was difficult? My mother is a packrat. I can only pray that when I lose her – Goddess, it’s hard to even write these words – my daughter will be old enough and strong enough to support me, the way I’ve supported my mother.

The problem is, my mother had me at twenty-six. I’ll be at least 37 when I start birthing. My grandmother lived until my thirty-third year. My mother… my daughter might be twenty-two. A very young age to assume this kind of responsibility. Too young.

I need to think about these things… and yet, I need to not think too much on them. A difficult balance to strike. The upshot is that paying off my parents mortgage isn't on the list anymore. Not a bad thing.

And the last item:

My hair is, by my standards, pretty short. It’s barely to my shoulder blades, when I’m used to it tickling my hips. It’s growing back slower this time than usual, and I'm ever so slightly anxious about that. I am, however, letting it do what it wants. No color jobs, no excessive ‘dos. I like it.

G and I are indeed getting married, likely sometime next year, possibly on Valentine’s Day. We have good karma on that day. And I really don’t give a damn about the whole double-present thing. Some chocolates and roses and a roll in the hay and I’m happy with Valentine’s Day. Anniversaries, I’d like a nice dinner out. Maybe a book to read. On our tenth, and other such landmarks, maybe some jewelry. I’m pretty easy to please.

But the Chesapeake Bay… I haven’t thought about that place in a loooong time. I’d never have known about it if it wasn’t for Dimarc, my ex. I loved our visits to Ocean City, MD, and our ventures out into the bay on his dad’s sailboat. I have wonderful memories of our mini-vacations to Maryland that will always be with me. The Maryland Renaissance Faire, the Crab Shacks, the piano bars in Baltimore where his friends played, and we’d sing for the crowd, even the cheesy mall shopping, which just seemed more fun down there. Watching his parent’s Pharaoh Hound Lita, rest her soul, run through the open space behind their house in Columbia. She looked more like a deer than a dog. Chatting with friendly locals from time to time. Columbia is a real nice place, and when things were good with Dimarc and I, we talked about moving there someday. I still can’t think of anyplace I’d rather raise kids than Columbia.

Boston, however, is pretty damn cool. And I’m with G now, and that’s his hood, and I’ve grown to love it too. It’s (sorry, Bostonians) just like New York – but shorter. The buildings are shorter. Newbury Street is Madison Avenue. The University area in Cambridge is the west village. Beacon Hill is the Upper West Side. And the Public Garden is Central Park. Ok, it’s smaller. And not woodsy. Which for me, means it’s better than Central Park. I can actually spend time in the Public Garden without itching and sneezing and Visine-ing myself every five minutes.

No place, however, is Bleecker street. Or seventh Avenue South.

Anyway. The Chesapeake Bay. I guess I won’t be moving into that waterfront property. Which is truly sad. Regardless of who I’m with, I really liked it down there.

But I will still have my Grandpa’s piano, and my cat. And my G. And in a few years, a family. Mondo not so beyondo.

And I guess, if I wanted to, I could hop a train into Grand Central and sing with street musicians anytime I wanted. In harmony.

Although making a van rock with Sassy Pat Kiernan probably isn’t in the cards.


I think I have found my motto for 2006:

Just do it.

Fuck Nike. It’s mine now.

In other News...

I drove G's convertible today. With the top down. Over the wide Tappan Zee Bridge, the Hudson River sparkling below me. With Lemme see ya grill blaring on the stereo.

I drove way. too. fast.

That blue blur with the red hair streaming behind it, with the BOOM BOOM? That was me.

I may never give that car back.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

New Year's Resolutions, 2006

I think that, years from now, the twelve-month span from October 2005 to October 2006 will be remembered as one of the most productive years of my life. During this time I have been pulling 17 hour days Monday through Friday, and trying to squeeze in practical matters such as laundry, auto maintenance, and getting married on weekends. Some weekends, I have been in 9-hour long classes, adding to the challenge.

I realized a while back that, unless I’m depressed, I am a highly energetic person. Since I’ve been living with G, I haven’t really been depressed. I have my down days, but not for weeks or months at a time. When I do have down days, we talk it out. Subsequently, I have been running on all cylinders for some time now. When I decided to get a massage therapy license, I knew that, if I wanted, I could simply not work for awhile, and just go to class, letting G take care of my basic needs. I didn’t want that – I wasn’t ready for it. Not yet. So I made the decision to fill my days with work and my nights with a different kind of work. I knew I’d enjoy my time. And I knew I had a lot of energy. I knew I could do this. And so I have.

I remember a couple of years ago, when I used to stagger home from work, immediately change into my pajamas, cook something menial for dinner, and spend the evening in front of the TV or the internet. Often, after several hours of this, a friend would call, and I’d get dressed, hop outside, and head to the local jazz club or Irish pub or Indian restaurant at 10pm. I remember feeling energized by the darkness of New York Streets. I used to wear a lot of makeup and funky clothes, hiding behind a glossy sheen of Stuff I Can Afford, like so many yuppies do, while we complain snottily about relationships and jobs and people who hold up the line at the grocery store, glancing at each other over the rim of an overpriced apple martini. It was a role I played, and for awhile, it was comfortable, and kind of fun. I sure loved the costumes.

I moved to New York City eleven years ago. I graduated from a performing arts academy. For a few years, I worked in hospitals, administratively assisting some of the top docs in their fields. I got married, and divorced. I had my four yuppie years, working in Midtown, living in Astoria and the Upper West Side. I sang with cover bands on Bleecker Street, and with That Guitar Man from Central Park. I sang in a supper club in Harlem. I sang with a concert opera company for around seven years. I joined a church and sang in their Christmas services, and for awhile was a regular soloist there. I found the divine inside myself, and outside myself, and learned to celebrate my faith, living it every day in my own way, unapologetically. I have owned upwards of 300 pairs of shoes. I have had one-night stands, office flings, bone-crushing love affairs, and everything in between. I have lived.

Wow, have I lived.

I am sitting now, as I have sat so many times before over the last two and a half years, at G’s living room desk, facing the windows which look over the Hudson river, the lights of the Tappan Zee and Westchester County blinking on as the sun sets somewhere behind me. The loudest sound is the refrigerator, making ice. I’m at home here. The cat is snoozing on the couch. G is reading in the bedroom. Everything is where it should be. The light from the desk lamp glints off my engagement ring.

I am still living life, absolutely, to the fullest. And now, it’s Spring again. Time for my New Year’s Resolutions.

Last year, I wrote this:

That amethyst crystal has never left my immediate living quarters since I brought it home that weekend. It sits in a place of honor on the altar to the Goddess which I maintain in my living room. It sits in the North, the direction of Earth, representing groundedness, the comfort of the Mother (pun definitely intended), solidity, and, being an Amethyst, spiritual awareness, clarity, and intuition. At some point this past winter I placed a golden Sacajawea dollar on top of it as a symbol of abundance, hopefully encouraging even more of those vibrations and qualities to flow through me.

I was referring to an Amethyst which I found when my parents and I cleaned out my grandma’s apartment, after her funeral. Of course, that amethyst is still on the altar, with the Golden dollar nestled in it’s facets.

My 2005 resolutions:

1) Pay off my first student loan in full (current ETA: October 11th) Nope. Not only that, I took out a new one.
2) Resume my Maiden Name. Done! As of January.
3) Become a licensed Massage Therapist. Well on my way.
4) Build up my savings. I’ve done pretty well at this. Not as much as I intended, but enough.
5) Increase my debt payments. Done!
6) Submit articles to at least four magazines by year end. Ouch. Didn’t do this. I submitted to one magazine, who almost used it, and then I flaked on the rest.
7) The minute I have health insurance, get to the dentist. Done. I never got health insurance, but I went to the dentist anyway, which was the point.
8) By the end of the year, two things:
a. Strategize how to eliminate the last of my loan debt Done, and working on it.
b. Begin preparing to buy a place of my own.Nope… but then, this goal has changed.

Not bad, given all that’s happened.

I know that, last year, I was not sure exactly where my relationship with G was going. I was too scared to really think about it. I think I knew I was in over my head with this guy, and was terrified of getting my heart broken again. I adopted a play-it-by-ear attitude with him. It turned out to be a good way to handle things. I simply lived for the happy times, and dealt with the difficult issues as they came up, resolved to be honest at all costs. This relationship has been like much of life – living to feel alive is much more satisfying than living to avoid death at all costs.

New Year’s Resolutions, 2006:

1) Pay down the rest of my debt. I’m so close. I know I can do this.
2) Submit articles to three magazines. JUST DO IT.
3) Have the gum surgery I’ve been putting off.
4) Graduate from school on time, with a 90+ average. (Apparently a lot of students graduate late, due to missed classes and clinic shifts. Not this Virgo.)
5) For April and May, double-pay my loan.
6) Go to some Karaoke nights. This not-singing thing has to stop.
7) Get my piano moved into this apartment.
8) Don’t fight with people I love. Be patient and understanding, but firm.
9) Get comfortable with not always being able to finish my lists.
10) TBA

So far, I have a four-day weekend in Chicago with my sisters planned for mid-May, and a one-week surprise vacation with G planned for June. (He won’t tell me where we’re going, hence the surprise.) I make the most of what little leisure time I have.

Things I would love to do, but know, due to my schedule and budget, I won’t be able to:

Attend some WYSIWYG shows.
Attend Moon Circles.
Attend Jess’s 40th birthday party. (I will call you though!)
Spend more time in Manhattan.
Visit friends anyplace other than my apartment.
Have long chatty late-night phone calls with loved ones.
See more movies.
Get smashingly, gloriously drunk.
Buy new clothes.
Hang with my cousins.

It’s ok. It’s only for seven more months. And it’s going to be a really great, challenging, fascinating, rewarding seven months.

A happy, blessed new year to all.

In other news:

Two tornadoes tore up my hometown a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty freaky for me, seeing the pictures of places I have been to thousands of times, with roofs off and trees down everywhere. I checked in with all my friends who still live there (except Zoom, because I just knew he was ok), and their families are all fine. My parent's house wasn't damaged. but it was a close call.

This was unusual. My hometown of Springfield, Illinois has a population of over 150,000. There is an established downtown. It's not a rural area, and usually the twisters go around it, or break up as the terrain changes. Granted, I grew up sleeping in basements from time to time, with major tornadoes blowing through every year, but this is the first time I can remember one blowing right through the middle of town, never mind two of them. There is a great deal of property damage, and a number of people were killed. It's still kind of hard to believe.

I won't be able to get home for a long time, and right now, I'm sorry for that.

Somehow, oddly, my bra cup size has increased from a B to a C. Nothing else about me has increased. Either my body thinks I'm pregnant, or I'm still adolescing. I'm sure it's the latter. I discovered this when I was bra-shopping about two weeks ago. For some reason I thought of MAK. I also thought of Mark, and how he'd love to photograph my cleavage and compare it to the photo from GB:NY two years ago. Ah, good times.

BTW, only a true fairy princess would think of her gay friends, rather than her husband, when bra shopping. Never doubt my love for you. Smooches.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Everyone's OK

But damn, there is going to be a LOT of cleanup back in the old hometown.

More later. Gotta get to class. Erin go Bragh.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Shabbat Shalom

This morning, G and I visited our local Reform Jewish synagogue. They had a small Saturday morning prayer service, which was quite lovely, and very intimate. About 14 of us, including the rabbi and canter, basically recited prayers and sang hymns, for, oh, maybe about 45 minutes or so. Really, that's it, just reading and singing prayers, some in English, most in Hebrew, from this little book. No big deal, especially since I'm pretty good with the Hebrew. (I bought G a Rosetta Stone "Learn Hebrew" CD for his birthday last October and have gone through a few lessons with him.) And I must admit, it was nice seeing G in a yarmulke, with a talis wrapped around his shoulders. It was really nice.

The whole experience was really nice. We sat together in this half-circle surrounded by people we didn't know, but who weren't unfriendly, and prayed. Simple. And also a surprisingly intimate experience with my husband-to-be. A couple of times I'd get lost, as my prayer book was well-used, and had some pages missing and out of order. He'd get me back on track and we'd stifle giggles. I was better with the Hebrew than we was. More giggle stifling. But there was a palpable feeling of connection between us, me seeing a part of him that few have seen, me sharing his faith with him, him actually practicing it, and us standing up as a couple in this place, with these people. It was all very profound.

Afterward, we met with the Rabbi for a nice long chat. We talked about my having been married to a Jewish man before, and my disappointment at the lack of religion and spirituality in our lives, and how I'd realized I needed a spiritual community in which to practice my faith, and a partner who felt the same. G smiled at me, and I blushed. We also talked of how I've been searching for the right way to define my faith, or the best path for me to follow. I spoke of my membership at the Unitarian Universalist church and my love of Moon Circling. We talked about the political problems between myself and my Christian family. We talked about feminism and the place of women in Reform versus Conservative Judaism. We talked about G and I wanting to raise Jewish kids, in a Jewish house, and my continuing struggle for identity. We talked of how I have been surrounded by Jewish friends and boyfriends for so many years, and how comfortable I felt with them, and how we seem to share so many common beliefs, spiritually and otherwise.

I mentioned that I had researched a lot of Jewish holidays, just because I thought they were cool, and felt a connection to the rituals. "I once did a Passover meal with my ex-Mother-in-Law," I said, "but since my divorce I've been researching Rosh Hashana, Chanukah, Tu B'Shevat, and Shavuot. I've also downloaded and learned a lot of Hebrew prayers for those specific holidays, and made some traditional ritual foods."

"You did this on your own?" the rabbi asked.

"Yeah..." I said. "I just liked them."

The rabbi told me a story. Some people say that, for some of those who are not raised in Jewish families, there is a latent Jewish spirit within them, which is reignited, like a flame, when they experience Jewish ways.

I bit my lip, fighting back tears.

I remembered in 2003, when I was part of the Weaver's group, and I wrote those songs, what my Jewish Weaver-Sister said to me at the time. One of the songs I wrote was very long, very epic, and very dramatic. I rocked back and forth with my eyes closed as I sang it. It was about the creation of the universe, the earth, the rise of humanity, the destruction of civilization, and the endurance and sort of rebirth of humanity. I heard an entire orchestra behind me as I wrote it, and as I sang it. The melody wandered in places, and there is some primitive wailing in parts. I was told, at the time I presented my song to the group, that the cadence of my voice and the movement of the melody sounded very Hebrew. My Jewish Weaver-Sister actually invited me to attend services at her temple, so I could hear what she was talking about. I've never heard Hebrew music before.

I never got a chance to attend services with her, but my interest was peaked. I got to know a Klezmer singer at my church, and we had a conversation about tribal music from various cultures.

I had placed those primitive vocalizations in my song because they simply felt right. I felt, at the time, that this was my Irish side, getting in touch with my roots. A lot of celtic singers wail and yodel, and this goes far back in Irish Traditional music. It’s a vocalization that seems to come from the depths of your soul. Native Americans have similar sounds, often uttered during prayer rituals. Apparently the Hebrews have the same thing, and Jewish music has never lost this traditional sound. The minor keys, the flipping back and forth between a few notes, the holding of certain notes over others… it’s the same mystical sound and feel to music that you hear in Gaelic and Native American sacred song.

I keep coming back to the connections between Ancient Judaism and the Celtic Pagan beliefs that I’ve so much enjoyed exploring over the last few years. Now I have a musical connection as well.

The rabbi seemed to glow with welcome. He is a soft-spoken man, appearing about my age. He has a wife and three small children. God is in everything he speaks of, but not in an offensive or pushy way. He told us he’d been sick recently – his voice rasped – and apologized for not shaking our hands. He said normally, he’d be hugging and kissing us in welcome. His face is round and smiley and his eyes are wide, like a child’s. I felt this was a good person for me to ask all my questions, and I think I did touch on every concern I have with Judaism, and how my life and my values and practices work with it.

Of course we couldn’t go in depth with everything, but it was a good, long talk. I have to say, the one thing I value most in the world is a good, long talk about important things with people from whom I can learn.

We’ll be meeting again.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What I'm Not Telling People


I thought several times about deleting this post, because it just seemed so whiny. It was therefore all the more heartening to receive such supportive comments and emails. Thank you all, for simply honoring my feelings.

And I think I should have a bachelorette party at Lucky Chang's.

The sad thing is that I can't call my girlfriends and bandy about wedding ideas, where to have this shin-dig, etc, or talk about how much I'm looking forward to finding a new apartment in 2007, or really enjoy being engaged. My girlfriends in New York are all single, and though they smile and hug me and try to be happy for me, I can tell they are holding back bitter, cutting comments, trying not to cry.

We have been able to console each other when times were tough, but they cannot celebrate with me. Nobody wants to be a bridesmaid... not in our thirties. It was fun in our twenties, but now it's a burden. It's a depressing reminder that none of us are as young as we once were, and being dateless has lost its sense of adventure. A twenty-year-old bridesmaid feels like a member of the in-crowd, excited to enjoy being single, believing they will still find love and happiness in the future.

I can't call my girlfriends in their thirties bitter, but they are jealous, and they hide it badly. I don't want to hurt them, so I avoid discussing G, or the wedding. I hide my left hand under the table until the food comes.

At the office, an married woman in her late forties congratulated me, and told me to enjoy this time, being the bride-to-be. She said it's special. So far, I'm finding it... lonely.

I know the women around me are happy for me, on one level. But they feel too sad for themselves - and justifiably so - to dress shop with me, or debate wedding locations over coffee, or discuss the meanings of colors and seasons and whether I should dye my hair. The real companionship is missing.

I feel robbed. And yet I understand. I am not a girl who wants to be envied. I want to be loved. I have never minded being unpopular, as long as I had friends. Now, suddenly, I feel like the prom queen... resented, envied, and shopping alone at the mall. Hearing about dinner parties I wasn't invited to. "We thought you'd be out with G."

Look at the ring, Ouiser. Think of G. Be grateful.

Be grateful.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I'll be back

Just busy.

Love you.