Tuesday, August 22, 2006

See, here's the thing:

If I write about my sore muscles and my fatigue and my frustrating Shiatsu class that I'm completely not getting and the first test in 20 years that I've failed and the upcoming practical and my nervous breakdown in class last Saturday morning and my job where the entire department is rendered powerless and my job has heavier responsibilitites than ever but I'm not making any more money and my friend who works here is leaving in two weeks for a job in Manhattan and I'm so jealous my stomach cramps thinking about it and my graduation from school is one day before the day I need to have all my paperwork into the State of New York so I can sit for the licensing exam and I have to do nine clinic shifts in two months and I'm going to have to do double-shifts to fit them all in by graduation and I am shaking like an epileptic every time I have to give a massage and I just want to get married and stop the temping but my student loan payments are kicking in and I still have to get a car next year and have a baby before I'm 40 and...

Well, that would be a distraction from my awesome new birthday iPod and new birthday cell phone with the camera in it and the drink-up G is throwing for me at a Karaoke bar in Elmsford this Friday night and my new iTunes account and my snazzy new cameraphone and how extra-snuggly my cat has been lately and the amazingly delicious Chocolate Chunk Crunch Coffee Coolers I get almost every evening from the Java Cafe down the street from school and my funny classmates that I get to work with and my near-perfect scores in Neurology and Advanced Anatomy & Physiology and my Certification cards coming in the mail for CPR and First Aid and my upcoming appointment with my long-lost Sylist Peter for a day of glam on my birthday and the 10 or so people who have already responded to the Evite G sent for my party and I can't wait to sing Karaoke with them and the simple joy of having G to snuggle up to at night and the exhilaration of driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge in the convertible with the top down and the beaded jeans I'm going to wear to my party and the wedding dresses I'm hoping to try on next spring.

And really, that second paragraph is just so much better than the first.

There is a LOT more going on in my life besides my birthday, but right now, I prefer not to focus on it. It will all still be there in a few weeks.

So I'll be back in a little while.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Birthday Nano!

Birthday Nano!
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
So, now I have to get iTunes. Will my 2000 mp3s that I already have still play?

This is going to be a FUN afternoon! Oh, how I love my baby.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pirates are the Thing This Year

Arrr Ye Buyin?
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
My first birthday present of 2006. My birthday's not until the 26th, but I'm already feeling over-the-hill vibes. 35 is rougher than I thought it would be.

And I really need to see Johnny Depp in his pirate outfit. Me timbers is shiverin' already.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Film at 11

From yesterday’s New York Times:

This movie has nothing to say about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda or jihad. That comes later.

In the Sept. 11 of “World Trade Center,” feeling transcends politics, and the film’s astonishingly faithful re-creation of the emotional reality of the day produces a curious kind of nostalgia. It’s not that anyone would wish to live through such agony again, but rather that the extraordinary upsurge of fellow feeling that the attacks produced seems precious. And also very distant from the present. Mr. Stone has taken a public tragedy and turned it into something at once genuinely stirring and terribly sad. His film offers both a harrowing return to a singular, disastrous episode in the recent past and a refuge from the ugly, depressing realities of its aftermath.

I first saw the previews for this film at the Palisades Center Mall theatres. I don't remember what G and I were there to see - they have all been pretty forgettable. As the images flashed before me on the enormous screen, and the dusty faces of the men began to speak, I sat like a stone in my seat, my stomach ice cold. "This isn't right. They can't do this," I whispered to G. "It's too soon." G murmured something that sounded like agreement mixed with discomfort.

The review makes me want to see it, which is more than I can say about most films these days. I've always loved Oliver Stone's work, but this...

September 11th is still so fresh in my mind. It's in the past, but my memories evoke such emotion that I simply choose not to think about it too often. I can, however, still tell you everything I did that day, every thought that ran through my mind, and every person I spoke with. There's a timeframe of events seared into my mind, beginning with the moment I first learned of the horror transpiring just 90 blocks from me, and ending about a year or so later.

I'm lucky that it's a year or so. I'm lucky that the events did not touch my life as personally as it touched others. This is the overwhelming fact that still grips me - how lucky I was. None of my loved ones were harmed. I was not harmed. I think, in a subtle, yet important way, this realization changed my life. I certainly have done a lot of things differently since then. I have seen myself differently, and looked at life and the choices before me differently.

I went through a time where I said that the destruction of the towers and the deaths of thousands of people didn't affect me on the deep level that it seemed to affect so many others. I was wrong. I was just too numb to feel it. I have that problem at lot.

I said when I saw the previews that I didn't think I'd be seeing this movie, but I wonder if it wouldn't be good for me. I wonder if re-living those days, after five years of my own internal processing, might inspire something in me. Might I find a new sense of courage? Might my gratitude deepen even more?

What's the worst that could happen? I'll waste another $10 on a bad film? Get outraged, eviscerate it in my blog? Complain to everyone about it? That happens all the time. Bad films about sacred subjects have been done before. I'll get over it, and so will the world.

I'd rather take the chance that something inside me will be awakened. That I won't be numb anymore. That I might finally be able to shed something, that thick old skin, that dura mater over my tenderest sensibilities. That all the realizations and changes and revelations and heartbreaks and resurrections I've gone through over the past few years have restored something in me, something that will let me feel with all of my being, accept completely, mourn honestly, release with love, and step forward into the world with a renewed joy of living.

That's probably expecting too much from a movie. But...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Neal's Gift

A week ago last Sunday, my friend Neal passed away. He was less than 60 years old.

I say my friend because he was someone I knew reasonably well, who I liked and admired and respected. He was part of my church group. We never really hung out or anything, but I had once visited him and his wife at their home, and walked their dog for them.

When I moved out of the neighborhood almost two years ago, I didn't really say goodbyes to anyone, as I knew I'd be popping into church from time to time. We'd see each other eventually.

Somehow, almost two years have passed, and I have not seen or talked to pretty much anyone from that group, except for those rare occasions when I make it into the city for a service – usually because I’ve been asked to sing. We’d catch up over coffee hour, exchange hugs and kisses, and never hear from each other again until several months later. Rinse, repeat. It doesn’t seem like much, but it mattered. We all take our little community for granted.

I never really imagined never seeing these people again. And now Neal is gone.

I didn't go to the funeral. It was on a Wednesday, and I had to work, of course. I had two days notice, which really isn’t enough to ask for a day off, especially when it’s not a family member’s funeral. My Piano Man friend, however, works evenings, so he was asked to play the music for the funeral. He called me to discuss song ideas. Neal’s wife had requested all Beatle’s songs. “In My Life” was a given. I suggested “The Long and Winding Road.”

Neal was a songwriter himself, and had composed hundreds of poems and songs. That was one thing we’d had in common, a love of music. I remembered the time I’d visited them, sipping tea in the living room, and Neal had played me a tape-recording of a beautiful love song he’d written for his wife. He and I seemed to be kindred spirits in that way. I remembered talking to him once about the torch songs I’d written over the years for various lost loves in my life. Neal had taking his writing that one step further, and gotten someone to play and record his songs for him. Something I’ve never made the effort to do.

Neal was living with encephalitis for a considerable number of years. I never knew this until after he’d passed. I never asked. I always felt that the nature of his illness was his business, and that it would have been intrusive for me to ask. I’d imagined he might have had MS, due to his gait, or possibly had suffered a stroke, as his speech was labored, and there was significant tremor in his hands. Encephalitis never would have occurred to me. Encephalitis attacks the central nervous system directly, and usually causes very sudden death. Somehow, Neal and his wife must have been able to manage it, medically or otherwise. I suppose I should have been foreseen that Neal might pass away at a relatively young age, but he always seemed so vibrant… so full of life.

His relationship with his wife was beautiful. Their love was completely tangible. I remember them sitting side-by-side in church, almost snuggling in the pew. They had an ancient Springer Spaniel named Needles, who passed away a few years ago, after which they adopted a Cocker Spaniel puppy. I can only imagine the laughter in that house, with such an energetic pup. They were such a family, Mr. and Mrs. Neal and their dogs, and such a special part of our church family.

When Piano Man called me with the news of Neal’s death, I didn’t process it right away. I was shocked, but so distracted with the extraordinarily hectic day I was having that the news didn’t really sink in. It took me days to process it. And when I finally began to understand what happened, I cried.

I just wish it hadn’t been in the middle of a Shiatsu class.

(To be continued…)