Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Blessings

Reconnecting with my first best gay friend ever, after a long absence. He still has perfect hair. He has no idea how propitious his reappearance in my life is right now, but I'm making damn sure he knows how glad I am of it.

My New Year's Eve dress, the first dress I've bought in two years, because I actually have someplace to wear it, and G deserves to squire me around in something he hasn't seen fifty times.

My Mom. We spent over an hour on the phone planning our Christmas menus, including extra desserts for later in the week that we'll make together.

Dr. Zoom, whose friendship warms my cold cold heart. See you and the missus in a few days!

Kathy, the sweet hometown girl who does my New Year's Eve mani/pedi every year when I'm in Springfield. She's the best ever. My nails don't chip for two weeks. She blocks out two whole hours for me, and we catch up on each other's lives. Then I read her palm. (There is SUCH an essay in this.)

My Temp Agent and her boss, who not only get me the best jobs ever, but call me on their personal time to make sure I'm happy with my last assignment.

My blogger friends, who pull me out of myself more often than they realize. Check the list to the right - they're all there. You people are incredible writers, incredible friends, and incredible people, capable of inspirational love. I'm a better writer because of all of you, and a more honest person. And probably have developed a higher alcohol tolerance.

Penny, Vic, Ally, and Grace, my classmates from Massage School, with whom I'm planning a study group in January for the Licensing Exam. along the same Vein, my shiatsu teachers were a blessing as well. One called me just the other day to say happy holidays, and that we all need to have a reunion drink-up. He's right. We damn well do need that.

Last but not least, G. My knight in button-down armor. I could fill volumes with all he's done for me, but this last thing he did for me today tops everything. I'll write about that seperately. He is the man my parents always hoped I'd meet. He's the man my Grandmothers prayed would come into my life. He's the man I never believed existed, until that day almost three years ago when I looked over at him, driving the car, and realized this was where I belonged - traveling side-by-side with this person, wherever life takes us. This is so much more than love. This is life.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Blues

I had a temp job last week (and today) at a nice little wine company in White Plains. The pay was crap but the people were nice, and at least I have a little something in my checking account.

I suffered through the flu last Thursday. It's lingering still. I was hardly able to keep food down on Sunday. This was especially awful since Sunday was Galpal's annual Christmas party, which I've been invited to every year for the last five or six years, but virtually never get to go because I'm out of town. This year I was planning to go - not only am I in town, but I have a date, and a car - but I got sick.

This upset me even more because I haven't seen Galpal in a year. An entire goddamn year. We hardly even talk anymore. I leave her voicemails, sometimes she leaves me one in return after I've left 2 or 3. I call her up sometimes and sing to her answering machine, just hoping it will make her smile. I know she's busy and gets stressed. She's in a Broadway show right now, understudying two leads. It's rough.

The truth is though, which I've been unwilling to acknowledge for a long time, is that galpal has been pretty much blowing me off for months, pleading her schedule.

I know her schedule. She knows mine. We could find the time for each other if we made it a priority, but I'm always afraid that if I push her to spend time with me, I'll just annoy her. I try to give her space.

Oh shit. Where have I heard this before?

I wish she'd make the time to just talk on the phone with me for a while. I think the reason I was so nauseous on Sunday was because I'd been trying to connect with her for days, regarding driving directions to her place (I've never been there by car) and parking suggestions, and she took so long getting back to me that I assumed she wasn't going to call at all. I was uber-stressed because I knew that G wasn't really up for going to a party, he was driving me to this one because he knew I wanted to see my friend. So, I wanted to at least get him decent directions and parking info, to make this less painful for him. God, the pressure, just trying to go to a stupid fucking party! No wonder I was nauseous all day.

At about 4, I bit the bullet, and called Galpal. I knew she was in the middle of a matinee, so I had to leave her another voicemail. I humbly apologized for canceling out of the party, and explained that I'd had the flu, and I was still sick and just couldn't go anywhere.

She called me back about 40 minutes later. She could tell from my voice when I answered the phone that I was sick. "Oh, Ouiser, you don't sound very good!" Apparently she hadn't listened to her voicemail. She was putting on makeup while she was talking to me. She was still at the show. I expressed my disgust at my ill health, and said it was good to just hear her voice.

"So, are you coming?" she asked.

I explained that I had left her a voicemail bowing out. I explained that I'd been feverish and fighting off the flu for several days. I mentioned that her parties are always great, and I was sure this one would be too, and I was sure she'd have a great time that night.

I was hoping to secure a phone date. "Isn't Monday your dark night?" I asked.

"yeah..." She said.

"Well, maybe I'll call you then. We need to have a good long talk and catch up!"

"Well, Monday night is the only night my husband and I have to do things, and we have A LOT of stuff to do, Christmas is coming."

I didn't know what to make of that response. "Well, are you going to be in Massachusetts with your parents, or in New Jersey with your in-laws on Christmas? Or will you be home?"

"I have ONE DAY to spend in Massachusetts with my family," she grumped.

"That's great! Maybe I could call you then? Just for a few minutes?"

"Ouise, it's gonna be really busy."

She's BLOCKING ME, I realized, my stomach churning. I didn't know what to say. Something froze inside me.

"Well," I finally said, "I'll keep trying."

She laughed. "Good, Weez. Thanks hon."

We hung up. I suddenly had a craving for ice cream. I satisfied it with yogurt.

I couldn't fall asleep that night. I cried into my pillow. Finally I went back to the living room, and called Lisa.

"Ouiser, sometimes people just grow apart," Lisa says, ever the sage.

"Well, this wasn't supposed to happen!" I sobbed. "Galpal and I have been through HELL together! When her old boyfriend left for LA! When she was dating that asshole from that other show! When she was miserable during her first year of marriage, because she and her hubby were a country apart! God, Galpal was there for me throughout the entirety of my marriage AND my divorce! I thought..." I blew my nose. "I thought this was special. Not just a friendship of convenience, like my other New York friendships were. I thought Galpal and I were really real friends."

Lisa just listened, and I raged on as quietly as I could, sobbing into my kleenex, while G snored behind the bedroom door. Together Lisa and I reviewed the demise of my friendships with Glamgirl and Wildgirl, my alienation from my church crowd, and Eric's sudden and abrupt departure from my life. All those cases were understandable. There were solid reasons why all those friendships had ended, and as much as it hurt, I've accepted them, and for the most part, let them go. But not Galpal. I couldn't let this one go so easily.

"Ten years of my life, Lisa, completely gone. I have no real friends left in my life who lived through my twenties with me. All those people I spent all that time with in the city - gone! Nobody remembers who I used to be. Who I was, when I was an opera singer, when I was a clubgirl. When I was..." When I was somebody, I thought. When I was exciting. Popular. Young. When I had the world by the balls. When it wasn't too late. When I still had dreams.

"Send Galpal a note," Lisa suggested. "Apologize again for missing the party, and stress how badly you really want to spend some time with her."

Subtext: Take the moral high ground. Lisa is great at that. I'm usually great at it too, but when I'm angry, like I was last night, I suck at it. I wasn't ready to hear that. I gritted my teeth, said nothing, and cried some more.

"I'm lonely, Lisa."

"Well," she said, "I know how that feels."

And she does. We have that in common. We both get very lonely, and ground down by depression. Lisa, however, unlike me, clams up and won't talk about it. Last night though, for the first time I can recall, she did talk about it with me, about being depressed. How immobilizing it can be. "Thank God for my husband," she said. "I don't know what I'd do without him."

We were on the phone until 2:30. Lisa took my mind off things by telling me about her pregnancy. She's seven months along, and things are going really well. She's a year older than me, and this is her first kid, so I was very encouraged to hear her stories. I needed that. Before we got off the phone, I thanked her for being there for me, again. She's my 2AM friend. At least, until she has the baby.

I crawled back into bed next to G. He rolled over and dropped an arm over me, this robotic appendage holding me a little too tightly. He made worried groaning sounds, and gently shook me, like a kid shaking a jar with a bug in it, worried that it might be dead. "It's ok, baby," I whispered.

he groaned again. Another shake.

"I'm ok, baby." I kissed him on the forehead. I could feel the worry wrinkles relaxing under my lips as I whispered comforting things. G eventually rolled back over and resumed his deep sleep. I followed soon after.

This morning, I couldn't concentrate on my work. I am devastated at the prospect of losing this close friendship with Galpal. I love her. I wanted her to be my maid of honor, but I am sure now that she will never be able to do such a job for me. She's busy.

Just like with Glamgirl, I've been making excuses for her for so long, defending her to people who ask me "what the hell kind of friend never calls you unless she just happens to be driving through your neighborhood? Or wants you to see her show?" I say, without a trace of bitterness, just honest, simple awareness, that's how it is, being friends with an actor. They don't see their own spouses very often, never mind friends. I can't expect her to make me a priority.

I can't expect to mean anything to her. Certainly nothing close to what she means to me.

G arrived home from work tonight to find me at the computer, trying to write this blog entry. He took me for a veggie burger at a local place where I know the waitress by first name, and she knows exactly what I'm going to order and how I like it. It made me feel at home. It made me feel like part of a community. Part of... something. Something friendly.

When we arrived home, we opened the mail. There was Galpal's annual homemade Christmas card, with pictures of her and her husband in scuba gear, their cats and dog. Inside is a pre-printed generic holiday letter detailing their various trips during the past year. The only thing handwritten is "Dear Ouiser and G" and "Happy Chrismakuh" or some such cutesy multi-holiday greeting.

I mailed my Holiday card to Mr. and Mrs. Galpal a few days ago. I handwrote how much I'd missed visiting them and that we needed to get together soon.

I wonder if I'll ever really talk to her again.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Meme

From Dalila's Blog:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Egg Nog at Christmastime. Hot Chocolate anytime.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Both, usually between 10:30pm and 2am.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White. And no goddamn blinking.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
At Home in Illinois, we have a plastic bunch from the 1970’s, that’s good enough. In my New York apartment, I don't need gimmicks to lock lips, especially when there's cocktails in the house.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
It’s a good year if they’re up before Christmas Eve. I leave them up for awhile though.

6. What is your favorite Christmas dish (excluding dessert)?
Mom’s yam bake, with pineapples and Marshmallows roasted on top.

7. Favorite Christmas memory as a child?
My cousins in Connecticut had a two-story tall tree. When I was four, I could walk underneath the lower branches without stooping over. I’d look up between the branches and see the star on top, and wonder how they got it all the way up there. Later, Grandma and Grandpa would secretly show me which presents under the tree were mine, and sneak me a piece of chocolate from my stocking.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I figured it out myself. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I genuinely believed in him, but I do remember noticing at a very young age, maybe five or six, that Santa’s handwriting was exactly the same as my Mom’s. I do remember wanting to believe. And I remember when my parents thought they were breaking it to me gently that he didn't exist. Idiots.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Christ no, is nothing sacred!?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
At home, we get real trees, usually about seven footers, and trim them with with homemade ornaments going back three generations, plus a few fancy ones that were gifts from loved ones. In my little New York Apartments, I have a small fake tree, and a much smaller selection of ornaments.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
I like it if I don’t have to be out in it.

12. Can you ice skate?
Quite well, actually. I wish I went more often.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
White roller skates with red laces and red wheels! I was about 10 or 11, and I wore them until rollerblades were invented.

14. What is your favorite Christmas Dessert?
Tough call. Mom’s pumpkin pie is awesome, but give me a plate of my special homemade Christmas cookies and I’m in heaven. I make several kinds every year.

15. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

16. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
They’re good if you stir your hot cocoa with them.

17. What tops your tree?
At home, we have an angel from the 1970’s with a plastic head, and an olive green felt-and-cardboard skirt. She sits sideways on top of the tree, and always looks drunk. At my apartment, I use a six-pointed silvery plastic snowflake, which is my attempt at multicultural kitsch.

18. Which do you prefer -- Giving or Receiving?
I just wish I had more money to send people things. I feel guilty as hell sometimes. Not to mention that so many gifts seem compulsory. Someone gave me something, so if I don't give them something I'll look, well, gauche, I suppose. But really, who doesn't love getting stuff? And "stuff" doesn't have to be wrappable - a surprise visit or a long phone call is often the best present ever. So I like both, but have problems with the whole fucking concept, really. GOD, THE PRESSURE.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
No way could I pick just one. I listed a bunch of them here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Song List 2006

I confess, I'm a sucker for Christmas Music. Next to my Mom's cooking, it's the best thing about this time of year.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm obsessing over "Merry Christmas Baby" from the Very Special Christmas Live in DC album, sung by Sheryl Crow with Eric Clapton's kickin' pickin'. Thank the goddess for the soundproofing in this apartment building, or my neighbors would surely be calling for my eviction by now.

However, on a more civilized note, I've also got "The Blizzard" by Judy Collins in regular rotation. If you've never heard this song, I order you to get it right now, on iTunes or MusicMatch or at your local record store, off an album called "All on a Wintry Night." It's incredible. I cried the first time I heard it, and I soar everytime I sing it... although I'll never sing it like Judy. No one will.

The rest of my list:
Jingle Bell Rock - Gene Autry
Christmas Time is Here - Dianne Reeves
Sweet Little Jesus Boy - John Gary
Home for the Holidays - Perry Como
Santa Claus is Back in Town - Elvis Presley
O Holy Night - Mario Lanza
Please Come Home for Christmas - Jon Bon Jovi
Still, Still, Still - Mannheim Steamroller
Sleigh Ride - the Boston Pops (Arthur Fielder conducting)
Christmas in Killarney - Bing Crosby
I'll Be Home For Christmas - Bing Crosby
Silver Bells - Bing Crosby & Carole Richards (My parents have this LP)
The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

And - as Dr. Zoom so wisely reminded me!
Merry Christmas Darling - the Carpenters
- (I once wrote a birthday song to this tune for an uber-cool Pisces friend of mine)

Monday, December 04, 2006

So much I need to do, so much I could say...

But all I want to do today is listen to "Merry Christmas Baby" (the Eric Clapton/Sheryl Crow version) over and over and over and over. And again.

Merry Christmas Baby,
You sure been good to me
I haven't had a drink this mornin'
But I'm lit up like a Christmas Tree

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Massage Job Interview

Not sure if I mentioned, but I had my first massage job interview - called an "audition - a week ago Monday. I did well, but I'm still at student level, and the place I auditioned for wants seasoned professionals. It was good to see exactly where I fall short on that scale though. Now I know the specific things I need to perfect to make people think I've been doing this for years.

Seriously though, the best part of it was that the owner of the place (who I massaged) told me that I have great hands, I'm very strong, I make a great connection, and I have great intuition, that I can find all the problems (like knots and such) and work them out. All I really need is some finessing - apparently my initial approach and end of session retreat were jarringly abrupt. That I can work on.

I may have an opportunity for some private mentoring before I get licensed. I hope so - I think it would make all the difference.

So: the studying begins. Licensing exam on January 25th.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDs Day

World AIDs Day
Originally uploaded by MzOuiser.
No links, just a quiet prayer for those living with HIV and AIDs, and hope that the seach for the cure will continue to be funded, valued, and successful.