Stick a Fork in Me, I’m Done. 

There is a big difference between giving it your all and giving it all up. Between changing gears and changing your mind. Between throwing your hat in the ring and throwing in the towel. I can never seem to quite figure out when it’s the right time or what the right choice is. I spent 7 years of college and a smattering of years in LA being an actress. I got my cosmetology license in California. I took an intensive class in wall finishing years ago and I started my jewelry business in 2012. I’m good at a lot of &$^*%, and great at nothing. Or, to put a more positive spin, I have a bunch of different passions and it really doesn’t matter to anyone how good I am at any of them. As long as I love doing them. Do I? Believe it or not, That is a very tough question to answer. I knew almost immediately that not only did I not love doing hair, but I wasn’t particularly good at it. I moved to NY, let my California license lapse and never looked back. I did an entire foyer wall in my apartment in different finishes and loved doing it. Haven’t touched any of the crap since. I walked away from acting for 20 years until I started doing local theatre just for fun and couldn’t be happier. And my jewelry business? I have given that much more time and money than most endeavors. I have dragged my tent, my displays and my mother from this fair to that festival, with only moderate results, always blaming the high price and the uniqueness of my work and the venue for my slow sales. Labor Day weekend I finally got accepted at the New Paltz-Woodstock Arts Festival. I was sure that I was going to sell, sell, sell! This was a big deal. And people came to buy, buy, buy! But not from me. I sold a few things. I covered the booth fee. But not the gas, or the hotel or the food. And on the third day, as I listened to other vendors crowing about their “best day ever”s and tried to keep the tears from rolling down my face, I was done. I can not do one more of these fairs. I no longer have the desire to pump money and time into venues that no longer make sense. It makes me feel bad. Plain and simple. And if it makes me feel bad, why am I doing it? I love the creative process. Acting, singing, writing, taking a flat piece of metal and beating it into submission. Am I great at all of it? Meh. But I love it. Because it’s an expression of me. Not to stock up for a show that I could care less about. A good friend of mine brought her husband to New Paltz, and he said my jewelry belongs on Madison Avenue. Har. Maybe some day. Maybe I will take the time to improve my skills, to figure out how to say what I want in a way that people will want to hear. Maybe I’ll just do it because it’s fun. Maybe I will just take the time to figure out how to fail without being a failure. To get back up when I fall. Because there is a difference between getting up and giving up.

Red-Headed Woman Talks to Herself

carynjune

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Let the Sun Shine

The thing I’m finding about getting older, is that I don’t feel older inside. For a moment let’s put aside the obvious. The arthritis in my knees, the bunions, the humps, the bumps, the odd little lumps. The spare tire, the grey hair, the batwings under my arms. Let’s ignore the fact that although, according to those who feel the need to give an opinion, I don’t look nearly 60, not one of those people have said I look like I’m in my 30’s or even my 40’s. Inside, in my head, I feel exactly the same as I did in high school. This is a double-edged sword. While I’m sure the fact that I’m embracing my inner child is great, the inability to let that child put on a pair of big-girl panties once in a while, not so much. I remember sitting in my bedroom in Syosset when I was in high school, listening to The Beach Boys, daydreaming about all the boys I had crushes on, creating elaborate fantasies about how they would finally see how gorgeous I was and drop their girlfriends to ask me out. (Spoiler alert: Didn’t happen). Now, I’ve grown up enough to look back and see that I was as cute as anyone else, but I couldn’t see it. Still can’t. It was and is as much a fantasy as the ones I created in my head. The ones I still create. They’re a little different 40 years later, but they still live only in my head. I am a great actress, I am rich, I am thin, I have the best hair ever, celebs are wearing my jewelry, I travel all over the world, I am going to live forever. Ok, no one lives forever. That really is just a fantasy. The others? Doable. But only if I let them out of my head. There is no dream that can survive locked up in one’s brain. It’s dark and cramped and windowless. Dreams and goals need air, and light, and life. Dreams are what keep us young. Dig ’em up, brush ’em off. Let them see the sun, and dance under the moon. Live forever.
Red-Headed Woman with Beehive Howls at the Moon. From the Red-Headed Woman Series
carynjune

Ima Just Hold my Breath ’till I Get What I Want. 

I took the day off today. Again. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to go see my PCP so I could get a referral for physical therapy. Which, BTW, I already have from the doctor who did my  surgery. But, no I need one from my PCP, who won’t give it to me without a visit. A $60 visit. I have not shed a single tear since I fell. But yesterday, dealing with the red tape blankety-blank b%•*^#t, I became a bit of a blubbery mess. I than went home and ate an entire box of Skinny Cow ice cream bars. Sidebar: Have you ever actually seen a skinny cow? No. No you have not. I wish I could say that it was a rough day, and one day isn’t going to derail my otherwise healthy habits. (Spoiler alert: can’t.)  You’ve all heard the saying, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”? I had coffee with my wise friend, Gila. She is a great sounding board, because she does not tolerate bullshit. She knows what her priorities are, and will not budge on making sure her needs are met. Whatever sacrifices there may be, she is willing to pay the price to keep herself healthy and vibrant. I can picture myself, healthier, leaner, able to dance my way through my vintage years. It’s like Alice looking through the Looking Glass. The healthy me is downward dogging on the other side while the me on this side is rolling around in jellybeans. Am I using my injury as an excuse to do absolutely nothing? Without a doubt. I’ve been playing this game my entire life. There’s always something else l have to do that keeps me from doing what I know is good for me. Oh, crap, I was gonna go to the gym, but I have to eat this donut instead. It’s a running joke at work. When I go off the rails, I really go off the rails. It’s hilarious. Until it’s not. So, what’s next? I don’t quite know how to answer that. I know what I’d like to say. That’s it, enough. I’m going to commit to the things that will make me healthy, physically, emotionally, financially. But I think I will say nothing. After a while it’s like listening to Charlie Brown’s mom. “Wha wha wha wha.” So for now, Ima just hold my breath….


Calaveras 

carynjune

From Where You Came

Remember that old Joni Mitchell song “Circle Game”? It’s a poignant song about growing up, growing old, how as a child we are in such a hurry to be older, but as we age all we want is to slow time. Too young? Hate Joni Mitchell? Never heard it? Go listen to it. Yes, now. I’ll wait. Beautiful, no? Even as a young person, that song gave me a stomachache. I remember wanting to be 13, 18, 21. Wanting to grow up so my real life could start. But even then, my fear of being old, of dying? That was something that got swept under the rug. Locked away in a little box in my head. Not gonna think about it. Nope. Never gonna happen. And now, I’ll be 60 on my next birthday. My husband will be 70. We’re dealing with social security and Medicare and menopause. Friends are welcoming grandchildren. Celebrating silver wedding anniversaries. Dying. I feel in my heart the same as I did when I was 30. But my body’s got other plans. Night sweats, sleeplessness, dizziness. Arthritis, bifocals, gas, poor balance. I’m so afraid of being old and sick, I am making myself old and sick. I’m so busy pretending that I’ll never die, (Spoiler alert: will), I’m ignoring the things that might keep me stronger, that will help me live longer, be happier. Simple stuff that anyone with two brain cells to rub together has been doing all along. Exercise. Eat well. Manage stress. How hard is that? Hard. It’s hard. Very. Very. Hard. I have always lived my life in the peaceful village of Someday. Someday I’ll stop eating so much sugar. Someday I’ll go back to the gym. Meditate. Clean my closet. Big Spoiler Alert. There are never as many Somedays as we would hope. I want my days to be joyous. I want to dance and act and sing. To dream and laugh. Travel and learn and create. Until I’m old. Very old. So I guess I’ll have to accept the fact that the face in the mirror isn’t as smooth as it once was, but I do not have to accept the things I can control. I may be wrinkled. I may be completely grey under the Nice and Easy, but I can still be strong and healthy and gorgeous. I just have to want it enough to work a little harder. And to surrender the fear. Worrying doesn’t prevent bad things from happening. It just makes you less prepared when they do. 

The Other Half of the Orange
Reticulated Silver, Wrinkled and Gorgeous

carynjune 

Um. Ow. 

I fell last week. It’s not the first time I’ve stumbled over a crack in the sidewalk, but this time, I landed in the hospital with a broken wrist. My right wrist. Surgery and everything. The first few days home, I was suffused with anxiety. Fortunately, I’m not in any real pain, and have foregone the Percocet the doctor prescribed because a) I don’t need it, and b) being anxious and a drug addict? Terrifying. As I get older I seem to have lost the grasp of the idea of impermanence. I get a stomach bug, Vertigo, or break my #%^*ing wrist, and I can’t see the end. Or rather, I see the end. Decrepitude and Death. I’ve spent the last couple of days watching old Friends re-runs, muttering to myself, “She doesn’t have a broken wrist, He doesn’t have a broken wrist. Look at that beautiful ponytail! She doesn’t have a broken wrist.” I’m starting to hurt myself with my fingernails, I look like Medusa, and I spent 10 minutes this morning trying to open the bag inside a box of Raisin Bran, something I suck at with two hands. I’ve taken deep breaths, meditated, had quiet, non-judgemental conversations with my bat-crap crazy self. I bought ugly Banana clips so I could make a one-handed ponytail, even one stuck in the 90’s. Spoiler alert. Can’t. But throughout this whole thing, two things have become clear. Neither of them surprising, but lost in the hubbub of life. One of the things my surgeon told me was that the bones in my wrist were weak. WTF??!!! The only scenario that conjures up is increasing falls, walking with a walker, decrepitude and death. No. No. Hell, No. I’m gonna have to take better care of these bones. I am going to get older, but what makes me believe if I ignore it and do nothing, it will go away? Spoiler alert. Won’t. I immediately ran out and bought calcium gummies, Vitamin D3 gummies, and Vitamin C, um, gummies. Ok, don’t judge me. I did calf raises, and light weights with my left hand and I swore when this was all over, I would go back to the gym I pay for and can see from my house. The second thing that I was reminded of was the immense love my husband has for me. He slept in a chair in my hospital room the night after my surgery. He has cooked, shopped, opened bottles, put on my bra, clipped my fingernails, put my hair in a ponytail. And still thinks I’m beautiful. There is really only one person who will keep me strong and change the future. That’s me. But there will be someone supporting me, encouraging me and loving me while I get strong, and catching me when I fall. Two halves of an orange that together make one lumpy, bumpy, perfectly imperfect orange. 

The Other Half of the Orange

carynjune 

Buh-Bye

Tracy Quartermaine is leaving General Hospital. And I am sobbing. Tracy Quartermaine is a fictional character on a soap opera and I am wailing. “No, Tracy Quartermaine, please don’t leave us! You’re breaking my heart!” To say goodbyes aren’t my strong point is an understatement. Guess what? Nobody likes goodbyes. A good friend’s mother passed away in Trinidad this week. The rituals following the funeral take two weeks. In Mexico, its nine days. In the Jewish religion, there is the seven day mourning period known as Shiva. We all have an extended mourning period to say good bye. We need that time to come to terms with absence and loss and change. And this doesn’t only apply when a loved one passes away. I recently finished the second production with the Community Synagogue Theatre Company. Since the last curtain came down, we have had an adult cast party, a cast dinner, an upcoming cast gathering to view the video, countless Karaoke nights, and a girls night out to say goodbye to one of our loved ones who is moving away. We adore each other. We miss each other. We can’t believe we are not going to see each other three times a week for eternity. But the days pass, and we get together less, and we work and plan vacations and deal with children and honor commitments and live life. Until the next time, when we will squeal, and embrace and scoop up children who have grown six inches in the last year and start all over again. Life will always include goodbyes. Some are temporary. Some are not. The trick is to not look back and be sad for what is gone, but to be grateful for what was here, to embrace what is happening now, and hopeful for what will come. Thanks for the memories, Tracy Quartermaine. 


Looking Back

carynjune 

The 4 (Thousand) Questions 

During the Passover Seder, the youngest capable child asks the four questions. Why is this night different than any other night? Why on other nights, do we eat chametz and matzo, but on this night only matzo? Why, on other nights, do we eat all vegetables, on this night only bitter herbs? Why on other nights, do we not dip vegetables even once, on this night we dip them twice. Why on other nights do some eat sitting, and some reclining, but on this night, we all recline? (I know, technically 5 questions). This is followed by a long answer involving sons, plagues, scholarly rabbinical commentary and multiplying fingers of G-d. A narrative that can be long and complicated and doesn’t really answer the questions. Not unlike life itself. A lot of questions, not many answers. It starts when we are babies, just learning to speak. “Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to wash my hands? What’s that? When is this new baby sister going back to her real mommy and daddy? What’s that? What’s that? Why? Why? But WHY?” It’s adorable. Until it isn’t. As we get older, we screen ourselves. We don’t want to appear nosy, rude, intrusive, uninformed, stupid. Worst of all, stupid. So we keep our mouths shut, we don’t ask  questions, we don’t ask for what we need, we stumble around tripping over our own feet when all we have to do is ask someone where the %^*#ing light switch is. Well, I have some questions. 

  • Am I ever going to sleep again?
  • Why do fools fall in love?
  • What is that thing growing in my belly button?
  • Why is the broken escalator always going up?
  • Where the ^*%•*are the socks that keep disappearing from the laundry?
  • What the hell is my husband taking about?
  • Why do I say, “oy” every time I get up?
  • What is jackfruit?
  • What in G-d’s Green Acres is going on in my lady parts?
  • Why, after almost 60 years of seders, did I have to google what the 4 questions are in English?
  • Will the person who took my body and replaced it with my mother, please return it? No questions asked. 
  • How likely is it that that thing growing in my belly button grew around a cheese doodle crumb?
  • Why doesn’t everyone think like me?
  • Why aren’t jellybeans a fruit?
  • Who let the dogs out?
  • Why am I here?
  • What am I supposed to be doing?
  • Can I get a do-over?
  • How do I get to someday?
  • Why can’t someday be today?
  • Why?
  • Why?
  • But, WHY?

I know, still adorable. 

Like the Passover Haggadah, it’s all in the interpretation. We were slaves in Egypt, now we’re not. Thanks, G-d. Sometimes the endless questions are frustrating, sometimes though, it’s just another puzzle to solve. Another game. Who doesn’t like games? No, really, who? Really? But, WHY?On the Fence

carynjune