A couple of days ago at a Sisterhood Gala, I was sitting with a couple of my favorite women, all of whom had been involved in the production of Bye Bye Birdie I did earlier this year. We’re getting ready for auditions for the next show, The Music Man. As we’re chattering on about how excited we all are to be doing this together. I admit to be being a little nervous. Last time I had no interest in auditioning. I hated the show, I hadn’t acted in 20 years, and even after I was coerced into it, I knew which part I wanted and if I didn’t get it, Thanks, but No Thanks. This year, I know how sad I would be not to be involved, how much I would miss working with this group. So when they ask on the audition form if I would take an ensemble part, my first reaction is, “Are you mad?!?! I am a professional! I am an actor! I don’t do ensemble! Wait, are you implying there is someone better at the role I want than I?!?!?” Then I stop for a second. I’m so busy worrying about what part I get, that I’ve lost sight of the complete and utter joy the experience was. Not just because I rediscovered my acting chops. Because I became a part of a family. I got to play with some of the best people I’ve ever met. and truthfully, nobody cared what part I played. It’s too easy to define ourselves by our successes, how good we look to others. Guess what. Everyone is too busy living their own lives to care about what I do for a living, how much weight I gained, what part I get in The Music Man. Every piece of the universe has its worth. Its success. It’s reason to applaud. And the real success is becoming part of something completely unexpected. So, yes, I would take a part in the ensemble. But I can’t promise I won’t be a bit of a diva about it.
Broken Glass Series, “Starburst”
I, like so many of my friends and family have spent the last 4 days with a giant stone in my stomach, on the verge of constant tears, numb, disbelieving. I have scoured social media, cried along with, raged along with, signed petitions, open letters, shows of support for those more vulnerable than I. And said nothing. I have been left virtually speechless. I had no shortage of things to say in the months leading up to the election, but now. I could not speak. I could not share. I could not rage. I could only sit and try to figure out what I was supposed to do now. I was in mourning, yes. Denial? Most certainly. But, here’s the truth, barring an electoral college miracle, this person is our next president. And while many of his supporters are not racist, bigoted, hideous people, many of them are. So here’s what I am going to do. I am going to take really good care of myself, because I will need my strength to fight whatever crap comes my way. I will give my time and whatever limited resources I have to fighting for and standing with those whose rights are in jeopardy. I will hug my family and friends a little bit tighter. I cannot change the outcome of this election, but I will create, because as Toni Morrison said, that is how we heal. I am only one person. But there are many more out there just like me and together, like the dust, we rise.
*But Still I Rise-Maya Angelou
Woman Praying Jewelry
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I have become a maniac. One of those crazy people screaming about politics and candidates and ranting at opposing views because they are wrong! Wrong!!! I have never been remotely interested in politics, and I kept what I believed, for the most part, to myself. This election has made me a lunatic. Aside from the anxiety, the irritability, the sleeplessness, I find myself arguing with total strangers on Facebook. I’m so completely certain of the right and wrong of this particular battle that I refuse to allow others their own opinions, their own certainties. Which, if you think about it makes me a part of the problem, not the solution. I know I’m not alone in this rage and fear. I see the arguments, the unfriending, the prickly confrontations all over social media. Some are respectful when they ask others to keep their confrontational responses to their own timelines. Me, I’m cussing and swearing and making sure anyone who isn’t on my side knows that they are full of @*#%! I admit, I’m finding it a little difficult not to be completely pissed when people don’t see things the way I do. People I know. People I like. People who have their reasons and their beliefs and the right to vote however they please, and I will just have to respect that.
Nope. Can’t do it. Dudes. You’re wrong. I’m right.
I’m wearing a maternity top. I didn’t know that it was a maternity top when I found it in the sale rack at Target, or when I tried it on and thought, “so cute, I’m definitely buying this”. I just thought “I’m buying a really cute top for 11 bucks! Schweet! ” It wasn’t until I was hanging it up in my closet that I saw the Liz Lange Maternity label. This was cause for pause. When I was rifling through the racks, I came upon another very cute shirt, but I saw the label and thought, “Maternity?! No f&@#^in’ way I am wearing a maternity shirt! Gotta draw the line somewhere!” But now I’m home in my pjs and I’m looking at this reaaallly cute top, and I have no desire to go back to Target in an irate snit because they are mixing maternity in with regular and it’s their f&@^%#*in’ fault I can’t tell the difference! So, I hang it up. And this morning I put it on. And it’s still cute, although I’m a little ticked off that it’s not particularly loose on me. Shouldn’t it be really loose around the middle since I’m not pregnant!!?? WTF?!?! Of course, after I’m done cussing and swearing, I realize that as I have gotten, vintage, (see what I did there?), I have developed quite the spare tire around my middle, and although I’m at a weight that I have been at before in my life, the body itself, this squat round, lumpy figure? Clearly belongs to someone else. Seriously. Come and get it. And if you will return the body I used to have, no questions asked, all will be forgiven. Things change. I mean, we all look at our elders and see the wrinkles, the walkers, the grey hair. We understand in an oblique way that things change. But no one really talks about the less obvious stuff. The skimpy eyelashes. The disappearing chin. The gas. The lack of sleep. The ridiculousness going on in our lady parts. People, it’s a war zone down there!! These are the things no one tells you about. I dare you to open a medicine cabinet of some one over 55 and NOT see a tube of Preparation H. Don’t let those proud, wise, elders fool you. Getting older is one humiliating indignity after another! I for one, am PISSED!
But. I don’t sleep alone on the subway. I don’t wake up every morning wishing I hadn’t. I don’t pray every night to get well, to spare my loved one, to give me a reason to go on. I am healthy, I am loved, I am safe. I laugh, I create, I belong. Life is a series of give and takes, and if a spare tire is the only thing I have to bitch about right now, I am blessed.
Since my dad died in 2013, I have been going to the memorial service on Yom Kippur. It seems every year it gets more crowded, parking gets more elusive, as more and more of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles leave us. It feels like an assembly line. We move along, freshly manufactured little ones joining the line as the elders fall off at the end, packaged, sealed and shipped off to whatever comes next. And sometimes, there is a hitch in the system, and we fall off long before our time. Alcoholism, cancer, suicide, heart disease. I have always been convinced that as the world will cease to exist after I am gone, I will never die. And if I do, I will be 120 and I’m taking you all with me. I admit that this is completely childish and self-absorbed. Don’t care. Neener neener. A very dear friend of the family lost her long fight with breast cancer recently. I was shocked at how heartbroken I was. More so than when I lost my dad. How could that be? I came to understand that my dad was 85, had rarely been sick a day in his life, and had a heart attack while reaching for a slice of pizza. Could there be a better way to go? A greater gift to his family? I miss him everyday, but it was his time. Those who leave us young, especially after fighting so hard to live, those are the endings that break our hearts. That crush our spirit. Make us question our faith and the rightness of the world. Interestingly enough, this friend of ours, at least outwardly, never lost faith, never let her spirit get trampled, never let the world hear her cursing G-d, never asked why me? Oh, I’m sure she did all of that and more in private, but through it all, she fought and kept smiling. She cherished the life she had, even when she was tired and in pain. Does it take a crisis to appreciate our lives? We bitch and moan and whine about our jobs, our money, our bad hair days. Long commutes, short weekends, numerous obligations. We’re too fat, too thin, hate our noses. In Mexico they celebrate Días de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. They set up shrines to loved ones with marigolds and sweets and their favorite food and drink. They take food and drink and music to the cemetery and spend whole days there, celebrating the lives of the departed. It’s beautiful and fun and colorful and spectacular. But wouldn’t it be nice if we celebrated our lives while we were still alive instead of waiting for someone else to do it when we aren’t. Every day the conveyor belt moves closer to whatever awaits us. Celebrate. Smile. Laugh. Eat the cake. Dance. Create. Work hard. Play hard. Love hard. Spend whole days with your loved ones, eating their favorite food and drink while they are still here. Because tomorrow? Who knows?Dia de Los Muertos
I am a whistler. A hummer. A mumbler. A grumbler. A natterer. A chatterer. A twitterer. A chitterer. A babbler. A gabbler. A warbler. A gabber. A jabber-jaw. A gabbler. A gibberer. A jabberer. A twaddler. A twiddler. A gasbag. A windbag. A yakker. A wise-cracker. A bigmouth. I am never silent. If you looked over at me right now, all you’d see is someone quietly tapping on her phone. Inside my head? Blah blah blah-ing at breakneck speed. I cannot stop. At work? Humming. Commenting. Complaining. Blabbing. Mind you, I’m usually the only one listening. I can’t be certain, but I think anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes tends to tune me out. Cause I’m not talking to them. I’m muttering. Mumbling. Holding the same conversations with myself until I get them just the way I like them. Yipping and yapping and telling off any one who’s ever hurt me in verbal rampages looping endlessly in my head. Holding imaginary conversations during which all my dreams come true. What is waiting beneath the constant noise? What would happen if I was completely still. If I just was, for a little while. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
We are never silent. We are sad and hurt and scared and angry. We are bitter and regretful and sorry. We are helpless and hopeful and hilarious. We are curious and creative. We are planning and scheming, constant day-dreaming. We are lucky and unlucky. We are loving and loved. We speak volumes without saying a word. And I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s LOUD up in here.
My Cup Runneth Off at the Mouth
So you all know I went to my 40th High School reunion two weeks ago. And as my 6 loyal followers also know I was a little ambiguous. And ya know what? I had a great time. There were a lot of people I knew, and although we either grew apart by high school, or weren’t that close, we enjoyed the hell out of seeing each other and catching up. A woman I went all the way from kindergarten through high school was among the first to greet me. She told me that she always thought my name was Crayon. See, her name is Karen and her little 5 year old self couldn’t understand how we could have the same name but spell it differently. And she felt bad for me. Being named Crayon and all. We all spent a lot of time staring at each other’s chests where our name tags and yearbook pictures lived. I was stunned at how many times I heard, “You look exactly the same!!” People who I thought didn’t even know I existed. I realized how many people knew who I was even if we never said a word to each other in high school. And how enjoyable it was getting to know them a little better now. Don’t get me wrong. There was still the Uber-cool kids, now the uber-cool adults who didn’t really mingle. They stayed in their tight little group and let the tier 2 cool but slightly less cool kids come to them. Although I’m still awed and intimidated, and they were either still gorgeous, or had so much plastic surgery they could’ve been anyone of a certain age, I really didn’t care that much. I spent time with a lot of people that I wouldn’t have in high school. We were all older, chubbier, balder. We didn’t really give a #%^* how cool or uncool we were back then. We were happy to be alive and well for this milestone. So many of our classmates aren’t. Age is the great leveler. It’s one thing to lose a parent, to see how close mortality is. It’s another thing all together when contemporaries start dropping. Classmates. Ex-husbands. Friends. Having borne no children of my own, I never felt quite like a grown up. Still don’t. And being as self-absorbed as I am, I cannot wrap my head around a world that I am no longer in. It just doesn’t make sense. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. I feel young. Inside. Maybe that will keep the outside young for just a little longer. Maybe I’ll still dance and laugh and cause eye-rolling mortification in my neices. Maybe at my 50th high school reunion, I will still hear, “OMG, you look exactly the same!” One can only hopeWoman Praying
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