Life is a Non-Stop Bundle of Joy

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.

 The Palette


Tag, You’re It 

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


If a High School Student Falls in the Cafeteria, and No One is Paying Attention, Does She Make a Sound?

I have a ticket to my high school reunion on Saturday. My 40th high school reunion. And 5 days before, I’m still undecided about actually going….Fast forward. It is now the day of the reunion and I’m still undecided about going. The question is why. On the flip side, the question is why did I get a ticket in the first place? There is something compelling about seeing old friends 40 years later when we are actually, well, old.  Or older. The thing is, out of a class of  731, I was close to about 10 of them. As far as I know, none of them will be there. And if the Facebook posts for the last year are to be believed, the 100 or so who will be there are all close and so looking forward to seeing each other, and this is going to be the best reunion, ever!! There are a few Facebook friends who will be there, and it will be nice to see them in person, but for the most part, I have no idea who these people are! How is that possible? Did I make myself so invisible, that even I couldn’t see myself? Did I really believe that it would be better to not be remembered at all then to be remembered as nerdy, unpopular, funny-looking, the girl who peed her pants in 7th grade math class, because Mrs. McGirt wouldn’t let her out of class?  And 40 some odd years later, why is it only now, that I can look at that kid, and see that she was no better or worse than any one else. Why did it take me 40 years to realize that I don’t know most of my classmates because I chose that path. That I was as popular and well-liked as I believed myself to be. Self-esteem is a tricky thing. Where it comes from, how one has it, or doesn’t, whether it can be learned, or you have to be born with it. I don’t have the answers…yet. I hope it can be learned  because my adult life is colored by the girl I perceived my self to be. The shy, invisible, not quite pretty-enough girl who can’t remember the faces of her classmates because she was always looking down. So, I guess I’ll go to the reunion. And I’ll smile and greet people I know and meet people I don’t. And maybe it will be the best reunion, ever!

Looking Back

And the Seasons, They Go Round and Round…

My ex-husband died. How weird is that?  I mean certainly it happens. People die. We get old. We get sick. We get hit by lightening. We get eaten by tigers. But….My ex-husband died. We had been out of touch for years. I never regretted our divorce. He drank too much. He was unbelievably moody. He found a bay leaf I accidentally left in a lasagna and didn’t talk to me for 3 days. I spent 11 years tiptoeing around his bad days, making excuses for him, waiting for the first sign of an upswing like a dog for a bone, thrilling when he finally felt better and spoke to me again. I knew it wasn’t about me. It was never about me. And when he was happy, everyone was happy. But I left our marriage some time before we actually separated, and when I finally realized, with a lot of love and a place to crash from my friend, Jenny and her then husband, Brett, that I didn’t have to let the fear of being alone keep me in a bad relationship, we divorced. It was infinitely easier on me than on him. I was free! I barely looked back. Oh, I’d check out his Facebook page periodically, secretly a little smug that I was aging so much better than him and a lot relieved when he lost his job at 60 because his hands were no longer steady enough, thanking the powers-that-be that I was well out of that mess.  But…My ex-husband died.  And now, I find myself obsessively looking at pictures of him and  reading his posts, thinking, how did I not see that he didn’t look well. Perhaps he hadn’t been well in a while. And I want to know everything, how he thought, what his life had been like, what his last days were like, was he happy, did he suffer? A friend of his saw him in February and said he talked about me. He remembered me fondly. I found myself leaping on that crumb and wanting more. Why? Why, now after so many years with barely a backward glance, do I want to know what was going on in this man’s life, his head, his heart. Because he’s gone. Because if there were answers to be had, they are gone with him. This man I slept with, lived with, loved, hated, hurt and got hurt by, my ex-husband died.  

LIFE, A Bracelet in 6 Acts

More Balls, Again!

I’m sitting in the Actor’s Equity Audition Center waiting for my 12:10 audition. It’s my first professional audition in 20 years and I have no idea why I’m here. I’m trying not to psyche myself out and just think of this as practice. A learning experience. Everyone around me is so much more “Professional Actor-y” My resume is ancient and not particularly impressive. I have no representation. I’m an actor who sings listening to the auditions of serious kick-ass singers. And I forgot to change AEA•SAG•AFTRA to AEA•SAG-AFTRA. WTF do I think I’m doing here?!?! I can hear them snickering already. I am well aware that I have a certain something, but I don’t know how to show it in 2 minutes or less. The politics of this game with so few winners is so hard for me. It’s true I am feeling a certain amount of pressure from the compliments of well-meaning loved ones. “You need to be doing this!” “You don’t belong at your day job!”. “You could totally make it on Broadway!” And maybe they’re right. But I don’t have a clue how to make the people on the other side of the table see that. The actors around me have a full time job. Being an actor. I don’t have the luxury of doing that. Or maybe I just don’t have the commitment to living that gypsy life. Waiting tables, or working a temp job so I can go on the hundreds of auditions it will take to get one job. Taking classes, vocal coaching, showcases. Would I love to act and make a living at it? Of course. Who wouldn’t? Do I want it enough? Maybe not. Am I being a coward when I say I don’t see how that’s ever going to happen in my current situation? Or am I being realistic? Excuses or reality? Or maybe I’m just succumbing to the monkey chatter ever present in my head. I am here today to do something I hate, to face my fears, to see whether I hate it solely because I’m scared, or whether I hate it just because I hate it. Whether it is a dream to be pursued 24/7 or something I can step in and out of for the sheer joy of it. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Maybe not to being an ACTOR, but to being a better me. 

  Comedy/Tragedy Masks Prototype 2

Commissioned by Annette Ferrieri


And to Top it All Off, I Stepped in the Gum

I can’t seem to make my life work. Everyone around me seems to have the ability. I just…Don’t.  I started a business designing jewelry that I loved. Three years later, it’s more obligation than joy and no one really cares except me and my mother. I’ve just paid my maintenance with a credit card for the second month in a row, because we don’t make enough money to pay our bills, or maybe we do, but not if we want to eat. Or buy a cup of coffee. Or invest in a business that no one really cares about except me. And my mother. I’ve gained so much weight my trench coat doesn’t fit, so I’m praying for cold weather. Of course, if my winter coat doesn’t fit, I’m screwed. I’m 57 years old and I just want a life that fits. I want to enjoy the fact that I’m doing a show for the first time in 20 years. I want to revel in the tap class I finally decided to take after dreaming about it forever. I want to be grateful for my family and friends and the creative spark that I am lucky enough to possess. I want to love my life, not envy others’. What’s the secret?  I wish I knew. I guess you put one foot in front of the other  and keep walking. And pay attention. You don’t want to miss the good while you are fighting off the bad. 

  LIFE, A Bracelet in 6 Acts

I love you…What was Your Name Again?

“I don’t mind friending you on Facebook because no one under 40 posts on Facebook anymore”. This pearl of wisdom came from my 17 year old niece. WTF?  Being the uber-cool Aunt that I am, I respond, “so, what, you use Instagram? Snapchat?” She shrugs, “yeah, and Twitter”. Now I cannot for the life of me figure out how Twitter works. I know this blog is linked, but sending a tweet? I have no #%^*ing idea. I download pictures on Instagram, but as a communication platform, as “social” media…sort of clueless. I am not unaware of a common thread here. Instagram. Snapchat. Flickr. Twitter. There’s no real commitment here because it all happens so fast. You only have 140 characters per tweet. Snapchat is so fast, whatever you send is gone in seconds. Flickr? Well, I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds fast. In my lifetime, at some point, there were no computers, no cell phones, no tablets. If you called your best friend and the phone was busy, you hung up and tried again later. If you wanted to send a greeting to someone far away, you wrote a letter. Make no mistake. Although I know I sound like someone’s grandparent telling stories about walking to school in 10 feet of snow with no shoes, I love my cell phone. I prefer to text as opposed to making a phone call. For me, the contact with no real contact is the way I like it. But face it, that’s not a good thing. That’s a shy kid who tried to blend in as much as possible, growing into a shy adult who feels like a phone call is an intrusion and sighs with relief when an answering machine picks up. A woman who doesn’t have to spend a second with herself because she has so many “friends” to catch up with on Facebook. My 17 year old niece? She is a fearless, confident traveler, leader, and student with many friends. Friends she spends time with, laughs with, cries with, travels with, shares her secrets with. Snapchats. Tweets. Instagrams.  Does she look at social media as a way of avoiding real life? Real people? Not at all. It’s a way to share her life in real time when they’re not with her. And sometimes even when they are. It’s the creamy filling inside a cupcake. It doesn’t avoid life. It makes it more delicious.   Love Letters


A Day in the Life

Alarm goes off. Entire body hurts. Contemplate suing Lindsey Wagner who promised the Sleep Number bed would cradle my entire body in comfort. Gather greens and fruits for my morning green juice. Throw away green juice because it’s not green, or coral or golden or any of the other tantalizing colors it is on the Nutribullet commercial. It’s brown. Muddy brown. Opt for coffee. May have to sue the Nutribullet people. While brushing teeth, notice grey roots in hair and pillow marks on face. Slather on serum, face cream with sunscreen, 2 different eye creams and a tinted moisturizer, also with sunscreen. Wonder why I don’t look like the women in the commercials. Contemplate suing them as well. Apply half a can of mousse to my hair, pulling and tugging to no avail. Question whether the pillow creases are actually from the pillow at all. Add mousse and pillow manufacturers to lawsuit list. Ponder several healthy options to bring for breakfast and lunch, knowing full well I will end up with a scone and pizza. And a second cup of coffee. And maybe a donut. Or two. Get dressed, trying to figure out how to look funky, age appropriate, young and thin, knowing that no matter how good I think I look in my mirror at home, at some point I’m going to catch a glimpse of myself in a plate glass window and gasp in horror. By now, I’m late. Frantically change from one pair of orthopedic shoes to another in an attempt to look hipster, not geriatric. Race to catch the two subways and one train I take every morning.  Catch a glimpse of my self in the subway door window. Yikes!  Work, drink coffee, answer phones, drink more coffee, think about donuts. Reverse commute. Face away from subway door. Home in time to prepare dinner for my husband. Order in. Watch TV. Eat an entire box of Skinny Cow ice cream bars. Wonder why I’m not getting skinny. Think about suing Skinny Cow for false advertising. Brush teeth, floss, making sure to get under and around all of the teeth which are no longer mine. Slather on more serum, night cream, and 2 eye creams, go to bed hoping to look like Andie Macdowell when I wake up, but pretty sure it’ll be Andy Rooney. Toss and turn, attempting to find a comfortable position where my neck, shoulder, knees, don’t hurt. Curse Lindsey Wagner. Lie awake for hours. Curse menopause. Fall asleep just in time for the alarm to go off. Curse. Repeat. 

Here Comes the Sun


Not Tonight, Dear…I Have a Headache. 

Yesterday was my anniversary. No, not my wedding anniversary. It was one year ago that I had my last period. Yes, my friends. Menopause. Defined as occurring 12 months after the last period and signaling the end of menstrual cycles.  Now, being that I am quite a few years older than average, I was more than ready for this momentous occurance. Yep, yep, yep. More than ready. Never had any symptoms, felt perfectly fine, no period.  This is  %^#*in’ great!!! Until about 6 months in.  All of a sudden, I’m hot as hell, I can’t sleep, I look like Karl Malden, and I think I’m growing a beard.  Now, wait a minute. Do you ever see Karl Malden in those comercials for relief from menopause symptoms? No. You see beautiful, older women who refuse to take vaginal dryness and painful intercourse lying down! Because, damn it! They no longer need to use condoms! They’re gonna have sex whenever, wherever they want to! Now, I can only speak for myself, but between the Paxil and menopause and the beard and Karl’s nose in the mirror, I don’t care if I never have sex again. Where’s that woman in the damn commercials?  I had a dream the other night that my husband left me for a younger, prettier, less selfish woman who dusted, and actually wanted to have sex once in a while.  When I told him about the dream, he laughed in that low, sweet, endlessly patient way he has and said, “Tranquila, Mama, estoy aquí contigo, siempre”. I am here with you forever. Than he whispered, “Te quiero, Karl, er…Caryn”.

Boy Meets Girl


Queen of Queens

I was on the E train coming home yesterday, and standing a few feet away from me was a young woman of perhaps East Indian descent. I noticed her hair first, because my bad hair days seem to have turned into bad hair years, and her hair was long, dark, perfectly straight, really enviable hair. Then I noticed her face. It was perfect. Not just, “oh what a pretty girl” perfect. Disney Princess perfect. Seriously. I could not stop looking at this perfect face. She probably thought I was a stalker. I just couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live behind that perfect face. Now, let me just say, This was my first day back at work after a weeklong bout of vertigo, and although I’m feeling better, I still can’t blow dry my hair properly and my balance is a little goofy, so I do not look my best. But even my best is not as perfect as that face. The real question here is, why does that matter? Do the people who love me, love me less because I don’t look like a Disney princess? Do I have less fun? Less to say? Less to offer? Do I laugh less? Love less? Create less? Why does my self-esteem hinge on what the world sees on the outside? Why is it so hard to look at my face and smile, because I look like my dad? To laugh with my mom because we share the same hair, the same spare tire, the slope of our back that she calls her dowager hump? The fact is, I am not going to wake up tomorrow with that young woman’s perfect face, no matter how much I wish for it. How nice would it be to live my life behind my dad’s nose and goofy eyebrows, underneath my mom’s hair and dowager’s hump, and not waste another minute wishing I was someone else.

Scarred Willow