Thursday, March 14, 2013

the girl on the train

Have you ever had that moment where you look at someone and think, wow, i know you....? And it's not because you actually really do know them, but rather there's something about the person that reminds you of yourself, whether in look or action or some other (in)tangible way. That happened to me the other morning on the train with the girl (yes, girl) in the middle of the above photo. (She, and the two ladies on either side of her, actually do have faces, but I pixeled them out because it felt wrong to drop someone's photo up here without them having a choice in the matter. Although in this day and age of Google map streetview drive-bys grabbing personal information, I'm sure this would score pretty low on the privacy invasion meter.)

So she caught my attention because I recognized in her a quirky fashion sense that telegraphed to me the message: Yeah, I'm wearing a bright blue coat, bright red polka-dot fingerless gloves, a skirt and combat boots with socks, and I'm also reading an actual book made of paper-stuff that I'm completely smitten by. It struck me that she was fully confident in her sartorial choice, knowing that she would stand out among the Gap-style that is the generally dominant look, i find. Though I must say that the ladies on either side of her were no slouches in style, but she had a different air about her altogether.

I've been that girl whose clothing has been chosen for reasons of standing out in a certain way, and sometimes it works really well and equally as many times I think it's gone somehow wrong, yet I always felt confident enough about myself to keep on working that part of me. But looking at this girl on the train, it occurred to me that I was no doubt beyond the years that wearing combat boots with socks and a skirt could really work for me. And that bummed me out. I began to wonder if there was in fact a time when dressing age-appropriate is a thing to be paid attention to. Though my preference is to wholly ignore that dictum, I do squirm to think that i might be glanced at in a way that says Oh shouldn't have. really. shouldn't. have. And I'm not sure I know anymore what I really look like. As if I see myself reflected in a mirror colored by what I want to see. I actually like what I see, but sometimes when I look at pictures I'm a bit startled. I wonder when did that thing with my chin start happening? What's up with my hands? In fact, lately I've been seeing photos of people I worked with or knew back in my early career days (Oh, Facebook, why are you so nostalgic? and relentless?) and I'm actually surprised by how the years have molded them, then I remember they've had their way with me as well.

So the girl on the train! she's become a great reminder of how much i love New York for letting me be a voyeur and also for being a catalyst to take a stroll down the catwalk of my past to remember my skirt&combatBoot days as a rock chick (which honestly I still yearn toward almost every day), the moment when I wore the lace wrap-around skirt that really was way too short and see-through to be worn in daylight, the ongoing love affair I had with the pumpkin-orange, pleather, snap-up-the-front skirt, which finally fell apart from wear&tear and lack of actual cleaning, since I never knew how to wash it properly, or the lederhosen I got from the vintage store and wore with knee-high biker boots. what? or the suit bought in the boys department that made me look like a cross between a deranged member of the band Madness and a 10-year-old whose had a rapid growth spurt but hasn't yet adjusted the wardrobe. All these things were either a success or a disaster, but they were fun. And I still like figuring out how to work some style into the mix, so, who knows, down the line in the future, if you see a gray-haired lady wearing combat boots, knee socks and a tartan dress, with a bright-blue pleather jacket on top, please know that in that moment, my mirror reflected back: Why not!?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pleased to meet you

hope you guess my name...
or put another way: A funny thing happened on the way (back) to this blog. I stopped. or maybe I paused. I definitely stepped out on all kinds of limbs and such, none of which I took upon myself to come here and write about. But suffice to say, I'm sniffing back around again. Changes, yes, a few. I don't know if I've ever sat on this particular bed to write in this particular space ever before. It's a nice view out onto the Hudson (tho dark now, and threatening to rain apparently). And what put my fingers back into this space to mix it all up was, of course, movement. Still in that semi-darkened room, still exploring the things inside that peek out and ask (sometimes demand) to be paid attention to. Yesterday was one of those demanding days when I discovered how much I'm still a 12 year old wanting to be paid attention to, yet afraid of people paying attention too much. such an interesting conundrum, and a lot of different ways to approach it, all of them fun. So, already I'm looping around in this test-drive back into my Dancing Toward a Dream writing adventure. I will now turn to introduce here some of my favorite pictures from the last little while since we've seen each other. (The first three were taken by my dear, wonderful, excellent friend Mary when D and I were out in Cali visiting.) More soon. I think.

 Long Beach, California
 Palais Garnier, Paris
 store-front Paris
 Rodin museum, Paris

Friday, March 9, 2012

"How we are, how we define and inhabit our world, how it crumbles; it's a simple story." Stephen Petronio

Ah, I've not been here in my blog-o-sphere for awhile, yet I've constantly felt the pull and presence of this space. And today I've landed here.

Last night my dance luvuhs and I went to the Joyce here in NYC and saw Stephen Petronio and his dance company (fierce, as witnessed by the photo above, but also much deeper than their impossibly cool look might convey as seen in this attached link for the new piece "The Architecture of Loss"). His quote above spurred me back to this page.

It dovetails so well with another quote that's been resonating with me recently: "Don't give up on your body." This from my dance teacher to the class as a whole, yet I really felt it sinking into my psyche. It's a simple story... how we are, how we define, how we inhabit, how we/it crumble(s).

Lately I've found myself toggling between (well, fighting against, actually) senses of how to go forward in the land of my vocation. Am I doing what I need to satisfy my bank account, my happiness, my future. My sense that I'll be working until I literally can't anymore (retirement, wha?). And a willful ignorance regarding my financial future (danger/danger=Will Robinson). I'd very recently come to terms with the idea that This Is My Life: a series of projects bringing in bits of money, some of them creatively satisfying, some merely money-making, all of them elusive on the permanence front. But here I was, defining and inhabiting my world and watching it crumble here and rebuild there.

No matter that I have always felt most happy when I have structure and am a part of a staff and working with words. This was what was happening NOW.

And in the studio, I began to notice how my strength (primarily physical) had crumbled and I had given up on my body to a very voluntary degree. I was looking at moves that I had been able to do, and I wasn't doing them anymore (didn't feel able, chalked it up to not being strong enough anymore). In a few ways I was letting it crumble, but I was also giving in.

I think there's a fine line between letting go in the moment, which allows movement, and giving up altogether leading to static paralysis. Watching the dancers last night, along with conversation with my ladies, I was inspired to move my body toward embracing its physicality again moving every day.That's where I feel best, and I'm lucky enough to be healthy enough to do just that.

And wouldn't you know it: The crumbling while not giving up, the acceptance of here and now has led to my reentry into the workforce. Starting in a week, I'm back in the full-time world, back on a masthead at Woman's Day magazine as copy editor. Where I will be lucky enough to ride my bike to work and plan financially so I can take more classes, move my body as much as possible. And with spring on its way, miHoney and I have signed up for some races where I can use my fleet feet. Sigh. a simple story. One writing and rewriting itself constantly.

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. ...Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Vaclav Havel

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Funky Town

I went there last night. Not the physical rendition that features music, disco lights and gyration, but rather the mental one where there were echoes, memory strobes and emotional gyrations. Mind you, I chose to go there. Bought the ticket on my own volition; I even know why I chose the destination as I stared out the windows at the passing landscape.

I'd decided that somehow I'd missed a connection in the station of my life where writing takes up residence, when many years ago I'd gotten off the train that was hurtling through the land of magazines and publishing. In doing so, I'd chosen another path: to teach a bit, to freelance, to put it all together on my own time. I'm still doing that, but there are times more recently when I find myself looking into the face of people who stayed put on the train, made connections and transfers to places that spoke of "career path" (I was tempted just now to use the word security, but that is something I can't forecast for anyone else's life).

It's quite amazing to be at a place where taking ownership for life and where I am inside of it is undeniable. Where I know what it is I can do, what I like to do, what I choose to do, and how I often willfully look away and step into the box marked Pause. I know it's up to me to keep writing because I get a charge from it. Whether it's entries into this blog or stories written just for the fact of writing them. I know that if I send out story ideas, yet don't hear back or don't get a thumb's up that it's not a reason to stop. I know that the muscle of my writing self is strengthened when I write words for this space right here. I even know that there's an agent out there open to my book idea, and that having one, two or three jobs at a time working with other people's words is not an excuse to stop stringing my own words together. I know there a whole lot of knows in this paragraph (five not counting this sentence). So... if I know this, then can I give myself the confidence to move forward? Since it's up to me. To realize that what's been—the places, people and experiences—are amazing, have happened and are no litmus test regarding who I am now or what I can still do.

Every time is different and there's a crazy kind of clarity in my life right now. I look at my face snapped during the last mile (or so) of this year's NYC marathon. What I see is pain, endurance, elation, thoughts of giving up, yet knowing that I won't. That I'll celebrate at the finish line for getting there and seeing all I did during the miles. Then I go on and decide whether I want to do it again. and in the end, whether I do or not won't matter, because I had the moment and it was good, hard and all things in between.

Today's soundtrack: "The Hustle" and this time I'm gonna dance. Arms up, eyes open, ideas poppin'.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Through the looking glass

Yesterday on the radio, I heard an interview with a man who wrote a book about how we (humans) are not as smart as we often think we are. That our level of delusion—or, maybe, rose colored glasses—guide our thoughts, how we go forward in the world, deal with people and make decisions. And sometimes, when we get a glimpse of what others may see in us (also, subjective, since they're seeing through their own special lens)...eeek, we may be freaked or pleased or possibly just plain stymied.

I've had a couple of those come up in the last little bit. One happened when I received the photos above, taken at the day of fun with my pole classmateS. I looked at these and had a moment of instant-look-away shortly followed by a pride. A pondering of what my body looks like and moves like. It reminded me of the many conversations I've had with my female friends about how women, at least in a majority of the generations I'm intimate with, are raised to be humble, quiet about accomplishments, not loud and proud. This has for me and many of my friends seemed to translate into taking that whole bushel and hiding under it. When there's something to be bragged about, to caveat it in all sorts of language that disguises the real message of "Hell, Yeah, I'm awesome. Look at me go."

So I find myself grappling with this ownership of good stuff. Having recently written and had published a magazine article that focused the spotlight again on my love of words and how I use them, I am sitting with the attention of people saying You need to do this more. And I know that they're right. I can feel that, yet my initial response has tried to be: That was just a one-time, a revisit, a perfect storm of timing, history and friendship. And of course that's bullshit. Staying with the thing I love to do and do well is just real, it's not a compliment, it's not a favor anyone is doing for me, it's just a part of my life to own. Even if 90% of the time I don't hear back on proposals for stories, that's not an indictment of my ability, that's just people being busy and a challenge for me to keep on going with my ideas and words.

This sunday is my fourth NYC marathon. MiHoney's first. I've been feeling the fluttery anticipation along with the "Can I do it again?" thoughts because I know—at least geographically and miles-wise—what the course holds. How I'll feel during those miles is another thing altogether. I've been a bit envious of his newbie-ness, everything is novel along the course. And I realize it's so much like life in that when you've done it, and done it fairly well, there's an interesting bit of nerves and ego that accompany the return, the question of at least matching the success of the last time. Whereas when it's the first time, you really can't go wrong. You're setting your own moment in time to do with what you will.

My realization: Every one of these minutes is a new one to fill with braggadocio, pride, and whatever level of confidence I choose to bring out. Ready, set, go...
PS: if you want to track my marathon moments, here's how: CLick this ING link, follow directions for the tracker app and type in my race #55-532.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

the wide open

For the last few, I've found myself regularly time-challenged at this time of year. It seems that when I make plans to run the NYC marathon, as I have for every year of the past four—except last when I was on the sidelines—I go forward from July marking training runs on my calendar as if they're merely squiggles on a page filled with squares. Then I follow those squiggles as best I can as the miles expand exponentially. Inevitably summer becomes fall and suddenly those markings take on a life of their own, not to mention fill up to the brim this life of my very own. That I still continue to say Yes to dance luvuh outings, class fun and dining with friends, not to mention the necessary dates or do-nothing nights with miHoney is absolutely crucial for my sanity. Yet sometimes I wake up screaming (alright, I'm not actually screaming, but my eyes definitely pop wide open and my heart beats hard) realizing that I have a couple of paying jobs going right now and that with the publication of my Nirvana piece I've discovered that I actually enjoy writing again and would like to get some proposals out to magazines. I'm not sure how to fit it all in.

I think about prioritizing. Such a big word. And even as i write that, I glance to my left where a large pile of magazines sits that I want to read and get ideas/contacts from. The question becomes: What's important? (and what does that word important actually mean anyway?) My go-to place is that money-making is quite crucial, yet that seems to usurp a lot of time I might spend creating story ideas. The trick, I think, is to shift out of the mindset that I only have now to make money and that I have some faraway wide open future date to be creative. And since, at the rate things are going, as long as I have use of my eyes, I'll be freelancing in some way or another.

This poses the question of balance and paying attention. As I know myself well enough after all these years to sense when I might be using something as an excuse, I'm just gonna come out and admit it: I'm scared of the great wide open. Afraid of finding out that the ideas I have are not that special after all or even discovering that deep down inside I'm actually rather lazy and don't want to do the work it takes to get something from point A to Z. This is why I enjoy deadlines. I have no choice. I've got to get it done. Apparently this is also why I majored in journalism and didn't get my MFA in fiction. I like assignments with end dates.

Which brings me right back around to training for the marathon—which I've always viewed as a metaphor for life—and time. It's now the final days of crunch and while I'm not altogether looking forward to strapping on my sneakers for my 20-mile run today (yes, I know, I need to get going soon), I also appreciate that it says right there in a squiggle on my calendar what needs to be done. But I'm also learning to bend the rules a bit. A few weeks ago, one of the ladies in my S class invited a group of us to her place in the Berkshires. On my sheet of little boxes that stands for September, there was a run scheduled, yet I ignored it and went away for the day to eat, laugh, wander the roads (where swarms of mosquitoes laid in wait), dance and drink. It was a blast (picture at top reflects that), and it was great to play. I realize that it's up to me what I do with all the space—fear or no, squiggles and all—and in some ways it doesn't even matter. I can say the sky's purple and the days contain 38 hours, and while that's not technically true, I can fill up that sky and those hours with a balance of what I need to do and what I want, regardless of whether I can tell the difference between the two. It'll all be just fine...even if it's not.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Old/new, tried/true

Right now a man is lying beside me and it's comforting to hear him breathing deeply and to know there are wonderful, fun moments and crunchy, unsure bits. that that's part of living. Twenty years ago, very close to this actual time, I was eye-ing a particular guy and wondering what it would be like if he were lying beside me. He was giving me all kinds of signs for me to find out, yet I was too awkward, unsure—in that moment at least—to actually take him up on it, afraid of what to do with the brittle not-perfect bits. Thinking I could ward them off by taking more time to make it all perfect, then act. not realizing how overrated perfection is.

A few hours ago, I was sitting in a room with a group of amazing women--some of whom I know and some i don't--listening to an enigma of a lady talk about what a difference we girls can make in this world just by being our messy selves, and i am in full agreement. When I started taking S classes my self did change and so went the world around me. I brought and wrought that change and I'm glad she started something for me to find. But I have no illusions that she or I or what she started is perfect, cuz truth*be*told, that would be boring. it's quite wonderful that it introduced me to myself in a very powerful way, and now I can take that into the rest of the world to investigate what else moves and shakes to my liking.

Twenty years ago, minus a few hours, I was standing in a club listening to an enigma of a band made up of boys that would make a difference to a lot of people in the world, including me. But the difference was, I was watching, not doing. It was a boys boys boys world, and i loved it, but I worked hard to make myself fit into it, which of course was impossible. But damn if i didn't love trying and wouldn't have traded it for anything. The impact was profound and lingers to this day.

I went back to visit that world, and even wrote an article about it and it felt so good to do that because I felt i had nothing to lose. Don't get me wrong, the actual deadline and writing of the piece was all the sweet torture I remember from magazine editors and 2AM mornings of finding the right ending because it's 5 hours. gulp. rinse and repeat. but i had nothing to lose as far as my self was concerned. i felt like a stronger writer because my life didn't depend on it. and, oh back in the day, my life truly felt like it rose and fell with every word. none could be wrong. now i know the beauty of wrong, and raw, and stumbles, and flow. Of falling and getting back up. of sometimes hooking your leg and finding yourself aloft and sometime just not quite getting there and landing back on the floor. of memories and of now. Of listening to my good friend and teacher describe an arch of my back and leg on a pole, my head hovering above the floor and I do it. and i'm safe, and it hurts, but oh so wonderfully because i'm strong and brave enough to try. and I feel good knowing that i can handle it, i can fall, too. i like hearing him breathe raggedy beside me because it's not perfect, it's just living.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


There are certain TV ads that stand out as markers in my life (PlopPlop, FizzFizz=watching The Sonny and Cher show with my grandma on a summer saturday night when I was little. Clap on/Clap off=newly moved to NYC watching The Mary Tyler Moore show at 11.30PM after a waitressing shift at Yaffa Cafe... and on and on.) One chestnut that's popped into my brain lately had the tag line "You're soaking in it." The premise was this: a lady's getting her nails done and complaining to her manicurist, the oh-so-wise Madge, about the state of her hands after doing dishes. Madge suggests she switch to Palmolive dishwashing liquid. When the woman looks doubtful, Madge says, "You're soaking in it" at which point the lady recoils and reflexively pulls her hand out of the goo, because soaking in dishwashing liquid is not her idea of what happens during a fancy manicure...naturally. Madge simply rolls her eyes, chuckles and pushes the lady's hand back into the bowl. Nuff said.

Lately I've found myself needing a little touch of Madge in my reality as I agitate around the idea of what life is supposed to look like. My expectations of how job interviews are supposed to go, the way story assignments are meant to unfold, what intimacy in relationships feels like and what communication between friends is meant to be. I've found myself taking a turn down Frustration Avenue and, no surprise, discovered a dead end street there, having stopped breathing in the air of joy that I really do know exists.

Today as I ran around Central Park and really paid attention to how gorgeous the day was and took in some deep deep breaths, I started to find my way back to the realization that things don't often look or feel like you think they should or would, and actually that's rather amazing. That in choosing to go down that particular avenue of F that I was chasing a mirage of how I thought things should go, at the mercy of other people's timing and ideas, forgetting that I can choose to accept things as they are and keep my hand there, or pull my hand out if I'm honestly not feeling it. And inside of all those moments there is real wonder, excellence and joy plus challenge, too, as long as I pay attention and let it come, let it be.

Life, I'm soaking in it. Thanks, Madge.

Monday, August 8, 2011

slip and slide

This is the view from the bedroom window during a particularly steamy summer 2011 sunset. It's gorgeous, eh? (That's New Jersey across the Hudson River.) When this pic was taken it was during a week when the temperature had reached about a million degrees (actually 100-and-something including humidity) and the Hudson was uninhabitable for the regular kayakers, jet-skiers, and even swimmers (oh, yes they do) because a sewage plant had sprung a leak of toxic materials that had yet to be stopped or cleaned up. Yet still, when you look at this picture, it's a beautiful thing to see, shimmering light, heavy-weighted clouds, and hot sun)!

I'm currently having moments that remind me that day-to-day, minute-to-minute, the challenge is how I see things, take them in, trying not to bring enormous amounts of backstory and judgment to the situation. If I take the picture apart, I guarantee I won't let myself just appreciate what's in front of me. For instance, I've always had a picture of myself writing a blog entry at least once a week, that hasn't happened. Of course that's been on my mind for the last few weeks and I painted myself a bit ugly because of it, but at some point I just thought "I'll get to it" and now I'm here.

While that was one I let myself off the hook on fairly quickly, it appears there are other things in my life that I feel I have to root around in, get dirty with, wrestle to the ground, and somehow, er, tame/understand/solve. And, even as I write that the snarky voice in my head says "Right. How's that workin' for ya?" actually, not so well, as I found out this last weekend during class. I thought I needed to revisit a song that carried a lot of history and weight (oh, taskmaster-self, why do you rule me so...when I let you? ). I thought I'd make it my own. The thought process went a little like this: Look at how far I've come, healed, I'm gonna dance it out to that song that floods me with uncomfortable memories and make it my own....

And wow what a weird ride it was. First of all, the notes started and I absolutely froze, paralyzed, couldn't move. I'm lucky enough to have a teacher who recognized this wasn't moving me anywhere anytime soon (in fact she said "It's like foreplay that goes nowhere" which I thought brilliant, since that about sums up why this song is such mindf$%k for me). She switched it to a something similar, but much more cathartic for me. But then I went nuts and suddenly their was anger rising up and spilling out, which was okay except I wasn't really paying attention to myself, taking any care of my body (and, if the ladies there weren't so excellent knowing this room is where it can all roll safely, I'd have sworn that I became very scary). In that moment I was so angry that I couldn't solve this thing. Make myself all better. I raged against it.

And here's the thing that finally came to me as I unpacked it all in the hallway with my teach: there's nothing to solve. I'm fine. It's done and I didn't need to revisit anywhere (hence my paralysis as there was nowhere for me to go). I've moved through this stuff and while some slip and slide happens, there are times I need reminding that a moment in life is just a moment. It won't be wrestled and tamed. Doesn't need to be. Can just exist in its own space, though I may touch-pearls-and-wave at it once in awhile just to know I can. If I take the picture apart, thinking I can put it back together again the way I want it to look, I'm just going to lose a piece here and there and it will come out all cubist. It's fine how it is.

When I was little I had a summertime toy called a Slip'n'Slide that was basically a strip of long, flat plastic, the width of a body, that you ran a hose through so you could, er, slip and slide down the length of plastic, picking up speed&getting soaked as you hurtled toward the end. As I remember it, when I first got it I mistakenly placed it facing the street and if I'd lived on a busy street--instead of one little-traveled--would have ended up being dumped straight into traffic and flattened by a car, instead I ended up with some scrapes and a mouthful of pebbles. But that didn't stop me from loving this toy and using it almost every day during the summer (after unfurling it in the backyard away from traffic). This, to me, becomes a metaphor for the here&now (and beyond) because I will slip and I will slide and I will end up with a mouthful of pebbles and some scrapes and I will end up squealing with joy and getting soaked, too. Even as I go back in time to look at snapshots of my life, and even write stories about them, I'm not going to wrestle with them or try to repaint the picture. My gallery of life.

One of my dance luvuhs sent me this article that ties into soooo perfectly and worth the (very quick&lovely) read! Tiny Wisdom: Letting Go of Painful Memories

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a funny thing happened on the way to 50

This is my foot. This is my foot at 50. I have two of them, but the picture didn't come out so well with both of them featured. Here's the thing that you maybe can't see: this foot is pink with sunburn because, apparently, it doesn't matter what age I am, I still forget to put sunscreen on those tender bits that never see the light of day, like the tops of feet. hmmm.

These feet, though, have carried me through a whole lot of adventures. They've danced, run, skipped, and walked many streets. They still do that, but in the last couple of weeks they've also been put to the test of resisting the desire to run away (more figuratively than literally) as it seemed the wheels were coming off the (metaphorical) vehicle that had been carrying my day to day forward. The new job I'd started which allowed me to earn a comfortable sum while also having time for my writing came quite suddenly and unexpectedly crashing to a halt; the book proposal I'd been crafting and had turned in seemingly ready to peddle was rethought by the agent as needing a complete rewrite; the apartment I own (which, by the way, is mortgaged by an institution so onerous that even a money manager I spoke to said "Oh, they' tough...," when I told him how many times they'd denied my petition to lower my rate), anyway, the tenants who the day before were ready to re-sign the sublet lease changed their mind and said they'd be moving. This all unfolded over a few day period and I swear I felt a little like I was living in a wack-a-mole game, as if life's mallet was landing squarely on my head over and over. MiHoney said, between giving me cocktails, kleenex and hugs, Sometimes you need to shake things up, get through the logjam and get to the other side. Philosophically, even spiritually, I knew this to be true, but I still didn't want any of it to be happening. (He also said "Do three things" which seemed highly doable. action. i do like that.)

So I was in it. A few days away from the half-century mark of my life and I had a choice: a) feel sorry for myself, b) get on with it, c) change my identity and have those feet carry me away. I went with a) for a bit, ruminated on c) for a second, and settled on b). So the wheels came off the vehicle that I thought was carrying me so securely, it was time to fashion another one. And a funny thing happened as I investigated how that might look: I got a call from an old friend who works for a London magazine asking if I'd be interested in being sent to Seattle to write about the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind; a woman who is singing at the Metropolitan Opera this fall is going to sublet my apartment; the onerous bank is quiet for now as my accounts are brought up to date. Three things and beyond.

Then the weekend came for my birthday and it was glorious! Blue, blue skies, the sun shining, and fluffy clouds. And after a brief period of motoring, mihoney and I ended up at a ritzy beach village where many adventures ensued. Watching the local firemen douse a spontaneous car fire, I thought that was a kind of apt, though maybe over-the-top, way to welcome us to the area (no humans or animals were hurt in the process, only a very cool, old Corvette suffered), a moment that was followed—in no particular order—by amazing swims in the ocean, a stay in an old, awesome bed&breakfast, sipping G&T's on our terrace, laughing a lot, wandering the town to find limes and tonic (we discovered the people of this town have no concept of distance), Rudy Giulliani blocking our path on the sidewalk, bum-rushing an art opening where free champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries were enjoyed, helping a bicyclist who was grazed and dumped off his bike by a car, watching a valet relay race outside a ritzy party, eating amazing food, and, did I mention floating and paddling in the vast and magical ocean? Oh, and getting a little sunburn...

On the way back from this wonderland of fun, as we were a few blocks from home, mihoney asked me to remind him to make an appointment with a physical therapist for a hip situation and I asked him to remind me to file for unemployment, and it suddenly seemed funny. How that was just a snapshot where we are in our existence. The ups, the downs, the sideways. And I smiled to think what a good, strange brew this life can be.

Monday, June 27, 2011

the ladies in my life

A couple of weekends ago the annual Mermaid Parade took place in Coney Island and I got an e-mail with the subject line: Was it really 15 years ago today?! You see, a decade-and-a-half ago a group of friends and I climbed aboard a Cadillac, donned some fishnets and glitter and became a part of the parade. The fact that the car wasn't really ours and the parade wasn't really a parade (in the drive-down-the-road-at-a-steady-clip-while-doing-a-touch-pearls-and-wave-move-to-those-on-the-sidelines sense) only served to bond us more closely. We became known as The Mermaids. That we're only sometimes in touch with one another these days does not alter in any way the great and hysterical moments we had together. Moments that had begun before that fateful day in the sun when we painted up a car that one of us had, er, won(?) in a poker game, drove to Coney Island in very small amounts of clothing and fishnet stockings (under which most of us had forgotten to put on sunscreen so that at day's end our legs looked like we'd been beaten with a fly swatter), climbed on top of the metal machine that felt to be at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit to the touch, found ourselves creeping down the parade route at no more than 5 miles an hour while swatting away creeps who kept spraying us with beer and trying to take liberties while one of our amazing ladies who was driving and who happened to be pretty rad with the boxing gloves got out of the car every few feet and said "You wanna piece of me? You come any closer and that's what your gonna get." and we smiled and waved and then... we ran out of gas (apparently we were so busy forgetting sunscreen that we also forgot gasoline). the fact that we were pretty much at the end of the route—and our last nerve—motivated us to, as I remember it, abandon the car on the street and go ride the cyclone, then have some drinks, then i don't know what else. But I do know that the car was never seen again. And I'm not totally sure why...but i also know that from that day was spawned a series of monthly Mermaid dance parties at a club in NYC called Don Hill's that became legendary for fun and fabulousness.

And in thinking about this time and looking at the pictures of us (one of which is above), I realize how incredible it is, and how lucky I am, to have the ladies I do in my life. While the group may morph and ebb and flow into varying women at specific times of life, the thread that runs through it is the experience of that moment. The mermaids came at a time when the music business was my life, and we all inhabited that world in one way or another. We brought out a sort of fearlessness in each other that I still call on to this day, a confidence born of camaraderie that felt invincible.

And it wasn't only those five women at that time: there were at least a half-dozen others for whom I'd have (and still would) give&do anything. My two oldest friends who I'd known in Cali and who'd moved to NYC around the same time as I did—and who I'm still lucky enough to know today—were the bane of countless friday nights at our regular bar in the east village (next to the laundromat where miraculously my friend and I managed to get our clothes clean between shots). And the dinners I get to have today with two friends who I also knew/met in music biz days that now have amazing kids and lives that, though seemingly different from my day-to-day, bring me right back to the comfort zone of who and how we are. These four ladies remind me of just how awesome it is to be curious about what's next. We know where we've come from and what we've come through, we don't know what's to come, yet the humor and wonder of us gives me hope. And no matter how long between coming together again, whether by phone or face, brings the joy of picking up where we left off.

My dance ladies inspire another level of connection that is born out of newness, though the years they do roll, and the discovery that our passion for what we do physically and see in others and onstage is ongoing. This wrap-around brings me the confidence to keep finding out what my body and mind are capable of, especially when I start to go down the road of time&age, yet any misgivings I have disappear when we're all together. And, in fact, the studio introduced me to a type of friendship that had nothing to do with movement in careers and everything to do with movement in body&soul. Again, though many of the women I knew in my original class are rolling and tumbling out of my sight, they're not out of my mind&heart and those initial days I think about with amazement because they were minus the competitive streak that can so often come from women's groupings.

In writing my book I'm coming across many examples (in fact my entire thesis is based upon) the fact that so often women do things in competition with each other: fashion, body modification, money making and love making being at the top of the list. And while a little rivalry can sometimes be a healthy moment (read: when I did a pole inversion I hadn't done in awhile—and didn't think i could actually do anymore—because I was in a group with two women that I was determined to not flail in front of), I know I've been incredibly lucky to be with women who just bring the equality. Maybe I'm just naive and missing some cues, but overall I've felt that no matter where I am financially, professionally or generationally I'm in the company of women who teach, support, inspire and entertain me and that makes it so much fun to give it right back. Even as I write this I think of more and more ladies I want to mention who are in/and have been in my life, yet that would make this post go on until next year. In essence, before I'm tempted to start belting out a sappy "wind under wings" kind of ditty, I'm going to wrap it up knowing that the smiles, memories and fun continue!