Facts of Life

I learned something new recently.  Not only can you eat corn raw, but it’s actually better that way.  When I first heard this, about two weeks ago,  I thought some highly guarded culinary secret was inadvertently leaked, but it seems that a bunch of regular non-chef people know about it already.  And all I keep thinking is –  isn’t this a crazy enough game-changing fact that, if you did know it,  wouldn’t you want to tell everyone?  Yet no one told me.

I love knowing why I know something – where I learned it, who told me, what I was doing at the time.  It makes the fact seem more solid.  But obviously only super memorable pieces of info have their moment of discovery marked in my brain.  And that bothers me.

I know where I learned about raw corn, but I’m constantly wondering where I learned other less meaningful things.  Of course I learned stuff from my parents, from school,  from just being alive, but wouldn’t it be great if you could remember the exact moment that you learned a specific thing?  A few years ago I was obsessed – and I do mean obsessed – with this thought and I picked an example out of blue.  Of course I knew what a screen door was but I wanted to pinpoint the exact moment of when I learned that.

I asked my mother over and over again if she remembered teaching it to me.  Of course she didn’t.  I would let a few phone conversations go by without mentioning it and then I’d try again.

“Do you think maybe you said ‘open the screen door’ and I said, ‘what’s that?’ and you explained it?”

She actually began to hang up on me.  Finally, after months of this, she exasperatedly said, “I probably mentioned screen door and you saw a door with a screen and made the connection!”

I could tell she was just saying that to shut me up.

I’d ask friends if they remembered learning what a screen door was.  No one did.  Not a single one.  I started feeling like my need to find this out was getting dangerously close to having to count my steps or lick a light switch before turning it on or something so I tried to get it in check.  But even though I no longer asked about it aloud, I still wondered about it in private.

Months later,  I was having dinner with a friend who was visiting from California.  He was telling me a story about his next door neighbor and how he thought she was smoking hot when she came to his door but then, when he opened it, he was sorely disappointed.  Typical guy story.   But I didn’t understand why he would think she was hot when he hadn’t yet opened the door.  He explained:  it was because he had a screen door and she was all back-lit and he couldn’t see her face.

He did not know about my obsession.

He paused and then said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  Do you not know what a screen door is?  It’s a door,  but instead of being solid, there’s a screen.”  I flipped out.

“WHAT MADE YOU TELL ME THAT??  WHY DID YOU SAY THAT??”

“Oh, you just had such a weird expression on your face that I thought you didn’t know what it meant.”

Persistence paid off!  At last, here was the exact moment someone actually articulated the definition for me.  I’ve always heard it’s possible to manifest what you need, and here was proof.  I have no idea how, but I’m 100% sure that I somehow conjured up that explanation.  And since that’s true, logic follows that that must mean it’s also possible to conjure up more important things.  Like people and work and situations and experiences that add to my life rather than drain it.   It’s easy for me to forget that’s possible.  Luckily I had an ear of corn to make me circuitously remember.

Maybe after awhile it would get overwhelming if I knew where each fact inside my head came from. I know when I learned about the corn and the screen door.  And this week at least, I know when I re-learned the importance of concentrating on what I want in my life rather than all that’s there that bogs me down.  And, who knows?  Maybe that’s enough.

Share


Advertisements

Mind Games

What a crazy few days.  Posting twice in a week?  Totally nuts.  Don’t worry, it won’t become a habit.

I’m bleary-eyed.  I haven’t been sleeping well, which is not like me at all.  I’ve been having vivid (bad) dreams – also really unusual.   Well maybe it isn’t, but I don’t know since I rarely remember them.  Suffice to say, I’ve been having vivid (bad) dreams, which are now waking me up in the middle of the night and causing me to stay awake for hours.

First it was a traffic cop coming in through my hatchback door and attacking me.  It was super scary at the time, but the fact that I was driving a hatchback was the part that upset me most when I awoke.  Then I dreamed my mother fell down, hit her head and I’m pretty sure died, but I woke up before I found out.  She was wearing all white.  The morning after I had this dream, a friend of mine told me he dreamed that he reinvented silverware.  It’s just not fair.

I almost always get up at the crack of dawn each day to go to yoga, and this new sleeping issue is really hampering that habit.  I’ve just been too tired.  With yoga clearly not on the docket yesterday, I blearily stumbled to the corner deli to get coffee.

I’ve always loved the ritual of going out to pick up a cup of coffee.  Not good coffee, mind you, but corner deli coffee, or even better, cart coffee when that’s an option.  And if you’re shaking your head, shake harder:  I live directly next to the cutest, independent gourmet coffee shop.  I’m pretty sure they’re judging me as I walk past, wave, go to the deli and then walk past again, carrying a cup of crappy coffee from somewhere else.

The man who works in the coffee shop is interesting.  He’s the super of the building next to mine, works early mornings grinding beans,  afternoons in an antique shop and then walks neighborhood dogs at night.  He’s Peruvian and even though he’s been here for decades, still has the thickest accent you’ve ever heard.  He’s part of a NYC that I sometimes forget still exists.

For years, he would never acknowledge my existence.  We used to pass each other all the time as I was walking my dog, but he’d only glance down to him and in his syrupy accent say, “Helloooo, Reepy.” It wasn’t that he was unfriendly, it was just that he literally never made it up to my eye line.  But after Reepy died, he had no where else to look.  Gradually we began to stop and chat and he’d catch me up on the news of our block.

This particular morning he told me his brother-in-law had had a heart attack and died.  I remember actually thinking I don’t really hear of heart attacks much any more.  Maybe it’s just the people in my life cornering the market on cancers or something, but a heart attack sounded almost retro to me.

The extreme lack of sleep, my nightmares and that the fact that I was on a job which required a bunch of crazy long days in the middle of it all left me feeling extremely off-kilter and this news somehow seemed like a clue to something.   I felt on edge, the way you do when you’re waiting for a call that hasn’t yet come, which, come to think of it, was also the case for me.

I lean toward being a superstitious and “sign-y” person in general and boy, was my mind having a field day.

About 10 hours later I found out my mother was admitted to the hospital.  They thought she had a heart attack.  My bad dreams were immediately renamed omens.  It didn’t help that she got brought to a hospital directly across from a huge graveyard.  Easy in, easy out!  C’mon, seriously?

When I finally left her late last night,  I turned on my computer for a few minutes.  You know, to relax.  I read a friend’s status update, the gist of which was that the sun was going to swallow the earth soon, so we better all start living.  It was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep.  Maybe it was just my being super tired, but it seemed to sum up everything.  Kind of like what I was trying to say in my Working Girl post, but in one seemingly profound sentence.

Just now I went to double check that it was really as good as I remembered it on no sleep and lots of stress.  It was gone.  Just like that.  Did it vanish? Did I maybe only dream it?

Oh, great.  What  kind of sign is that?

Must be a good one.  My mom just got released, all good news.  Phew.  Okay, now start living.  That swallowing sun may be imminent.

Share

The Biggest Hit That Ever Was

Back in June, Fast Company had a Father’s Day contest.  They were giving away a pair of speakers and in order to win, you had to name what song reminded you most of your father and why.  But they only took submissions in the comments section and I needed to be able to add audio to properly answer, so I didn’t bother writing an entry.

But I liked the idea.   Even though I realized that it being a Father’s Day themed contest and all,  most of the submissions would be poignant and touching and would make me want to cringe.  You know, a song version of a Hallmark card.  I also knew if I had written mine, it wouldn’t be that at all.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I have plenty of poignant and touching memories of my dad, but my musical ones are just fun.

My father was born months premature – at home. He weighed only 2.5 lbs and was described as “the size of a chicken.”  I don’t eat meat, so I can’t be sure, but I believe a chicken is actually bigger. They did a make-shift incubator in the oven (gas!) by wrapping him up, keeping the heat on low and the oven door open.  It’s really a miracle he lived.

Years later, it was a less dramatic miracle that I was even born.  Doctors told my father over and over that he could never have kids, but I was stubborn even then.    If you look at pictures when we were each babies, the only way you can tell us apart is the age of the photograph.  One time when I was only a couple of months old,  my mother was pushing my carriage up Broadway and an old lady stopped her on the street.  She said she had babysat my father when he was that age and she knew the instant she saw me that I must be his.

My Dad had a crazy voice.  Growing up, his mother made him swallow Vick’s VapoRub whenever he had a cold because she believed it would work faster and better than rubbing it on his chest.  Then his uvula was cut by mistake when his tonsils were taken out.  His voice was doomed.  Even when he was a teenager he sounded like he was ancient.  It never sounded odd to me, but pretty much everyone else had a comment about it.

I know a ton about music and I credit him with about 30% of my knowledge.  But it’s probably more.  He had his own ton.  He’d sing me everything from operetta to Rod Stewart.  Thankfully I grew up in the analog age and as a teenager, I often walked around with a tape recorder.  I wish I still did it.  Here’s a conversation between us, which, had I grown up in the digital age, would have been forgotten immediately afterward:

“The Biggest Hit That Ever Was” (click me)

Later, I stumbled on a version of the song and flipped out.  I know that song!  How do I know it?  Oh my god!  I found the tape of the convo and lo and behold, there it was.

It’s not even the version he was talking about but because it’s the first one I discovered, it’s always been “the” song.

Now of course the reason that song reminds me of my father is obvious, but it’s funny how music works.  Sometimes a song can be my personal soundtrack for someone for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  Just a feeling it gives me.

The other day I heard a song which, for no apparent reason, reminds me of someone.  Someone pretty swell.  It’s such an unlikely track for a would-be love interest, but you know how music is.  Something can be playing faintly on the radio of a passing taxi, but if that taxi passes at the exact right moment then that song has a special power. Or in this case, a song could have absolutely no connection at all but still remind you of someone.

The song in question is the utterly chaste version of Tonight You Belong To Me by 1950s sister dynamos, Patience & Prudence.

It makes sense that you’d think the lyrics might apply and therefore be the reason I’m associating the person and the song, but that wouldn’t be right either.  My linking the song to the person is completely real, but truly baseless.  And it’s exactly that puzzling illogicalness that keeps me thinking about it.

Patience & Prudence: The Qualities, like Patience & Prudence:  the Singing Sensations really don’t figure into my life all that much.  But Patience & Prudence: The Qualities, unlike Patience & Prudence: The Singing Sensations are probably things I really should try to cultivate more of.

The problem is they’re the antithesis of every instinct I have.  Maybe it’s my Sagittarian nature, but whatever the reason, I’m much more in sync with Impatience and Imprudence.  And I’m not saying that proudly or anything.  Perhaps the reason I’m thinking of this song now is because Patience and Prudence never ever apply in my matters of the heart – and maybe this is some weird subconscious message?

Nah, not a chance.

Maybe it’s because Steve Martin did it in The Jerk?  But then I should be wondering why The Jerk reminds me of this person.  And he 100% does not remind me of Birth, a movie I loved and mostly everyone else hated, which also had the track.

I should stick to associating songs with people for completely explicable reasons only.  Like my father.  And by the way, Fast Company, if I had been able to upload the conversation along with my entry, I would have definitely won the speakers.

Fuck your lame submission process.

Share

Connections

I know everything is connected, but sometimes things feel more connected than usual.  For instance, I haven’t really written very many posts here, yet it seems like in the last couple of weeks, there could be connected updates to nearly every one of them.

Let’s see…

Because I wrote about my Oscars search, a Very Important Reader found the entire show for me and now I’ve seen it! Kathryn Bigelow!  Hurt Locker!  I noticed that the guy who won the Oscar for writing Precious BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘PUSH’ BY SAPPHIRE  was an actor I used once.

I thought it was particularly funny that when they panned to Sandra Bullock in the very beginning of the show, they said “Can that woman act – and what is up with all that Hitler memorabilia?” since the broadcast was before the subsequent gossip.  Anyway, I do feel complete now, having finally seen the show.  Plus I was able to read and discard all the old magazines that covered the event.  My living room and I both thank Very Important Reader.

Another update…way back in January when I was in Los Angeles with Awesome Photographer and we did that drive, we went so fast that the number 9 came off my watch.  I know that seems impossible, but I’m convinced it had to do with the extreme speed and the crazy switchbacks we navigated.  When we got back, I brought it into Tourneau, who sent it off to Switzerland to be fixed.  As you can probably guess if you read the previous post, I was really on the fence about fixing it.

If I didn’t, would that mean the loveless spell would be broken?  Ultimately I decided that I couldn’t not fix it.  If the curse was to be lifted, it would have to be by something beyond my control.  Several months and over a thousand dollars later, the watch was ready to be picked up this past week.

In between those two events, the person about whom the Lincoln, NE post was written, snuck back into my life.  I was, of course, initially wary and not sure that his reappearance was a good idea, but being the ever-optimistic Sagittarian, whatever doubts I had were ignored.  We were, finally, going to spend this past weekend together.  Were.  I picked up the watch on Thursday and on Friday, Lincoln wrote me a form-letter-like email canceling.  The very day we were supposed to go.

Damn watch.

I can’t stop wondering why it is that I am hyper-conscious of connections to these arbitrary events in my life and yet I am terrible about keeping connected to the more important things around me?

My friend Kate died this week.  She was young and had two daughters.  It was not unexpected, but in some ways, that makes it more tragic.

One time when we were riding the subway, long before 9/11, she told me that whenever she gets on a train, she does a quick look-around and mentally picks out who will be her friend in the event something disastrous happened.  I laughed and looked around the car.

“Who would be your friend on this train?” I asked.

She looked at me and just shook her head.

“Um, you.  You would be my friend.”

Kate was awesome.  And it turns out I was a terrible friend.  I was her friend on that train ride.  I just didn’t go the distance.  I let time and geography and excuses get in the way.

I could say that this was a wake-up call and I’ll always appreciate what and who is around me, but that wouldn’t be true.  It’s sad, but it’s more likely I’ll post some link on Twitter than pick up the phone to speak to a friend.

But if disaster ever does befall me when I’m on the subway, at least I know I have a plan.

Working Girl

I’ve been thinking lately that I work too much.  Way too much.  Even the job title itself seems pack mule-ish:  Producer.

For years I worked on staff at various ad agencies and lived and breathed each production. Freelancing, it’s even worse.  I’m always thinking that whatever project I’m working on will be my last, so I never let myself take days off or have a proper vacation.  And, I never say no.   I have to work while I have it, I think.  And it turns out, I always have it.  (Must knock on wood!  Can’t jinx it!)

Financially, it’s great.  Life-wise, I’m not so sure.  I actually love what I do, so it’s not a drag, but there comes a point, when I’m putting in yet another hour, that I have to wonder if all this is worth it.   I used to joke that when I died, my epitaph would be “She had a great reel,” but these days those five words don’t seem so funny.  Even loving what you do, how much work is just too much?

A few years ago I was going through a particularly rough time and a friend recommended I go to a psychic she knew.  I managed to remain tear-free long enough one cold winter’s day to do it.  The guy was amazing.  He told me a lot of stuff about my past that was completely accurate and I had no doubt that he was for real.

Yay!  I was excited to hear what he’d have to say about my future.  Things would have to get better.  And then he pulled the rug out.   “You will never worry about money.  Ever.  But you will never find love.”

What?!  How could he say that?  Even if that were true, didn’t he want repeat business?  Who would ever go back to him after hearing something like that?  I was in a fragile state as it was, but this news just made me crumble.

He continued.  “Oh, don’t let that bother you; you can always buy a bauble to distract yourself.”  Whoa.

As soon as I left his place, I burst into tears.  And two seconds later, I hailed a cab up to Tourneau and bought myself a watch I had been stalking for months.  And he was right; it did make me feel better.  Sort of.  It’s the perfect watch – so beautiful, so simple and I love its weight on my wrist.  But I look at my watch a million times every day and there is at least a quarter of a million times every day that my heart stings a little.

Constantly working allowed me to buy the thing that was supposed to distract me from the fact that I didn’t have anything in my life really worthwhile outside of work?  Hmmm.

This wasn’t the life that I was supposed to have.

When I was four, I went to day camp.  Being a Montessori run one, it was pretty cool.  One time, right before Parent’s Day, they gave us each a large piece of wallpaper and some pen and ink and had us draw what we wanted to be when we grew up.  It was a pretty advanced art project for a bunch of four year olds.

On Parent’s Day, they laid out all the pictures with our names covered up.  There were probably 20 or so paintings on the ground.  There were firemen and ballerinas.  Astronauts and police officers.  Baseball players and office workers.  There was a lot to look at.  My mom asked me which was mine, but I refused to tell her.

“Which one do you like best?” I asked.  She tried to tell me numerous times that they were all great, but I was having none of it.  “Which one do you like best?”

She knew there was no way out and pointed to one.  “I love this, but I’m not sure I understand it.”

“Wait, you knew it was mine!” I said.  But I realized she couldn’t have.

“I love it,” she repeated. “But can you explain it?  What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I remember thinking that was such a stupid question.  She was looking right at it. It was a girl, outside,  holding  flowers.  How could she not tell?

She asked again.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  This time I answered.

“Happy.”

She still has it framed in her bedroom.

The older I get, the more I want to find a way to reconcile the workaholic me with the four year old me.  But, I don’t know know, maybe, just maybe, I’m not as far off as I think.  My work does make me happy, so perhaps I should aim for just a little less happiness in my life.  You know, get a bit more balance.

I’m going to make that painting my desktop image – as a reminder.  Hey, it’s a start.

Share

And the Oscar goes to…

I have been horribly remiss about posting.  Things in my world have been slightly off kilter.  Almost normal, but not.  For one thing, I still don’t know who won the Oscars.  And I am a die-hard Oscar fan.

What I mean to say is that I’m a die-hard movie fan, but the Oscars are probably the most important night of the whole year for me.  And the morning the nominations are announced is probably the most important morning of the whole year for me.

By that time, I’ve more or less seen the films I want to see and the remaining weeks until the ceremony are spent catching up on the handful I missed – as well as seeing the ones I really am not interested in but have to see because they were nominated.  If I’m really busy, as I was this year, it becomes almost like work.  Sometimes I don’t even enjoy it.

About two weeks before ‘the’ event, I found out that I had to be away, far away with no Oscar access.  And apparently Time Warner doesn’t let you set your DVR that far in advance.  Missing the show was all I could think about.  Well that and flying coach, but nothing else.

Then, just like a cheesy movie plot, shortly before I was to leave, someone kind of amazing came into my life.  Someone who seemed as crazy about the Oscars as I.  He seemed, then at least, amazing for lots of reasons.  It was an extremely finite period of amazingness, but that wasn’t apparent till later.  Back then, it was an intoxicating combination of someone who was super interesting, a good kisser and who would DVR the Oscars for me.  Ooooh, that’s a bingo!

The cheesy movie plot continued.  I received an apologetic email the day after the show.  He didn’t tape it.   I mentioned this to a  guy I was with in Faraway Land.  “I don’t know…if I liked you, I would have made sure I taped it.  That’s kind of what you do.”  I tried to ignore that.

What I couldn’t ignore was that I didn’t have the Oscars telecast.  I didn’t want a list of the winners.  I didn’t want to watch a clip of the Best Picture or Best Actor awards.  I wanted every minute, including the songs and the Irving R. Thalberg Tribute.  I even wanted the at-last-week’s-luncheon-we-gave-the-Technical-Awards speech.

I wanted my best night of the year.

I called my friend, Phillip.  He loves the Oscars; he would have taped it.  “Oh, sorry, I only have the Red Carpet.”  I looked online, all over.  I called everyone I knew.  No one had the entire show.  So I waited. I’d have to find it somehow.  I didn’t want the news any other way.

I didn’t use my computer for well  over a week.  I was with only a few people and, they, thankfully, respected my craziness and never spoke of the show or its winners.  I didn’t read any newspapers or turn on the television.

By the time I got home a couple of weeks later, the headlines had moved on.  I told my neighbor to make sure all my magazines were face down when she gave me my mail.  They’re still sitting that way in my living room.

Mr. Amazing was gone.  In his place was Mr. Indifferent.  He wasn’t nearly as fun to spend time with.  Or at least I’m guessing he wouldn’t have been;  I never saw much of him.  The cheesy movie plot never developed, not even in a straight-to-DVD fashion.

42 days later and I still don’t know who won.   Should I just read the list of winners already and give up trying to find the real thing?  It’s kind of ridiculous that I still hold out hope that I’ll find someone who taped the show, still has it saved, and will let me come over and watch it.  In silence of course.  I like my Oscar experience pure.  It’s also kind of ridiculous that I think about that teensy amount of Mr. Amazing time more than the vast amount of Mr. Indifferent time.

I’ve had my Academy acceptance speech written for years.   I’m on stage.  I look at Oscar and then I look to camera.

“Mommy…(pause)….I finally met the man of my dreams.”

Cut.

Share

Life Coach

At the time of this writing, I’m four hours and thirty-eight minutes into a fifteen hour flight – and then will still have a few more hours to go after that.  I’ve traveled a fair amount, and this isn’t my first “long-haul,” but for some reason I have had a lot of anxiety surrounding this trip.

For one thing, I’m flying coach.  This would be awful on its own, but I haven’t been able to stop mentioning it.  And every time I mention it, it makes me feel worse.  At first my “in coach!” emphasis followed a logical flight-related statement.  Then it mutated into bringing anything and everything back to my flight.

Would you like another bourbon?  Yes, it’s not like I can have that in coach!  I can’t talk now.  I’m on my way to yoga, to practice for the contortions in coach!  It’s freezing out…kinda like the air in coach!

Finally it’s become like that ridiculous “in bed” game that people play with fortune cookies.  I guess it’s a battle scar; I wish I didn’t have it, but I’m not going to let you forget I went to war.

I’ve also been nervous about the ability for this plane to get to its destination intact.  I should stress that I’m not usually a nervous flyer.  And of course I’m wearing my lucky necklace, which has never yet let me down.  But even before I ticketed, this flight seemed troubled.  And it hasn’t helped that Seat-Mate has the same feeling.  Our paranoia is feeding off of each other.  We even discussed that maybe our sense of foreboding has nothing to do with the flight itself, but is because the world may end while we’re in the air.  It would be a shame to have flown this far in coach only to step out to a barren land.   It’d be more horrific though if the the world did end but somehow and we could  fly around forever, in coach,  fueling up from sky-buoys.

I don’t want to die right now nor do I ever want to die in coach. I want to live to make the coach flight back.  This bit of traveling came at the wrong time.  So often when I’m home, I’d like to be away, but right now all I can think of is being home.  And I haven’t even arrived yet!  I’m not sure if there is a difference between missing and longing, or if it even matters, but I’m feeling a really strong pull back to my Tree of Souls.

I heard a story the other day about an Air India flight and how it was a complete free-for-all.  A woman decided to sleep in the galley because her seat was uncomfortable.  The flight attendants preferred poker to attending to the flight.  At one point, they put a tea cart out and made an announcement that people should just  help themselves if they wanted anything, and then returned to their cards.  In order to get the tea,  however, one would have to step over the sleeping body on the floor.

I loved this story.  Finally, I had one thing that made me feel that things could be worse.  I had just finished telling Traveling Companion that story and within five minutes of my doing so, our flight attendant made this PA announcement:  “Welcome on board.  Smoking is not permitted and there is no sleeping on the floor.”  For real.

It’s kind of funny, but I really don’t think that I’d have fully appreciated that moment if I hadn’t been in coach.

And in case you were wondering how this got posted, the lucky necklace prevailed.  And brought me this:

Share