Love, Carrie Fisher, 2016, Etc.

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Carrie Fisher, my first bad-ass role model.

Oh, 2016, you were a pain.  Here I thought I had survived the death of my mother, turning 40, love/career disappointments, turning 40, the transformation of my country into a Banana Republic and, climate change (holy shit, California can get cold).  I knew this season would be a hormone-filled time and figured the second holiday season after my mother died would be difficult, but on the heels of personal and political events, holiday-spirit shattering PMS, an 8 hour bus ride, and a couple of deaths too many (celebrity and otherwise), it hit me like a medical bill that doesn’t quite meet the deductible.

While home in the East Bay Area (Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito for those not familiar with the Bay Area…hella chill), I dug through some old boxes to find this signed autograph of Carrie Fisher that I received when I joined her fan club in 1978-9(?).  I could not believe that the ink with which she signed her name belonged to a pen that she may have TOUCHED WITH HER OWN HANDS.

People sometimes told me I looked like Carrie Fisher and I took that to mean that we had a “connection.”  As I got older, I admired Carrie Fisher’s great comedy writing in “Postcards From The Edge,” and, really, the underlying message that her mom was still the most important person in her life. What struck me most about Debbie Reynolds passing one day after her beloved daughter, besides the tragedy for her granddaughter, was that it seemed like a testament to the fact that they were each other’s greatest love.

While in old-crap-digging mode I also found an old journal from my junior high school years in which I must have written the word “love” 1,000 times.   I also wrote that “being funny and sophisticated” are “the most important things in a personality.” (I STILL BELIEVE THAT. HELL YA 14-YEAR-OLD SELF.)    But mostly I wrote about “love.” Sometimes I loved life or my friends, but usually I loved a male figure who I just glanced at while played Centipede at the Arcade.  “Love” was the promised land,  acceptable heroin.   As a teenager, and well, now, I lived only to find only this thing called “love.”

On New Year’s Eve 1985 when my best friend and I either snuck out of her parents’ house or just walked out because they weren’t there — or just walked out because they didn’t really mind if two 12-year-olds walked the streets at night — and met two boys.    “Purple Rain” had lodged Prince into our hormones (and he’s still there), and as my friend pointed out, it’s no accident that the mixed-race boys we walked with at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1985 looked a lot like him. Behind us that year, was the year of pop’s greatest hits.  Ahead of us was “Take On Me” by A-ha and “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder.  We were on the road to finding “love.” COULD LIFE GET ANY BETTER?

It seems, at best, creepy, that we were thought we would find “love” in these two thugs.   If I had children, they would be the love of my life.  But as it is, the love of my life was my mother.  I’m sure it’s next to impossible to explain that to a hormone-filled pubescent.   But at least I figured out.

Posted in Aging, Election 2016, Emotional Stuff, Hillary Clinton, Is It All Going To Shit?, Mom, New Year, Spoken In An Old Lady Voice | Comments Off on Love, Carrie Fisher, 2016, Etc.

Slay Ride – A Comedy Benefit Show

slay_ride2I got tired of feeling depressed about the election, Aleppo, the creaky sound my knee makes, etc., and decided to direct my energy into something positive, if not helpful…So I am very excited to announce the fundraiser comedy benefit, “Slay Ride.”   Support your community and get “slayed” (always need a pun) with laughter on Friday, December 16th, 2016 at the Fanatick Salon. All proceeds go to benefit St. Joseph’s Center. Arrive at 7:30 pm for wine and appetizers and music.  Line up includes the Kevin Camia, Kazu Kusano, Morgan Jay, Julia Austin, Judith Shelton, Brian Kiley, Greg Edwards and, yes, me.  For more information, visit the event page.

 

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How Are You Holding Up?

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I’m not into guns, but I do feel the spirit of French female resistance fighters in this time.

In the “echo chamber” of my blogosphere/social media-sphere it comes as no surprise that the 2016 Election changed my life,  sense of my place in the world, and  immune system in many ways.  (I was about to say “profound” ways but I just can’t use that word anymore in the era of T** p).

We’ve made it through the roller coaster of the past two weeks.   BUT HOW?  For the purpose of my own blog-cessing, here is a recap of my post-election emotional roller coaster experience.

 

Election Night: I go to bed devastated.

Post Election

Day 1: I wake up feeling like I spent the night drinking grain alcohol.   I prepare for an audition for a bilingual commercial and am grateful that I have something else to think about.   I recite my line, “Cual es la pelicula del esqueleto que se aburre?” and, thanks to the election, I forget to ask myself, “This is my life?”

Later, a guy at Starbucks asks me if I like Trump and then follows up with, “Women like men in power.” Is this the type of daily harassment I need to prepare for?  Note to self: Avoid sitting at community tables.

Day 2:  Jessica and I process our feelings on Jessica & Solange Take Down The Patriarchy.  We agree that we need to podcast before the Nasty Woman Act of 2017 goes into effect and we need our husbands or fathers to sign release forms before we can speak in public.

Day 3: I accept that I know Trump supporters.  How could I not know the values of people around me?  Decide to deal with Trump supporters in the only logical and appropriate manner: avoid them until 2020.

Day 4: Realize that my 2016 Vision Board contains images of Prince, Hillary Clinton and David Bowie.  I didn’t realize that I know Black Magic.

Day 5: I perform in two comedy shows.  I see friends.  I remember laughter.

Day 6: I go to yoga.  Yoga teacher talks about “weird energy” and teaches an “easy” class. My back cracks twice.  Maybe everything will be OK?

Day 7: Bannon appointment announced. No, everything will not be OK.

Day 8:  I have a conversation with a friend who watched Leslie Stahl’s interview with Trump’s 60 Minutes episode.  (I could not bring myself to watch it).  She convinces me that his racist hate-filled speech could be “campaign” rhetoric.  Again, I slip into a state of coffee-induced denial.  Maybe he won’t be that bad?

Day 9:  Jeff Sessions announced as top candidate for Attorney General.  Denial over. I consider going “off the grid” and avoid reading the paper.  I still learn that Mike Flynn announced as National Security Advisor.   I breathe news in the air.

Day 10:  I accept my deep depression.   Maybe this is a permanent state.  Friend invites me to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” with her tickets from work.  Oh, my God! Art! Expression! Music! Joy! There is a life after this election.  I vow to dedicate myself to the arts.  Realize I can’t sing like Lena Hall. No one can.

Day 11: I’m worried about Hillary.  Where did she go?  It’s not like she can go to a support group for former female presidential candidates.  We can’t afford to have her to go into Al Gore depression. We need you Hillary!  I go into a PMS/election depression compounded with too much sugar.   I go dance salsa.  That kind of helps.

Day 12: I am sick again.  I might have the flu.  I realize I can’t absorb events in my body or I will die.  I watch some Saturday Night Live skit.  The only good thing to come of this election is the realization that Alec Baldwin has talent.

Day 13:  Wake up at 6:00 am and read news articles.  Accept the possibility of war, recession, unrest, poverty, violence…basic apocalypse.  Make coffee.  Decide to be grateful for all I have today.  Blog.

I accept that this blog will have no relevance tomorrow or the week after.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!

Posted in Election 2016, Emotional Stuff, Politics | Comments Off on How Are You Holding Up?

Thank You Hillary

Dear Secretary Clinton,

As the dust settles on last Tuesday’s devastating election results, more dust keeps falling on top of it. The bombs keep coming down; from the appointment of Steve Bannon bomb to God knows what comes next.   I helped cause those bombs and maybe need them to wake me out of a coma I didn’t know I was in.  Ever since November 8th, around 7:30 pm, when the election results bitch-slapped me into acceptance of a world that could come, like many, I have struggled with facing this new world and what part I may have played to cause it. The grief is multi-layered. I fear for the future, but I also for the loss of a country under your leadership, what now seems like an over-optimistic hope that I would see not only a female president come to office, but a woman who raised me and other women to a new place in America.  Whatever the results, your campaign changed my life.

I can not begin to imagine the emotions you experienced on the evening of November 8the. For the past ten months I watched with awe and fascination as you have blazed down the campaign trail, undeterred by the insanity, lies, hate and misogyny, of which a fraction of which would have thrown me into depression and despair.   It did not have that affect on you. Even after your loss you fight.   It’s weird to say this, but I did not know that was an option.

Like many professional women, in my life I have sat around grey conference tables in offices filled with men, dudes, boys, whatever…wondering if my pants are too tight or not tight enough, if I am feminine enough to be acknowledged or masculine enough to do the job. Spending more time on how to not sound bitchy, but confident, yet assertive, but humble, than on the task at hand.  Wondering if I am crazy.  And I never doubted that it was my duty to think as much about my physical and verbal presentation as my work. I’m embarrassed by this now, but that’s the truth and I know I’m not alone.  It did not occur to me until 2016 that I gave my power away to a system that never earned a fraction of my respect; that words like old hag, unattractive, witch, bitch don’t mean anything.  That people can fire me or hate me, but nobody can stop me.

I have no doubt that you will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders of our time. I am so proud to have supported you and I will follow you anywhere.  Please don’t go away, keep fighting.  You are still my president.

With Love & Gratitude
Solange

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Devastated

Shit got real and I got down on my knees and prayed.

Shit got real and I got down on my knees and prayed.

Monday evening I felt fatigued. I chalked it up to the flu and the election. I went to phone bank for Hillary Clinton and then to an acting class. I felt terrible throughout the acting class, but thought maybe I just hate acting exercises?  I came home and went to sleep. The next morning, I felt worse, but I got up and walked to the polls at the Lifeguard Station in Venice (California-style voting). I stood in the wrong line at the poling place and sweated in the hot sun.

I ran into my neighbor who had tears in her eyes.  Strangely, I did not feel the joy I thought I would in casting my vote for the first female presidential candidate in US history.  I figured I was just hungry so I got a breakfast burrito at my favorite Mexican place and walked home.  I cried all the way.

When anything good or momentous happens in my life I miss my mom with all my heart. It’s palpable.  Sure, I can still talk to her picture, but I can’t hear her voice; her worry, anxiety or blood curdling advice. (I would give anything to hear her order me to find a short, bald rich guy to date).   She did not like Hillary, but I think she, like many, would have come around.  And she would have loved to cast a vote for a female president.

I felt worse when I got home.  Something weighed on me.   I checked the New York Times which had her at an 84% chance of winning (it might have been lower, I’m not sure).  I texted a friend about my fears that Trump would win and he said not to worry. I felt w orse and worse and considered calling the advice nurse. I didn’t have a sore throat or cough, but I felt like I had a fever.  I just lied on the couch and watched election coverage.

At 6:38 pm things already looked bad.  I texted my same friend that I was “Freaking out…” He said it could be a long night.  At 7:52 pm I texted him again: “WTF….is this for real?” He said he was shocked.  I realized I had never really believed in the possibility of a Trump presidency.  At one point, I started watching “Westworld” and eating gluten free tuna sandwiches, anything to escape reality. But it didn’t last.  I panicked. I cried. I took deep breaths and even closed my computer and meditated. (I don’t have a TV).  I decided that maybe my mother, who once worked for Cesar Chavez,  had been spared this turn in the real American horror story.

At 8:00 pm I created an altar with the Virgin Mary statue that my grandmother gave me years ago and some candles.  At 8:30 pm I got on my knees and prayed…to my mom, my grandmother, the universe. I prayed for our country.   Not since my mother told me that the doctor had diagnosed her with cancer have I felt my paradigm shift in such a dramatic fashion.  I struggled to accept reality.

But it happened.  I, like many, had been naive and maybe lazy.  I was out of touch along with the New York Times, LA Times, FiveThirtyEight.com…the media gave Trump a platform and underestimated his messages appeal to a population of Americans that have long been ignored and dismissed.

The next day I felt physically better but my heart hurt   I don’t think I had the flu. I think my body saw the election results before I did.

Still praying.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Politics | Comments Off on Devastated

The Election of My Lifetime

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Any more questions?

In my twenties, I once debated the electability of a woman vs. a black man with a friend. We decided that a black man would get elected before a woman in this country. As Sady Doyle so brilliantly pointed out in this awesome piece, it sucks to be right.

Liberal white men loved voting for Barack Obama.  For many micro-brewery, plastic-frame wearing white dudes, that election healed the burden of guilt they didn’t know they had and made “post-racism” seem like a real thing.  Do I need to point out that Hilary Clinton has not had such an effect? The powerhouse, hardest working, most experienced, steel-willed woman in politics still has to (as of this moment)  fight to beat the lazy Superhero of White Male Contempt and Hostility (I have yet to hear the proper description of T**p…to call him a Cheeto-faced lazy bigot seems generous). Because unlike racism, prior to this moment, and maybe not even them, sexism has never been a thing anyone feels guilty about. In fact, before 2016, sexism hardly existed.

But thanks to the demon child of America, the man whose name I will not say, misogyny and sexism now has a neon Vegas-style sign that blinks and blinds and, like the empty Vodka bottles found in the trash or the credit card statement with charges to strip clubs, the problem has undeniable hard proof.  T**p’s Yosemite Sam-meets-Hitler level of a caricature has illustrated misogyny’s place in America in a way that any Susan Faludi op ed could not.  He’s the gift feminism has waited for.  A less multi-dimensional Dr. Evil whose message you can not ignore, dismiss or defend.  He’s the Ghostbuster’s Staypuft Marshmallow man-proof women needed and no amount of smooth mansplaining can make him go away. Women who have fought and struggled in politics, finance, technology, medicine, or while cleaning hotels (also, a must-read!), don’t have to ask themselves if maybe they just are a little too sensitive, not a “team player,” or PMS-ing.  JUST LOOK AT THESE TWO CANDIDATES SIDE BY SIDE AND DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS.

You did it, America!  (And you did it for xenophobia, racism and anti-muslim/mexican immigrant sentiment).

My friend pointed out the patience with which I address male friends on Facebook who politely ask in my comments about Hilary: How can I justify her support for the war  Iraq? How can I support her treatment of Bill’s accusers? How can Hilary can support Louis CK’s sexist endorsement (cuz she’s a politician!)?   All semi-reasonable questions and, yet, set up to challenge or somehow wobble me, like we’re sitting in a conference and I meekly brought up an idea that will get swatted like a lion’s tail on a fly.   She’s right.  Sady Doyle is right.  I don’t have waste my life answering any more questions, just look at the election of 2016 and use your atrophied empathy skills.  We no longer need to justify our battle fatigue anymore.  THAT TIME IS OVER, BROS.  GO HILARY!

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“Ladies of the Night” and Other Scariness From Junior High School

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“Ladies of the Night” was our “tag name.” We had NO IDEA what it means.

A few years ago, my Mom handed me an old grocery bag on which I’d once written in black marker, “Do Not Touch!”

“These are your notes from junior high…” she said, “Take it!”   I opened the bag to find hundreds of  historical remnants of the most insane time in my life.  Throughout 7th – 9th grade my friends and I wrote “notes” —   text message handwritten on paper —  to each other every day.  We folded them up into little footballs or origami shapes and passed them to each other in the hallway between periods, hoping that we made it to our next class without getting shoved, “capped on” or sexually assaulted.  I am, sadly, not exaggerating.

Back in the early 80s, parenting wasn’t a “thing,” more of a fly-by-night check in.   As such, college educated adults in Berkeley allowed their children to walk into the Wild West of junior high schools.  Each day, my best friend and I— we’ll call her “Jane”— walked to school, our eyes slathered in Boy George-style liner, our hair standing on end with gel, entered a petri dish of burgeoning drug dealers, well-seasoned pot-heads, and future convicts  (how I wish I were joking) and, gladly, documented the adventure of our days.

Since most notes were written to me, I don’t have too much embarrassing evidence of my  insanity…but what I have is plenty.  In one of the few notes I wrote to Jane, I mention “cutting” (class), getting “burnt” (high), and “fine guys” who I also referred to as “men,” despite the fact that, as Jane so eloquently put “the best we ever get are always 4’9″ or less.”  She was “capping” on my taste in some 90 lb. 8th grader.   In another note, featured above, I or Jane, wrote out our “tag” name, graffiti-style, “Ladies of the Night.”  At one point a guy friend, now Jane’s husband, informed us what the expression “Ladies of the Night” refers to.  But we were not deterred; we figured cool girls call themselves “ladies” and went out at “night.”  What’s the big deal?   (Oh, the horror…thank God I don’t have a daughter…).

Whatever we missed in class (when we didn’t miss class) we made up for with our own  epistolatory drive.  Jane wrote me somewhere in the hundreds of detailed notes (which I won’t publish because, well, she has kids), with dates, times, names, and detail of activities of the girls and boys

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Ok, Mom, so maybe I was a little heavy on the eye make-up.

Violence and sexuality intertwined in my psyche like those plastic lanyards I made at camp. Amidst the sounds of Prince’s ubiquitous 1984 and Madonna’s Material Girl, (1984 was pop music’s greatest year) the smell of pot and Ralph Lauren’s “Polo,” and the feel of Wet n’ Wild lipstick stolen by the local drugstore.  (I hope there’s a statute of limitations).  The police frequented our campus, as did hallway fights and notorious stories of violence.   One time a student dropped a desk on a teacher from a bridge.  After a “fine” guy talked to me one day, he kicked a kid’s face in.  To this day I feel for that poor kid.  I felt sorry for the teachers, who, whether or not they cared, at any moment might have to stand in the middle of a fight.

Lacking discernment and filled with my own frustration and anger, I took for granted the fear and aggression of this environment. But I can’t say it was bad for me.    Not surprisingly, in a few years, many of the kids at the center of the violent whirling dervishes left school, for drugs, “juvey” or worse.   The rest of us struggled with academic failure, marijuana, or as my notes attest too, extreme mood swings.  However, most turned out pretty well.  Many of my friends from that time, middle class kids, became successful interesting adults: my 8th grade class included Rebecca Romeijn, Lyrics Born, documentary filmmakers, actors, singers and writers.

I think about this when I meet my friends’ teen kids,  whose lives could not be more different.  It’s not just that they get picked up and dropped off from school, or that the major threat in their lives comes through social media, but if one fraction of the events at King Jr. High took place at their schools, there would be a parent riot.

I only got in trouble once in Junior High.   I can only say that I am quite a good actress.  My mother later explained her lack of suspicion of me by saying, “You looked so innocent.” Maybe I was.  Maybe we all were.

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Take A Bath In White Light, Hilary

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Where’s the secret service when you need them?

Last night’s Hilary v. The Patriarchy Horror Show left me feeling like I had witnessed a college freshman in the first week of school barely escape a rape-y fraternity unscathed.   Hilary is no freshman, but by the end of the night That Guy (I can’t even call him by name) felt like he could have been a stand-in for the creature in “Predator.” This “debate” triggered my PTSD from 1) every job where I have had to explain myself to a White Sociopathic Misogynist Male (WSMM) who begins sentences with, “Let me tell you something…” and 2) felt myself in physical danger.

There’s no reasoning with guys like him.   There’s no discussion, debate, or conversation. Every time I have tried to explain myself to a WSMM, whether he’s a boss-man, or just an aggressive type, the unspoken understanding in our exchange always amounts to the same thing: testosterone, manhood and white skin “trumps” everything else. Underneath the “words” is the tacit assumption, “I will crush you”

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-4-18-18-pmI always felt like these men looked at me in confusion, like, “How could you not know that I will win?”  In the end, none of the battles seemed worth it and they really weren’t. Women doing great work leave advertising, technology, medicine or any field all the time.  And I wasn’t doing great work.  Nor did I care that much about it.   Perhaps, if I did, I would have stuck it out.   But maybe not.

But in Hilary’s case,  it IS worth it.  She knew, perhaps at an early age, that she did have the “stamina.”  (Which he seemed to give her credit for last night by saying that she “doesn’t give up.”)  She also has years of working with white men in politics,  the necessary armor to withstand threats, anger, “words” (SHE KNOWS WORDS), not to mention, a non-stop media barrage of negativity on her character, life, professional work, and husband.  But she, the mightiest of women, must have still had to suffer some delayed reaction to the toxicity of standing a few feet from a lying, probably violent, large WSMM who appeared, to me at least, to want to harm her.   Trump could have given some tips to Jason or Freddy Krueger (ok, so who are the new local murderer guys? ).   I thought maybe a Secret Service Agent should step in.   In other words, THAT WAS SOME DARK SCARY SHIT.

I felt sick as I watched the debate last night and couldn’t shake the feeling till today.   She really didn’t display that much vulnerability, as she launched into standard policy talk…and, yet, she looked like little bird, doing her best to ignore the danger.

Did she even need to show up?  Would it have hurt her campaign to say, no thanks, we’re good?   Hilary, take a bath in white light and cancel the next debate.   You got this, girl.

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Podcast – “Jessica & Solange Take Down The Patriarchy”

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I met my feminist soulmate, an amazing woman named Jessica Cabot and we started a podcast.  Listen to Jessica and I deconstruct movies on  “Jessica & Solange Take Down The Patriarchy”!

Posted in Feminism, TV/Movies, Women | Leave a comment

How To Survive The Loss Of A Parent

For quite a while now I have wanted to write about how I’ve survived the loss of my mother, a loss that seemed inconceivable to me even a year before she died.  I struggle each time I sit down to write, but I still feel like it’s important to share something of my experience because, well, it literally happens to everyone.  However, American culture refuses to accept death.  It’s a dirty secret. We fight against it. We celebrate longevity and cling to youth.  As a result, grieving people live in even quieter desperation.   Losing a parent is an identity crisis. I will never go back to who I was before she died.   It’s been a year and 7 months and I have somehow survived…but how? If I were to give advice on what to do after the loss of a parent (because that’s all I know), I would say the following:

1. Give Yourself Permission To Be a Rude Weirdo – Best to stop talking to people (at least in the beginning).  Why? Because people are terrible.  They complain about their jobs and car problems and the discord will make you want to scream, “WHO CARES? WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE ANYWAY!” at the top of your lungs.  Also, nobody wants to hear about your boring depressing grief.   How are you?  Oh, my mother died so it’s really a personal apocalypse and I kind of move through a gelatinous murky substance…how are you?  Death and grief is a serious bummer topic in our culture. Talk to dogs and cats, and butterflies and flowers…and maybe another person who also lost someone close.    Find a select group of people and let everyone else know that you’ve taken a vow of silence.

For a while, I lost my ability to engage in small talk.  I walked away from several painful conversations at a family holiday party by making myself seem heavily invested in the Manchego and Brie. “I can’t do this,” I told my friend and left her at my own family party. (She was having fun).  I could barely muster up a  “I’m fine, forget about talking about someone’s kids, work, house.   Gradually, my ability to talk about boring things came back.   Now I am almost back to normal in my ability to have meaningless conversations about nothing, but which satisfy some weird social contract.  But for a time, I had to give myself permission to be a rude weirdo.

2. Sure, Why Not Go To Therapy? – I joined a grief support group and I have to say it did provide some comfort. It might have helped that the people were my age and had also lost a parent.  We talked a lot about our loss, but we also talked about how far away we felt from our community and our friends.   It can be really lonely dealing with grief in this world.

3. Watch Shows About Grief – TV shows tend to belong to a category of personal tastes.   However, I love the world of The Walking Dead, in part, because people die every day.  Characters I love die.  Fucking Tyrese died!  The producers don’t care how much you love their characters.  As of right now, nobody knows who died at the end of Season 6 (GLENN?!), but I am prepared to see an episode about inconsolable grief come October 23.    I also really loved The Leftovers, which really depicted the weirdness and shock of the experience of having someone in your life just disappear.

4. Dress Up – I have so many dresses. I love dresses, but  never have an occasion to pull out the big guns.  But who cares?  Sometimes I just put on my dress and go out to have drinks or even Target.  Celebrate today or tonight with something that seems too fancy. (Who cares? We are all going to die, anyway).

5. Write in Your Journal – I have always written in my journal but now I am hardcore.  Sometimes I write about my dreams and they really help me understand what’s going on in my head and heart.   Sometimes I dream about my mom.   My aunt tried to help me differentiate whether she was alive or dead in my dream.  I’m not sure it matters, but I do think that my dreams can bring wisdom and healing.

6. Treat Yourself Awesome – If you’re anything like me, you have regrets about your relationship with the deceased.  I think everyone does.   I try to be extra kind to myself to counter the impulse to feel guilt, remorse or self-hate.  Sometimes I spend too much money on shoes or clothes, but mostly I try to prepare healthy meals, take my time to go to yoga or exercise, get my hair styled, go for a long  walk, and just enjoy the fact that I am here.

7. Take Musical Improv Or Just Listen To Music – I signed up for a musical improv course on an impulse to do anything to experience something other than grief.  I loved it.     Ok, so it’s also scary and a little stressful, so maybe it’s not for everyone, so maybe just listen to music and sing.   Listen to whatever you want.  Sometimes I (ahem) listen to musicals on Pandora.  Other times, it’s Adele, or Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran.  Corny, or cheezy, it doesn’t matter.

8. Dance, Dance, Dance! – One Wednesday afternoon, I sat at home sweating in my hot apartment, and tempted to feel sorry for myself, when something told me to look at the classes offered at Santa Monica College dance program.   It was the last day that they would still accept enrollment and about twenty minutes before a jazz dance class started.  I jumped in my car and drove and got there fifteen minutes late, but in time to sign up.  That class got me through the fall and winter.  I often came out of it sweaty and as happy I’ve ever been.   Everyone was 18-22, but I didn’t care (and nobody else did).  That class made that period of time, months after my mom died, bearable and gave me something to look forward to each week.

9. Leave an Abusive Job  –  Seriously!  Take this job and shove it! I know sometimes we need a job to pay our bills, but if you can, say, “Adios!” to the co-worker who makes life a nightmare.  Ideally, we all leave abusive job situations, anyway. But definitely after your mom dies.  For some reason right after my mom died I lost two of my sources of income and then ended up in a couple of bad work situations.   I stayed for two months in one place where I counted the minutes till I could leave.  That’s the last full time office job I have had.   (thank you, God! Mom?)

10. Open Your Mind About The After Life – I wrote a blog about the flickering lights in my apartment, despite the fear that I would appear like Kristin Wiig’s character in Ghostbusters (she’s an academic who wants to be taken seriously despite her belief in ghosts).    The truth is I feel my mom’s presence in my life. And sometimes my lamps flicker on and off.  They are also both lamps that she gave me.   I moments when I feel something, and a butterfly will appear.    It’s not just the sense that she might be somewhere, but that this thing called “death” is more mysterious than we know. I can get a lot more woo-hoo about it, but I’ll spare you.

11. Talk To Your Loved One – In Mexico they cook meals on Dia De Los Muertos and talk and spend time with their loved ones.  I talk to my mom everyday. I have battery operated candles always lit and I believe that she hears me. Again, it may feel crazy, but I promise something shifts. I believe she gives me guidance and I actually listen to her now, as opposed to when she was alive.

To be continued…

Posted in Death, Emotional Stuff, Mom | Leave a comment

I Don’t Know What To Say

A few weeks ago, I drove to Skid Row in Downtown LA to hand out waters.   I met some nice young white folks at a Von’s and filled my car with hundreds of plastic water bottles (but plastic water bottles aren’t sustainable?! cried White People FB….WE’RE GIVING OUT WATER TO HOMELESS PEOPLE).  Myself and a costume designer wandered down a section of streets handing out bottles in the sun.   Most people accepted them with undue gratitude, that felt overwhelming to me.   One woman, LaToya, took three cases and  asked to have her picture taken with us.   When someone accused her of trying to sell them she called him a “metal head.”    (The organizers told us not to give out cases..but, seriously, what horror could come out of a case of water?)

What stayed with me was the woman who asked for extra water for her three children (most likely hidden from the public in one of the tents), the young pretty woman airing out her tent, doing housekeeping, while her boyfriend came out with his pipe, the guy who asked if I was single and/or had any food, the visibly high woman named “Chocolate” who wanted cases for her five kids, the sense of community, and the smell of urine and garbage.

The heavy load of water in my car ended up putting pressure on a a spray can I bought when I found a piece of tree sap that wouldn’t come off of MY NEW CAR.  God forbid, tree sap ruin my day.  Unbeknown to me, at the time, the can expelled it’s contents and my car filled toxic fumes.  I drove back to West LA with the windows open.  My friend Joe later said, “No good deed goes unpunished.”  Or, perhaps, no ridiculous obsession with your car goes un-toxified.

After Orlando, and then, this week, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, I have been uncharacteristically silent.   I haven’t gone back to Skid Row. I worry about buying property, being able to afford a plane ticket, losing five pounds.  It’s so much easier to worry about that piece of car sap.

 

Posted in Is It All Going To Shit?, Justice | Leave a comment