Ensemble

It’s odd how some things come together.  One blogger friend writes about a word every day, and how it impacts his life.  Another blogger friend wrote about characters in TV shows.  And yet another wrote about the theme music on Good Times.  My friends father died last week.  This past weekend was the birthday of a dear friend of mine who passed away 7 years ago.  A fourth blogger has been posting about the end of his life, as cancer has taken over his body.  Today’s blog is inspired by all these things- it’s an ensemble.

When my daughter was in Pre-k, I met 4 parents.  Our children were all in the same class.  This was our first experience with the New York City public school system- these were our first (and for most) only children.  We had a lot to learn.  Parenting is so hard- we were afraid that we were screwing up at every turn. We needed support, so our little band of five was formed.  Our own personal ensemble cast- there wasn’t really a star (OK it was me….) but a group of great supporting actors.  We began meeting for coffee every morning after drop off.

These friends literally got me through early elementary school.  If I had an issue, a problem, an idea about child rearing- I threw it out to the group.  This was my safe space- where I could ask questions, give advice, laugh and cry.  These were my people.  We were what the best ensembles were- a collaboration of people, who alone were okay, but together could change the world.  Or run a school event.  Same thing.

But we were geeks- specifically about pop culture.  We read, we watched movies, we watched TV.  We all loved sit coms.  We would quote from sit coms as a part of our daily lives.  We would have debates over shows, and characters, and favorite episodes.  We could relate almost any situation on our lives directly to a TV show- this is like the Chinese restaurant in Seinfeld, this is like the Smelly Cat episode on Friends.

Then, when our kids were in third grade- G wasn’t feeling so well.  He went to doctor after doctor- but no one could see anything wrong.  Until they did.  He got the prognosis on the morning of the spring parent teacher conferences.  As we sat in the pizza place with the kids, eating our now traditional half day of school lunch- we could not look at one another.  While the kids still retained their innocence- the adults did not.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  Six weeks later he was gone.

His memorial service- hundreds of people- including his Grandmother- stood around eating mini hot dogs, drinking Dirty Martini’s (his drink)- wondering how this could happen to a 45 year old man, wo had three little kids.  We held each other, cried and laughed, and cried some more.  When I spoke to the crowd, I held back the tears- G would not want be to cry during the eulogy.  He would want me to remember him the way he lived his life- and I did my best.  I told stories about our little band of 5- how we would spend hours talking about nothing- which was really everything.  And I ended my speech with a quote from Frasier, our favorite show.  On the series finale, Niles says to his brother, “I’ll miss the coffees.”  And that was the bet way to sum up an amazing friendship and amazing person.

Last weekend would have been his 53rd birthday- the same age I turned this year.  And I still miss his laugh, his wit, his biting satire, his humanity, and his take on pop culture.  His presence in my life changed me- for the better.  I’m a better person for having known him.

And remember way back in the first paragraph?  All those things?  Our lives, our stories, are made of little bits and pieces of everything around us.  Anything can trigger a memory, or an idea.  And all those things made me think of G, on his birthday.  And made me cry a little, and made me laugh a little.

And thanks to the following, who unknowingly inspired me:

https://www.thisismytruthnow.com/

http://theycallmetater.wordpress.com/

http://www.thatsoulshit.wordpress.com/

http://www.spearfruit.com/-  Courage and honor.

 

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“It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas in July……”

I had a mountain of paperwork to slog through last night- my desk was hidden under piles.  True- the piles were labeled- “to be done- June”, “to be done May”….but these mountains needed to be conquered.  And it was going to be a long time till I even reached base camp.  When life gets like this, I need someone special in my corner.  Who you ask? (I’m assuming you’re riveted and can’t wait to find out……..)

Mindless TV.

I love mindless TV.  My choices are either Big Bang reruns, HGTV, or Hallmark Mystery Channel.  The winner last night was Jessica Fletcher.  I love a town where the population counter keeps going down because someone gets murdered every week.  I like to imagine that Jessica’s house contains about a thousand closets, because did you ever notice that she always has the exact right outfit to wear, no matter what the occasion?  Who knew that the lifestyle of Cabot Cove would have a need for about a dozen ball gowns?  I live in NYC, and I currently have 0 ball gowns hanging out in my closet.  Really- we should have the same stuff- we’re both real/faux writers……

Along with tales of murder and mayhem, Hallmark Mystery offers something else.  Commercials.  Have you ever seen the commercials they play during the shows?  My favorite might be the one that points out that I have crepey neck skin.  I already obsess about my not so flat abs, not so tone arms, laugh lines around my lips, and the bags under my eyes.  I didn’t think about my neck.  I’ve lived my entire life thinking that my neck would stay forever youthful…but no.  It turns out that you can tell how old someone is by counting the lines on their neck.  Good thing there is an international super model there to point this out.

As if the trauma of crepey neck skin isn’t enough- I got another shock last night.  Somehow I have missed that it’s Christmas in July.  It’s not on my holiday calendar that I upload to my phone, iPad and laptop.  So how did this happen?

No really.  Why did this happen?  Why are there ads for sales on Christmas merchandise?

Why are they showing Christmas movies?

It’s July.

You know, where Americans celebrate Independence Day.

Where it’s 3000% humidity in NYC.

It’s taken me years to reconcile hearing Christmas music before Halloween.  Am I just days away from hearing carols on the radio?

To be clear- I am no Scrooge.  I love the time of year between American Thanksgiving and the New Year.  I decorate my apartment.  We trim the tree as we light  Hanukah candles (multi cultural household).  I am down for celebrating every religion, every person- I love the holiday season.  I look forward to the holiday season.  When it is between the end of November and January 1.

Am I being too much of an aspiring curmudgeon?  Am I overthinking this? (cause I never overthink anything, ever)

So I did what we all do when faced with deep thoughts on life:  I googled. I googled  Christmas in July.  You know those moments in life that you instantly regret?  Count this as one of them.

Apparently, people throw Christmas in July parties.  There are Pinterest boards about Christmas in July.  An amusement park is having BOGO to celebrate Christmas in July.

And on that note- all I can say is I’m sorry.  I’ve been a bit pre-occupied.  Your holiday greeting cards are going to be late this year.  I won’t be sending them out until December.

 

 

Failure is an Option

The Daughter is trying out to be a ballperson at the US Open.  (you know- the kid that stands at attention at the side of the net, and gets to hold an umbrella over the head of a ranked player)  The following is a conversation I had with someone regarding this.

Friend: What’s up for today?

Me:  I told daughter that I would go to Queens with her.  She has a callback for ballperson.

Friend:  Didn’t she try out last year?

Me: Yes.  Same thing.  She made it to the second round last year, and she made it to the second round this year.

Friend:  But she didn’t get to be a ballperson last year.

Me: I know.  That’s why she’s trying out again.

Friend:  But she didn’t make it.

Me: I know.

Friend: So why is she trying out again?

Me: She wants to be a ballperson.  The only way to be a ballperson is to try out.

Friend:  Wasn’t she devastated last year when she didn’t make it?

Me:  Disappointed?  Yes.  Annoyed at herself? Yes.  Figure out what she could have done better?  Yes.  Devastated?  No.

Friend:  Why are you letting her try out again?  What if she doesn’t make it again?  She will feel so bad about herself.  She will have failed twice.

Me:  OMG you’re so right.  A hole will form in the earth and she will get swallowed up.  She will take to her bed and start wearing a wedding dress because of the man that left her at the alter.  She will put a curse on all those that make ballperson……

OK- you got me.  I really didn’t say that.  But I thought something along those lines.  My actual reply was:

Me:  Do you think the humidity is going to break?

Because how else do you answer that?

Here’s the cold, hard facts: (opinion- I don’t have a degree in cold, hard facts)

  1. Life has winners and losers. (I don’t really need to cite examples do I?)
  2. If you want something, you need to do something to attain it.  No one just hands you something for sitting home on your couch.  I have never met a Publishers Clearing House winner.
  3. There will be things you need to try out for, and you are probably not getting everything you try out for.  Ask any famous actor how many auditions they went on before they landed a role.
  4. When you are rejected (which you will be) you’re allowed to be upset.  You are not allowed to wallow for days, weeks, months, years.  What good is wallowing going to do?  Is it getting you what you want?  If it does, please write about how you wallowed your way to success.  It will be a bestseller.
  5. If you are rejected- learn from your mistakes.  Figure out what you need to do to improve your chances.  Try again.
  6. If you fail again- what’s the worst thing that happens?  Does a monster eat you?  If that is a possibility, I would rethink what your priorities are.  Anything that ends with being eaten by a monster is probably not a good life path.
  7. And after you fail, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with whatever you need to do.  Because that’s what winners do- winners pick themselves up and get on with life. (FYI- there will be a future blog with more examples of failure and it’s benefits)

No one wants to fail.  But guess what?  We all do.  And if we don’t, we haven’t tried for anything- we never went out of our comfort zone.  We played it safe because we were afraid of being devastated.  So great- you were never devastated.  But guess what- you were never anything else either.