Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Woman of Mystery... Not so much

I wish I were mysterious. Mysterious people are always so appealing, aren't they? I really have no talent for 'mystery'. This is probably because I have no talent for secrets, my own any way. I'm good at keeping other people's secrets: IF I'm told they are secrets. Mostly I assume everything is fair game, unless it's seriously personal in which case even a big open-book dolt like me knows enough to shut up without having to be told.

But I'm very big on having no secrets myself. This is in direct response to my parents wanting to keep EVERYTHING a secret. I first rebelled against that code of secrecy in the 4th grade when I told my best friend Donna that my mother had a black eye not from a doorknob but from my father. Imagine my shock when she told me her parents were the same way: except it was her mother who beat her father. Yes, it's rare, but it happens. The liberation of finding I was not alone in living in a rough home was extraordinary. And it helped me get through. Secrets just eat you alive.

When we keep secrets it is sometimes because we just don't want to talk about something because it's painful, or we don't want pity, or we don't want people to see us in a different light, but I think the biggest reason people keep secrets is shame. We're ashamed of our behavior, if it's because we DID something, or because we ALLOWED someone to do something to us; makes no difference, we're ashamed of our behavior and we keep mum.

I don't like secrets. But I have one. Not a total secret, my oldest, nearest and dearest know it so it's not really a secret... but it is something I'm ashamed of. (You can bet your sweet ass I'm not revealing it here!... not just now any way). I hate that I have this thing, I hate that I did it. I am, quite literally ashamed of myself.

I have come a long way in forgiving myself on this one, though not fully, because it was something I did when I was ill, when I was clutching at anything that would make me feel better. Unfortunately what I did was the worst possible thing and made my depression worse. It's sort of like gaining a pound and eating a cake to assuage the pain... what happens? You end up gaining another two pounds instead. Things just get worse.

When we're sick our judgment is really out of whack. It's why so many people self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, sex or even shopping. We reach for something that feels good RIGHT NOW, even when we find that we feel worse after the fact... sometimes we just keep going for that immediate gratification. When you're sick, you just want to feel better... and anything that makes that pain go away, even for a minute, that's the thing you do.

That's what I did. I made myself feel better in a way that was completely out of character and it ended up damaging me more than anyone else. Stooopid? You betcha! Will I ever feel good about it? Not likely. But I do know I will forgive myself for it one day, because I have to.

In the meantime, it's my secret... my only one. I'm not good at being mysterious... at least... I don't think I am...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mex, Mex, MexicOH!

(day)

I didn't want to leave. Who would?










(dusk)



I love a hammock... sadly there is no way I can accommodate one in my New York City apartment so hammock siestas will only be had in Mexico.




Of course, that makes them all the more rare and special and more to be cherished when the opportunity arises. (but I still wish I could have a hammock at home!)


The last time I went to Mexico I returned to torture the people I love with endless photos of the unearthly beauty of the sunrises. The pictures above and below are sunrises from this trip.

I'm a night person... but typical for me... I am also an early riser. I am up before dawn almost every day and that worked to my advantage in Mexico where the reward for early rising is not getting a 'jump on the day', instead the reward is a stunning sunrise that takes your breath away every single time. A cup of coffee and the hammock ... pelicans and terns out fishing for their breakfasts... I do believe the definition for what I felt is BLISS.



A new addition to my little paradise in Quintana Roo was the wildlife. When I went in March there were birds, sure, lots of 'em, but not much else. This time I was surrounded by critters! Little geckos ran rampant! They are simply adorable. Little teeny guys with ENORMOUS eyes - they look all the world like living gummy-lizards. I would walk into the room and there would be a gecko on the wall. Now the drill when coming upon a gecko goes like this: You spot them, they stop, you make eye contact, they check you out, it hits them "ACK! GIANT!" and they get running! Pretty amusing. Yes, okay, I'm easily amused. So I'm a cheap date, so what!



I'm still attempting to positively identify the blackbirds I was feeding every morning, because they were so funny (always travelling in packs of three). They sound like this Grackle calls so I think they are in fact great-tailed grackles. Sadly I only have them on video not in photos and I haven't worked out how to snip a frame out of the vid and make it a still, so no pix of the pretty birdies here.

While on this trip I did several things that scare me and I'm thrilled. I'm afraid of so many things, but the only way to be brave is to do the very things that scare you. So despite the fact that I'm terrified of drowning (I cannot swim), I went swimming with manatees, sea lions and dolphins in Puerta Aventuras.


I only have pictures of the manatees (this is Romeo on the left and Juliet on right) because I had to stowe my camera for the swims and only got shots of the manatees before it all began. I am not afraid of animals of any kind, but I am afraid of deep water... especially dark water... which is weird because easily 50% of my childhood fantasies were about being a mermaid and living underwater. Aquaman was second only to Superman in my geek-kid world... and yet I never learned to swim and have a deathly fear of the water. But, as I said, doing the things that scare me has become a hobby of sorts.

So it was swimming with dolphins in a tank that was at least 30 feet deep... or perhaps there was simply an abyss... either way, I was in over my head. Literally. But I did it anyway - and I have two dvds to prove it. (They tape the entire swim and then sell you the dvds. Don't you love touristy paraphernalia?)

When you go into the dolphin environment there is a platform against the wall that you stand on when you are not 'swimming' with the dolphins. I swore I would not leave the platform - I was all for the 'dolphin kiss' the petting of the dolphins and anything else that involved contact with these beautiful animals. But no WAY was I going into that water, screw the life vest, I KNEW I would be the one freak-fatality if I even attempted going an inch past that platform.

The dolphin trainer, a lovely German guy named Peter, told me to take his hands and step off the platform.

"Just float," he said. "Hold my hands and step off - I won't let you go."

"I can't!" I said. I could literally feel the panic starting and thought, three things:

1. where's the damned xanax;
2. boy am I going to embarrass the hell out of myself in about 30 seconds when I start screaming and drowning;
3. why did I think a DOLPHIN SWIM would be fun?!!!!


I've never been the most trusting soul, but I remembered my own words on this very blog about grabbing a hand that is offered to you and holding on... it seemed I would have to take Peter's hand or eat my words. So I held on... and stepped off...

long story short, he did not let go. I did not drown. And I swam with the dolphins. It was remarkable, and it was over too soon. Sort of like life. Hold on, do the scary stuff, it's remarkable and it's all over far too soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

tiny reminder...

I'm going to Mexico!

No that's not the reminder. But I thought it was amusing. I endlessly amuse myself.

The reminder is that you should mark your calendars: Friday, September 22 The Niagaras at the Red Lion. Straight From The Source Do yourself a favor and be there! I will!

This blog will be on Mexico time until then. Be well!

Monday, September 11, 2006

remember... but then live

I have a lot of little last minute things to do before my trip to Mexico... have I mentioned I'm going to Mexico? But I feel compelled to take a moment here and post something today. It's that day, you know.

Truth is I had planned not to mention it here. It's five years past, and it was horrible, no question... but life is about the now, the being here, being alive and relishing every minute of it.

It was a horrible event... a horrible day... terrifying really... I know I will never forget how that day felt.... and so many lives lost. So much sorrow all in one blow. And by NO MEANS do I mean to disrespect those who lost their loved ones, their grief is real and not to be taken lightly. The sheer number of people lost that day seems to intensify the grief for each individual, and that's really tough to get through. The grief of others feeding your grief and so on.

But this blog is about hope, and moving on and living in the moment thankful for the smallest things we have and so often dismiss as mundane. A crisp, sunny fall day, like today - we have that! We're alive and we get to be in this day! I'm not saying there is anything wrong with remembering those we've lost, but I think it's a safe bet that they would not want their loved-ones lives to stop and be given over to constant mourning.

It seems so much emphasis on the memorializing of this tragedy only perpetuates the grieving process for so many. No! We have life here, now. The world is a mess, there are terrible things happening every day, to people all over the world - but in this moment, right now, we are here. We are breathing, living, seeing hearing smelling tasting... everything is HERE NOW. Being raised Catholic I was not encouraged to actually read the bible, but I did it anyway (so there!) and you know, there's some good stuff in that thar book; like this
Ecclesiastes: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

It's time to dance. It's time to live. It's time to heal our hearts and love. All we have is right this minute. Really, it is. No one knows what the future will bring, we learned that lesson good and well five years ago today. But the past is done, the future uncertain and what we have is this minute, this second, embrace that, be IN it - it truly is all we have.

And it is enough.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

10 thousand relatives...

I saw a sign in a window this morning while walking my dog. He actually wanted to walk this morning so when that rarity occurs I have to go with it. Usually he is not much for the great outdoors... other than sitting on the stoop of our building and waiting to get attention from passersby so that he can turn his nose up at them... He's a character. Any way...

This walk afforded me the opportunity to see a sign in a window. It read "One loyal friend is worth 10 thousand relatives". I thrilled to see this sentiment expressed by someone other than ME! Usually people fall all over themselves with "family comes first", and that's a really great ideal - but only if your family deserves it.

One new year's eve I had a drunken aunt of mine actually telephone me to tell me "we may not like what you do, but you're still a member of this family whether you like it or not". The amusing thing about this is: I have NO idea what she was referring to! They didn't LIKE WHAT I DO... hell, I have no idea. What did I do... hmm. Let's see, didn't lie, wasn't an alcoholic, didn't smack anyone around, I see, I wasn't like them. OH and did go to college, didn't get married (thank GOD), did live ALONE, hmmmm... I wonder. Jealous much? Maybe. But the kicker really was the part about 'being a member of this family'.

The truth is I was never a member of that family. Family? Something I desperately wanted all my life, turned out to be one hell of a faulty societal construct. I wanted a 'family', rather than a house of horrors, so badly that I adopted the families of my friends and boyfriends! Because anything was better than the crew I was born into.

Of course as an adult I understood that nobody has that 'perfect' family, there's always a glitch or two... or ten, and I got over that desire. And when your family turns out to be a group of people you have nothing in common with or who have treated you in ways that are damaging, disrespectful or dismissive, then I say SCREW 'EM! Just because you share genetic material doesn't mean you have to like them, or in fact have anything whatsoever to do with them.

Loyalty is extremely important to me as I had little of it growing up with parents who preferred every child they saw to me. So much for the spoiled only child syndrome. Oy.

Loyalty in my extended family was limited to what was easy. Like the time my mother tried to leave my father when I was 12. Back Story We went to her family. Their loyalty was to my father. So much for 'family'.

I have always fared better with friends. And this brings me back to the sign I saw this morning. I am blessed beyond the telling of it with wonderful friends. And they DO make up for those 10,000 relatives. Sure I've had friends who have betrayed me - note the past tense. I put up with a lot, but once that line of betrayal is crossed: you're dead to me. One of my dearest friends, Sandy, tells me he's SURE I've got Sicilian blood somewhere. I wish that were true! (but my cooking is too half-assed... no way do I have any Italian blood. DAMN.)

My friends. They are so great, and so much kinder to me than my family ever could be.

I could write an entire blog for each of them and what wonderful things they've done for me: from simply making me smile to dragging me to the Emergency Room when I had Meningicocal disease and thought it was just a bad flu, to spending the weekend with me at my mother's funeral, to pushing me to act again, to surprising me by showing up at a matinee (I LOVE surprises. The good ones any way!), to listening to me at 3 a.m. crying about how I wanted to kill myself. And I have to say that because of that loyalty I'm here now. Because it does go both ways, and were it not for my loyalty to a friend and going to see a show he was producing... well. That's another story too.

One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives? Then I am richer than anyone has a right to be.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Anniversary

Today would have been my parent's 50th wedding anniversary.

Good God in Heaven.

Why in the name of all that's good and right in this world they ever got together ...

The story of how my parents met is, in my opinion, a how-to-NOT-get married lesson.

In Hollywood parlance they actually met 'cute'. Reason enough to never 'meet cute'.$10


Now that they are both dead it's sad to go through their old letters and mementos and see pictures of them happy. Seems they were both really fun-loving, lovely people - APART. Once they got together some bad alchemy happened. Oil and water? Please, more like nuclear fission. So sad how unhappy they made each other as they tried to live out the American dream. Tried to make the white picket fence a reality. Yes, my father actually built a white picket fence around the house.... what a joke if you knew what hell went on inside that house.

Ah well. Lesson learned: don't try to fit a mold you weren't meant to fit.

Happy Anniversary.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

dreaming...

I'm just all about Mexico right now. How boring to anyone who isn't me. I know. I know. Very self-indulgent. But it's all I can think about - sleeping in the sun (I hope there's sun... hurricane season may not have been the ideal time to go back). Staring at the carribean sea. Waiting for the pelicans to fly overhead. There are so many pelicans! And I had never seen pelicans in the wild before so it was a very Jurassic Park moment. You know, at the end of the first movie as they're leaving the island ... the pelicans flying by.

I've never been one to dream of flying. An awful lot of people do, dream of flying I mean. I can't recall a single time, and since I remember my dreams often thanks to some really poor sleep habits learned as a child, I'm pretty positive I'm not someone who does loop-di-loops in the clouds in my dreamworld.

I do dream of apartments however. Which is not as odd as I thought it was when I first began having my recurring apartment dreams. Turns out a lot of people have these dreams. My version goes like this:

I'm moving into a new place, it's never a house always an apartment. I guess my childhood in a house left a bad taste - I'm an apartment girl for sure. So, I'm moving into or being shown a new apartment (which is ALWAYS awe inspiring). It's always a cool space, laid out in a clever way with gorgeous fixtures and woodwork, lots of details we'd all kill for in our shoe-box New York apartments. Clearly it is always a space I could never afford - but "Ta-Da" welcome to my dream! So even though it's this fabulous, ideal, too cool to exist in reality place and I grab it - and it's mine. At some point after I start settling in, decorating, unpacking whathaveyou, I discover something wonderful! The place I thought I was getting is not all there is! There's even MORE!

Usually the 'more' is an exact replica of the space I was aware I was moving into - like a mirror image of the apartment that I discover by opening a door. If it's not simply a matter of doubling the size of the apartment with a twin apartment attached, it is sometimes an even more intricate, Architectural Digest spread of a space just on the other side of the door. I'm always wowwed, and despite my worry that I've stumbled into someone else's apartment accidentally, it always turns out that indeed ALL THIS IS MINE!!! Wheeeeee!!!!
It's such a happy, fun dream and I always wake up from it feeling fantastic and peaceful.

According to Jungian symbolism, the 'dwelling' is yourself. I see this happy wonderful dream as the subconscious's way of telling us that we are wonderful, we're great, and surprise! There's EVEN MORE greatness we haven't discovered yet! It's there, it belongs to us, we have full reign of it and we OWN IT -- we have only to open the door and discover what wonders are waiting inside us.

We carry a world inside us, our minds capable of infinite 'rooms', getting to know those rooms, discovering the extra wonders we hold inside ourselves, hidden even from our own conscious thought, can take years - or it can happen in an instant. Either way these miraculous new worlds are inside us, we just have to open our eyes to them, believe they are there and we can experience them asleep and then, when we're ready and strong enough, while we're awake. And how exciting that discovery is.

I wish you pleasant dreams.