Saturday, September 29, 2007

In my life upon the stage

According to long-time fave, Mr. Shakespeare, we are all merely players, strutting and fretting our hour on the stage of life. I think we can find all the great guides to life in the words of silly Willy. Personal foibles, human triumphs, comedy, poor judgment, redemption, sex, politics, religion everything is touched on in the Shakespeare plays. Summed up nicely in Macbeth is the idea that we play roles in life and, like actors on a stage, we change depending on the requirements of the story and the other characters we are interacting with at any given time. We do it to get what we want, whether it be material things, approval or love.

We all do this. Some to greater degrees than others. Some people change vastly in differing circumstances, some remain more consistent with their behaviors. We are one way with our parents, another with a surly store clerk, still another with a sweet child, another with a passionate lover, and on and on. But, like actors, what costumes we wear and what words we speak, what gestures we make and how we act, are not always what rests at our core, our deepest beliefs, our dearest dreams may be hidden by the parts we play, but they flavor our performances always.

No matter what roles we play at any time, disparate as they may be, as we attempt to make a good impression or stand up for ourselves or support others, the human desire to be known, to be truly known and understood by the world, or even a solitary individual, prompts us to disclose ourselves even as we believe we are shielding ourselves. We are islands hoping for someone to stumble upon us and see who we really are. This is why people create art - it's the greatest reveal available.

Even if we do not create Art, we reveal. Every day we tell the world exactly who we are - who we believe ourselves to be. It may come out as self-effacing humor, it may come out as defensive cover-ups or offensive disclosures to avoid being hurt by having the reality of what we are thrown back at us as 'not good enough'. But we reveal - every day and right from the first.

If, like a master poker player, you pay attention, watch for a while, listen closely, you will see the 'tells'. You will see what a person truly is, so that when you go on and learn through examples of behavior instead of the words you heard in the beginning you can say to yourself: AHHHH-but I knew that, they said that in the beginning - WHY didn't I listen? Why didn't I believe?

Ask any actor who has to play the part of a character who is repugnant to them. Someone despicable whose ideals clash dramatically with their own - how do you play that part? The answer is usually that the actor becomes the character and the character, to himself, is not at all repugnant - there is always a good reason for their behavior. As an actor you tap into that character's core, there you find that they simply believe themselves to be on the side of right so you can play the part without judgments. In life we meet people who look at the world in vastly different ways than we do, we may believe them to be insane, villainous or just plain misguided but they see themselves as correct. If someone knows your take on something is opposite of their own they may play a part to keep the peace between you or to try, somehow, to fix you.

After a time you learn to see and hear the reveals right away. You can distance yourself from the here and now and look forward to see that what people say about themselves is always exactly what they really are. Because despite the costumes, and the performance, people WANT to be known. Naturally they also want to be loved and accepted for what they truly are, not just the trappings of the role they are playing. This is why people reveal. We are all, deep down, the man behind the curtain of the Great and Powerful Oz hoping for just one person to pull aside the curtain and see us as we are: and make it all okay.

Sadly, it seems that for the most part people will want you to be what they are. They will want you to be something other than what you are - some people fall into this trap and continue living their lives playing a role. They may reveal themselves to people who refuse to look beyond the curtain seeing only the costume and the lights. They may continue to live their lives with people who, for whatever reasons, simply do not want to accept them as they really are and only want an actor to play the part in their own play. That may work for some people, how I do not know. But I guess it can.

Me? I'm pretty much what I say I am. I've learned not to play to audiences I don't agree with just to be accepted - though God knows I will work a room for a laugh if given a chance. I have learned, after many many years of observing, being hurt, trying to fit molds that make my quirks more acceptable, that you can only be yourself. You can play roles to suit situations, to keep peace, to be polite and mindful of other people's differing beliefs or social mores and none of that is bad - it's just having consideration for others, but when it comes down to the person you live with every day, the person who looks back at you from the mirror: you can only be what you truly are - and if that suits no one but you, that is reveal enough.

Life is too short to fake it. It's too short not to like yourself. It's far, far too short to waste trying to make other people happy if you are not happy yourself or to force a situation into being that requires you to keep wearing a mask 24/7. I'm going back to the source to sum up: this above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Be who you are. If nobody likes it but you, that's really all you need. But if you are yourself, and someone sees your reveals and you see theirs and you click, isn't that better than living your life pretending?

That's my take on it any way.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Drunk Girl in Harlem on a Friday Night

The ever-charming Robert Whaley

When I last posted I indicated that I was bringing my visiting friend Tony to see New York's most treasured good time band: The Niagaras. They were playing at the Dinosaur BBQ which is a great place, and right across the street from the historic Cotton Club. Cool, yes?

That's the only photo of me you'll see from this night - pre-indulgence

So off we went to meet my friend Josh to have dinner beforehand. And I got to meet a friend of Josh's, Emily, who was just a peach and though she had to leave before the band got going, she is coming to see them with me next time they play. Isn't that correct Emily?

Josh loves the BBQ which is why we opted to eat there. He and Tony were loving the down-home cookin' meat products. A barbeque restaurant may not be the best place for a vegan (me) to find a fabulous meal, but there are a couple of things on the menu that are safe. I decided I wasn't all that hungry so I just had a side of simmered collard greens - because I LOVE collard greens. Unfortunately that's all I had... and not much of it at that. This was my first mistake.

But oh my it was fun.

It was also just a smidge embarrassing. For ME anyway!

I'm sure I've mentioned here from time to time that I don't really drink, haven't really since I started taking Zoloft and even for some time before that. Alcohol being a depressant and me having been pretty damned depressed enough without assistance; alcohol was not difficult to pass up. When I saw my doctor for my annual check-up last year I mentioned that I would love to have a margarita in Mexico - she told me it was perfectly okay to have an occasional drink, and that it would not interfere with my medication. She was right. I have had a drink from time to time with no ill effects.

But then...

Let's just say I'm not good with moderation in ANYTHING. I'm particularly not good with it when it involves something delicious that is making me too giddy to realize it's hitting me like a ton of bricks until it's all too late.

The instrument of my over-indulgence was Dogfishhead Raison D'Etre. Say hello. And now say good-bye 'cause that shit goes down far to quickly and is far too powerful. (It really is delicious though.... no, Joy, bad Joy, no, no nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!)

Dessert at Dinosaur BBQ - bannana pudding with a fun T-Rex cookie...
and a can of PBR.

The Niagaras

Somewhere in the second set I do believe that ton of bricks (delicious beer) decided to start descending on me. I grabbed Tony to dance and yes, big fun. Sometime along the trip home I realized it was not simply a ton of bricks but more like a 4 story building. OOPS. Lesson learned: stick with club soda like I usually do!

We all grabbed cabs and headed home where I do believe I continued talking for some hours after my poor friend had fallen asleep. I get very chatty and very friendly (let's call it that - you figure it out) when I drink. Sadly what I don't get is sleepy. Ah well. Luckily I don't mind talking to myself. Lord knows I do it all the time! (Just ask my dog!)

The thing about this night that was so wonderful was that despite the fact that I drank like I was a stupid 17 year old is that I was with people I absolutely adore, indulging in my favorite thing in the world (The Niagaras) and knowing that no matter how silly I may have gotten, or (god forbid, sloppy - ouch!) that it was all okay. It was all okay because I was happy, and alive and it was FUN.

Before my illness was controlled by medication I could have been in this same situation, same amount to drink, and I would likely have ended up doing something not only embarrassing but dangerous and the odds are good that it would have led to a spiraling of mania and depression that would have concluded in a few weeks with my longing looks at an Exact-o knife and a desire to kill myself. Yeah. Trust me, been there, done that. And I must point out that while a drink here and there is what my doctor 'okayed' what I did was pushing the limit for someone with my history of mania and depression. Stoopid!

Luckily for me I am in a very, VERY good place in terms of my mental health and I have learned how great life is and that I can forgive myself what I would certainly forgive in others and above all I can laugh at myself and know that when all is said and done everything is an adventure and everything we do good or bad or even embarrassing is all part of that adventure. And if you can have The Niagaras playing while it's going on - you've got it made!

Y'all come with me next time - ya hear? (The club sodas are on me!)

Friday, September 21, 2007


I realized after Whim asked about zeppoles that it is possible that other people, from different areas, might not have ever experienced the simple doughy goodness that is a zeppole. So since Tony and I were heading back to the San Gennaro festival to pick up some things we missed the first time I made sure to get photos.

This was the zeppole stand with the best deal. Tip for first-timers at San Gennaro - always scope all the booths first for the best zeppole prices. You WILL want as many as you can get. Trust me!

They are the simplest things, just straightforward dough plain and simple (though they can be doctored up with things like ricotta cheese - I'm a plain zeppole type of gal) that are dropped into a big ol' vat of boiling oil, fished out when they get brown and puffy, popped into a brown paper bag with a big cup of confectioner's sugar and shaken until all the little zepps are coated.

some pre-fried zeppoles waiting for their sugar shower

Then you reach into the bag and experience an oil, sugar and carb delight. You also end up doing what I like to call the 'zeppole brush-off' - while holding the bag in one hand, the partially bitten zeppole in the other hand, you attempt to brush the blizzard of sugar that now covers the front of your shirt. Everyone does it, it's kind of funny - I do recommend wearing light colored clothing while eating zeppoles at a street fair - black is a real rookie mistake. Look like a pro - dress light.

Since I'm all veganny now there were limits on what I could get to eat at the fair - but one thing (aside from the zeppoles) available to me was chocolate covered strawberries. Oh man. Just fabulous. Really big, really sweet strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and skewered on a stick. They also dipped marshmallows and pineapple chunks. The strawberries, however, seem the best way to go.

Another great way to go is Italian Ices.
Here Tony holds our ices. He went all lemon.

Oh my GOD I have not had an Italian ice in so long I can't even make a guess. But I do know that my alltime favorite is a scoop of lemon and a scoop of chocolate mixed together. Helllo paradise! Do not accept any Italian ice that is served to you in a plastic cup, god forbid they should give you a spoon - sacrilege! Ices must be had in accordioned paper cups that can be unfolded as you read the end so you can lick every last precious drop from the folds. This is mandatory. No really, do not bypass this essential step in attempts to look dignified. Screw dignified! Lick that paper cup! *sigh* A good Italian ice on a hot day is a treat you should not take lightly.

And now enough of this San Gennaro rhapsodizin'. It's time to go see the Niagaras. I'm so happy they are playing tonight while Tony is in town - needless to say I'm taking him. He will love them - or I will be a monkey's uncle. Which, really, would be hard to do. Being an only child and all. And a woman. And not a monkey (as far as I know).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Welll Hellllllooooooo

I have been so remiss in keeping this blog current! Feel my sorrow. Feel my shame! Nah. Not really. But I do feel I'm shirking my self-imposed blogging duties and I do miss throwing my gibberish onto the 'net! Whether anyone else misses it or not is anyone's guess.

My friend Tony has been here since Friday and yes, to those who were wondering: I DID get my apartment into a very tidy and habitable space very nearly suitable for guests! Go me!

Though originally from New York, he hasn't been here in over a decade so I thought it would be nice to meet him at the airport rather than leaving him to fend for himself - lord knows the man could find his way into Manhattan from Laguardia airport, but I thought it would be the more 'good hostess' thing to do to meet him. Miss Manners is very pleased with me.

Because I thought it would make everything smoother, I arranged for a car service to pick us up at the airport (to avoid the taxi line). This, as one might imagine, turned out to be a BAD idea. I'm never using Dial7 cars again. Just putting that out there. They fucked up but good.

For those who have not used a car service airport pick-up before this is how it works. You make a reservation, get a confirmation number, and when you arrive at the airport and are ready to be picked up you call the service number and you give them a description of what you're wearing so the driver can spot you, they tell you where your car will meet you and they give you a car number so you can spot the car.

Tony's flight arrived a little earlier than scheduled: YAY! I called the service and got the information we needed: YAY! We went where we were told the car would meet us in 5-7 minutes which was the exact reservation time scheduled: YAY! We looked for the car number we were given, 925, and this is where the "YAY!" turned into WTF???

When the car didn't show up in 15 minutes I called back. After being on hold for FAR too long I was told that our car, now number 2135 (yeah, exactly) would meet us at a DIFFERENT location. Okay, we moved to the new pick-up location. Still no car. I called back. The woman on the phone INSISTED that the car was there. It was not. I was put on hold again. Still no car.

I was disconnected. Nice.

I called back. Now Joy is not so nice.

I was PISSED!!! I told them I was canceling the reservation. The woman on the phone asked me to wait, she would give my cell number to the driver who would call me momentarily. *SIGH* Fine.

The driver called. He had no clue where we were, it sounded like he had a) never been to the airport, b) was high as a kite. There was no way I was getting into that car even if he showed up.

Less than 4 minutes later we got in a cab and were home in 12 minutes.

So much for trying to make things run smoother.

The only good part about it is that it gave Tony instant fodder to goof on me for the rest of his visit... if not longer. I suppose I was a little hysterical on the phone. A little stereotypical pissed off New Yorker. Thankfully he's a very chillin' individual and was completely unstressed by my hissy fit, or the wait. God love 'im.

What's funny is that had I been on my own, and had the car been for me alone, I wouldn't have gotten quite so angry. I would have been annoyed, sure, but I probably wouldn't have been screaming into the phone and it's unlikely my voice would have dropped 3 octaves into dangerously angry territory had it not been for the fact that this was something I was doing for someone else. I'm not nearly so good at sticking up for myself when it's just for me. When it's for someone else, I can be very tough and boy did I lose my temper. For myself? I'm pretty much a jellyfish.

But all in all it worked out. My dear friend is here for the rest of the week. We went to the San Gennaro festival yesterday and plowed through a huge bag of zeppoles in record time. We're going to have to go back and get some more because really, you cannot have too many zeppoles. And his delight at being in Little Italy again was too sweet to not give it a second go-round.

I'll post some more soon: honest! But right now I have company and I have promised to make a batch of pumpkin muffins - so I've got to get into the kitchen and get to work. They aren't zeppoles, but I can only do what I can do.

Life is pretty much wonderful, wouldn't you say?

At least it's wonderful when your car service isn't dicking you around.

Yeah. I'm still a little pissed. So sue me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

cat in the bag

I hear that my blog is becoming boring. Or so says a friend who shall remain nameless unless he keeps telling me he's bored. Then I will kick ass and name names.

In the meantime I will bow to the wishes of my audience. Um. That is if there's anyone out there still reading what has become, lately, a somewhat spotty excuse for a blog.

Here for your viewing pleasure is Basil's cat, Nick.

Nick has a crazed fondness for fruit. Any kind. He also loves vegan cream cheese, but whatcha' gonna do? The cat's peculiar... for a cat. But I digress. Back to the fruit. A couple of weeks ago I bought a couple of apples and foolishly left them on top of the fridge, in the bag I'd put them in at the grocery store. Within minutes Nick was eying them, and luckily I spotted him before he could put teeth marks all over them through the bag. I pulled the apples out, stashed them safely away and left the bag.

The second the bag was emptied of apples: it was full of Nick.

He settled in, so I grabbed the camera.

He seemed quite content to sit in the bag, which is far better than destroying my apples.

Okay. That may still be considered boring.

Perhaps later I'll disclose the fun I had earlier today as I experienced my first-ever professional bikini wax. Actually my first professional waxing of any kind (I'm pretty much a DIY kind of gal, because it fulfills my former desire to become a cosmetologist/hairdresser). Needless to say as it was my first I went the easy route: BRAZILIAN. Because that's just how I am. Of course, there is a story. Be nice and I'll share it.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the cat. (No smart remarks on the cat. You know what I'm talking about!)

Oh, by the way: my cold is much, much improved. I'm happy.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The time has come the walrus said....

I am still sick. I canceled my doctor's appointment the other day because my temperature went down, and I felt better. But though I do feel better I'm still coughing like a Victorian consumptive and feeling kinda woozy. Though I think that will continue to improve if I can keep myself in check and rest more. *sigh* The resting is a problem because now that I feel a bit better I feel compelled to do things. Things like cleaning, going through photographs and putting them in some reasonable order, hanging wall ornaments from Mexico, throwing out expired bottles of vitamins, doing dreaded paperwork of all kinds. It's not like it's manual labor, but it's not exactly relaxing. But I can't help feeling I need to get things done.

See I have company coming next Friday. Someone I haven't seen in a billion years and naturally I want to make a good impression. You know how that goes. Trouble with me is that instead of focusing on simply making a good impression as an overall effect I have to get into nitty gritty clean-ups and organizings. It's just how I roll. I've always been more concerned with how tidy my closets, drawers and cabinets are than how neat things are on the outside.

Which is dandy. Until you're trying to recover from a nasty summer cold AND clean AND organize hundreds of photographs.

I do seem to enjoy a challenge, don't I?

Now it's not like this guy is some kind of crazed judgmental clean freak or anything like that. He's actually a bit of a collector and keeper, like me, so it's not like I'm worried he'll think I'm gunning to be the next Collyor or anything. I sure as hell don't think he's going to be making judgment calls on me. This fella knows things about me that people should simply not know, and he STILL likes me. So I feel okay about that, which in itself is pretty huge for me. But I do want things to be as nice, welcoming, comfortable and as pulled together as possible so I can let go of it: not worry about it being a mess and just focus on hanging with him and doing some serious catching up and some serious laughing. Because if there's one thing he does well (and there are many things he does well) it's make me laugh. Which has been a problem with this cold because every time I speak with him I have to consciously suppress my natural laughter or risk a wild coughing fit. Ah well, if that's the worst complaint I guess I should just hush mah mouth.

I'm really tired though and despite having so many things I want to get done in the next week, I think I need to crawl back into bed and sleep, sleep, sleep. Seems this sleeping thing really does do wonders for the healing. I'm finding that after a few hours of sleep I generally feel better. GO FIGURE! Who knew????

So it's back to bed for me, at least for a little while.

But first: I want to bring this post back around to the reference in its title: this weekend is the 30th Annual Norwalk Oyster Festival. If you love oysters or are a Walrus (or a Carpenter for that matter) and in Connecticut this weekend, you'll want to stop by on Saturday, September 8th because, yes, yes, New York's favorite band is making an appearance! The Niagaras will be at the Oyster Fest (and taking over, I have no doubt) on Saturday at 5PM. The full schedule of performers and their appearance times is here. If you can get over there, you know I highly recommend it. I'm sure it will be more than you expect. I have never seen them perform in an outdoor setting so I can only imagine the good-natured mayhem that will ensue in the light of day. Go. See them - tell 'em Joy sent ya. Do it for the sick woman in New York. Then get back to me and let me know how much fun I missed.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Oh yeah oh yeah - give it up yo-yo-yo! I've got a fever, yesssssireeeeee. Whooo-hooo A+!!!

Possibly celebrating a fever is not the norm, but when have I been the norm? And while I'm not really celebrating, I figured I'd try to put a happy spin on the fact that I've been feeling like absolute crap for days and it seems to be getting worse instead of better.

If I have to knock back one more cup of tea, one more bottle of water, one more bowl of soup or gargle with another ounce of salt water I am going to scream! Well I mean I would scream except for the fact that I can barely choke out a whisper, nevermind a full-throated frustration purging scream. My vocal prowess is positively out the window. This is bad news for me. I like to talk. I like to chit-chat and make with the funny stories and just yammer to myself when I'm alone (though as I've mentioned before I am more often performing for the pets than truly talking to myself). At the moment I can squeak. It's a pretty decent chipmunk imitation. I don't have any real control over it, but when I'm not sounding like the hung-over gravelly love-child of Brenda Vaccaro and Kathleen Turner I'm squeaking like Flipper. This would be fine if I could actually say words with the inflections necessary to make them funny. The sudden squeak or laryngitial word (i.e., silence) is a real hindrance to effective communications. Particularly on the telephone where silence might mean anything from a thoughtful pause to a "can you hear me now" moment.

So here I sit, trying not to go nuts with the discomfort of my throat and the inability to speak as I want to. And the exhaustion! I am positively whipped. No, not in the good way. Geez, keep it outta the gutter people! I'm sick over here!!!

The fever is likely a big part of the exhaustion - it's hard work for the immune system to fight off infections. I did think it had passed, my temp went down to 98.5 this morning! That's still a little highish for me as my normal everyday temperature is 96.8 - it's a metabolism thing. But still 98.5 was a lot better than 101. Unfortunately it spiked back up - and I could feel that it had. A fever is such an odd thing: for me, I become intensely aware of every inch of my skin. It's sort of the way you feel if you've gotten a bad sunburn - and suddenly you are aware of parts of your skin you never really thought about. Top it all off with a low-level headache and you've got good times here.

I took the first available appointment I could get with my doctor for Tuesday. I'm counting on her to fix me. I don't need to be an A+. I'd be really happy with a B 'bout now.