Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Aids Walk PSA

This is for my friend Gary - if you've read here before you know who he is. He's participating in the NY-Aids Walk on May 18th and while I am not raising money I am walking with him to be supportive and, you know, hang out and gab. If you are at all interested in making a little tax-deductible donation to this very worthy cause, you can go here and donate online (or you can print out a form if you roll that way).

Thanks so much!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lucy Lives (Part II)

Basil waited for the delivery guys to come back until he finally decided napping was the best option. This way he would have plenty of energy to 'help' when they got back. Smart doggie.

When I had to move the chair away from the window, he took up residence on the cushions from the old couch. Finally I had to move him into the bedroom so he wouldn't be underfoot during the treacherous window/couch delivery.

Remember the episode of I Love Lucy when George Reeves came to Little Ricky's birthday party? You know, the one where our intrepid heroine ended up on the ledge dressed as Superman?

I thought about that A LOT yesterday afternoon when the amazing delivery men were playing Spiderman Delivery service with my couch.

They came back as promised and also as promised they hauled that giant sofa through my window via the fire-escape! I have never seen anything quite like it in person. They were running up and down the stairs and popping in and out the window onto the fire-escape checking distances and angles. They wrapped the sofa in tons of plastic so it wouldn't get sooty or torn coming over the pigeon pooped-upon railings (and it was pristine when they unwrapped it).

I don't believe I breathed the entire time they were out there. I am so afraid of heights myself that I couldn't believe they were doing this. I mean circus acts should have nets people!

One of the guys stood out on the fire escape while the other two literally handed up the sofa from the street. He held it hanging over the railing - by himself! - while one of the guys who had handed it up ran up the steps into my apartment and scooted out to the fire escape to help him haul it in. Then that guy came back in through the window and the one who had been dangling over the edge actually climbed out onto the OUTSIDE of the fire escape and was pushing the couch in. All I could imagine was him falling off - and the incredible guilt I would feel - just for a silly couch! But he didn't fall! He was, I swear, Spiderman - swinging around the ladder, jumping up on the outer railing and all the while pushing and hoisting the couch! I cannot imagine they are paid enough for this kind of amazing work... unless they actually are super heros, and that could well be the case.

They got the couch into the apartment, unwrapped it like a fabulous Christmas present and put the legs on it - then asked me where I wanted it! Hello fellas, I think you've done more than enough here! The 'decorating' and placement are things I can damned well do myself - the couch is not heavy and moving furniture around the living room is not a hard job. Swinging that mutha in through the second-story window? THAT is a hard job.

I think I may have embarrassed them a bit with my extreme praise. Went something like:

HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS! HOLY SHIT!!! I can't believe you did that!

And so on for at least 5 minutes.

Of course, despite my admiration for these three genius delivery guys, I am a smart ass... and I had my 'line' ready from the time they left in the morning. Part of me thought it might be cruel... but part of me is my mother's daughter.

When they were done with the couch, unwrapped, legs on - prepping paperwork for me to sign: I did it.

I stroked the arm of the couch. Looked hard at it. Made a face and said to the fellow in charge: "This isn't the couch I ordered."

The look on his face was... well... I knew I had been too cruel.

"I'M just JOKING! I'm so sorry," I said. "I just couldn't resist!"

Thankfully they all laughed. Probably more from relief than anything.

Would Lucy have made that joke? Eh. Probably not. Lucy would have been out on the fire escape with them.

But until I get me a Ricky, I'm not really Lucy - and I don't need to go out on the ledge with Superman.

But if I keep it up, one day... oh God... one day....

In the meantime Basil has a new couch to chill out on.
And until I move it somewhere else, he can keep an eye on the window.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lucy lives! (Part I)

I don't think it's because I dye my hair red.

But it helps.

I don't think it's because I still find Desi Arnaz one smokin' piece of ass.

But it might be part of it.

I don't think it's because my mother sat me in front of I Love Lucy reruns endlessly from birth.

But it certainly started me on the path.

You see, it appears that (despite the fact that I was born before she died) I am the reincarnation of Lucille Ball. Or more accurately: the reincarnation of the fictional Lucille McGillicuddy Ricardo.

This morning proves it.

Last week I bought a gorgeous new couch. Big sale + Income tax refund = new couch. I only ever seem to buy furniture with tax refunds. It's a thing.

This morning the new couch was being delivered. Because my apartment is smallish and the hallway narrow and odd, it seemed to me that the best thing I could do was to move the old couch (which in reality is a love seat) out before the delivery men got here with the new one. I managed to get it out of the living room, out the doorway (which is really tough because my neighbor's door and mine virtually meet in a point at the end of the hall) and down to the stairs.

I was so damned thrilled with the fact that I got the thing out to the stairway that it seemed I could certainly get it down one measly flight of stairs. By myself.

Ohhh Luuuuuuuuuuuuuucy!!!!

Yes I got it down the first section of the stairway but then there's this pesky narrow landing and turn to get down the last section of the stairs. And that is where pseudo-Lucy got stuck. Not just the couch, though of course it too was stuck, but me. I managed to pin myself between the couch and the stair rail. *sigh*

I had my cellphone with me and started a mad attempt to reach anyone who might come help me or alternatively, get a huge laugh out of the situation. My friend Rafael txted me "sorry Lucy, I have to rehearsal of a new conga song - you're on your own, Ricky."

Even as I was stuck under a love seat that was blocking the entire stairway, praying no one was still home and would want to actually use the stairs, I was laughing. Because, "It's Just so ridiculous!"

Typically there was one person who actually did want to use the stairs. It was my upstairs neighbor. He managed to slide through the narrow space between the couch and the rail without much trouble, but talk about embarrassing. For me, I mean.

By the time the delivery men showed up (on time I might add!) I had managed to get out from under the crafty couch trap and since I was unable to get back up and past the couch I just greeted them at the front door. I explained the couch/stairs situation... They laughed and within 2 minutes had dislodged the damned thing and put it out on the curb for me. God love 'em.

But then the trouble really began. Seems the new couch is just a scootch (and I do mean barely a scootch) too big to get through my door - because of the previously noted weirdly angled doorway arrangement.

These guys tried their damnedest but it wasn't gonna happen.

They did have an alternative.

The window.

They had other deliveries to make so they left the couch in the hallway and they're coming back around 4pm. they're going to attempt to get the couch in the apartment from the fire-escape.

I may be Lucy, but in these three furniture delivery men I have clearly found my Ethel.

Basil's waiting. Me too.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not While I'm Around...

Despite the fact that I have a powerful adoration of at least one musical, I am not a big fan of "THE MUSICAL" as a genre. It's not just that I can't sing and thus parts in musicals were therefore never an option for me, *insert bitter sneer here* it's not just that I was unable to even attempt being involved in theater in high school because all they did was musicals, it's mostly the sheer amount of suspension of disbelief required to immerse in a musical. There are so many elements that must work, it's not easy to pull it off - it's not for the faint-hearted to even try. Unless the setting is one that might possibly allow for people to burst into song in a theatrical setting (Cabaret, ShowBoat, Kiss Me Kate for example) or is set in a story of heightened reality (Hair, GodSpell, Rocky Horror) or is simply abstract or just plain so full of astounding music that it doesn't matter where it's set, I generally can't get behind a musical.

I love music. I love the theater. It's the old, you got peanut butter in my chocolate argument - except that most of the time I'm not loving it. Which is weird, right? But as with many things, I'm always willing to give 'em a shot. Especially since I can safely say I'd be dead were it not for a musical.

This is why I rented the DVD of Sweeney Todd the other day. I am pretty much the anti-fan when it comes to Sondheim. I know people swoon over him, but honestly his stuff just leaves me cold. No offense to Mr. S: it's just not my cup of tea. More of a coffee drinker, don'tcha know. But I do like Johnny Depp. Yes he's a little too pretty, but ya gotta love an actor with artistic integrity. So I rented it.

I have never seen a production of Sweeney Todd, never wanted to. I see now that my instinct was correct. Sondheim. Just don't get the appeal. It wasn't bad. Just not for me.

However there was one song that I found disturbing. "Not While I'm Around". A kid singing to a fairly monstrous woman who has 'adopted' him that he will always protect her and no one will ever hurt her while he's there. She sings a reprise back to him with the same sentiment. Of course she's lying her pie-baking ass off when she says it.

This was disturbing to me because (a) no one has ever expressed a desire to protect me... which is kinda sad; and at this point in my life (b) if they did, I would assume they were baking 'people pies' in the basement - and I would have thought that even before hearing this song. Okay, maybe not the people pies part, but the betrayal.

I wonder what it is about people that stir others to that mother lion sort of protective instinct, what it is that I apparently lack. I've always been more the mother lion than the protected cub. Are the two mutually exclusive? I mean doesn't the mother lion sometimes need someone to take care of her?

I know that my protective instincts were born of my parents violent weekends. You don't sleep with a kitchen knife under your pillow every weekend from the age of 8 so you'll be ready to protect your mother from your father in the middle of the night without developing a bit of a habit. But isn't there a time when someone else takes a shift? Jesus... even Buffy the Vampire Slayer had back-up!

I know, I'm all about the pop-culture references.

It's not that there hasn't been help from time to time. Of course there has. But nothing on a regular, "I know I can rely on this every day" sort of basis. Nothing where I could say: someone else will take this load for a little bit and let me rest, or just make me dinner, or ... something.

God knows it would be bone-crushingly hard for me to trust someone else to take care of me - *insert defensive* "I CAN DO IT MYSELF!" But aside from some sweet gestures from friends from time to time, like running the dog out for me, it's pretty much been I do it myself. Because if I don't, who will?

Several years ago I had broken a finger, then the 'doctor' broke it for me again because it was setting wrong (long story, thanks as ever to the USA's health care system) and was in a cast from fingers to elbow for 7 weeks. Being one-handed was difficult. But I managed. Even managed to adopt Basil's crazy cat while I was in the cast.

A few years after that I ended up in the hospital with meningococcal disease that left me without the use of both hands for a very long time. Or I should say I could use them - if I didn't mind excruciating pain. Now here's a case where someone did indeed take care of me - Gary came (all the way from New Jersey) and dragged my ass to the emergency room because I was a goddamned mess. Had he not done that, I would have simply died in my sleep. Seriously. This shit kills people in under 48 hours. I thought I had the flu. Though I had never had a flu that made my hands hurt so badly I couldn't open a door and the air blowing over them made me scream.... I had a fever over 104, I wasn't the best judge of what was going on. I mean I fought with Gary, saying I just wanted to sleep, I'll be FINE. *sigh*

And believe me, seriously grateful to my BFF for being in his "I am the teacher you will do as I say" mode on his off-time.

But it was during the recovery time where, despite maintaining that I could do it myself, I wondered, isn't there anyone who might ... help a sistah out? For example, the then-boyfriend. Yeah. Not so much. The less said about him and my mental state for caring about someone so unbelievably selfish and sick the better.

I am very capable of taking care of myself. It's damned difficult for me to ask for help, and it's even harder to relax and accept it when it's offered (though I'm proud to say I'm learning to do it). I'm not an egg, I don't need to be coddled. Nor do I want to be. But just because you CAN take care of yourself, does it mean you don't get to play the other part sometimes? I mean, damn, even tops can be bottoms sometimes. Right? Right?

I know, I'm all about the food and sexual references, too.

All this from hearing a song in a musical I didn't particularly like. I guess I have to accept the fact that while I say I'm not a huge fan of musicals, that I do see that they have an important place as art, even if it's just for a single song. Even in the ones I don't care for. Anything that makes you think is good. Is art. Don't you think?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Miss X: the return engagement

Miss X's Mom has jaunted off to the Italian countryside for a well-deserved vacation. Miss X has come to stay with me for the duration.

Something tells me she'd rather be in Italy too.
But I could be wrong.

Monday, April 07, 2008

I'm Proud of You

That's a phrase that was completely foreign to me as a child. I wonder how different my life might have been had I heard it. I wonder what it would have been like to feel that my parents, or any family members for that matter, had been proud of me instead of perpetually ashamed or confused by me. My guess is that it would have made it easier for me to accept myself and it might have deterred me from being so hard on myself and apologetic for EVERYTHING. Ah well. Ain't gonna happen. They weren't proud of me, didn't matter what I did nothing was ever good enough. Even perfection was not good enough, so I learned very early on that it wasn't worth bothering. Why try when you get nothing for it? I'm not saying that everything we do in life should result in some sort of remuneration, but a pat on the head, a "good job" seems to be a simple enough recompense; simple yet enormous.

As I've mentioned before, my friends are far more supportive and kind to me than my family ever was, and from time to time when I do something that took a lot of guts or work or talent or whatever I will actually hear those words from friends: I'm proud of you.

It's always astounding and, truly, it makes me feel like a fluffy puppy. I mean that in a good way. I mean, tail wagging happy. Just hearing that phrase makes me want to accomplish more, do more, give back more. It also makes me feel like I can.

Last night my friend Kori read me a quote she had saved (she loves the quotes) and this one was great in terms of reassuring me. I had sent an email that might have been a tad mushy, gushy and just a bit too ... ya know... possibly sickeningly sweet. I'm a little too impulsive sometimes and email + impulsive = oy vey. I do it alllll the time. Type first, think second, worry about it third. Typical. But she had this handy-dandy quote from Robert F. Kennedy's eulogy for his father.

"What it really all adds up to is love -- not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it."
So since my vaguely over-the-top email was in fact from the heart and all about support and encouragement, affection and respect for my friend... I felt better about having sent it and stopped worrying.

When I was younger I would hold back any sort of "you're great!" commentary - because it was foreign to me - on the receiving end. It felt really weird, and even wrong, to convey those sentiments to someone else, even if I wanted to say: "you look great" or "you did a great job" or whatever. I know I missed numerous opportunities to tell people how I really felt about them, and to maybe even make them feel good about themselves - even if it was just for a few minutes, because they look good in blue or something silly like that. It was also a fear of letting anyone know what I really felt. Somehow telling someone something as simple as "nice dress" was giving away too much. Stoopid!

I'm sure that is part of the reason my parents never gave me much in the way of emotional support - it would somehow make them vulnerable... maybe I'm giving them too much credit there. But hey, it might be part of it. It might be.

I overcame that childhood hang-up, for the most part, and when I get impulsive I sort of go the other way. Effusive is the word that comes to mind. But it comes back to haunt me with the worry that I've said too much or, even worse, said it badly. As Kori said last night, "well, good, now you've given yourself something new to worry about for no reason. Good job."

Yeah. Well, she called it. So it's one more self-improvement project to work on. Quit the worrying. Stuff comes out of my mouth, or keyboard, and I've just got to accept that it's how I am and let the chips fall where they may. All I can do is be honest, and be myself and stop worrying about it all.

I hear "you're so nice" a lot. And while I know there's a point where nice turns into idiot-doormat, I would prefer to be known as someone who is nice. Or thoughtful. Okay, nice. I LIKE nice. And supportive. So there. And truth be told, I'm not ALWAYS so nice. But I try.

On a less vague note: I actually managed to start and finish my taxes today. They're DONE. Done, done, done. Hallelujah! At last.

And you know what?

I'm proud of ME. Good job, Joy.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Tips From My Mom #3 - Entertainment

Remember that having children can be a source of endless entertainment. Be patient with them.

I've mentioned that my mother was an early-riser. A real morning person. She was married to a true night owl and had a child who shunned the daylight and was plagued by insomnia from the age of seven. What a delightfully complementary group we were. In no way whatsoever. But I have also said, and I do stand by this despite it often being at my expense, the woman was funny.

One gag she pulled on me was a real slow burner. Meaning she planted the seeds early and often and then had to wait several years for the punch line.

Because she was up at the crack of dawn, and in a great mood (god help us all) she would sing when I got up. She sang "good morning, good morning, we've talked the whole night through, good morning, good morning to you..." Nearly every day. Once I asked her, "what is that annoying song?" She said, "oh that's just 'Good Morning' - I wrote that a long time ago."

A couple of years later, it was a Saturday afternoon I believe, I was flipping the dial on the old black & white television and heard people singing. They were singing MY mother's song. ON TELEVISION! It was a movie! IT was Singing in The Rain.

I nearly shit myself I was so excited! By GOD we must be rich! My mother had written a famous song! Why were we living in lower middle class squalor when she was clearly a musical genius! Was this life some sort of witness protection plan to keep crazed fans at bay? It must be!

I yelled like a banshee. MOM. MOM! MOMMMMMMMMY!!!!! They're singing your song on the television!!!!!

She came into the room. Looked at the television set. Listened for a moment. Took a drag on her cigarette. Looked at me and said. "I didn't write that."

"But you said..."

"Oh Joy. C'mon."

Then she laughed and laughed.

Can you imagine putting forth a set up and waiting all that time for the pay-off?

God that woman had patience.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fool... Not so much

I spent some quality time yesterday trying to come up with a clever April Fool's Day gag to pull here on the ol' blog. Know what I came up with?


Ah well. Maybe next year.

I decided that in lieu of a fabulous gag, maybe I'd just ramble. WHAT? Me? Ramble? Stop it. Never happens.

I happily sent off the project that was due yesterday. On time. Miraculous. And in connection with that I ended up being inside an office for the second time in two weeks. I have not been inside an office (other than a doctor's office - and that doesn't count) since I quit my job. As the time (too) fast approaches when I have to think about getting another job (oh my GOD how much do I hate that thought) being inside offices was giving me that awful deja vue, this is your life, feeling of prescience that was NOT a good thing. I will say, however, that the two friends whose offices I was visiting have HUGE workspaces compared to what I had. I mean 2-3 times the size. Luxury. Bigger than my bedroom sort of spaces. Geez. I was experiencing slight desk envy. Except for the fact that they were in offices. That definitely mitigated the envy.

I seriously cannot return to an office job. I should qualify that: I cannot return to a secretarial job. Good CHRIST did I hate being a secretary. I'd rather clean toilets, at least there's a sense of satisfaction there. And I'm dead serious about that. (If anyone needs someone to clean for them... call me.)

The sort of work I'm doing right now (you know the kind that doesn't pay, except in kind words that are worth more than gold to me) is so much more interesting, fun and satisfying than anything I've ever done in offices that I wish I could parlay it into something that actually did pay. Of course what I'm doing is something I feel passionate about so that is a huge part of the equation. There I go with that desire for passion again.

I have a passion for creating something out of nothing. But focus seems my problem. There are simply too many things I like. It's sort of the story of my life. It's a matter of being a Jack(or Jill) of-All-Trades and master of none. I know a little bit about an awful lot of things, but what the hell do I have a genius for? Nuthin' in particular. I know people who have a genius for something - a talent that drives them, a talent that makes the things they do (whether paid or not) shimmer with a master's touch. Me? I'm more of a working dilettante. I wrote poetry when I was younger, hell, I was convinced I was going to be the next Anne Sexton! I had the suicidal urges and dark humor and I love poetry so it seemed like a natural. I even got some of that 'poetry' published - which I admit I'm really proud of because in this country poetry is given very short shrift. But truthfully my poetry is pedestrian at its very best and cringe-worthy more often than not. Of course 20 years ago I thought I was a genius. Um. Yeah. Teensie-weensie bit delusional.

I also thought I'd be the next great actress on Broadway. Wellllll. Yeah. Not so much, huh? Granted I'm a helluva lot better an actor than I am a poet, and god knows people are far more inclined to pay attention to you on a stage than in a poetry journal, but still... good, occasionally really, really good does not equal genius.

I bake really well. I can kick ass with the cookies and cakes. Becoming vegan showed me that I'm even not half bad with actual non-sugary food items too. But am I a great chef? Am I destined to be a chef de p√Ętisserie extraordinaire? Again, not so much.

I'm funny. Okay, maybe I'm funnier in person than here, but still, trust me: funny lady right here. But can I pull off stand-up? Repeat with me: not so much.

Perhaps if I'd been born during the Renaissance I would have found a level of success by touching a whole range of disciplines. But this is not the Renaissance, hell we're closer to the Dark Ages in many ways; which is sad considering the enormous scientific and technological advances we have today. But this is about me, not about society as a whole. Just about my role in it. Which is... what exactly?

Damned if I know.