Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Greetings... from the past


video
The plastic-faced pink monkey is long gone, but the plastic-faced Santa is still with me.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Seriously, NYC get out and Vote!

Mike Bloomberg is disgraceful. His blatant disregard for the laws of this city are a clear indication of his character. Term limits are there for a reason.

Monday, November 02, 2009

And once more into the breach...


It's November and that means that once more I'm going to attempt NaNoWrimo. I did it once back in '04 and have failed bitterly since, but undaunted (well... slightly daunted) I'm going for it again. How the hell I'm going to manage running 3 miles a day, walking the dogs at insane hours, and writing 50,000 words in one month is beyond me. But one thing is sure - it means there will be lots more blog posts here as I procrastinate. Endlessly. If nothing else it will give me one more thing to stress over, which is going to be really nice for my dentist as I'm sure I will be grinding my teeth twice as much as normal. Wheee! My poor night guard takes a beating, I am shocked it's still in one piece. And it also means I'll actually pull some posts together here, which will also be nice; especially since I have let things slide to the point of barely having a blog at all any more.

I haven't been writing much of anything any where for months, not even boring tidbits in my handwritten journal. Partly because my schedule is crazy, partly because my hands have been p.a.i.n.i.n.g. me something fierce, and partly because I feel like I haven't had a helluva lot to say. Maybe that's a good thing, it might actually mean I'll have something to say for this 'novel'.

But now I have to go do some other sort of procrastination - I think I might clean the windows! The beauty of procrastination: a clean apartment.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Okay, you can stop holding your breath now

I know you were turning blue waiting for these photos. And even though I don't have a cohesive narrative to go with them, cohesiveness having flown out the door along with any and all my free time, I'm posting them so you can see how beeee-uuuuu-teee-fullll it was.

Mexico I mean.

But first, a little test. From the airplane window I saw this cloud formation. I saw something very clearly. Take a look. See anything?

Click on it, make it bigger. Look again.

If you see clouds. Okay, I'll give you that. But if you see GODZILLA then you are correct! Yes people, Godzilla my favorite, your favorite, Tokyo's favorite radiation imbued dinosaur-cum- guy in a rubber suit with a zipper down the back. Now for me that bode well. I really love me some Gojira.

Then the coastline coming into the Cancun airport. Oooooh preeeeety.

And here is the lobby of the Catalonia Playa Maroma, or as I like to call it: the preliminary artwork for my new living room. I'm not sure how my landlord is going to react to me digging through the floor for the fountain pools, but I think it's going to look nifty.
the main entrance & lobby



fountains and my new couch

Now on to my little room.....


the view from the front door


through the windows of the back porch

and the view from the porch


Gilligan, get the Professor I want to make a coconut phone!

Now for the interior:
the scary/cool thing about this room is that the color scheme is EXACTLY what I have at home now. I mean exactly. Of course this is a king-sized bed and I only have a full... but if I could knock out a wall in my bedroom I'd have a king. I really, really would. I'd love it. The landlord, again, probably not so much. But let's take a look at the bathroom, shall we? Four of my current bathrooms could fit in here. Yes, I measured.

I always love a little towel origami with my mini-shampoos.

But my favorite feature? The coffee maker.

I'll continue later, for now take a walk with me from the room to the main pathway. the first image is the back of the room - the porch area, then we walk. Listen to the lovely sounds.


video

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back to NYC...

*sigh*

I got back from Mexico on Friday evening. My morning was all blue skies and warm weather, my evening was bleak, raining, cold and just plain grey.

Welcome back.

Luckily I took tons of pictures (and video) and looking at them makes me forget (sorta) just how dismal the weather is here. It also makes me want to book a flight back for tomorrow... but that's just not possible. Besides, I missed my dog.

My dog, however, did not seem to miss me. Okay, maybe a little. But he seemed to really have a good time entertaining his 'guests' and I don't blame him - Miss Trixie and her Mom are just plain fun. Plus Basil always likes having his lil' Cousin Trixie around.

I was full of perkiness last night but not the kind that makes any sort of writing possible. Unfortunately now I'm feeling the effects of too little sleep yesterday and the drastic weather change is making me sleepy too. So I'm not going to say much about my lovely trip right now. Instead I give you this little taste of a typical day.



And believe me: there's a story to go with these guys. Isn't there always?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

My bag is packed, I'm ready to ... Adios


Considering how infrequently I've been posting it might seem odd to post a 'won't be posting this week' post. (And how many times CAN you put the word 'post' in one post?) But that's what this is.

I'm heading to Mexico this morning and won't even be looking at a computer for the next week. In fact I doubt I'll be doing anything other than reading, swimming, taking photos and nursing my stuffed up head.

Yup. Two days ago I got hit with an intense head cold... or maybe it's allergies. (yeah). I've been self-medicating homeopathically which has offered some relief, but at midnight last night I headed to the drugstore and got some good old-fashioned head clearing poison. Because you know what's worse than being stuffed up while you're stuffed in a plane? Um... being stuffed up in a plane that's LANDING.

I've had that ear splitting pain once before (Las Vegas to San Francisco - ungodly pain) and I have done everything and anything since then to avoid having it happen again. So I'm nasal-spraying and neti-potting, and decongestant-popping before I go anywhere near that airport. Then I have special ear plugs that help deflect some of the pressure. I go to great lengths to avoid the 'ouch'. It better work. If it doesn't I'm going to really annoy the kid sitting behind me kicking my seat by screaming blue murder during the landing.

How do I know there is a bratty kid in the seat behind me when I haven't even left the house yet? Because. I know these things. But I'll take that over the earache any day of the week.

Well. Almost any day.

If my head doesn't unstuff naturally at some point on this trip I'm going to be very, very unhappy. Because it will mean I can't smell anything. One of the things I love best about Mexico, and I'm sure this will sound strange, but it's the smell. Mexico, or at least the Yucatan, has a scent all its own, it's kind of a woody/earthy fresh smell. I'm sure it must be from some combination of indigenous trees and plants or something, and I know I sound like a dog who learned to speak English here, but it smells GOOD!

*woof*

Speaking of which, the only bad thing about going to Mexico (aside from the nasty stuffiness) is that I'm leaving my puppy! I hate leaving Basil, and naturally he's been extra-super cute and amusing the past few days. That boy knows how to work me, it's terrible to be so whipped by your own dog. But his favorite auntie, Miss X's Mom is coming (with Miss X, of course) to stay with him and the demon-seed Nick. So I know he's in excellent hands (and paws)... but I'll still miss my boy! Doubtful whether he'll miss me. But that's okay, I'm sure he needs a break from me.

I will post (ah-ha! Got in another one!) tons of pictures when I return, hopefully rejuvenated by the scent of the air and the fresh guacamole, and perhaps, just perhaps, I'll start posting (!) more often.


So la, la, la I'm off to Mexico.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's been two years

Two years since I've been on a vacation. Which, naturally means, two years since I've seen Mexico. Two years of pulling up my old photos and videos, playing Mariachi music and pretending to practice my Spanish, while eating guacamole (like that will improve my accent).

Well, the wait is over. After much stress, saving, and deliberation which nearly drove me over the edge (I get very tense about making the perfect travel plans) I finally just went ahead and took the plunge. I made reservations and I'm going the second week in September.

Sadly I could not afford to go to see the lovely folks at Lafitte (formerly Capitan now Petit) where I spent my first three ridiculously amazing trips to Mexico. So I'm going to someplace new and untried.

I've already started packing... probably a little premature, but I'm kind of excited.

There is only one small problem now...

The bathing suit.

Oh yeah, everyone wants to see this pulchritude in a bikini, but that's not happening. No. Not until you earn it. That's that.

Truth is I have two swimsuits and they are barely used and I like them (shock!) the trouble with them is, get this (this is trouble?) I've lost weight. Not the ton I'd like to lose, that I struggle constantly to lose, but I've lost a good 10 lbs since I last had the opportunity to wear 'The Suit' and 10 is enough to make things, well.. let's just say less than 'safe' in the water. I SAID you'd have to earn it - there will be no oopsies with the girls in the pool. I mean, okay, should Alan Rickman somehow be in that pool with me, then an oopsie could happen. I mean it wouldn't be a premeditated, rouged nipple flash or anything like that (REALLY)... it just might happen. You know, with a vigorous backstroke or something... Oh shush, it could happen.

Vacation to Mexico isn't the only thing that's been on hold people. Cut me some slack, okay?


Friday, August 14, 2009

All Hail Qi Gong Tui-Na! or Wheeeeeee!

Last Friday I tried my first Qigong massage in hopes it would relieve me even momentarily of the weighty stress I carry around - even when there's no reason to be stressed. I wanted to post immediately about the experience but decided to be prudent. To wait and see how long the results lasted and to see how a second massage went, because as with Circus Peanuts, the first one might be awesome but the next could make you barf.

Good news: no barfing. I went for the second massage today and added a 40 minute foot reflexology just for the helluvit. First the results: I walked out feeling like I had taken three Xanax - I was that relaxed. NOTHING bothered me. Not the yakkity-yak of people on their cell phones on the bus, not the annoying rudeness of people looking one way and walking another - smack into me of course, and not the ever-present rocks that usually live in my shoulders and neck.

Second: the massage actually WORKED! Not only did I feel de-stressed that night but it lasted well into the next week. This is unheard of with me and massage and I had actually decided to go back for sure when the results lasted through 24 hours - which was more than I'd ever experienced from a massage. Not to mention the price. Far cheaper than any massage I've ever had. To say I'm astounded is understatement. I'm going back for the next two weeks as well - it's a huge indulgence (even though it's inexpensive) but I can't deny that it makes me feel really, really good so indulgence or not I'm doing it.


Friday, August 07, 2009

My new boyfriend

Our love is illegal in at least 14 states, but the heart wants what the heart wants as a famous nut job once said.

He lives on my block. He is MUCH younger than me. He has naturally curly hair, and is a natural redhead (how can curl-envying, bottle-readhead resist?)

He's pretty gorgeous, huh?

I have to admit despite my adoration of the canines, I've just never been a big fan of the poodles. I've known some really sweet poodle mixes, but not so much with the pure-poodles. No particular reason, they just never grabbed me. Until I met... well, let's call him "Henry" to protect his anonymity as he's such a hunk-a-hunk-a burnin' love that if I gave out his real name the women would be beating down his door. And he would love it. Only 8 months old and this boy is already working the ladies. As I have freely admitted in the past, I'm a sucker for the charming men. Even the four-legged kind. Especially the four-legged kind.

When a boy like this stares into your eyes and rests his head in your hands... well, I defy anyone to resist.

By the way, Basil knows about this and is cool with it so let's not have any 'you hussy' emails, okay. Thanks.

and Qi-Gong to you too!

My stress levels are high... all the time. I'm a stress machine. If someone figured out a way to power generators with stress I could solve the climate crises single-handedly. Alas, ain't happenin'. So instead of being productive my stress is killing me. I have shoulder knots that I've carried since childhood and they keep getting worse. I grind my teeth at night to such a degree that I have literally broken my front teeth. Thank GOD I have a great dentist who was able to repair them so you'd never know, but geez.... I mean I've even worn grooves into my night guard. Hello, clearly my affinity for Pitbulls has to do with the fact that I have a similar bite strength. Which is such an attractive attribute, no?

My dentist has actually given me stern 'talkings to' about doing something to relieve my stress levels. Which I DO try to do. I've tried boxing, I run, I do yoga, I take relaxing herbs at night, I spend my days with dogs fer cryin' out loud! My blood pressure is awesomely low (in a good way) but the tension in my neck, shoulders, back and god knows, my jaw is literally out of control.

I finally decided to try Qi-Gong Tui-Na massage since the western massages don't seem to do the trick. Sure they feel nice, but they never actually de-stress me. So today, after my last dog walk, I'm going to give it a shot.

Of course there's the stress of trying a new massage place. Seriously, I can find something to stress about even in the process of de-stressing! But damn... if I don't find something to chill me the hell out I think I'm going to tie myself into one great big knot until my head literally pops off.

And if the Qi-Gong Tui-Na works - even a little bit - I'll be singing its praises and hosanna-ing to the mountain tops. Which will probably cause me to stress out...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poetry

America is not known for its love of poetry. Other countries embrace it, but here, well, not so much. Of course good music has lyrics that can, not always but sometimes, stand alone as poems so I guess we have that. But even in a country that fears poetry (gosh, ya have to figure it out and all) there are the occasional pieces that everyone can recognize. Casey at the Bat... for example. But this... well... this is the stuff people. Of course, I've got to admit that what makes it good, no, great, is the performer.

With that I give you, Star Trek elder statesman and all around riot: William Shatner:



Now in all seriousness, go get a book of poetry from the library and give it a shot - I'll bet you can find at least ONE poet who speaks to you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

wanna go!

It's been two years since I've gone on vacation. Basil seems to be feeling the burden. I'm thinking he wants me to go away so he can have some quality time with his friends without mommy around.

I'm looking into giving him what he wants. After all... it's always all about the dog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Home Movies

When my father died I took possession of dozens of reels of home movies. All silent, all recorded on a 8mm wind-up camera. I also took the film projector so that I could actually look at said reels of movies. Sadly the projector was not in the best shape and alternated between chewing the film and burning it. To avoid ruining more than the few minutes of film I already wrecked I decided the smart thing to do was transfer the reels to a DVD. Did that several years ago... and that was that.

Until the Mac.

Oh yes, Joy's been playing with the film editing again and you poor saps ... I mean, gentle readers... can watch the first of my newly digitized and organized home movies. Right here. Right now.

Okay, so watching other people's home movies may not be the fun you'd think... BUT the reason I chose this particular chunk of memory lane to force your tootsies to walk down is because it's actually a little historic. It takes place at New York International Airport (or Idelwild as it was known) - before it was called JFK International Airport.

From the JFK website
HISTORY
Construction began in April 1942 under a New York City contract for the placing of hydraulic fill over the marshy tidelands on the site of Idlelwild golf course. Initial plans called for a 1,000-acre airport, but it would eventually grow to five times that size. Commercial flights began July 1948. The airport was rededicated on December 24, 1963 as John F. Kennedy International Airport in memory of the nation's thirty-fifth president.
Kennedy International is the United States' leading international gateway. Over 80 airlines operate out of JFK.
This was sometime in the mid-1950s. My mother's sister, Kathleen, had graduated high school, come into a bit of cash (long story) and she and my grandfather were taking a trip to Ireland. I actually still have some souvenirs of that trip, if you can imagine. So for me, this is interesting in that I see my family long before I was born, while my parents were still happy, and on a day that loomed large in the family history. The big 'return' to Ireland. In fact the biggest trip any of them had taken aside from my grandparents' initial emigration from Ireland and my father's tour overseas during the war. Plus it looks a lot like a film-strip from the '50s and that right there is pretty cool. You know, to me.
video
It may seem odd that my grandmother did not go with them on this trip, but while I don't know for sure, I believe the reason she did not go was because she was one immigrant who did NOT miss her homeland. To her Ireland was a place where she was dead poor, motherless, and "there were chickens running across the kitchen table". My grandfather's experience of Sligo (where they were both from) was a little more upper middle class... i.e. not so much with the livestock in the house.
Thanks for watching, and enduring my home movies. And I hope my mother's deep and life-long adoration of Frank Sinatra makes it okay to have used the song in this little clip. And if anyone's interested Kathleen in the green suit is my aunt (deceased); Kathleen in black is my beloved grandmother (deceased); Barbara is my other aunt; Fred is my story-tellin' grandfather (deceased); Joe is my dad (deceased); Maureen is my mom (deceased). Now ain't that a happy lil' coda? *sigh* I do know how to bring down a room, huh? ;)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Brief Visit to a Foreign Land: in reverse!

On the left you see the charming and sweet Miss Brittany who lives far, far away in a foreign land called the Upper West Side. This weekend little Brittany came to stay with me for a slumber party with Basil and the ever delightful Trixie (Miss X).

Basil and Trixie are old hands at the slumber parties and have developed their own dynamic - the addition of Brittany was very exciting for everyone (me included).

They all walked together and while their walking styles are vastly different they were accommodating to each other, waiting while one did some particularly intensive sniffing (what I like to think of as checking their doggie e-mail) and generally behaving like VERY good dogs.
video
I was extremely proud of all of them.

For Brittany this was a chance to explore entirely new turf and what Beagle doesn't enjoy checking out new scents? I think the little girl was in sensory overload. We walked for hours at a time and when it was time to sleep - it was time to sleep! video
(On Basil's bed of course.)
But when it was time to walk - it was time to GO!... and time for Trixie to 'bust a move'!

One night I woke up with Basil on one side of me, passed out; Trixie on the other side, passed out; Nick the super confused kitty, on my head, passed out but no Brittany! I managed to get out of bed without disturbing the sleeping hoard and found little Brittany the night owl in the living room enjoying a midnight chew.
And isn't that how all slumber parties in distant lands should end? I think so.

Just FYI: I want everyone to know that both Trixie and Brittany were adopted through breed rescue organizations - if you are thinking about getting a dog and are want a specific breed, please PLEASE check the rescue organizations before you buy from a pet store. Thanks!

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Brief Visit to a Foreign Land

For the past few weeks I have been walking dogs for a friend of mine (another dog walker) who is on vacation. Her clientele is on the other side of the city from me and one is as far west as you can go without sitting in a boat - and a way uptown from me. Going to walk this sweet little girl twice a day is a trek, but it is also kind of wild in that this neighborhood is like another world.

Each area of Manhattan has it's own particular flavor and vibe but this one is almost like going to another city altogether.

It's beautiful, and quiet and like many pockets of this city has little gems tucked away where you might least expect them. My favorite is this one.
The first time I saw this statue it caught my attention because it is nestled in between two large historic buildings on Riverside Drive, sort of in the middle of nowhere. It looks out towards Riverside Park and, uh... the river. It stands in front of the New York Buddhist Church and interestingly (you know, to me) I actually visited their main temple in Kyoto several years ago. The first few times I passed it I just kinda looked at the statue, and liked it. For reasons I cannot fathom, except perhaps scale and the 'huh... what's THAT doing there?' it reminded me of the masthead of Hercules that sits, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, out near where I grew up.

Finally one day the dog I was walking decided to stop for some serious sniffing right in front of the statue and I was able to read the plaque on the wall below. (if it's too small, just click on it and it will get big enough to read)

Knowing that this piece survived the horrific atomic bomb... it may sound over the top, but it really does fill me with a sense of awe. And there's just something about it, whether it's the sculpture itself or simply the unexpectedness of it, that gets to me. It's like certain paintings at MY museum (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) that I NEED to visit whenever I go to the museum, even if it's just for a quick look.

It does what art is supposed to do: makes you think about things, makes you feel things.

So while I'm scoopin' up the poopin' uptown and way across, I'm also visiting a lil' piece of art. And it makes me think. And it makes me feel.

It's nice to be able to visit 'another country' for the price of a subway token.

Monday, June 29, 2009

who doesn't love a little drama

Well, I for one am not a fan.

My last post was clearly not written by someone who is a role model for the upside of mental health. But maybe it's good that I put it out there. This survival thing, this getting through bad days, weeks, months maybe that's the real point. Staying alive when the world seems bright and cheery and you feel happy and content, well that's easy isn't it? That's the fun part. Not taking refuge in thoughts of razor blades and punching out your time-clock permanently when everything is bleak and you're lonely and feel abandoned and ugly and useless and so damned sad that nothing matters, that's the hard part.

The other hard part is recognizing when it's a matter of chemistry.

I feel lucky to have gotten a hold on my recent downward spiral towards the comfy black snugglies of a deep depression by increasing my medication slightly. I hesitate to say that I'm 100% okay just yet, but things are infinitely better than they were. It astounds me how easily I started slipping down that slope to the slough of despond, and how even seeing it happening I felt helpless to stop it even though I knew I could certainly TRY a little more medication. It's really like an angel and devil on your shoulders. The angel says: hey, how about we've been here before and we try a little tweaking of the meds before deciding to off ourselves, eh? And the devil says: Fuck it all. You suck and you always have, always will and you may as well spare yourself more of the same.

It's a lot easier to listen to the second guy. After all, he's a snappier dresser.

But I did start taking more meds, it has started to help and I'm going to be far more vigilant that this doesn't happen again in the future. It's hard though, I mean it's hard to recognize it when it first starts. Is it just a 'bad day' or is it the start of a tumultuous war of self-loathing vs. rational thought? Sometimes it's just impossible to tell.

And to those who offered some support - I do appreciate it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

So much for that

Despite the title of this blog I seems I've lost my infatuation with myself. It's pretty much a struggle to remember to comb my hair lately. I mean I just don't see much point. Am I gaining weight? So what. Am I wearing make-up. Who cares. It's like an endless attempt to be someone that nice, someone people like, someone desirable and that struggle is all uphill and yields nothing much.

This is not to say that from time to time I don't feel appreciated, just this past week a surprise care-package of the coolest kind arrived in the mail from the delightfully inventive Miss Jill. The selection of fun-stuff in the box was perfect, and exactly what I would have packed up for myself - if I liked myself enough to care. And it really made me smile and giggle and feel happy, truly I couldn't have been more surprised or grateful: music, a book, vegan chocolate and even a mirror ball (of a sort) and more. I know there are so many people so much worse off than me, I do know that. And I'm trying so hard to hold onto that feeling and let it be enough.

But I'm such a miserable bitch that nothing is ever enough.

You know when you have a spill and you try to sop it up with a brand new, totally dry sponge it takes FOREVER for it to absorb the spill? That's me. A damp sponge sops up spills in a blink, because it's already primed. So I'm a dry sponge. Every now and then a drop of water hits it but by the time the next one comes it's already dry again and so it's never able to really function the way you want a sponge to function.

I'm a non-functioning sponge.

In a desert.

With a blow-dryer.

Jesus, cue the violins, eh?

I guess it's just that the older I get the more I wonder why I'm here. And I've wondered that since I was a kid, so imagine how much I think about it now. I'm tired. I'm tired of being a non-priority, even to myself. I'm a second-stringer at best. Afterthought, non-weekend friend. And clearly I'm too heinous to expect any romantic overture to be anything more than a means to make someone else jealous, or worse, a gag at the ugly girl's expense.

I've never been first in anyone's life, not even as a baby... I know, I know love yourself first. But when that doesn't work... well, then what?

Then I guess you end up like me. Wanting more than I'll ever have and trying to be happy with what I do have.

I'm just tired. Really tired of myself. And I'm tired of proving my parents right.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

T.V. in the Kitchen

Tools of distancing members of my small family were plentiful in my house growing up. The pets were always good - talk to the dog when nobody was speaking to each other (which was often). The television however was the most popular tool of 'keep away'. There was a television in the livingroom, one my parent's bedroom, a small one in my bedroom and of course one in the kitchen. Given the fact that we were three people living in a small two bedroom house I'm going out on a limb here to say: that's a LOT of televisions.  

The fact that my father was a notorious miser, it may seem more than surprising that there were so many televisions. Ah-ha! Stay with me as I decipher the logic here. 1) my dad had a television repair license, something he got in high school or just after so he was greatly enamoured of fiddling with the machines. There were tubes (kids, google it - televisions used to need things called 'tubes' in order to operate) of all shapes and sizes all around the house. So having multiple television sets was something he enjoyed. Also please note that each and every one of these were of the B&W variety until I was... um... I think I was in college by the time that house saw a color tv. And believe me, there was an aeriel antenna on the roof until the day my father died. Cable? Please. And 2) it was a great way not to have to talk to anyone. So here we are, three people who have a deep seated need to be apart with a tv in practically every room - and in the summer, my father would run an antennae line out the window so he could hook up the tv outside. I kid you not.  

My parents had divergent tastes in televised programming, so the only one who went both ways (as it were) was me. In an attempt to 'connect' I would, when the chill in the room wasn't too frosty, watch with them whatever they happened to have on. Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and Fawlty Towers with my father (the latter of which was watched in its entirety outside in the backyard during a PBS fundraising marathon and followed by a raucous fun weekend of Dad's famous violent rages... well, watching tv never stopped anyone from downin' their beer now did it?) My mother on the other hand was a Daytime Soap or as we called them back then 'serials' fanatic. I cannot tell you the number of actors I have seen on stage or on the street that I grew up watching on 'the serials'. She was also big on the half-hour sit-coms. And let us never forget that she used I Love Lucy re-runs as my baby-sitter, teaching me at a very early age how to speak with a Cuban accent.

Now me? I'd watch anything, other than sports. I was a bored child in the suburbs in a bad family situation - if my head wasn't in a book, I was glued to the television. Can I just say right now how much I loved the Bowery Boys growing up? I mean really, I was so crazy about those goofy East Side kids solving crimes and hanging out in the soda shop that it was... well... it wasn't right. But of course not much about me was 'right'. I had a foot in so many different decades it's no wonder I didn't fit in where I was.

Now aside from the soaps and sit-coms, my mother did have one totally out-of-character show that she was very much addicted to, for a time. It was called Sunrise Semester and was broadcast at the crack of "why the hell is anyone who doesn't have to milk a cow up at this hour?" My mother being the earliest riser known to humanity, and my father being the night owl of all time... oh I digress. Sorry. So my mother's up at the crack of - and the television is turned on before her eyes even open all the way. Seriously.  

Being the competitive insomnia champ of the house I was up all night and still up at dawn so when I heard her puttering around - meaning when I heard the t.v. go on - I'd head out to the kitchen. Because that one summer Sunrise Semester was on. I missed the first episode, but by the second I too was hooked. You see the 'semester' was spent dissecting a novel. Hello - t.v. + book = get the popcorn! As I said, this was not my mother's typical show so I found it fascinating that she was so hooked on it too. Well, turns out it was the professor's voice she was really addicted to. Ah well... whatever works, huh? I don't remember exactly how old I was but I'm guessing maybe 9 or 10 years old. The novel up for study was Emile Zola's Nana. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do - it's amazing. However, I don't think it was ever intended for the 9-10 year old market. Yet I stuck with the show, fascinated as Dr. Zulli talked about Zola's life, the characters in the book and the story line. When it was all over I was a bit blue - the next course up was something about ... I dunno, science maybe? Didn't have the hold on me that Nana did. Many years later, when I was in college, PBS's Masterpiece Theater ran a two-part dramatization of another of Zola's books Thérèse Raquin. Oh my GOD I wanted to be Kate Nelligan. What a great role, what a great story!

Seeing it reminded me that I had never read Nana. I actually went to the bookstore and could only find Thérèse, so I read that. Some time later I got my hands on a copy of Nana from the library. I cannot explain how odd it was to finally read this book when I had spent so much of my life with it 'in my head' from such a young age. The world of that story... it was already embedded in my brain, reading the book was like filling in the lines in a coloring book. Again, I highly recommend it.

So while the television was a tool of interpersonal avoidance, it was also a window to new worlds, at least for me. It may not have been much, but I worked with what was available to me. I still have a special place in my heart for Zola, and for Dr. Zulli (who did have a really nice voice). I tried to find some video of him on the 'net but came up with nothing. But you can see him here.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I may be Vegan, but I still love me some cheese

THIS kind of cheese!




How can you not love Charo? She's kooky and wonderfully silly but also dead-serious talented and clearly has a heart of gold. I love matador outfits, but that's the ONLY good thing about bullfighting. Brava cuchi-cuchi girl!

Monday, June 01, 2009

WHY am I so tired?

Oh the weather is making me nuts, honestly.  This hot cold hot cold hot cold crap - I mean it's like one of my past relationships.  (And I do mean EXACTLY like.)  Annoying!

I also think it's partly responsible for my feeling draggy and weak.  Maybe I can't really blame the weather, but I will any way.  It's more likely that I'm working my anemia again.  Probably explains why I'm cold-blooded.  Har-Har.  

I went for a run this morning and could barely make a mile and half, in fact I'm surprised I managed to get that far.  I just wanted to lay down and take a nap... the sidewalk was looking mighty alluring what with it's rough edges and broken bottle shards.  Just the sort of place I could curl up and nod off.  Yeah.  I am a total riot.  But it is a fact that I have a history of being able to better fall asleep in odd places than in my comfy bed, so the curb-appeal, if you will, isn't really a stretch.

*sigh*  Could this be less entertaining?  Why sure it could... but not by much.

In the interests of being more entertaining, I will share with you more of the "Joy Got a Mac: Watch Her Play with IT!" show.  Computer + Doggies + Paul Robeson =  sweet Jesus I really need to get a life.  But perhaps it will make you smile.  Here's the pups.

video

And yes, 'Trixie' is Miss X... I know I've slipped in the past and given away her true identity, but I hoped nobody would catch on.  Now it's out for reals peeps.  Yes, fame comes at a price, but her tiny little paws are chapped from all the paw-prints she has to sign on the street.  So please, at least for now: no autographs.

It should go without saying, Basil NEVER does autographs.  So don't be offended.   

Monday, May 25, 2009

Holidays

Unlike most people I'm not a fan of holidays.  Oh sure I like having a day off here and there, of course, but I mean in general holidays are pretty much not much to me.

It started when I was a kid, this ennui about holidays.  Actually I outright hated them.  The delight of not having to go to school (because I hated school with a bloody passion) was always quashed by the dread of being home.  Holidays meant 'bar the door 'cos the fightin's about to start'.  Especially the summer holidays.  Summer + beer = my father's drunken rampages.  So not so much fun for me, the holidays.

It sucks that any joy (pardon the use of my name) that would have been a part of a family gathering (when they happened) or just a lazy day off was sucked out of holidays for me by alcoholism and violence.  What continues to suck is that I still don't enjoy them much.

I never really learned how to like them.  Never really participated in gatherings of the holiday-ish sort as I became an adult because... well... I just don't really know how to.  Still don't.

And frankly, I still feel a sense of dread at the thought of them.

Holidays for me mostly mean a lot of quiet.  I usually clean, or watch movies or if I'm feeling really decadent I read.  

What I don't like to admit, but I'm going to, is that I'm jealous too.  I'm jealous of people who make plans for holidays, jealous that they have people who want to see them and make an effort.  I'm jealous of people having a good time on holidays, and I'm jealous of people who have memories of fun family gatherings.

It's not pretty, but I never said I was pretty.

It would be nice to not feel that way, nice to have that holiday-thing that people have.  But frankly it's a skill I never learned, and I'm not sure it's one that you can learn especially when it means unlearning dread.

When I'm in a particularly good mood I can let go of the 'jealous' a bit and bask in the relief of knowing I never, ever again, have to be trapped in a place with people stumbling, slurring and fighting.  Never have to be subjected to people I do not like and who actively terrify me for the sake of 'family holidays'.

But when I'm blue it's harder.  It makes for the lonely and the self-pity.  Which is soooo not attractive. Nor appealing.

What's even more difficult is the pretending.  This happens when well-meaning, more mainstreamy type people ask "do you have plans?"  Because I have to go into my standard schtick.  The "oy vey, no way all I want to do is sleep!"  Because to do otherwise would open a kettle of fish nobody wants to smell.  And why would I want to do that ... oh wait, I'm doing it now.  Well, at least you have the option of not reading.  In person it tends to make people uncomfortable and that's not something I enjoy... unless there's a laugh to be gotten from it.

So holidays.  Summer holidays.  Cheers. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

This Blogger Speaks.... not sure that's a good thing

video

I think the sound is a little low...  Sorry.  But if anyone wants more of this, I'll try to fix that.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Is it an emergency?

Not half an hour ago the pipe under my sink sprang a leak. When I touched it to see just where the leak was coming from the entire thing fell out. I called the building's management company, because the super... not so much. After telling him what happened the guy at the management company asked: is it an emergency?



I dunno... what do you think?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Transition

My P.C. has been giving me grief for at least a year - there's always something and it's always slow.  Not to mention the terrible noise.  Yeah, my hard drive was so loud people would ask if someone was running a lawnmower outside.  Outside here being a NYC street... not so much with the lawnmowers.

So I finally decided to bite the bullet, part with the bucks and switch sides.  I got a Mac.

The few times in the past that I've encountered a Mac I've been so thoroughly disoriented that I swore I would never switch.  Of course I said the same thing when the big Windows change came, you know the one that went from keystrokes to using a mouse.... and before that programming the kooky thing yourself using BASIC.  I'm sorry, is anyone old enough to remember those days?  Methuselah, you reading this honey?

Well, several of my friends have made the transition from Windows to Macs and they speak with the fire of the converted.  I've been through enough crap reformatting hard drives, reinstalling new drives, having to deal with dying P.C.s to finally join the ranks of the Apple people.

I've had it for just over a week and I'm still feeling like I never used a computer before... okay that's an exaggeration, but after decades of doing it one way it's a little confusing.  I kind of miss knowing what I had to do to make something happen, and where things were and how to fix things that were broken but change is good and learning new things keeps the brain from atrophying, so I'm embracing the new.

I'm really embracing the quiet too.  This machine is so quiet I wonder if it's actually plugged in.  I mean I hear NOTHING from it.  The P.C.s have always rattled and quaked so much I wondered if there really WAS a little man in there turning the drives.  

I still have a way to go to feel like I really know how to use this thing properly, but I figure it'll come.  And it will be worth it when I finally master the new programs and have things actually work the way I know they ought to. Everyone says Macs are easier to use but when you've spent so much time with P.C.s and have an intuitive feel for them (easy for me because they are clearly as wacked as my thought processes are) it's maybe not so easy as it might be for someone who had trouble with learning P.C.s.  But I'm going to persevere.  

I miss my right click a bit though, gotta admit.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What makes a two-hour train ride worthwhile?

Saturday night, as you can see from the previous post, I was attending Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak's CD release party. It was an AMAZING evening. Seeing them play in a bar/club setting is fun - seeing it in a theater with appropriate lighting and a great sound system where Robert Whaley can really let his inner thespian out is even better.

My very wonderful BFF Gary dragged himself away from a ton of grad school work to travel into the city from the farthest reaches of .... far away (I honestly don't know what is outside the borders of NYC...) to see this show with me. Because I asked him to and he is a good friend (and knew I'd kill him if he didn't! :) But it meant a lot to me that he came because it was a bit of a hassle for him. But I also knew that he would LOVE it. And he did. The proof is here.
video

Now not everyone enjoys this sort of attention, but those of us with our very useful degrees in THEATRE, well... we kinda love it... we actually EXPECT it. And happily it seems to happen with some regularity: Keely Smith, Debbie Reynolds, Shockheaded Peter, the lovely Miss Coco Peru... I could go on, I'm just pointing out that these 'interactions' with a live show + the Joy & Gary show are nothing new.

I got a good solid half hour of Saturday night's show on video - if my memory card was larger I could have gotten the whole 90 minutes - plus the celebratory dance party that happened after the show. Because you know, this Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak isn't a typical show. It's theater, music, and of course dance.

I'm only posting one song, this is the one that Gary responded to the most so as a 'thank you' to him for coming I thought I'd share it with everyone.



I can't wait for them to do this show again, and if you can get to, or are in New York, you should come too - you'll get a gold star in my 'book' if you do! Like my friend Hélène who also came even though she was swamped. (She didn't get pulled onstage so I focused on Gary here, but I also want to put it out there that I appreciate her coming too!)

Monday, May 04, 2009

In New York City on Saturday?***

CD Release Party -
Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak
The Theatrical Experience of C T T H!

Date:
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Time:
9:30pm - 11:00pm
Location:
45 Bleecker Street Theater, Downstairs
Street:
45 Bleecker St.., off Lafayette Street
City/Town:
East New York, NY


Description

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: John Lacy (212) 475-2504
reasonmusicmanagement@live.com

Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak – CD Release Event!

(New York, NY) May 9, 2009 – This show has been going gangbusters all over New York City, with a hotly anticipated release on Triple R Records (www.tripleRrecords.com) scheduled for May 9, 2009, at 45 Bleecker Street Theater (downstairs), at 9:30 PM - doors open at 9:00 PM, with general admission seating.

This CD release party will be unlike any Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak show you've seen before. A not-to-be-missed unique, intimate theatrical event, featuring a bit of comic stand up, some tragic stories, a few fantastic songs from the new CD (including new material), and of course - a little interpretative dance.

Just print out and bring in the coupon from the Comic Tales website for a special $10 ticket - that's half off the normal price!

“Lunacy? Spectacle? And music, too?” Rene Chun, New York Times

“The best show I’ve seen in months.” Dan Aquilante, New York Post

Comic Tales’ lead singer, songwriter, and trumpeter Robert Whaley previously fronted NYC rock legends, The Niagaras. With a penchant for interpretive dancing on tabletops and hilariously satirical rants on a broken childhood, Whaley electrified national audiences with appearances on Good Morning America, the Oxygen network, and Fox. The Niagaras were a hugely popular staple of the Manhattan scene for nearly two decades, attracting celebrities, controversy, and packed houses along the way.

Seeking a return to the R&B roots that got him into music in the first place, and informed by an almost pathological aversion to anything post-1974, Whaley joined forces with pianist and arranger Aaron Wyanski, industry veteran Michael “Miguelito” LaMorté (Mini-King, Grupo Miguelito) on bass, and longtime Niagaras drummer Dylan Wissing (Johnny Socko, Novel) to craft an organic, literate, deeply-grooving collection of semi-autobiographical songs.

Written in a tiny studio filled to bursting-with-20th Century literature, and inspired by a massive collection of obscure vinyl, Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak have managed to create a sound and a show which is both timeless and cutting-edge. The sweat-drenched performances along with the rapidly-disappearing ability to deeply engage and entertain a crowd really leave a lasting impression. Sounds like hype, until you experience it in person.

More information, with sound files, video, and photographs can be found on:

www.comictalesoftragicheartbreak.com

www.myspace.com/comictalesoftragicheartbreak

# # #

HERE'S WHAT THE CRITICS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT Comic Tales of Tragic Heartbreak:

"It was a performance Jim Morrison would have loved. Lunacy? Spectacle? And music too??"
Rene Chun, New York Times

"...the best show I've seen in months. It was a fit of deliberate performance that riveted every eye..."
Dan Aquilante, New York Post

"...A high-turbo blend of manic songs and clever and whacked out improv. Robert Whaley should be a Ritalin poster boy. And I mean that admiringly."
Cynthia True, Time Out New York

"Sharp dressed showmanship and sharp witted pop."
New Yorker Magazine

"It's painfully obvious why Robert Whaley is part of one of New York's longest-running acts. His songs are odd hybrids of Beatles-esque melodies and Zappa-esque rhythms."
Dawn Eden, New York Press

"Singer/cornetist/clown prince Robert Whaley tosses Bowie/Morrissey and Quentin Crisp into a Ventures blender, adds a dash of grenadine, a splash of mescaline, hits ultra-whip and splurt! It's all over the ceiling."
Steve Santos, Alternative Press

"Musicians can get by on mere talent. But beauty turns talent into a luxury. Comic Tales is a handsome quartet who dress like Harry Connick Jr. and sound like a cross between Leonard Cohen and David Byrne."
Rob Kemp, Musician Magazine

"Stars fall for these guys."
Candace Busnell (creator, Sex and the City), Vogue Magazine

***I know this was sort of a cheat of a post.... but I do love these guys and since they'd already prepared this information, who am I to change it? (oh my god am I lazy or what????)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

running

I really love to run but over the winter I pretty much stopped altogether. I wanted to run outside but the weather kept me from it, I could have run at the gym on the treadmill but I just ... didn't. Inertia, it's a beautiful thing.

I started running again a couple of weeks ago and was surprised that I could still manage it. I figured all the endurance I'd built up would be gone and I'd have to begin re-training slowly with a minute running, two minutes walking repeat, repeat. But shockingly, while I've lost the speed I'd worked up to I am still able to do the distances I was doing before I stopped. A nice surprise for sure. But even with this happy discovery I didn't manage to work in more than a once a week run. How lame.

Last Saturday I actually ran to and from a dog-walking job across town. 1.5 miles each way and was delighted with myself. The next day I went to a wedding, fortuitously it seemed everyone I met there was a runner. Not just 'oh I run' (like me) but multiple-marathon runners. Talking to them, and listening to the advice they had about running, gave me the oomph and motivation to get my sneakers back on the pavement (or treadmill). One woman in particular gave me a reality check on my running vs. my weight. I've been very cautious with my running because I'm fearful of overdoing it (as I will tend to do) and injuring my knee again, so that has always translated to running a maximum of 4 times a week and most often only 3 times. This multiple marathoner, who was a ball of fire and funny as hell, told me to run 3 miles six days a week. That if I did that there was no way it wouldn't show up on the scale and that if I did not push myself to that degree I'd never push to the next level in running.

I got so fired up by this advice that I've been running at night AFTER spending the day walking dogs. I'm usually more of a morning runner, but running later seems to be working for me. I feared I'd be too hyper to sleep if I ran at 8pm but instead I find I am passing out and sleeping really well. Hmmm. Not bad.

Ideally I'd have run every day this week, but I just couldn't do it. My knee did indeed start to assert its option to STOP so I had to take two nights off this week to let it rest, which seemed to do the trick. Typically I'd be really angry at myself for not DOING IT RIGHT, but I'm finding that in some areas I'm really learning to be kinder to myself. Taking a night off from the running to make sure my knee has time to recoup is smart, not weak. Maybe next week I'll only need one night off, maybe I'll need two again, but I know if I'm careful I can build up and get to the point where I can run 6 days a week and then raise my mileage.

When I first started running and I could barely do a mile before my knee was a blaze of pain, I never thought I could run 3 miles. Now I know that I can. If I can do a 5K (3.2 miles) 6 days a week, then I can eventually do 10K. And when I can do that.... well, maybe you see where this is going.

I really would like to run the NYC Marathon one day. It's something I've thought about for many years. Years before I ever attempted to run. There's something about completing a marathon that has a strong appeal. Not just for me, obviously the race wouldn't exist if there wasn't something that appeals to the spirit.

I've never been good with slow and steady. I get impatient and I've always been big on total immersion in something and then completely losing interest. Running is something you can't do that with - your body rebels. But training slowly, while it is time-consuming, does work and it's worth it and maybe, just maybe in 2011 I'll be running that marathon on the streets of the city I love.

When I see the treadmill clock in at 3.2 miles I can't stop smiling. Because that's ME running that far. ME? RUNNING? It's still amazes me, and I like that about it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dodging bullets and other tales of romance

Over the years I have gone through angst and sorrow over love (or its facsimile). These episodes ran the gamut from crushes that went on far too long to unrequited to pretend-requited and without fail I felt that if I did not end up with this person my broken heart would kill me. Or I would kill myself.

Whatever the chemical psychic pull of 'love' might be one thing it tends to do is blind you to reality, or at least to the reality of the other person and whether or not you really are right for each other or if you're just filling some ancient void that actually needs 'filling' from another source - yourself.

I have been guilty of that old (and very valid) cliche: Love is Blind on nearly every occasion. I have suffered the pains of hell because things did not work out the way I thought they should. But on every count it seems that no matter how much I've run myself over the coals for being an idiot for loving someone who didn't love me, pretended to love me, or any gradient in between it seems I tortured myself over a big fat nothing.

The truth is everyone who I've 'loved and lost' turned out to be the biggest blessings one could hope for. The truth is I have dodged a bullet (in love) more times than one could hope for and I cannot believe my luck. Not that it ever felt like luck at the time, no siree. But in retrospect I breathe sigh after sigh after Godzilla-sized sigh of relief that I did NOT get what I wanted in those relationships. Clearly I have done some Matrix-style bullet dodging in my life without even knowing I was doing it. Go me!

The seemingly 'great loves of my life' have turned out to all have been... how do we put this kindly... um, okay no way to do that: Losers. I'm talking alcoholics, depressives who will not seek help, manipulators, adulturers, trapped in the past, conceited (? hello???) and closeted homosexuals. OH BABY, have I had some wacky luck with the menfolk. There were of course a couple that were perfectly wonderful - needless to say I broke up with them. I don't believe it was an attempt to punish myself though so much as being able to see that we were really not compatible in any real way. Which sorta blows for me because, you know, otherwise really nice guys. Ah well. But the topic here are the ones I agonized about. The ones I KNEW were perfect for me but who were in fact completely poisonous to me and I was utterly blind to it.

Seeing how these 'great loves' have turned out since we parted ways I truly am astounded that I thought each of them were so amazing - at the time. WHAT a dope! I do blame at least 80% of that cloudy tunnel vision on the fact that I was never quite 'right' in my brain chemistry. I let relationships - sick and twisted as they might have been - continue on for far, far too long. Wasted years over men because I had no ability to see past my emotions. One of the perks of having my seratonin levels balanced is the ability to actually see what I'm dealing with - in all aspects of my life. Seeing reality has made getting out of bad situations quickly far easier.

I know, with total certainty, that had I ended up with any of the men I 'couldn't live without' that I would have ended up killing myself, either slowly through drinking too much or quickly with a razor blade. Of that I'm positive. And I gotta tell ya, the poor ladies who did end up with these guys - they have all my pity.

I've never been a huge Rolling Stones fan - don't get me wrong, I like 'em just fine, just not something I listen to with great regularity. But in one instance they caught a lyric that really does sum it all up.
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need
Even if what you need is simply not to be with the one you think you want.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Basil took a walk... yes Virginia there IS a Santa Claus

The irony of walking other people's dogs when my own dog refuses to leave a 20 foot radius in front of our building is much fuel for my own self-deprecating humor. It's very much 'the cobbler's children have no shoes'... except that walking Basil is not something I don't have time for, or don't want to do. In fact I began walking other people's dogs because Basil refused to go for walks with me. It made me sad.

Today he made me as happy as if I'd just met Cesar Milan. Happier. Because today Basil walked with me.

I honestly do not remember when he last walked with me - it's been that long. From time to time he has deigned to cross the street to say hello to the lovely Mr. & Mrs. Chow who run a cleaner's, or to go almost all the way down our block (because he didn't realize how far we were going!) But a real walk, a walk that involved leaving the block, crossing an avenue and circling back? Please. Mr. Basil don't do THAT sort of nonsense. Until today.

I saw my yummy Mexican Dog Whisperer hero deal with a situation like Basil's once. A dog who would 'put on the breaks' at a certain point on his block and would walk no farther. Of course, Cesar fixed the problem. I watched the segment over and over and then applied the principles to Basil - and truly, it worked. But it only worked for about a week. Then Basil pulled rank and that was that.

Today I just... well, I'm not sure what happened to day. It's gorgeous out, Basil didn't seem anxious to run back in and I decided to push the envelope (or the leash) a little and it WORKED. There was no fighting, no tugging, no pulling and best of all, no tail between his legs. He walked like a ... dare I say it? He walked like a 'regular' dog! For more than 20 minutes!

I worry about his joints hurting, but he didn't seem to be in any sort of discomfort and he actually seemed happy to be walking. I cannot express how thrilled I am about this. It may not seem like such a huge deal, but anyone who knows this dog knows it is HUGE.

Will he do it again later? Or even tomorrow? I can only hope, and try again. But for now I am reveling in the thrill of having walked my OWN dog. I couldn't be prouder.