Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Nook of My Own

To those of you who gave me journals and books about writing this Christmas...thank you, and message received. There's been a lot of talk about my writing, and by that I mean, I've been talking to myself alot, about what it means to me. The truth is, it means as much to me as my family, my relationship, my friendships, my work. It's an extension of all those things. It's the one thing that's truly my own, the thing I can share and say, this is who I am. Why have I been suppressing it for so long? Fear, flat out fear. But, there's no point in being afraid. I can write all day and show it to people and try to get published or I can keep it to myself. The most important thing is to really start writing again and give it the attention I give everything else in my life. So, today I cleared off some space in the office/recording studio/rehearsal space/storage room for myself, pulled out my old books about writing for easy access, threw some pens and pencils in a mason jar and set up shop. I now have a little nook where I can write notes to friends, do writing exercises, "work" on the book, etc. The roll top desk is free of clutter and I have a good chair to sit in, so I guess I'm all set. Let's take her for a spin and see how she flows, shall we? You might see some of what I'm working on here, if I am feeling brave enough. I think it's a pretty big deal that I even cleared the desk off. To quote Elphaba: "It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes...and leap." Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Light my way

I know, I know. You're probably asking yourself, "Where the hell has she been?" Well, there's this project at work that we've all been knocking ourselves out on since, well, technically, since September. We like to call it "The Holidays in Downtown New Haven." That's right. Davis, the Boss, J-La (and KK! Welcome KK!) and I (and, to be fair, countless others) have been thinking and working on holiday stuff since way back when we were still experiencing 90 degree days with 85% humidity. Seriously? Seriously. There's been all kinds of meetings, brainstorming and planning, not to mention plenty of knocking on doors, an ongoing search for volunteers, the hiring of musical performers, and, of course, the setting up and breaking down of roughly 1200 paper bags filled with sand and candles (fear not, it's all flame retardant and fire marshal approved) on the Upper Green every week since November 30th. There are only so many 14 hour days a girl can handle before she starts to go bananas. My mantra has been "All I have to do is get to December 22 and then I will have some time off." But let me say this: there's something incredibly satisfying about having total strangers thank you for doing your job. And when the end result looks like what you see in that photo, well, it' s totally freaking worth it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Blond Bondshell

(This is the second version of this post. The first one disappeared into thin air when I tried to publish it. Thanks, blogger!)

Let me open by saying that I love Sean Connery as James Bond. ML and I went through a Bond phase where we rented all the Connerys and they were wonderful. Nobody can match the Great Scot in his signature role. It's a perfect fit, he's perfection and no one who's followed (Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan or the new guy, more on him in a moment) will ever live up to that performance. Even in Never Say Never Again, he was still The Man. That said, I think Daniel Craig did alright as Bond. Let's face it, this guy's up against a lot...filling Connery's shoes (impossible, but I think he knew that and just went his own way with the role), being a relative unknown (in the States, because if you check his list of credits on IMDB you will see it's as long as my arm) and, of course, being blond (this is a real bone of contention for some, along the same lines as Renee Zellweger, a Texan, playing the veddy British Bridget Jones). Did you know there's a Daniel Craig is not Bond web site. There are some hard core people out there.

Although I've seen a lot of Bond films, I don't consider myself an authority by any stretch of the imagination. Here's what I'm basing my opinion on: all the Connerys (Goldfinger rocks), the one Lazenby (On Her Majesty's Secret Service with Diana Rigg. Saucy!) and one Dalton (I caught The Living Daylights on cable once. I think he was better in Flash Gordon, with the green tights). I've tried to watch Moore, but it just doesn't work for me. I fell asleep during Moonraker and simply could not get through A View to a Kill (Tanya Roberts! Christopher Walken! Grace Jones! Oh my!). As for Brosnan, I can't get past the whole Remington Steele thing. I keep expecting Stephanie Zimbalist to walk in and yell at him for something.

So, about Craig. He's not as suave as Connery, not as cheeky as Moore and not as dark haired as any of the other ones. He is rugged as hell and quite possibly the fittest man I have ever seen. (I realize that his body might have been a bit of a distraction for me, but as ML said "it's about time you chicks got a bit of beefcake.") Granted, it was clear that he did not seem at ease in The Suit, but how many guys truly feel like themselves in a tux. I'll tell you how many. Four: Connery as Bond, Cary Grant, George Clooney and my Dad. I'm not counting Fred Astaire because he always wore tails. I'm talking about your basic, classic, timeless tuxedo. Craig seemed most comfortable in those swim trunks, which is ok by me. By the way, am I the only one who thought of Ursula Andress in Dr. No the first time Craig burst out of the waters? Intentional or not, that was a good wink.

Other notes on the film: this is supposed to be the prequel, the one where we find out how Bond became Bond, right? Right. That would explain the dearth of fancy gadgets. All we got in this one was a car (not even an Aston Martin) outfitted with a very large gun, a syringe full of God knows what and a defibrilator. Sad. But I love, love, love Judi Dench as M, so much so that I think she should be given a franchise all her own, complete with a young boy Moneypenny. Are you listening, Mr. Broccoli? You can't give this woman enough screen time. The villain? Yeah, ok, he was alright with his inhaler and his bloody eye (literally bloody, not English "oh bloody hell" bloody.) He totally monlogued when he should have simply gotten on with the business of dispatching Bond. They always do, don't they? (best Bond/Villain exchange ever? Bond: Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE!"). Vesper Lynd? She sure did wear a lot of dark eye makeup. Her name should have been Smokey Eyes. She's no Pussy Galore, I'll say that much.

Did I walk in to Casino Royale with expectations of how true it would be to old school Bond? Not really. Like I said, I love Connery, but I'm not a rabid fan. I didn't grow up watching Bond films, I actually came to them a bit late, but I do understand how some people might feel upset or betrayed. The only thing that comes close to that for me is the Superman franchise. ( I did go see Superman Returns, but no matter how many new movies they make, Christopher Reeve will always be Superman to me. Sorry, Brandon Routh.) I will say that this film had a lot of great action and exotic locales (London, the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro, Venice) to keep me interested, even if it did run a bit long (no thanks to the series of commercials shown before the actual previews. Capitalist bastards.) My point is this; if you want Connery, gadgets, babes and Q, then watch one of the Connery Bond films. However, if you want to see a well-built guy stripped naked, tied to a chair and tortured in a most unusual fashion, then by all means, this Bond's for you.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Well played, Shonda Rhimes

It finally happened. After two years of firm resistance, I have caved on the Grey's Anatomy thing. It's true. I'm hooked. I was flipping channels one night and caught an episode recapping everything that had happened up until now and my defenses were down and dammit, I was sobbing by the end of the freaking episode. Now I have to watch the freaking thing. I'm already sitting there watching Ugly Betty, so what's another hour right? Right.

As I said in a previous entry, it took a while for me to get on board, but now that I am all caught up, I am totally on board. The writing is good (good enough to make me cry every damn week) and let's face it, those surgeons are (to quote my friend Peter) the best looking bunch of doctors anyone will ever have working on them. Ronald from Can't Buy Me Love is all nice hair and crinkly smile, Chris O'Donnell (he's gone now, but he might be back) is all wholesome and all-American Chris O'Donnell-y, George (aka the gay one) is like a damn puppy with the sad eyes and the awkwardness around his Latin Lover, Karev is all male modely machismo (although, I don't know that a lot of male models work the machismo as much as they work the androgyny) and then, THEN there is McSteamy (I don't even think I know his regular doctor name). Holy crap is he handsome. I sent one of my gays a picture of McSteamy and received a reply that read, "I am going to dedicate the rest of my life to this man." I was pretty much thrown the first time I saw him, probably because he was in a towel. He's no Dr. Doug Ross (that would be two-time Sexiest Man Alive, George Clooney) but he'll do in a pinch. Maybe it's the graying hair and the smirky snarkiness. Nope, I think it's something else. I think it's the towel.

OK, enough about the man candy, back to my original point, which is that the writing is pretty good. I like I good script, who doesn't? (Considering some of the crap that's out there, I'm going to guess that a lot of people don't like a good script) After a few years of nothing but cartoons (Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad) and "reality" shows (America's Next Top Model is like crack to me, and I'll watch anything with a countdown. I don't know why), it's nice to have something to enjoy that is live action and scripted with some sort of story arc. It's nice to be moved by people acting and reacting to something other than having their entire house overhauled while they were out. I know that it's formulaic and that it's been done before (St. Elsewhere, ER, Chicago Hope and my personal fave Trapper John, MD. Gonzo Gates where are you now?). I even know that it's been done better, but that's ok. I like it, the same way I like two out of three versions of Law & Order (I can't do Criminal Intent. D'Onofrio freaks me out). You know what else I like about it? Everybody isn't white. How refreshing! It's almost like real life, except that, again, these people are above average in the looks department.

So, here I am, a fan of Grey's Anatomy. Congratulations Shonda Rhimes. You won me over with your snappy dialogue and interesting characters. As for Dr. Skinny McTeary, she still bugs me, but there are enough other characters that I find myself caring about to make up for the fact that she's there squinting and doing her little voice overs. Seriously.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dream a Little Dream

Sometimes, my dreams are so vivid, (like the ones about my Dad) that I wake up thinking "WTF just happened?" I had a dream that he came back, the Magnificent Obsession. I was at an art show with ML, I think it was at Artspace. ML's brother was showing a video piece. Cat was there, lots of people were there. I'm looking around, talking to people, having a laugh and whatnot. I look up and there he is. Just walks through the door like he's been living in town the whole time. And I'm thinking, "Is that? No freaking way, can't be." But it is. He looked how I imagine he would look now: glasses, shorter hair, ten years older. He comes over to me, puts his arm around my waist, gives me a peck on the cheek and tells me how nice it is to see me. OOOKaaay. Here's the kicker: he's with my grade school crush! Um, WHAT? And then, THEN, it turns out that he has a piece in the show too. A performance piece. Seriously? Seriously. And yes, it's bad performance art, what else would it be? At least my subconscious spared me from having him turn up in my dream wearing a kilt (he was Scottish by way of Louisiana and would show up at parties wearing one from time to time, but that would have really been too much for me).

I know why I had this dream. ML and I were having a very nice dinner at Central Steakhouse and we were talking about all sorts of things. His record, my book, work, taking a vacation, you know, stuff. We got on the topic of dating and relationships and how people meet their significant others. So it came up: how I had seen Magnificent Obsession at a party and fallen head over heels on sight. Yup, love at first sight. I realize this makes me a bit cliche, but whatever, it happened. I was at a YSD party with my friends, sitting with Mr. Doug, having a drink. I looked up and saw him dancing across the room and that was it. I was all "Who IS that?" and Mr. Doug said "Oh, that's Magnificent Obsession (if you want his name, you'll have to read my book if it ever comes out)." And then I said, "I'm in love with him." Just like that, I knew, not the way you know about a good melon, but still, I knew. And for the next three years, though I spent time with other boys and men, he was it for me.

I told ML how being with Magnificent Obsession was the best worst thing I've ever done I also said that everyone should have the opportunity to have that feeling of all consuming, gotta have you even though it might be bad for me in the short term I will learn from this in the long term kind of passion. Because then you know you're capable of feeling something that strong and hopefully you will feel something similar for the next person. Similar, not exactly the same, because that shit happens only once in a lifetime for most people. And a lot of people don't end up with the person that they felt all of that for in the first place, because maybe it's too much and maybe it's a wee bit unhealthy, as it was in my case.Ok, more than wee bit. (No, I don't have stats on all that, I'm just saying.Just speaking from experience here.) Did a lot of crazy things happen over the course of the three years we were involved (not together, because we were never officially together)? Yes. Did I behave foolishly? Oh my God, DID I, and often. Was I, in a nutshell, what my gays call "a hot mess?" Absolutely, sometimes even a hot drunken mess, because the booze makes everything more vivid and dramatic. Do I still think about him? From time to time (obviously, I just had a dream about him). Do I have regrets? Nope. When the dust settled after that one, I picked up the good memories and I carry them with me to this day. Ok, first I sought psychiatric help, THEN I sorted out the good from the bad and that's what I keep with me. So, to sum up, I know what it feels like to fall in love hard and fast. I know what having my heart totally broken feels like (did you know that you can actually have chest pains due to a broken heart?) and I know that I can survive both. AND, some good poems came out of it all, so really, what do I have to complain about? My point exactly.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Defying Gravity

This beautiful young lady is my niece. She just turned 14 last week. We celebrated by going to her very first Broadway show. I met her and her mom (my sister) in the City and we had a nice meal. Then we went to the show. What show? Wicked. It was really beautiful and fun. Catchy tunes (listen to Popular and see if it doesn't get stuck in your head, go on, I dare you), amazing sets and costumes, cool little twists in the story, nice message. I cried a little at the end of the first act, and got choked up at the end, surprise. Good times.

Oh, maybe you're wondering what that thing she's standing in is. That's Glinda's "bubble," the one she makes her entrance in at the top of the show. You see, when I mentioned to my theater friends that I was taking my niece to see her first show and that her first show would be Wicked, they managed to arrange for a backstage and onstage tour. Of course, I didn't tell her that was going to happen until we were at the stage door. SURPRISE!! You should have seen her face. So, big love to Cat, Kai and Mr. Doug for making this happen. And special thanks to Jordan the sound engineer for being a very gracious host/tour guide. It was so freaking cool. And yes, if you happened to walk past my little office on Friday, I was listening to the soundtrack on a continuous loop. (I would apologize to my coworkers, but sometimes, what they are listening to drives me bananas too. I didn't say it sucked!). I purchased a sweatshirt for my niece (don't know if she's taken it off yet) and baseball tees for my sister and me that say "defy gravity" (must wear a bra with this tee or else it's just a little bit sad). It meant a lot to me to be able to do this for my niece, who is also my god daughter and everything I wish I had been at her age. I'm hoping we can make it a tradition, which means I'm going to have to remember to invite my mother next time or risk catching hell again. Apparently, having a photo op with Jon Secada is not enough.

Speaking of Mr. Doug, after three plus years working on Wicked (click here for his hilarious and touching highlights of this gig), he's moving on, who knows where, but I know it's going to be wonderful. Good luck with whatever your next adventure may bring. I hope the wind blows you this way soon, so that we can catch up over some Malaysian food. And keep making those mixes! Oh, about this picture, yeah, high-larious.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Audrey Moment

Ok. So, forget that I totally alluded to this Audrey/Natalie comparison in a previous
post. And try not to think about the fact that she gets to wear THE dress...one of the three Givenchy created for Audrey to wear in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's (the remaining two are in Madrid's Museum of Costume and in Givenchy's archive). This dress is going to be auctioned off at Christies South Kensington, London on December 5 with proceeds going to charity. It is valued at, oh, somewhere between, oh I don't know....50,000 to 70,000 pounds, but it will probably go for more than that easily. Sadly, I have no where near that money and I don't think Christies does the lay-away thing.

My point, and I do have one, is simple. Been there, done that.

This is me in the spring of 1997. Black column dress with interesting back view? Check. Pearl choker and earrings? Check. Coy over the shoulder look? Check. I was roughly the same age in this photo as Miss Portman is above, give or take a month and I was on my way to the Yale School of Drama's prom. No, I was not chaperoning.

I wonder where the hell that dress is. Damn.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Hunger

I mentioned this in a June post, but it's been on my mind lately, so excuse the repetition. -Daisy

The classic Cuban diet was never a mystery to me. Breakfast is cafe con leche (that's espresso with hot milk) and a buttered roll. Lunch, if you're lucky, was a Cuban sandwich or, my favorite, a medianoche (same sandwich, different bread). Dinner consisted of any combination of the following: rice (white or yellow), beans (red, black, garbanzos), meat (chicken, steak, pork chops or chunks), plantains (double fried green or sweet yellow) and salad. Sometimes a salad meant sliced avocado or tomato on your plate, sometimes it was a bit more traditional. Of course, there were exceptions. Fish on Friday during Lent, ropa vieja (yes, it translates into old clothes), ox tail (truly delicious, don't make that face!) and on Christmas Eve, New Year's eve, any eve, really, a giant slab of roast pork with crispy skin. No tuna surprise or Hamburger Helper in our house. Dessert most nights consisted of a treat that my Dad would bring home. I went through phases that can only be described as compulsive: Kit Kat phase (separate each piece, eat around the edge, then eat the wafer), M&M phase (sort by color and count before eating), Hershey Bar phase (break into the individual squares before eating), Chunky phase (strangely no method. Must have been a short phase). Summer meant ice cream from Mister Softee. I could hear that truck coming from five blocks out and I was always ready. I was home from college one weekend and the truck pulled up in front of our building. I walked up for old times' sake and the driver recognized me. I was that good of a customer. The thing is, I love food. Give me a perfectly cooked steak, a side of salty french fries and a slice of chocolate cake a la mode and I am one happy girl. Hell, a good salad can turn my day around, but if you look at my history, there might be some doubt.

When I was kid, my parents had to give me medicine to increase my appetite. I remember taking the medicine (one giant spoonful before dinner) and I remember what it tasted like (cough syrup, but richer), but I don't remember not having an appetite (does this mean it worked? I guess). My sister will tell you that I was chubby for about ten minutes when I was a kid. I took gymnastics for about four years, but it wasn't the serious, crazy competitive kind. It was the twice a week after-school sponsored by the town's recreation program kind. I loved it so much, I showed up for my last meet ever with a fever so high, my shoulders were red. The coach thought I had a sunburn. It was the only time I fell during a performance and everyone in the gym heard me let an expletive loose on the mats. I slipped trying to nail a cartwheel, a freaking cartwheel! Maybe it was the serious, crazy competitive kind after all. I survived high school with the usual injuries (ok, one really bad one) and went off to college. I gained the freshman twenty. I had great friends, good professors and was studying something I loved. And then...

First semester senior year: first boyfriend, loss of virginity, death of a student in one of the dorms (I was a resident assistant, so I was doing a lot of damage control), death of a close family friend, finals, home for Christmas, dumped by boyfriend. My courseload consisted of six classes, and I had three jobs. I worked in the library, in one of the administrative offices and I was a resident assistant (which means, if I was in my room, I was working). My parents did not have to pay for room and board, so it was worth it. I had one semester to go before I went out into the world and I felt like things were out of control. Turns out I had to take a phys ed course before I graduated, so I signed up for muscle toning. The "professor" walked us through using the machines a couple of times and then we were responsible for making it to the gym 12 times before the end of the semester. I don't know when it happened, but I started going four times a week. This was also around the time when I decided I didn't need to eat as much, if at all. I didn't have time to eat, I was working and studying and spending time with my friends. I ate bagels, oranges, cereal, rice. I drank coffee (and beer). I smoked cigarettes instead of eating sometimes. When I ate a "big" meal, I did so right before or right after the gym, so I was burning the calories. I never said I was on diet because I didn't think I was on a diet. I didn't own a scale, I don't remember weighing myself ever, so how could I be dieting? I was sick, but I didn't realize it. Like I said, things were out of control, so the only thing I thought I had any control over was my body. I was punishing myself for not being perfect. Things would go "wrong" and I would punish myself by starving myself. I have no idea what I looked like back then, and I don't think I have any pictures, but I'm guessing I looked like hell. My cheeks will never not be chubby and I only wore baggy clothes, so how was anyone to know that I was shrinking? My friends knew it, and they tried to get me to eat, but I couldn't and wouldn't. Luckily, I graduated and had to move back home, where there is no such thing as not eating. I was saved! But not really.

Summer, 2003: my father was dying, work was getting more stressful, ML and I moved in together, I was in a friend's wedding and it all started to get to me. I felt like things were out of control and the switch flipped. I only had coffee for breakfast, I "ran errands" at lunch so that I could sit on a park bench by myself and cry, I ate tiny dinners. I was too upset to eat, too busy, too tired. By September (more likely July), my pants were looser, I felt like hell and I'm guessing it showed. When my Dad slipped into the coma, I had to go home, I had to eat. People brought us food everyday, I had to eat. I had to get my strength up so that I could help my siblings care for my father and support my mother. I did it, not perfectly, but I did it. I was there. And I was eating.

When I see Ellen Pompeo or Calista Flockhart or Nicole Richie looking like a strong gust is going to blow them away, I get mad. Not because I hate them for being thin (maybe they are naturally that way, I don't know, I can't say), but because they make me think about of what I might have looked like when I was sick and that scares me. It's still a slippery slope, this not eating thing. Sometimes, I start to slip and I have to catch myself (or someone else catches me and hands me a sandwich). I know I have to be careful with this for the rest of my life. I know deep down that the flaws (and fat) I see in the mirror probably aren't there. I know that when my mother calls me gordy, she isn't actually saying I am fat, it's a term of endearment, one she won't be trading in any time soon. I know I have to be good to myself and not punish myself when I make a mistake or think I've messed up. I know I have to find better ways to handle stress (writing a blog for example). Most importantly, I know I have to eat.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Huckleberry Friend

Yeah, I know. Gorgeous. Seriously, look at her!

So, you've seen the
GAP ad, right? Audrey's dancing scene from Funny Face remixed to AC/DC's Back in Black? Right. I don't know how I feel about it. First, I was dumbfounded. Like, "Did I just see that?" And then I was all, "My worlds have officially collided." But now I'm just happy to see her. In a world where this seems to be the standard, I'm glad that someone so beautiful, so graceful, so...Audrey, is still relevant. Granted, the imagery is being used in an ad for pants, but that's not the point. The point is...simplicity and modesty are still lovely. Right on!

Exhibit A: Natalie Portman rocking classic Audrey at the Golden Globes. 

Little Black Dress? Check (vintage Chanel Haute Couture. NICE.) Pixie cut? Check. Elegant makeup and super simple jewelry? Double check. When someone invokes the phrase, "that's so Audrey," make no mistake, this is what they mean. God knows I've tried to do it. There was a time in my life when I owned, oh, I don't know, SEVEN black dresses. I'm down to three (one vintage, one fancy, one super-fancy) but the message is the same: Keep it simple and nobody gets hurt.

When did I first love Audrey? New Years' Eve, 1988. My parents were going to their social club and I had no plans, so I decided to stay in and rent a movie I'd never seen. Something black and white, an old school romantic comedy. My pick? Roman Holiday, 1953

Here's the breakdown as provided by IMDB: "A young princess, tired of the constraints her position brings, runs away. She doesn't know the man who befriends her is a reporter out for a story." Sounds good, right? I also credit this movie with giving me a very serious case of "I heart Gregory Peck (damn, he's beautiful)." PS: pre-Green Acres Eddie Albert costars as the crafty sidekick. Who knew? I LOVED IT. It's still my favorite Audrey movie. Maybe because it was her first, maybe because it was my first. She's just good in it. Oscar winning good. From then on, I could not get enough. Wait Until Dark still scares the bejeebus out of me (Alan Arkin=scary), Love in the Afternoon still breaks my heart (Gary Cooper=dreamy) and Charade, well, I don't think it gets better than that (Cary Grant=no equal). Yes, yes, I know, Breakfast at Tiffany's. I love it, you know I do. I shouldn't even have to mention it. Pre-A-Team George Peppard is swoon-inducing, Patricia Neal kills it (do you think they dressed her to look like the Wicked Queen from Snow White on purpose?) and Givenchy whips up some timeless dresses (the pink one? When she gets the telegram? If you're going to receive a telegram and trash your apartment, why not be in a dress like that?)

Yes, the woman was beautiful and talented and an icon, probably a reluctant one. But more than that, she stood for something, something that probably made me love her from the moment I saw her, but I didn't realize at the time. Acceptance of self. She conveyed a certain confidence without being smug. What people forget is that when Audrey came on the scene in the1950s, her look was not the standard of beauty. She came along when Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Jane Russell and all those super shapely women were IT. One of her many strengths, I think, was that she knew she was different, but she wasn't going to change herself. She was beautiful on her terms, not the studio or magazine terms

When I'm feeling crappy--perhaps suffering from the mean reds--and I can't hop the train and go to Tiffany's (although, seriously? That works. "Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there."), I rock out a little Audrey singing Moon River on the ipod. It's the next best thing. Try it sometime. Here. Watch this and tell me you don't feel better. Told you.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Always on the Run

Well, I got through the last eight days and here I am to recap. I've been busier than Tinsley Mortimer during Fashion Week, and I have to say it felt good to be so busy. I think it was an equal mix of business and pleasure that kept me going, starting with last week's New York magazine adventure. Before I jump into this week of wonder, I must mention that I spent last Saturday at the Hebron Harvest Festival with my gays (yes, I stole that from Kathy Griffin. What of it?). For photos of furry creatures (since I never had a bunny of my own, I named the ones I wanted to take home), papier mache dogs, Care Bears collectibles and the giant turkey legs click here. Ok, ready? Here goes. And yes, Monday-Friday were all very full work days, as if I had to mention...

Monday: Shoe shopping at DSW (suede pumps), a much needed pedicure (my toes are Bordeux...hot), dinner at Bertucci's (where the rolls are like crack) and a trip to Costco (I always forget how massive that place is. Seriously, it's ginormous) to pick up Mull it Over Dance Party supplies with Ginny and her lovely daughter, Ashley. Ginny is a brilliant planner, possibly the most organized human I have ever met and she was able to make sure we worked all of this in and still had me home by 9pm. Love her!

Tuesday: Dinner with the boss and Chappie, a former Presidential Fellow (summer '05) who is leaving to take a job with Google in his home state of Michigan. We went to Ibiza and enjoyed the tasting menu and a couple of bottles of wine. Now, I know that a tasting menu is supposed to offer a taste of the menu items, that is perfectly clear to me. What I did not realize is that you get a taste of everything on the damn menu! Very delicious, but so many courses. I did have my first ceviche and my first anchovy. Not as fishy as I had feared. That chef is a freaking genius! And any meal that ends with warm chocolate cake topped with coffee ice cream is ok by me.

Wednesday: Well, this was supposed to be my one night at home to recharge and prep for the rest of the week. As fate and office mate/season ticket holder Bill B would have it, I ended up in the Bronx for my very first Yankee game! AWESOME. ML braved the trip to stadium with me. Now, I'm a Yankee fan by birth and I enjoy watching the games at home, but I never considered myself to be as hard core as my parents and my sibs. Clearly, being in the stadium did something to me. I was on my feet with every crack of the bat, cheered until I was hoarse and clapped and stamped my feet along with everyone else. I am my father's daughter, after all. Did I mention my brother and sister were also at the game? We managed to sit together through the first inning before they headed off to their seats. What are the chances? Well, if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know my Dad had a hand in all of this.

Thursday: Tickets with my gays to see a taping of NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me at Southern CT State University. Very smart, very funny, just like my gays. And speaking of...Isaac Mizrahi was the Not My Job guest. Hilarious, or as I like to say, highlarious.

Friday: DANCE PARTY! Yes, at last, it was time to dance like no one was watching. We had a Board meeting that morning and plenty of set up to do all afternoon, but once DJ Suzie Q started spinning the tunes, I left my cares behind and shook my money maker like nobody's business (especially to Britney Spears' Slave 4 U...I know, I know, it's shameful). I mentioned it was an 80's dance party, right? Hence Davis and Schneider rocking the mullets you see here. Yep, that's me in the middle, looking like a cross between Thelma from Good Times (according to my sister) and Macy Gray (according to ML). In person, with the bow, I think it totally looked like the wig Jennifer Beals' dance double wore in Flashdance, which is to say it looked totally fake. What you cannot see is the armful of rubber bracelets and INXS/KICK pin I am sporting. Classic. I got home at 4ish and my body is still not totally recovered from all the bumping and grinding, but dammit! I love, love, love to dance!

Saturday: Slept all the way in, but still managed to make it to the CitySeed Market in Wooster Square where ML was performing. I got there just in time to catch the end of his set and stock up on tomatoes, peaches, bread, corn and milk from local farmers. YAY! Then we went to TK's for hot wings (for me, ML had a veggie burger). Back home for some more rest. I needed it, too. This week's Insomnia Theater pick was Sixteen Candles. No way I was missing that one. Met the Boss and PLS at the theater at 11:15pm and enjoyed me some Jake Ryan. I still get teary when Molly Ringwald and Paul Dooley have that middle of the night father-daughter chat. I probably always will. And by the way, Joan Cusack has always been brilliant. Anyone who tells you differently has never seen Joan rocking the scoliosis brace at the water fountain. oooookeeeee.

Sunday: Slept in, but not too late. Can't miss my stories (Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood). Crawled back into bed for a couple more hours and awoke to find that ML had cleaned the apartment! YAY! Headed to the suburbs for a little Friendlys and Target action, then came home to get a little head start on some work for tomorrow.

See, told you I've been busy. I don't know how the stars collided to create such a perfect storm of activity for me, but at least now I know I can do it. Doesn't mean I want to all the time, though. All that running around can wear a girl down. Luckily, I bought those new pillows at Target.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Watch This Space

So much going on, and I really want to write about it, but I haven't had a decent night's sleep all week. Bear with me, I have a lot to say, but I need my rest, especially with a such a big weekend coming up. Here's a hint, though.

Doesn' t get much better than this, people! Sunday, hopefully, I will be able to tell all.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Words Are All We Have, Part II

This is Maya, the Town Green's Presidential Fellow for the summer of 2005. Maya was recently selected as one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women for 2006. She and her fellow T10CW (like that? I just made it up.) were honored at a luncheon yesterday at Daniel in NYC. Eve Ensler was the keynote speaker. Maya didn't tell me all this, I was there and I lived to tell the tale.

Ok, let me go back a bit. Maya won this scholarship and the Glamour staff asked her who she would want to have lunch with if she could break bread with anyone (except a celebrity). She said she would want someone from Town Green, which was really sweet of her. So, I get back from a meeting on Wednesday and the boss says, "I just got the weirdest call from Glamour magazine." He plays the message for me and I start freaking out as only someone who has been reading Glamour since she was a kid would. As he put it, I reacted as though I had seen the bike I wanted for Christmas in a shop window and he would be a terrible parent if he didn't give me what I wanted. Ok, that's accurate. Being the guy he is and realizing that his idea of a good time does not necessarily involve a room of full fashionistas, he kindly passed the invitation along to me.

Friday morning comes and I am as nervous as can be. Why? Well, if there was ever a job I would admit to really wanting, it would be writing for a magazine. Glamour magazine. Maybe you're thinking "big deal, a fashion magazine, clothes, shoes, how to be a sex vixen, all that Devil Wears Prada crap." Granted, the T10CW started out as a contest called the10 Best Dressed College Girls, but that was 50 years ago. Now the magazine focuses on politics and women's issues as much as it does on Prada and Stuart Weitzman. I admire anyone who can do what the Glamour staff does as well as they do it and these people do inspire change, in individuals, in government, in the world, through writing. That's pretty powerful. And it's something I am working towards every day. Consider this: In the spring of 2004 I was lying in bed reading Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive's column. She wrote about the importance of women's health issues and encouraged every woman to take part in the March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC. Now, I'm not what anyone would call an activist, but something about this piece spoke to me. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to go and march and have that experience and try to make a difference?" The next day I received an email from a friend saying that she was going to DC and was anyone interested in going with her. Over the course of the day, I kept rereading that email and finally realized that marching was something I really wanted to do. I could make a difference, even if it is only a small one, by doing something, not just thinking about doing something. I really don't know if I would have gone if not for Cindi Leive's editorial. And now, two years later, I was being given the opportunity to thank her in person for getting me off my ass.

I arrived at 12:15p. My driver, Yuri (did I mention they sent a car for me? Yeah, they sent a freaking car for me), gave me his cell number and told me to call when I was ready to be picked up. He was incredibly sweet and hilarious, by the way, more of a Bitterman than a Jeeves. So, I walk in and somehow manage to get checked in and start looking for Maya. I met Lynda, the woman who had invited me to the event and she was incredibly sweet and gracious and excited. I found my table and met a couple of staff members and chatted with them until Maya came over to the table. She was as shocked to see me there as I was to be there. "How long have you been keeping this from me?" she said. I told her the whole story and she seemed happy that I was there.

So, we had a nice lunch starting with a mesclun salad. The main course was roasted guinea hen stuffed with spinach (seriously? seriously) and vegetables. Dessert was a raspberry tartlet with lemon sorbet. By the way, my glass of white wine? Never empty. Never.

Eve Ensler spoke and by the time she was done, I had tears in my eyes. I felt a little embarrassed about it, but then I looked around and saw that every woman at my table was crying. Actually, every woman in the room was teary. How did she do that? As the afternoon went on, the T10CW were introduced and their stories were told. More crying. There's a reason why these women were chosen, they're all pretty incredible and have accomplished much in their young lives. Honestly, I started to wonder what the hell I was doing there. There I was in a room with the entire Glamour staff, T10CW past and present (I was sitting at a table with winners from 2002 & 1985), reps from L'Oreal (I'm worth it, right?) and fashion people that only a geek like me would recognize (is that Dayle Haddon? IT IS!). I was pretty overwhelmed, to say the least.

Lunch was over and people started mingling before saying their goodbyes. Lynda was kind enough to introduce me to Cindi who hoped she had not mangled my name in her introduction (did I mention I got an introduction? Yeah, I did). I blubbered and gushed my way through telling her what an honor it was to meet her and how much the magazine means to me. I was introduced to Emme, a supermodel and activist who told me she was jealous of my haircut. Then I met Erin Zammett Ruddy, another Glamour editor who has inspired me. More awkwardness on my part. I know that they're just people, but it's like when I met Sharon Olds. You want to let the person know that what they do does have an impact and is important to somebody, but then you think "they must know that and they probably don't need me telling them."

Am I glad I went? Yes, because I got to share Maya's special day with her and I got to thank Cindi Leive and Erin Zammett Ruddy for inspiring me with their writing. It's also an exercise for me. An exercise in exorcising my fear of going up to people, famous or not and talking to them. In spite of what ML and others might think, this is still a huge problem for me. But, clearly, I'm working on it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

And How Was Your Summer?

NOTE: As soon as I figure out how to post more than three pics at a time, you will see more of my summerstime shots. Until then, enjoy these.

You might have noticed that it's been a while. Well, no excuses here. Just the facts. Busiest. Summer. Ever. And it does not even "officially" end until September 15th, the night of Dance Party (insert shameless plug here). So, what have I been up to? Well...

Road Trip. Davis and I traveled up to Ithaca (that's Cornell country, you know) to check in on Poodle once he was done with all his lawyering classes. God, it was good to see him. You know when you meet someone and things just click and you feel like you've known that person all your life? Well, the minute I laid eyes on Poodle and his JCrew ribbon belt, I knew we would be friends forever. He's the Givenchy to my Hepburn (not that I think I'm Audrey, I haven't become delusional!), always there to gently encourage and keep me from going out in gauchos and clogs. Kudos to Davis for putting up with the two of us for 48 hours. We ate well, laughed much and drank...just enough. And I got to meet the new beau AND the new dog. My little boy is all grown up!

Birthday. I turned 34 in June and so far, so good. I had my friends around me, my man by my side and a blue pearl firmly in hand. I got some awesome books that are currently piled high on the night stand and enough fancy note cards to last me a while. Do my friends know what I like or what? Bless their hearts, I'll probably burn through it by Christmas, though, Hallmark whore that I am.

My brother and sister came to town for the Kool & the Gang concert earlier this month. I don't know how ML survived it all, we can be pretty rambunctious when we get together, and Mami wasn't with us, so things got very relaxed! It felt good to be able to show them a good time and have them see that I, too am grown (I'm the youngest by 10+ years, so no matter what I do, I'll always be the baby.) I'm proud of the life I've built here and I want them to know that they don't have to worry. Mission accomplished, I think.

I celebrated ML's birthday. I threw him two parties, one for friends and one for the family. I know, I have a tendency to spoil him, but seriously, he's worth it. Friday night we gathered up the usual suspects for pizza (mashed potato pizza is awesome, say what you will) and beer and ice cream cake (devil's food, chocolate ice cream and peanut butter cups in cake form...holy crap!) at BAR . Saturday was family day, so I got up early and went to the farmers' market for salad fixings and fresh bread. On the menu: baked ziti, a green salad with super fresh veggies and homemade garlic bread. For dessert, ice cream cake (yes, MORE ice cream cake). His parents, younger brother and younger brother's girlfriend all came over and it was really nice. I think he was happy and I know he appreciated it. Also, I think he's going to take his new ipod to Massachusetts and marry it. I know how he feels, I'm still obsessed with mine and I got it last Christmas.

Work. Nothing new there, but it just seemed busier than usual. Maybe it's because we had FIVE interns to help so the hive was extra buzzy with projects we never get a chance to work on consistently. Maybe it's because people have become more aware of what we do and so they are asking more of us. Or maybe it's because I've gotten involved in more committees and projects outside of the office. I don't know. I do know that it's no where near over yet. Not to worry, I'm taking some time at the end of September to decompress and maybe get away.

Book. Still thinking about it, but not just thinking. I sent Benni the manuscript to see if she has any ideas for artwork. I printed out copyright forms, but have yet to fill them out. I even went on an archaeological dig and found the original notebook in which I wrote the thing. Lots of interesting bits in there, to be sure.

Ok, were all those things excuses? Maybe. The moral of this story is, I need to make some write. Notice I did not say "I have to", I said "I need to." That's a good sign, I think.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm Just Saying

Ok, there are a few things I need to get off my chest, so forgive the rant-y nature of this post. Take this as a series of letters from the editor to the world of entertainment.

Dear Brandy,
I know you're a single mom and all, and maybe you need the money, but why the hell are you on that America's Got Talent? YOU have talent, use your powers (good singing voice, pretty face, likeable personality) for good! I can't even watch the thing, what with the Hoff and the Simon Cowell-y guy and Reege doing their canned schticks. I barely know what the show's about, except for what I see on the Soup. You are better than this Brandy! How in the world did you become Jaye P. Morgan on this modern bastardization of the Gong Show? Why don't you call your old friend Monica and see if she wants to duet with you again? It's not too late! Save yourself!

Dear Creators of Grey's Anatomy,
I have now made several attempts to watch your program and still cannot get through one episode. It's not the writing (I think the writing is really good), it's not the supporting cast (I quite enjoy George, Cristina and Burke), it's not even the heartstring tugging music (I get it! I'm supposed to be moved by what I've seen). It's Dr. Meredith Grey. She bugs me. Even when she's being all tough, she still looks like she's going to fall apart. I understand she's dealing with a lot of stuff (her mom, Ronald from Can't Buy Me Love, long hours), I've watched enough to know that it's very challenging to be a surgical intern, but seriously, she needs to pull herself together! The show is about her, but she's the one I care about the least. You want to know how little I think of her? If she were my surgeon, I would ask for someone with a bit better control over her emotions to cut me open. I would want them to fly in Dr. Benton from ER to work on me, and I REALLY hated him. Grey is not instilling any confidence in anyone by being so freaking weepy. And please, someone, feed her already!

Dear VH1,
Stop telling me about the artists I ought to know about. You aren't going to convince me any time soon. Nothing makes me more resistant than being told what I should like. If you want to play those videos without the little "this new artist and song are going to change your life" intro, then I might give it a chance. That's how I discovered Five For Fighting's Superman and that worked out well. I wanted to know more, I bought the album, I became a fan. That's how it is supposed to work. I don't need to hear about how they became musicians and how they write their songs and how their first single is SO incredible. To be honest with you, VH1, every time I see and hear the You Oughta Know thing, I change the channel. That's right, I tune out. The You Oughta Know thing is now the same as a commercial to me, which I know is what a video is anyway, but still. Maybe I would have discovered those artists on my own and looked forward to seeing their videos, since you so rarely show videos anymore, but no, you've ruined them all for me. It will be years before I can accept KT Tunstall and the Fray as a part of my life. Thanks a lot.

Dear Paula Deen,
Thank you for Jaime and Bobby. You raised those boys right. It's a comfort to know that there are still some sweet southern gentlemen out there and that they are into food. I love that they call each other "brother," I love that Jaime spends the entire episode laughing his ass off, even when Bobby is cutting on him and I love that they love you so much. When they showed up to surprise you in Paris, I cried along with you. Bless their hearts, they love their momma. Way to go, Paula!

OK, I feel better now. I think I'll go back to bed for a while.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Here's to the Good Times

I found this photo a couple of months ago while I was cleaning. It's a Polaroid, the kind taken at a party and then tucked in a sleeve and sold for a couple of bucks to the people who are in it as a memento of the good time they were having. (You know, like when you ride a rollercoaster and a photo is taken of you just before you soil yourself on that first drop and when you come off of the ride they try to sell your fear back to you? Yeah, I have one too.) I have no idea how it ended up in my things, but I'm glad I found it. It makes me smile. This photo is the quintessential snap shot of a Sunday afternoon at the Club. My parents are dancing with Bertie and Felix Izquierdo, two of my favorite people of all time. I'm guessing from my mother's and Bertie's sleeveless-ness that it is summer. I can't quite tell what year it is, although my dad is smoking, so it must be pre-1982.

My dad's birthday is on Friday, August 4. This photo is how I would like to think of him celebrating Number 74. Some people will say that dealing with a loss like this gets easier. It doesn't, not really, not for me. It will be three years in September and the hurt hasn't gone away. It never will, but the intensity of that hurt has diminished a bit. I have a very full life, a life my father would be proud to boast to his friends about. There's plenty to keep my mind occupied what with my relationship, my job, my friends, my writing. My brother and sister have kids, jobs and homes, too. And, of course, we work together to make my mother's life easier (I'm no hero, my siblings do the bulk of the work with my mom). What never changes is that every year, there's a birthday and Father's Day and the anniversary of his passing. Bumps in the road, I guess, but there they are.

I think about my dad every day. Little things will remind me and make me smile. My mother will do something crazy (anything, really) and I'll think about what his reaction would be (laughter, usually). I'll hear a song that he loved and feel like he's with me. Baseball is a good way to feel close to him, so I watch more games now. Then there are the things that totally throw me. Funerals are different now. I can relate to what the family is dealing with on a very different level. I understand the process better. Weddings are hard. The Father-Daughter dance is impossible. I have to duck out because I start to cry and it's not the "isn't that sweet!" crying that relatives and bridesmaids do. It's much worse. It's sobbing, the kind that is accompanied by gasping and lots of nose blowing. It's not that I'm not happy for the bride and her dad, it's just that...well, you know. I feel gypped. And yeah, I get angry because I don't get to have that moment, which I know is very selfish. And then I think, "who the hell are you mad at?" There is no one to blame, it's just how I feel. Maybe lots of women who lose their dads feel that way too. I don't know. I can only speak for myself.

I have to say that I feel very lucky to have had him around for as long as I did. And I'm lucky that I got over myself and my teenaged angst in time to have a decent relationship with him.Even when I was all but living in the Bell Jar, I knew that he cared about me and wanted to see me happy. Maybe I've said this before, but to have gone to bed every night being absolutely certain that my father loved me, no matter what, is the greatest gift he ever gave me. And no one can take that away from me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Here goes...

This poem isn't part of the book I was talking about in the previous post, but it's one of my favorites. Am I allowed to say that about my own work? Sure, why not?


I came to this place now for peace.
The green how I want you green.
A mist rises with me in the morning
and kisses my face
the way you used to.

Dewdrop kisses on my eyes,
my brow.
You said I was beautiful,
that you wanted me.
Encased me in the tangle
of your arms and legs.
The pressure of you on me
never seemed too much to bear.
I felt I understood at last
made the connection.
Steady now.
And I remember the scent of you.

There is always you,
gone all this time
but still sneaking up into my body,
saying good morning on the back of my neck,
the inside curve of my thigh.
And still there is no place safer to me
than the crook of your arm.
The halo of your hair.
The jagged lines of your face.

Blue how I want you blue.
Blue eyes.
Navy blue.
The first time I saw them
I wanted to cry
and I wanted to fly into them.
I have never known a passion
that came so innocently.
Was I a fool.
The crackle of your smile
and the lightning bolt it sent through my body.

The warm spot I kept for you.
crawled in.
Sinewy arms around my waist,
head on my chest,
warm, moist breath between my breasts.
Rolling to each other,
to safety
and on.
In that moment it was all.

You were a candle.
easily inflamed,
but melting away if I fired you up enough.
And I loved you for it.

Daisy C. Abreu Spring/97

Friday, July 21, 2006

Express Yourself, Don't Repress Yourself

I don't want to get all soul searchy here, but I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Mostly about my writing, which is weird because I thought I had given up on it years ago. I had really reconciled myself to believing that writing wasn't going to be the way I made any sort of living. Maybe I'm wrong. I can be wrong. I've been wrong about a lot of things, I could be wrong about this, too.

Here's a little back story for those of you keeping score at home: I wrote my first poem in the fourth grade. For a boy. And it rhymed. It was terrible. How terrible? Here's a taste: "I know you're going to grunt and gripe/but to me you are the perfect type." Seriously? Seriously. I can't believe that (a) I wrote that in the fourth grade and (b) I just shared it with whoever is reading this. My apologies to those who were rendered so nauseous by reading that bit that they cannot possibly continue. I never got the boy, but I kept writing.

I wrote poems all through high school. Rhyming poems, haikus(!), I think I even tried sonnets. To be fair, it wasn't all terrible. I had a couple of poems published in Nova, the high school's literary magazine. I was also co-editor of Humanist, my high school yearbook (my first job writing copy!) All of the classic themes populated my work: love, death, war, things that, as a teenager, I had no clue about. I realized years later that the more I lived, the more I experienced things, the more specific my subject matter became. The bigger my world, the "smaller" my writing. Junior year, I was introduced to a playwright named Andrew Young. He spoke to our writing class and invited us to see a performance of his play at Maxwell's in Hoboken. I spent that summer going to a writing/theater workshop every Tuesday at the Y (what is it with me and not being able to stay home on a Tuesday night?). It was good for me, so if anyone knows whatever happened to Andrew Young, let me know, because I'd like to thank him.

I kept writing in college, and eventually declared English my major. (I can still hear the classic question in my head, "So...English major? So, you want to teach?" I've had some wonderful teachers in my life. They nurtured, supported and encouraged me. I would never besmirch their noble profession by joining their ranks. That is my final answer. But never say never, right?) I had a couple of poems published in the school paper and the literary magazine. My friend Benni (nickname) even made some of my poems into beautiful pieces of art. You can check out her awesome work here.

I don't think I've ever written more than when I was in my early to mid twenties. Lots and lots of poems, all a bit sad, some a bit sexual, mostly about one person who I will refer to as the Magnificent Obsession. I could be less dramatic and simply use initials, but he actually went by his initials, so forget it. How magnificent was this obsession? I basically wrote a whole book about it. Yup, a book. I was showing it to Furonda (not her real name) the other night and realized that I hadn't read the thing in at least five years (I wrote it ten years ago).I don't know why, but I was scared of what it would be like to read it all again. Maybe I was afraid that it would suck, maybe I was afraid that it would bring back bad memories. I read it yesterday morning and (a) it doesn't suck, (b) I'm not that person anymore and (c) most of my memories from that time are good. Basically, a win-win-win. Which brings us back to me thinking seriously about my writing.

I haven't written a poem in over four years, and aside from the late-night rambling I do here, I no longer keep a journal. I stopped right around the time my dad's health took a turn for the worse. I guess I lost my focus in a lot of ways during that time. I do spend a lot of time writing for work. Some of it's serious (memos, reports, meeting minutes), but a lot of it's not so serious (Tea Leaves, marketing copy, web stuff). The boss occasionally calls me Punster, and I'm often called upon for my brainstorming skills. Does that sound geeky? Well, I'm proud to be a three-time spelling bee champ and scrabble nerd, I can't help it if I'm good with word association. Go ahead and call me bookish, I'll take it as a compliment. Anyway, I'm feeling like it's time to get back out there (because this blog isn't out there enough). Seeing Sharon Olds definitely stirred something up inside me. But it's more than that. In some ways, I'm trying to regain my focus in every aspect of my life and writing was a huge part of my life for twenty years. Writing the blog is part of regaining that focus, but I feel like there is more to be done. Why not take a chance? Oh, right, fear of rejection. I'm working on it. I'm showing the book to a couple of people who know nothing about that time in my life. I figure they'll be objective. I'm also running the idea past friends who were with me the first time around. I figure they'll be as encouraging as ever (I'm getting a lot of "About time!"). We'll see where this all takes me. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

Poodle (again, phony name) said to me the other night, "Like it or not, the world wants you to be a writer." Well, like it or not, I guess I am.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Words Are All We Have

This should be so easy to write, because I feel so full of, well, feeling. But how? How do you write about meeting someone who has moved you in ways that you might not even be able to explain to yourself. I guess I'll start at the beginning, or as close to it as possible.

Tonight I went to see Sharon Olds give a reading at Yale. I heard her read at the University four years ago and was pretty blown away. In fact, I barely got out of the auditorium before I got all teary after she autographed my book last time, which may seem silly, but whatever, everyone knows I'm super sensitive. Tonight was different. Different room, different crowd, different vibe altogether. For one thing, I've never seen so many people at a poetry reading. Seriously, there were at least a hundred people in there, all ages, all walks of life. And the one thing we had in common was that we're all totally enamored of this woman. The excitement in that room, when she walked in and people realized it was her, was electric. As soon as she took the podium and started her remarks, I was teary. I know what you're thinking, "Are we talking about a POETRY reading here?" Yes, yes we are.

Sharon Olds doesn't act the way you'd think someone who was the Poet Laureate of New York would act. She's an amazing writer, but she's still a person, someone's mom, someone's daughter, someone's teacher. She is who she is and that's it. No diva attitude, no entourage, no crazy demands. She brought her own bottle of water, carried her own case. When the guy introducing her had trouble with the microphone, she helped him figure it out. The first poem she read was not her own, but one in which she had found comfort after September 11. And her poems...they're just good. (you can read one here) Some are funny, some are dark, some are sexual, some are heartbreaking, but they are all simple and beautiful in their own way.

She read some of her older work and some stuff she's working on for her new book. She took a break from reading in the middle to do some question and answer stuff, or "have some conversation," as she put it. She was so gracious in answering and seemed to be enjoying that part of the reading most of all. She was really into it, which is important, because who wants to hear someone read poetry if they aren't even excited about their own work. Imagine going to see your favorite musician and being all psyched and the band just sort of phones it in...no good right? Sharon Olds is right there with the audience the whole time. She read one of her favorite poems, Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden, and when she finished, she looked so happy to have shared it with us. I recognized the poem as soon as she read the first line. I had read the poem in college and in that moment, I felt so grateful to have had that opportunity. It was like coming full circle in a way, because college was where I first read Sharon Olds.

She wraps things up and thanks us all for "your lovely company." There's thunderous applause. Now, of course, people are going up to her to meet her and say hello and have something signed, and I'm in line too. I'm super nervous and emotional because I'm going to ask her to sign my copy of The Father, the book of poems about a woman dealing with her father's illness and death. Yeah, I know. So, I'm standing there, waiting my turn and thinking about what to say and how much this book has meant to me in the last few years. This naturally leads to dry mouth and the beginning of a lump in my throat. I let the mother-daughter combo standing diagonally across from me go first, since they have three books to sign. Sharon turns to me and says "You have such nice manners!" "Well, yes," I'm thinking to myself, "but I also need to stall so that I don't blubber all over you". Finally, she turns to me and thanks me for coming (I think, it gets blurry here). I smile, probably shyly, probably weirdly, and hand her the book. She says (to the book), "Ah, my old friend." and I start to say "This one got me through a hard time," but I get choked up and my voice drifts off and, if it wasn't for all the people in the room, I would have just let go, because she makes me feel like I could if I needed to. She pats me on the shoulder and tells me that the colors on the cover of the book are based on a handkerchief (dark grey with maroon stripe). The publisher wanted to make the cover glossy, but she insisted that it be something softer, something you could rub against your cheek (she demonstrates). She asks to whom she should sign it and I tell her my name. She loves my name by the way. "I haven't signed a book to anyone with that name in a long time," she says. "Maybe since the last time you were here?" I ask. She smiles, "I think so!" and she draws a little moon and stars in the book for me. I thank her for her work, especially this book and ask if I can hug her. She gives me a hug. She's a good hugger. And then I leave. I walk part of the way with two other women who had been at the reading, and all three of us are gushing about how great Sharon is, what a wonderful soul. We totally have girl crushes on her and we are not ashamed. I'm on my own for the last few blocks, trying to keep from crying. I don't know why I cry whenever I see her. Maybe I do, but I can't explain it. Wait, yes I can:

When I get home, Mike asks how it went. "Imagine getting to meet Jimi Hendrix and you'll understand how I'm feeling right now." It's enough to make a girl start writing poems again, or at least start trying to get the old ones published somewhere. Now, where's that old notebook?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Read Any Good Books Lately?

As you can see, reading is fundamental. I'm not absolutely sure, but I'm guessing from my bookbag and braids, this was snapped at some point during second grade. And yes, I'm reading a textbook. Why? Because I'd probably read everything else I could get my hands on at the time. At least it's a reading textbook (something with a brilliant title, like Adventures in Reading). I'm not reading about fractions there.

I've always been a reader. It runs in the family. I remember my parents reading in bed all the time (unless there was a game on, of course). My mother used to have me read to her before bed. She taught me to read basic Spanish by reading the comics in the back of Replica, the big magazine of the time. My father read the Spanish newspaper and studied the New York Daily News very closely. I have a theory that both of my parents developed quite a command of the English language years ago, but have refused to let their children in on their secret.

To say that my reading was encouraged, well, no one discouraged me, to be sure. My father would buy the Sunday paper for me to read in the station wagon on those long rides to Nyack or the Jersey Shore (there is only so much staring out a window one can do). My sister would let me read her copies of Glamour, Cosmo and Bride (that should explain the stack of fashion magazines next to the bed). I still love magazines and I still get excited when there is one jammed into the mailbox. I tear through the weeklies (New York, Time) within a day or so, but I save the fashion magazines for when I can really devote a couple of hours to flipping through them, reading every article and losing myself in the clothes, shoes and bags (oh! The bags). I'm not about to reveal how many magazines I get in a month, not because I'm ashamed, but because I've lost track. Yeah, things may be out of control on the magazine front.

The magazines sit in a basket next to the bed and are purged regularly. I used to drop them off at my local Laundromat, but since I moved across town, I've found that there is a woman at my favorite coffee shop who is always happy to see me walk in with an armload of Vogue and JANE (who wouldn't be?). I will admit, not every issue of every magazine leaves the house. I buy the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue every year, study every photo, then placeit with the other "collectors' issues". Don't ask me why.

I was a very faithful library user throughout my childhood. We had library class once a week and got to pick out a book to take home. (Do they still have that? A class on how to use the library? Do they even have school libraries anymore?). I remember coming back to the school library the day after class to return a book. The librarian asked me if I was returning it because I didn't like it. "No," I said. "I finished it." I was in the fourth grade and the book (Primrose Day by Carolyn Haywood, still a great book) was over 200 pages. She looked at me in that, "Either this kid is lying or she's some kind of freak" way, but she stamped the book returned and let me choose another. (For the record, I have never lied to a librarian, and if reading a 200 page book in one day makes me a freak, so be it.) I spent my high school summers working at Town Hall during the day and reading 1950s romance novels all night to cope with insomnia. These were Harlequin-type books, but there was not a lot of bodice ripping. I remember reading a whole series about nurses in extenuating romantic circumstances. And yes, they all ended up married to a doctor or a handsome patient who had been saved from the brink of death by the care of the right woman in white tights and orthopedic oxfords.

I don't visit the library anymore. If there is something I really want to read, I'll buy it. I had to start keeping a list of books in my wallet, because if I am left to browse a bookstore without any idea of what I am looking for, well, a search party might be required. I'm also happy to share the wealth. If I finish a book I think a friend will like, I pass it on, no strings attached. I regularly meet two of my girlfriends for dinner and a movie and we always bring books to swap. The books I love best, the ones that mean the most, (To Kill a Mockingbird, Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Letters of the Century, Anne of Green Gables) I keep and read over and over. I received a bunch of books (hardcovers!) for my birthday and they are all stacked on the nightstand, so I'm good for a little while. But, as it says on my favorite bookmark (I have a lot of those too), "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."

Monday, June 19, 2006

34 Is The New 34

Today is my birthday. I am thirty-four years old, two years younger than my mother was when she had me (although if you ask her, she will tell you I am thirty-three today. Somewhere, she has lost an entire year.)

There are certain rituals I can always count on when it comes to my birthday. My sister will inevitably call to tell me that I was born during Here's Lucy, the episode guest-starring Donny and Marie. The story is that my mother went into labor, my father dropped her off at the hospital and then drove home. When he walked into the apartment, my sister told him to go back, I was here. I don't know if he drove home to be with my brother and sister (they were 12 and 13, respectively and very capable of looking out for themselves), or if that was the thing to do back then, just drop her off and head home. Maybe he thought it was going to take a while. I'll have to double check with my source.

As you can see from the photo, I like to do it up on my birthday. This year's no different. I went out with some friends for an early celebration. Yes, I got dressed up. Yes, I had a lovely time. And yes, I got drunk. Some people have no interest in marking their birthdays. I use June 19 as the one opportunity a year to celebrate and maybe be a bit selfish. My parents always made a big deal out of my birthday, maybe because I was the baby, maybe because I was born in America, maybe because they needed a reason to throw a big picnic to kick off the summer. No matter, they always made me feel special. Lots of people, food, booze and presents. Fifteen is, of course, the BIG birthday for a Cuban girl. More on that some other time, for that birthday memory deserves its own entry.

The only thing that will be missing today is the phone call from my Dad. He'd call and sing Happy Birthday to me in English, which sounded like "Hoppee Berrday tooo zhooou." Cracked me up every time.

According to one website, my birth "tree" is: "Fig Tree, the Sensibility: Very strong, a bit self-willed, independent, does not allow contradiction or arguments, loves life, its family, children and animals, a bit of a butterfly, good sense of humor, likes idleness and laziness, of practical talent and intelligence." I had no idea I had a birth tree. Birth stone, yes. Birth tree? I think overall, it's accurate, even the idleness and laziness part. I like to spend the occasional Saturday or Sunday on the couch reading magazines.

This website also breaks down my age in dog years, which is always good to know. Good news! At just over four yearsold, I'm still chasing cats.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My Body, My Self

I went on a shopping spree on Saturday with my girlfriends. It was pretty great, lots of good deals and it's always fun to hang out with the girls. But I paid the price on Sunday and spent most of the day flat on the couch because I pushed myself too hard and strained my back, again (this is the part where my sister will say I need to be seeing a chiropractor regularly). Anyway, I had a lot of time to think as I lay there smelling of Icy Hot and waiting for the drugs to kick in and I realized that I've been doing a lot of shopping lately. This is unusual because (a) I tend to prefer spending my money (now that I have some) on others more than on myself and (2) buying clothes means looking at myself in the mirror (in a cramped dressing room, under hideous lighting) and that's just an opportunity for me to pick myself apart. It's that dazzling cocktail of vanity and low self-esteem that makes for a great day of trying on clothes.

Let me go back a bit. I was your typical chubby-cheeked kid with a little pot belly and maybe I never got over it. I took gymnastics for four years and though I never played sports in high school, I was fairly active (gym class, school dances, etc). My mother (loving in her own crazy way), though I don't think she obsessed over how much I weighed, still calls me "gordy" which is Spanish for chubby (perhaps I've mentioned this before?). My father would tell my mother to leave me alone if I came home from college weighing more than I had when I left. He told me I looked great, even if I didn't. I gained the freshman fifteen, then lost it. At some point during senior year, things got out of hand. The first semester was really hard, and I felt like everything was out of control. I had one semester to go and no post grad plans. I had already dropped some weight during RA training that August and at some point decided that the only thing I could control was what I was eating or not eating. I started going to the gym a lot more and hitting the dining hall a lot less. I wasn't weighing myself, but I knew I was dropping pounds. This was in the early 90s when everyone was wearing flannel shirts and baggy jeans and those oversized sweaters from the eighties were still lingering, so you couldn't really tell what anyone looked like under their clothes. I have no idea know how much weight I dropped during those last 5 months of school, but judging from the look on my mother's face at graduation when she saw me in a sundress, it must have been a lot. Scary.

My weight fluctuated for the next several years, and the body I had at 30 was a result of a lot of nights spent in smoky bars drinking myself silly and an equal amount of mornings spent in greasy spoons eating what one eats the morning after. Somewhere along the way, I started to take care of myself and deal with my eating disorder. Therapy helped, so did having friends that would say "eat something" when I needed to hear it. Unfortunately, I had a relapse the summer before my dad passed away. Again, things felt out of control and the switch in my head flipped. I basically stopped eating and spent many a lunch hour sitting on a bench feeling helpless and sorry for myself. I knew I had to eat, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I also knew I wasn't fooling anybody. The scary part was I no longer cared.

I think I'm at a healthy weight now, and I try to eat regular balanced meals, but it's still hard. I worry that too much stress can flip the switch again,so I've got to keep my wits about me and listen to my body when it needs food. I'm pretty sure that the woman I see in the mirror is actually in better shape than I perceive her to be and I'm still working on accepting that fact. I'm also working on taking a compliment when I hear one.

Here's the kicker: I bought a bathing suit for the first time in 6 years. Two piece, Calvin Klein,eggplant colored, super cute. This was my third outing to find a suit and I was starting to think I would never find one. I couldn't figure out if I was getting the wrong size, if suits were simply being made with less fabric or if there was simply more of me to go around. Fortunately, the very pregnant sales woman made what could have been an excrutiating experience a lot less painful simply by being straight with me. "Looks great, love that color on you, that's the one" At first I thought she was just being nice and trying to make a sale, but as my friend Heather put it, "She looks at butts and boobs all day, if it didn't look good, she would have definitely said something." Point taken.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Back to the Future

Warning: the following is a HUGE Geek Check.

I went to the Rick Springfield concert last night! That's right, Dr. Noah Drake is BACK and he still looks good (okay, I think he had his eyes done and his neck was a bit crepe-y). More importantly, he still rocks! Those who've known me since I was a kid know that this is a huge deal. I never got to see him in his Working Class Dog hey day, so I was pretty pumped to see him last night. I tried to be cool, but when he started heading into my section of the audience, well, if he'd come close enough to touch, I might have really freaked out. Seriously. I was screaming along to the hits (I've Done Everything for You, Don't Talk to Strangers, Love Somebody, my favorite Love is Alright Tonight and of courseJessie's Girl) as was every woman in the audience. It was a great show and my teen dream came true!

What is it that makes me freak out over someone who hasn't even been on my radar for the last 20 years? I had the same reaction watching the Super Bowl when the MacGyver Mastercard commercial came on the screen (told you this was a geek check. I'm Patty and Selma combined when it comes to MacGyver, ask anyone). More importantly, has anyone else noticed the number of 80s stars that had seemingly vanished but are now turning up all over television and movies? Obviously, Johnny Depp is the gold standard with his Oscar nominations and his living in France with that Vanessa Paradis, but there more out there than we realize. I'm not even talking about the folks populating the Surreal Life and other unwatchable yet totally addictive reality shows. I'm talking about actors who were hugely popular in the 80s and are now on hit shows and big movies and winning awards. It's great and a little strange all at the same time. Let's review, shall we?

Jason Bateman: I love Jason Bateman for many reasons: the freckles, the squinty smile, the willingness to play over the top characters as if they were normal and the fact that he never really went away. Some consider him a poor girl's Michael J. Fox (I was also a huge MJF fan)because of the Teen Wolf Too thing, but he's had a great career. He started out as one of the Ingalls' many adopted children (take that Brangelina!) on the Prairie, then played that jackass Derek Taylor on Silver Spoons (I wanted him to kick the Ricker's ass and punch out that Tap Dance Kid). The short lived It's Your Move (remember?) was followed by a role as the oldest son on Valerie Hogan's Family or whatever the hell it was called. He had a lot of tv movies and bit parts, but he came back strong with that announcer part in Dodgeball (notice the flaming dodgeball tattooed on his neck). Which brings us in a roundabout way to his Golden Globe winning performance as Michael Bluth on the late great Arrested Development. PS: still adorable.

Kiefer Sutherland: Kiefer went from being known as the guy who got dumped at the altar by Julia "Runaway Bride" Roberts and one of the Young Guns to being Jack Bauer, the most kickass dude on TV. In between, he managed to be in enough movies and TV shows for me to consider creating a Six Degrees of Kiefer Sutherland game (no disrespect to Mr. Bacon). Career highlights include A Few Good Men (with Kevin Bacon!), Lost Boys and my favorite Three Musketeers (with Charlie Sheen, Oliver Platt and Chris O'Donnell who are all still working thank you very much). Donald's son has done well indeed.

Patrick Dempsey: Yeah, yeah he's Dr. McDreamy now, but he will always be Ronald from Can't Buy Me Love to me. You might also remember him as Corbet in Heaven Help Us (with Andrew McCarthy and Mary Stuart Masterson,still working hard on stage and screen!) or as Meyer Lansky (seriously) in Mobsters (with Christian Slater and Richard "Booker" Grieco...anyone?) More recently he was left at the altar by Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama and went on a few dates with Will Truman on Will & Grace.

John Stamos: Uncle Jessie will not go away people! He started out, much like Rick Springfield, on General Hospital as Blackie Parrish (abc daytime is so good to so many), a kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Then he ruled Friday nights for what seemed like an eternity on Full House (you all watched him in his henley shirts, leather vests and tight ass jeans, so don't even front!). Now he's Jake in Progress, unless that's been cancelled already. He's done some Broadway too (Cabaret, Nine, How to Succeed in Business), so maybe Coulier is asking him for money now.

I could go on forever like this, what with Doogie Howser turning up in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (lap daaaance!), Kevin Arnold (Wonder Years) getting busted on Law & Order SVU and Duckie from Pretty in Pink moving in with Charlie Sheen on Two & a Half Men. And I didn't even touch on any of those teen princesses from back in the day (Molly Ringwald was on Medium last week!). All I'm saying is good for them for staying in the game. Oh, and Scott Baio? Whenever you're ready, Chachi... I'm here for you.