Monday, December 29, 2008

A Random Beginning

The following is part of a "writing exercise" from Facebook. The point is to write twenty-five random things about yourself. Turns out random is not necessarily my strong suit, but, as E. said, this is a good start for a completely different project. Enjoy.

1.I am the youngest of four children. My father's son from his first marriage (he still lives in Cuba), my brother and my sister were all teens and pre-teens when I was born.

2.Having much older siblings meant that for first part of my early life I was raised by two sets of parents (sort of). By the time I started high school, my brother and sister had moved out. After they left, it was a little bit like being an only child.

3.I grew up in a bar. OK, it was my parents’ social club. My parents and siblings took me everywhere. I was seen but rarely heard. I think this explains why I always felt more comfortable around adults instead of people my own age. It also explains why I am so comfortable on a bar stool.

4.My parents taught me a lot about the importance of helping others. In the 1980s they took in a lot of people that came to the US from Cuba. They gave them a place to stay when they arrived, helped them find homes and jobs, and made them part of the family. My parents asked for nothing in return, they were simply repaying the kindness shown them when they arrived in this country. I try to be that way for my friends. Don't ask, just give.

5.I did not meet my grandparents (or any of my extended family) until my father took me to Cuba when I was eight years old. It was the only time I got to see my grandparents, but the love was instant.

6.I saw my uncle (my mother’s brother) when he came to the states in 2002. I was amazed by the instant connection my siblings and I had with him, in spite of being apart for over twenty years.

7.When I am with my family, I am a Cuban girl who happened to be born in America but when I’m not with them, I am an American girl of Cuban descent. I struggle to find the balance and not lose either part.

8.I am currently 36. My mother had her last child (me) when she 36. My sister had her last child when she was one year older than I am. Makes me wonder.

9.My father died five years ago. I have come to realize that I will never get over it. Life goes on, but it will never be the same. I know I was lucky to have had as much time with him as I did. He was far from perfect, but loved me unconditionally. I miss him every single day.

10.I still believe in love. My parents were married for 45 years. They fought like mad but they also took care of each other and us. Now that I’m older, I understand how and why they stuck together.

11.I still believe in love, but I’m not going to settle. My mother has often said, “Better to be alone, than in poor company.”

12.I have recently started buying art. I don’t know what’s “good,” but I know what I like and I buy pieces when I can afford to do so. I can’t paint or sculpt or draw worth a lick, but many of my friends can, so I’m learning about different techniques from them.

13.I’m trying to be better about traveling. I haven’t been out of the country in two years. My last “big trip” was for five days for a friend’s wedding in Wyoming. I don’t know what’s holding me back. There are a lot of places I want to go, but I never actually plan a trip. I guess I’m not good at vacationing.

14.I used to hate the mole on my nose so much that I once tried to scratch it off.

15.I have had short hair since right before I started college. Before that, my hair was shoulder length, chemically straightened and often pulled back (one French braid, two French braids, pigtails, cornrows, ponytails). I also had TERRIBLE bangs for a long time. Whenever people ask me if I would consider having long hair again, I want to say, “Sure, will you be hiring someone to come over and do it for me every day?” I was never good at doing my hair, so this works for me. Plus, I think I look cute.

16.I have very large feet for someone my height. My father used to tease me that, if I wanted to, I could sleep standing up.

17.I always wanted to be a dancer, but my parents could not afford dance classes, so they signed me up for the free after school gymnastics program. I haven’t tumbled in years, but I cartwheel when I can, preferably in front of monuments and historic sites.

18.When I was in kindergarten, my teacher told my mother that I was a “soft touch” because I cried at the end of every movie she showed in class. I still cry at movies. My top tearjerkers include Rudy, The Color Purple, Shadowlands, Cinema Paradiso and Truly, Madly, Deeply.

19.I played Susan B. Anthony in the fourth grade school play and led the other girls in a rousing rendition of Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman. This clearly explains my feminist/activist ways.

20.In 2004, I took a bus to Washington, DC and participated in the March for Women’s Lives. A friend invited me to go and after thinking about it for a day, I realized how important to me it was to go. We left before dawn and got home late the same day. It was one of the best days of my life.

21.I am learning that for every major (or minor) setback, there is an opportunity for success.

22.I have become more comfortable in my own skin over the last few years than I have ever been. I think this feeling comes with growing up and doing things that used to scare me (taking a big girl pill as my sister would say). We’re not talking huge things, I’m not jumping out of planes or anything, but going to open mics, walking up to strangers and striking up a conversation…things like that are making a difference.

23.I have always been a night owl/insomniac. No matter how tired I am, I’m up until at least midnight (at most 2 or 3 am). Sometimes I’m productive (cleaning, writing letters, paying bills), but mostly, I just lie there reading until I’m drowsy.

24.Instead of counting sheep when I have insomnia, I make lists in my head. The most popular list is of authors in alphabetical order. Jane Austen, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Raymond Carver...

25.This list took a ridiculously long time to compose. If it were truly random, it might not have taken as long.

There's a theme here and all I have to do now is flesh it out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thinking of You Again

From a journal entry: December 11, 2008

I'm wondering where you are these days. You always come to mind when I am in the midst of some struggle. My inner self reverts back to the girl you once knew. Fearless and foolish, uncertain but willing to take a chance. I wonder what you would say, what advice you would offer me now. Would you even offer any now, knowing what you know of me, of yourself, of us. It wouldn't matter. Even if you said nothing I would know how you felt. That's how it always was between us. As much as we talked to each other, we could say just as much without a word. That is how I found myself to you in the beginning. It wasn't anything you said. It was just you. When we were together and the world fell away, we were able to say everything to each other. I miss that so much now. I miss having that with someone who knew me before we were even formally introduced. What a luxury it was to have you for that time. What a gift to know that even when you weren't with me, near me, I had you. I realize now that I still do.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

These Are The Days

The world has changed. Not just my little corner of the world, the whole freaking world. And as much as I had hoped and believed that it would happen, the moment still took my breath away and left me in tears, as it did for so many others. There are a million reasons why I was so moved, but I can sum it up in six Jason, Mia, Sebastian, Perla, Samantha and Brian.

My sister and brother both have children. Beautiful, talented, smart, wonderful children (not that I am biased). I love them, I spoil them and I worry about them. I worry about their futures and the world they will inherit. They are a huge part of why I got out of bed at 5:57am on November 4th and stood in line for forty minutes to cast my vote.

On the night of the election, I wept tears of joy for my parents, my siblings, myself and especially my nieces and nephews. Forty years ag
o, their parents and grandparents came to this country full of hope and searching for change. Like so many before them, they wanted a better life for themselves and for their children. Come January, my nieces and nephews will be able to look at their president and see a bit of themselves. These children will be able to say, "The President is multi-racial, just like me." and that's kind of a big deal. They now live in a world where the phrase "anything is possible," rings a little truer. They now live a world where they can proudly say, "Yes, we can." And whatever it is they choose to do with their lives, I truly believe that yes, they will.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

While I Was Gone

I guess you could say I've been "on sabbatical." When it's been this long between posts, there's NO WAY I'm going to be brief. Let's call this my mid-year report (except that it's already September).

Baseball Bookends: I started and ended the summer in the same place...Yankee Stadium. T
his baseball treat was brought to me courtesy of my friend, Robin (she also gave me that kick-ass shirt for my birthday). Robin had never been to a game at the Stadium and I feel honored to have been by her side the first time she walked into the church of baseball. We ate hot dogs and Cracker Jack, drank Cokes from our commemorative cups and screamed our heads off. She is now converted. The weather was great, the company was better and bonus: they won both times! We'll be back next year to see them play in their new home, conveniently located right across the street.

Me, in the movies?
I received an email from my friend Janna about a filmmaker looking to interview single women in their twenties and thirties for a documentary called Seeking Happily Ever After.
My initial thought was, "If Janna can do it, so can I!" so I agreed to be in it. By the time I found out that Janna had no intention of being interviewed, it was too late to back out. I'm glad I went through with it. The women making this movie were great to work with and I learned a lot about myself from just sitting there and answering questions about how I got to this po
int. I talked about the break-up, my parents marriage, being raised Cuban, my cinematic heroines and how all of that informed my relationship choices. Having the conversation made me realize that my life is pretty fantastic and I already have wonderful people sharing in that fantastic-ness with me. As much as it would be nice to have a boyfriend/partner/lover/whatever, not having one doesn't diminish how great things are right now. Clearly, I've come a long way in thirty-six years. Speaking of which... I had a birthday!

Birthday Babe: I woke up on my birthday and decided to make this one really count by showing the world how fierce and fiery this thirty-six year-old can be. How? I discovered the power of a good dress, a really, really good dress. It's cream with a navy swirl pattern that drew attention to my assets (and probably my ass). Paired with brown wedge sandals and new attitude Miss Patti LaBelle would have been proud of, I walked out of my adorable apartment ready to kick ass and take names! The day did not disappoint. I had a great meal with my friends at Caseus and drinks at 116. As Poodle would say, "it's kind of..perfect."

And, AND, my sister came to visit for the weekend (OK, two days, one night). We haven't had that much time alone together since she had the kids (um, that would be sixteen years ago, but who's counting?). We went shopping, visited the farmers' market, and hung out at some of my favorite places. We also saw John Edward, the medium. Intense and interesting, but my Dad didn't show up. Suddenly, he's shy. Bonus: Aaron and Cat were in town as well, so that's three of my favorite people all together at the same time! Sweet! My sister will also want me to make mention of the fact that she played Rock Band and got a very good score. Clearly, she rocks.

Since last year was the total opposite of the best birthday ever, I decided to wipe the slate clean this year and throw myself a proper party. Cocktails @ Chez Daze: because 35 is SO last year! was a huge success. Lots of friends, food and adult beverages. I wouldn't change a thing...OK, I would get a second air conditioner. My apologies again to everyone who sweat their butts off at my party. I do appreciate your sacrifice and assure you all that next year there will be TWO air conditioners, so you might want to bring a sweater.

I haven't even mentioned all the
work, craziness (some good, some not so good), trips to see friends and family and new people that have come into my life since my last post. It's been great and I feel like things are going to keep getting better, even with all the challenges I've got down the road.

By the way, sorry to have stayed away so long.
I appreciate the support and nudging about the blog. I have no excuses, I guess I just needed a break to do some living so that I could keep doing some writing. As I like to say, we'll see how she flies!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Better Than Your Town

Every once in a while I have a day or a series of days that reminds me why I love living in New Haven. This weekend was absolutely one of those times. Here's why:

I live one block away from this amazing sight:

Hughes Street in Wooster Square is lined with cherry blossom trees they are totally freaking gorgeous. Today was the Cherry Blossom Festival in town and it was so great. There was live music from the Neighborhood Music School, little old ladies selling cookies and cupcakes, an Italian ice truck, and lots of people out with their families enjoying the beautiful weather and the trees. Here's a closer look at the blossoms:

I spent hours park walking around the park and catching up with neighbors and friends that I hadn't seen in ages. It was so good to be out doing something low key and fun instead of sitting at home watching cable. It was the perfect way to cap off what might be the best weekend I've had (on my own) in a while. Yay Spring!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

One Giant Leap

I did it. I went to an open mic and read a poem. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but believe me, this was huge. Up until about thirty minutes before the thing started, I was ready to chicken out. I was a nervous wreck, but I've decided that I need to try new things or, in this case, retry old things. I haven't read in public in ten or eleven years. And if it weren't for my friend T, that record would still stand.

I received an email from T saying that he was putting together something called Cold Poetry and he was looking for poets...and that I was one of the poets. I waited about a week to respond (sorry about that T), because I was completely thrown by this email. Me? Get up in front of people? Read my poems? ME? I don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I love attention, just not that kind. I responded as follows:

Sorry I did not get back to you sooner. This looks cool. I would like to come see what comes of all of this. I haven't read in a while (a decade at least) and I don't know if I'm brave enough to do it now, but you have my support. Maybe I'll show up with a surprise in my pocket...a poem and some guts.

A supportive, yet noncommittal response. One that did not completely cancel out the possibility of me getting up the nerve to take a turn at the mic. I continued to think about it. I even picked a poem to bring with me, should the mood strike me. A week before the event, I decided I would read. What's the worst that could happen? And who would know? I had yet to really tell anyone about this. I figured I would show up, feel things out, do my thing and be done. I could tell people that there was a cool event going on, but not that I was taking part as anything other than a supporter. Right? Wrong.

Six days before the event, I was out having drinks with Kiki and Davis before meeting Mrs. D for dinner and a show (A Woman of No Importance at Yale Rep. Pretty good show). Chakakwan showed up for a cocktail and some hilarious chit-chat. Mrs. D apologized to
Chakakwan for missing our weekly take-out and TV night at my house the prior evening. (we watch Top Model. I know, horrible.) Chakakwan then apologized to Mrs. D for missing the previous week's take-out and TV. They agreed to both be at my apartment the following week for TV and take-out. Just one thing...I had plans. They asked me what my plans were and, not wanting to make something up, I told them about the poetry reading. "Are you going to read?" they asked. Again, I didn't want to lie, so I told them that there was a very good chance that I would read. They then decided that they would come along and be my cheering section. This was touching and frightening. They then told Davis of the plan. He was in too. Chakakwan would also bring her husband, Drew. I told them that they didn't have to come, that it was no big deal, but they wanted to be supportive. They knew the prospect of me doing this was a big deal. "OK," I said. This was OK. My friends wanted to support me. This was great. Inside I was flipping out. Pouring out my heart to strangers was one thing, but these were my friends, for goodness sakes.

Lucky for me I had a session the same afternoon of the event, so J gave me the pep talk I needed. I walked over to Richter's for the seven o'clock sign up. I greeted T, who directed me to the sign up sheet. No joke, I stared at the clipboard for five solid minutes. It wasn't that I wasn't going to go through with it, it's just that I wasn't sure what time would be most appropriate. I didn't want to be first (thankfully, that slot was taken) and I didn't want to be last. I think I ended up smack in the middle. I signed up, took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. I also ordered some food, no need to be up there with a growling stomach. Turns out two of my coworkers were providing musical accompaniment for the event. I was as surprised to see them as they were to see me. Mrs. D arrived and promptly purchased a second beer for me. Davis and Chakakwan arrived, followed by Drew and Juanita. I didn't realize how many other people would be there that I knew. I don't know why I was so thrown by that, really. I hang out there all the time, who did I think would be there?

The back room was full. There were about thirteen people signed up to read and another twenty-five friends and supporters. Standing room only. I was beyond nervous. I just needed to get through it. T introduced me and I took the "stage."
I had decided to read HOME. If I had to choose a favorite of my own work, this would be the one. I read it over a few times before I left home that night, and I found myself feeling the things I felt when I wrote it, which was comforting. I was shaky, but I tried to settle down. I took a quick glance around the room, tried to get comfortable and went for it. It was surreal at first, but then, I think I got my rhythm. I focused on the words and not the fact that I was standing in my local watering hole, saying those words out loud to a room full of (mostly) strangers. I think I did alright. There was applause. People came up to me afterward and paid me compliments. Once I stopped shaking, I felt good about it, proud of myself. Maybe next time I'll read more than one poem. Maybe next time I won't run from the stage (OK, it wasn't a run, more of a brisk walk). I'm glad I did it. I'm glad I made myself take a step outside of my comfort zone. It can only make me stronger in the long run.

A friend once remarked that my work was "about being competent and daring." I believe it's about time I start striving for that in my life as well as my work.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thirty Seven Twenty One

Little black dress with beading on the bodice and at the hem: Thirty-two dollars at Fashionista Vintage & Variety

Isaac Mizrahi black beaded peep toe pumps: Marked down to five dollars and twenty-one cents at Target. Did I mention this was only pair left and happened to be in my size?

Looking (and feeling) like the last fifteen minutes of an Audrey Hepburn movie: PRICELESS

Where's Cary Grant when you need someone to take you out for cocktails?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Screen Gems

Best thing to happen all week: I went to the Criterion on Sunday morning with friends to see the Movies and Mimosas feature (that's a classic film shown on the big screen for a mere five dollars. Two more dollars will get you a tasty mimosa). This is one of my favorite things about living here. How many people my age get to say that they saw Casablanca for the first time on the big screen? Not many. If you're looking for me on a Sunday morning, start at the movie theater. This week was extra special. One word: Travolta. Two more: Newton-John. Yep, they showed Grease. And it's as good as I remembered.

Grease is not only the word, it's the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was six years old (give or take, the movie opened three days before my sixth birthday) and my sister took me to the Mayfair Theater on sixty-fourth and Park Avenue to see it. It was love, instant perfect love the minute I saw Danny and Sandy frolicking on the beach. I'm pretty sure I saw it at least once more in the theater before that summer was over. And then...someone gave me the album. Remember that album? Sandy and Danny in an embrace on the cover, with Olivia's awesome hair rivaled only by Travolta's sideburns and cleft chin.
The pencil's a nice touch, don't you think? Gives it that yearbook feel.

The soundtrack was a double album (four sides of music!)and featured big hits like Sandy and Hopelessly Devoted to You, as well as songs played during the big dance (Those Magic Changes, Tears on My Pillow...anyone?). As if that weren't enough, the album jacket opened to reveal stills from the movie. I wore that thing out, as I'm sure most kids did. I know you know all the words to Rizzo's big solo, There are Worse Things I Could Do, no need to be ashamed. Do you think Stockard Channing was ashamed to be playing a possibly pregnant high school senior at the tender age of thirty-four? No sir, she was not!

That summer and for many months to follow, my friends and I would spend our afternoons acting out all of the big numbers (
Summer Nights, We Go Together, Greased Lightnin). We'd take turns being Sandy. You always wanted to be Sandy. She was so pretty and sweet and she had that cool accent...then she got that tramp makeover (she had to be sewn into those pants) and you wanted to be her even more! By the way, there's an entire generation of us who grew up singing the dirtiest lyrics this side of an R. Kelly song. Seriously. Greased Lightnin? Filthy. But it does have a good beat and you can certainly dance to it (I dare you to listen to that song and not do the signature move. Impossible). What did we know? We were kids. Innocent children singing songs from our favorite movie. A movie that referenced teen pregnancy, underage drinking and stealing car parts to soup up your sin wagon so that you could bang the foreign exchange student you met over the summer. Ah, the Seventies!

Next up at M&M is Breakfast at Tiffany's, starring Audrey Hepburn as a call girl (she gets fifty dollars to go to the powder room) and George Peppard as the kept man she falls in love with in spite of herself. Did I mention she does all wearing clothes by Givenchy. If that doesn't take care of the mean reds I've been experiencing lately, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

Sorry for the delay on this one, I've been burning my candle at both ends and am now paying for it with another cold...OK, it's the flu. Let's get to it, shall we?

Welcome to the make up sex: I was really nervous that the big show was not going to happen or that it would be another glitz-less press conference. Or worse, the show would go on without writers. That would have been, to use a technical term, a sh*t show. Jon Stewart did a good job of staying on top of things, keeping things moving and reacting with the class I've come to expect from him (you know, like noting that Jack Nicholson being the room could mean more women end up pregnant by show's end). Not an easy job for someone standing in the shadow of Carson, Hope and Crystal.

Montage me: The first montage, introduced by the Cloon, totally got me, especially the part with all those mega-stars tearing up. Here it is. You know what else was good? The montages that led into the major awards (acting, directing and picture). I'm a sucker for sentimentality and the Academy clearly recognizes that there's nothing like punching a sucker like me with a barrage of images designed to pull at my heart strings. Oh, and please note: the Oscar moment between Rob Lowe and Snow White, the one I know all of you don't believe happened? It's in there. And it's still a little horrifying.

My favorite mama's boy: OK, we knew Javier Bardem was hot (in spite of the haircut), but can you believe how sweet he is? A good Spanish boy always thanks his Spanish! Here's the translation, in case you missed it.

Mama, this is for you. This is for your grandparents, for your parents Rafael and Matilde. This is for the comic artists of
Spain who have brought dignity and pride to our work. This is for Spain. And this is for all of you.

Yeah, that totally made me cry.

Eye Candy: That might have been the hottest collection of Best Actor nominees ever. Clooney, Day-Lewis, Depp, Mortensen and Jones? Yes, even Tommy Lee Jones has a rugged hotness to him. He's no Hal Holbrook, but still. Throw Javier Bardem into the mix (the hottest Spaniard since Antonio Banderas) while you're at it and all those other fine fellows hanging around the Kodak Theater. Is it any wonder they were all kissing each other? Cat said it best when Josh Brolin and James McAvoy took the stage: "Double yum"

Once in a lifetime moment: As I said in my Critic's Choice recap, I loved the movie Once, so I was super excited to see Glenn Hansgard and Marketa Irglova beat the Disney juggernaut (really Academy, three for Enchanted? Three for Enchanted and none for Into the Wild? Wow). Even better, Jon Stewart, classy guy that he is, brought Marketa back out to give her acceptance speech after that damn Bill Conti played her off before she could say anything. Do you think there's a gang of disgruntled Oscar winners somewhere waiting to catch Conti in a dark alley without his Academy Orchestra for back-up? I wouldn't be surprised.

Speaking of speeches: Good speeches all around, yes? Kudos to Tilda Swinton for being gracious and humble first, then going in for a kill on the Cloon at the end of her speech:

And Sydney Pollack, and George Clooney, you know, the seriousness and the dedication to your art, seeing you climb into that rubber bat suit from "Batman & Robin," the one with the nipples, every morning under your costume, on the set, off the set, hanging upside-down at lunch, you rock, man.

My guess is it takes a lot to make Clooney blush, but damn if she didn't get him. Payback for every prank he pulled on the set. Nice.

You know who else was amazing? Marion Cotillard. She was so genuinely overcome with emotion, good thing she had Forrest Whitaker to hang on to when she got up there. And yet, such a lovely speech once she pulled herself together. Again, tears. If you haven't seen La Vie En Rose, please do so immediately. She earned that Oscar but good.

One for the history books:
Please keep in mind that Oscar facts are to my brain what baseball stats are to my friend Davis. It's all just in there, processing away, waiting for the moment at Liffey's trivia when I can use bits of information to prove my worth as a team member. this was a pretty good year for keeping track of things. Ready?
  • This was the first time since 1964 that all four acting awards went to Europeans.
  • Javier Bardem is the first Spaniard to ever win an Oscar (he was also nominated in 2000 for the film Before Night Falls, playing a Cuban. Yes, I love him more.)
  • Marion Cotllard is the second actress to win Best Actress for playing a non-English speaking role (Sophia Loren was the first). She's also the second French woman (Simone Sigornet came before her)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis is one of only eight actors in Academy history to win Best Actor twice (he is now in the company of Marlon Brando, Spencer Tracy, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Cooper, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson and Frederick March)
  • The Coen brothers are only the second team to win for directing (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins won for West Side Story)
There's probably a ton more ( like the one about the guy who has yet to win after being nominated nineteen times), but that's probably more than enough for you right now.

And then, there's this: I swear, for a hot second I thought they were going to call someone else's name. Not that I doubted the performance, but I know how unpredictable the Academy can be. You think your guy's got a lock on something and then BAM! They call somebody else. I would have been happy with any of those other fine gentlemen being called to the stage, but this is what made me happiest. (photo: getty images)

And, who are you wearing?: I would write about the clothes, but honestly...YAWN. Everyone looked good, but no one blew my doors off. The usual suspects showed up in the usual designers (Zellweger in Herrera, Kidman in Balenciaga, Diaz in Dior) and they all looked nice, but these are the women who used to raise the bar. You watched to see what they would be wearing. What the hell happened? Where's the Nicole Kidman of the Asian-influenced poison green Dior or the controversial lilac Prada? Where have you gone, Renee Z ,in your lemon yellow vintage Jean Desses? Remember? I do. That was your big moment. I know people change and style evolves, but please, please don't become complacent. Even Audrey mixed in a little Valentino, Mary Quant and Ralph Lauren from time to time. Your fashion moments aren't over! You're still relevant! You're still icons! Call Proenza Schuler or Donatella Versace or Zac Posen...hell, call the boys at Heatherette, I don't care. Don't be mad. I love you, you're perfect, now change. See, I told you I didn't have a lot to say about the clothes.

Overall, a good showing, except...Here's what I missed about this year's spectacle, but am willing to forgive the Academy for not including it because it would have made the show four hours longer:

Round up the usual suspects: Every time the Oscars reaches a milestone (an anniversary ending in a zero or a five), the producers like to have a "class photo" reunion moment. Every living Oscar winner (acting categories only) is invited to the show and trotted out on stage. I thought we were in for one when I saw Mickey Rooney on the red carpet, but no! He only has an honorary Oscar. I should have known something was up when I didn't see Ernie and Tovah Borgnine.

One final thought: Gary Busey? On the red carpet? At the Oscars?: Poor Jennifer Garner! Where the hell was that husband of hers? Thank goodness for Laura Linney! In case you missed the craziest moment on the red carpet since they banned Isaac Mizrahi, Kathy Griffin and Joan Rivers, click here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

There Will Be A Recap

I'm very excited, too excited to write a full recap right now. I am thrilled that everyone I was pulling for did win and that the evening was full of funny, sweet and truly touching speeches. Stay tuned for my full report later in the week. Until then, let's hear it for my boys!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Having A Moment

I didn't have to go to work today, so I got to sleep in and laze about, which is always nice. I do occasionally enjoy a day when I give myself permission to do absolutely nothing, not even get out of my pajamas. I was fine for most of the day, I had a light breakfast, read for a while, watched tv, snoozed on the couch. But then, well, I wasn't. I had a moment. One of those "I've got to get out of here," moments. And I don't know if it was about feeling stir crazy or feeling actually crazy. My guess is that a brief flash of loneliness got the best of me and took root for long haul. It happens from time to time, but this might have been a tougher one since I spent quality time with Cat, Jenni and the girls. You don't have that much fun with people that know you that well and not come crashing down after they leave and you're all by yourself for hours. At least I don't. Know what I mean?

As much as I enjoy the time on my own to write and read and nap and watch horrible tv and dance around in my underwear (being honest here, it happens), the hours alone can also be a time to question and doubt and beat the crap out of myself. Poodle said it tonight, "I think you undervalue yourself." It's true, I often do. Why? Well, let's explore this.

Somewhere along the way, I decided that it was my "job" to ease other people, that is to say, to put other people at ease. There's something inside me that doesn't want anyone I care about to feel as bad as I have felt on my absolute worst day. I'm all about the post-it note of encouragement, the well-timed hug, the "anything I can do?" I'm that friend who will remember your birthday, ask how that project you're working on is going and send you a note to remind you that you're not alone (I love a good greeting card, you know). I know it sounds like a lot of work, but damned if I don't work at it every day. I'm a caretaker, a fixer, a smoother-over (is that even a word?) I really can't help it.

My therapist says I have to stop with the rescue missions and start with the taking better care of myself. She has two theories and she's dead on, I know it.

Theory number one: the Daisy Well is eventually going to dry up, meaning I can't keep giving this much of myself and not start to feel like there is nothing left for me.

Theory number two: I give so much of myself (she likes to use 120% as the measurement), no one will ever be able to match me in the returning of kindness, meaning I'm always going to be disappointed. I don't know, I'm always taken by surprise when someone shows me a kindness, so what does THAT mean?

In fairness, she does say I've come along way, what with moving out and starting over and really trying to turn myself around in the big picture, but she wants to see me do more little picture stuff. Fair enough, but really, how am I supposed to do that? I know how to take care of myself in the pay bills, eat regularly (as regularly as I can, anyway) and keep my job kind of way, but the other stuff is harder. It's a big deal if I get the spa manicure and pedicure at the nail salon. I know I have to move the "take care of yourself" item up higher on the list. I just wish I knew what that meant and/or how to do it.

Is it crazy that I think it's going to take some courage on my part to do this? To say, "I'm number one," is not easy when you spend your whole life being number three or four. But if I really believe in "you get what you give" then there should be a whole lot of good stuff coming my way. Let's hope I'm ready for it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sleeping to Dream About You

Sometimes I sit here and think, "Just write, whatever comes out may actually make sense. Work it out!" Ok, here goes. What's on my mind?

My dreams are super vivid lately, which is good and bad. Good because I can feel things (my father hugging me) and bad because those things are no longer real (my father hugging me). I dream about my hometown, places and things I haven't thought about in ages (the Provident Bank on the corner of 60th and Broadway, for example). I dream about things that could never happen (ok, it is possible that I could go to the Oscars someday, but highly unlikely that I would be attending as Javier Bardem's date). I dream about things that have happened in life, only in the dreams they are happening in a different way. I used to have deja vu in my dreams, which is different from recurring dreams (I have those too). I know, deja vu in a dream...weird.

I think I dream about my father regularly, but I can't be sure. Hard to explain. Sometimes I'll wake up and not remember the dream right away, but later in the day, it will hit me...Daddy. Other times, I'll know I'm dreaming, even though it feels real, and I'll start to cry, because it's still too hard to say goodbye even in a dream. I usually wake up all stuffy and puffy from the crying. Occasionally, he's there, but in a very vague way. The dream is vivid, I sense his presence, but I don't see him. Not a ghost, but just a feeling. Or maybe I'm not remembering as well. I'll think, "Did I have a dream about Daddy last night?"

You know what has me on this grieving and dreaming thing? It just hit me.Kanye West performing at the Grammy's. He sang a song for his mother. "Last night, I saw you in my dreams. Now I can't wait to go to sleep" It made me cry, which is easy, but still, it caught me off guard. I'm not a fan of Kanye's by any stretch, but I felt for him. Whatever you want to say about his pomposity or bad attitude or whatever act he's putting on for the cameras, the guy still lost his mother. And until you've experienced that kind of loss, there's no way of imagining how a person feels. Everyone expresses grief differently. Some of us cry in private and never show a single soul how we feel, some of us write it all down and post it on the web and some of us tell the world from the stage of the Staples Center. No matter what, it's still private, if that makes any sense.

Whenever I hear about someone losing a family member, it wrecks me a little inside, especially if the person had a long illness. I guess I go back to the moment in my own life, the emotions I went through. Relief that he would no longer suffer, disbelief that he was gone, the overwhelming sadness that came with knowing I would never hear his voice or his laugh, guilt that I could have, should have done more and regret that I would never be able to share certain things with him. It's awful, and I don't think it ever goes away. But I do find some comfort in my many (mostly hilarious) memories of my father. And as long as I can see him in my dreams, I know I'll be ok.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Voice From The Past

I was going through the archives tonight in search of...something. A sign? Maybe. Something to reassure me. Something to remind me of a better time, and maybe a better and happier me. I mean someone who wasn't weighed down by the stuff that seems to weigh me down now. I know that generally I have been happier in my thirties than I was in my late teens and early twenties. Back then, you could look up "teen angst" in the dictionary and find a photo of me. Also, my twenties were as bumpy and alcohol fueled as anyone else's. Anyway, I found this letter...Yes, I said letter. I have kept almost every letter, postcard and note sent to me since I started college. Yes, I have email and yes, I am slowly becoming addicted to facebook and yes, I have a blog, but I still believe strongly in snail mail. There's something about getting a letter and being able to read it over and over without having to boot up my laptop that makes me feel human. Anyway, it's from friend I haven't seen in close to a year, someone I very rarely see . I don't even remember getting this letter, but there is a lot of mail in that file box that I haven't even looked at in a dozen years, so that's not too weird. (Weird would be knowing exactly what every piece of mail in that box is, who it's from and when I received it.) The minute I opened this one, I started smiling. I could hear my friend's voice in my head telling me these things. But I also smiled because of what was in the letter, the message I was being sent from the past has relevance in my present.

October 25, 1996


Hey kid, I was thinking of you today. And I am writing to let you know it was good to see you at Jenni and Brian's wedding. You seem to be doing rather well. I can say that your writing is going well. I really liked that poem you gave me (Note: I don't remember which poem is being referred to here). I know it's not easy to be honest. Someone far wiser than I once said "To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule; To place your feelings before them is to risk appearing sentimental; To place your ideas before the crowd is to risk involvement. But risks must be taken. Because the greatest risk in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing. He may avoid suffering sorrow but simply cannot learn to feel and to grow and to love and to live. Chained by his certitude he is a slave, only the person who risks is truly free." WOW

Wow indeed. That's just the first page, but it struck a chord. I've got to take some of the risks I've been too afraid to even consider. I've done it before. It's hard, but how do you know if you don't try? I'm always encouraging friends to "go for it," why can't I encourage myself? Well, I think I know why, but that's for another post. Back to the letter...

In your work Daisy I feel that personal pain, loss and personal hope few can show with such honesty and grace. To be quite honest I've always hated poems. I could never understand them. But as I said I've become a little bit more peaceful to see the beauty of other work and other people. Your poems to me seem like Brazilian jazz. Easily overlooked, beautiful, joyous, free, painful and very personal. Unlike modern rock which can only shout--Brazilian jazz whispers. You can say a lot more with a whisper than you can with a shout.

If anyone else had written that, I might be thinking what you are perhaps thinking right now, "Brazilian jazz? Really?" But, knowing this person the way I do (or did way back when), I get it. The fact that someone I hadn't seen in years, except for a few hours chatting at a friend's wedding, took the time to write that letter means so much to me. I'm glad I kept it. Funny I should find the letter at a time when I've felt like I've been shouting at the rain, in my head anyway, for weeks and weeks. Wherever you are tonight old friend, thanks for your note. It's what I needed to hear right now, a reminder to speak softly and take a big risk.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another Old Song

Another poem, revised a bit. I wrote this when I was nineteen. Good Lord!

Some Nights
Some nights
I linger in my room
listening to Billie Holliday.
I sit at my window and
write in my journal
the stories of my life.
Your picture hangs on a rusty nail
over the roll top desk.
You stare at me from your brass cage.
You watch me with those eyes.
I put down my pen,
return your gaze.
I think of the starlet
you ran away with last summer
all high heels and red lipstick
and I wonder if she’s
playing Joan Crawford
to your Cecil B. DeMille.
Then I laugh out loud
because the thought of you
wearing a monocle
and carrying a megaphone
is just too much.
Daisy C. Abreu
November 11/91

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Goody List

For the last week or so, things have, in my twisted brain, seemed pretty grim. I realize that the insomnia and the cold that refuses to leave my body are partners in the crime of making me feel like crap. I also keep telling myself that this too shall pass. For heaven's sake, we are only twelve days into the new year, how can I possibly think things are crap? Exactly, I can't. So when I was lying here the other night, wide awake, my mind reeling, I decided to make a list of all the good things that have happened since January 1, 2008. I give you, in no particular order, the goody list.

Watching That's Entertainment! on New Year's Day with Cat.

Poodle coming to spend the weekend with me.

Having dinner and a bottle of wine at Skappo.

Drinking wine and chatting deep into the night with some of my favorite people.

Getting four thank you cards in the mail (bonus: they all came on the same day!)

Watching junk TV and eating junk food with Drew and Furonda.

Talking to my best friend on the phone.

Watching Project Runway curled up on the couch with a blanket.

Finishing one of my new books.

Picking out the beautiful new lamp Poodle got me for Christmas.

Getting into my flannel-sheeted bed after a hot shower, with a cup of tea and a new magazine.

Watching CBS Sunday Morning.

Taking a walk on an unseasonably warm afternoon (I know, global warming, but I really needed the walk)

Waking up on Tuesday with the memory of a sweet dream still in my head and carrying it with me all day.

Finding more new magazines in the mail! (don't worry, I recycle).

Sitting here, writing this, knowing I can sleep in tomorrow. And knowing things will get better.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mining the Archive

As you can see from the time stamp on this, I am not sleeping much lately. In an effort to knock myself out, I pulled out an old journal in search of answers and/or remedies for the insomnia. Well, turns out I have always been an insomniac of sorts and the only thing that helps is to write down all the things that are rolling around in my head in the middle of the night. Some of the stuff in the journal is embarrassing and some of it reminds me of how far I have come (not as far as you think).

Anyway, I was reading a journal entry about working on Spell, the book of poems I wrote ten years ago (holy crap! ten years!), which got me thinking that ten years is a good round span of time and perhaps I should revisit the book, update it some and maybe try to show it to more than fifty of my closest friends. I opened up the file, re saved it as the ten year edition and wrote a draft of a "note from the author" type thing. That led to me wanting to take a look at my original notes for there I am at two am in my Rudy's t-shirt (how appropriate) and pajama pants looking through old file boxes. Guess what I found. EVERY paper I wrote in college, drafts of EVERY poem I wrote between 1991 and 1998 (including ones I thought were lost forever to a time when zip drives were all the rage) and, AND the essay I wrote to get into my first choice college . I just re-read that essay and I can't believe I got into Sarah Lawrence College with something entitled Signature of the Dance. I know, I should cut myself some slack, I was only seventeen when I wrote it, but yikes.

The best part of finding all that stuff? I still have all the papers I had written for Clayton's class, with his notes attached. He gave great notes and reading them was a reminder that someone believed in me and my writing when even I didn't believe in me. Makes me smile and get teary all at once. I guess that makes the insomnia worthwhile.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Four on the Floor

I had a shit day. Not the worst day ever, but not great. The kind of day when you're pretty sure everyone can hear you screaming on the inside, even though you've barely said a word to anyone all day. The kind of day when you think, "Can it be that bad? Have I totally lost it?" I've been having these days more often than not. I think it's a combination of the crappy weather, the holiday season and being sick for the last week. I know I have it better than most. I know I'm blessed every day, from the minute I open my eyes in the morning until I crawl into bed at night. I have my mini mantra "good job, great friends and family, cute apartment, enough money to live and have a little fun, more books than I could ever read." I am grateful to have made it through the last year emotionally, albeit with more than my fair share of tears. But who am I kidding? It's really hard sometimes, this whole "well that's not how I expected things to go at all" feeling that I've had since last spring. I'm not as tough as I think I am or pretend to be. I've exhausted my supply of brave faces and I can't hold back my disappointment at how a lot of the last year went. I'm out of sorts and feeling like more than one of my houses is out of order, which is more than I can handle. Now I'm sitting at home writing this all down instead of going out with my friends because I can't face them like this. Like I said, shit day. And then...

In the mail, tucked under my copy of InStyle magazine featuring a flawless and pregnant Halle Berry, were four reminders that all is not lost. Four, yes, FOUR handwritten thank you notes arrived today. All were on pretty stationery, beautifully written and gentle reminders that I'm a lot less invisible than I think I am. The power of the written word saves me again.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sick & Tired

In the literal sense, of course. I have whatever is going around. You know the sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head, fever thing, minus the fever (I'm not going to count 98.9 as a fever). My body pretty much succumbed to the running around, taking trains, being up late, eating and drinking too much that was my holiday break without a break. Being that busy had to come back and bite in me the ass somehow.

I just finished watching the Critics Choice Awards on VH1, the first in what I hope and pray will be a long and fruitful awards season, though right now it might just be wishful thinking. The Golden Globes have already been transformed from the "party of the year" to a press conference and that makes me really sad and scared that if this thing isn't settled soon, the 80th Annual Academy Awards may not happen. I support the writers, I really do, and I hope that the strike ends soon. We wouldn't have any awards to give out if it weren't for the writers doing what they do, so as the Cloon said tonight, "When the strike happens, it's not just writers [affected]," "Our hope is that all the players will lock themselves in a room and not come out until they finish. We want this to be done. That's the most important thing." Well said, George. I'm starting to realize that there is only so much "reality" television a girl can watch.

On a brighter note I do have some highlights from tonight's show:

Nikki has two Mommies: Hairspray's Nikki Blonsky's genuine excitement upon winning her award and then thanking "my mommy who's sitting here crying and my other mommy who's at home, John Travolta." That's going to be the sound bite of the night.

Blame it on her effing nerves: Leslie Mann getting bleeped when she said "Before I walked out here my husband said 'Daniel Day-Lewis is out there' and I said 'Great now I'm f&*^ing nervous.'" But the censors didn't move fast enough to bleep her when she said "Can you say f&*^ing on cable TV?" Classic.

Trifecta: (1) George Clooney, Javier Bardem AND Daniel Day-Lewis all in the same room, beautifully dressed and groomed. (2) Javier and Daniel won in their respective categories. (3) All three gentlemen were not only handsome, they were eloquent and funny at the mic! I could stand to see more of this, so let's hope for the best.

Dark horse for the win: Falling Slowly, from the movie Once winning the award for best original song. Great song, great movie. I know I am one of a handful of people who saw this movie, but I encourage you all to rent it. It's small, made on the cheap in something like seventeen days and has no big name stars in it, but damn, I really loved it.

You've got a point there, Ed: Eddie Izzard's introduction of the nominees for documentary film "Okey dokey from WGA came during teatime, so some speechy talk not so good as other mans," he said. "This was wrote in toilet, so only first draft and a bit la-la." A reminder that we need the writers to come back soon. Do you think that if an American had read that it would have come across as endearing? No, people would have said that person was on drugs or drunk. An Englishman does it and it's adorable. That's just how it is. Sort of the Hugh Grant effect.

A quick word on the fashions: Everyone looked great and that makes me happy. This wasn't the kind of show where I expected to see a train wreck, but you never know. Katie Holmes looked downright fierce in her (I'm assuming here) Armani dress. Good hair, makeup and shoes all around. Kudos to you celebs and your stylists for the effort. One note, though. Allison Janney: I love you in every movie and you were my favorite thing about the West Wing. The dress you had on tonight was beautiful, your kicky new haircut was...kicky. But why, WHY were you wearing flat shoes. They were nice flat shoes, but still, why? I know you're probably six feet tall in heels, but you usually OWN it and you should continue to do so. Hell, Katie Holmes wears heels all the time and, well, you know who she stands next to all day long. If it's because you are injured in some way (back issues, bunion surgery, messed up knee), then I completely understand. Otherwise, embrace the fact that you are statuesque. Girls like me would do anything to be as tall as you are. Thanks!

I'm off to bed, visions of a tuxedoed George, Javier and Daniel dancing in my head.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Feeling Bookish

I should be sleeping, especially since I am fighting some sort of chest cold thing, but I can't. I feel like writing...and it's a good feeling. I could also be excited that Poodle is coming tomorrow to spend the weekend. It will be fun to hang out and chat and shop and be around someone who gets me the way Cat gets me. Oh my God, Poodle and closest friends sound like some sort of menagerie! Apologies to both.

I have a huge stack of books on my nightstand. Twenty-seven books to be exact. I'm trying to read three at once (see the What I'm Reading sidebar) and it's not as hard as I thought it would be, although it's early in the process so we'll see how I'm fairing in another week. Of the three, I'd say my fave is Fifteen Candles. The stories really take me back to that time in my life and I am enjoying remembering things about being a teen that I hadn't thought about in years. The Tender Bar is pretty good so far, I'm curious to find out what happens to the author as he gets older. Women's Letters is a wee bit daunting because it starts during the Revolutionary War and I'm struggling to wrap my head around some of what I'm reading. I might wait until I finish one of the other two in order to really get into Women's Letters. Any minute now I expect to get three or four magazines in the mail, so that, along with all my lovely new books, should get me through those cold winter nights. Bring on the snow, I've got enough reading material to get me through til spring!

I realize that the three books I am reading are all non-fiction and/or biographical in some way. I've been doing more of that since I started the blog, leaning toward memoirs and the like. Maybe I'm looking for inspiration in these true stories in order to write my own. Or maybe I'm not feeling the chick-lit vibe. I'm sort of living one of those single-gal-trying-to-sort-her-life-out books right now, only without the madcap adventures, sexy rendezvous and closet full of fabulous shoes ( I do, however, have the hilarious and endlessly lovable friends part down pat), so why read about it too?

The Wests sent me a funny little book called the Writer's Block (ha ha). It's chock full of writing prompts. I moved it from the desk to my nightstand for the sake of not being able to say "oh I should do a writing exercise before bed, but the book with the prompts is in the other room..." It's next to my notebook, so I have the tools at hand. Now do I have the nerve?