Must Watch – The Crown

Remember a few years ago, when Netflix was a DVD distribution company, and they announced they were rebranding as Quickster (sp?), and that Netflix would be for streaming content, and the world was all like “go home, Netflix; you’re drunk.” Then Netflix quickly tucked its tail, ran home, and came back with its life-altering streaming services, and now we’re all like “please take our money!”

Well, I remember. And I remember when Netflix started bankrolling their own content, with now-household names like Orange Is The New Black,  House of Cards, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (hallelujah!). 

After finishing the Gilmore Girls revival this weekend (insert sobbing emoji), I decided to check out The Crown, also from Netflix. I’m two episodes in, and Oh My Gawd. Y’all. Sooooooooo good!!! Each episode is like an hourlong movie. The cinematic quality is spectacular. The soundtrack is divine. The acting, the costumes… I’m eating it up with a royally big spoon. 

Check it out!

And thank you, Netflix. You keep doing you, you rockstar. 

Newlywed-ness

This is my first post in a very long (verrrrry long) time. About a year ago, someone very special asked me to marry him, and in February 2013, we tied the knot. And, with about a month under my belt, I can say that I love being married. To know that, while life is short, our lives will now forever be intertwined is a cool, surreal feeling.

I feel like I spent my life heretofore as a sprinter, and now I’m settling in for the marathon, and it’s a total shift of mind, body, and spirit. Even in this newness, there is hard work, but there is joy. And in each day, I want to do good, to do right, and to laugh.

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Here’s a little story that has been tickling my funny-bone for the past few days:

My husband is well-regarded in his family (and by me) as a most excellent giver of gifts. I have no doubt that on my birthday next week, I will receive a healthy mix of the practical and the frivolous/pretty. I’ve made comments here and there about what I might like to receive, and he nods, filing the information away in that elephantine memory of his. 

This weekend, he borrowed my car to drive to see his extended family for a rainy afternoon, and when he returned he proudly announced: “I know what I’m getting you for your birthday this year!”

“Oh?” I coyly replied, sitting on the couch as he puttered around in the kitchen.

“Yep! One of those little umbrellas that fit in the door of your car.”

At this point, I’m staring forward, and he’s a few feet behind me. I can feel his eyes on the back of my head, and the horror that washes over him as he realizes what he’s just said is palpable. I say nothing, as he quickly covers his tracks, assuring me that he will certainly be getting me another present, too.

He laughs, and says, “I mean, that would be like getting you a vacuum cleaner for your birthday; I know better than that.”

I laugh, too, knowing all is well. He pauses and mutters, “though we do need a new vacuum cleaner…”

It Is Beginning to Taste A Lot Like Christmas

The holiday season is ripe with emotions: happiness, sadness, disappointment, joy, loneliness, togetherness, and more.  And, if you look at the cause and effect of each emotion, they are all embedded in expectation — whether your expectations are met, exceeded, or left flapping in the cold wind.  For me, every year is a battle of expectation management, and the result is always exhaustion; I welcome and dread this season in equal measures.

And while there are many blessings and many silver linings in this hectic, stressful, wonderful time of year, there is one standout, one little treat that is only available at Christmastime, one little indulgence that never fails to make my spirits bright, and that is… the mint M&M.

To my knowledge, this chocolaty-minty sweet can only be found once Christmas decor decks the halls of your local Walgreens (which, okay, is in October, but I always wait until December to pick up a bag!), and thus it is something I look forward to each year, something I allow my heart and mind to build up and up and up until you’d think this candy could never meet my expectations, but, then it does, and it is so good.

Merry Christmas.

Eat your mint M&Ms.

Mint M&Ms. Tastes like Christmas spirit.

The Grief

Written September 11, 2011 and shared in RMT’s memory

It is our nature to love. And when you love, you eventually endure loss.

Prior to this time last year, my only dear ones to depart their mortal coil were my grandparents, and while they remain with me in my heart and my memories, their passing was a natural part of my life. But then in September 2010, a close family friend slipped away in the night, stolen by cancer. For her, my sadness still gurgles close to the surface, arising every so often to claw at my throat and erupt in sobs. She visited me in a dream a few weeks ago, young, beautiful and vibrant, her presence so potent that it was a few hours after I awoke before I realized it was only a dream, and there I was, shattered once again.

I finally understood this morning that forever more will I live with grief. That to fight it, ignore it, or dismiss it is foolish. The grief is here, and it is a part of me.

Though no one I knew or loved perished September 11, ten years ago, my heart crumples on this day each year. Every American has their 9/11 story, and while mine isn’t typical, nor is it extraordinary.  I grieve for what I lost that day, but comparatively, I survived unscathed, so I will save that story for another time.

On this anniversary, I found myself drawn to a church I haven’t attended on a regular basis in many years. I learned that the church of my youth was offering an orchestral service this morning, and a sermon of remembrance and hope, accompanied by seven violins, two violas, two cellos, two bass, and a piano. And if you know me, you know I am a serious sucker for strings.

My sweetie and I have been discussing returning to church, and so today we headed downtown for worship. I had already spilled a few tears over breakfast watching the ceremony inNew York, so I came prepared with a purse stocked with tissues, and for the first 15 minutes of service, I wept wave after wave of silent tears. Finally, I caught my breath and backed away from what seemed like eminent hysterics just in time for the fourth movement, which I share with you here:

Lacrymosa: Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain. I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush. I am in the graceful rush of far-off birds in circling flight
I am the starshine of the night.

Lacrymosa dies illa. (O how tearful that day.)

I am in every flower that blooms. I am in still and empty rooms
I am the child that yearns to sing: I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there, I did not die.

I listened to this piece, and I thought about this grief that is now a part of me, like tiny little scars lining my body underneath my skin. I thought about my grandparents, and especially my dear friend, and I realized I will always miss them—I will always cry on September the eleventh—and this is okay.

It is said that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I think the exquisite pain of grief is a fair trade for loving fully, deeply.

Rest in peace.

———————

More information about the 9/11 church service music,
 Howard Goodall's Eternal Light, A Requiem
 http://www.eternallightrequiem.com/tracklist.htm (see #5)

Dr. Lola

If you spend any extended amount of time with me, you’ll quickly realize that strangers love to talk to me, especially if there’s a counter separating us (like store clerks or, for instance, when I’ve tended bar for charity events). Perhaps it’s that I make direct eye contact, or maybe there’s just something in my face that calls out to the lost and lonely: “talk to Lola, honey.”  Which is funny considering this is generally the exact opposite of what I would prefer with respect to my relationship with those scanning my groceries. Nonetheless, for as long as I can remember, these seemingly friendless souls have reached out to me during our few moments together, telling me strange, intimate details about their lives.

Today I ran up to the grocery  during my lunch break to pick up some food for the week as well as a few items for the office. This is not the world’s nicest grocery store, but the people are friendly and the goods are cheap; just what I needed for today’s excursion. I separated my items from that of the office’s, and the nice clerk picks up my large bag of peanut M&Ms (for the office, of course…) and begins to tell me that she eats a normal-sized bag every single day and did I think that’s why she’s grown three pant sizes in three weeks? Normally I would consider this to be a rhetorical question, because I’m sure she didn’t want to hear my actual opinion about her health and diet plan (step 1, kick the 12 pack-a-day ciggie habit, babe). But, no, she held my M&Ms hostage while waiting for a response. “Um, well… I mean… I’m sure they’re not HELPING you lose weight…”  “Yeah,” she agrees, “or maybe it’s my new medication?” Again, she looks to me for an answer. “Ah, yes, well, I suppose it really could be either of those causing an issue…” And we went on like that before I finally snatched away all my groceries, mumbled a good-luck/good-bye over my shoulder and scurried out of the store.

Does this happen to everyone, or am I just the lucky one?

Teaser Post

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about joy – living it, manifesting it, sharing it. I think it’s about time to write a post about those thoughts… Stay tuned!

Ferry boat ride from Capri

Mental Tattoo

I’ve never been one for easily memorizing poems, songs, or movie lines, but, oh, how I envy those who can! No, even if I try and try, eventually the wit or lyric will slip out of my mind, replaced by something equally as unimportant.

Save for one, seemingly small, work of literature.

I read Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem in college; I think I was a junior. Even as I read it, I knew with inexplicable prescience that I should pay attention, for soon these well-crafted vignettes would mean more than I could have imagined at the time. And as I rightly anticipated, “Goodbye to All That,” has popped up in my mind with growing frequency. Tonight I pulled out my heavily-annotated copy of the book to see if my memory served me correctly. It did.

I share with you here the parts that have haunted me for almost a decade. If you’ve not read the book, please buy it here, or at the very least, read this.

…but one of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before… Nothing was irrevocable; everything was within reach… I could make promises to myself and to other people and there would be all the time in the world to keep them. I could stay up all night and make mistakes, and none of them would count… That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and ever procrastination, every word, all of it.

Somehow, at 20, I knew what she meant in her description of being both 20 and 28. I felt and owned her words and mourned her mistakes as if they were my own, and, in turn, in my own way, they did become my own. Goodbye to all that, indeed. Hello, next decade.