Archive | October, 2010

Day Five.

Day 05: Something You Hope to Do in Your Life

My grandmother (MaMa) was a very important person in my life.  She was an integral, matriarchal figure through most of my childhood .. as most Italian mothers/grandmothers are .. and even though we lost her to illness in April of this year, I still hear her talking to me almost every single day.

She taught me many obscure but powerful lessons in my life.  From having picnics in cemetaries to getting her ears pierced with me when I was thirteen and she was .. Lord knows how old, she found quiet, subtle ways to drive home strength and love.

My grandmother was known for her voice when she was younger; she wanted to be a performer on the professional stage, but as it happens with all of us, life got in the way.  She was trained in classical voice and opera, and although her voice had matured through both age and years of smoking when I heard it, the evidence of a strong base was there.  Her vibrato was natural.. although looser in her later years.. and her tone was always spot on.

Of course, several grandchildren followed in her footsteps, singing both onstage and in studios.  I was among them.  I was warned that, when the time came, she wanted Send in the Clowns played at her funeral.

I didn’t know much about the song, really, which is odd when you consider I’ve spent 2/3 of my life in musicals.  I even sang other pieces from the show A Little Night Music in recitals.  All I knew of that song in particular was that 1) SUCH A DIRGE and 2) it involved clowns, which is not very Sondheim-like.  Sadly, it took my MaMa passing away for me to actually sit and listen to it.  I was trying to learn it to sing it, but .. I knew I’d never be able to.  Not without melting in the middle of it.

In one of those little coincidences that makes you wonder, the revival of A Little Night Music opened this same year.  I began to learn more about the part, and .. well.. I got it.  I finally understood why MaMa loved that song.. and that part.. so damn much. 

So something I’d like to do in my life: I’d like to play Desiree Armfeldt when the time is right.  I know I’m too young now, and I need a little more wear before I’d really, REALLY feel the part, but I want that.  I want to play that part before I die so that I can sing that song.  For MaMa.

I’ve always had a running list of parts I’d like to play before I never play again, and that is the most recent addition.  I hope I get my turn, since MaMa never did.

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Day Three.

Day 03: Something You Have to Forgive Yourself For.

This one was hard to narrow down to just one thing.  But after some soul searching, I found the one thing that, upon recalling it, immediately brought overwhelming guilt and tears to the back of my throat.  And it’s probably something that no one else in the world will get.

Bryan has always wanted a daughter, and although he never says it, I know why: daughters have an amazing bond with their fathers.  I am a Daddy’s girl, through and through.  I love my mother dearly, and we’re very good friends, but a look from my father can wound me like no other.  It’s bizarre.

My father is an amazing man.. and it’s one of those things that you don’t fully realize until you’ve seen the ripples of his awesomeness.  In our house, we always thought he was an amazing boss at work.. but we kinda HAD to.  He’s our dad.  Of COURSE he’d be amazing.  But having met many, MANY people who have genuinely been inspired and moved by my father?  Yeah, we were right on the money about him.

But as great as he is, my father is PAINFULLY shy.  Knowing my sister and I, you’d have a hard time believing anyone in our past four generations could be anything but over-the-top, but my dad is just very, very quiet.  He doesn’t like confrontation, and he’s very mild-mannered and quiet.  Heart bigger ‘n Dallas, as we like to say, but my GOD, the man is just SHY.

My father and I happened to both end up in a play when I was 19.  He was cast after someone else had to drop out in a part that didn’t require much stage time, but he was having to play catch-up as we’d already been rehearsing for a few weeks.

(I should note here that I was also working three jobs at the time, one of which was an overnight shift at a radio station.  I was literally getting four or five hours of sleep a day.  I was not a nice person.)

In a long rehearsal day one Saturday, my father was having trouble catching on to a dance move.  We went over it what seemed like an endless amount of times, and God love him, he was working SO HARD, but couldn’t quite get it.  He’s not a dancer, and he’ll admit it.  But people were getting frustrated, agitated.. and I said nothing.

During our lunch break, I had to do costume fittings instead of eat since I had missed that session for work earlier in the week.  I was bitter and hungry and busy.  As I was running from room to room, Daddy called to me, begging for my already divided attention.  I snapped at him.  Loudly, and across the lunchroom.  Across the cast.

After my fitting, I came back to the room, and there he sat.  Alone, away from the rest of the cast.  Eating his lunch.. and the lunch he had brought for me sitting across from him.  He had brought me food.  That’s what he had been trying to tell me.  He had taken care of me, even though I had been so awful to him.  And I had done nothing to take care of him.

I am sobbing as I write this, because it was one of those defining, humbling moments where we see our parents’ mortality, and we realize that they are, in fact, mere people.  And all of my life, I had been the person to invite that kid sitting alone to my table, tried to make them feel included, tried to make them feel loved.  And I had missed the biggest opportunity of all, the chance to give back some of that same kindness to the very man who taught it to me.

I know that, to this day, he probably doesn’t even remember it.. or rather, I hope he doesn’t.. but I do.  It finds odd moments to haunt me, to make me doubt what kind of person I truly am.  But the moments it chooses usually have a direct correlation to some immediate good I could be doing, and I look around and find that one shy person or that one person who really does need some friendship, and I make sure that I give them my full, undivided attention.

Some day, probably not any time soon, I want to be able to tell this story without crying.

Didn’t happen tonight.

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Day Two.

Day 02: Something You Love About Yourself

::crickets::

This one is difficult.  Not because there aren’t things that I think I’m okay at, or things that I work hard toward, but things I love about myself?  Using the L-word?  FOR ME?  MYSELF?  I .. it’s just uncomfortable, is all.

Because even when I sit and rack my brain, I can think of things around me that I love.. like maybe my mere influence on these completely separate and independent beings can count.  But they can’t.  Like, saying I love my kids .. and thinking that counts because I made them?  Yeah, doesn’t work.

So.  Hm.  Things I love about myself.

I love my empathy.  While it can be a curse, it’s so often a blessing.  It’s taught me to surround myself with positive people/places/forces. 

I love my nose.  It’s my grandmother’s.  Also, my feet, which are mirror images of her feet.

I love my sense of humor.  It amuses me.  Maybe no one else enjoys it, but I make myself laugh.

God, even THESE feel forced.  Sincere as they may be, they feel like I’m having teeth pulled.

I love my pig-headedness.  I am stubborn beyond words.  And I like that about me.

I love my realism.  I’m not naive or ignorant, and I see the writing on the wall.  Even if I choose to ignore it.

I love my height; I fit perfectly under Bryan’s chin when we’re hugging.

I love my fingers.  I know that’s weird.  But I do.  Could you imagine life without fingers?

Mostly, I love the stick-to-it-tiveness I’ve shown for blogging.  Seven years now.  Still going strong.  Stronger than when I started, even. 

That felt .. ALL of that .. really, really weird.

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Day One.

I had seen the 30 Days of Truth meme around the internet lately, and had been meaning to start.  My girl Laurie of Laurie Writes wrote a gorgeous post this morning that finally kicked me into gear.  Go give Laurie some love.

Day 01: Something You Hate About Yourself

At first, I thought this was an awful way to start out thirty days, but when I started forming a post in my head, I realized that it’s the easiest warm-up to a month of writing.  We all hate ourselves.  We critique ourselves so harshly, so unnecessarily, that this post?  Usually would write itself.

I am an amazing juggler until I lose one ball.  I can multitask like no one else.. until there’s an issue.  If I drop a ball, if I let one deadline slip, if I have one person unhappy, I lose all focus and ability to keep moving.  Part of it stems from my OCD nature; I get easily overwhelmed if the process is upset or if a step isn’t completed.  Then I ignore until it piles up around me and I start to close myself off.  A perfect example of that is the humongous pile of clothes in my bedroom floor that I’m living out of.  With 12 hour work days, I don’t have time to iron/hang-up/put away.  And now?  It’s just so far gone, guys.  So far gone.  And I’m the girl who typically has a color-coded closet.

I can’t do everything, but I insist on trying.  My poor husband wants to help.  He does.  But in my head, I should be able to do everything, so not only will I not ASK for help, I’ll FORBID him from trying to help.  I’ll come home after thirteen hour days and say, “No, it’s fine, I’ll cook.”  Or I won’t let him do my laundry.  Or I’ll just keep offering to do something, knowing I’ll never have time, and hope that it will magically resolve itself.

I know I’m not treating myself well, but there are only so many hours in the day.  I haven’t worked out .. or done ANY physical activity .. in well over a month.  I’m eating like crap, when I AM eating.  I’m not sleeping much, if at all.  My body is quickly falling apart; my face is breaking out, my clothes are ill-fitting, no concealer does any dent to the circles under my eyes.  But where do I have time or resources to fix any of this?  So I just let it go.  I shouldn’t; I should be proactive and make smart choices and .. there’s always an “and”.  Never an “or”.

I live on the defensive.  It comes from persistent negative forces in my life, who are not as loud as they once were, but I am always — ALWAYS — prepared to throw down and defend my own honor.  Or, more realistically, stay quiet and take the high road and pray that everything turns out okay.  As such, I read too deeply into things and am hurt by so much that is not even remotely close to me.  I have an immensely thick skin, which only means that you don’t see my war wounds.  Callouses cover the most sensitive areas, you know.

These impossible expectations for myself, I often levy onto others. And for that, I am sorry.

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That Hypothetical Second One.

It’s never a staid answer; we change it almost daily.

He knows my heart aches for another, but he’s afraid of his age.  As if he’s the only one getting older, I nudge.  I’m the one who becomes HIGH RISK in a year

And then .. there was that really awful, tumultuous few months this year where we thought we’d have to harvest organs to take care of the ones we had.

But lately, we’ve been more gratuitous about the insinuation.  We’ve been joking more heavily.  We spent the majority of our recent trip to Tuscaloosa discussing names in the car.  The stress of my current employment has had me joking that “it’s like pregnancy, without the joy or presents that accompany a baby”.. heartburn, sleepless nights, weight gain.

So there’s THAT too.  With these hours, this schedule, where is there TIME?  For anything?  For school?  For another baby?  Hell, for the ones that already live with me?  Is it wrong that I think maybe it’s okay to make time for me, and just me, and keep following this?  Does that make me a horrible mother?  Or a better one?  A mother superior? (How do you solve a problem like Maria?)(I’M EXHAUSTED.)

We’re not facing such a horrific, unknown abyss any more.  We feel okay looking to the future and thinking maybe we can get back on the rails .. different stop maybe, but same destination. 

But when?  When do we time that out?

(I’m kinda hoping you’ll tell me.  Cause hell if I know.)

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