Sunday, January 25, 2009

Am I cold?

Not just physically, but emotionally?

Many of my friends are losing their parents. Or are sitting at their bedsides in the hospital. And I feel for them.

I do.

But at the same time, I find myself at a loss for words. I mean ... I feel their loss on a visceral level. Honestly, I do. I WANT to be able to offer the words that will dry their tears, and make them see through this current darkness. I WANT to offer that. But …

But … at the same time, I'm jealous. Very jealous.

I'm jealous because they were able to actually have parents; they were able to experience having "mom and dad", in whatever incarnation (divorced, never divorced, etc.) into their 30's, 40's, and 50's.

And that's why I'm jealous - they had what I could never have. They have experienced what I could never experience.

Please don't get me wrong: Dad was amazing. He was my bulwark, he was Father and Mother combined. And for that ... I'm eternally grateful. (C'mon, he was my POPS for christsakes ... ) Even though he’s been gone for a few years, he awes me still, even to this day.

From kindergarten through now, most (if not all) of my friends, never experienced the loss of "mom" or "dad", and I felt they always looked at me as "other". Some of them experienced divorce, and growing up in a single parent household, but in both cases, both parents were still alive and kicking. (How that played out is another thought, for another time.)

Looking back, I realize that my feelings were misplaced. They weren't looking at me as other - they were looking at me with mixed views, they were looking at me through their own lens. Many times, their looks showed the fact that they were scared; deep-down to the marrow of their bones, scared. Scared because I was living out one of their worst phobias, scared because I embodied their terror: that of losing a parent. ("There but for the grace of god ... ")

My self perceived "other" truly wasn’t pity on their part. Not really. It was fear.

For many years, their fear morphed into my hate. I hated the fact that they pitied me. Hated the fact that they kept their distance, as though losing a parent to the unknowable "death" was contagious. Then?

Well, then I blamed them. But now?

Now, now I understand.

As I watch so, SO many of my friends sit by their parents bedside ... I no longer feel hate.

I feel fear.

Fear that I can’t be there for them in the way that they need.

Fear that I can’t be there for them in the way that they want me to be there.

Fear that I will let them down. Because after all, I HAVE been there, and I HAVE done that.

Then … when friends and relations said, “It’s really hard right now, but it WILL get easier …” Honestly? I thought they were full of shit. After a while, I saw their wisdom.

Now … when I find myself repeating those same words, I feel their truth.

And I can’t fully explain to my friends the long-term truth of those words without feeling like a hypocrite.

I was in the same place they are. Truly, I understand what they are going through. How can I tell them that, “no, really, I AM here for you”, without mouthing some meaningless platitudes, or clichés?

I know that death is just part of the circle of life, but knowing that doesn't erase the hurt that follows it.

Other than showing my support through my actions, no words that I can say will help. But I know this …

…that later, be that days, months, or years, they will get it.

And for that? I will still be sad. Not only for them. But for myself.
And mostly, for all of us.

Personally, I'm trying to move away from the concept of grief, and move towards the concept of celebration. Celebration of the life we were able to share, no matter how long or short.

And I also know this: that my concept of celebration isn't wanted right now, but I know that it will. Someday.

Until then, let's commemorate the life we knew. The life we know.

And the life we hope to live.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A rant: Superstars of Dance

I’m a dancer, have been since I was 3. Anytime there’s any sort of dance show on, I will watch it. Currently I’m both repelled and intrigued by “Superstars of Dance”. However …

I wish they would give more history – what to look for. What characterizes the traditional dance form for that country? The audience who has never seen Indian or African dance – what should they look for? And, most importantly, how the HELL are they judging? On technique? Choreography? What? In ballroom competitions, at least the televised ones, they give you pointers on what to look for, and what they judge on. (Oh god, did I just say something positive about ballroom competitions? I think I may be losing my mind.)

Monday nights, the girls and I sit around and IM our ever-so-insightful thoughts on the show to each other. Here’s tonight’s apoplexy:

What the hell, Michael Flatley? You are from Chicago! CH-I-CA-GO. (That’s in Illinois, you know – America. Just in case you forgot.) Where did you pick up an Irish accent? The west side? The east? It’s a bad accent, at that. Drop it already. Though you are partially the one who helped bring Irish Dance back into focus, but you are also the one that (horrifically) brought arms as well. Arms! Just like there is no crying in baseball, there are no arms in Irish Dance.

I hate you.

And camera person? This is a dance show. D-A-N-C-E. Which implies choreography, footwork, patterns, neat stuff having to do with the body. How can I see any of that when you do close-ups on faces? Or when you follow one person as they leave stage, completely ignoring the rest of the troupe still dancing?

Lick me where I pee.

South African judge (I refuse to allow you your name, you are pompous and don’t deserve it). Oh, Jesus’ balls. Are you the undiscovered love child of Prince and Lou Diamond Phillips? Stop trying to impress the Australian judge. Smarmy git.

Piss off.

Ireland please, for the love of all that’s holy, just stop with the arms. Do I need to channel Susan Powter? “Stop the insanity!” This is all just skips, with some rallies thrown in for sound. (Which I think they are dubbing in.) Arms? Again? Oh, look! A leap. Just one though. And when did chaînés turns come into this? Bah! And you’re the world champions? I’ve seen better dancing in the 7 year old category at my local feis.

Póg ma thoin.

Australian judge – I love you for giving Ireland a lower score. I still think you’re a harpy though. But South Africa? Stop trying to impress her. We all know you are just leading her on.

Russian ballerina – you have the crazy eyes, but oh so beautiful feet (and stop dropping your damn left elbow during your turns).

America, America … don’t get me wrong, I love popping as much as the next person, but this is just … double-jointedness. Throw in something else. Anything else, please. Ohhh, you can contort your chest, but again – not dance. (Talent, yes.) Your face while “dancing” continually looks like you are trying not to shit your pants.

And for a commercial break - Billy Mays. My night is now officially in the 7th circle of hell. All that’s needed is the ShamWOW! guy to make an appearance.

Oh Africa! Gorgeous dancing men. I will withhold my snark. Besides, I can’t type through drool. (I’m a pig.) And how could that dance score LOWER than the popper? Pfft.

Argentina – your judge is so very sweet. How did she ever make it in the dance world? Is there a hidden Lydia Grant in there (Debbie Allen’s character from “Fame”)? I keep expecting Miss Tango’s boobs to pop out of that dress, which makes it very hard to concentrate on the actual dance. (Psst, cameraguy? Stop showing her tits!)

India – I love all things Bollywood. Gorgeous, although simple. I’d love to learn more about/how to do traditional Indian dance, but I might feel like an imposter. Maybe if I dipped myself in henna …

Australia – I’m sad that I couldn’t see your first group performance (damn you, cameraman!) But if the solo was indicative, holy schmit Dingoman! His feet! If you score lower than Poppingboy, I will have to shake my fist at the television. He can father my children, or at least practice the art of procreation with me. We could populate the world with freakish arches! (South Africa judge can suck it with his “holier-than-thou” commentary.)

The popper won over Australia? I poop on you judges!

I can’t watch anymore. I think I need a drink. Maybe Billy Mays will mix me a concoction with some Oxi-Clean thrown in for flavor. At least it will clean out my brain. And possibly the bad taste in my mouth.

Screw it, maybe it will just kill me so that I won’t tune in next week.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Growing Pains (no, NOT the tv show)

I may have been born in Utah, but I was raised in California; Southern California to be precise; Orange County to be exact.

Growing up in the land of blondes and BMW’s, I never quite fit in during the day and that made for some angsty nights. Because Orange County was so ill-fitting to me, I moved away from it the day after I turned 18. Where I landed, where I called home (and still call “home”, fit me like a long lost and favourite glove – San Francisco.

Even saying those two words makes my eyes misty and my throat catch. Baghdad by the Bay taught me so, so, SO much and in recompense, I gave to it my soul; it (my soul that is, what little of it there is left) still resides there.

Because of that beautiful city, and of the gorgeous souls I met there, I was able to embrace myself, in all my grandeur and in all my (many) faults. It also taught me that it isn’t so much the place, as the person.

And that is a lesson I’m still trying to remember, and teach myself, on a daily basis where I find myself back in the land of milk, honey, and boob jobs.


Tonight is just an achingly beautiful night, a soul-gripping night. The Santa Ana’s are in full gale: all the smog, the dirt, the corruption, the pain, and the anger – all of it is swept away. Today I could see the surrounding mountains and hills resting under a crystal blue sky. (It truly is a relief from the typical smudgy, smoggy brown that is typical.) I could smell the ocean, and the earth. The chit-chit-chittering of the leaves blowing across the asphalt was a perfect soundtrack to this day. Tonight, I can see the (almost) full moon lighting up everything, and the stars. Oh my god, the stars! Pinpoints of perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of political scandals and redheaded step-children (Mike Corona, I’m looking at you), but today I didn’t think of that. The wind whipped through me and took away all negativity, all self.

Growing up, it was days like today that made me whole-heartedly embrace this region. Smile. Spread out my arms. Let my hair “flop about like a besotted salmon”. And just …

… be.


There’s just something so … vital … so life affirming … about wind. Before the fires start I mean.

But this is the night, the exact type of night, where I am proud to say I grew up here.

And I want to go howl at the moon.

Maybe it’s because it’s my folks anniversary today, and I’m sadly happy that they are able to spend it together again at Good Shepherd Cemetery. They raised me in this neck of the woods where I’ve always had a love/hate relationship, and for the first time in my life I can say this – I’m happy to be home.

And I’m happy to be ALIVE.