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And so it goes…

I have been deeply saddened by the daily reports of deaths in the news.  Some of whom have passed I knew personally and some I’ve simply, but profoundly, been inspired by.

I won’t speak about the folks I knew personally because that’s…well…personal.  So I choose to focus on the passing of Shirley Temple Black.

No one…and I reiterate…no one…dealt with adversity like our Shirley.  When I began watching her movies her career had been over for a good three decades…but how was I to know that?  Thus the beauty of television.  You can be sitting in your living room in the 70′s thinking you’re watching some extremely entertaining television show in the present when in fact it was shot and enjoyed and cancelled in the 50′s.

And so it was with Shirley.  The darling of the 30′s.

I was a child of adversity.  And watching Shirley deal with her varying degrees of it…she was always either orphaned at the beginning of the films she appeared in or soon to be after the opening credits…inspired me.  Gave me strength.  And that she was forever finding herself in the company of folks dealing with their own degree of adversity…folks she helped see the sunshine in the midst of severely cloudy lives…even as she struggled to deal with her own clouds of extreme gray…made it all the better.  Because she willed herself into being the silver lining of every storyline.  And that…more than anything else…impressed me.  That we can will ourselves into being the silver lining of our own and others stormy situations.

I am forever grateful to Shirley Temple, the advent of television, and the strength they both gave me when I needed them.  Desperately.



C’est la vie

You know what?  No.  It doesn’t simply have to be…that’s life.  Although it is.  It always is.  But I don’t have to just sit back and say…well…that’s the way it is…whatever will be will be…even though it’s true…whatever will be WILL be!  But accepting that fact is not the same as believing that I have no role to play.  Because I can make a difference in my own life.  I can affect the way things happen in my world.  The outcome.  I can not predict the future…no crystal ball I…but I can say with a degree of confidence that if I do nothing on my own behalf…if I allow the world to spin wildly around me…choose not to engage…not to actively chart my own course, clear away existing obstacles, defend and protect myself and those I love…then it’s my own fault if the Nazi’s win the war!

I don’t know about you, but I hate conflict.  I’ve spent my life doing everything in my power to avoid it.  I marvel at our troops.  At their courage.  I watch in awe at modern day gladiators who dole out and endure savage beatings in octagons surrounded by blood thirsty crowds who would have been right at home when Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

Have I never fought for what I believe is right?  Never marched, never placed myself in harms way, never confronted hostile opponents?  Do I live on planet earth?  But to really fight.  And I mean really.  I am so lucky.  When I look at what a very large portion of the world population is dealing with on a daily basis…I say…what I’ve had to deal with is nada comparatively.  I work my ass off to stay focused on the positive.  To choose to be grateful.  To say thank you…again and again and again…daily.  And it’s worth it.

An old, very dear friend reminded me recently that challenges reveal to us who we really are at our core.  And she’s right.  The greater the challenge the greater the opportunity.  The greater the risk as well.  Finding ourselves faced with foes determined to defeat us…to bring us to our knees…to outright destroy us…is and will always be, for me, daunting.  Terrifying.  Paralyzing even.

As Michael Jackson said to Paul McCartney…I’m a lover…not a fighter.  That’s me to a tee.  But when humanity is at stake…by God it’s worth it!

So…heart forever filled with love…my gloves are off!

 

 

 



When the bug bit

The movie was “Lili”, directed by Charles Walters, starring Leslie Caron.  She is a waif who joins the carnival to pursue handsome, smooth-talking, womanizing carnival magician, Jean-Pierre Aumont, who, unfortunately for her, is married to glamorous, and sexy as hell, Zsa Zsa Gabor.  Mel Ferrer is an embittered, crippled puppeteer in love with Leslie.  At one point an enraged Mel slaps Leslie.  Hard.  As the credits rolled, I sobbed.  My father was mortified.  “Why are you crying?

The idea of one’s feelings being glorified.  Although only six years old I already understood that the rule in life is to repress…but the people on our circa 1967 television screen were expressing their emotions so freely.  In fact that seemed to be the point.  What a gift to have someplace to put all my emotions!

It was instant addiction.

When Leslie went to Jean-Pierre’s trailer to tell him that she’d decided to leave the circus…wise considering that he was never going to love her…she apologized to him for having been such a nuisance.  He looked at her, smiled, and said that she’d learned so much in her short time there…to which she replied…so simply…”We don’t learn. We just get older, and we know.”

I knew.  I wanted to be a part of that world forever.

 

 



Catching Up

My last entry was at the beginning of this year.  New starts.  Goodbye to the old…heralding in…  Today seems like as good a day as any to write something fresh.  Check back in.  50 years ago today something momentous happened in this country.  In this world.  But most definitely here at home.  I was a month and a half shy of two.  Tumultuous times.  Then again…when have times been anything but?  Martin Luther King, Jr. marched.  I love that although I wasn’t conscious of what was happening, I was alive on that day fifty years ago.  Born into the world when John F. Kennedy was President.  That golden moment when so many people were willing to risk everything to gain what I believe God intended…freedom to be…you and me…something the founding fathers declared self-evident but evidently wasn’t…to so many…including a surplus of them.

I ruminate on all of the fallen.  Heroes all.  Men and women who placed themselves and their families at risk…sacrificed their lives…to fulfill the promise of 1776.  Refusing to accept that the odds were insurmountable.  I would love nothing more than to count myself among those brave souls…but I’d be lying if I did.  In some respects yes…I can and do consider myself courageous…I have marched for many things, many times in my life…and one could say that I have, for the majority of my life, marched to the beat of my own drummer…even while battling occasional bouts of paralysis…but to compare myself to my heroes…not by any stretch of the imagination.  That said, I strive to live truthfully…true to myself…I may not always be 100% successful…but I work…every moment of every day…to do my best…to take full advantage of the freedom my heroes sacrificed their lives for…and there’s not a day the sun sets on that I don’t give thanks to them all for their sacrifice.

It’s been quite the year.  Sickness and health, better and worse, highs and lows, sunshine and thunderstorms, life and death.  I’ve seen and experienced the gamut.  Not so high as some, and not so low as others.  But…my share.  The world remains a glorious chaotic miraculous mess.  Filled with the absolute best and worst.  Heaven and hell.  But as the old song says, I’m still here.  And I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow the deaths of my heroes to be in vain.  My life is a reflection of my gratitude.

Here’s to those who refuse to believe that their dreams are impossible.  Thank you, Martin.  John.  Bobby.  Thank you all…

May we all…dream on.



Happy 2013!

bigbottle

2012 is finished.  It was an extremely tumultuous year the world over but as I recently told a friend of mine…I’ve only ever known the world to be in chaos…so what’s new?  I was born in 1961…and I could easily create a list of the most horrific things that have happened in the world from the moment I saw light to the present.  But I choose to focus on the positive.  Works for me!

I agree with Lena Dunham that our hearts are too valuable to be treated like monkey meat!!!!!  So let’s protect ‘em!

Speaking of monkey meat…of course what I share next has nothing to do with monkey meat but shoot it’s a great segue…

There are only 15 days left for us to reach our goal to raise financing funds for my one woman play that premiers March 6th in Paris so if you can please donate to the cause it will be greatly appreciated!  Go to -

http://www.kisskissbankbank.com/notre-dame-de-perpetuels-donuts?ref=search

Any amount will help.  Really!

All the absolute best to absolutely everybody everywhere!!!!!



Hey Tom Sawyer!

030

The Lexington Youth Theatre production of “Tom Sawyer” closed Sunday after three wildly successful performances.  Perfect performances?  No.  Perfect production?  No.  But you’d never know it listening to the enthusiastic shrieks emitted from the near capacity crowds in attendance.  Standing, cheering ovations nightly.  And given that the cast was comprised of 47 kids ranging in age from 8 to 18…they deserved every bit of all that praise.  It was one hell of an accomplishment.  These are not professional kids.  Okay…one is…he’s performed on Broadway and may very well be heading back again very soon…and believe me, he’s great…but the rest…just young folks who dream, and work tirelessly, and the results…well…they were truly inspiring.

Watching those kids, my oldest son among them, up there doing their theatrical thing took me back.  Not to similar experiences of my own because I didn’t have similar experiences.  At their ages I had yet to plant my feet in other worlds on theatre stages…what it took me back to were those early, innocent days of dreaming.  Of all my theatrical aspirations.  Planning my course of action.  Learning.  Observing.  And taking a plethora of mental, emotional, and physical notes.  Studying.  In my fashion.  I’ve been exceptionally lucky.  Acting, my passion from the age of six, did become what supports me.  Financially and otherwise.

So watching those young people…each and every one of them up there – hearts, minds, and bodies full…the critic in me silenced…and I leaped to my feet and cheered and applauded with all the rest.  This world benefits from its young dreamers.  We should do everything in our power to support and assist them in any and every way we’re humanly capable to not only continue to dream but to follow their dreams.  Encourage them to let their hearts lead the way.

To all of you extraordinary young folks who shared your exquisitely beautiful magic with us this past weekend…I thank you.  Bravo!



Election is finally over!

To say that I’m thrilled is a grotesque understatement.  Thrilled that my President won a second term, affording him the opportunity to do the additional work necessary to fulfill as many of his previous promises as he’s humanly capable.  People criticized him for not having changed his message.  I say, why change it if it’s a great one?  The message remained the same…we can only hope that  this time around he gets full cooperation from our Congress to work with him and each other to return our United States to glory.  Because it is such a glorious country.  So much promise.

I love traveling the world.  Love experiencing the different places, meeting all the different people, experiencing the different cultures, really getting a true sense of wherever I find myself.  I adore my different homes.  Because I’ve spent so much time during the past decade or so dividing my time between here and Europe, that I genuinely consider Europe my second home.  But no matter where I go, or how much I love it, admire, respect, appreciate my other homes…this one remains my favorite.  And not for sentimental reasons.  Okay, yes, I’m a sentimental person.  And not.  A moment like this…Jesus God…did I just use a line from Kelly Clarkson’s first single after winning the first ever American Idol?  Fuck it!  A moment like this gives me pause.  I have always been fully conscious of the country I’ve grown up in.  I pledged allegiance, I prayed to God to preserve us, and I watched, and listened, and felt, the country zig zag, deal with a zillion conflicts, experience the pendulum swing wildly, then less so, then wildly, then less so, then wildly again.  This way and that.  But throughout the years…even as I felt, believed wholeheartedly, many, many times, that there was no place for me in my country, that if I chose to remain here that I must accept and be grateful for my place on the sidelines, as an outsider, a second or third class citizen, that I had no choice but to embrace an ideology that excluded me, my friends, and assorted family…I was, am, and will always be a proud citizen of the United States of America.  Because yes, although at times I felt alone here, I wasn’t.

At the tender age of 14 my parents did the unthinkable and allowed me to usher at a theatre showing Robert Patrick’s “Kennedy’s Children”.   If my parents had known the subject matter they NEVER would have given me permission to do it.  But they didn’t and so I did.  And it saved my 14 year old, suicidal, life.  Because in the play there were characters I identified with.  Granted they were all completely fucked up, but they existed.  And they were up there on that stage.  Their lives were considered worth the price of admission.  And they weren’t jokes, they were human beings with just as much right as anyone else to have their stories told.  It was a revelation.  It meant that I did in fact have a place…not just in this world but in my country.  It  may not have been the most secure place but it was a place nonetheless.  And so I didn’t kill myself.  I chose to live and create my own place in this crazy ass quilt of ours.  This exquisitely beautiful mosaic.  This totally insane, breathtaking, brilliant, schizophrenic, rich, revolutionary, dream of a country.  My home.

Obama’s election was historic for the innumerable reasons it was.  But his re-election is evolutionary.  Progressive.  I know that there is and will always be a sizable percentage of the population who stand steadfastly in opposition to progress.  But no matter how many stand firm, no matter how threatening they may at times feel it necessary to be, progress, like water, flows.  And over time erodes even the most seemingly solid, fervent of opponents.  It’s unstoppable.  My life, my voice, my thoughts, my opinions, my beliefs, my feelings…I…count.  Because in America, each and every one of us matters.  That may not have been the original belief or intent of all our founding fathers, but it’s the principal that they chose to declare in our constitution.  And hypocrites though some of them most certainly were…I am eternally grateful to each and every one of them.



Abroad!

So I arrive in Berlin mid September right on the heels of endless looping news reports of American embassies across the Middle East being stormed, our ambassador to Libya, along with four others being killed, the entire region on the rampage, death to Americans!!!!!  Because of a video…which we know wasn’t the sole reason for the explosion…that it all happened on 9/11 was a bit of a give away even if no one was commenting on it immediately…  Anyway, back to Berlin!!  I hop a bus at Tegel airport and travel to a part of town I am totally unfamiliar with, and when I get off the bus at my final destination I find myself standing directly in front of an Islamic Mosque.  Everywhere I look…Muslims.  Little American me SURROUNDED!  Now I have many Muslim friends and I’m not a paranoid person as a rule but…my heavens…I was prepared, if asked, to introduce myself as Canadian!!  First thing I did was breathe!  Deeply!  Then I checked into my hotel…one I’d never stayed in before…my beloved Art Appart in Charlottenburg wasn’t available for the additional dates of my stay…my first thought when I saw the place was…this does NOT look like the photos on their web site.  But my room was nice and the proximity of the hotel to the location of the workshop was great AND everything in Berlin was booked solid because of some exhibition going on that week!  I unpacked and decided to walk the distance between hotel and workshop space.  I like knowing where I’m going, no travelling without maps for me…I’m a great believer in peace of mind.  Lovely walk.  The area was akin to the lower East side of New York.  It needs a good scrubbing and has an artsy, bohemian feel.  The sun was shining, everywhere I looked folks were smiling, strolling, engaged in animated conversation, enjoying their Sunday with family and friends, paying absolutely no attention to me.  Tranquility.  I didn’t feel in the least bit threatened.  Didn’t fear being dragged to some basement and beheaded.  I felt welcome.  So after my walk, I bought a large plate of spätzle, returned to my recently renovated pink digs, ate, watched the news (in German), took my meds, called my kids, and caught some much needed z’s.

It reminded me of my first trip to NYC.  I had been told by friends to catch the JFK express at the airport and meet them at Jay Street/Borough Hall.  Having never been to NYC I was concerned about potentially losing my way.  From the moment I became a licensed  driver in Southern California I never ventured out without my Thomas Guide!  My friends assured me that someone at the airport would point me in the right direction.  Oh I was pointed in a direction all right, a bus to Port Authority.  And not knowing any better, I got on.  Wandering out onto 9th Avenue and 42nd Street, suit case in hand, excited but perplexed look on my face, a young African American man sporting a red beret introduced himself as a Guardian Angel and asked if I needed assistance.  “It’s that obvious, huh?”  He smiled, nodded.  “I need to get to Jay Street/Borough Hall,” “That’s in Brooklyn.”  “How do I get there?”  “The subway is the quickest and most direct route but you might as well be wearing an ‘I’m right off the bus, mug me!’ t-shirt, so I suggest a cab.”  He hailed one for me, and wishing me luck, loaded me in.  Next thing I knew I was being whisked out of NYC and over the Brooklyn bridge!  When the cab pulled to a stop, I paid and as I began exiting the vehicle the driver started yelling, “Get out, get out, get out now!!!!!!!”  I pulled my bag from the backseat and before I could close the door he screeched off!  I turned around and saw what looked like an extremely pissed off Mike Tyson running FAST towards me.  I was raised by people, in a community, who felt the great need to make me believe NYC was a virtual maximum security prison without the benefit of bars.  That anyone stupid enough to vacation there was guaranteed to be robbed, raped and murdered.  So there I am and all I could think was, “Please God don’t prove my parents right.”  Next thing I knew he was standing beside me, panting.  “Motherfucker!  What the fuck he take off like that for?”  Thank you!  “I don’t know,” I said, “Can you tell me where Jay Street/Borough Hall is?”  “Here,” he said, “subway’s there” pointing to a hole in the ground.  I thanked him and descended to find my friends who, tired of waiting, were seconds away from leaving.  How did we survive without cell phones?!

My work done in Berlin I moved on to Paris and the next workshop and one day I’m standing in the doorway of my studio when a finely dressed gentleman of Middle Eastern descent approaches me with two boxes he apparently wants to sell.  As I wasn’t interested in purchasing anything at that moment regardless of the merchandise, or the extraordinary savings guaranteed, I said, “Non, merci,” as kindly as I’m humanly capable, again and again as he persisted…I mean he was a salesman so I expected no less than as hard a sell as he was prepared to make…but I was equally determined not to spend money on something I genuinely didn’t need…not speaking French…I understand it to an extent and am able to order my morning café crème and croissant, but otherwise the best I can do is nod my head and smile in respectful ignorance…I had no idea what was in the elegant boxes he continued to pressure me into purchasing.  Finally he opened one of them and I found myself staring at five very large, very expensive, and very sharp knives.  Immediately my paranoid little American mind went into overdrive and beads of sweat began forming on my brow and upper lip.  As he removed the largest, sharpest knife from the case and held it in front of me my smile broadened and froze on my face, “Non, merci.”  He looked at me as if I was an idiot…and to be perfectly honest I felt like one afterward because he was offering me an exquisite set of cutlery worth 336 euros for the unbelievable price of 35…replaced the knife and walked away mumbling what I’m certain must have been something unflattering about me.

Ah life…so extraordinary…so terrifying…such a gift, a blessing…and a curse…I love human beings, each and every one, but being one myself I do experience a myriad of different things, some extreme, some less so, in relation to everything around me.  I don’t advise throwing caution entirely to the wind, but the thought of going through life absolutely panic stricken…I mean…what’s the point?  The world is a volatile place, both at home and abroad, terrorists of all kinds, some easily identifiable, some not so much, are hard at work to keep us from living our lives, individually, freely.  I adore life, I celebrate it, give thanks for it daily.  But to say that I don’t fear death at the hands of some crazed extremist, whether it be Al-Qaeda or an overzealous Christian fundamentalist, because believe me they’re just as scary, would be a lie.  So breathe I continue to do, trusting that each day will present a new and even more glorious opportunity to live, love, and evolve.

Oh…and the three workshops I did while abroad were…once again…HEAVEN!!!!!!!



A must read

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/apr/25/samantha-morton-the-unloved



No strings attached

I cherish my family and friends.  Each and every one of them.

They occupy every conceivable side of every conceivable aisle.

They are unafraid to be who they are.  To think what they think.  Feel what they feel.  And express their truth.

We don’t always agree with one another.  But the majority of the time we are all able to agree to disagree.  Which is not easy.  It takes work.  And enormous patience.  Particularly with ourselves. But the end result is unconditional love.

When I was growing up I confused unconditional love with…well…if you love me, really love me, you’ll accept me, understand me, and agree with me. 100% It took me a good decade or more to realize that it’s the exact opposite.

Far too many of us demand to be loved without conditions only to turn around and place conditions on our love for others.  It’s like when all the people in the world who have been persecuted the most severely turn around and persecute others as severely if not more so.  I mean, what’s that about?  In my mind someone who’s been severely persecuted should be the first to realize that no one should be severely persecuted and behave accordingly.  Someone who has not been loved unconditionally should be the first to choose to love everyone else unconditionally.  The next time you find yourself expecting to be loved unconditionally ask yourself if you’re loving others unconditionally.

I recently drove past a church with a marquee that read “Freedom – To do what pleases God”  And that, in my opinion, is not freedom.  Freedom is to do what pleases me.  But isn’t that what it boils down to?  If I don’t do what pleases God, He won’t love me.  How can we hope to be loved unconditionally if even God doesn’t love that way?

I choose to love everyone on this planet unconditionally.  And yes, some people make it far more challenging to love them, but I do.  I choose to.  It takes a lot of energy because it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.  You want to know when I became able to do it?  When I started loving myself unconditionally.

And believe me, if I can love myself unconditionally, I can love anybody!




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