Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blessings, Monkey Business and Brooms

My baby brother is getting married this Friday. I say “baby” because there is a 15-year age difference between the two of us.

I’ll never forget when my mother told my brother Chris, who was 11, and me that she was expecting. He burst into tears and I burst into laughter. I suppose the little prince was saddened he would no longer reign as youngest. My response was, “And you were worried about me?” I had just gotten “the talk.” I followed it up with, “Aren’t you a little old for this?” Fortunately, my mother’s hormones weren’t raging that day and I didn’t get the smack I deserved.

At that time, being pregnant at 39 was considered very high risk. But the surprise, or “blessing,” turned out well. I can’t imagine our family without David. He added fun to the mix. This was before ADHD was the diagnosis du jour, so he was simply described as high energy. He climbed everything and anything. My parents had to install bars on his bedroom window. Once, my friends and I even handcuffed him to a chair to keep him still for a few minutes.

Besides being a monkey, he was a matchmaker. At age five, he helped set me up with my husband – our family dentist. During an appointment, with teddy bear in hand, David informed Damian that I was bringing my boyfriend to his Chuck E Cheese’s birthday party, but that next year he was expected to be there. He proceeded to firm up plans for us to meet out one night.

While we were engaged, David referred to my husband as “my sister’s new daddy” and the “broom.” He told everyone he was going to be the “ring bear” and wondered where he was going to get his costume.

He did a great job on my wedding day. I can still remember his smile as he danced into the reception to “Meet the Flintstones.” David grew up to be a great kid and made up for those terrible toddler years. He became an Eagle Scout, graduated college and is gainfully employed. Today, one would never guess the lazy lug on the sofa was that hyperactive kid.

Now, it’s his turn to be the “broom” and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of his big day. I already love his fiancĂ©e Jessica like a sister. They complement each other in every way and they are off to a great start.

David, Chris and I have excellent role models in our happily married parents. They make it look easy. The problem is that it isn’t always easy. There are surprises - like David! I suspect he is a romantic like me and I want him to be prepared for the inevitable ups and downs.

The following is from Plato and I had it read at my wedding ceremony. When I’m disappointed by flaws in the "fairytale,” it reminds me that we’re not striving for perfection – just our own individual brand of love.

“Perfect love is a god, divine, everlasting, and as unattainable by human beings as the stars. In that form, love has existed in the universe since the beginning of time and will endure forever. On the other hand, there exists also the individual brand of love, which strikes us here on earth like a glint off the sun, making us suffer, pine, rejoice, and sometimes, marry. – Plato.

Congratulations David and Jessica!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ode on a Mac

“Truth is beauty. Beauty is truth.” – John Keats, Ode On a Grecian Urn. I wrote this in my journal when I was about 15. I didn’t get what it meant, but I knew it was important.

Keats was probably referring to universal truths achieved through artistic expression. Those moments of shared connection and clarity are absolutely beautiful.

Most of the time, finding truth while writing happens organically for me. It grows on its own – if I let it. Those four words are my challenge. “If I let it.” So much gets in the way - perception, distraction and ego.

In the search for truth, pathological lying or even white lies aren't the main issue. It's self-deception. There are tons of self-help books dedicated to living authentically. Getting to the beautiful truth, our own and that of others, can be awfully ugly. It's easier to detour into denial.

My subconscious seems to have a larger capacity than my front-load washer. Will all my truth bubble out one day? Will I come clean in a catastrophic manner? I can see my neighbors on the 11 o’clock news saying, “She seemed so nice. I didn't even know she had guns.” For right now, it just emerges in eye twitching, stomachaches, hives and migraines. I'd rather it come out in a novel.

Don't get me wrong. I’m a happy person. I’ve got a good life. The eternal optimist, I think everyone has the best intentions and everything will work out in the end. I rarely cry and it takes a tremendous amount to get me angry. I don’t think these traits are necessarily bad. It’s just that sometimes they get in the way of the truth. Some people are idiots with the worst intentions. It’s OK to cry when someone hurts you and sometimes anger is the right response.

Someone once told me I hide behind diplomacy and politeness. He said I avoid confrontation. I didn’t believe him. But I didn't want to argue - proved his point.

I had shared my thoughts at the loudest decibel as a teenager. But perhaps spending an inordinate amount of time grounded tamed my tongue. I’m not sure.

The problem with denial is that it can easily lead to those white lies and worse. My Aunt recently called lying a subservient act. By not telling the truth we are saying our feelings and thoughts don’t count as much as the person to whom we are lying, she explained.

That’s an interesting take. In sparing someone, we sacrifice ourselves. In deceiving, we receive an inauthentic life in return. It’s saying we don’t trust others to accept or love us as we really are. That's not so beautiful in life or writing. The best prose is raw and honest. If I want to be a good writer, it's time to allow the truth in.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bring A Friend To Work Night

Late July - Scheduled to go on air at 8 p.m., Saturday, August 30.

Tuesday, August 26th - Told the 8 p.m. airing for Saturday, August 30th is canceled.

Wednesday, August 27 - Put on standby for 6 p.m., Saturday August 30th instead.

Saturday, August 30 - At 2 p.m. told I'm not needed. I make plans to have dinner with Angela.

5 p.m. As Angela pulls into my driveway, I receive a call saying I'm needed for the 8 p.m. show and I need to be in a cocktail dress. It will be a three-hour, live, on-air party. Can I be there in an hour to prep? They need bodies to fill the set, so we swing by Angela's house to pick up her party dress.

6:30ish We are in the QVC studio. No one knows what the deal is yet. They are still meeting. Hmm. Angela wonders how I can put up with not knowing if or when I'll need to work on a daily basis.

8 p.m. Angela and I are on the cocktail party set, complete with jazz band, ice sculpture, snacks and wine! Cameras role. We're live folks. We mix and mingle with other guests, hosts, visiting viewers and the models.

8:45 p.m. I attempt to sell my sheets even though I can't hear Lisa, the callers or myself over the band. They didn't have a clip for my battery pack and now it has slid out from the back of my bra. I arch my back and throw back my booty to prevent it from hitting the floor and shattering. Lisa must think I'm convulsing. Despite my issues, we sell out.

9:30 The cocktail party continues and I can drink. Now that we're at least one (600 thread count, Egyptian cotton) sheet to the wind, Angela thinks this is a great job.

11:30 Another hard day at the office comes to an end.