Sep 8 2018

In Praise of Men

I spent a recent weekend with my friends Dante, Daniella, and their daughter at their cabin on the Russian River, along with two couples. Sunday morning, Dante invited Gene, the only other man in the group, to go outside and split logs and drink moonshine (out of jar, naturally).

 

I jumped on that. “I want to split logs and drink moonshine!”

 

So the three of us went outside and did just that and it was the best Sunday I’ve had in years. I felt like a kid. A happy, free kid.

 

I have two older brothers. When I was a kid, I figured out very early on that life was unfair and that boys had much more freedom than girls. Still, I did the best I could to work within that system: as long as was with my brothers, which meant doing whatever they were doing, I could be out in the world. And they being hockey players, there were constantly hockey players around. So I did a lot of guy stuff, surrounded by a lot of guys.

 

And it wasn’t until I swang that ax and drank that moonshine with Dante and Gene that I realized how much I miss having masculine energy around me. All right, I’ll say it: Men. I miss men. I love my female friends and the time spent with them. But the past few years there’s a bit of imbalance in my life, a bit heavy on the feminine. Not by any deliberate choice or design. But it’s going to take deliberate action to change that.

I'm on the left.

I’m on the left.


May 21 2015

All this #TBT, Endings, and Something for my Daughter

Girlhood

Girlhood

Ever since the season finale of Mad Men and the use of the Paul Anka (fun fact: Paul Anka sang his hit  song Diana to me, at my table in the Riviera Showroom in Las Vegas, when I was twelve!) song that I’ve not heard since I was a teenager, Times of Your Life, set to flashbacks from the show’s 7 seasons, that there’s been a slide show of flashbacks of my own life in my mind, each slide no longer than a nanosecond each.

Mad Men series finale trailer

On top of that, this was the last week of David Letterman. THE David Letterman, for whom I cut classes at SUNY Stony Brook  in the spring of 1983 to take the LIRR to see him tape an early episode of Late Night (just a few months before the most pivotal moment of my life (read on to learn what that was). Late Night with David Letterman my talk show, not my parent’s (Johnny Carson’s) talk show — and now, moments after Mad Men abandoned me,  it was retiring.  Time. It’s all going by suddenly so fast…

But back to me.

It all started with a diary. Like most young girls, I confided in one. All my secrets, desires, rants, what I really thought about __________. Next came the scrapbook. When I was old enough to start attending events that left me with ticket stubs in my back pocket; proof that I was there for that incredible concert/show/movie premiere. Then came the photo albums that were my own, not my parents, and the books and the music that showed me new worlds I couldn’t wait to discover for myself. And the magazine picture clippings of the guys who gave me my first hormonal surges, matchbooks from the bars I was able to sneak into and drink and smoke underage, secret classroom notes from friends, letters from boyfriends…

At some point, I needed a chest for all of this stuff.

(side note: would someone growing up today even have a diary/ticket stub/scrapbook/photo album/magazine clipping — or have we lost all of those things to the digital age and cloud-based storage?)

Then I went to college and forgot about collecting stuff. There was barely enough room in my SUNY Stony Brook door room for a 2nd towel, let alone keepsakes. Besides, I was too busy actually having new experiences and meeting exciting new people — not just reading about them in books or hearing about them in songs — to care about ticket stubs or a picture of Bucky Dent in Cosmopolitan.

 

And then my mother died, rather suddenly, when I was 19. I was just at that age where the relationship was segueing from mother-daughter to friends. She was beginning to tell me things about herself she couldn’t tell me when I was a child: that she had been married before my father (his Greek family thought it somewhat scandalous to marry a divorcee, so that never got talked about), and how she first went to Las Vegas to get her divorce (which no doubt had some influence on my parents decision to move there when we were young children).

 

The author, age 19.

The author, age 19.

We were just scratching the surface of her past when she died, and now there were so many unanswered questions. And I had no one to ask.

 

I knew I’d have a daughter one day. I didn’t have a strong desire for children, no biological clock ticking away, that’s just what you did, right? Had children? And I was going to have a daughter because that’s what my mother had, and that’s the relationship I wanted, what she and I had. Don’t question my logic, I was young I and I knew this was what was to be.

 

But now I had to prepare: What if I had a daughter, and then I too, died suddenly? I didn’t want to leave my daughter with unanswered questions about me, who I was before I started wearing the labels of wife and mother, as my mother had left me. I wanted her to know me at her age, whatever age she started having such thoughts. What were my dreams, my goals, my favorite songs and books; who were my crushes? So I started saving things again. The magazines that covered important events of my time (Curt Cobain’s death), the ticket stubs (U2), the matchbooks and trinkets from my travels. I would leave her with no unanswered questions.

 

But she never came, my daughter. For various reasons, I never had children.  And now, I have this trunk of me. My youth and young adulthood. And I don’t know what to do with all this stuff. I used to think that if I got famous or did something remotely noteworthy, my biographer might harvest this trove of insight into my life, my heart. But I’m beginning to suspect there may be no biographer. True, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. But let’s be realistic.

 

So what to do with all of it? Every ten or fifteen years or so I pop it open and pop out maybe one or two things, a photo or my sash of Girl Scout badges (some still yet to be sewn on); but I have never –and have no desire to – spend time with it and really explore all that’s there. Honestly, I don’t even know what I’ll find, beside what’s in plain sight on top. I already spend more time thinking about the past that I care to; better to think about the future and live in the present.

 

But the past, the contents of this trunk– it’s what makes me who I am now. I feel like I’m looking at a young me, when I glance in there: pre-setbacks, divorce, doubt, death, disappoint, rejection, disappoint, doubt, etc. I want to be her again. Me, before The Fight (aka Life). When it never dawned on me that there was anything I could not do.

 

I’m realizing as I write this that I need to keep that trunk for now. Because I am her. And The Fight, I need to reevaluate that – because it didn’t kill me, did it? And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, doesn’t it?