Feb 17 2017

Youth is Wasted

Baby Girl.

Baby Girl.

I was 20. This was taken for some ad in some periodical about some thing.

I hated this photo at the time. I thought my puffy face gave away the fact that I was spinning out of control, my bulimia relapse triggered by the sudden death of my mother, my greatest supporter, one year earlier.

Today, I see none of that in my face in this photo. I see a beautiful young woman, so much life ahead of her, who was convinced things would never get better. I wish I could go back and tell her that they absolutely would.

Of course I can’t do that. Still, it’s a good reminder. Things are not near so bleak now as they seemed then. Still, sometimes, it’s so hard to see light. But it’s there. Trust yourself.

 


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?


Sep 24 2008

My Relationships With Objects*

*No, this is not a story about a woman and her vibrators. Sorry to disappoint. But I’m sure there are plenty of those out there if you just get your google on.

**

This is the story of a Sunday morning stroll, when Young Master Picard and I encountered a garage sale where these glasses** were on display. After a summer hosting a belated Greek Easter dinner party, a bridal shower, and the usual impromptu gatherings, I noticed my glassware numbers dwindling (and not just the stemware, for a change). This set caught my eye, as from afar it had somewhat of a retro look. The seller told me he’d forgotten he had them, they’ve been in a box in his garage for ten years. I said, “How cool is that, if you have a garage you can find stuff you’d forgotten you had for ten years!” Which led to the conversation of how having a garage can be a dangerous thing for that very reason.

I, on the other hand, have practically zero storage space. Almost everything I own is in plain sight (God, I am so fucked if I’m ever served with a search warrant). Which means to live like this, you have to really love the sight of your stuff, curating your life on a regular basis.

My method is finding that delicate balance between 1. What is precious to me?; 2. What is aesthetically pleasing (and/or how to display things decoratively enough so that they appear to be aesthetically pleasing, when really they’re just “stuff”)?; 3. What is frequently used, so that it needs to be handy at all times?

***

So the goal is to retain only the objects that fit all three criteria. Which are extremely few. I suppose some of my parents glassware*** qualifies, though I tend not to use them during bigger gatherings, as that’s when the most breakage-due-to-silly-drunkedness occurs.

****

More realistic is to keep my “collection” to objects meeting two out of the three criteria: my mother’s manual nut grinder for making the world’s best baklava (precious & functional)****; the Charles Cobelle original painting of a Paris cityscape***** that my ex-husband loaned me $25 to buy on a North Beach corner during the early days of our courtship (precious & aesthetically pleasing).

*****

But these are probably outnumbered by objects that meet only one of the criteria. The remote control, my iPhone charger, this laptop (frequently used). Then there are the numerous precious items, most of which have a happy association with someone dear to me. As for the dozens (make that hundreds) of copies of the feature film I produced & co-directed, “Come Fly With Me Nude” (want one? It’s yours, FREE! — just throw me a few bucks for postage, please): I’ve no idea what category  they fall under… perhaps Parts Of My Life With Which I’m Not Ready To Part.

But a garage full of forgotten memories… some possibly precious, some you were happy you’d forgotten — that is, until you moved and opened that box in the corner under a stack and were forced to remember — that’s something I don’t own. My few hidden items are pretty much in one trunk. A trunk full of of memorabilia from the ’70’s, ’80’s, and ’90’s. Stuff I first started saving because I was an adolescent girl in the late ’70’s, and that’s what adolescent girls do, save stuff. But then when my mother died suddenly when I was 19, I suddenly had a mission: to make sure that if I died suddenly on the daughter to whom (I was sure) I was destined to give birth, she would not be left with the unanswered questions about who I was, as I had been when my mother died; before I could get to know her as someone more than just my mother. So now there is a very heavy trunk full of young me on the top back of a tiny, tightly-packed shelf. Should there ever be a need or desire to pull it down, I know the emotions will flow wildly and deeply and in every direction. Frankly I’m afraid to open it, to be honest, afraid to open those floodgates, knowing why I saved most of that stuff, and the sad fact that, at this age, there will be no daughter with whom to rummage through this museum of my youth and young adulthood. My relationship with all of those long out-of-sight objects is complicated and loaded. Maybe someday there will be someone else with whom to share all of it, in which case it will be a wonderful discovery and rediscovery. I guess that’s what the hidden objects lead us to: rediscoveries, whether we like it or not.

So I don’t acquire much stuff anymore. Not much shopping here. Most of the stuff in my home is either something old and nostalgic, with a forever-precious memory attached, or a gift from someone who knows me and my superb taste well.

If you were having any thoughts of gifting me — and if you don’t know me and my superb taste well — wine is always a safe (and highly appreciated) choice.

I thank you in advance.