Let me play among the stars

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On the heels of this terribly sad news in music and world history, I had occasion to honor another legend. I accompanied my dad to a tribute to Frank Sinatra at the Pierre Hotel, put together by the Friar’s Club. It was a rhinestone-studded affair—a veritable Who’s Who and Who’s That?!: Wayne Newton, Dionne Warwick, Dina Martin (daughter of Dean), Freddy Roman, and, naturally, Tony Danza … were among the artists who sang and toasted The Chairman. Larry King officiated. His wife, Shawn, sang. Dominic “Uncle Junior” Chianese and Norm Crosby spoke.

Maybe it wasn’t Hollywood glamour or the hottest ticket around … but it was lovely. And it was loveliest because I was with my dad. And giggle though we may at the list of talent, talent it was … the songs were beautiful, and Tony Danza is a good tap dancer. (How many times has that phrase been uttered today? I’m guessing dozens.) People shared personal stories of Frank Sinatra. Wayne Newton described him as someone who loved his friends deeply and who was a great friend in return. So that’s one thing he and I have in common. We also share a quick temper and a childhood spent in the tri-state area.

Things haven’t quite gone as planned. A part of my life that I thought was finally getting figured out has proven otherwise, and so I’m back to the drawing board. But I’m okay with this, I’ve no choice but to be. So I will draw on the well of strength and willpower that I possess and all-too-often ignore and I will carry on and I will triumph.

I read something about Capricorns the other day that rang truer than most of the things I read about Capricorns. We are supposed to be a sign of great ambition and hard work … my ambition is scattered and my work interrupted by my proclivity toward hiding out when met with challenges. This thing I read spoke of Capricorns being old souls, and people who age in reverse. It spoke of our being late bloomers and of finding our true purpose eventually, but not on the clock the rest of the world deems valid. So there you go. I’ll get there. I’m getting there. and I won’t let the things that aren’t working keep me from pursuing the things that may work.

Why am I writing this? Because I want to talk to you guys and you aren’t here, so I’m posting it.

Regrets: I’ve had more than a few.

If what’s to come is as I hope it is, Old Blue Eyes and the Thin White Duke are sitting at a piano right now, singing and rejoicing.

So grateful I am to have grown up with musical legends.

 

 

All I have is my love of love

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A friend said it best, “It never dawned on me that David Bowie would die. His presence has been more like a moon or a star.” It’s true. Most of us didn’t know he was as ill as he was, and none of us expected to wake up to the terribly sad news that he had passed.

David Bowie has been an integral part of the lives of many people I know and love. I’m not sure when I first became aware of him, but I was definitely late to the game. I remember the summer before seventh grade, on China Lake, in Maine. My aunt, who is from China, was dating the man who would be her second husband. He sang “China Girl” way more often than was necessary, so delighted was he to be dating a part-Chinese woman. The next year I met my best friend, Tara, whose love and appreciation of Bowie is one of my first of many memories of her. On Halloween in eighth grade I was a cat, she was Blue Jean.

Selon Facebook, many people I know have had close encounters with Bowie. I have not. Tara and I saw him in concert in the 80s–she probably many more times than that—and then in 2001, a month or so after the horrible September incident, I was invited to the Concert for New York at MSG … I was invited because the person whose tickets I wound up with had an accident and couldn’t go. Turns out, the tickets were really good and so we got to sit on the floor, amongst the fire fighters and police and their widows and widowers. Once we passed through security and walked slowly toward our non-seats (we were floaters, so as soon as someone showed up for their seat we moved elsewhere), we saw David Bowie, sitting cross-legged at the front of the stage, singing “Heroes”. We got so close I could see his heterochromia … a word I learned recently … eyes that are two different colors.

My first Bowie album was Hunky Dory, gifted to me by two friends who wanted me to upgrade my music collection and who chose this as one of the eight essential albums I should own.

When I first met Louie, my beloved canine, the song that came instantly to mind was “Kooks”, and so I sang it to him enough that he has reason to bite at me now.

Some years later, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust rose to importance, became essential to me. Soul Love is one of my favorite creations, ever.

David Bowie. Wow. Larger than life, longer than time, none of the rules of physics apply.

How lucky we all are to have experienced him, and how blessed we are to continue to do so.

Rest in triumph, beautiful, wonderful, spiritual, irreplaceable man.

Turn and face the strange.

Doctor please, some more of these

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Several years ago I ghostwrote a novel … strange combination, I’ll explain if you’re curious … about a dogwalker to the rich and famous. We had a chapter in which a dog visits a psychiatrist  … yes, there are dog psychiatrists. Today I came fairly close to replicating that.

Dog has been biting me lately. Not in a cute, teething puppy way, in an angry STOP IT AT ONCE! way. In his defense it only happens when I’m doing something unusual, like petting him. He has arthritis and takes painkillers and fish oils and gets acupuncture. A friend said that perhaps he’s angry that I’m treating him like a 40-year-old woman. So today we went to the vet to find out if there’s anything serious going on.

The vet, whom I trust implicitly, gave him a very thorough examination and decided that it’s additional pain in his left shoulder/armpit. He prescribed him a short-term stronger painkiller, which is an opiate.

Dog and I have had a delightful afternoon. We’ve run, I’ve pet him, he’s let me work. He’s high as a kite and probably thinks that he’s many bunny rabbits hopping through a poppy field right now, but the upshot is, I currently have a dog I can treat like a dog without fear of being bitten.

The irony of the fact that I, who wants little more than to be loving and affectionate and nurturing, has had, for thirteen+ years, a dog who decides when it’s time for affection, is lost on few.

Maybe this is a long, elaborate, and sometimes painful game of hard-to-get.

One of my favorite people, who is probably my most loyal reader, has been encouraging me to go deeper in this blog. To stop making it a laundry list of things I like and things that make me happy, to treat it as ART.

I’ve thought about this a lot since he said it. Thought about it, on and off, through all three+ hours of Tarantino, during my meditations, and when I’ve tried in vain to fall asleep.

Here’s what I’ve come up with. He’s absolutely right.

Good art requires some sort of chaos and conflict, be it among characters, colors, discordant notes. And I shy away from chaos and conflict because I’ve created and co-created so much of it in my life that I’ve left myself yearning for a happy ending.

That’s not the way it works. This is a vanity project—of course it is. But it needn’t be a saccharine one that sacrifices art for artifice. So I’m going to try as best I can to dig deeper and to be more raw and to acknowledge chaos and conflict more explicitly than I have. Anyone can write about the value of gratitude and the fact that everybody has something to offer and can look on the bright side and paint the rainbows and faeries and unicorns of future, better days and can count their blessings and acknowledge their missteps. Not anyone can write about the things that are inherently my own, and no one can speak in my voice except for me. This will be a process, and I hope y’all will bear with me as I embark upon it.

I wish you wonderful, sugary dreams and marshmallow realities and non-bitey puppies and cozy magic and–blech … of course I do, but this is not a Hallmark card. Or an American Greetings card. My dog is not a Boynton cat, or a Kliban one. ‘cept for this one.

Fasten your (lovely, made of fruit rollup) seatbelts. I might write about things that irk me soon.

Or I might continue to write about my love of love and my love for you all. Either way, I’m trying.

There is no try. Only Lou.

 

In the wee small hours

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Day two of the new year and I can’t sleep, so this will not be my most eloquent entry.

Today was a low-key start to the year but a good one … I meditated, wrote, watched The Manchurian Candidate (the original …on a side note, we saw Creed the other day and loved it ) … and napped, which is not the norm. Now I’m writing in this thing because I said I would, and one of my myriad goals for this year is to be more consistent about doing the things I say I’m going to do. The productive things.

So, 2015. A year of highs and lows, though I suppose every year is. The global and national lows we all know … the personal ones manifested mostly as disappointments, with the obvious exception being the loss of mon oncle. We toasted him on New Year’s, and have many times in the weeks since he’s left. I can’t remember the last time we didn’t spend part of the holidays together. I continue to miss him very much.

I want to talk about the highs of 2015. The aforementioned meditation is a valuable new addition to my life. Writing: I finished draft one of my novel and am working my way through draft two, and that’s huge for me. I’ve had some freelance work—could always use more but this isn’t Linked In so I won’t harp on that now. Travel: I’ve visited some of my favorite places, Quebec, NOLA, Paris … and achieved my not always achievable annual goal of visiting a new country, Portugal. Friends and family: I’m in excellent company with friends old and new and an exceptional family (canine included). I’ve seen lots of theater and film and music and a little art—need to do more of that this year. I’ve dined beautifully—I’m really good at that—and learned to cook a few more things. I’ve expanded my knowledge in a couple of areas, learned a little more Russian and a tiny bit of Portuguese, worked with a wonderful writing coach, started taking voice lessons … if you’ve ever heard me sing you’ll be grateful for this (unless it’s the one song I sing oddly well) …

In related news, I’ve always found “Happy Birthday” a particularly tough song to sing, and so I usually lip-synch it … my voice teacher, the wonderfully talented Jamie Leonhart, confirmed that it is challenging and explained that this is because the third “birth-” (i.e. “Happy birth-day dear blahblahblah”) … requires you to jump an octave (or something close to an octave, too overtired to Google) …

The biggest highs from my year aren’t things I have photos of or receipts for … they’re the microcosmic internal shifts that occur with every experience, fabulous or dreadful, interesting or banal. It’s this kind of acceptance of things and of oneself that comes with the wisdom of age—for me, anyway; these newfangled generations seem to have a better grasp on themselves than many of my friends and I did in our younger years. It’s choosing to love and accept oneself not in spite of but because of our imperfections … the Japanese have a term for it, Wabi-sabi, which my lovely Elena reminded me of yesterday. To (partially) quote what she quoted, ‘”Wabi-sabi” refers to a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life …’

A little girl who lives on my floor is (s-l-o-w-l-y) learning violin. Yesterday morning, January 1, as Dog and I were headed out for our morning calisthenics, I heard her practicing. Granted she’s a kid and it probably wasn’t her idea, but something about this person practicing her craft early on New Year’s Day falls in line with my goals for the new year(s) … to practice every day the things I want to do, to not avoid things because they don’t come effortlessly to me. Writing is far from effortless. This forum is an easier one because I can be stream-of-conscience and I have to remove self-consciousness from what I write or I wouldn’t ever post here. I can’t and don’t really edit. But writing my book or writing for anyone who is employing or counting on me … that is hard work for me. And yet it’s what I have chosen as my primary creative and career-ish device, so I keep doing it and hopefully get better every day.

Oh so much more I want to say but tiredness is now sitting next to me on the couch waiting for me to finish and go back to bed and so I must find a lovely image*, figure out a lyric for a title**, read through this once and publish.

*to me, this portrait of Dora Maar embodies wabi-sabi

**I’ve used this before but I’m now, thankfully, too tired to do any more research