Friday, February 11, 2011

The time I nearly died...

In the Bible, God spoke to Moses by way of a burning bush. In 1987, God spoke to me through a fortune cookie.

During a somewhat perplexing time in my teenaged years, I cracked open a message that said something along the lines of, "THERE IS YET TIME TO CHANGE YOUR PATH." And, whether it was God or not, it meant a great deal to me at the time.

But, I do believe that God can use silly things like that to inspire people. I do believe He moves in mysterious ways. I hadn't thought about that in awhile, but yesterday morning I opened a new pack of Altoids and read this on a thin, white sheet of paper...

"Wave this in case of surrender."

Now, I know this is just a fun and quirky marketing thing. And I refuse to believe that Al or anybody else in the Toid family had anything profound or spiritual in mind when they approved this phrase. Still, I couldn't help but stare at it for a really long time, thinking... "What am I going to surrender to?"

It brought to my mind a summer afternoon in South Jersey (a few years after the fortune cookie), when I was a camp counselor. I was nervously paddling the front end of a two man canoe with our head counselor, Dan. We turned a corner a bit too quickly, Dan mumbled whatever the Christian Camp Counselor equivalent was to "Oh shit!" and before I knew it, we were in the water. Which was not at all a good thing for me, as I couldn't swim.

I remember how cold and slimy the water felt. I remember watching our overnight supplies tumbling into the lake after me. But, more than anything else on that day, I remember the utter terror I felt when I realized that my feet were not touching ground. I was in deep, deep trouble.

At the top of my lungs, I pleaded for my life. "DAN! HELP ME!!! I CAN'T SWIM!!! I CAN'T SWIM, DAN!!!!!"

It was a minor miracle, with all my frantic splashing, that I could see anything at all, but I did notice that our flipped-over canoe was in between Dan and me. And I had enough time among the panic to start to get pissed that he wasn't coming to my rescue.



"WHAT?!?!?! ...OH!!! ......oh."


Now, it's some twenty years later, and again, I feel like I'm drowning. A week ago I was in love, and now I'm heartsick. I had to take some time off work, as if I were grieving a death in my family. My eyes are a rich crimson for the lack of sleep, and my ribs are hurting from six days of sobbing. And yet, the question remains... What am I going to surrender to?

My sorrow? This fear of sinking? This feeling that I might never return from such a murky body of water? Or to the thought that there's something out there, keeping me afloat.

the five things i fell in love with today...

1) We have a two year old in our classroom whose Friday afternoon snack time melted-chocolate mustache made her look EXACTLY like Inigo Montoya. I wish I could share a picture with you; it's uncanny.
2) Life jackets.
3) Fortune cookies.
4) Stopping myself at snack time before I completed my recital of Inigo Montoya's famous speech. Not, as it turns out, toddler appropriate.
5) Well, hey... whatever my decision, I know I won't have to surrender to chronic halitosis! Thank you, Altoids! You really are curiously strong! :)

Song of the night...
"No one is alone" by Mandy Patinkin

Movie of the night...
"The Princess Bride"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My brand new favorite song of all time...

(by Linford Detweiler of Over The Rhine)

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

Some prayers are better left unspoken
I just wanna hold you
And let the rest go

All my friends are part saint and part sinner
We lean on each other
Try to rise above

We’re not afraid to admit we’re all still beginners
We’re all late bloomers
When it comes to love

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers
Step forward
You can stay right here
You don’t have to go

Is each wound you’ve received
Just a burdensome gift?
It gets so hard to lift
Yourself up off the ground

But the poet says, We must praise the mutilated world
We’re all workin’ the graveyard shift
You might as well sing along

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

(As for) your tender heart—
This world’s gonna rip it wide open
It ain’t gonna be pretty
But you’re not alone

‘Cause all my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers
You’re welcome
Yeah, you’re safe right here
You don’t have to go

‘Cause all my favorite people are broken
Believe me
I should know

Some prayers are better left unspoken
I just wanna hold you
And let the rest go

the five things i fell in love with today...

1) Over the Rhine. They're just plain old amazing.

2) "The Long Surrender" is the name of their new album, and it's one of their best. Which is saying quite a bit.

3) God's good timing... I wanted to pre-order (and thus get an advanced copy) of 'Surrender' a few months ago, but I just never got around to it. But, much like God's way of using the foolish things of this world to shame the wise, I've found that He will oftentimes use my procrastination to my benefit.

I would have loved this record no matter when I heard it, but i desperately NEEDED to hear it today. Nearly every song touched my heart deeply. It was as if Detweiler and Karin Bergquist were eavesdropping on my life over these past few horrible days, and then decided to sing (beautifully) to me-- and just me-- the things I needed to hear. Among them...

"Come on boys/Now don't be shy/If we gotta walk away/We gotta hold our heads up high/You’re not the first one to start again/Come on now friends/There is something to be said for tenacity/I’ll hold on to you/If you hold on to me..." (Bergquist)

"I’ve got a thousand lost songs (Far too many they just got away) I’ve done a thousand things wrong (Far too many for me to name) But I’m not too far gone/To fall/Headlong/Into the arms that love me..." (Detweiler)

Shitlouise, they're good.
(Side note: There's another tune on this album called "Oh yeah by the way" And it might just be my brand new second favorite song of all time. It speaks just about the exact words I'm thinking at the moment, and absolutely rips my heart in two.)

4) My unbelievable friends. In particular one who today showed her amazing capacity to love by taking a verse from the Bible literally. (The second part of Romans 12:15... King James version.)

5) 'Eat Pray Love' Yes. It's the movie of the night for two posts in a row.

Now, I'm not embarrassed to love that movie as much as I do. And I'm not embarrassed to say that it makes me cry. But, when the young hipster dude behind the counter at the White Plains Barnes & Noble asked me if I needed any help finding anything, I was embarrassed enough to pretend I still had a girlfriend.

Hipster: Can I help you, sir?
Me: Uhm, yes, I'm supposed to pick up some movie called, uhhh... What was it...? 'Eat Pray Love'...?
Hipster: Oh, okay, yeah, I think it's right over here.
Me: Ahh, great! Yes (chuckle, chuckle), I would have been in a bit of trouble if I didn't bring that back home with me tonight! (chuckle, chuckle)...
Hipster: (chuckle, chuckle, chuckle)...

This actually happened.

Monday, February 7, 2011


This is a challenging post. Because I feel horrible. I feel confused, a bit lost, and I'm heartbroken. But, this is one of the reasons I started writing this damn blog, isn't it? To focus on the amazing and good things in my life-- even when I'm feeling down...?

And, you know...? Now that I'm at a significantly low point in my life, I can't help but think... what a piece of shit idea that really was. Seriously, I recall it seemed like such a good plan at the time, but, shitlouise, what was I thinking?!

(Side note: I just re-read this post and realized that, because I didn't mention many specifics about the cause of my heartbreak, most of you will more than likely assume I'm talking about Super Bowl XLV. But, no. Bummed as I am that the Steelers didn't come through for me... at the end of the day, it's just a game. So, who cares?)

Anyway, here we go...

the five things i fell in love with today...

1) Heartbreak equals weight loss...
One of my main resolutions for this new year was to drop 45 pounds. And I did that this afternoon. Well, no, not really, obviously, but I have lost six pounds since Friday, which... y'know, isn't "good" necessarily. But it's not all that worrisome to me, either. My appetite will return soon enough. And, in the meantime, it's been pretty cool to step on the scale the last few mornings.

2) Gaining strength by way of kicking temptation's mint-flavored ass...
In the past, when I've been low, I've clung to unhealthy foods for support. So, it feels really, really good to have avoided both Ben and Jerry this go around.

3) Neil Young...
Being the 14 year old girl that I am, I usually tend to listen to The Smiths after a punishing breakup. But something told me to turn up Neil Young this afternoon, and I was glad I did. There's enough sadness and passion in his album "Everybody knows this is nowhere" to get me through another hour. And, for that I'd like to shake his hand.

4) Good advice from great friends...
I have a lot of truly wonderful friends. Best in the world, I figure. One stood out this morning, though, because she gave me advice despite the fact that she had a pretty damn good reason for not writing me back at all. Her words meant a great deal to me... I can't explain the situation, because I know it would very much embarrass someone I love (myself). But, knowing that she was kind when it would have been much easier to ignore me? I won't forget that.

And her advice was quite good, too, by the way: Don't back away from feeling like shit. Don't ignore your emotions. "Take them in and experience them fully so you can let them go." To not deny yourself the experience of feeling bad, because that's when the real lessons in life tend to kick in. Easier said than done, sure, but very true.

5) The weather...
A few weeks ago, when I was on top of the world, I passed by these monster snow drifts with such a huge smile on my face. It seemed like everyone else around me was grumpy, trudging along like they had a misguided hatred for Al Gore, because he hadn't done enough to bring global warming to our New York winter. But, the thought struck me of the kids in my classroom. The toddlers walking by these enormous, blistering castles of white, their eyes wide open, their imaginations soaring into the heavens.

Saturday, however, I was walking in the freezing rain for two and a half hours. The mist and fog quickly filling up my glasses and mixing with tears, assuring me that not only was I walking around aimlessly, but I also had no idea where I was going. I was pissed, I was hurt, I was a basket case, and I noticed that the same snow drifts that had given me joy, had now all turned desolate and dark. A dirt-infested dark, with deisel-engine soot, and little-tiny chunks of mud, spare tire and road garbage.

And it looks like that today. And it will look like that tomorrow. And the next week. And probably into March.

But, dammit... Spring's coming. And all that nasty junk has to melt away eventually.

Song of the night...
"My eyes adored you" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Movie of the night...
"Eat, Pray, Love" ...Being the 38 year old woman that I am, I'm totally going to buy that movie on dvd tomorrow and watch it twice.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A rose by any other name...

Today, for no apparent reason, I found myself thinking about Alice Cooper.

I've never been a big fan, really. The song "School's Out" was always being sung by some of the older kids on the bus on the last day of classes. Fourth grade, fifth grade. And, while it seemed like a catchy tune, it also got a touch repetitive somewhere in between the 20 minute trek between Leda Shishoff Elementary and Thomas Avenue. Usually right around Tuckahoe Road.

Anyway, I'd never given him much thought, and don't know a great deal about him, but somehow or another, I have picked up some random information on the guy over the years. I've learned (somehow) that Alice Cooper put on a stellar live show back in the day, and is a pretty nifty golfer. And apparently Bob Dylan once told Rolling Stone magazine that he thought Alice was not too shabby. Or something.

I've also heard-- and this is what was on my mind today-- that "Alice Cooper" was originally the name of the band, not the man.

Again, no particular reason this popped into my head. Just kinda struck me funny. Y'know, just the thought that, at some point in his life, after a certain amount of gigs and misunderstandings, he had to have this conversation with himself...

"(sigh)... Okay, fine, people, you win. I'm Alice."

It was just easier that way, I guess. People kept calling him Alice, and eventually he just kinda went with it. And I thought that was interesting. Kind of makes me wish I was a cruel, mad scientist of some sort, so I could set up experiments on the topic. Lock somebody up in a room for a bit and repeatedly call them Betty or Leonard or Goldfish until they forgot who they were.

But, and I think this is the part I find the most interesting, did Alice Cooper forget who he was? Does Alice Cooper think of himself as Alice Cooper now, or does he still think of himself as Vincent? Has he spent more of his life as Alice? Would he have always liked to have been Alice? Do his friends back home call him Alice? When people approach him in dreams, what do they call him? Does he regret not naming the band Roger Cooper? When waiting for a table at Cracker Barrel, does he say, "Yes, uh, table for four, please, for Alice?"

When he became Alice Cooper, did he lose his identity? And, if so... is he okay with that?

I suppose it's fascinating to me because, as dreadfully flawed as I am, I quite like being who I am. But, I tend to think that, if I had to change my name to become a world famous rock star or actor or librarian or whatever, it probably wouldn't phase me all that much. I used to be the kid on the schoolbus who was afraid of being called names, but, now I'm a bit like the lady in the Elvis Costello song: "you can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica."

But, of course, as soon as I put that on the computer screen, I immediately regretted it, thinking that some of you will now start calling me Veronica. So maybe I still don't know what i'm talking about.

the five things i fell in love with today...

1) Minature golf. I rock.
2) Elvis Costello.
3) Wikipedia, for letting me know what Alice Cooper's real name was. Who knew?
4) The Eddie Izzard routine about Englebert Humperdink. Classic stuff. It's probably on youtube, but I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment. If anyone finds it, though, don't be shy to put it in the comments, thanks!
5) Leda Shishoff.

Song of the night...
"My Science Fiction Twin" by Elvis Costello

Movie of the night...
"Alice doesn't live here anymore"