Sunday, May 19, 2013
I have been a Madonna-fan from the very beginning. I identified with her music video for "Borderline," thirty years ago, especially when she was riding in the photographer's car. I was seventeen-years-old and I did not have my driver's license yet. I was dependent on my parents and friends for rides to school, church bible studies, theater rehearsals, etc.
The young adult novel that I am struggling to finish features a teenager who yearns for a Vespa scooter. Friends in my writers' group observed that the protagonist is always being driven places, given rides by others, instead of driving himself. I don't think that I was fully aware of that recurring theme until it was pointed out to me. But it's consistent with the character's desire for independence and freedom, and how the sought-after scooter represents both to him.
A used Vespa scooter became my "first car" in the 80's, once I had moved out of my parents' house. I couldn't afford a car. But the sleek, white Italian scooter was all I needed to get around town. I loved my little putt-putt. And it helped to give me the funky, avant-garde image I wanted for myself (at least I hoped it did).
I have had three more scooters since then (and three different cars). I gradually achieved some semblance of increased independence as I got older.
But not completely.
It bothers me a little that I never achieved full independence, at least financially. I have always rented rooms, always had roommates. Delaying college graduation and a "real job" until my forties probably had something to do with it. The best I managed to take care of myself was when I went away on contract in Japan, or when I worked on cruise ships. Housing was provided for both of those jobs - no rent to pay! So, I guess that I still wasn't completely independent with either job.
Even with my "first real job," though (which ended a few months ago), I didn't see how people could afford to live on their own in Los Angeles. I would probably have had to take a second job at night if I were single. I don't know where I would be without Domestic Partner . . . probably still on a cruise ship or in Japan (if they were still willing to hire me, that is).
I am grateful that Domestic Partner and I still together. I'm grateful for my own car, my own transportation, grateful that I am in the driver's seat sometimes. But every weekend, when we go out, I sit in the passenger seat of Domestic Partner's BMW convertible.
Some days I am still that girl in the car.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
This is my Back to the Future year. I turned 47-years-old last week. Not that that specific age makes this year any different than usual. I normally think about my teenage self on a regular basis, wishing I could start over.
I don't like admitting that, common as it may be for one to wish that they could have another chance to do things better. It's completely useless, wanting to be young again so that you can do things differently. It's never going to happen.
So, why can't I stop thinking about it? It's probably just typical of being middle-aged.
But just for kicks what would I have done differently? I would have found a way to be more courageous, in general, more confident. I would have pursued dance and performing more aggressively, instead of feeling so pressured to go to college.
Or maybe I would have mustered up the determination to finish college by my early twenties, all while attending dance classes regularly. I would have started drinking coffee much earlier in life.
And I would have stood up for myself more when it came to how I wanted to shape my future. I would have developed a backbone, despite my fears, especially when it came to dealing with my father and his good intentions.
I'm sure many fans of the Marty McFly trilogy felt the way I did after seeing the first installment: I wished that I, too, could go back in time to visit my parents when they were in high school and change our family's collective fates for the better.
I wanted to improve the foundation of my parents' young adult lives in the hopes of improving our family dynamics in the present, and my own life as a teenager.
Now I am like the middle-aged Marty in the second installment, strumming his guitar and nursing his regrets over dreams unrealized, the could've-beens and the should've-beens.
How can I use my own regrets constructively? The only useful answer I can come up with is to literally rewrite my own story. I am more than halfway through the first draft of my young adult novel, what I've written so far. And I know how it ends. I know how I want to set it up the last chapter to lead to a sequel, a second novel. But it's been slow writing. I'm having trouble bridging the middle part of the story to the ending.
I owe it to my 17-year-old self though. I owe it to my inner teenager from 1983 to finish the book, even if it never gets close to being edited and published. If I can't do it for myself, my present self, I can do it as a labor of love for him.
This is my Back to the Future year. This is the year I will commit to completing the first draft, one page at a time.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
It's over. We said goodbye to Moxie the pug tonight. She was the last surviving dog of the three we adopted from the pug rescue group seven years ago, when she was eight-years-old.
She would have been fifteen this year.
Domestic Partner and I took her on that "last trip to the vet" tonight. I am grateful that she went quietly and quickly, thankful that we had that option. I am especially grateful that Moxie deteriorated so naturally and gradually in the last few months. Except for the last week, she had regular appetite and regular trips to the backyard, sometimes even making it on her own, still, on her frail, functioning legs.
She was a feisty one. She used to bully Prudence, pushing her around sometimes during walks and meals. We had to watch them when they ate. Moxie-the-gobbler would always finish first and try to bulldoze her way into Prudence's food dish. At the adoption fair Moxie and Prudence were one of the pug pairs that needed to be placed together, and we went in knowing that we wanted two. Oscar, the 12-year-old male, also at the pug rescue event, was given to us for free.
Moxie was called "Curly" when we adopted her. We were instructed not to change any names since the dogs had been through so many changes already, from the homes of their original owners to foster homes. Domestic Partner and I had always talked about naming a pug "Moxie" someday, specifically a black, female pug. So we broke that rule.
It was the perfect name for our feisty, bitchy darling. Every time we walked in the door she would assail us with energetic barks, as if to scold us for leaving her alone for so long, or to demand to be fed. She was very sweet, too, especially when she was asleep, or just cuddling next to us on the couch.
I will miss her. There were a few tears at the vet clinic tonight, but not as much when we lost our "only child," Caesar, a few years ago. It was a little easier this time, knowing that Moxie had more of a fair shot at living out her life completely. In addition to a decrease in appetite and losing strength in her hind legs, Moxie even stopped drinking water today, so we knew it was time.
"Are you guys going to get another dog?" people constantly asked us, even when our elderly dogs were still alive and in good health. We always say that we're going to take a break, even though they usually end up being famous last words. But this time I think we mean it. It will be easier to follow through this time because we still have a young, affectionate kitty who snuggles in bed with us while the nights are still chilly.
But I'll never forget Moxie, or her sister Prudence, or old man Oscar. I miss Caesar every day. He was the First and Best Pug, the one with whom I had the strongest bond. And I cherish the memories of all the family dogs before Caesar.
I don't know how it works, this life-after-death thing, but I sincerely hope I'll be reunited with the energy that was/is Caesar and all of the other beloved pets.
I'll miss you, Moxie, my surrogate child. And just like the others that have gone on before you, I will love you always. Find Prudence and Oscar, and maybe you'll get to meet Caesar.
Use some of that feisty bitchiness to put in a good word for me up there.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
I don't like to admit it, but I've been hiding from myself. I used to hide from myself by not journaling at all, when I was younger. I guess the more contemporary version of that is not blogging at all.
I am still unemployed.
Some of my family members, including me, have an absolute gift for self-pity. We are experts at feeling sorry for ourselves. Fortunately, I am not as afflicted as other relatives with this emotional legacy. It doesn't take too much effort for me to keep even just slight depression at bay.
But I haven't been living very courageously in the last couple of months. That's what bothers me. That's what I'd like to work on, and that's why I'm writing this post today. Even if I feel as if I have nothing to write about, I still need to face myself.
What have I been doing? I've been taking care of our last surviving pug, Moxie, letting her sleep in more. She is fifteen-years-old this year. This past winter, I hated having to wake her at about 6:00 am on cold, dark mornings just so I could feed her before leaving for work. We didn't think she'd last this long. We kept thinking each month was her last. But she is still going strong. I'm glad I can be home with her during her old age and not just in the evenings.
I have a small but joyous part in "Born Yesterday," the current show with Inland Valley Repertory Theatre. I am optimistic about being in the ensemble for their next show, "Cabaret," the musical.
I did not get cast in "Sweet Charity" last month. I couldn't be sad or disappointed about it, though. My ankle is much better after last fall's surgery, but still not 100%. I was just happy to be able to get through the dance audition as well as I did. Something I do not mind admitting is how much the cartilage was crackling in my legs while dancing, like bacon frying, especially when doing the grand plíe. Oh, the plight of the aging dancer!
I just completed an excellent commercial workshop. It's silly how tentative I feel about wanting to find an agent. This is something I've wanted to pursue for most of my adult life. I am more comfortable in my skin, now, so the timing seems good. And as long as I'm free during the day I may as well try to audition as much as possible. This is one specific way I want to live more courageously.
But living as a responsible grownup? That's something I've avoided for most of my adult life . . . It's something I'm still not very skilled at, even after six years of working at "my first real job." That's what I need to be more courageous about, the older I get.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I hate to brag (no, really), but I truly am one of the luckiest people alive. One of the reasons I feel so fortunate is that it's fairly easy for me to realize why I am lucky, even when things are at their worst (such as when I lose my full time job).
Most of the time, I can feel grateful for having Domestic Partner in my life. There are times, though, when I feel like he is always in the way when we're both at home, especially in the kitchen. And I don't even cook and clean that much. Is this how married people feel? How can only two people get in each other's way so often in a three-bedroom house?
He's always right there, too, when I want to brush my teeth at night. It's as if there's a magnetic tracking device in him, even when he's in the middle of watching TV. I've tried different times before bed. It doesn't matter what time it is or how silently I try to start brushing my teeth in our not-so-spacious bathroom. Whether it's before 9:00 pm or after, there he is, my pre-bedtime shadow, cutting in front of me to take out his contacts and start brushing his own teeth.
My life is a constant trial.
I've learned to put my frustration aside and just wait the paltry two or three minutes before I resume brushing my own molars.
Loud sneezes - he sneezes at a high volume, directly towards my eardrums it seems, when we're sitting next to each other on the couch or in the car. I've told him that it is possible to sneeze without employing your vocal cords. But I've since become resigned to the fact that I'll probably have to live with the unexpected explosions for the rest of our lives.
It's little enough. At least he covers his mouth.
Apple stickers. Those little decals that are stuck to every individual piece of produce from the supermarket. Those are always in the sink's drain catcher whenever Domestic Partner washes an apple, even though it's just as easy to stick it to the plastic bag lining the trash can under the sink.
Bright green loogie flecks stuck inside the toilet bowl when he uses the Crest mouth rinse. It's better than having them stuck inside the bathroom sink. But still: the toilet has to be flushed right after spitting so that the green loogie flecks don't get attached.
BE REASONABLE. DO IT MY WAY.
I'm sure there are several things I do every day that annoy him, too, things I'm not aware of. We tend to hold things in, Domestic Partner more so than me, even though we know it's not a good habit for couples - letting resentment build up.
But we rarely fight. We have a peaceful home atmosphere, which I usually remember not to take for granted. It's not worth expressing my petty irritation over the little things. I don't even to need to give much thought to picking our battles.
And so, I feel lucky.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Jalen (not his real name) was so bitchy. I met him in rehearsals for one of the shows I did this past year. Sometimes, he complained about the rehearsal process. And he was critical of everything in the entertainment industry. But he adored Britney, so we bonded over that.
Actors and performers who were not la Spears, though, were subject to his immediate criticism and disdain, whether on stage or in the media. He had an opinion, usually low, about anyone's and everyone's performance.
Jalen, himself, was a marvelous performer and rather awkward looking. He was a good "character type." You just knew that adolescence must have been absolute hell for him. It was easy for me to forgive him for his bitchy attitude, once I surmised that it must be a defense technique, built up over the handful of years of his young adulthood.
We shared a brief, memorable moment. On opening night, Jalen and I answered our call to places, squatting behind a set piece before revealing ourselves in the first number. In the dark, just before the curtain and the lights went up, I whispered to him: "Magic!" Jalen responded with a friendly, brotherly squeeze to my shoulder.
Before rehearsal one afternoon, I saw that I was right behind Jalen's car when we had both exited the freeway. His car was closest to the homeless person holding up a cardboard sign. I saw Jalen's hand reach out of his car window, a folded bill in his hand.
I never told Jalen that I had witnessed his act of kindness. But I am inspired by him to continue giving what I can, when I can.
Bitchy Boy has a soft spot.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
I go back and forth, between feeling I should be more age appropriate in my performing desires (blah, boring) and saying to hell with it, age be damned. I lean toward the latter (for now), constantly inspired as I am by other people's performances.
Favorite Aunt Pat bought tickets to Donny & Marie's Christmas show at the Pantages. It was her early Christmas present to me. I had been reading good things about the show on facebook, but neither of us expected to enjoy the show as much as we did.
The show was a good mix of traditional Christmas songs, pop tunes, and the Osmonds' well-known hits from forty years ago. All age groups were in the audience, so it was a great show for those of us old enough to remember when they were "a little bit country, and a little bit rock and roll" on their Friday night variety show.
There were no Ice Angels skating on the stage . . . But I didn't know that they would have a chorus of dancers! Four young women and four young men added a lot of fun energy to the numbers. It was like watching a topnotch revue on board a cruise ship.
Marie jokingly inserted references to Nutrisystem, and Donny kept lording over her the fact that he had won his round of Dancing With the Stars. Donny is 55, now, and I watched closely as he kept up with the other male dancers less than half his age. The guy rocks like the white boy that he is, in the hip hop numbers, but the point is that he still rocks!
And they look good, both of them, on top of being as vocally strong as ever. I don't have five decades of lifetime performing to fall back on, the way that the Osmond siblings do. But I am inspired! If they can still kick it on stage, then I still have a few years left to continue auditioning for local shows.
I can't wait!