Sunday, August 31, 2008

More bragging

Another great niece and a little great nephew

"Rabbit Hole" redux

We went, at Ben and Marissa's urging, to a great performance of "Rabbit Hole" on Friday night. It is a powerful play about the accidental death of a New York couple’s 4-year old son, their relationship with each other and with her sister and mother afterward, the affects of the hanging death of the young mother's heroin addict brother at age 30, and the remorse and need for connection of the young teenager whose car accidentally hit the little boy as he ran out onto the street after his dog.

When I first saw the play two years ago at the Geffen I thought the playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire got the emotions and actions just right – how the couple grieved in different ways, and how the affects of the death of a child never goes away. The grandmother's explanation of the aftermath of her 30-year old son's death is phenomenally on target – she said it was like a brick that one carries around and kind of gets used to, but its weight, its terrible weight, every so often comes into the forefront, similar to being kicked in the gut, and can’t be brushed aside. Also, right on is the issue of keeping or disposing of mementoes. The play starts out with the young mother folding her little dead boy's just washed clothes to get them ready to give to Good Will. All this is done with serious, sad, and funny dialogue. It is really brilliant and well recognized for being so with the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2007.

One of the scenes that resonates most strongly with me now was with the teenage boy and the young mother. As he told her about his prom experience the night before, she, mostly cool and composed, begins to weep. I know she was weeping because her little boy missed his chance to go to his prom. I still weep now because my boy, Paul, has also missed so much.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

auld lang syne

I feel like I’ve been inundated with people from my past lately – like seeing my life story go by as these people come back into it. Bob, my high school journalism teacher and newspaper advisor, is now my friend on Facebook. Rik, who was my partner at an est-sponsored communications workshop over 30 years ago, was at the Downtown LA film festival where Ben’s short film was screened. Roger, who led that communications workshop and became a good friend when we volunteered for the Los Angeles World Hunger Event in 1980, and his wife, invited us to their 25th anniversary party. It’s hard to believe we went to their wedding 25 years ago. Gaye, an Esalen roommate about 10 years ago, called from Oregon for a plastic surgeon recommendation. Kim, another Esalen buddy, is also a Facebook friend. We had dinner last week with David and Lisa, who worked with us on a proposal four years ago. I had a long breakfast a few weeks ago with Jackie, who was a volunteer at The Wellness Community when I was the Development Director in the late 80s, discussing writing and children and just plain catching up. And, Marlene, an ex-neighbor now remarried, is back in my life again.

We saw several old friends in Colorado Springs last month who lived on Kwajalein, a Marshall Island in the South Pacific, while we were there in 1977-1978 – Bea and John, Martha and Russ, Sunny, Kay and Peter. And, next month it will be total auld lang syne when I go back to Winnetka, IL for my 50th high school reunion.

It’s all good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Italy for a year -- a choice in question

My Pilates instructor just came back from two weeks in Italy. She, too, has been planning on living there for a while, but came back questioning that decision. She says it's very expensive -- of course, I already knew that -- that people throw garbage out their windows -- definitely not the no litter values we have over here -- and there is no separation of church and state -- I think I could probably live with that.

We'll just have to spend a few weeks over there as well before we make any final decisions about moving there for a year. But, I don't find that a bad trade at all. I'm always up for a trip to Italy. And, I certainly don't want all the Italian I've learned to go to waste.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

A choice that has saved my life -- so far

I really should write a note to my ex-husband, Carl, and thank him for his efforts in getting me to quit smoking. I really owe him for that. I certainly wouldn’t have taken that first step if it hadn’t been for him. One night, just after the surgeon general’s report on smoking came out in 1964, he blocked the doorway so I couldn't get my usual cigarette after dinner. He said I didn’t need that smoke. He was right. I didn’t. and I quit then and there.

I didn't admit I had quit right away. I carried a pack around with me for a while, and I still had them in a cigarette box on the coffee table of our apartment for a month or two until the ciggies got stale. But once that smell of smoke left both our home and my clothes, I was really done, I never really looked back.

We were still allowed to smoke at work in those days, and ash trays were on all the desks. I remember once a couple of years after I quit one of my work colleagues tried to temp me, and I took a couple of puffs. But I said, no. I’m not going to do this. If I had I would have been stuck like Sam who died a few weeks ago of lung cancer -- a wonderful man and artist I met at work way back in 1963 -- or my brother, Kenny, or my dear friend and colleague, Adele, or my high school heart throb, Gene -- the handsome guy who gave me my first cigarette and who thought it was so cool to exchange smoke during a French kiss. They all are gone from the effects of smoking. Sure, Kenny didn’t die of lung cancer. But he died from the cure. Radiation cured his cancer and kept him alive over 20 years after his diagnosis, but it destroyed his body anyway. Yesterday would have been his 71st birthday. He left us much too soon.

Well, that’s a choice I made early on. One that I can be proud of. I only wish my other loved ones had done the same. We certainly were warned. By 1964 we knew that smoking was bad for us. Unfortunately, too many people were already hooked. I was lucky I chose to quit, and I was lucky I easily beat the addiction.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm out of there!

It’s hard to imagine that I actually chose to work on a proposal rather than continue to work on my temporary Customer Relations job. Although the actual work was interesting – I got to interact with a lot of customer reps and my company’s top brass, and I had an excellent working relationship with a few of the people in the department, I just couldn’t stand the boss. She is the personification of a micromanager. Even her boss characterizes her as a person who only hires people she can control because she is so insecure. Well, I decided I wouldn’t let her control me, and I did that by gracefully taking my leave of her department. I sent her off a very inoffensive email today telling her that Friday is my last day. And, my excuse was I am needed on a must-win proposal. And that's the truth! I didn’t burn any bridges, and I even got in a few kudos for a couple of the people who work for her whom she doesn’t value in the least.

What I’ll never understand is that she hasn’t realized she can get a lot more out her employees with honey than with vinegar. Also, she is of the age – like me – where she can afford to sit back and relax and make way for others to move up the ladder. She actually rose to a high level in the company starting as a secretary, and now she cannot stand for anyone else do the same thing.

Anyhow, kudos to me. I’m out of there!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Some photos

My garden Buddha

The chapel at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs last weekend -- outside and in

My adorable great nieces

Book news

Needless to say I got a rejection from Sentient Press -- in just about one week's time. But my conversation with Connie, the publisher has continued because she didn't return my manuscript with the rejection letter. So she offered to pay for my printing costs. Once she got the amount she said she would send me a check in a day or two. Then she wrote that the check was sent unsigned. Here’s what she wrote:

Now I’m really embarrassed. We sent the check out to you, but I don’t think it got signed. You’re going to think we’re completely incompetent, and I guess I wouldn’t blame you. The person cutting the checks has not been well for the past few days, and I think he sent out two checks without signatures. He went home sick today, so I can’t ask him about it, but I’m pretty sure your check wasn’t signed. The bank won’t take it, of course, so I’m going to need for you to return it to me to be signed, if it isn’t. I apologize again, and I’d like to offer you a free book for your trouble. Please go to our website and choose a book and let me know which one you want.

And, what I want to write back to her – once I actually receive a signed check from her is:

You know, Connie, my perception of competence has to do with not having a preconceived negative impression of a book before reading it and giving all books that cross your desk the dignity of a thorough and complete reading. Thank you for the check, but no thanks to your offer of a for free book. All I ask of you is that you give my friend’s book, The Art of Aging, the care and attention to detail it deserves.

Bob says I must be careful about what I write. Well, I don’t think the above is too negative and it certainly doesn’t have the expletives I would like to include, so what do I have to lose? Well, I have time to think on it and in the meantime I’m going to spend the rest of this afternoon sending out three more queries.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Italian lessons success

I've finished the 6-week online Loyola University Italian course almost on time. This past weekend I finished going over the last two chapters, did the assignments, took the last two quizzes, and yesterday I took the final exam with a 100% score.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I know much about the Italian language. I have learned about greetings, numbers and dates, how to get around a train station and airport, how to ask for directions, how to get help if sick or in an emergency, and most important of all how to shop and order food off a menu.

I also know that I need to keep studying verbs and their conjugations and a long list of expressions and vocabulary. But, I’m not daunted by all that. I’m just very glad that I started. Now, I have a plethora of study material – the lessons and quizzes from the online course, the verb drill book, six CDs with a total of 30 audio lessons, and the Collins Italian dictionary with about 1000 pages of vocabulary to memorize.

All this should keep me busy the rest of my life. Non si preoccupi!