03 March, 2007

The Good Little Girl- chapter one

...OR... How I Survived Being a Dysfit

Methinks that part of the process of my mother's failing health is to bring to light bits and pieces of the puzzle of my life. I am learning much more than how a baby boomer takes care of their aging parents.

Today, while my mother was on hold with the phone company, her annoyance prompted her to spurt out her negative scenario of what was causing the extended hold time. My equally fabricated response lent itself to a more compassionate possibility. "Oh, my little optimist. You're always---" As the all too familiar discomfort and awkwardness flooded my cheeks, I blurted out, Yes, I am!" and interrupted her. A moment of defiance. I was weary of down-playing or denying the fact that I choose to believe the half-full glass way of living. We are both now adults and this is how I live my life. Some people think they are Cleopatra reincarnated; alas, I think I am Pollyanna.

Twas not just the New Thought training and work that created this mindset. I was born with it; it was always my nature to look on the bright side and look for that infernal pony. I didn't want to be such a good girl or goody two-shoes. (Do bad girls wear something other than two shoes?) I wanted to be Anita, not Maria; Betty and not Veronica; Patty not Cathy. Such was not my lot in life. Being good was in my nature (see my earlier post). Being good probably is what birthed my abiding need to be right no matter what. I always found it natural, and strong and well, right.

Don't get me wrong, there were moments, episodes where I made choices or acted anything but saintly. I tried to smoke cigarettes to be cool and accepted, but I hated smoking. I endured numerous second degree sunburns going to the beach with my friends so that I could be popular but I hate the beach, the sun and the sand. But I also really do stop and smell the flowers along the way. And dammit, it's time I own up to that. It's time, for me, to make that OK.

People (you know, people,-- where "they" come from...) as a rule are much more compassionate and forgiving to those rebels or criminals who stray from the Golden Rule but find their way back, than they are to those of us who may have just continued along the straight and narrow. Oh, the times I have "done the right thing"--particularly with governmental or civil service deparments --only to be questioned or penalized.

Good girls (and boys) unite! No more do we have to justify our behavior. No more disclaimers to our actions. This is way beyond the Boy Scout badge of honor kind of thing. I just want it to be acceptable to be polite, conscientious, kind or smile in the elevator or while taking a walk. No more shall we endure askance glances or scoffs. Bring back random acts of kindness and paying it forward. Don't mess with Red . . . or else!

02 March, 2007

By Nature

We often refer to a person's character or behavior as their nature. It's in my nature to do such and such... We talk about Mother Nature. Mostly we refer to nature as the environment around us--the flora and fauna of what's outside our doors. In old (Aramaic) Biblical terms, name and nature meant the same thing.

Of late, I am beginning to think that I am maternal by nature.

You wouldn't automatically think that since I do not have any biological children (just ask my mother). Although, I do consider myself a mother to all my past, present and future fur children. And some might posit that being a minister and caring for a congregation and church flock would constitute a level of maternality. Certainly, the way I recycle is facet of being maternal for the planet. And my current stint as caregiver for my own mother has called forth both passive and active mothering traits.

Does one come by these traits naturally being born female? Even though I know men can and are maternal in their caring ways, I wonder if the female wiring is really different. And also why is it that the mothers/women I know are not very maternal for themselves???

My recycling nature was lifted this morning at the Buzz Cafe here in Los Angeles. I took a morning walk and passed a cafe that serves organic coffee. Mmmmmm. I walked back to Mom's apartment and got some cash and walked back to get a Cafe Americano. I was thrilled to see that they had a hand-made box on the counter for recycled cup sleeves!! Anyone who knows me for more than a week, knows that I carry cup sleeves in my purse and my car for coffee and tea runs. I feel that most of the cup sleeves have at least two, maybe three safe uses out of them. Now if I can get my favorite green awning beverage establishment to do something similar.... Or if they would heed my oft-submitted suggestion of making a reusuable beverage sleeve out of neoprene, I would buy that and bring it with me. They could offer a $.05 refund if a customer bring in their own cup sleeves the way that they refund $.10 if a customer brings in their own cups.

Another note about the Greening of Hollywood... in today's L.A. Times was an article about the producer, Lawrence Bender who took time off of his career to produce "An Inconvenient Truth" for Al Gore. I mentioned in my last blog how the Academy Awards show had gone 'green', the article mentioned that the winners had to dry their tears with recycled tissues.

I was also tickled to read about Bill Gardner who is the Secretary of State in New Hampshire who refuses to pander to lobbyists about changing the date for the national election primary. For over 26 years, he has been stalwart in keeping the tradition in his home state in how the election process unfolds. Good for him. Some traditions seem to merit stubbornness.

Well, have to close now and take care of my mom.

26 February, 2007

Welcome Home....

....a week later...

Welcme Home.

That phrase is reverberating within me in so many different ways of late.
• I am home from another Los Angeles trek caring for my mother (more on that later).
• My mother is back to her apartment after her month-long hospital stint.
• Jezebelle and I welcomed Don home when he moved in with us last Monday and as he settled in while I was in L.A.
• Kap'n Kurko welcomed Julian Mendenhall home as his (new) foster son. I was touched by the Welcome Home banner and balloon that John had in his house for Julian's arrival. And to see the two of them together, is such a loving experience.
• And I still find such tenderness and yes, grief in Ellie and Barry welcoming home their son, Walker as he was born and as he died at home in their loving embrace. Now Walker, has been welcomed on the other side of the veil.
The circle of life.

Crikey, no wonder my body feels as if I have just ended a marathon. Such major emotions being called forth in a rather abbreviated time frame. The good news is that I am getting better at this local jet-lag. Now it's about an 8-12 hour recovery time versus one or two days.

My mother, being the stubborn trooper that she is, worked hard to get discharged from the skilled nursing facility so that she could come home. In fact, she was due to be released this week but couldn't wait to get sprung. Can't say that I blame her. It is not a pleasant place to be on so many levels. With my mom coming home earlier, I had to realllllllly hustle to get the apartment cleared up so that she would have room to manuever her walker and wheelchair. (Thanks Nan, for coming over and pitching in for a few hours to get the kitchen ready). Lots of being on my knees dusting and vacuuming; moving furniture; making things available to her at wheelchair height.

The apartment where Mom lives does not recycle --which makes me crazy. Nan took home five grocery bags and one plastic trash bag full of stuff to recycle for me so that my car would be empty to bring more loads to Goodwill and then, three more bags and a box of old telephone books home to recycle. I guess this qualifies me as an OCD recycler. My quaint little habit of bringing back cup sleeveholders to Starbucks has gone amuk. Perhaps with all the Hollywood attention now being focused on BEING GREEN (thank you, Kermit--you were the charter member), my quirky habits will be copied or at least, understood. Now the clerks at grocery stores don't give me that glare when I bring in my own bags. Hollywood goes green thanks to Al Gore. And it was exhiliarating to know that the Academy Awards show itself went green.

And speaking of the Academy Awards, and most of us are....
This was the first year in I cannot recall how long that I did not see or effort to see all the major contenders. It was easier to do so when living in Hollywood, working in the industry and then being married to an Academy voting member. Made even easier when the Academy began sending videos(way before DVD's) out to the members for viewing.( I even recall that the very first one that the studios made a big deal about was "The SIlence of the Lambs.") With my shift to ministerial life, the urgency about my cinema habit began to diminish. And since last year was another big shift in my life, I did not find myself pushing to see the films or the ultimate nominees. I may have only seen a handful of the films up for contention. It was interesting to view the Awards show as a civilian, so to speak.

It was a long night with some strong produciton values. Some of the new ideas and creative approaches, I applaud, others not so much. Mostly, I was bored with the underwhelming fashion attire. The wrapped dresses seemed too simplistic or down-right mummified. Even the skinny-minnies that are usually poured into those liquid dresses looked less exciting in the drapes and the swirls. I appreciated Helen Mirren's gown and I liked what Diane Keaton was wearing (she looks SO amazing lately) the elegant understated gown for Reese Witherspoon. No glitz and little glamour for my vote. Oh, I did like the shadow troupe that melts themselves into objects or representations of things. I regret I did not catch their official name. And it was great to view the show on a gazilion inch screen. The Kodak theatre that was built for these shows is really an amazing venue that offers so much more in production capacity and value. Money well-spent.

For me, the strongest award winning performance was actually done by an amateur--LaKisha on the last "American Idol" show before the first nationwide voting opened. This humble mother who loves to sing with all her soul, was given her shot and she sang the song from "Dream Girls" that made Jennifer Holiday (and now, Jennifer Hudson) famous. There was not a wrong note--not just musically but from an acting stand point. LaKisha sold that song with every fiber of her being and she owned us. She may or may not win American Idol--but she will never have to work a civilian job again. I get chills when i view that clip over and over. A commanding performance.

And since I am in a Hollywoodsian mood today, may I also just comment that I do not understand the overdone coverage on the Anna Nichole Smith. Why has the media been so hypnotized by her celebrity? My respect and condolences for the loss, but is this case really worth breaking into regular television programs with news updates? Not to mention the enormous amount of publicity in magazines, radio, websites, regular TV news, etc. Unlike the woman she so adored and longed to be, Marilyn Monroe , Ms. Smith did not have the longevity or talent or star-quality (my opinion here, folks) to merit this overboard response. Peace be to her family and her little baby girl. And may Ms. Smith find peace on her new journey.

Time for a cat nap with my kitty girl now.

City Slackers

No, I did not misspell the title of this post. Yes, I was playing off of the comedy film title, "City Slickers" about a bunch of...