Sunday, July 15, 2012

life sucks and then you get off your ass

So ever since Nora Ephron, one of my major heroes, died two weeks ago, I've been in a bit of a funk. Ok, a major depression. I can't wrap my brain around the fact that she is gone because, let's face it, I was always planning on working with her one day. And now she just ups and dies on me. Leaving me to mourn and watch Heartburn while nursing my own broken heart that a hero died and cry and whine that Nora is gone and I never even had the opportunity to work with her, even as her manicurist. Even to take out her trash. Or walk her dog. I don't even think she had a dog. You get the picture.

How delusional am I? I mean, I am "home", though displaced once again when a 20-ton red oak capsized my family's house during the storm 2 weeks ago splitting it in two, sick, 28 going on 55, away from my boyfriend-turned-recent-fiancé, away from my city and my measly part time pie shop joke of a job and I'm dreaming of working with one of the greatest screenwriters and directors of our time. And if that's not crazy enough, I'm mad at her for having the audacity to up and die on me because I couldn't get off my lazy kiester to move to New York when I felt the push (4 years ago...yea, I know). Life sucks and then you die? Or life sucks and then you get off your ass?

Put it this way: before Nora died, I was pretty smug. I had forever. Biding my time until the great "one day". The good 'ol "someday" scenarios....someday I'll move to New York. Someday the screenplay that I haven't yet written will get published. Someday I'll visit Paris. Someday I'll get married, after I get over my parent's shitty divorce (24 years ago), someday I'll audition for something, to prove to myself I can go for my dreams and stop fantasizing. Someday.

But when one of your idols suddenly dies and you were never bold enough to meet her, something changes. You snap. You are crushed. Crestfallen. But pissed off too. And if you didn't vow to quit drinking for the sake of your health and mood disorders and addictive personality, you'd get sloshed.

Though I obsessively devoured every piece and tribute and blog post written in homage to seemingly every young, right-brained, creative woman's hero, it isn't about Nora anymore. It's not about her groundbreaking career, her colorful New York life and the onscreen lives she subsequently created, her larger than life persona, her perfect 6 word autobiography I've somehow already chosen to adopt as my own mantra (secret to life: marry an Italian), her prolific last works in the face of an autoimmune disease (2 memoirs, a screenplay, a film, a biopic, a play set for the stage). It's about a missed opportunity. An unlived-to-the-fullest life. A wasted 5 years. It isn't about Nora's fulfilled life anymore. It's about mine. Nora's death is the catalyst to my life.

Which leads me to NOW. And my usual tendency to put off for tomorrow what God plops into my lap today. Namely- the next month. The next month is significant. And it starts with right now. This moment. What am I not doing that I could be doing, to guarantee the future I dream of when I close my eyes?

My boyfriend always asks, "What's the next step? Well, babe, what's the next step?" Usually I don't have an answer, so I pitch a hissy fit like a two year old until I can be adult enough to own up or make one up. But right now I have no clue what the next step is. Ok, I want to write. I want to write in New York. I have an autoimmune disease-- SO WHAT? Didn't stop Nora. In fact, she found out she had acute myeloid leukemia and THEN became more prolific than ever. She didn't bitch, boo-hoo, and complain! She hated whiners. She got sick and had dinner parties and wrote funny odes to the good stuff in life, stuff she'd miss, like pies and baths and she left this world a funnier place in her wake.

Becoming the next Nora Ephron is the most pretentious notion I could ever think to be, but why not give it a shot? What is there to lose?

Monday, June 4, 2012

the question of Home

May 26, 2012 Saturday 5:33 pm Earlysville, VA

I am reading a fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times called, "Home Is Where They Let You Live", by Jasmin Darznik. What caught my eye is that it's written from Charlottesville, VA, where I'm currently staying. Small world.

It is the story of Jasmin, an Iranian-American woman, whose experience of finding a home has been close to impossible. The saddest section for me is, "I had quickly learned not to be Iranian in ways that showed. I plucked my eyebrows, bleached my hair with Sun-In and hitched up my skirts. My accent was pure Valley girl, heavy on the 'likes'. By summer's end, I was desperate to get back to California. A visa was the only thing standing between me and the only country I cared to claim."

Here is another small passage that struck me : "Each year many thousands of children are brought to America by their parents. They come before they have any concept of citizenship, much less of belonging. Like me, they will draw their notions of 'home' not only from what is familiar and desirable but also from what is permitted and denied them."

For me personally, this passage hits home. I have always struggled with the concept of identity, and where exactly "home" is to me. Obviously, from this story, mine is a minor tale of displacement. I'm blessed to call America home- America as a whole. I'm "from" here- physically. Documents exist in my name. I was issued a birth certificate documenting my born-and-bred-American identity. I have a social security card. I am a number, and I also have several numbers attached to my every form of identification. A passport. A driver's license. Two of which display photographs of me, with my given name. I am identifiable. Legally.

Yet why do I identify with the nameless, the faceless, and the homeless? Why do articles subtitled, "No Place is Home", strike deep identity chords within? Why do I relate more to foreigners, immigrants, refugees and tourists, over my own "people"?

I am of a certain WASPy pedigree, to these. (Though would never realistically be identified as a WASP itself.)
I have a high school diploma from a swanky private school in Florida. Never felt to belong there. I have a Bachelor's degree from a respected northern university. I may look pretty good on paper. My daily reality is one large sociological question mark preceded by the unending ellipsis.

I updated my Facebook status 2 days ago with, "Just because I've chosen not to have children at this stage of my life has not made me a selfish person. I haven't "missed out" on anything. I have a full, happy life and I'll make my own choices based on what I want to do and when, not when society thinks I should. And that old adage about the biological clock ticking? I just put that baby on snooze. Bam."

I got lots of feedback in the form of 14 likes (at last glance) and close to 40 comments, several of which being my personal responses. My favorite comment was from my high school junior year English teacher. She wrote, "As a long term married couple with no kids and no longer a possibility I have to say it isn't something I feel as a loss. [Her husband, also an English teacher my senior year] and I have been better teachers for students who needed the extra attention. Family is more than biological. We were badgered for years about the kid question!"

The line I appreciate most is, "Family is more than biological." I've always felt this way. I come from a broken household. When my parents divorced, my family unit changed. I adopted myself into a great man's protective arms and life out in California, thousands of miles from what I knew as "home". "Home" for me has been an ever-evolving "place" within. Physically, home is Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Okinawa, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Maryland and, most recently, Washington, DC. I've left fragments of myself every place I've lived. When I meet a Floridian, I feel bonded to them in the same way as when I meet someone from Japan. In the same way, I feel individuals represent aspects of what defines "home" for me. I'm home when I'm with my boyfriend in DC or in Virginia with my family the same way I'm home when Skyping or talking on the phone with my younger sister.

I'm home during the summers in Maine, with my "family" that's both biological and serendipitously chosen.

Home is physical, emotional, psychological, physiological, spiritual.

Home is a place, a mood, a thought, a frame of mind, an individual.

Home is a destination. Home is love. And home is a figment of the imagination.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Expectation is the root of all heartache. - Shakespeare

Sometimes I feel like I'm living a screenplay, and that the funnier things get around me, the more anxious I become. I am a woman of many, very high, expectations. Like, everyone in my life is placed on this heaven-high pedestal, and if they blow it, and fall off, which we ALL do, they're done. They got one chance and they blew it. Phew! Am I hearing myself right now?!

I also start to feel extremely disappointed and sad with people when they let me down. And I walk this earth shattered and bruised over the tiniest incidences that don't tend to go my way. If the direction of the wind is off, I become a weeping willow.

Is that sad, or just very normal? It's probably just sad. Since "normal" has never fit into my vocabulary and all

An incident happened yesterday morning. And it came as a crushing blow to me. I was devastated and hysterical, sobbing and hyperventilating. The whole nine yards. It was like that scene in First Wives Club where Diane Keaton goes apeshit when she discovers that her separated-from husband, who she juuuuust slept with, is in fact sleeping with their marital therapist. That scene where she's yelling "I'm SOrrrrrrreeeeeee" and flailing her arms about. That was me yesterday morning. It was all very upsetting and dramatic. But my histrionics were boyfriend was supposed to visit me, and missed his bus. We haven't seen each other in over a month. I moved home at the end of February to get diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease, a nasty, debilitating autoimmune picnic where you get every sickness going around, from the baby coughing on you at the grocery store to the ladybug who poops on your hand at the park. No immune system. Total body breakdown. But that's another blog. (Seriously, I have a Lyme blog, should you be interested in end-of-the-world-drama.)

So, chef boyfriend who works 60 hour weeks AND THEN goes into work on his days off and gets kicked out by his executive chef because he needs "rest" (ha!), misses his bus that I so painstakingly booked, had my mom fax to our landlord to have print out and place in Jeremy's clutches, sleeps too late and misses the bus by minutes. Which would be fine, if I didn't wake up this text message: "No trip. Missed the bus. Sorry."

Just like that. In a text. No trip. Missed bus. Sorry. I just lost it, as any excited girlfriend would. I threw myself into my mom's bedroom, bawling and hyperventilating. Hows that for a wakeup call, angry and sad and disappointed and all these emotions hurling out through drops flying down my face like motorists on the beltway during rush hour.

So, minor disappointment, that I put all hopes into. Then I slept the entire day.