Thursday, August 31, 2006

blogging of a sort

Odd. Several of my pals I alerted to this blog wrote back, "I've never seen a blog." Talk about culture shock. I spend hours reading this way. Only recently John and Susan B. were bemoaning what a great book reader I used to be, and how sad that I piss away my life at the computer screen now. Just funny to see how absorbed we can get in our own little islands. I know it's a choice to make but it hadn't occurred to me that others wouldn't even have dabbled. Another friend wrote, love what you're doing but aren't blogs supposed to be short? Um, uh, hmmmm, yeah. I know this isn't really blogging anyway. That's about sharing juicy tidbits. Oh well.

Monday, August 28, 2006

picking up dinner

I'm not much of a cook. It's not that I can't, it's that I don't. I hate deciding what everyone else wants to eat. We have vastly different taste buds in this family. But I do love to go to the grocery store. I love the mix and diversity - the easy kindness and banter with strangers. I like how one pretty much journies through the aisles with the same strangers, arriving at checkout simultaneously. Recently I entered Central Market and noticed an older guy, bald, wearing shorts, a certain jaunt in his step, reminding me of my Dad. I kept glancing and smiling as we rounded from the veggies, past the meat, to the cheese. Stopping in front of the Monterey Jack, he holds up a block of bright pink cheese and says, "Would you eat that?" "Hmm, maybe," I replied. But added, "I keep smiling at you because you remind me of my dad" (which reminds me of a completely different scenario recently. My L.A. cousin brought a cute little portable dvd player to lunch to show us some past xmas films. When my father entered the frame, my sister gave the image the finger and uttered, 'Fuck you!' I was really surprised by the venom. Asking her about it she said simply, "He was cruel.")

But this guy said, "Do you find me attractive?" I must have laughed and said, "well, yes, but you remind me of my dad!" He pushed me farther. "He was a good looking guy!" And the stranger hugged me. And it cracked me up. I'm not much of a meat eater but I tend to particularly love bantering with the butchers as well. Asking their advice, getting their recipes. Did in NYC for years at the Jefferson Market, now do here too in Texas.

I shop like the NYC single girl I was 25 years ago. Daily, in small amounts, never planning ahead. I drift around the aisles digging on the couples, and the singles, young and old, imagining their lives. It's a melting pot that makes sense to me. Different stores, different times, different vibes. Recently I was at the Central Market and it was full of newborns. I like to hit the 24 hour HEB after midnight. I move through in a fog and full of wonder.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Yorker article on stagefright

Interesting John Lahr article in the current New Yorker on Stagefright. Unfortunately, not available online. A lot about fear and what some performers, who can, do to overcome it. Definitely worth a look.

...the American psycho-analyst Christopher Bollas, who has treated many stage and screen actors, says. "You lose your radar - like a surfer. You can ride a ten-foot wave with real confidence, not thinking about it, just doing it. Then, all of a sudden, you become too self-aware. You think too much. You get wiped out." The paradox of acting is that, like surfing, it requires both relaxation and concentration. If there is concentration without relaxation, or relaxation without concentration, the performance doesn't work.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lots of laughs at the salon

I just had my first manicure/pedicure a couple of years ago. I hate nail polish and am just not that well groomed. Oh, I get my hair colored, but never blown dry. Stumbled into my first pedicure as kind of a foot maintainance thing and have had haphazardly gone back every now and then since. Upon moving to Austin, started the search. Great bonding question with other women. Always a good ice breaker, the need to know details of a new life. I tried one place, then another, finally landing in a funny little salon downtown. Not posh, not hip. Affordable, decent quality. Two rooms, two haircutters, and though I didn't really see them for the longest time, two manicurists on the other. A no frills salon. It wasn't the offer of wine or soda that hooked me, it was the laughter. The salon staff just seemed to guffaw all day long.

Not sure what got me first to the manicurists on the other side. Going somewhere, prepping for something. I made a spontaneous appointment and walked into the second room. My manicurist is tiny, and buff, dressed in tight jeans and a wifebeater. She sets up the footbath on the floor. Ok, so it's kind of manual. Then she proceeds to sit crossed legged on the floor in front of the footbath, surrounding herself with plastic containers. She starts talking a mile a minute. Sometimes to me, more often into a cell phone crooked under her chin, her hands busy filing and buffing. Methamphetamine comes to mind. Sometimes she's talking to her manicurist roomate, sometimes me, sometimes her phone, sometimes I can't even tell where one conversation starts and another ends. "Ooh I love your feet." "Ooh I love my new buffer." "He told you what?" "XXY salon, can I help you?" "I can't wait to get my hands on your feet." The roomate is sporting tiny short shorts, make-up and jewelry. Last time I was there, a great looking Texas blonde wonders in, "Get me some wine. I've just come from lunch. I've been drinking for hours. I need some more." Sits down and pretty much out of the blue starts sharing, "Man I love sex." "I mean, I'll tell ya, I love sex more than anything in the world." The manicurists egg her on and she tells me some of her funniest recent dating stories. Ending up upside down in gravity boots. "Of course I was naked." Or the courting by trailer trash. "Damn if he didn't come up behind me with the biggest hard on I'd ever felt. But I wasn't about to get on the back of that damned bike. I'm a materialist. I'm a mate-ri-alist!" A mature woman - I thought a prime 45 year old. Turns out she's 57. And hilarious. A wildly entertaining two hours.

Back today for a touch up. The demands of salsa shoes and dancing "close position" spurring me in. I think I'm prepared. We start with the feet. My manicurist so hyper I have to deep breathe. They're laughing and talking and fussing about nonstop. I notice they both have open beers. I try to relax amidst the chaos. I'm the only client, so the other manicurist is sweeping, and cleaning up. One minute she's in the room, the next the phone rings and she's on it, having called from somewhere outside. The other hair stylist comes in and relaxes in a chair. "Joe xxyz asked me to marry him again this week. For like the 100th time. Says I'm the one. I know he's not the one," she starts to whisper, "Because if he was, his penis would be bigger." Howling.

"I just have the worst taste in men." The other manicurist pipes in, "My picker's broken." The stylist adds, "If sex is good, it's about 5% of your relationship. If it's bad, it's more like 95%." I jump in "yeah, that's so true." Hairstylist continues, "I can't marry someone if I don't want to have sex with him." The manicurist adds, "Yeah, and not if you know what good sex is like, like we do!" Together they rail "Yeah, with Satan, the devil himself." More howling. It's just the funniest, bawdiest, loosest talk I've heard in years. The talk turns to eye lifts, botox, then boob jobs. Their boob jobs.

Getting my manicure now sitting at a table, I hear a woman behind me. Not yelling at anyone, just speaking in a kind of bellow. No hello or niceties, just a "I got you of those cutest little white bags I told you I would." Then she was gone. My manicurist starts whispering. "She's one of my clients and I love her but she tires me out. She's OCD, repeats everything, is on all sorts of medication. I'm just not prepared for her today." We hear her through the wall, more bellowing, lots of repetition. My hairstylist appears with a bottle of champagne under his arm and glasses, "I need to hide for a few minutes. She wears me out." "My manicurist coos for the last time, "I just love your nails. I love that you came here all by yourself. I love that you don't wear polish and I get to show off my great new buffer. Look at that shine!"

I'm in another world. Amused as hell to visit there.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sharpies and visionaries

Tonight I listened to three of my favorite Austin film friends on a panel. Talented, articulate, good company all. And all a good deal younger than me. I listened with appreciation and pride. Knowing they were of a generation, or two, deeply affected by the world John and I have dedicated our lives to. Appreciating their candor. Never tiring of the war stories. Knowing that those in the audience can't really hear. They can try, but the information is never specific enough. That's your story, your path. Not the same as mine.

The topic was Beyond Austin. Film festival and film market information mostly. What happens when your film is done. Two of the three had had success on the circuit. They detailed that the success wasn't monetary, at least not yet. They talked about what was most valuable. The opportunity to make the next film, definitely. But even more so, the opportunity to travel to where your work was appreciated, and to meet other filmmakers. Not just to meet but really engage, to share stories, to see their work, to bond, perhaps even to collaborate. It reminded me of the two most useful things I learned in art school. Two points, after four years, this is what I remember.

1) What's so cool about Sharpies....(yes, the marker.)
2) It's worth trying to be a visionary because that's how you meet other visionaries.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Connecting in spurts

On the backside of the Monument Valley trip, John stopped in Albuquerque to visit his brother. In fact, drove seven hours just to spend a late evening, and half the next day before heading home. He had a great time. Today we both got plaintive emails - 'Great to see John, but tough it was so short'. Short? John and I looked at each other... Why to us, that was pretty great quality time. What did he expect?

In Monument Valley we shared a drink then breakfast with three different sets of people we were happy to see. Less than two hours total each probably, yet all good connecting time. Friends that we're used to catching here, there, and everywhere for a quick touch in then moving on. NYC, LA, SF, Utah, Maine, Austin, NM, fest du jour - it's a moveable feast. I guess our own little version of a jet set life, though we're by no means jet setters. Our life's on the move, catching friends over decades in moments. What did the brother expect? I love the hit and run aspect in our relationships. I love the deep connect that comes in a seriously intense 20 minute conversation in a festival hallway or over a quick meal. To the cynic, we're showbiz pals. To me it's the buzz. I'm not interested in dining with the same two to four couples every saturday night. That's never worked for either of us. Sure,there's some continuity. There are a couple of closer pals we're happy to see over and over. But more often than that, it's the moveable feast.

Traveling to DC last year to sit on an NEA panel, my NYC mom said, "Do you have any friends there?" "Why?" I wanted to know - "The panel work keeps us busy." "Oh" she said, "At this point I just figured you pretty much have friends everywhere, don't you?" And it was kinda cool to think yes, well actually we do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I was honey but drugs don't know that

Smokey Robinson on Fresh Air with Terry Gross 8/21/06

TG: You were a mature person when you started
SR: I was honey, but drugs don’t know that. People think drugs come from a bad place – like how you were brought up, something bad happened,....or there were problems.... No, People start to do drugs with their friends. And because they’re your friends you try it. And you like it. And you begin to get strung out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Driving to Monument Valley

Back tonight from a refreshing jaunt to Monument Valley for the Netflix/Alamo Rolling Roadshow screening of The Searchers. Stepping onto the tarmac in Durango, Colorado - the sun hot but the air a sweeter cool blast from homebase Austin. Delicious just breathing. I join John and his brother-in-law, already en route on beautiful roads long familiar from our earlier traveling days. Monument Valley exquisite - red, grand, still. Crazy, frankly that it's more visited by Germans and French than Americans. We run into friends, some Austin based, some Dallas, some Marfa and beyond. Film lovers all, traveling to this mecca. (John and I disagreed recently over whether our vacations always had something to do with film. I maintain that driving to the location of John Ford's westerns a case in point. It's America but the mythology is all film.) The Rolling Roadshow presentation is exquisite. A gorgeous screening under the star-filled night. I don't know why this movie moves others so but I can't imagine a better way to see it.

Day 2, John and I drop our companion at the Greyhound Bus Station in Flagstaff, and continue on our way to Show Low, via the Petrifid Desert. It's just John and me, driving around the Southwest. I get an intense craving for wheat thins. He's already picked up a box yesterday. And it's all we need. I remember our first trip 24 years ago. My first road trip with a boyfriend. My first trip outside the NY, New England, California coast axis. My head blown open by the vast sky and long straight roads. We drove around Colorado and the Four Corners area for years. Then children intervened, but more damaging, a tiff with one of the Telluride Film Festival directors, and we stopped. All these years later, it's a sweet return. Not only to the vistas beloved, but to the essence - John and me driving around, exploring the landscape, sharing a box of wheat thins.

I always tell couples - do something stressful before you marry. Weather a crisis, because that'll be your guide. It's how you manuever through change that determines your longevity. This trip isn't about stress though, this trip reminds me of the resting place, the ties that bind underneath. Andy H. said, it's not that you and John were both into film that drew you together, it's what made you both seek out film in the first place - that's what you share.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

stating the obvious

I know I'm stating the obvious here but don't the new airport regulations remind you of how the National Socialists came to mold Nazi Germany? It was inch by inch, the way rights were taken away. A little bit at a time -- so people could adapt and accept. The common refrain was, well, it couldn't get much worse than this. And at first it didn't seem like such a big deal. Hmmm, who needs moisturizer for a few days. I can always pick up a travel toothpaste. But as we began packing, the reality dawned. No sunscreen, no toothpaste, no mouthwash, no lipstick, no makeup remover, no face cream, no heel cream, no eye drops for dry eye, no eyeglass lens cleaner, no shaving cream, no balm for chapped elbows, no origins sleep calm, no personal lube. Each on its own, no big deal. But it's the accumulation of the indignity. The chiseling away, bit by bit. I know this is stating the obvious. I know, but I'm still troubled. Aren't we scared yet? Not of the terrorists, but of our own government who rule by scaring us? Bit by bit. Inch by inch. We meekly oblige.

A few years ago, when we returned from a year in Fiji, the Los Angeles airport security removed my son's mechanical drawing pen. It had an edge, you know, as compasses do. Wyatt was all of 13. Traveling with his Caucasian mom, dad and sister. Returning from a year away to his home in NY. His technical drawing pen one of his prized Taveuni souvenirs. We'd bought it at the Postal Shop, for top Fiji dollar. He loved that technical drawing class. Learning far more practically, and even mathematically, then he would upon his return in the U.S. School system. But no, security pocketed it. Didn't even give us a chance to fedex. The lines were too long, everyone too tired.

Knee jerk no

I always say no first. Always. It's knee jerk. How about? NO! It feels too hard. I don't know how. I don't want to have to do it all myself. I'm sure it's too hard. But then someone else starts talking. And maybe someone else. And all of a sudden I'm pulled in. Why that's so interesting! What if you tried it this way? How about....? I'm off and running. Pulled in by the peer group. There's an alchemy that happens round a round table for me. Not for John. He mulls, he invents, he needs to do it solo. For me there's no magic until the conversation starts. Then I engage via dialogue. Surprising everyone, I guess with my ideas. Or maybe not. Maybe my peers are used to the knee jerk and just have to suffer through it, knowing the juicy stuff will come later. I'm sick of the cycle myself.

Recently I read The Year of Yes by Maria Dahvana Headley about an NYU grad student who was weary of her romantic bad choices. She decided to break out of the rut and say yes to every guy who crossed her path. Not sleep with them all, though she was wonderfully open, (some might say promiscuous but I prefer to say wonderfully open) but just to consider. The book is engaging and funny. Along with shocking in terms of some of the desires portrayed. Man, I'm glad I'm not single. But I"m glad she was, and glad she opened the door to my psyche. I'm declaring this my year of yes (well, I'm trying to but old habits are very, very, very hard to break.) I'm trying to make this my year of yes. I think yes I will.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

90 year old in a leopard collar

Recently in LA,shipping my new hand-me-downs home by Fedex, (a packing technique I love), I saw the cutest little lady (80+) getting her passport photo taken. Clearly an old actress, dimunitive, dressed in black with a leopard collar and matching bag. Her "friend" a 40 year oldish ex surfer type guy was art directing the Kinko's passport shoot - trying to get some shoulder in the frame. He wasn't fooling around - checking with someone on his cellphone about exactly what was needed. The Kinkos guys was like "um, it's a standard passport photo." But the surfer wouldn't hear it. "I just want to make sure it's just exactly right. We need to make sure to get some shoulder." I was so curious who she was but couldn't get a clue. Assumed she was being flown in to a foreign film fest for a tribute. My fantasy anyway. I couldn't take my eyes off them as he fussed and cared for her. I was sorry to have to leave as they set on their second shoot, the surfer checking the composition through the camera as she sat quietly and dutifully on the stool. A very old, sweet young thing.

Well so here I'm back at home, thinking about this, wondering who she was. I decided to check around. Google on "old actresses." Find a site "Hollywood's most beautiful actresses...when they were young." The actresses are grouped by decade, I start checking them out - no, too old, dead. I work my way to the 1940's, arbitrarily clicking names, Hedy Lamar, Vivian Leigh, Carole Landis, Jane Wyman - and that's it! Jane Wyman is alive and now 92. 5'2" - this site links to other sites, oh look she was married to Ronald Reagan, and starred on Falcon's Crest, and damn, that's right, in the photos, as she grew older, that pretty much looks like who she was. "Just be sure to include some shoulder."

Monday, August 14, 2006

If a tree falls

M. said, how long do you think before you'll tell people about your private blog? Um, about two minutes. I told a very few. And the silence is deafening. No surprise. There are billion people sitting at keyboards these days wanting to share their lives. And with no discernible hook - why would anyone read this? Why would I read this if I wasn't writing it? I'm one of the few people I know who actually reads blogs. It's this weird narcissitic age when everyone is beating their chests but no one can hear.

Last year Kevin Smith started his boring ass life blog. To some it was excruiating in its detail, documenting his daily bathroom, sexual, parenting and buying habits. I hung onto every word. Because it really did demystify the minutae of his life. It was mind boggling how bare he lay his actual real life, not one created for his fan base. My husband refused to read it. How could we, as close personal friends, feel special if the whole world was getting the same access? But to me, it was genius - particularly in it's rabid devotion to married sex. Before I was married, I was under the impression that there was no sex in marriage. As a single I often felt superior to my more conventional friends. Uh, 24 years later, I happily understand I was wrong. At least in my own marriage. But people don't talk about it. And though there was no reason to hear exactly that much detail about Kevin's sexual activities, it was revelatory to hear of his constant desire for his wife and the time they made for each other.

But it's one thing to post the boring ass details of your life when you're a famous film director/media personality, and another when you're just joe schmo sitting at home. And for me, it's a delicate balance because much of what passes for interesting conversation on my part, is actually based on other people's lives and work - and it's not appropriate for me to share those tidbits with the world at large. Even my husband has his own public life. How can I share mine without intruding on his privacy? It's a delicate step.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wow! I was just fooling around in Myspace. Updating our company's top 16, thinking about the difference between how I present our business site and how differently I'd present my personal one, having to take into consideration my partner's needs and wants and public face. I'm just flipping around idly, happening onto a newly added friend's site who I have no idea who the guy is. The profile is set only for added friends. I resist for weeks, then finally succumb to see who he is. Some kind of film fan, and he's got two beautiful photos acting as his personal description. It inspires me to search Myspace off the beaten indie film track and to look for more graphically interesting sites. I've always loved photographs. I go to search, hit the button, hadn't realized it was randomly set to searching out women ages 18-35 in the U.S. The pictures pop up, I'm thinking cool, this is interesting to see how women present themselves these days when the bombshell hits. Almost every single picture is ONLINE. Like every single one! It's a Sunday afternoon in August, 1pm Central Time. So this is life in America 2006 now as we know it??!! Our lives lived online!!! A minute earlier, at my indie film site, no one was on.

I mean I know it's true for me - but I'm older and play catch up on the weekends from time spent out and about connecting. Weekends I'm home with my man, my kids almost grown and out in the world. But those 18-35 year olds?!! This is their life??!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

class #3

I'm loving this salsa class. It's way outside my comfort zone. Not because it's too hard. It is challenging but doable, completely outside my normal routines. No namedropping, no names, well name tags but I barely look. It's strangers in a room, defined only by dance. The familiarity grows by the round and round routine, judgement by rhythm and touch. Some guys I'm so happy to see again. Their moves smooth, grip firm. Some my heart goes out to, struggling along, we struggle together. Week to week, there's a change, so a guy and I so terribly awkward and off step last week, are thrilled when the moves come together this. It's exhilarating as we work it out. Today for the first time, really starting to dance. Not stuck in which step is what and where do I go next, but giving in to the sway. For someone particularly like me, giving over to someone else's lead, a true pleasure. It's pure movement, and pure joy. Doing without thinking. My aha.

John likes to hike. The thought throws me into tantrums, I can't, it's too hard, I won't be able to. John's patient. urging me along, wanting me to love it like he does. But I never do. I hate the initial anxiety. I hate the climb with it's unknown quanities of difficulty and duration. I feel relief when it's all over and done I don't get to the aha. John loves man against mountain. For me, it's rhythm and routine.

I love the anonymity. We focus on the steps and new moves, rotating partners every couple of minutes or so. No idea what any of these people do for a living. And I don't want to know. Margaret and I having coffee this morning, commiserating on the dreaded question. And what's next? With the implied What're you living on? It's the creator's prison, to once have dazzled, to dazzle again. Sure it's fascinating and fun but it's hard as well, going forward without a road map. I'm at my worst when someone asks, "And what do you do?" I sputter and mumble. No matter how full my life with rewarding engagement, I can't describe it easily, and resent how badly that makes me feel in conversation. I'm at my best with my conscious mind out of the way. Doing without the thinking. And that's why these dances classes such a joy. It's not why, or when, or the endgame, it's all about this moment now. And doesn't it feel great.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Back to salsa for class #2

Class #2. Surprise, it's full of the same people. They're not just there once like a week for one specific class like I expected. They're there to dance at every chance! Most don't acknowledge the familiarity. The class is larger. The teacher obviously gay and funny. Sharp, clear, and frankly, a better teacher than our first guy. I take my place in line and am delighted to be in the group. The steps are becoming familiar. I still don't feel good at it, which is suprising, humbling and even humiliating. I thought I'd be a natural - the rhythm speaking to me intuitively. And I'm bigger than I'd thought as I can't ignore my reflection in the group. But that just increases the motivation. How can I get smaller again without moving? And how can I move better without practice? And what better than to move anonymously in a room full of people doing their best to move well too.

This time, the partnering up less traumatic. I understand that we'll be rotating around. I'm less freaked out by touching a stranger. I've never been affectionate. Oh, my mother says I was intensely affectionate when I was a little girl, but it was certainly gone long before puberty rubbed out the embers. I took to sex early and found that easier than the casual arm around the shoulder, or teen group laying about. What's wrong with you? Friends used to ask. I've never known the answer. I saw it with my kids too. My husband and I enjoy a great physical life together (and I'm not talking about sports or hiking). Holding his hand is perfect. But I see how others throw their arms around their kids, or kiss them goodbye, and we don't do that. None of us. Now that I've moved to Texas it's actually become a funny stigma. Several texans I know reach out and touch my arm to punctuate their sentences. Every time it happens, I look down, wonder what they're doing, and pretty much lose the train of thought. It's like I can't understand the language. I'm trying to get used to it. Starting to hug strangers in the film world. Sometimes it's weird, sometimes it's warm and natural and as authentic as can be. But that's less often, and based on my own terms. I feel better when the warmth has been earned.

But back to dancing. So this time I'm ready to have a partner, many partners. And what's fun this time is feeling the intense difference in each guy's touch. (And maybe because this is Texas, we women all dance with men. No girls together here.) Most guys are awkward, as I am. But some guys just feel great, and I couldn't have predicted who that'd be before hand. One sweet older Asian guy, started rubbing my hand between steps, very unconsciously, like we'd known each other for years. It amused me instead of creeping me out. Chemistry, of course, a deep part of the equation. Compassion emerging too. Relaxing my own anxiety as I'm charmed by these serious, hardworking, dancing men.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


This blog title is so damned pretentious. Depending on it's spin. Though the words don't spell it out, I can hear it in my head as, "I'm good at friends...I'm superlative at friends". Which isn't really right. It's more that Friends are what I care about. They're the process by which I'm engaged in life. They're my practice (as I'm seeing if this blog can be too.) My desired way to pass the time. I'm actually involved in the film business for a living. Such as it is. It's been a great ride. Full of talented filmmakers, exciting work, glamour, as one might expect. But that isn't what I felt like blogging about. Friends (um, yeah) suggesting blogging for a few years now. But I didn't want to add to the pundit mix. How much will that film gross? What's in that fest? Who's winning the prize? I read them, I tire of them. Certainly I had nothing original or interesting to add to the mix that wouldn't trade on friends (um, yeah) secrets. Or lives. For this narcissistic ritual of modern life, I'm more interested in life around the work.

Sure - it's always good to recommend a good read - and along those lines, check out Terry Iacuzzo's Small Mediums at Large - a funny, heartbreaking, fascinating memoir about a family of psychics with a unique coming of age element. Has some particularly great detail about NYC in the 60's too. I highly recommend it.

So pretentious this may be but it's what I like to think about. It's the mosaic that keeps life fresh for me. Question is can I make it interesting.


Rendezvousing with my sister for the first time in a year, we sit to breakfast with her 18 year old son. He waxes on about the late hours up last night, researching and getting his mind blown by an amazing sound engineer/producer. He's so turned on, he's emailed the guy. Nancy innocently asks his name. At the answer, we both lock eyes and I reach for the laptop. Could it be? And ah yes, the telltale signs are there - childhood in Westchester, Masters in SF in the mid 70's, and finally the photo - we break out into guffaws. It's someone we each knew well, had no idea was a mover and shaker in the music world. Nancy tight friends in High School. Me, later, in my college years, his grad school. We laugh and laugh and laugh and say, Mil0 - you have got to write him back! Tell him N & J P sisters say hi. It's a delight for me for days. John says who cares? Why should I care about someone you knew in High School?

My mom emails with excitement about someone she's run into on the bus - the parent of someone I barely remember pre-6th grade. I tell her I don't care. She's hurt. John says he doesn't care about the sound engineer and I wonder what's wrong with him? It's funny! It's random! It's another great evidence of It's a Small World - the tape loop that runs my world. A day later, I get an email about a workshop by a rarified psychic and forward to my ex therapist. She emails back, "How Strange....I just finished the book by the psychic a hour, sure I signed up." Our nephew's girlfriend summering in Buenos Aries moves to Austin for grad school and rooms with a film student, perhaps I know him? A good friend it turns out. The small world redeux. It never ends. It's the puzzle that pleasures for me. Nancy says my endless connections insufferable - who cares about all these different people! Why do we need to hear? But it's what makes life interesting to me. The endless connections, the ever growing puzzle. My film fest programmer friend constantly refers to his work as a giant jigsaw puzzle. Well that's now how I see my life. Enjoying the random connections, and the ones I can draw in my Fairy Godmother like day to day.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My friend

At the close of a lovely yoga class this morning, dashing into the washroom after downing my yogi tea, my hands are quickly covered in blood. It's disgusting, it's funny, it's familiar. I remove the drenched super tampon and wrap it in oodles of toilet paper, trying to keep from dripping on my clothes. Dressed in yoga black, it's not as precarious as last night's adventure. After a lovely family outing to see Talladega Nights I realize I better hit the ladies' room tho we're just five minutes from home. My underwear is blood red, the stain leaked to my jeans. I have to manuever the tampon removal and yards of t.p. to cover the stain without soiling my summer whites. Remembering a nifty tip from a puberty book I bought for G. that I don't believe she ever read, I tie my ever-ready A.C. friendly sweater around my waist. John says later, "After all these years, can't you figure out a way to avoid this?" And it's funny to me that I can't. It's funny to me that month after month after month in this female life I've enjoyed that I'm still surprised and in awe of the blood. I'm always happy to see it. It's usually a relief from irritation and discomfort. The flow is dramatic and lively. Off topic here you think? In the 50s & 60s this monthly bleed was to be referred to as "my friend." For me, it has been.

I worry a bit about it's cessation. The cycle is so real with tangible effects. Which part will remain when the cycle stills? Probably not the titillation that ovulation brings. Certainly not the release and calm of the flow. I hope not the irritation and discomfort of PMS. The cycle grounds me in it's consistency and surprise. Will it come today? I feel it coming, I'm sure it's coming, damn, where is it? And the humor of the upkeep. I can't even count the times I've stained the sheets. Ooh, there it is again, the absolute familiarity and the surprise.

Good qualities in a friend.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

On one

Today I went to my first group salsa class. I'd checked out the free intro on Wednesday. Digging it, but blanching half way in when we had to find a partner. I'd forgotten about that part! Thought it was just about me and the music. I've been married forever, and I've never liked touching strangers anyway. I grit my teeth, and do the minimal. With my private instructor, I complain about having to have a partner. "How can you ignore half of what it's about?" he says. I don't even like dancing with him. On to the group today - I've taken the plunge and bought a pair of high high heels. Salsa dance shoes that truly are higher than heels I've ever worn in my 49 years. They look surprisingly fabulous. My hips thrust forward, my inner thighs engaged. It's a surprise they feel great too. It's a big decision - lots of money if I'm just dancing via lessons for a month. But I want to jump in. This is a moment to go forward without analysis. So I strap them on, the ankle strap wrapped under the instep before buckling - a very clever design and I'm ready.

We start in lines. But then we have to find partners. I stand, trying not to care if no one comes forward. But a guy does catch my eye. Subtly. We stand, we start. It's weird. It's weird to touch a stranger arm in arm and avoid brushing hips. "This your first class?" I ask then, poof, time to rotate. I work my way around the room, maybe 25 guys - mostly shorter, many Indian, all serious as hell. Guy #8 leads me from basic to side step so nicely a "Smooth" escapes my lips, a smile graces his. It's charming, and surprisingly delightful as we women keep rotating around the room. Some guys need help, some guys help me. Everyone there to learn, everyone wanting to dance, everyone trying. We start around the second time and it's like, "hey- glad to be back!" I'm exhilarated and thrilled that I've transcended my own self consciousness to have this much simple fun.

First toe in

This was Susan's idea. A brainstorm as always. She said just set up the damn blog at blog spot. No one has to know. It's just a great way to practice the form. It's great to see how it looks on the computer. Call it Friends are my art form. Talk about owning weaknesses and making them strengths! Friends are my art form was my defense for not writing, for not producing, for not having a job. Friends are where I put my time and creativity. So as not to feel too guilty, in a quip I called it my art.

Before email, some of us sent postcards. Some of us obsessively sent postcards as the perfect form of communication. Beautiful, often funny, an image, and a space to write just enough - not too much, but just enough to send your love and insight. I named my son for my favorite postcard correspondent, once a postcard collector, then a postcard retailer when the bills became due. Wyatt sent love and care and smarts through the air. As did my long lost friend Rodney. He'd send home made art and hilarious dialogue across the hall, on a 4 x 6 card. I mourn the tangible relic. Sure it's morphed into email. But last night pouring through a box of fantastic images and love from good friends, some of whom with no last names signed, I no longer recall, my heart ached.