Love and Darkness, Green Days and Rain

I was so sad in my last post. More than sad, I was hopeless.

And I guess people aren’t accustomed to such despair from me. I’m glad they’re not, actually. And I’m even gladder for the subsequent outreach.

Subconsciously it’s probably why I put my great despair out there. Sometimes you don’t see the light unless you acknowledge the darkness from which it emerges. And a big source of light in my life are the people who do see me, and are loving and gracious in their perceptions. Are gentle with my heart.

Last week’s rain came right from my own body. I’d wept enough tears that they manifested as a nasty summer cold–sinuses streaming, fevers and body aches, all that natural-unnatural drama. Supernatural, too.

K and his kid dropped by impromptu Saturday evening with supplies and sardonic sweetness, their specialty for as long as I’ve known them as a dynamic duo. We sat on my dirty rug while I rasped like an inadvertent torch singer and Grace wove in between our legs. Everything under the sun got discussed except for the things that would have just hurt more. Then we even talked about those things because by then nothing hurt. My sweet sardonic friends kept me company until I was ready for bed, and then traveled back into the good night because they go to sleep just as I wake. Still sniffling, I floated in that darkness, grateful that K and I could fuse a real friendship from the embers of our failed expectations of each other.

True love may not come conditionally but it always has a preferred form.

I rose nearly healed, and drove out to the Rockaways to give up that last part of sickness to something bigger and better than me–the sea, that divine physician. I meditated on the beach and dove in the waves and then the heavens woke with a start and started roaring: thunder and lightening, fire and brimstone. I cowered in the hipster food court along with all the other disappointed beachgoers and we had ourselves a fine old time. The NYC tapestry of races and ages and genders and sexualities and classes in full effect, crowing over World Cup on a shitty TV, drowning our merry sorrows in late-morning ceviche and hot dogs and margaritas.

I mean, this is why I still live in NYC. The casual and not-casual encounters that shore everyone who remains openhearted enough to answer the door when it rings, jostle each other with sandbox solidarity.

Now upstate, A and I watch our two dogs and two cats, and I still feel that groundswell of support. On the screened-in porch, Grace sits side by side with bruja blanca Daisy, that white terrier mix, and I kvell over their kinship. I said to B: “Neither of these animals usually likes other animals. So why do they get along?”

She said: “Because they both love you, duh.”

And I thought: How lucky am I. How lucky to be embraced by these spiky, selective creatures of various species. B included.

So now that the sky is clear again and the weather temperate, I walk in good gold light through good green fields. I eat vegetables and fruit grown in good intentions and good soil and good sun. I drink good wine and ogle the good good stars. I work on my book. I listen to Vivaldi and Satie and Miles and Sharon Jones piped into this fresh clean air. I talk to friends near and far. And I remind myself:

You have no right to complain.
You are healthy and strong and smart and loved.
It may not always come in the form you wish–
What does?–
But this is your life so have the good grace to live it.
Have the good grace to love it back.

The healthy tissue connecting us is gratitude. Always has been. Always will be.

Mars Retrograde’s Paradigm Shuffle

I wake before the sun and shuffle into the kitchen to fix Gracie her breakfast and brew my coffee. I sit by the window, watch the doves bicker gently as they set up a new nest on my fire escape. Babies coming, I think, and pour coffee and heated cream into my biggest mug and shuffle back into the bedroom with a sated Gracie nipping at my heels.

I do not turn on a film. This is momentous.

When anything ominous looms on my horizon, I watch a film before beginning the day. I can rationalize the viewing by nodding to my ostensible profession of the last two decades–muppet critic, at your service–but lately I’ve come to wonder if the profession itself developed as the ultimate rationalization.

As dissociation devices go, a chosen profession is not so bad.

Lately, I have been watching an awful lot of early-morning movies. Yesterday, I watched Singin’ in the Rain. It’s a wonderful film. Certainly the best metamusical ever made–the best metamovie, period. I chose it in honor of the nation’s birthday–Debbie Reynolds in gold and pink spangles, popping out of a cake while my man Gene Kelly beams broadly and drawls: “Well, if it isn’t Ethel Barrymore.” Continue Reading →

Weather Fail, Feminist Film Fail (Oceans 8)

I ducked upstate this weekend to avoid the three-digit temps of NYC, not to mention the Mars retrograde kerfuffle (and, boy, do I have some stories for a later date). But even here in Hudson the weather’s been too swampy to do anything but cower in air-conditioning. Yesterday I fetched things from greenmarkets and farmstands: beets, tarragon, mint, cilantro, green cabbage, rainbow carrots, boston lettuce, cherries, blueberries. I thrifted: two dresses, one skort, one vintage slip, three milkglass candle holders, one pyrex pitcher, all for 20 bucks! I assembled meals: chopped greens and herbs and roasted chicken and beets, all dressed with plain yogurt and tarragon and mint and cilantro and lemon.

Twas an embarrassment of simple pleasures.

Today was too hot for that level of activity, though. So I decided to put my money where the women were: Oceans 8 at the local cineplex. The screening was well-attended, I’m happy to report, not only by my fellow retirees (lately I’ve been taking dowager chic a little too seriously) but, surprisingly, by a handful of fathers with their young sons and daughters. I’m less happy to report that the lady-packed sequel felt like another H-Wood sloppy second: boy director, boy co-writer, boysboysboys behind the camera. Every one of these brilliant female actors-Rihanna, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Sandy Bullock, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway– were reined in by electric dog collars, the plot points and joke setups languishing on mobile fainting couches. I’m guessing this was meant to read as what my colleague Odie Henderson calls “ratpack laissez-faire.” Really it read as thorazine shambles.

It’s high time we female-identified people ran more shows from top to bottom.

Still, twas a much-needed visual model in feminine competence and solidarity, if one not nearly as funny as its individual performers. Cate and Sandy were searingly hot with sexual chemistry galore and a distinctly grownup swagger. Elliot Gould in a fur coat and Swifty Lazar glasses waddled through a much-welcome cameo. And the air conditioning? Killah.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy