Sunday, September 28, 2008

Time to get a shit colored fan

I have had the shittiest couple of weeks I can remember and what sucks the most about it is I haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Friday I found out I had hurt my sister-in-law, which is not something I ever intended to do nor something I will easily get over. She is in the middle of the health crisis of her life, juggling 2 darling kids ( not literally, they’re too big for that) and coping with the grief of transitions, adaptations and of course the fear that cancer always instills – facing our own mortality. Allison is such a remarkable woman and great mom and I love her so much that it is devastating to think I caused her even a thimble full of pain.

But wait, that’s not even the sucky part. Around 5 or so, I was getting ready for my gig and I fell fully backwards, missing my hard headboard by about a foot but landing on the back of my head with huge impact. Of course I had taken off my medic alert bracelet (“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) for the gig but I was able to crawl to the cell phone and reach Edith. I lay there on the floor sobbing and wondering how the hell I could possibly perform.

Once I got to the club, I was surrounded by so much love and laughter, I got through it all with the help of brandy and painkillers. Lisa made sure I was well iced and the small number of folks who knew what was happening rallied to the cause. Edith informed me she was sleeping over which I felt was unnecessary until I fell again and again hit the back of my head. Again I sobbed and sobbed – less for the pain that the symbolism. These were the two worst falls since before my diagnosis, so scary, violent and random that even I am now forced to agree with many of the health care professionals I work with and most of my friends. I need to be in the wheelchair almost all the time.

Transitions are hard and this one is a bear.

I don’t want this.

I want to be normal.

Sometimes I wonder how many body blows I can actually stand. Since Allison’s diagnosis I have been sick with grief for her, for my precious and amazing niece and nephew, for my poor family who are already reeling and of course for my beloved baby brother for whom I would happily take a bullet (especially now!) While they have been fighting their battles, I’ve been dealing with my own decline, severing a 25 year tie with someone who has been very unhealthy for me, worrying about the state of my son’s hurting heart and slowly realizing that someone I really like does not reciprocate my feelings – or maybe just finds it way too depressing to date someone with my challenges. Either way it has the same effect.

It’s better if these things aren’t jammed into 2 weeks I think.

But here’s the funny part – blessings abound. The boys in the band offer their superb musicianship and their loving friendship, their wheelchair schlepping services, their jokes, their Carla-lifting and love. At the ALS event on Saturday there was no chair lift as promised and one of the men said “Don’t worry, we have all kinds of people around here trained in lifting people” and my piano player John R said “But they don’t love her like we do, “ and my bass player Jon said “Yeah, we’ll carry her.” Which he did, honeymoon-style up the steep set of stairs.

More love – my mom brought the famous (to this blog) Pat H. to the Bay Area to hear the gig. What a treat to meet her in the flesh!

More love – my dad and brother admitting to crying when they read the recent review, my dad covering my head with kisses after the gig and hearing my drummer David talk about joking with Dad at the urinals. He said something to the effect of “your daughter would say something really funny about now.” No doubt.

More love – my amazing, phenomenal, gorgeous girlfriends swooping in, bossing me around and knowing what’s good for me even when I can’t see it. The way they hold me when I cry, hold the space for me to vent, deal with things I don’t want to, mother me in a way that is so hard for me to accept but so deliciously comforting, look gorgeous in velvet dresses and laugh when I offer to help them bury their husbands.

Yet more love – if you saw me sing Friday night, I wasn’t being brave or faking it. I was just thoroughly loving the moment. It’s a joy, honor and privilege to get to sing and tell Sarah Palin jokes. It just doesn’t get much better than playing with those three guys for all of you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Plugging Along

I'll get around to writing a blog, hopefully before my gig on Friday, but until then, here's a plug for my weekend gigs. If you live in the Bay Area or LA, I hope you can make one.

They will all feature David Rokeach, John R. Burr and Jon Evans ( my boyz!) with guest appearances by Mac Zilber and Sarah Palin.

Also, I'm tickled by this review of my cd by Don Heckman of the LA Times. Check it out!

Friday September 26th 8pm
Anna’s Jazz Island
2120 Allston Way, Berkeley
510 841- jazz

Saturday September 27th, 1pm
Bay Area ALS Association Ride for Life
(for participants of ride only)
Veterans Home of California
180 California Drive
Yountville, CA 94599
For info on joining ride or donating to ALSA go to:

Friday, October 3rd at 8pm
Steinway Hall @ Fields Pianos 12121 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles
Price: $25 suggested contribution
Reservations & Info: or (310) 471-3979

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Depressing Blog

“I read your blog” people tell me. And I can see in their eyes that something in it has moved them. I see it in your blog comments. And I get scared that I can’t live up to this thing I’ve created. I’m scared that when the makeup and the clown nose come off, there is nothing there. Nothing to inspire, nothing to laugh at through the tears, nothing but the banal truth that it is getting harder and harder for me to just roll with the punches.

You see I am attached to the “me” that bravely faces this. I am attached to the wisdom I have gained from this experience and I am deeply threatened by the dark clouds that loom – clouds of fear, sadness, bitterness and frustration.

I want my body back. I want my voice to soar the way it used to. I don’t want to have to depend on people for everything. I worry that I will cease to be me – whoever that is.

I’m not writing this so you will all send me nice and loving comments. I’m writing partly to get through this feeling and partly to warn you that I’m not necessarily who I seem to be. My situation is remarkable, but I’m not.

The fierceness and consistency of the love I’ve experienced from friends and family has been humbling, life changing and overpowering. I feel like any self-pity I indulge in is like spitting in the face of this abundance, but those feeling blow over me like a tsunami and I can’t help but be so hurt and angry that I can’t open my change purse or that my son has to button my coat or that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I want to go back in time and really experience things I didn’t know were a miracle – crazy dancing with my friend Daniel until I sweat buckets, running in a park with Mac and falling down together in the grass, taking a yoga class with a bunch of girlfriends, braiding my own hair, stage fighting, doing Wedding Singer Blues, boogie boarding and feeling the waves crash over me, opening my own jars and bottles and of course seeing an endless road of possibilities reveal itself to me.

I’ll be happy again, just not tonight.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cuppla Things

1) I am not going to mention Sept. 11.
2) oops.
3) I'm starting a contest for a name to call you guys. You know, like Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh call their supporters. Not Truth Seekers or Ditto-Heads - something cool. Winner gets to write a blog on this site.
4) Please pass on the following gig information to your friends and family and if necessary, strong arm them into attending. Hope to see you all there.

I'll be back at Anna’s Jazz Island on Friday September 26th at 8pm with the superb musical stylings of John R. Burr, Jon Evans and David Rokeach. We'll be adding some new songs and some newer, dirtier jokes. Anna's is at 2120 Allston Way in Berkeley
and the info/reservations line is 510 841- jazz.

On the following Friday, October 3rd at 8pm I'll be at Steinway Hall in LA doing a concert produced by the amazing Jeannine Frank previously immortalized on the pages of this blog. Betsy Salkind will open for us (same great band) and her imitation of a squirrel is worth the price of admission. Steinway Hall is at Fields Pianos, 2121 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles. For reservations & info contact or call (310) 471-3979

The band and I will also be doing a fundraiser for the Bay Area ALS Association on Saturday September 27th at 1pm. This is part of the Ride for Life and is for participants of ride only. For info on joining the ride or donating to ALSA go to:

Hope to see you Bay Area folks at Anna's and you LA folks at Steinway!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sarah Pales-in Comparison (to a qualified candidate)

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer — except that you have actual responsibilities,"

Sarah “Lady Pistol” Palin

I guess if you don’t know what the fucking Vice-President does then it’s not surprising that you might get a little confused about the duties of a community organizer.

I watched Palin’s speech on my computer (no TV since 97 – don’t miss it) and I have to say a chill ran through me. Remember how those two awesome ladies, Ann Richards and Molly Ivins, now both dead, warned us about underestimating George Bush and his political skill? I think the same can be said about this red-necked, gun-toting, over-zealous breeder. She has an appeal to the Fox News watching, huntin’, debt accruing, trans fat eating American crowd for sure. She made having a special-needs 4 month old an asset (“Those of you with special needs kids will now have an advocate in the White House.”) without mentioning any social programs to help special needs kids that haven’t already been decimated would be further eroded under McCain/Palin. She made her daughter’s impending shotgun marriage ( and Levi knows Mrs. Palin is a good shot and already owns the shotguns, so he had reason to be nervous!) seem like an occasion for joy. She was snarky in that way only cute women can get away with. If Hillary had said some of the stuff she said, she would be “bitter” or “bitchy.” But a cutie like Palin says it and she’s a sassy little rascal. I speak as a cute woman who gets away with a lot of bullshit. I know, believe me.

I hope we can keep focused on the real issues facing this country. I hope Barack will not be driven off message by the pitbull in lipstick. I hope Biden is courteous and subtly condescending in the debates.

In other news, I love watching the action and listening to conversations from of my deck. Why just the other night I watched Raymond Burr haul pieces of his wife out of his apartment in….wait, that was Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, not me. I was just listening to a toddler on the street melt down to his mom. “Tell me the plan!” he bellowed, face swollen from crying. “TELL….ME…..THE…..PLAN!” I felt for the poor agenda driven waif. Remember when you were a kid and every minute of the day was NOT scheduled? I remember when a mom’s only job in the summertime was to serve you 3 meals and get you to bed on time. Your job was to keep the hell out of her way. Now I’m not suggesting the only alternatives are between
“The Lord of the Flies Parenting Handbook” and a campaign press junket, I’m just saying we’ve got kind of attached to sticking to “THE PLAN” and it’s infected the young-uns.

Meanwhile, two great parents and people I adore more than almost anyone are going through the health crisis of their lives and all I can think about is how much I love them and what I wouldn’t trade to have a week of being able-bodied so I could do their laundry, cook their dinner and distract their kids. Oh precious readers, whatever is plaguing you - how bad can it really be? If you and your family are healthy – go have a great weekend, have fun, eat an extra helping of dessert.

Rumi says: People want you to be happy, don’t keep serving them your pain.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Frog Princess

“You’re a frog in slowly heating water”my son told me the other day. It’s an apt analogy. I find myself impressed when Kris can pull a pillowcase off a pillow in a matter of seconds or when Mac easily removes a plastic wrapper in one deft movement. It’s like I can’t remember that I could do these things and more just less than a year ago. These are now challenging tasks for me but I never seem to get angry. Well, there was that one time when I really wanted some wine and I had a wee melt down when I couldn’t open the screw cap, but that was made all better when I discovered tiny juice box-sized wine at Lucky’s. Even at Lucky’s it’s weird when the chick in the wheelchair jubilantly shouts “Yay! Wine-in-a-BOX!” Yes, I'm a frog. Guess that explains my eagerness to get kissed. I am waiting for that one kiss that will transform me from frog back to the woman who did headstands.

A brief digression: I’m on my deck and two young men are having a heated altercation on the street. One of them just said “ Ah’m gonna SHIT on your balls, dude!” To which the other guy replied “Hey woah….woah!”

Call me old fashioned but I think it’s far more efficient to kick the crap out of someone or punch them into a new time zone or call them an arugula-eating elitist since none of these involve dropping your pants or relying on impeccably timed bodily functions. I am sorely tempted to point this out to them. I love living on a relatively hopping street. It ain’t New York, but there is action.

I had a day out on Thursday. Took the bus to Berkeley where I met my friend Gerry for a movie. I like getting out on the bus and I like all the fascinating people I meet. Got into a detailed conversation with a guy from India, implausibly named Jim, a crazy woman in a wheelchair (no, I wasn’t talking to myself) and finally the bus driver on the way home. She was admiring my butterfly tattoo and told me she wanted to get one herself with her son’s name inside the butterfly. He had died 4 years ago. I don’t know what possessed me to do this but I just knew it was what she wanted to hear so I told her I had a fatal illness and that I didn’t know if I believed in an afterlife, but if there was one, I would look her son up. She started to cry and clutch her heart and said “thank you” and “god bless you” over and over. “His name is Damion,” she told me. “Look at me, I can’t stop crying – we was meant to meet.” We both put our hands over our hearts and I got teary while she full on cried. I don’t know why I told her about my illness and why I suggested something I don’t think is possible. I just knew it was the right thing to do as weird as it sounds.

Two days in a row I’ve fallen backwards. This is worse than falling forwards because of the lack of control coupled with no visual warning about what you’ll hit. I hit soft carpet and found myself chuckling at the falls because although it scares me a bit, the comic element of the backwards fall cannot be ignored. I have got to keep finding the funny in all of this.

Speaking of funny, the ass-picture auction has ended. We made some good money for a small amount of effort ( and sadly, a small ass). Thanks to Wendy and Edith for making it happen!