Monday, October 12, 2009

Partici-blog 3

Dear Muselings,

Someone who reads this blog will no doubt have an answer to a question that has been plaguing me and that has stymied none other than the esteemed google. Here it is: The other day, the sun was shining and I was in my backyard watching a vine that looks like --but is not -- a clematis... at least I don't think it's a clematis. It looks like a clematis with a hard-on. Anyhow, there were several monarchs making various flight patterns around the vine and in between them were what appeared to be large bumblebees, but at closer glance, I realized they were not bumblebees, but tiny replicas of the monarchs. They even flew in the same formation as the monarchs in a sort of synchronized choreography. The markings were beautiful, but less vivid than the butterfly, though prettier than a moth. Because of my propensity to anthropomorphize, I decided then and there that they were baby butterflies, but upon reflection, I realized this was most likely bullshit. Don't butterflies emerge from the chrysalis fully formed? I mean, I mostly slept through science films, or enjoyed getting my hair combed and braided by whoever won the fight to comb and braid my hair during a boring science film, but I do seem to recall seeing a beautiful adult butterfly metamorphosize all at once.

So what the hell was I looking at?

On September 11th, I got what seemed to me some extremely shitty news. It was the same week that Mac left for college and one of the final weeks of a valiant and hard-fought divorce, which went into triple overtime. I was the Golden State Warriors 'Nuff said. The following week, I went to my clinic to discuss some really really tough stuff. Before I left, I had a yoga session with Claire, who comes twice a week t stretch me. I looked out the window and four monarchs were swooping in figure 8's around a hummingbird that shone iridescent emerald green in the bright sun and I knew at that moment that it didn't matter if the universe was telling me that everything was going to be okay or if I just had decided that's what the universe was telling me and I was really as looney as Joan of Arc. What mattered is that I got sucked back into the present and away from the treacherous world of what if, if only, and why me.

It got me thinking about the little serendipitous moments that often disguise themselves as something entirely different than what they really are, which is a reminder of how delicious our ridiculous little world is. So I propose a third partici-blog. I would like you guys to write in about a moment that was so funny or so silly or so miraculous that you forgot to be upset. Here is your starter kit:

1) Years ago I was having my first facial (not the sexy kind). The woman put all kinds of soothing aromatic masks on me and told me to lay back on my warm bed and relax. As she left, she put on some soothing music... but it was the theme to Schindler's List. I laughed so hard I cracked my face mask at the thought of her wanting me to relax to a Steven Speilberg Holocaust Special.

2) A memory I have of Mac, myself, and my caregiver, playing Rockband... Mac on drums, caregiver on guitar, and me choking out Hungry Like The Wolf.

3) I was on the phone to a lady giving a reference for one of my caregivers. The lady said to me "So, Natta tells me you are a singer" and I answered "Well I used to be a singer but now I have Lou Gehrig's disease and can no longer sing which is why Natta is taking care of me" She responded by saying in a very school teacher tone "Well yes, that is a very unfortunate disease which was made popular by Marilyn Monroe who was dating Joe DiMaggio at the time. Huh?. My friend Kris who is listening in to the conversation was laughing so hard she had to leave the room. I too was laughing but I think she thought it was all part of my "popular" disease.

4) My brother showed up at my house and said "I just said something that I thought I would never say in my life. The kids were fighting in the back seat and I heard myself say 'why don't you tell the unicorn to ask the flashlight to stop doing that?"

5)I went to the same sushi place for about 10 years. The second to last year I used a cane and eventually I wheeled in in my chair and finally the lady behind the counter asked me what happened. I told her the whole story and she gruffly dismissed me with a wave of her hand and said "ach, don't worry. Dali Lama say you gonna have another life. $7.99 -you need chopsticks?"

I swear, I got hundreds of these and so so you.

So that's your assignment. Share something absurd. Something unexpectedly beautiful. Something that defies the delight you take in it.


Alison said...

Carla, this is such a delicate and deliciously magical blog posting. Thank you for writing it!

There is a phenomenon that happens when writing and I'm not the only one to notice it; when I've created a character, that person--or a dead-ringer facsimile of them--often shows up in my "real" life. She's the woman undressing at the gym locker next to mine, or the man slouching in his seat on BART.

I think of it as the Universe's little way of winking at us while we work...


Laura said...

First of all, butterflies make me think of you, and of Pickles. Two beautiful flying smart amazing creatures I'm so lucky to know. Soon after your diagnosis she and I were riding around and we both saw a butterfly, and I thought of you.

After my father died of cancer, which was a horrific nightmarish way to go (is there a fun way? maybe, having sex while eating bacon or chocolate and drinking a beer, right at the end of when you are very old and feeling ready to go) my Mom and I were sitting outside at her apartment complex. We were like two survivors in this world that had changed so drastically, sitting in the shadow of recent death. This little girl, about 7 years old, was roller skating by with her friend. She looked absolutely ferocious with a huge frown that belonged to a cranky 97 year old, she was a terrible skater, teetering on the verge of falling over with every skate, and going way too fast. To top it all off, she had a big fat sucker in her mouth. My Mom and I looked at each other - what was this apparition? Was she real? I called out - "Excuse me, you may want to be careful, you have a sucker in your mouth and it'd hurt if you fell." She glared at me, pulled out the sucker, skated like four more steps, and then felt like she must be out of our sight, because she stuck the sucker back in her mouth with great vehemence and continued her dangerous death defying journey down the parking lot. My mother and I looked at each other, and we started laughing so hard until we were crying. It was a release like nothing else, and in it life came back, we were sitting in the sunshine of it. Now my Mom is gone too, but I remember that laugh we shared together, I will never ever forget it. Thank goodness for those laughs.

Love - butterflies -


Anonymous said...

So much of what is said by the Alzheimer's patients who I take my dog to visit delights me. One of my favorites is Zoltan telling me, "Kathy is a good name. You can use it anywhere."

Recently, I was frozen for 10 minutes of pure contentment when my 6'6" son took a break during a volleyball tournament by sitting next to me and putting his head on my shoulder for a quick nap.

Thanks for reminding me of these and so many other lovely moments Carla!


Anonymous said...

I delight from suppressing laughter during really bad theatre.

I love to look around the audience at the faces of the others, challenging them with my sustained eye-contact to break their polite facades and then I like to find someone in whispering distance, and wait for the perfect moment and then channel my cruel and hilarious father as I slip out an almost silent zinger. Then I like to sit back and watch the shaking shoulders of the people all around me rippling, growing like a ring from a pebble in a pond. I love to ride that wave of desperation, horror and hilarity. I love that feeling like the laughter will kill you if you continue to suppress it. And yet you never make a peep. It is forbidden. I love to make an almost silent sighing sound that makes the laughter start over.

It's a great and cruel gesture to intentionally invoke laughter in those who are struggling to be polite, but it is my greatest pleasure.

SECONDLY, I love a good misunderstanding. I particularly love when you feel you've made a deep and cosmic connection which causes you and a stranger to laugh, only to realize you are laughing about two different things.

One time at McDonalds (don't judge me, in the summer in Arizona you have to find air-conditioned places to play) I slid my card through the slot to pay for my son's nuggets when it suddenly struck me as funny that the little display window read "You've been approved". Really? Finally? After all these years of seeking approval from absentee fathers, distant lovers and disdainful audiences, I've finally been approved? The universal journey, the quest for approval, and I've reached my destination here in a McDonald's in AZ? And so, I shot my arms into the air and cheered. "I've been approved!"

The old lady behind the counter doubled over with laughter. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so cosmic and deep. I could just picture how hard she'd sought approval throughout her long life. She knew my pain, and I knew hers. And then our laughter died down and she said, "I hear ya, times is tough." And I suddenly realized that she was laughing at the story of a desperately broke person cheering that her bank-card approved the purchase of nuggets. She was seeing in me a sister in poverty. And that made me laugh even harder.


Anonymous said...

I was sitting front row center at The Actors Fund Benefit in Los Angeles a few years ago, a 500 dollar seat I was given by my landlady who was part of the performances. It was a tribute to Harold Arlen's work who wrote the music to Soemwhere Over The Rainbow, a song that has resonance for me because when I was 16 Judy Garland sang it to me in The Blue Bunny at Paragon Park in Nantasket Beach, Massachusetts.(No I am not making it up.) The Actor's Benefit evening was obviously leading up to this BIG song like Ethel Merman singing There's No Biz etc. At the end, the finale, the cast including some amazing women like Loretta Devine, stepped out on stage and held hands. And I it is the ultimate Hollywood schmaltz. Yuk. But they didn't speak a word. Suddenly Arlen's son comes on stage and sits at the piano, while the signer for the show steps up onto center stage directly in front of me and SIGNS the entire song, looking into my eyes. No one sang a word. The cast kept silent while I wept with joy and memories and wonder. That's one time I didn't care who saw the middle aged woman in the front row surrendering to her deepest feelings. Joanna

Bruce said...

It was a few months before my now 25 year old daughter was born. My wife was on the East Coast to teach a class in NJ & we were in NY for the night.

Where to go? What to do? It had to be memorable because this was pro-bably the last time we'd be able to just go out & hang as a childless couple.

We walked all around the upper West side of Manhatten, looking for that "special place", as my very pregnant wife, became more footsore & tired, with each step.

Suddenly, I saw a brown piece of paper taped to the door of a non-descript dive bar. It was about 7 feet from the sidewalk to the door & as I lead my wife towards it, I could feel her eyes burning into the back of my head, as she psychically sent out the message:

"No dive bar, no dive bar - I don't care how funky & authentic it is, NO DIVE BAR!"

Then, we got close enough to read this message, in faint pencil on a brown paper bag:

"Tonight only, Dizzy Gillespie - $5"

Anonymous said...

My moment came when my brother in law passed away from leukemia and my sister called me after a 15 year cold shoulder having been judgmental of me most of my life. I was trying to act like well that's life...everyone dies. But then a sudden memory of being the teenage bridesmaid at her wedding 40 years ago and remembering how beautiful she was and how young and in love he was with her. No matter how hard I tried I could not help but feel how much I loved her and him. So I told her. I said I love you. I will miss him. And then I cried. And so did she. And while I will not say all is perfectly great between us, our mutual vulnerability and connection which we could not hide or run from changed my life from that day on. I knew once again how unbelievably lucky we are to have this life for however long we have it. And I became a more compassionate and forgiving human being.

Anonymous said...

Here is what popped right into my head, dear Carla: On the evening of the day Bruce and I found out that he had cancer, we both had to work -- he was playing drums in a show, I was reviewing a dance performance. I could have gotten out of it, but sitting around the house alone seemed like a bad idea, so I went, notebook in hand. It was Paul Taylor's company, and they danced a work called "Aureole," which was created the same year I was born. I'd seen it before, but it never seemed so beautiful: the gently soaring music of Handel; the way the dance seemed to meet the music like a face lifted to the sun; the way the white-clad dancers' arms and legs seemed to be growing before our eyes; the delicate perfection of the movement, as if danced in some serene paradise. I got lost in it, forgetting everything else, floating somewhere above that stage. It seemed, maybe, like they were dancing just for me, with a reminder that the darkest days can also bring light.

Thank you, Carla Fay, for inspiring us to remember beautiful things -- and for inspiring us, period. You're in my thoughts, all the time.

Anonymous said...

I delight in being overly friendly to people in the service industry who are obviously either having a bad day, or just plain bad natured. I am so nice to them, no matter how short or rude they act, and smile so brightly, that most times they seem to find it impossible to do anything but be nice in return. I love their discomfort. I often times will stop and mention to the manager what a great employee they have while within earshot of the offender. I secretly wish that my action will create a positive ripple that will turn their bad day around. And if not, maybe it will just make them more pissed and if that's how they are, then glad I could help. I, too, did my time in the service industry and am sure that on some bad day, someone probably did the same thing to me. The circle of life.

I also thought of this incident, which maybe isn't unexpectedly beautiful in itself, but caught me off-guard (as my young nieces and nephews often do). My niece was about 3 years old and we were visiting friends one afternoon. We don't live in an area prone to knock-your-socks-off sunsets, but this evening it was amazing - the sky was streaked with purples, blues, pinks, yellows. As my friend carried my niece to the car, she pointed her tiny finger up and stared at the sky, wide-eyed, little mouth open, and my friend said, "Yes, it's a pretty sunset, isn't it?" My niece says, eyes still up, finger still pointing to the sky [insert awe-struck 3 year old little girl voice here] "Aunt Weesa did that!" in response to which, I [Aunt Weesa] drew in a breath, tried not to burst out crying, and proceeded to (of course) take credit for the beautiful sunset. My heart was bursting with love. Thanks for making me remember that.