Monday, November 4, 2013

Heart Broken Over Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure.
Also known as CHF affects lots of dogs, all over.
This is probably the most elementary school, lack of concrete data type sentence this writer has ever written, because quite frankly it is too painful.

This is Callie.
She turned 7 on Halloween.
7 years ago, I was sitting at home, on my computer searching.
No, I wasn't lonely and had a hole in my heart I needed to fill. I was trying to save my sister's life.

Halloween 2000 my sister, my best friend, the mother of the three most incredible kids you will ever meet, was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I remember that day and the events leading up to it, but right now I am upset enough about my little girl, I can't ....

So... I read this article.
"little girl with Leukemia HEALED by Maltese dog"
"Maltese have healing energy"

So I searched and researched, applied all I have learned in the business world, to procure not only the best, but the sweetest little dog ever.

Callie arrived by plane a week after my birthday. I rented a limousine because the breeder said you needed to hold them close to your heart because they will need to bond to you and that it might not happen right away.  I arrived at "CARGO" and when the crate arrived, I saw peeking through the holes, my soul mate. (now don't think I am weird, she's a dog, not a human, but we had an immediate connection)  She was the size of a VHS tape. (yes I am aging myself when I write this) and settled into my arms.

The first night she spent with my sister and my BFF slept on her couch with her hand in the bed below so Callie could feel love. Everyone fell in love with her. She is a spitfire, so sweet, and funny.

She began a honking cough/snort thing a while back and I just chalked it up to her stuffed nose as she is so low to the ground and has allergies. But then the excessive (in my opinion) panting and the rapid breathing even when she should be at rest.

One evening, two weeks ago I take her to the animal ER and the diagnosis came back.
She has an enlarged heart and with medication she should do just fine, just fine until.
(the vet was sweet, she said her chihuahua also had CHF and was doing just fine on meds)

The Cardiologist at the CVCA for animals said that she will do well on meds, until she no longer does well on meds.. 18 months... 2 years?? She is on the young side for this.

Does she really miss my sister who went on another 5 years before her cancer took over and won?
Is her heart broken? I see her run her toys into the living room, which became the dying room, where hospice in all it's nonchalance turned "the green room" into a hospital room. I know she misses my sister terribly, but is she ready to go now? What about me???

We have been on her meds now going on 3 weeks with some ups and downs.  The first week her panting has stopped and her honk pretty much disappeared, except for an occasional morning honk, or overly excited hack. She slept most of the time that week, no doubt catching up on much needed rest, robbed by a rapid breathing pattern and seemingly no relief.  Week 2 as the one medication is decreasing, she seems to cough more, but her energy is up, and she is once again the uncontainable ball of energy.  Week 3 after a noticeable increase in coughing and wheezing and 2 calls to the CardioVET she is back up to her original dose of one of the drugs and seems to be better.

but for how long?
all we have is today.
respect and care for your family,
love your neighbors,
treat your enemies as you would treat yourself,
don't sweat the small stuff, and remember it truly is all... small stuff.

***Now, please don't think I am taking this as it is.
I am researching protocols, and watching her diligently (maybe too diligently I was told I need to relax and let her feel my relaxation) and when we have gone to our "2 week on the full enchilada" blood test visit I will speak with the vet about diet, exercise, outlook. I will find resources, people to network with.  But I will also know when it's time to let go. She will tell me.

And then.
MY heart will be broken.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Facebook Father's Day...

A Facebook's Lemming-ista's approach to a holiday.

Step One:.
days ahead, begin searching for the perfect meme.
whether it's father/son silhouetted as they are finishing in the sunset, a caption reading "my father didn't just give me the fish, he TAUGHT me how to fish"

Post songs about father's daddy's, papa's.. oh the ever popular "oh Danny boy"...
 and signed:  "with love,  your loving daughter/son".

how about...
giving them the heavenly shout out?
"hey pops, hope you are drinking a Guinness and yelling at the TV up there in heaven"

or take pictures of tombstones.

post pictures of your dad as a young man with sepia toned hues and the "jaggedly frame" only the perfect "instagrammer" could do.

Pin it to Pinterest.

'cause by and large I promise after the heavenly shout outs, pictures, memes and reminiscently:
"I remember my dad one day a year" posts, you will also see...
"I am the father/mother".
"My kids never had a male figure in their lives, a father is no more than a sperm donor, and ours was never a dad".

It is so funny, because at the end of the day, how has spending 5 minutes (for me, can't fathom much more) or 10, 20 an hour reading, writing, liking..
really showing your father how much you love him?

I have always been upset with the ingratitude I seem to witness. All around. Even before Jolie got sick, I was brought up that every day you should love your parents, not just on man made holidays. The only gifts my dad got from us growing up were the ones that we made in school.

Now, later on in life and because I know I will truly miss him "after" if you know what I mean, everyday is important.
everyday we love.

everyday we laugh.
or try.
that's why I can't wait until one day when I have a family of my own. A husband, a couple of dogs and yes children, cause I see it clear as day, I will raise my little ones up to love, love, love their daddy oh so much like their mommy does everyday. they will feel a family love every day.

and so it is.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"How to take the "mundane" out of "Mundays"

There have been many a song written about the highs and lows of Mondays. Monday Monday (the mama's and the papas, also known as the "Ba da, ba da da da song" as they seem to sing this refrain, more than actual lyrics, but yet the song can still painfully remind us that "every other day of the week is fine, fine, yeah!")  or what about (just another) Manic Monday (those perky, perky Bangles girls, who seem to enjoy reminding us that just when something really delicious is about to happen, you are going to realize that for one thing it's only a dream and second, don't get to used to it, cause you aren't going to be able to enjoy it. They  even allude to the fact that it's 6 am and they are having a "naughty" dream about Valentino, but best not to get too into it, cause you have to get up and get to work because if you don't, you will be fired. I don't' know about you, but I have yet to have a "naughty dream" at 6 am, moments before the alarm is set to go off.) Then you have one of my favorite Mondays suck songs by the Boomtown Rats who remind us why as they sing "I don't like Mondays". I could go on, but by now I think you see where I am heading. For so many Monday is the day of the suckubus. But it doesn't have to be.

In a little brewery near Main Street in Gaithersburg, on the third level, (referred to as "the loft"by management) is a cozy, comfy little place that is sure to make Monday a little less Mondayish and a little more fun. Growler's located at 227 East Diamond Street in Gaithersburg, MD .  Growler's  offers food, fun, friendship and even a bit of fame for some.  For on Monday nights you can join two of the members of the fantastically talented  Lloyd Dobbler Effect Band Chris Bruno and Phillip Kominski (both dear friends of the author) for Acoustic Karaoke!

As a professional performer, I thought I had heard/seen it all and quite frankly the idea of the inebriated putting their "own special spin" on Bonnie Raitt's "I can't make you love me" or "867-5309/Jenny I got your number" is akin to being back in school and having to endure an uncomfortably long lecture recited by a well meaning professor who can't seem to be able to write anything on the chalkboard without squeaking the chalk. But ACOUSTIC KARAOKE is different!

Acoustic Karoake works like this:
Phil and Chris come around to all of the tables, introducing themselves, making you feel like you are hanging out with a couple of your buddies as they give you little forms to fill out and place in the Karaoke Pumpkin.  Then while you are experiencing some of the BEST pub food ever... (I mean their sweet potato fries and Nomstastic, you can order a "flight of beer" where you can chose 8 or so in these little glasses that resemble thick test tubes and arrive in a wooden wagon wheel looking frame, or get a hot cup of coffee and some ice cream) Chris and Phil start off the evening with a few jokes and conversation with the crowd and then sing some of their originals and covers that are performed like originals. What is great about them is that they keep even their own songs fresh by doing them differently and will switch it up, often.  When they call you up, they will bring up the lyrics to your song on a laptop and tab charts for them on their iPhones which are attached to their mic stands.  They will even sing back up with you, and even if needed, seamlessly adjust tempo and key whenever possible to make everyone shine.

There are incredible regulars like Captain Amazing who performs his original free verse slamtastic poems followed by a rousing rendition of Bubbles hit tune "Liquor and Whores." Also the very funny and  beautiful "Mermaid" also known as " Aunt Ta-Ta" who sings a version of "D'yer Maker" so sexy you would swear that a present day Marilyn Monroe was in the house. (ofcourse the mermaid has long deep blonde hair that is almost down to her knees she is a pretty well known swim coach in the Montgomery County area and the older sister of Phil Kominski. I have been known to sing a song or three in an evening and "the boys" know me so well that we can riff, harmonize, break and key change like we have been singing together forever. 

The people are great. I can say that part of the close to 2200 Facebook friends of mine are people I met at Growler's on a "Munday" Night, and I have affectionately termed them "MY TRIBE" to which they all now refer to themselves as and have in turn not only brought in new "tribesmen" but have forged friendships with others as a result. This is definitely one of these joints where you can feel perfectly comfortable going to alone, sitting by the bar, or even at a table, eating dinner, straight from the gym, work, or home. The staff is friendly, fast, efficient and really, really know their stuff.

You don't have to have a lot of MONey
Or feel that everything is always the same or Mondane
You won't see anyone MONopolize the Mic.

Just a bunch of people, hanging out, starting the week off, making it a little more fun, a little more tasty and a little more special..

PS.. oh by the way, the fame part? My tribe has told me and I have experienced it at places like Panera (where Panerea Sarah is now entered the fold) recognized me and even remembered what songs I sang) other people I didn't even see/talk to because they were seated around the bar, in the dark, not ready to sing.. yet.

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's as simple as this.......

Thank you for sharing Brent.
If you don't already know about Brent's  Stand & Inspire, you will want to subscribe and read after you see this.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hi Diddly-Dee, a TEAMSTERS Life For Me!

It's just shy of 5 a.m. and the sun is teasing out from behind a cloud so thick and fraught with cold that I swear you could take a pick ax to the son-of-a-bitch and hack down a big 'ol piece of it.  There are hundreds of cars circling through the parking lot in Sykesville, MD, past the American Legion Post, #223. These are the weary yet excited travelers on set for a cold, cold day at a police barracks/training facility for firearms on a several hour shoot which will yield but a few moments of screen time for a scene on the fabulous HBO TV programme VEEP. (Now I spell programme as a homage to the very talented director Chris Addison whom I visualize working with one day in a capacity other than Marine SGT # 103, but until then I am blessed)

After signing in, getting wardrobe and going to makeup, you are transported everywhere in these big vans (usually white with several rows of bench seats, although sometimes they are state of the art, cushy almost limousine quality vehicles) by the few, the proud, the teamsters.

Teamsters... the IBOT #399 represents the motion picture and theatrical trade teamsters.  This union represents workers in the motion picture industry, including firms that produce feature films, television programs, commercials, and live theatrical productions. - taken from website

Teamsters have been around on film sets since the 30's.

During our stay on the barracks near this place..
by the way...
Julia has a lot of funny pictures from the series up there and she is just as nice and funny and classy as you would imagine, saying hello to us all and even complaining about the cold with us.

My teamster...
After about the 3rd hour, people didn't want to walk as far back between takes and opted for the warming stations which were (in my opinion) stinky, moist and overcrowded. I bonked my head trying to put my big old noggin in the front of a jeep to get respite from the bitch biting cold and thought temporarily I was going to concuss. so, aside from a drooling, snoring extra in the back, we had the place to ourselves.

Anyways we began to chat.

He started off as a chemical engineer, inventing new scents and flavors. He was happily engaged to his now wife and applied for work at a local limo company to gain a discount for the wedding. He was so good at his job, they promoted him to manager and he ended up staying on and quitting the science.  He spoke of celebrity, fame, protection of stars and business folk, the wedding, and moving on. To become a teamster you have to earn your way. There are two teams the A team (not like the TV show) and the B team. as you progress, not only should you be prepared for gentle and not so gentle ribbing and practical joke playing, but  the shittier of jobs, the more heinous of hours and just doing whatever, whenever, however and then some.

I listened on the walkies for hours as the "sters" ribbed  chided, poked fun at each other, as the ones with seniority were given the first go at meal and the others gratefully taking up the slack.  You must be able to drive several types of vehicles, be punctual, have a strong personality (and big in size don't hurt either, remember you are protecting people) and drive with stealth speed and on the head of a dime.

I watched on another set where an extra was trying to "get in good" and had the audacity to ask what the "sters" race was.. REALLY??? It was met with a chilly yet truthful reply. This "ster" who by the was is Native American, and build like a marble mountain. And very handsome. He told our van about how he knows several people who are now in wheelchairs or worse as a result of texting while driving and how stupid it was.

I finished my time on set and opted to walk back to holding even in the frigid air, but before I did I made sure to thank my "ster" for letting me know a little about his job, his life and his insights, so that I can pass it on to some of the kids I work with who do not believe that they are entitled to a good life, that there are any other options besides gang banging, baby having and drug dealing, and hopefully offering a career path actually paths (chemical engineer, limo driver, or teamster) for them to look at.

"as long as you focus and never give up, there isn't anything that you can't do" my "ster" 2013 on set of VEEP

Monday, January 28, 2013

Everyone has a story....

Everyone has a story......

Last week I booked my third episode of the TV comedy "VEEP" starring the very tiny and talented 
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, directed by a very funny English Comedian Chris something and first A.D.'d but the oh so talented Dale Stern, who A.D.'d the Borat? and Sasha what ever his name is, movies.

They just started filming season TWO and I was fortunate enough to be called for the first two episodes and now this one a mere 6 weeks later. 

Now before you get all excited and impressed, I shall need to tell you, my role, my part, my acting expertise were all being used... as background, extra work, or as they also refer to it... "atmosphere".

So I am reduced to a moving, living, breathing piece of scenery and you know what? I am so okay with that. I made a couple hundred bucks that day for under an  hours drive, was fed and cared for, given wardrobe, had hair and make up professionally done, met and re-met great people, laughed my totally frozen ass off and would and will do it again in a moments notice.

People say that this will not further your career and you will get pigeon holed, I say Bullsh*t. If you allow yourself to be saturated which means you get really great "face time" on camera, then yes. But that would be your fault, responsibility or desire. When the PA (production assistants) bounce by with their headsets, walkies, fanny packs, clipboards and exhaustion to find  the "we needs", which one time it was three marines to stand behind Julia as she fires the rifle:  DON'T LOOK UP!!! 

 Don't be eager, cause if you do/are, 1)you will get on said exhausted PA's nerves *they have to earn their way up to 2nd A.D. (assistant director) 1st A.D., A.D. and the prize DIRECTOR.. so they are in no mood. and 2) if you are saturated you are done. Not only will you not be able to "be in the background" but you can kiss the ever elusive "under 5" good the hell bye, cause it won't  happen.

I was sitting with a guy who I will only describe as chiseled out of Hematite and Him was TIGHT... (he gave me a postcard with his calendar shots on it.. Naked , except for a really LARGE purple towel, placed in such a way that you KNEW he needed every stitch of that towel to cover.....
He had the under 5,,, "Cease Fire!" "Stand Down!"

I made friends with the new teamster, found out about his life:  Hi Diddly-Dee, a TEAMSTERS Life For Me! *coming soon!* re-acquainted myself with hair and makeup, hugged the wardrobe folk who remembered me, locked eyes with a few others and smiled and hung with my station. Another day I will explain the etiquette of being a good extra, but for now I must wind it back around to my topic.

So I met so many people, caught up with others and listened. Everyone had a story, a tale, one that was more exciting, dramatic, poignant than the others. A pissing contest of interest. Me? I just smiled, nodded and cracked really funny jokes when I saw an opening.

I do not let many people "in" and the ones that do gain access have to "go through security" are "vetted" and must make it through probationary time.  And then I will share my STORY.. till then you will get funny jokes, little tales, examples that prove/disprove what you are saying but in a fun conversational easy going style designed to leave you wanting more, exchanging numbers with me and "friend requests."

Women trying so hard to be noticed, jutting out their chests, laughing and flipping their hair,  people sneaking their cell phones on set to make sure they get that next call, or take pictures, people who could care less, so they bring coffee cups to set cause they are freezing and hid it behind the wheel of the Humvee or the HUGE military trunk not caring that this might fuck with "continuity" and they won't be happy. And me. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Singing Today.....

She sings how I sing.
Tells the story, plain and simple.
Not alot of "extries"....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finding Who I Aren't

You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't

As Anne Lamott writes in her article for Oprah magazine; “When I was a young writer, I was talking to an old painter one day about how he came to paint his canvases. He said that he never knew what the completed picture would look like, but he could usually see one quadrant. So he'd make a stab at capturing what he saw on the canvas of his mind, and when it turned out not to be even remotely what he'd imagined, he'd paint it over with white. And each time he figured out what the painting wasn't, he was one step closer to finding out what it was."

I am on a quest. My journey involves one destination and that destination is me.  Not the “end of the road, not final resting place, but a town or village as you will, called ME. I struggle. I struggle with wanting to be a unique individual, full of never before seen talents and quips, glamorously laughing, eyes sparkling, glasses clinking at awards ceremonies, delicate quiet moments with what I feel will be the best definition of me, a child. I want to be the best wife I can be with the best husband I can find, I want to live a life full of giving back, sharing my talents and quips, glamorously laughing, eyes sparkling, glasses clinking at awards ceremonies, delicate quiet moments with the husband and the baby which I am on track for, but for today it's about allowing.

So with all of this  desire and almost deer in the headlights panic at not being able to accomplish this all in “this incarnation” I have notice I stagnate. I settle, I don’t speak up, I am not true to myself, my needs, my wants, my hopes, fears and dreams.

I work so hard to pleasing, to be pleasing, to derive pleasure from serving others. I truly do and while I have no regrets, realize just how important having my own Safe Place To  Land is.

Since my sister’s death, which I am working at coming to terms with, I have had the pure blessing of being open to having the most wonderful people in my life. It all began when I started swimming at Aspen Hill Club.

One of my now dearest friends was up there, either kickboarding for her probable second hour of the day, teaching lessons, offering a stable safe, serious yet kind training to little kids with dreams of everything from the Olympics to being coming in first in races at the pool, to just being able to swim at their pool, their friends pools without fear of drowning

Terry invited me to come out on a Monday night and see her brother’s band for Acoustic Karaoke. (half way there!)

Acoustic Karaoke at Growler’s in Gaithersburg.. and utterly alliterative little bunch of words that deliciously dance out of one’s mouth. This little gathering helped me get back to doing something that caused me great pain to do. It was through this little 3 hour gathering that I was brought back to, and pushed forward through who I was before, during and who I am growing and changing into. My tribe. My kindreds, my firesisters, my not related family. A family that I feel we have all been divinely brought together to know, learn from and unconditionally love. A family that I love and who loves me. A family of people who also feel as  I do. Like we are not only divinely guided to be in each other’s lives, but people who we instantly feel as if we have always known.  A family that supports me as I return home, to “the business”.

I stopped performing while my sister dealt so bravely with cancer. I don’t want to go into detail here, mostly because it is still so gut wrenchingly sore that the mere thought of that time, the cellular memory causes truly a chasm of ache so deep it is still unfathomable. My sister was diagnosed amidst a bunch of things going on in my live, and it was a crossroads that I do not regret, as I definitely feel that I “turned RIGHT” instead of taking the other path.

I stopped what I was doing and before I knew it I blinked and a year had passed. 2, 5, then 6… during this time I did do approximately one musical a year, one gig. I did a corporate gig at the huge and impressive Strathmore Mansion, centered around diversity.  We did sing a song or two, but we did vignettes and short improvisational based “offerings” that either gave them an “oral itinerary of the events of the day” or were based on the “assumptions” that people have about people from another ethnic background, religion, geographic area. (do not even say race, I have an almost Vaudevillian response when someone says stuff like “ever date outside of your race” as I have most certainly not ever dated a canine or bovine or even equine. I have dated a few men that turned out to be apes and a few that were not infact beautiful stallions, but they were asses.)

I stopped feeling to a certain degree. I compartmentalized and put everything neatly where it needed to go, only dealing with certain things on an as needed and as they arouse basis. Not to get all “cancery” on you again, but when someone is dealing with the big C, one that isn’t just that pesky little skin tag, removed and forgotten, or even tumor cut, excised, sanitized and cured, but the insidiously, heinous, cruel on a Holocaustic level, that is the only way to survive.

You can't think about tomorrow. Fuck sometimes you can’t even think about 20 minutes from now. Just in the moment. So you make the moments as decadent as possible. You inhale a little deeper, you look a little longer, you gaze a little harder, trying to imprint in to you soul that moment, that feeling those smells and tastes, with the unsaid knowledge that time is truly like an hour glass filled with sand and while some peoples hour glasses might be made from the most ornate of designs theirs has intrinsically less sand that you do.

My sister and I never had those deep, Hallmark, Brian’s Song, Term’s of Endearment, Love Story moments. My sister never spoke about her death in anything other than short little sound bites, that upon reflection I am tormented with. Was she preparing us? Was she looking for the magic that would save her? I know she wanted to live. She told me two days before she died she wasn’t ready to “exit” yet.
But she did.

And so with this, I realize, first of all although I say I don’t want to talk about her/it/life, I realize that this is part of who I am  I am ingrained with change,  swaddled in deep pain and compassion. I am full of patience and anger. 

I realized that everything you do, everything you say, everything you or I are, somewhere is being “captured” by someone. Someone who desperately wants to stop time, make that moment their desktop, screenshot that feeling for their cell phones and etch that feeling in their hearts.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Don't Forget You Are Part Of The Universe

Don't Forget You Are Part Of The Universe

Welcome to my universe.
I want you to be comfortable, relaxed and feel good.
My universe is filled with laughter, joy, sweetness, faith and fun.
It's also plagued on the dark side with sadness grief and obstacles. But none of that ever lasts for long. It's the mission statement of my universe: "Here, remember everything is fluid, moving even if we can't see, feel, taste, touch or hear it. Never give up. Never quit."

I am not going to post much more here, right now because like a blank canvas, or a fresh sheet of notebook paper or scented stationary I am writing in permanent ink and don't want to mess up.

But I did want to welcome you.