Wednesday, January 6, 2010

a tempest. a cyclone. a goddamn hurricane.

Most people traditionally mark the passing of the outgoing year by swilling it out of memory, and paying richly for it the next day. I have never been one of those folks, mainly because I refuse to buy into the commercialized import of a new year's kiss, or that everything changes once the clock hits 00:01 on January 1. My new year, such as it will be, is recognized February 25 of each passing year, as it is the anniversary of my existence. You've got a solid seven weeks before you have to worry about wishing me happy anything, and by then it should be true. But happy new years to you all, just the same.

* * * * *

I have spent the past several weeks watching some of pay television's finest offerings. Dexter, The Tudors, Californication, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and most recently Mad Men (this one gets its very own post one day since it basically details the last 10 years of my life in long format crammed into a time machine) to get ideas for treatments and music and timing and dialogue and interwoven storylines. My research led me to the not-so-amazing-albeit-unpaid-and-oddly-entertaining LA Ink. Foo caught an eye of an ad for the spectacle and said she wanted to watch the tattoo show, so we sat and watched quietly up until one of my old associates and part-time roommates loped across the screen.

"ALEX?!?!" I scared the shit out of Foo with my startle.

"Who, Mama?"

"Holy bleep! That is my friend Alex from Vail! I knew him well for a little while."

She tuned me out and I tuned into memories some 13 years old.

When I lived in Vail, I had a boyfriend and a dog, Jamey and Genghis respectively; although at times perhaps their names should have been switched. Jamey's lived there since about a season before I arrived to the nook in the Rockies where a highway runs through it. He just recently sent me a "Hi, howya doin'?" from Argentina where he's kicking it in the homeland of his current 24-year-old girlfriend. Ha. I used to be his 24-year-old girlfriend. Thirteen years ago. And every girlfriend he's had since has been approximately 24. Some things never change. All my friends hated him; I guess we have that in common. But he was one of the first people I called when I got engaged, and one of the first people I called when that backfired on me some ten years later.

We broke up in a shitty, dramatic way, courtesy of Jamey and his bent for nonmonogamy, but somehow we remained friends and lovers for two years more. We'd reconnect between other paramours, his parents (his father died of cancer in '04) always admonishing him not to let me get away. When I moved out of the home we shared together with nine other dudes, Jamey moved in with a pack of his riding buddies (boards, not ponies), one of whom just bought a house up the hill; in with a bunch of Malibu rich kids with big black pick ups and incongruously hot bitches in tow -- a party on all the time. With names like Hoser and Weasel, you could guess what we were dealing with there. Their ladyfriends were given nicknames like Sack 'o Nickels and Fishstick, unbeknownst to said ladyfriends. Needless to say, I was more comfortable being one of the guys than one of the girls; although the rowdier the party scene got there, the less often I visited.

Alex owned the house where Jamey lived and was easily one of my top three favorite characters that I have encountered in my life. Alex was born with one of the most amazing good-times-i-don't-give-a-fuck chips of any human I have ever met, chong notwithstanding. He had this disarming ability to walk into a room and totally affect any vibe he wanted with a smile and some ridiculous but true story; always living in the moment, always the life of the omnipresent party.

While the guys settled into the living quarters upstairs, Alex pimped out his downstairs flat in a way that I love describing at dinner parties because it was ridiculous and amazing all at once. Alex's home was monochromatic on a room-to-room basis. In short order starting with the kitchen -- the floor, ceiling and everything in between was early morning sky blue. Moving into the living room you would have found a carpet, upright piano, trim, sofas (seating for 20!), ceiling tiles and all all attendant furnishings done in a lush and vibrant shade of kelly green, and onto the boudoir where it was all magenta all the time, from the diamond upholstered vinyl walls bedazzled with jewels to the queen sized bed suspended from the ceiling, Alex always had some silly ideas but took many so far as to execute them. Like the time he shaved male pattern baldness into his head (clearly he doesn't have a hair loss issue, but his head was buzzed back in the day -- and he wasn't sporting a gold toof). It's amazing he never went home alone. That pack of jokers regularly got us thrown out of every bar in town. Not gonna lie, it was good times. It was short times and high times, but it was good times.

Next thing I know I am sitting on my couch in Portland watching random episodes of LA Ink with my five-year-old (she's fascinated by the art itself and the body placement, which I think is pretty cool), and there's Alex walking into my frame looking like he's spent a thousand hours looting some Hollywood stylist's closet, livin' la vida "Orbi," touring with various bands as a drummer, and smacking just a tad of the Nelson (or is it olsen) twins. It was weird, but somehow comforting to see him even though the episodes were a couple of years old. He happens to be the son of Roy Orbison, but that is merely a tangential fact, not an integral tidbit.

The important part of this story, that I have neglected to mention because the Alex thing took me so by surprise, is that is jammed me back to time when my life was altered by the failures of true love, the challenges of starting over, fearlessness of the future and how capable and inspired I felt to become someone who cared about shit and did something about it. Everything was possible because anything was within my grasp. And then I went to grad school and met The Manny, who I then convinced everything was possible. My bad.

(Aaaaand then, I was looking through future episodes of the show to see if Alex ever got his heart unbroken by the tat diva, Kat, and found myself looking at the smiling face of one of my old cafe customers who apparently did short stint on the show, too. Weird times two.)

So as the rest of the world starts their new year this week, I've got seven more to plot my return to myself, accept my failure to perpetuate true love, formally readdress the challenges of starting over, and remember that I am capable and inspired to become someone who cares about shit and does something about it. I don't make resolutions; those usually end up in the great paper shredder of life, don't they? My only intention for the year is to truly live well in every variation on the theme.

I've been doing a lot of pacing, thinking, and late-night scribbling on bedside note pads. You should see the 5x7 wipe board in my kitchen. Single thoughts that are the soundtrack of my mind. My life isn't that much different than it has ever been; constantly swirling, constantly searching, constantly writing, constantly adding notches of non-carnal womanhood on my belt and a metaphorical hairshirt on my chest. Although every time Foo insists that Daddy and I love one another because we are a happy family (always on the heels of explaining why we no longer live together as one), yet another hair on my head goes white. If I could afford a proper dye job I'd tend to it, but in the meantime I'm on the fastrack to looking like Bea Arthur by 2011.

The skids were with me with all week last week, although all of us with varying degrees of infirmity a'blazin'. For four days we caught up on old times, lazed about watching programs and reading the same books over and over (gawd, what the eff is wrong with children's books? do they ALL need to say "hate" and "stupid"), huddled and scuttled, and remembering that we're in it to win it, together. I remind the kids often that they are loved by many, but most important is to love thyselves, love the fact that so many people love them, and to spend their lives finding more things to love about the world because there is a lot of cool shit stuff out there to know about that doesn't involve Mylie Cyrus or watching football.

I don't believe for a moment that any dream is unattainable, but everyone knows what happens when you fly too close to your own chosen sun. I've burned and crashed so much lately that I haven't properly dreamt in a long time. My reality is my nightmarical dreamworld. The machinations in my brain reverse engineer and reconfigure everything I ever thought I wanted and wanted to be on an incessant but necessary basis, which I suspect is why Alex crept back into my eye's mind just now. When I was 22-25, everything and anything were principal components of my literal lifestyle. The people I knew just did what they did; nobody bother me, I no bother you. Life was small and I liked it that way. I was the editor of the business and real estate section of the local paper, wrote columns on the state of the local vacation economy and small business marketing. I thought I was on my way to becoming a business journalist somewhere, some day. I used my brain to think and my body to do what girls in their young 20s do. I kept my professional life in balance with my joie de vivre. And vivre I did. Learned that by watching Granny.

If I could live anywhere, I'd pack the skids up and head back to the mountains. The place where my oldest and bestest resides, but also where I committed myself to everything and anything. I'm hankering for something that I recognize in my life that feels right; that reminds me of what makes sense. A 7-days-a-week life with my children. A genuine place to call home. A vocation/job/career that I adore. Headspace to think about what my life could still become, rather than what has become of it. Every aspiration I might have is ambushed by the loss of what I thought I wanted. But it all fell apart when I foolishly flew too close to the sun.

The problem is I don't know how to control my aspirations of anything and everything. And I don't really want to. This persistent problem of mine has been top of mind for too long running now. Finding the anything and everything within life's limitations is the only reason to live.

* * * * *

Whilst the children were with The Manny last weekend, I watched the following in the following order.

Mad Men -- Start at the beginning

The Union

The Medicated Child

The Persuaders

Medicating Kids

This an example of a daily occurrence that only gets attention when celebrities die. Unacceptable. This is yet another epidemic.

And then I was just trying to figure out what to do with my life with all of this information and memory of mission statements gone by and happened to see this video.

And then I had an idea (which has mushroomed into a plan). And because I do not accept "no"s or "here's why not"s in 2010, a change of personal policy - not a resolution, I'm going to follow it down the corridor and see where it leads. Anything and everything could be waiting for me there and I can't resist peeking.

Hi, passion. It's good to see you again. You've been missed.


J at said...

Best luck in 2010, embracing your passion and bringing it to the forefront of your life.

Crazy about your your old friend being on LA Ink. I'm not a tattoo person, so I've never watched it. But I've seen the commercials, and Kat seems like quite a character.

Love me some Mad Men. I wish I had started watching it early on, so I could talk to my mom about it before she died. She loved that show.

My new year is Jan 1st, because my birthday is December 31st. ;) Not big on the swilling, though. I do drink, and happily, but not enough to regret it the next day.

Glad you got a week with the kids. Sorry you were all somewhat sick. Blech.

tonia said...

Honestly. If you hadn't posted something tonight after all this time I was going to send you an email to make sure you were still alive. Glad to see you're here and that you've brought your passion with you. Happy (seven weeks to) new year!

Karin said...

Happy 2010! I'm glad your passion has bounded back in, I hope it takes you to some wonderful places. Nobody deserves it like you do!

Patricia said...

Dear Dana,
2009 was the pits but 2010 is your year - reminds of the Dr Seuss book, "Oh the places you'll go":

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go....
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

2010 - the year of the un-slumping....

frame said...

i'm new to your world - never read your other sites, but started at the beginning of this one.

i'm really looking forward to your 2010.

nathalie merchant's lyrics are the best.