Friday Pick-Me-Up

 

 

I’m writing this post for me, as I sorely need it.

 

The petite gal shown in the photo above is Margene. She lives with my friend Betro. Margene and her sister (Roxy) are hilarious. And kind. And loving. And about a jillion other things pets are known for. When I visit Margene, she gets all excited and playful and her enthusiasm really perks me up. It would be easy to take her joy as something personal, but she doesn’t remember me from visit to visit. I know this. But Margene still manages to make me feel welcome and, I daresay, loved.

 

I’m sometimes jealous of my friends with pets. They receive unconditional love and devotion each and every day, no matter what’s going on in their lives or in the world. Pets don’t care about our screw-ups. They just care about us. When I think about that, I often wish I had it in my own home.

 

And then there are the other times. The times when I don’t have to arrange a pet-sitter, or when I don’t have to spend several thousand dollars to preserve a beloved pet’s health. Those times leave me feeling pretty free and easy. And I like that. A lot.

 

Six of one, half a dozen of another, I guess. When our yard gets fenced in (I’m praying to the garden gods), we may very well get a dog. We may very well not. I’m not sure. Either way, I get to visit Margene once in a while. I’ll take it.

Friends

 

 

Because I’m me, and because I am flawed, I have recently fallen out of touch with my neighborhood buddies, Betro and Aniela. Forgive me for not going into details, but suffice it to say I have allowed the excuse of life’s hurdles to somewhat isolate myself. To hole-up. To lose touch. It ain’t right, but it’s true.

 

Anyhoo – yesterday I and my buddies reconnected and made our usual trip to Costco. I apologized for my behavior and was accepted for who and how I am.

 

And the fun was just as good as ever.

High Fives For All My Friends!

 

 

The last couple of days have found me feeling fairly grand. I’m in a good mood. I feel energetic and alive. Everywhere I look, I see something awesome. And I’ve caught myself – a couple of times – very nearly high-fiving strangers.

 

If I were coming off a week at Rock Camp, I’d attribute my state of grace to that. But Rock Camp hasn’t happened yet. And I didn’t make it to Ladies Rock Camp last weekend. So what gives?

 

Well, I did hang out with my friend Betro, and she told me all I’d missed at Ladies Camp. Then I hung out with Baker Jen, and she shared her experiences of Ladies Camp. Put them together, and apparently I have vicariously caught the excellent Rock Camp vibes. What a feat!

 

I gotta tell ya – this has caught me by surprise. It’s a wonderful surprise, granted, but a surprise just the same. And as I’m reveling in the glow of all this love, I’m also thinking about how amazing these people truly are. We are, without a doubt, the most positive friggin’ group I’ve ever encountered. We’re human, sure, but we lift each other and support each other in ways most folks have never known. And while Girls Rock Camp Alliance is an international organization with super-duper branches all over the globe, I have heard from multiple volunteers that what we’ve managed to create here in Los Angeles is the envy of many camps. Honestly, it makes me love and appreciate us even more.

 

This year I’m crazy-excited for a friend who’s signed up to volunteer at Rock Camp. I’ve known for a while that she is perfect for our tribe and that she just needed to commit. As scheduling has permitted, she’s done it and I can hardly wait! She has no idea how rad these chicks are. How much fun it is to watch the kids as they explore and become themselves. How emotional it is to be around this level of support. How she’ll never be the same after volunteering with Rock Camp L.A.

 

To be sure, we’re an exclusive lot. And we welcome everyone with open arms. All that’s required of volunteers is that they show up and let the positive waves wash over them. That’s it. Well – that and a lot of high-fiving. Seriously – on that front we’re a sick bunch. Deliriously so.

Moments

 

 

Every now and then I experience moments of clarity. I’d like this to be the norm and not the exception, but to paraphrase a wise kid – I get what I get.

 

I didn’t always have these moments. I certainly don’t remember having them when I was in 5th grade and the popular girls had parties. I was always invited to those parties, but I never quite knew why. Instead of just going with it and having a good time, I searched my mind trying to figure out what could possibly have led to my being included in their elite circle.

 

I also didn’t have these moments in high school. I had friends, and we hung out. But a part of me wondered how long that would last. When would the other shoe drop?

 

I believe that sort of thinking – the kind filled with self-doubt – continued well into adulthood. Sometimes I’m still amazed to be included in the lives of others. And though I no longer spend my party time obsessing over why I’m there and instead just enjoy myself, I do still wonder.

 

But not as often as I once did. For now I’ve found my tribe and in doing so, I guess I’ve sort of found me. I realized all this yesterday when I was grocery-shopping with my friend Betro. (For the record, if you’ve never gone grocery-shopping with a friend, you’re truly missing out. It makes the task downright pleasurable!) She was filling me in on all I missed during this past weekend’s Ladies Rock Camp session. As she shared stories about Lady Campers and their performances, about fellow volunteers, about the overall breakthroughs experienced by all, I felt myself beginning to cry. Right there in the salad dressing aisle. By the time I asked if she’d tried a particular poppy seed dressing, it was through strained tears. Naturally, we laughed at ourselves and finished the shopping. We cried together a bit more on the way home, and then I dropped her off at her house and headed in the direction of my own, but not before we hugged each other tightly and said how we feel about one another.

 

Before I had even left her street, I started crying again. This time, it was because I had one of those moments of clarity: I realized I have wonderful friends who love me as deeply as I love them. I gotta tell ya – owning that is huge. Accepting that we are loved – truly loved – by others, is monumental, folks. I highly recommend it.

 

Rock Camp is coming up in only a few weeks and I plan to be there. For the kids. For the volunteers. For myself. And I already know I’m going to be drowning in those wonderful, beautiful, tear-filled moments of clarity. I’ll take it.

Monkey On My Back

 

 

 

I have professed my love for the BBC show “Call the Midwife” in a previous post. My friend Betro turned me on to that show and I ought to buy her a cookie for it. Based on real stories from the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show originally ran for 3 seasons. As I understand it, that was supposed to be it. But the ratings were phenomenal and the public were clamoring for more. So the Beeb commissioned another season, and the producer(s) obliged.

 

I’ve been watching each week’s episode with intense adoration. And while I do feel there’s a slight difference in the stories from the original source material, I’m still a fan.

 

Cut to yesterday. I had the show on in the background, trying to get some things done while keeping up with my story. Y’all – before I knew what was happening, I was sobbing (sobbing!) and had to sit myself down. Damn those midwives and nuns of Nonnatus House! They got me again. Hard.

 

On a tangential note – I’m thinking that if I ever get a dog I’m gonna name it Chummy. Thoughts?

Uncle

 

 

The other night, the ghetto birds were out in full force and were keeping me awake. (For those unfamiliar with L.A. slang, ghetto birds are police helicopters.) I got up a couple of times, over the course of a few hours, and my blurry-eyed searches of the interwebs yielded no explanation for the noise. I only knew those choppers were near.

 

Cut to a couple of days later and I was talking with my friend, Betro. As we’re neighbors, she is sometimes affected by the same junk as our street. She asked how I’d fared during the water-break of that loud night and after a bit more back-and-forth, I came to understand that the helicopters had been covering the situation on the night in question.

 

Here’s what got me folks: what a waste of water. As I understand it, some joker had taken out a fire hydrant and the good people at the Department of Water and Power were struggling to turn off the main supplier to said hydrant. As I pictured the waste… As I thought of the drought… As I exhaled and dropped my head… I said “Uncle.” I give up. All you idiots out there who just don’t get it and don’t care to – you win. That’s right. The dumb-asses have won. I don’t want to be angry at you anymore. I don’t want to try to talk sense into you anymore. Honestly, I just don’t want to engage with you anymore – period.

 

So knock yourselves out. Given your less-than-stellar track records, you will probably do just that. Literally. Good luck with that.

How It Went Down

 

 

A few days ago I told you I was recovering from a late-night Easter outing. Here’s how it went down…

 

I received an invite from my friend, DJ Lance Rock. He was having a birthday blow-out. I told Mister I was so honored to have been invited, I just had to go. No matter that the soiree didn’t begin until 9 pm. (That’s right – 9 o’clock-o – at night.) Mister said he expected to have early Monday morning work commitments, and that he’d better beg off attending. I understood and asked my friend Betro is she was game. Because she’s awesome, she said yes.

 

 

Now – I had an Easter dinner commitment that lasted until about 8 pm. Once that wrapped up, I headed home and changed clothes jiffy-quick and put on some glitter eyeliner. (Because that’s how I do.) I drove to pick up Betro and we headed to Downtown Los Angeles.

 

For the record, DJ Lance Rock and I went to the same high school. A couple of years later, we both worked at Streetside Records in St. Louis. I’ve been to a jillion concerts with Lance and his friendship was terribly important to me during some rough years. I have smiley photos of him at Mister’s and my wedding and to this day, when I think of him – I smile. However, I do admit that we’ve grown apart. Each of us goes about, living our lives, and our paths rarely cross. It happens. It doesn’t diminish my affection for Lance, though. Not one bit.

 

 

Anyhoo – once we arrived downtown, Betro and I snagged rock-star-parking (something that seems to happen a lot when we’re together). Then we made our way into the old factory building and followed the music upstairs. The joint had been transformed and it was awesome. “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” was playing on a couple of giant screens and the DJ was really crushing it. It didn’t take long for one brave soul to kick off the dancing (not it) and after a while, Betro and I joined in. Between songs, we talked with DJ Lance Rock and snapped a few pics with him. After noticing we’d crossed the mark of midnight, Betro and I started planning our exit.

 

We didn’t say goodbye to Lance, as he seemed to be having a great time. Betro and I danced toward the door and down the stairs and made our way across the deserted street to our car. There was no traffic (duh), so we got back to our ‘hood pretty quickly. I dropped Betro off and drove the short distance to the homey. I went in to wash my face and brush my teeth, and noticed the clock: 1:04 am.

 

 

Earlier that day, a couple of friends asked if I seriously planned to leave my house at 9 pm. They couldn’t believe I was willing to go out at the time when most of my peers are settling down for the evening – especially on a school night. I didn’t know how to respond then, but I’m clearer on everything now. There are some people in life who really matter. And for those few souls, you show up. You just do. And you always will. For me, DJ Lance Rock is one of those souls. And I’m grateful I know him.

 

 

And another thing – I’ll tell you what I wrote in his birthday card: There is no such thing as too much happiness. No truer words, friends. No truer words.

Wisdom

 

 

 

My friend Betro was telling me about an old buddy of hers and how they drifted apart. She said that her friend had started over in a way, and was living a new life. Although Betro had been a positive force for her friend, she, like the friend’s former life, was left behind.

 

Have you ever experienced something like that? Have you had a friend who just sort of stopped being your friend, for no good reason? I certainly have. More than once. And in a few instances, I’ve desperately wanted to understand and to feel some sense of closure. But that’s not the way things have gone down for me, so I’ve felt a sense of limbo where a couple of relationships are concerned. I’ve not known how to deal with it and I’ve not liked it, either.

 

Anyhoo, after Betro told me the history with her friend, she said she understood. She didn’t like losing her friend, but the understanding is what got me. Betro said she figures that she had been a part of her friend’s former life. And that when said friend started over, he needed to break all ties and really start over. To truly forget the past. Including Betro. She thinks that as someone from his former life, she might remind him of the pain from that time. And she doesn’t hold it against him.

 

Wow! I sat listening to her, rapt. And I suddenly understood why at least one of my friendships ended without any input from me. My friend, from what I understand, is living a new life. And of course I want her to be beyond happy. If I’m part of her past, her painful past, well, I can understand her choosing to let go. And I cannot hold it against her.

 

Of course – there is a chance Betro’s life lesson has nothing to do with any of my experiences. Maybe I futzed up things with my friend in some irreparable way, and simply have no idea what I did. But I like to think of my friend out there in the world, making a beautiful, new existence for herself. And I like to think of her smiling. With new, fabulous friends and new, fabulous joy. So I’m gonna stick with Betro’s wisdom and leave it at that.

 

Finally – I feel peace where my old friend is concerned. And you know what? I’ll take it.

“Once Nina”

 

 

Last week Betro and I went to a show. One of our Rock Camp buddies was having her record-release party and it was great! There were so many familiar faces, so much love. Those Rock Camp chicks really are aces.

 

And then there was the music. The first act up was Tonopah, fronted by Rock Camp volunteer Effie. This band makes me happy, as their music is joy-filled. And Effie is so utterly darling. As a Brit, she was the only chick at the club wearing shorts in March.

 

The next act to take the stage was Wolf Prize. I adore this band and their music. All members are Rock Camp volunteers and I swear – they really are fab.

 

By the time Once Nina took the stage, Betro and I had moved to the front of the room to watch the show from a close vantage. As I watched so many friends, including front woman Nina, I realized I was witnessing someone’s dream coming true. I started smiling and didn’t stop. With that thought in mind, I felt totally present. And privileged.

 

All these dear souls are in my life because of Rock and Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles. They are my friends, my tribe. I love them and I am incredibly grateful to know them. Because I’m me, and therefore terribly flawed, I sometimes succumb to self-doubt. During those dark moments, I wonder if I have anything at all to offer these ladies. I wonder if there is any reciprocity in our relationships. I feel like I get so much out of knowing them. I don’t always think they can possibly benefit as much from knowing me. So when I read Nina’s personal note to me on the back of her debut vinyl, I was incredibly touched.

 

 

It’s true – I do know dark moments. The night of the Once Nina record-release show wasn’t one of them. In fact, it couldn’t have been any brighter.

Spring Forward

 

 

Last night we sprung forward for Daylight Savings Time. I was talking to my pal Betro earlier this week about that very subject. She said it’s not her favorite direction, as we lose an hour. I told her I agreed and would prefer to Fall Back every six months. I said I’d like to just keep going in that direction until I’m actually younger.

 

Please don’t do the math and spoil my fantasy. Thank you.