A Bucolic Re-Entry

This weekend I headed upstate (from where I now type on my parents oversized keyboard… I’m much more comfortable on a laptop) and one of my first visits was with my favourite 5-year-old in the world. After two hours of enduring his lesson on how to master Star Wars on Playstation, we finally peeled away from all electronic media. Upon doing so, he once again had trouble with remembering my name (it happens in spurts) and said “sometimes my memory does good and sometimes it doesn’t. I have two different memories.” I pretended to forget his, at which point he told me he’s lucky his name is not “Nickel-ee-o-deon” because then everyone would think he’s just a tv and he’s not. So, I kept calling him Nickelodeon for the sake of his protests. While he played video games, he would catch the bits of conversation between his mom and me, particularly when I talked about my work as a showgirl at the Star-Wars-Vegas-themed bar mitzvah. Instantly his ears perked up and he wanted to have a Star Wars party, I told him he would be a good spy with his sneaky ears and that he had to have a bar mitzvah for Yoda to show up. His mother instantly scolded me, teasingly shouting, “You’re going to turn my kid into a Jewish spy! I don’t know if I want you around my son anymore.” Ha ha.

Before we ventured out for some ice cream, “Nickelodeon” asked me if I wanted a hot drink or cold drink (his mom pressured him into being a better host to his “best friend”) and I said I wanted water. He asked if I wanted cold or hot and I said I prefer my water lukewarm or room temperature, and he decided to mix hot and cold from the water tank. The ratio was a bit off, as he favoured the hot but he tried his best to accomodate my demands and it was absolutely adorable as I nearly burned my tongue on the scalding water.

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“Nickelodeon” and his black gum. What fool decided to put black gum on these pops? It looks like he bit on a squid.

The rain let up for a few minutes as I took my cousin for some ice cream, and he ordered the Sponge Bob pop. Lord, it was nasty and when he complained I took a bit and had to hide my grimace. Next door to the ice cream shop is a nursery and flower stand and “Nickelodeon” wanted to take me to see the flowers. The fertilizer was so offensive as he grabbed my hand he used his free hand to plug his nose. I replied, “Thanks. I love to hold a sticky hand.”

“I don’t think you mean that,” he replied and switched hands with me. I laughed and told him he caught on to my sarcasm faster than most adults do. For the rest of the day, any quip on my end would be quickly matched with his declaration, “Hey!!! I think you’re being sarcasm again!!”

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The first guy to give me flowers all year. Note, his chin is still black.

We headed back to my parents house for a few hours and I took “Nickelodeon” for a walk into nature and my childhood memories. The tree in my parents backyard has recently died and given my cousin’s love of nature, he had a hard time dealing with plants dying. I had forgotten about his recent attempt to keep ants out of his hole-laden sock by using a roll of Scotch tape and failed to realize that the kid has issues with ants. When I explained that the ants had taken over my parents tree, he became instantly passionate and on the verge of tears. “I hate those ants! Why did the devil have to make ants? The devil’s up to no good! I wish God would kill all the ants.” Apparently, he’s been recently introduced to the idea of the “devil” and anything that is considered bad to him is just the work of the devil. This list includes and is not limited to: ants, Darth Vader, worms, snakes, ticks, and people who make black gumballs for kids to chew (actually the last one is my idea of bad. That devil is up to no good). 

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Before the monsoon weather began again, I introduced my little best friend to cat-tails and he decided that instead of building a hut, they should be used to clean the street. He felt that these country roads are just too dirty and dedicated ten minutes to cleaning up the streets. I took him home after a mutually exhausting and productive day. Our next adventure is to go fishing on the lake when I return, but I don’t know how he’s going to catch anything without using some worms. He’s going to have to disassociate them from the devil. I think we may have to go turtle and frog hunting instead.

Sunday, my family decided to go to an honoring breakfast for the trooper who was recently shot. My dad, when town supervisor, had become familiar with the guy and my grandfather has always been a strong supporter of these events and the weekly firehouse breakfast. Now, my mom forgot to wake me, and last minute began pounding on the bedroom door. I had simply five minutes to get ready, but I learned my lesson years ago- always leave the house with a face of makeup, brushed teeth, and styled hair. It’s a rule. My mom, on the other hand, has the vanity of a nun. I like to keep a low profile at these functions, but it was hard when we arrived at the firehouse and everyone knows my parents, my grandfather, and yes… even me, if only by default. Not five minutes into the breakfast, the WTEN news crew arrives! Camera and reporter to cover the event, and WHO out of the thirty tables in that joint do they approach? Us! I had my head completely turned, certain the only words to come out of my mouth would be utterly controversial, and I didn’t know the guy. My mom, on the other hand, hair sticking up, face without makeup, and coffee spilt before her, volunteers to start talking. I wish I could’ve fixed her up in time, but she gave her heartfelt condolences before guiding the crew to the rest of the town legislation. My father, smiling proudly, whispers to me, “She’s my best asset. She’s just so good talking to people and so good politically.”

I really hope to have a solid relationship as my parents have, but with my taste in falling in love with men who like to flee, it could take awhile. That afternoon we went to a church confirmation party for family friends, and my mother was all too eager to see me hold a baby. I know she longs to be a grandmother, and with my sister’s life path, I’m sure she will be soon. This weekend was a strong reminder of how much I absolutely love children, and when the time’s right, I’d want a whole pack. HOWEVER, looking at the struggling mother of five who birthed the gorgeous child I held, I offer my sympathy and positive thoughts. I’m going to bask in my independance so long as it exists. I was proud to be the only shoulder the newborn found and slept consistently on for an hour, but credit is due to my mother who actually calmed the dear down. In the back of the photo, you may note Channel 10 is playing and sure enough, the shot of our family at the benefit breakfast was the opening of the 6 o’clock news! Sure enough, my mom, sans makeup managed to make the cut. And after our chaotic day, I visited my best friend and lounged in her family’s hot tub, overlooking the stars, the bright moon, and the boats that lit up the Hudson River. It was quite a day in a bucolic town.

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Sugarfest: Sixlets Galore

A few years ago I dropped a few pounds, and since high school I think
I’m about 20 pounds lighter than I was back then. I don’t go on diets
or crazy fasts or spend three hours on a treadmill (although I’m about
to join a gym and could see myself spending at least an hour on one).
I’ve never been “fat” but I’m happiest at my current size. My family,
on the other hand, is convinced that I’m a stick figure in need of
intervention. It doesn’t help that my family, immediate and extended,
all have serious weight issues. To them, food is the reason for
existing. Personally, I like eating a good meal, savoring it, and going
out to new restaurants. My only food addictions are apples and almond
butter and zucchini, which means I don’t tend to overindulge.
Additionally, I’m always on the go and if I miss a few meals, so be it.

This all caused a riot on the holidays, particularly on the day after
Christmas when I was visiting cousins at 11:30 in the morning and asked
if I wanted cake with three-inches-thick buttercream frosting. I
politely replied, “No, thanks. I’m good,” to which my cousin retorted,
“I’ll bet you are.” What was
considered a crime as a child (cake in the morning) suddenly became a
social requirement as an adult. Huh? Another cousin decided to “out” me
over dinner, demanding to know how much weight I’ve lost this time. I
was honest and replied I’m still the same. Again, as a visual reminder,
these family members are all a good five inches shorter than me and
possibly a hundred or more pounds heavier. She screamed aloud, “Stop
lying to us! I want to know how much you lost!” to which I shouted
back, “Look! I don’t point out all the weight fluctuations of everyone in this family and I think everyone should mind their own business about mine!” She was upset, and went on a guilty admission about how she knows she’s overweight and put on more. It was really sad to me.

So in an effort to get me heavier, everyone offers me food and when my
sister showed up after Easter with a bag of Sixlets, I was ecstatic.
These aren’t the easiest candies to find and they’ve been a favourite
of mine since childhood. I called my mom, asking her to pick up a bag
or two, and what did she go and do? They were on sale and she got me
TEN bags in addition to the other “Easter basket surprises” that
awaited me. So, this Sunday I met with my parents and received a bag
that was about to break, filled to the top with candy. What you see
below is what remains of it (after giving away three other bags
already). The quest to fatten up Michelle is absolutely entertaining to
me at this point, but more amusing is the fact I just spent 1400 bucks
on my teeth. Not surprising with my upstate upbringing, packing on the
weight and letting my teeth fall out is purely getting back to my
ancestrial roots. If anyone wants some Sixlets, let me know.



Projects, Champs, and Motown Melodies

To say I’ve been under pressure would be a hyperbolic understatement. Last night, as memories come in layers, I walked home from the Upper East Side along Fifth Avenue, where I spent my poverty-stricken days as a student walking along the park and dreaming of the future. A gentle breeze wafted through the park as I walked along the NY Reservoir amidst the sweaty joggers and oversized, uninhibited racoon that stood in the middle of the path. My intentions were to walk to the Hudson River and sit on a bench in Riverside Park until I was so mellow I could easily return to my apartment and go to sleep.

However, as I walked along the art deco and luxury buildings along 90th St., I approached the projects (it’s a block that you can shuffle through socio-economic divisions per footstep). For a random night, the benches by the projects were deserted and I sought refuge across the street from the Church of St. Gregory. In my own silent meditation and reflection, it took no fewer than a minute or two before I was approached by a middle-aged, buff dude set ablaze in colour and bling. He casually sat next to me, hands clasped in his lap as he looked up at the church with me in understanding.

Without invitation or encouragement, he began to reflect on how the neighborhood changed and the blocks of pigeon coops, Columbian immigrants, tenements, and toughness that existed when he grew up along 90th. From fights on the streets, to fighting at the Garden and the Golden Gloves, my new friend “Champ,” told me about the rises and falls in his life. A friend of the Beach Boys and Christine McVie (who at the time he didn’t know who she was, but any Fleetwood Mac reference brings a sense of joy to me) to a man married to coke and heroine to a man who survived it all, he revealed himself as articulate, deep, and most importantly… someone who has lived.

With the mention of his sister, a famous singer, he began to sing some of her songs and urge me to sing along. I was guarded at first, very scared to open up, but it reminded me of stories of the 60’s and Laura Nyro singing on the streets of Brooklyn as a teenager. I joined in to sing “Love on a Two Way Street,” which was a sweet moment, as we looked up at the church and the half-moon in the clear sky. Every so often someone would pass by and give a hello to “the Champ” and although he complained about the lack of community since the gentrification of the Upper West Side, I have to say, it felt like a harmonious neighborhood to me. I’ve lived here for four years and couldn’t point out more than one or two people per month that I may know and run into.

As his heart poured out, I realized how easily strangers always open up to me and feel comfortable, but the people closest to me tend to have the hardest time. And while I open up to everyone in my life, encounters like the one last night with Champ always render me speechless. I listen to learn. In spite of the beauty of the night, the tranquil setting before the church, and our duet, we were already mutually bound to that bench by our heartache, our pain, and our faith that this too will pass.

Thanks, Champ.

Hemingway-esque

I was once called Hemingway-esque by a man who probably doesn’t remember saying it. I was 19, never a reader of Hemingway or most male authors of his era. I used to deeply connect to black female authors for whatever reason. Then I delved into Hemingway, to try and uncover, what made be like “Catharine” and what made me so Hemingway-inspired. Some literary critics are not fans of his female characters and their portrayals, but I took it as a compliment. Tonight, these quotes dance through my “sleeping” mind…

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

Tell me about it. Swallow up some stupidity, and the bliss flows through the veins. In the meantime, I think alcohol is a good prescription.

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

I’ve tried to do both to a man. I think I may have succeeded at both as a woman.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?

I agree. No wonder my journals focus more on being asleep than awake. I had a history teacher I loved with all my heart, who said to me, “Michelle, maybe you really are living and awake in your sleep. And all this here is just an illusion.”

My Worlds Collide Again

Too bad I was rehearsing on Tuesday, or I would’ve snuck into the Ahmet Ertegun tribute in Lincoln Center. That man was a genius, and sadly died soon after Arif Mardin, two industry legends I always hoped to work with. Anyway, my diva worlds collided again and I found this photo on www.bootlegbetty.com.

If I were to envision walking through the gates of Heaven, this is what I’d hope to find:

Art Imitating Life?

I’ve had insomnia all week, and while clicking through channels or perusing the web, two films I worked on have been receiving a lot of promotion. When one works on a film (or records an album or does a photoshoot) there are key things that are remembered. 1. How comfortable or uncomfortable the wardrobe is. 2. How good craft service/catering is. and 3. The overall conditions (nice/rude crew, weather, scene details) and 4. The projection of whether or not the film will bomb or be a blockbuster. Now, if you’re a girl, in particular, number 1 and 2 can change their priorities (rarely are guys in unbearably uncomfortable shoes, dresses, lingerie, etc). Another thing, is there are times you will be on set and the movies plot is a complete secret. You may be privvy to details of the scene, but the awareness ends there.

The first film I saw advertised is “The Perfect Stranger.” It was over a year ago that I found myself at Cipriani’s, couldn’t tell you what I was wearing, but it was glamourous and I was in fact freezing my ass off. The heat was not compensating for the open doors and drafty halls of Cipriani’s and I sat in a table with goosebumps, trembling internally. The holding area was in a church, which after the morning, I spent nine hours of my life. Yes, nine hours in a church basement. Here’s the irony. At the time, I had no idea what the film was about and have since learned it’s a drama (the scene at Cipriani’s was surprisingly light in contrast to the plot) and follows an affair, a wealthy man, and threats against his lover, Halle Berry’s character. The night before the Cipriani shoot, I had received drunken calls from an ex, calls that were begging for my forgiveness and to meet with him. Thing is, I had learned that he was back with his ex-wife (who at the time, I did not know was an ex and with all the lies doubted he was ever divorced and truly hated myself) and he was calling to forbid me from mailing anything to his apartment. This was conjured by the recent birthday card I had sent. Of course, I was smart enough to ask who he was living with and threatened to get in a cab to his new place, as he begged to come over to mine. Drunk as a skunk, he wouldn’t admit with liquid courage that he was with her. It was only on the set of “Perfect Stranger” that the text message flurry of apologies and admission came to me, a wealthy cheater bothering a girl on the set of a movie about a wealthy cheater. Torn between feeling pissed and total relief to have heard the truth at last, I spent the 9 hours in the church basement playing cards, playing the piano, and praying for cheaters and their suffering counterparts everywhere.

Next up- The Hoax. No, I wasn’t in my own hoax at the time, but I was called last minute to work on this picture. We were downtown and the flamboyant wardrobe dude decided to put me in a cinched waist dress from the 50’s that was so painful I could feel my ribs collapsing into one another. The colour was fabulous (deep eggplant) but the fit was unbearable and I endured the costume for six hours, waiting to be called to set. We went to lunch before even seeing the set, although the food was incredible, I could only eat if I unzipped half the dress. After seven hours of pain, the head costume designer appeared and was appallled. “Why is she wearing that? Only an old woman would wear something like that. It’s so Jackie O and she’s young. Give her something hip for the times.” I was thrilled as I was put in an easy-breathing mod ensemble and taken to set. On the way, I bumped into Richard Gere. Honestly, I have met a countless number of celebrities and he is the first actor to literally take my breath away. Something about his charisma and energy was truly intense and enchanting (and it’s not wonder India is protesting it… he’s intense enough to be around without the groping and make-out sessions).

On this set, I received a terrible call from a dear friend who’s cat had just died. And last night, my mind racing through all these on-set memories had me thinking of my own furball and what could someday happen to her. Oh the grief… it sent me into online research, to be sure all her shots and tests are up to date and she’s in perfect health. I guess it’s inevitable that drama unfolds on set for me… because the call from my friend was brutal that day and making me realize, my own furball is in current need of attention. I’m not sure I’ll see either of these new flicks, but I do know I made enough on both to pay my rent (and that’s what really matters).

 

Simply Orgasmic

I heard this song the first time on the Tappan Zee when I visited my best friend and couldn’t believe it’s Maroon 5. It’s so retro, funky, and cool. I’ve been dancing to this song since the wee small hours of yesterday morning. Since my next album is going to be rock (hence, Anger Grows), I swear the third one is going to have some cool dance beats and sounds like this song. The melody is so pretty and the song so cool, but I couldn’t make out all the lyrics. So, I looked them up… quite harsh… and quite fabulous. I want to tour with these bad boys.


[Verse]I wake up with blood-shot eyes
Struggled to memorize the way it felt between your thighs
Pleasure that made you cry feels so good to be bad
Not worth the aftermath, after that
Try to get you back

[Bridge]
I still don’t have the reason
And you don’t have the time
And it really makes me wonder
If I ever gave a f**k about you

[Chorus]Give me something to believe in
Cause I don’t believe in you Anymore, Anymore
I wonder if it even makes a difference to try
(Yeah)So this is goodbye

[Verse]God damn, my spinning head
Decisions that made my bed
Now I must lay in it
And deal with things I left unsaid
I want to dive into you
Forget what you’re going through
I get behind, make your move
Forget about the truth

Panties and Fur

Yes, once again I’m about to appear on national television in my underwear. Once again I am in some re-enactment that portrays a girl getting victimized, raped, and exploited against her will. At first, I was amazed at my ability to detach and do my job. Of course, until the second plotline, at which point I couldn’t shake the eery tingle that ran throughout my spine and sent me into shivers. A year ago I was after a part in a feature that required some brutal violence and I am SO glad it never transpired. I intend to stay away from dark dramas in my career because they are truly brutal to cope with afterwards. Unfortunately, this week I didn’t get to run through the desert in my panties and borrowed fur coat, however I did a shoot over the weekend that donned the furs. The photos in this blog are by Barrett Rahmalo. He managed to capture a “softer” side of me.

I like the photo above and below because they have a surprisingly softness to them. Imagine, me being captured and appearing innocuous, after being told I’m too intense for a relationship. The anguish and annoyance that comes when I think of that statement is truly overpowering. It’s such an intense sense of idignation that I just want to hop on the nearest tour bus, sing to sold out arenas, and be completely oblivious to how true that statement has been in my life so far. But at least the one below reminds be of some bridal shot… at least the face (not that I 1. ever want to take a real bridal shot, or 2. do anything other than eloping in Vegas on Halloween, which might not be eloping if Halloween is the set day). I may not have luck at playing the part, but I suppose looking it can have it’s own rewards. Certainly more rewarding than the nearly-naked, getting thrown down like a barrel of hay look I sported today. I’m just looking forward to the residuals from being an abused girl on tv. Seriously, show me the money!!

 

Wake Up Laughing

Today I actually woke up in a rage, arguing with someone in a dream that was so intense I woke myself up. Oddly, the dream was taking place at 10:41 in the morning and I woke from it at 10:44. How’s that for parallel? The dream will go undiscussed, but it involved a situation I’ve been dealing with off and on for years and years. I was being rejected again, but with a superfluous reason that made me realize every reason ever given has been superfluous!

So in order to calm my nerves, I turned on “The View” (laugh at me all you want). Martina McBride sang today, which was amusing because one in every three gay male makeup artists has proclaimed I look like their girl Martina. My aunt and uncle are equal diehard fans of Martina, but were actually debating how I’m nothing like her (because SHE is an ICON… and I am salt of the earth). I couldn’t stand the lyrics of her song (*Update, the song performed was “Anyway” and the message is beautiful but the chorus is really simplistic). Still, I love the album title- “Wake Up Laughing.” It’s in perfectly ironic alignment with my morning. Since I’m still sick and didn’t sleep well, I’m going to take a nap with the urgent insistence to wake up laughing, damnit!

On another note, below one of the recent photos from YRB Magazine’s Spring Issue.