Joan Osbourne

Picture it: March 20th, 2003, New York. (I stole this set-up from Sofia on “Golden Girls).

I was driving down 87-South in my gold Ford Escort, still unable to part with my car although it would serve no practical purpose in my new home in Manhattan. In fact, it was such a nuissance, I drove it two hours north on April Fool’s Day to my parents and told them to sell it pronto. But, I digress. My life was in turmoil. The world was in turmoil. The US had just declared war with Iraq and I listened to NPR interviewing Joan Osbourne about her new album, “How Sweet It Is.” It was a collection of covers, many of which pertained to times at war. She spoke of her days in New York, struggling as a singer and making the rounds at different clubs. I nervously thought to myself, “This is my plan. That’s what I’m going to do.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever been that scared in my life and it’s funny because I had lived in New York for years. Somehow, this time was different. The station played, “I’ll Be Around” and her rendition moved me so profoundly that if I hear that song, I instantly go back to that moment in the car. Driving. Scared. I was about to move into an SRO (for you non-urban readers, a single-room-occupancy). Of all the more glamorous options I had, living with a family in a condo on Broadway and 74th, or renting with a roommate, I chose the independant route. I needed to regather in solitude. It wasn’t much solitude, as the walls were paper thin and I shared a bathroom and hallway with an African family of five, a Mexican couple, a Japanese man named “Choo” who would sneeze so much I’d count the sneezes to be spared the insanity, and a Russian guy who never bathed. Each family/individual shared a room no larger than 100 square feet. Seeing how much my neighbors struggled financially, I somehow felt incredibly blessed that I lived alone… that I was not entrapped in this place forever.

My first weeks back in town were rough, running around trying to land a “real” job. It never happened. It still hasn’t happened and that was just another blessing in disguise. However, during that struggling time, I was riddled with so much financial guilt, that I refused to spend money on the one thing I love the most- music. I used to walk to the Tower Records on 68th St. and stand there for hours, listening to Joan Osborne on repeat. I thought of her interview, how it all worked out for her… it just took time. I didn’t know how I would get the courage to sing, find the people to be on my team, or what I was going to do. I just felt the passion and hunger for it.

It’s four years later, and I can’t say I have much more of an understanding of how it will happen. But it will. Joan Osborne (though it hasn’t been promoted nearly as much as other nonsensical “entertainment” stories) just released a follow-up album called “Breakfast in Bed.” The girl even takes on “Sara Smile” by Hall and Oates… a song I’ve been wanting to add to my set but didn’t have the gall. She’s also doing a free concert in Park Slope on June 14th.Make that June 16th, MY show is on June 14th.  For anyone in town, or interested in some good solid covers, check out her album. I’m not in love with the photo on the cover, but the productions are fabulous.

Overheard on My Block

I’m walking behind two trendy girls in front of a fruit stand when a tall, young black dude spits his Sprite in front of their feet, just missing one of the girls.

Trendy Victim 1: Excuse me! You almost spit on us!

Spitting Guy: I shoulda spit in your stupid face.

Trendy Victim 1: Nice. Thanks. You’re really nice.

Spitting Guy: You’re lucky.

Trendy Victim 2: What a jerk.

Trendy Victim 1: (underbreath and out of span of any further Sprite-spit) Fucking asshole. Unbelieveable.

Well, believe it. Welcome to the kind world of humanity. Karma will catch up with the Sprite-spitter someday, it’s just a matter of time.I’m more than relieved they were in front of me and I wasn’t the victim this time Still, it bothers me.

Holiday Work

Regretfully I sat on a urine-smelling stoop on the Upper East Side last night, waiting before my Saturday night shift began, and being angry at myself for not escaping to the Hamptons this weekend. I felt I “needed” to work. But more importantly, I recently joined NY Cares, an organization that sponsors thousands of programs for New Yorkers to lend a helping hand. In school, I was always the overachiever, volunteering for every activity and club I could join. Somehow my scattered, unpredictable life has kept me from committing to projects the past few years. NY Cares is totally flexible and I knew if I didn’t volunteer in the first week of joining, procrastination would be too easy.

Today I volunteered for the first time at a nursing home on the lower east side for Bingo. I was completely unsure of what to expect, but when I met with the fellow volunteers I felt at ease. Let me say that the vast majority of people I’ve met so far are not just kind and intelligent, but they’re a really good-looking bunch of people. I signed in with the helper for the day, a mentally-handicapped man with an infectious laugh. He cracked jokes from the beginning of our encounter, and was insistent that the team leader knew I was designated to his table because he found me “so pretty.” Another volunteer, donning his thick-framed glasses was nicknamed “Superman” for his Clark Kent attire.

The recreation room took a half hour to help fill, with a traffic jam of wheelchairs from the Manhattan-sized elevator. I was partnered with Phillip, a man in his late-80’s, who was insistent in reminding me, “I can’t see a thing. So I’ll hold the chips and you can p-p-put them on the numbers.” His personality reminded me of Milton Berle-sans-cigar, as he cracked jokes and quoted authors about our inability to surrender throughout the twelve matches of Bingo that we lost.

The table behind ours was raucous and cranky, with little old ladies screaming, “Shout the numbah‘s lowwwwdah.” Phillip was quick to inform me that his fellow bingo players act worse than children.  I found myself bursting into giggles when little outbursts and confrontations would occur around the room, and another woman shouted, “Just shuddup ya’ dumb broad.” The elderly can be entertaining as is, but add the New York temper and accent and the results are even more amusing.

Phillip left me with a final joke as his cheerfully exclaimed, “I’ll see ya next time, if I’m still alive!” and then burst into laughter. What a refreshing day, to be surrounded by people who speak their mind and have lost their censors. Anyone interested in joining, I recommend checking out http://www.nycares.org. And if you’re better with animals or children or nature or art, the opportunities are bountiful.  In spite of my regrets for staying in town, I’m glad I was there today. Apparently 50-percent of nursing home patients fail to have visitors all year and on a holiday weekend, especially, they deserve to have people come in and donate their time.

Manifestations.

Two people blow me off- one personal, one professional. In the course of five days, I run into both of them. One was a man who’s haunted my life for years, and the other is a man I never met. The one I have never met, takes me to a place where I have a memory of the man I’ve known seemingly forever.

Life is funny. And in the universe’s humour, I enjoyed myself last night. That’s saying a lot after the rocky week it’s been. Amen for synchronicity.

Lousy Days

The past two weeks have been a nightmare. Indeed, they can get worse (that’s the only positive thought in this blog). Yesterday, traipsing through Times Square with a twenty pound garbage bag full of headpieces and showgirl attire, I nearly lost my mind. In the middle of 49th St, between Broadway and 8th, I almost started screaming. Rather, the inner, incessant shouting through the corners of my cranium were nearly released. I was fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, when the client decided to call me for the third-fucking-time to complain about the fact I was ONLY fifteen minutes early! This came after he switched contracts last minute and I was working for HALF as much as originally promised. I’ve had to cancel a few other gigs for the music, my personal life is in the running for cyclical joke of the year, my $1,000 tooth is swollen and hurts like a bitch, and I have all I can do to not want to shave my head ala Britney-style. Perhaps one more thing can fall through and prompt me to move to a tropical island and sell suntan lotion in a tourist shop. Last night, feathers brimming from my head, my toes crunched in shoes, and surrounded on a rooftop of middle-aged bankers, I had all I could do but scream, “What the FUCK am I DOING with my life??”

A few dudes sympathized with my rhinestone and feather-riddled agony, as the Hudson River winds nearly blew me over. An older, balding man with the features of Piglet decided to stick his tongue out at me in jest. Sensing my frustration, he threw me a twenty-dollar bill and explained, “this is for being you.”

I sauntered with my cigar tray to the back corner of the garden to reach a silver-haired chap with ostentatious shades. He angrily declared, “This party sucks. My career is a mess and the market is driving me crazy. I’m losing money as we speak.” He went on to tell me, “I think I should just stand in the middle of the room and let every guy in here kick his leather shoe right into my face. It’d hurt a lot less.”

I politely (or maybe it was loudly and obnoxiously) laughed and told him, “When I feel like this, I normally fantasize that someone will push my head into something a bit more intense. Like the M104 or the subway train. I think THAT would hurt a lot less.” He laughed and inquired, “You actually fantasized about that?” We instantly bonded because as we all know- misery loves company.

Another dude who owns a mortgage company tried to hand-feed me a piece of filet mignon, explaining, “Just follow your dreams. Who cares about what other people think or what judgement you put on yourself or money?” His optimism was charming and simultaneously hypocritical- obviously someone worth as much as he is and so close to retirement need not worry about shit in that regard. Although I did appreciate his offer to wear the head-piece and give me a momentary break.

The highlight of my day was catching an old woman on the subway, who nearly tumbled into the floor of the 1-train, and I’d like to think I spared her a broken hip. With the inner belief that I’m going to live a long-fucking life myself, I realized someday my only concerns will be whether or not I can get through the day without breaking my hip. Sharing a dressing room with Marilyn Monroe and the Brat Pack, and getting sick for two hours after eating sushi last night, have to be a close second in my daily highlights. In the meantime, the congestion of thoughts is toxic. Too bad that song was already written.  

Top 16 Signs He REALLY Loves You

* Update* I wrote this when I was reflecting on years of an unhealthy, unfulfilling pattern with a man I adored. I get so many hits a day from people who google “top signs he loves you” and I feel bad to have this sarcastic bantor below that reflects my own disappointing journey. If a guy really loves you and shows you, the last thing you need to do is search for the signs. Search within and share some of your love with yourself. Don’t settle for anything less. Certainly, don’t settle for the list of signs that I experienced below.

16. When at a stripclub, he’ll be sure to call you from the bathroom at least twice with descriptive details about how nasty the dancers’ bare boobs are.

15. He never forgets your birthday. He may not call the remaining 364 days of the year, but he will always call on that special day and show how deeply he cares.

14. He reserves his token phrases for you and you only when he redundantly declares, “that’s my girl,” and “don’t you love to be my bitch” and “you’re my ho, how do you like being my ho?”

13. Whenever you tell him you need to talk, he’ll respond with enthusiasm and urgency. “Sure! Of course. How ’bout tomorrow?” even though the talk will never take place.

12. If you spend the night and a crazy-ex-he-claims-he-never-loved starts calling incessantly the next morning, he’ll give you a proper five minutes to get dressed and leave his apartment.

11. He willingly leaves “the boys” on a Friday night and shares his “great” endowment with you if you are willing to share how damn endowed he is when “the boys” check in.

10. He spares you the pain of being angry at him for too long, by letting you take the blame.

9. So long as he is sober and not stressed about his unraveling life, he’ll make sure you get home safely.

8. When you surprise him on a cross-country flight at the ass crack of dawn to fulfill his fantasy of some mile-high action, he may ditch you for his buddies upon arrival, but, fear not! He’ll be sure to call on speakerphone so you can relive how great it was for all his friends to hear.

7. Even if he has a girlfriend, he will sleep with you when she leaves town for the sake of tradition and your deep connection. You’re not just the other woman, even if he never had a relationship with you. Just like he’ll protest she’s not really his girlfriend at the moment.

6. He always forgives, forgets, or blocks out any time you cry, are emotional, or reveal that you love him because it just keeps things easier.

5. He promises a chance at a serious relationship if you let him forget a condom and mark his territory.

4. When you don’t hear from him for weeks or months on end, he will be sure to provide boarding passes, testimonials from other people, and agendas as proof as to why he couldn’t call, write, text, email, or send a postcard.

3. So long as it’s sexual in nature and compliments his image, he’ll be sure to tell his friends about how great you really are.

2. Although there’s always a photo of him and some new woman on the mantle, he’ll be the first to let you know how bad their relationship was and how much she hurt him.

AND…..

1. He really understands the true evolution and depth of connection the two of you share comes down to three key factors: how much you scream and shout in the bedroom, how well you lick his gonads, and the frequency of times you let him slap and invade your toches.

Now and Then…

At times like the past few weeks, where the challenges of my ambitions and dreams are weighing me down, I often think of my grandmother. On a weekly basis, someone in the family will compare me to her spitfire ways and strong-willed nature. Whenever I’m drifting towards feelings of defeat (in spite of Hemingway saying a man can’t be defeated), I envision her presence, like a sentinel across my heart, fighting through the bullshit. There are few people that will appear in a lifetime and make you feel safe, willing to sacrifice their all to ensure that no one will harm you and you will reach happiness and fullfillment. My grandmother: the maternal warrior.

Last night, completely unexpected, I had a dream that we met. She was lying on a settee, covered in a blanket in the “parlour” of her home. For years when she was ill, I’d enter the parlour and she’d demand a lovefest of hugs and kisses. Sometimes, I’d be terrified of hurting her, and other times in my own stubbornness I would refuse to be her trained lapdog, and I’d protest the affection. But last night, in present time, my dream brought us together. With hesitation, as a grown woman, it was me who asked for a hug. And in the embrace, I asked her if she would stay… with certainty, she replied, “Of course,” as if she had never left.

Before she died, she assembled volumes of photos taken from our many adventures and travels, as her greatest fear was that she would be forgotten. With the images, I pieced together the effects they had on me… the resonance of her influence on me surely deafening at times.  And even if the strengh of character and determination are so deeply embedded in the core of my being, I still wish to have someone fighting in my corner like she did. All the photos below were taken by my Grandma Blue; a name I gave her because “Hotaling” was near impossible to pronounce at the age of 2 and blue was her favourite colour.


My first performance ever. I was so nervous, I
kept holding my “tummy” as she told me it was
just butterflies.

If volunteers were needed for a performance or act, she’d raise my hand in the air and insist I go up. At this particular magic show, the magician asked what my job was. I replied, “I don’t have a job, I’m just a kid.” My grandmother was the first to correct me when I returned to our seats.

“You do too have a job. If anyone asks you, you tell them, ‘I’m a dancer.'”

We travelled the country, up and down the east coast, for weeks at a time when I was a kid with my grandfather’s truck and a camper. My grandmother’s love of animals was equal to mine, and every campsite would bring another stray cat to our door. Although she’d never let me keep them, I fed and named every stray cat from Niagara Falls to Miami.


Here I am, once again on stage, at Santa’s Village.

Sleeping in the camper with all my “friends.”