To All You People Still Kvetching.

I graduated from high school years ago. It was long enough ago that people should see it as the distant past and not something still haunting their present life. Now, tonight was another night, in which former classmates came up in conversation. It took me quite a bit of time to actually place them in my memory bank. And when I did, I had little understanding as to why they are still so mad.

In high school, I skipped my junior year and became a senior. I suppose, in most schools, this is completely normal behaviour. In my school, it was something never done. I had the option of doing my senior year at a college, but I didn’t want this. I wanted to sever my ties completely. I asked for permission to graduate with the class ahead of me, the same class I studied with in advanced science and math courses. I didn’t perform any sexual services or offer monetary rewards for this priviledge. You know what I did? I worked. I worked very hard to take all the classes needed and did every thing I could to excel. My academic success was my token out of that bucolic town.

So here we are so many years later and I’m still getting “memos” (if you will) from former classmates. See, they somehow think it’s unfair that through hardwork and good grades, I managed to be the valedictorian of the class ahead of me. I worked for that. I dreamed of that and I made it happen. To the people who are still pissed off- GET OVER IT! Life is too short. Focus that energy on making your own life pleasant and following your own dreams. Utilize some of that angst towards positivity and completing your own goals. I felt shameful and excessively modest about receiving something I worked for. That’s the only regret I have.

And you know what else? I graduated college two years ahead of schedule. I was 19. And not one of my peers complained because I did it by my own drive and determination. I wish I had the same capacity to care less when I was 16.

Jealousy is a wasted emotion.   

Humanity At It’s Finest

Location: Columbus Circle.

Details: I’m hired to hand out free Godiva chocoiste bars. The retail price of these fine chocolates ranges from $3-4. There’s no obligation. People even receive a free coupon that gives them a free gift with a Godiva store purchase. There are four girls, including myself, sampling the candies.

One of the other girls is handing out the chocolates while I reload from our Godiva-mobile. I step onto the sidewalk as a whining woman approaches me, clutching her free loot.

Whining Woman: Ma’am I don’t want this one. Give me another kind.

Me: Sorry, I can’t trade. You can see if someone else has what you want. There’s a coupon and you can get whatever you want at the store.

Whining Woman: But I don’t like caramel! And I don’t want dark chocolate!!

All the samples we have 1. contain dark chocolate or 2. contain caramel or a similar caramel flavour such as praline or toffee.

Me: I have other people who want chocolate.If you don’t want it you can give it to someone else.

In fact, I’m swarmed. Ever see a mob scene on a street corner and hurriedly walk by? Not wanting to be a part of it? Well, I was at the center of that ring of folks. And if one person gets to choose, they ALL want to pick and choose and argue.

Whining Woman had a few options. She could give me the chocolate back. She could give it to someone who wanted it. She could walk away and go about her business and save me a little sanity. Instead she stormed to the Godiva-mobile and complained about my bad attitude, walking away with the chocolate bar in a gold wrapper. Yes, it still contained caramel.

Still disastisfied, she felt the need to find me on the street and wave the shiny bar in my face.

Whining Woman: Miss, I just want to tell you that you have a real nasty fucking attitude. You should learn to be nice to people.

Me: Right. Because giving away free Godiva chocolate to ungrateful people just isn’t nice.

She marched away and I was left irritated. I guess I should follow her example of “being nice” by cussing out people everytime I don’t get what I want when what I want doesn’t even exist.

My life provides a good examination of human behaviour. Most people don’t get out of the behavioural patterns of a four-year-old. In fact, two little girls with their doe eyes and freckles came up to each of us, claiming they didn’t have a chocolate bar when they’re tiny hands barely concealed the chocolate they clutched. The parents just laughed at the behaviour. Most people walk by, in their own world and will then turn around when they see someone else say yes. People are sheep. Some demand another and another, with an unwarranted sense of entitlement. Some people walk into me, without apologizing, as if I don’t exist. And some people, yes a select few, with stop and smile and say, “Thanks, you really made my day.”

The most I hope to glean from this is that I never become like Whining Woman or the other 97-percent of the population.


On Ghostly Friends and Solid People

My sister came over last night, after I slept a solid 20-hours straight with some horrific headcold-flu-fever-inducing-nightmare. All the while my little Scarlett slept curled next to my head, occasionally reaching a paw to my face to see if I was still alive. During her visit we scanned through all the photos of the past few years I have in my files, noting how many people I once considered close friends had just disappeared. The majority of them were gobbled into their own life problems and despair, circuitous cries that brought some of them into fifty years of being miserable on this planet. And every one of these disappearing acts had left a rather good friendship for the sake of being in a terrible romantic relationship with someone that brought them nothing but misery.

I received a voicemail from one of the solid people in my life, who in spite of his heavy load of life’s challenges, is always there if I need something. He articulated, “Michelle, your outgoing message is just too cyncical for a young person. I don’t like it. You should really consider toning it down.” Quite an amusing comment from a man who tops my cynicism tenfold. And I thought I was being sarcastic- there’s a mild difference in delivery there. But instead of taking the time this morning to feel lousy about the people who have been lackluster friends and human beings, taking what they can when they want it from me and disappearing when I may actually need them, I decided to reflect on the positive. The incredible people I’m lucky to have in my life. Some of them I’ve watched face life or death scenarios in the past few years, some of them still recuperating, and who in spite of their struggles with health and recovery have been far less in professing their misery and despair that friends of mine who’ve had life fed to them on a silver spoon. Some people are just solid and loyal to the core. Their faith and determination are blinding. When I get on my own self-indulgent whining, particularly when trapped in my apartment and getting over a cold, I look to their life paths with admiration and gratitude. Thank God for the solid folks, or I may not have endured all the ghostly ones so easily. Actually, it was never easy… maybe easier because of the good souls in my life. So thank you, solid ones.

Two Things.

The google ads that run above my blog are hilarious and everychanging- but for one mainstay. There seems to always be a link to a Stevie Nicks site and that makes me beam. The rest, however, often link to relationship counseling, divorce in Ohio, and raising your baby right.

Secondly, although I know most people don’t leave comments but the hits on this site are constantly on the rise, I know some people are listening. I received so many silly and kind emails from my “room with a piano and a goat” dream. Below are some of the photos someone sent me for the goat and room.

 

How Sweet It Is: Under the Brooklyn Sky

A thunderstorm darkened the skies and passed through the Upper West Side just before I hopped on the downtown-3 train to Brooklyn. The hour-plus trip brought me to the Grand Armory stop, where I exited to see a seemingly endless sky. It’s rare to exit a subway train and witness a majestic sky, as the sun broke through the remaining storm clouds. I walked what felt like miles along Prospect Park West until I met the entrance to the concert seating for tonight’s event: Joan Osborne.

Unlike the hordes of patrons that fight through the gates of Summerstage in Central Park, the atmosphere was tranquil and welcoming. I felt a comrade in the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood. There was also an array of actual seats, in addition to an open lawn, and the views from all areas were incredible. I cannot believe how well produced and intimate the setting was- and did I mention free (although a $3 donation is recommended). Joan took the stage after a brass-jazz group covered a number of hits by the Supremes. When she first took the stage, in her t-shirt and high-waisted jeans, I thought to myself, “Wow. She has this unbelievable voice and absolutely no stage presence.” However, about three songs into the set, it became apparent that she was just battling nerves and from henceforth she felt at home and completely rocked out.

The band was tight- with an acoustic bass player, plucking through melodic arrangements in tune with a live heartbeat. The setlist was a diverse array of material from her first album, her “country” album, and the r&b hits albums she released most recently- Breakfast in Bed and How Sweet It Is. The eclectic audience of seniors, families, trendy gay guys and lesbian couples, college-aged girls, and commuters from Manhattan, was in the palm of her hands. The highlight of the show came when Joan begin her bluesy rendition of “War” and the wave of spine-tingles and goosebumps passed through the rows of people. As she sang, “War… what is it good for?” her voice was met with a unity of voices that answered, “Absolutely nothing.” The song was a perfect segue into her next song and major hit, “One of Us.” It provided an answer to the “War” lyrics… if God was one of us, it would be one more soul opposed to the war.

I heard a critic once say that Janis Joplin didn’t just sing notes- she sang chords. With her deep, raspy, and original voice… Joan Osborne is another songstress that manages to sing entire chords. I’m truly in awe of the power behind her voice and vocal control. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever attended, without all the glitz, smoke, and mirrors, her talent carried the show.

 

The Underscore

Okay, so I know the complaints are going to come in because I didn’t really publicize my gig last night at the Underscore. I basically left it open to anyone who managed to come across the poster online and wanted to attend. It was a very low key night and we closed the showcase. Thanks to everyone who came out- there was so much warmth and support in that overheated room. Now, I’ve taken my share of Bikram Yoga and I spent a summer living in the desert but I don’t think I’ve ever “glowed” as much as last night.

I fully intend to bother the hell out of everyone to attend any and all upcoming shows, but for my first time with this band, it was a solid and well-enjoyed show. I dared to perform “Rhiannon” last night, after seeing Stevie Nicks the night before at Jones Beach. Her show was an incredible inspiration, as I felt my own wave of nerves upon arriving at her concert and envisioning that day I take that stage. My waves of nervous energy were matched by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean that took over the entire orchestra section with the high tide. It was one of the most entertaining and unusual concerts I ever attended, as we had to bum rush the guards and hop over thirty rows of seats to avoid getting soaked in the bitter cold water.

It’s been a productive and well entertaining week… one of those weeks that I realize the destination may be sweet, but this journey isn’t so bad after all. I tried to leave commentary underneath the images, but xanga is not cooperating today. Basically, this place needed scarves and next time we gig, I’m bringing an array of scarves to create my own ambiance. Really. Thank goodness I wore some colour. My boys- Scott Slater on bass, Craig Bromberg on drums, and Ben Tabler on guitar.