Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dance to the Music (Sly and the Family Stone)

Once when we were kids, we were driving back from a Pirates game downtown. That was the 90s and the team was decent. The song “Dance To The Music” came on the radio. My dad told us he saw Sly and The Family Stone live as they were getting to be big. He was about six feet away from them and Sly was coked out as shit. Yeah, coked out. Then again, that whole generation of musician did drugs, right? My dad mentioned Sly was just dancing and the whole place was on fire. I believe the whole band was actually related.
It was the late 60s, early 70s. Aside from the Family Stone there was The Manson Family. Yes, I am talking Sharon Tate. That whole horror movie. Every member of that family has tried to get paroled but none have succeeded. But it was a weird time, a time of change. It was Civil Rights, and there were people who opposed them. Now there are people who oppose Gay Rights. It was Vietnam. My parents both knew people who were killed. Now we have the whole debacle in The Middle East. I have a high school classmate who drove his jeep over a landmine and was mortally wounded. People opposed both wars, and the only thing that was different was there was no draft in my generation. Otherwise people would be helluva pissed.
So some things change, some things stay the same.
Over the past year there has been a lot of change in my family. Not all of it has been for the better. Both my Nunni and Pop Pop, my mom’s parents, passed away. Nunni was a trendsetter and feminist before the word even became coined. She worked as a nurse during the war, went back to school in her 60s, and traveled the world after raising six kids. My mom then discovered words on scraps of paper, and Nunni confessed she had been writing poetry. So my mother implored her to publish. Nunni did, and akin to Grandma Moses began a writing career that spanned from her 70s to her 80s. Also, she acted as the grandmother in the local Nutcracker until her last year on the planet. Age wasn’t a number.
Pop Pop was also pretty progressive before the word became colloquial. He served in the Navy during World War II, and I believe even achieved the rank of First Lieutenant. In college, he had also majored in engineering and had boxed. When my mom was a kid, he installed a chin up bar and made his kids do chin up when they entered and exited a room. This was before people knew anything about fitness and the importance it played in their children’s lives. Pop Pop also supported Civil Rights. His belief was blacks should have the same rights as whites, and someone of a different color was welcome to be his neighbor as long as they caused no trouble. Pop Pop also supported gay rights too. His belief was they were people, and if they chose to live peacefully he had no issue with what they did behind closed doors.
Both were funny, both loved to tell a good joke. Both died within months of each other after being married sixty something odd years.
There have also been some changes for the better. This past week I was away with my family at the beach. My sister Skipper brought her beau Boomer. The two met when Skipper was completing medical school, and Boomer was the brother of one of her friends. Lately things have been heating up with this relationship. When Skipper got a job in Nashville, Boomer interviewed and once he was hired moved down to be with her. I saw them together and they were attached at the hip. Like the characters in Commedia Del Arte and the Tarot archetype, their love is pure and without the wear and tear of baggage. Thus I have nicknamed them The Lovers.
The Lovers proved to be ready and able vacation companions. I have to say although I don’t always agree with his Ron Paul friendly anti-government political leanings, I do like Boomer. He was telling me he met my sister and she kept blowing him off. Boomer’s sister Lena had organized these dinner parties in order to get Skipper to come and socialize with him. Out of the three, Skipper showed up once. Boomer was discouraged until his mother told him she and his dad had been engaged twice, and his dad didn’t give up. Well neither did Boomer. Eventually Skipper gave in.
Well the plot thickens. Boomer had hinted that he wanted to propose to Skipper, and they had been looking at rings. Skipper had received a bridal magazine in the Easter Basket my mother sent her. Boomer mentioned he was going to ask my dad for my sister’s hand in marriage. I told him I didn’t know people did that. He mentioned his brother in law Jimmy had spoken to his father. Needless to say, when it was Boomer and my dad by the pool, they had the talk. Boomer went for it. He told my dad things had been getting kind of serious. And then he asked my dad for my sister’s hand in marriage.
Well my dad’s best friends The Reveres came to vacay with us. Dr. Revere is an academic, and his wife Martha is pretty neat. Both met on Anyway, while we were taking a pic on the beach my dad announced Boomer had asked him for Skipper’s hand in marriage. It was fun, it was joyous, it was a change for the better.
 Mother’s Day occurred during that trip and my mom, who took the passing of my grandparents quite hard, said that now there was no one to call when good news happened for any of us. I told her this simply wasn’t true. Our family structure was not diminishing but rather changing. Now when Skipper was called to get familial news, good or bad, Boomer would be attached to that announcement. There would still be people to get the good news, it is just that those people had changed. The network was evolving, not disappearing. Boomer would be a good brother-in-law and son-in-law. He understands family, and would have an idea on how to play his role. It wasn’t a bad thing. It was a good thing. It’s just that it was different.
There has been some change in my work life as well. I got passed over for a huge opportunity this winter, and was rejected completely for a job involving my writing. Both killed my self-worth. Additionally, I am still waiting to hear on another thing and Lord only knows what is going on there. The winter involved a lot of darkness. The things that were going on were very bad on one end, and very good on another. There was a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty is worse than death in some ways. With death you know what happens, uncertainty, not so much. The killer was, I came close to both. When I say close, I was touching the top of the mountain and fell.
However, there have also been some opportunities revealing themselves that have been beyond words. I have started a new job for Ranter, a phone app where I work as a talking head. It is for sports nuts and sports fans everywhere. I don’t know what will happen or where that door will lead, but I have wanted to do something with sports broadcasting forever. This is a door I have wanted since I was a teenager, and now it has appeared. Also, I am doing a theatre show at Soluna Theatre May 30-31. I have wanted to do theatres forever too. Now it is happening. Additionally, I am also taking a graduate level class with a former editor of a big publishing house in regards to my writing. And a few weeks ago, I taped a DVD, a dream I have had for years. So some of the change is good.
On the other hand, the change is scary. As a woman working in sports broadcasting, I am well aware of the sexism I will face from my male counterparts. While that word is getting better, it still has a long way to go. The theatre show is a go, but anything could happen and I am well aware. Also, there is the fear that now that I am a headliner, will I be able to cut the mustard? And I know I can write but I have never been a Grammar Nazi or school person, will I be able to hack it? As for my DVD, how to get it sold and how to market? Also, will I be able to watch myself, since I do talk like a red neck chipmunk on crystal meth. I love my puppet children but damn, they creep me out too.
Then I remember another archetype in Tarot, and that is the Moon. The night Boomer asked for Skipper’s hand in marriage there was a big, brilliant full moon. We had gotten back from dinner, and we were on the patio. Boomer mentioned walking to the water, and Skipper mentioned she feared snakes. After some chiding, Boomer got her to go. The three of us journeyed to the beach. The bright lines from the moon illuminated as we stood at the ocean’s edge, the cool water kissing our feet.
At that moment, it occurred to me that the future was not just unknown to me, but to everyone. Yes, my path currently is single career woman who eats, sleeps, and drinks her work. I don’t know what is next, but the only thing I can do is trust that I am doing what I have been called to do, and to know I have not been taken this far in order to be dropped. Additionally, Skipper and Boomer don’t know their future. Yes, the Lovers are young and optimistic, but their journey will have bumpy roads. No one’s path is smooth all the time. However, they trust that they have been brought together, and are walking into the future as a unit. So yes, in Tarot The Moon is the card of uncertainty, but however, it is also the card of faith and knowing the choice is right.
Today was street fair day and I heard the song “Dance to the Music.” I ended up dancing with a woman missing some teeth in the front. But as we danced, it occurred to me that while change could be scary, life wasn’t that serious. Jobs come and go. Careers ebb and flow. Lovers disappoint, disappear, and are replaced with better lovers if the one you have doesn’t work out. The only thing you can do is have gratitude for what is good because that too shall pass, and know that anything that is bad shall pass as well. In the end you only have yourself, and you have to be able to handle a curve ball or home run and anything in between.

“I Say ‘Ride Sally, Ride.”


Come see me at the Soluna Theatre, May 30-31 Happague, Long Island
Buy my book I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Check out my DVD Broke and Semi-Famous coming soon

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