Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Greatest

Lots has been written on Facebook, Twitter, text messages, and emails today, but I wanted to take a second to share here.  The greatest woman to grace the world passed away this morning.  My great grandmother, Mildred Elsie Bentley.  She was 100 years old.  And the world will never be the same.

I just got back from a multi-city vacation (more on that later) which ended in Arkansas visiting the family.  Last Saturday I went down to Levy to see my Mamaw B, as she was so lovingly called.  She had taken to sleeping a lot more, so I had been warned that she might be resting and that it was possible she wouldn't recognize me.  When I walked in, she was sitting in her usual chair.  I leaned in for hug and kiss, and she asked me to sit in her chair with her.  I told her I'd pop a squat on the bench next to her instead.  I held her hand for the next hour while we alternated listening to the stories floating about the room and just being together in perfect quietness.  She asked about New York and if I still loved it.  She asked about Selby and my mom.  And when it was time for her to lie back down, I walked her into her bedroom.

Through tears I hugged and kissed her.  She gently touched my cheek, looked me in the eye, and said, "I pray for you and your happiness every day.  I want you to know that."  I knew in that moment, it would be the last words we spoke... and it was beautiful.

Last night I was told that she didn't have much more time with us, and my dad promised he'd call when the time came.  I didn't sleep well and finally dozed off around 4am.  Oddly enough at 9:05am I popped awake - the dog, thirst, or nature didn't wake me.  It was peaceful and I just laid there thinking about my fabulous Mamaw B just like she often was in the picture above.  At 9:30 my dad rang.  She had passed about 10 minutes before.  I will forever believe that the Universe woke me to allow me to savor the last few minutes this world would have her.

I've spent the day in reflection.  I loved her so much.  She was full of love, life, and beauty.  She prayed every single day for each of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren by name.  She made the best peanut butter cookies and chicken/dumplings.  I remember her laughter as my grandpa taught me how to bait a fishing hook at Shoal Bay and her singing "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".  I will always cherish the conversations we had about "As The World Turns" and "Young and the Restless" until she quit watching the latter.  And I will forever be proud to be the liberal following in her Democratic footsteps...

She was the greatest.
Some things are meant to be, the tide turning endlessly,
The way it takes hold of me, no matter what I do, 
And some things will never die, the promise of who you are, 
The memories when I am far from you. 
All my life, I've lived for loving you; let me go now.
I love you, Mamaw B.  I hope I can live up to being a fraction of the woman you were.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Some Insider Info

I've had a number of you ask.  I've even had some of you think I'm joking.  But it's official... I'm in the midst of a temporary break from dating.  Shocking I know.  Astoria's Professional Dater pausing.

And that's exactly what it is.  A pause.  I shall return, of course, more excited about it than I have been in awhile.  Perhaps even with different direction than before - time will tell.  Who knows, I may meet Mr. Right tomorrow, have an unexpected friend turn my head next week, or unintentionally rekindle something with a past flame next month.  But for now, it's a loose kind of break.

As far as Mr. Brownie Points goes, we'll just say we weren't a good match...

In the meantime, this little guy is kinda reminding me of me...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Here's My May

May is crazy.  April was too, and June is shaping up to be the same.  Below is a little hint of the fun that's been had so far...

Bowling was done same-sies style...

Friends had the most beautiful baby ever...

 Birthdays were celebrated through martini glasses...

 Songs were sung...

 Goats were played with and loved...

 Wineries were visited...

 Even Elwood Blues made an appearance (albeit chained to a garage)...

 New friends were made...

 Old friends were visited...

 Mormons were on lottery...

 Wakey!Wakey! was enjoyed...

Faux-Princesses played mini golf...

Freestyle Love Supreme... who's going back with me??

In addition to the fun above, my writing class is keeping me insanely busy and focused.  It's amazing, and I'm learning so much.  

As some of you know, my friend SuZZanne (spelled incorrectly on purpose thank ya very much) is moving to Portland, Oregon, at the end of June.  Since the boy sitch is lame-o right now, work is manageable, and spring weather is phenomenal (despite ridiculously high pollen counts) I'm spending lots of time doing fun stuff with her.

I'm also taking a much-needed 10-day vacay starting this Friday.  I'll try to post some funsy updates while gone, but if it doesn't happen I'll be back the week of May 23rd.  That is, of course, unless the Times Square conspiracy theorists are right...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Change Is Coming

I often notice when I'm feeling complacent, bored, or blahsy a change comes in the form of hair, makeup, wardrobe, or furniture.

Certainly not complacent these days, much too busy to be bored, I guess blahsy is where I'm living this week.  So while watching DWTS last night, it hit me that I need this haircut (albeit a bit less platinum).

And for any smarty pants out there, I obviously mean Chelsea's not Mark's.


If that doesn't work, I'm sure one of the ones below would at least be a distraction...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

There Be Dragons

I'm feeling a lot of family love this week... 

My cousin Wes is coming into town this week and taking me to his new movie premiere "There Be Dragons".  I knew about it.  I'd seen a little clip sometime ago.  And I'd even spent some time talking to him about the film when he did a show in NYC last year.  But not until I went looking for this clip did I feel such immense pride... I love ya, Wes.  I can't wait to see you and the film.

Enjoy, Everyone.  I think it's gonna be a good one for me...

And here's a trailer to get you excited.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Never forget?

When people say (or have signs, or attach bumper stickers, or anything of the sort) "Never Forget" in reference to September 11, 2001, I cringe.

A pleasant sentiment.  A catchy cliche.  But a saying that is redundant to those who lived it and were directly affected by it.

I was one of those.

After President Obama's announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, I was instantly taken back to that day.  A day that changed so many lives.

I moved to NYC on September 1, 2001.  Wide-eyed, young, and completely naive I was ready to conquer this concrete jungle and take it by storm.  A planner, we planned to be completely unpacked in 10 days so we could have some fun doing touristy things for the two weeks prior to starting my job.  We each got cell phones on September 10th - the first sign of being true adults (and also a sign of showing my age...).  I called my mother and told her our plans included a trip to the World Trade Center the next morning - the day was supposed to be beautiful.  After hanging up, we treated ourselves and Indy to a bodega sandwich and walk around the neighborhood (big spenders at the age of 22).  As we walked it occurred to us that we had set up the office all wrong.  We went back to our new apartment and went to work on the final room until 3am.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, we slept in.

8 miles from Ground Zero.  Safely tucked away in Queens.  Securely asleep while the world collapsed.

I was startled awake with, "Joy.  Wake up.  I think the Two Towers were bombed."

There was no television - the towers housed the tv antennae.  There was no telephone - lines were jammed for days.  There was no internet - the modem wouldn't be installed until the following week.  We noticed through the rolling snow of the tv screen that the first tower had just fallen.  We managed to get a radio to work.  A woman had called into the radio station.  She said, "I think I just saw my husband jump from his office in Tower One."  Selby and I looked at each other and realized this was much more than a bomb.  We needed to get in touch with our families.

I walked to the closest payphone - no dial tone.  I jogged to the next - a line of frightened people.  I sprinted to the next.  Over a scratchy signal I heard the ringing.  "Mother?" I asked as the other line picked up.  I heard a sigh of relief and then tears.  I asked what happened.  My mother quickly gave me an overview of the morning's events as they had unfolded.

Static filled the conversation.  The line of antsy people behind me grew.  I asked her to call my dad and Selby's parents.  I told her I didn't know when I'd be able to call next.  I told her I loved her.

Numb, I walked through my beautiful new neighborhood, in the boro of the city where I dreamed of living.  Ambulances screamed past.  Fire trucks overtook the streets making their way toward Manhattan.  Entering the apartment I saw Selby's transformation from college actor to grown-up caretaker on a mission.  He had hacked into the building's cable, strung the line through the foyer, and was watching the news reports.

"This is horrific," he said to me as I sat down on the living room floor in fear.

For the next four hours we watched the towers collapse over and over.  We heard fighter jets flying overhead.  We had no friends in the city yet (certainly none in the towers).  We had no telephones.  We had no internet.  We had stolen cable.  We were 22 years old, 1500 miles away from our families, but we had each other.

By the end of the day we had been formally introduced to a character named Osama bin Laden.  He was responsible for this fear.  These tears.  This despair.  This hopelessness.  This helplessness.  I hated him.

In the following days we holed up in front of our stolen CNN.  We finally decided to go see some of the destruction.  The subway wasn't in service, so we were forced to see the new skyline from atop the KMart parking garage on the edge of Queens and Brooklyn - a sight I will never forget.  This was my new home.  This was worth sticking around.  In those few days I went from wide-eyed southern baby to full-fledged New Yorker.  They say it takes seven years... for us it took seven days.

The unity the city embraced made me proud.  Proud to be a New Yorker.  Proud to be a part of something by obligation.  I fell in love with the city, the people, the tenacity.  As much as the hate lived on for Mr. bin Laden, my pride overwhelmed me.

These past near-ten years has buried some of the anger and all of the fear I felt in those days of September 2001.  But tonight seeing that vision of hatred, sadness, and murder killed provoked all of the emotions of that time.

And once again I am proud.  Proud to have voted for Obama.  I don't understand the celebrations that are happening... is someone's death ever reason to celebrate??  It's a time of remembering.  It's a time of reflection.  It's a time to never forget - and another day I will never lose.