Sunday, June 27, 2010

Release it to the Universe!

Everybody needs a release. I would say I'm a fairly positive thinking individual. I can let a lot of stuff slide off my back like water and a ducks butt. But, as with all of us, things start building up. Aging parents, their health issues, my health issues, the economy, the loss of all three of my beloved pets in a six month period, family issues, house repairs (see last blog), the BP oil spill, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan that has been brought home personally by my nephew Sean being in Iraq and just the day to day bumps in the road that we are all faced with.

As a young child, my mother, the professional seamstress, tried to teach me to sew. Yeah, that didn't work. Have you ever sewn your finger to the material? My mother tried to teach me crafts. I had more glue and glitter on me than the Christmas cards I was trying to make. Plus the cards kept sticking to my fingers and were pretty well torn and shredded by the time I got through.

I even remember one time where she showed me how to fry marbles, drop them in cold water so they would crackle and glue them onto tiles to make matchbox holders. I kept burning my fingers on the hot marbles. I tried to sell them door to door but if I remember correctly the profit went to ointment and band-aids.

My mother could look at a dress in Vogue, create the pattern and have it sewn all in one day. That's another gene I didn't get. I think I lean very heavy to the Messina side of the chromosome chart.

I made a hooked rug once. Well, I made half of a hooked rug once. Paint by numbers? I think I once got to the number 5, that was about half way through and I got bored. Holly's Mom taught me to crochet. I never got beyond crocheting a long rope. Have I mentioned my ADD?

So, crafts, sewing and hobbies of that caliber have just never been my thing. I envy people who can create with their minds and with their hands but have learned to accept that will never be my cup of tea. I just handed over a huge bag of material to a very talented friend. It had been sitting in my office waiting to be sewn into doo-rags for my friends with cancer. She is going to make neck coolers out of them and send them to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, thank God, I do have a release. It's dance, plain and simple. I forced myself to get ready today, not really in the mood. I drove to the Highliner, parked the car and wandered in kind of in a blue funk wishing I could have stayed home and watched "It's Complicated" for the second time. I love Nancy Myers films. The woman gets me.

But I walked in and immediately was hugged and greeted by so many friends. And some I haven't seen in a very long time. By the way, Barbara, I meant what I said. You look fabulous and it was wonderful to see you! People grabbed my hand and squeezed it, patted my back, put their arms around my shoulders. The immediate feeling of being where I belonged and feeling liked and loved raised up my spirits in a matter of minutes.

Then the music started. I know zydeco isn't for everybody. I know that some people just don't get it. I cannot tell you how excited I was to learn that because of the time and place my grandparents settled into New Orleans, I am considered Creole Italian. I didn't even know there was such a thing but I am so proud of that silly little part of my ancestery I could just about bust my buttons (which I do frequently just because of my bosom!).

OK, back to the music (did I mention my ADD?). It started and one of my favorite partners asked me to dance, then another and another and another until it was my time to help at the entrance. This music, this dance raises my endorphins and once again, though all may not be right with my world, it makes it ok. It makes me a stronger person to face the lumps and the bumps of the coming week.

I hope you have your releases, whether it's gardening, art, reading, playing an instrument, bicycling, sports, motorcycles, whatever. I am amazed and impressed by what my friends put on Facebook every day as they share their daily activities with the world. Just something so that you can get out and get the stink off ya!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is it just me?

Trying to get ready for my Mother's 90th birthday party this Saturday (40-50 guests) and possibly putting my home on the market. I made a list of the items that needed to be repaired, painted, glued, screwed and removed.

I was not raised in a household where I was taught how to do these things, so some I learn on my own, some I learn by somebody showing me and some I do the old fashioned way - I pay to have them done.

The genes I inherited in home repair came from my father. My mother can just about fix anything but she was not somebody that showed you how to do it because she was so busy raising five kids she just did it. And we let her because that's the way it was.

Now, my father. A dear family friend once said to me about my father "You're father would do anything for anybody - if he could do anything". Yes, that sums up my dad. He would study a hand saw for 30 minutes trying to figure out which side to use and then go and use the straight side. You think I'm making this stuff up?

The first thing that has been on my list of repairs is a sliding shower door that the long plastic guide has since turned brittle and broken off in small parts the last few years. So the shower door has to be sort of lifted and moved over. I go to Lowe's and they have nothing in stock but am told they would have it online.

I go online. They have nothing like this at all. This plastic guide is what, 4 ft long? They have these little 2 inch long thingies. And it shows two different models and they are like under $3 for each one. So I order 2 of each not quite knowing what I need, but knowing I need something. Of course, they are not what I need. Anybody out there in repair land have a clue where I can find this long plastic guide? Oh yes, and did I mention that for my $12 online shopping spree at Lowe's I paid $10 for shipping? What a deal!

Then I have this bi-fold door in my kitchen that some doohickey broke at the top. So that door had to be lifted and twisted to open and close for about the last six years. I mostly left it open but if I cut the corner too quick into the kitchen I would invariably catch my shoulder on the open door. I've gotten used to that bruise on my left shoulder. So, I look at the door and go to Lowe's and buy this pin and then this other thing with a roller on top. I get home, get out the step ladder and get up there and nope, not the right thing. It needs a long thingy in the track, not the pin on the door.

So back to Lowe's. Again, two different things that kinda, sorta look alike but I'm not sure so again, I buy both. And nobody in a red vest walks by. Each item is about $4 each.

Divine Providence shines on me for when I get home my very tall, very helpful, very wonderful son-in-law is at my house. So I hand him the thingamabobs and ask which one he thinks would work so that the pin at the top of the door would fit into the track. He tries the metal one, but nooooo, that's not the one. Then he tries the plastic one and Eureka! that is the ticket. The door glides open and closed beautifully.

But wait, there's more. Isn't there always more when you are dealing with home repairs? The knob had come off the door a long time ago too. So I go back to Lowe's and buy two, shiny new knobs. I go to put them on. The screws that are in the packet with the knobs are 1/2 inch. The door is at least one inch wide.

Back in the car and smart me, I bring along the knob and take the screw from the other door so I have an example of what I need. I put them in a plastic baggy, put them in my purse and the good Catholic girl in me worries the whole time that Lowe's is going to think I stole them. I know I have to be clandestine about this so they don't make me walk the walk of shame! So I stand in front of the wall of screws and all of those other weird items I know nothing about for several minutes. Of course no one wearing a red vest walks by me the whole time I am standing there perusing 32,800 different types of screws.

I finally find the right packet. I match up the screw in my hand with the screw that is 8 1 1/2. Whatever the hell that all means. I pay my $1.19, get in my car and drive home.

I reach around to the back of the door and push the screw through the hole, it comes out the other side and I start to screw the shiny new knob onto it when it pushes through the hole. I am now wrapped around this door in a very odd position (have you seen my bosom?) As a matter of fact, my finger pushes through the hole and I have to wiggle it around to unstick it.

Yes, I get back into my car. This is not going to defeat me! I am going to get this damn door fixed if it is the last thing I do. I drive back to Lowe's. I find a round metal thing, I believe they are called washers. It is about 2 inches in diameter and I could not tell you what it cost because by this time I am a wild woman, standing at the check stand, muttering to myself and foaming at the mouth.

But the goods new is, it worked, it worked very well. I am now able to put my hand on the knob, the knob stays in place and the door glides open, oh so smoothly, and the door glides shut. I stood there for about 10 minutes just opening and closing the door.

Yes, I know I have lots of other talents but home repair is not one of them. I am a gracious hostess and everybody that walks into my home this Saturday for Mom's party will be invited to open and close my pantry door. Do I know how to entertain or what?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fabulous Dahling!

Just got back from seeing Sex & the City 2 with my BFF Joanie. And no, it was not as good as the first one but I still loved it. And in this day and age can I justify that they spent $3,000,000 on just the clothes? No, but it's Hollywood. And it had Liza Minnelli in it and she was fabulous.

There was New York and the exotic location of Abu Dhabi. Will I ever get to Abu Dhabi? Probably not in this life time but I do plan on going back to New York, maybe even this summer. New York, the capital of fabulous. I love New York. I loved going to the Plaza, going into the Oak Room and drinking Cosmo's. I will never forget that fabulous trip.

But the point of this blog is, yes, it was a movie, but it was a movie about being fabulous. And I want to be fabulous. I have moments where I feel pretty good about myself, but not fabulous.
Samantha is going through menopause and she's still fabulous. If she can do it, so can I.

I work hard, and I play hard and I try to be interesting. I am there for my kids, and I try to be there for my friends, but a few years ago I realized something. I was going into that age where women disappear. Especially short, chubby women. Short, chubby, older women. Yes, it's true. Once I realized that I started to really pay attention. I could be at the counter at Nordstrom waiting for help for a few minutes and if somebody younger and taller and thinner stood next to me the clerk would automatically help them first. Not just Nordstrom's, all stores. Especially Lowe's. Don't get me started on Lowe's. I've had more meltdowns in Lowe's than marshmallows in hot chocolate.

It's true, women start fading as they age if they don't do something about it. I dye my hair. I've dyed my hair since my mid-twenties when the gray started taking over. I was 100% white by the time I was 40. Every once in a while I will mutter that I'm letting it grow out and my daughters throw cold water in my face to bring me back to reality.

And I wear make-up. Lots of make-up. My eyebrows have left the building so they are drawn in on a daily basis. Eyeliner, shadow and mascara - because with glasses the eyes just sort of disappear for me without the whole smokey eye thing.

I can count on one hand where I left my home without wearing make-up. I will admit the ponytail and baseball cap have saved my bacon more times than I can say though when it comes to the hair. That's survival.

I have bought fabulous things. I buy them, and I get them home and I never wear them. Never. I have a jewel encrusted head band that is fabulous and I've never worn it. I have sparkling shawls, incredible silk scarves, boxes of jewelry, and some pretty great clothes, that I have never worn. I wear jeans and t-shirts. Yep, Mom jeans and t-shirt tops. No more. I will accessorize the hell out of my t-shirts and Mom jeans from here on out!

I am going to wear all of that stuff. Well, I'm going to wear it as soon as I can get to it. My bathroom is being remodeled and the toilet that has been sitting in the middle of my bedroom for a month just been installed. And as soon as my son-in-law installs the new shower heads and puts the shower doors back on and everything gets put back, then I'm going to get fabulous! The guys at Lowe's won't know what hit them!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ups, downs, overs and outs in my reinvention

I have not blogged in several weeks though I have encouraged others to blog, I seem to have lost the impetus. There could be several reasons combined for this that just sort of kept me at bay from the blogging keyboard. But as I've noted in past posts, I love to write. I love to meander down the road of words and string them together in the hopes that something halfway intelligent or humorous is created.

I was laid off the end of January. After having worked since 1972 I guess one could say a major part of my identity was my job. But I never really blogged about my job so that can't be it. I've spent the time since looking for another job, creating a new side business of booking bands and working on my book. All have kept me fairly busy but not so busy that I could not have taken the time out to blog.

Creating the new side business has been fun, hectic, interesting, and frustrating. I'm a bit on the ADD side so I have a tendency to bounce around getting things done. First step, get the email domain - check. Second step - study websites of others in the same business - check. Well, except for the times I would be looking at other websites and sort of meander off to read the newspaper online or pop over to Facebook to see who left something funny or profound on my page, or when I would wander over to my email to see if anybody was doing something fun and had invited me. Oh yeah, I was writing about my business start up. See, I am easily distracted. At the same time if I make myself focus, really focus, the sky could fall and I wouldn't have even heard Chicken Little.

Oh yes, I must have business cards. Thank God for Sean Patrick Donovan. He created the most exquisite business card with just the right amount of lasciviousness for me. My favorite colors, my symbol, the fleur de lis, and a saucy little message. Just perfect. Business cards - check!

Because of my volunteering, I have met several people who own clubs and book bands themselves. One gentlemen in particular has become my mentor. He seems willing to share anything he has with me in my quest for knowledge. He answers my questions, he explains how things work between the clubs, the bands, the booking agent, the manager, the splits. He explains to me the ego of the musician, the artiste! And I, in return, send him jokes. Business training - check!

After booking bands off and on for ten years for non-profits, it was time to take this experience and see if I really had any talent in this area and I will admit I have mixed success. But that's the nature of the business, it's up, it's down, it's over and it's out. Just ask Frank Sinatra.

I am currently the booking agent for Richard Allen and the Louisiana Experience. Richard is a brilliant musician and can play drums, keyboards, accordian and so on and so on. He is also a very talented composer. In short, Richard has what it takes to go somewhere. We are learning to communicate with each other, we are learning to be patient with each other and we are learning segments of the business together as we go along. We've had our ups, our downs, our overs and our outs but each time brings us a little closer to getting it all together. I believe in Richard, I believe in what he is trying to do so I keep moving forward with him.

And last summer I was about as lucky as you can get (a little take on the name of her first CD, "Lucky Girl") when I met Karen Lovely. As in The Karen Lovely Band. My brother, Phil, had hired Karen's blues band to play for the Central Point, OR "Battle of the Bones" picnic. I'm not quite clear what this is, barbecuing ribs and listening to music? I know Phil told me but remember, I'm ADD, throw in a pinch (a very large pinch) of menopause, probably some brain damage from raising children and oh, a bird must have flown by the window when he was telling me. Anyway, back to the point, being, what was the point? Oh yeah! Karen Lovely and her fabulous manager Lorie Haynes. Have you ever met somebody and felt like you could be really good friends with them? That's how it felt with Karen and Lori. We're women of an age. We've been through some battles. We've dealt with a lot of life. And we came back laughing. I think we came back with a vengeance. I think we're living life on our terms in the way we really want to. And we're doing it with a very strong sense of humor. I like living my life like that.

OK, back to my story. I had the honor to watch and listen as Karen sang her heart out at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival held every 4th of July weekend. The Karen Lovely Band was entered into the Journey to Memphis contest. So, in the blistering sun, Karen belted out songs that became embedded in my skin. The kind of music that when you hear it you pay attention, you focus and you think she's singing to you, she's singing about something that happened to you. And she won. Of course she won, those judges aren't stupid. Then she went to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January and came in second out of approximately 200 bands.

So, it was recently my honor to promote Karen up here in Seattle. I worked with the Highway 99 Blues Club, Lori, Karen and Richard. At first the club was a little skeptical because it was the Saturday of Memorial Weekend. And those of us who are "into" music in Seattle know that is Folk Life weekend. Folk Life is incredible, but Folk Life is the kiss of death to music clubs for that weekend.

But I had a plan. Open with zydeco and the zydeco dancers will come straight to the club from Folk Life (I know, because my name is Rita and I am a zydeholic). And I am a firm believer that zydeco and the blues are kissin' cousins. And I PR'd the hell out of it. I handed out hundreds of handbills created by Dana Sullivan (what's a girl to do - juggling two of the most talented illustrators/graphic artists in Washingont State - it keeps me in a tizzy!) I emailed it to the masses, I Facebooked it to my friends. The Washington Blues Society picked it up and ran with it. And my strategy worked, it really, really worked. Richard came on and whipped up the crowd to a dancing frenzy. The crowd that came to hear the blues loved the zydeco and the zydeco crowd loved the blues. It's like who would have thought of covering orange slices with chocolate? Then Karen started singing and I felt as if I was wearing velvet inside out, with the soft side against your skin. With sequins. Yep, like wearing your black velvet dress with the sequins inside out. That combination of softness and hardness that tries to lull you but keeps you aware. The joining of the two bands broke records for Memorial weekend Saturday nights.

I hope to do more of this as time goes on, finding the right combinations, the magic combinations. I am meeting some great people, I am learning so that's keeping my brain from turning to mush and I find this business very interesting and stimulating. Just one little episode in the Reinvention of Rita.