Friendship

I saw this article in the New York Times recently, about over- and underestimating our skills.  It’s really interesting, and even includes a link to a “test” you can take on a specific skill to see where you fall on the over/under scale.

But this made me think about other types of “skills” and specifically about friendship.  I don’t know anyone who would say they are not a good friend; and most people probably would agree they could be a better one.  But do we over- or under- on our estimation of how good a friend we actually are?

Personally, I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot lately.  I think I may overestimate how good a friend I am, but I know I try.  I try to remember what my friends say about what’s going on in their lives; I try to check in if there’s something important that’s come up; and I try to be available, even if it’s not convenient, when they reach out.  Basically, I try to be present.

But do I succeed?  How can I know?  All I can really do is try to be the friend I want to have.  Luckily, I have some really good examples in my life.  I hope you do too.  And I’m sure we all have some really bad examples around too.  What I’m learning is that you can let go of those people, or at least limit your contact with them.  No matter how close you may have been in the past, some friendships don’t last.  Or they just change, not always for the better, but then, also not always for the worst.

I don’t have some smart wrapping-up comment to make (regular readers will know I rarely do) except this:  we hear a lot about how romantic relationships are hard, but not as much about our platonic friendships.  And I’m here to tell you that yes, they are hard too.

 

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P.S. I Love You

The other day, I posted on Facebook how I dislike the abbreviations “love ya” and, even more so, “luv u”.  And I do.  It’s not just because I’m old (teehee), but because in adults at least, it’s just so damn precious.  I’ve heard the arguments that those phrasings are more “casual”, more like “I love you as a friend, in a non-romantic way”, but when did love become solely romantic, or even need to be defined?

My family and closest friends say “I love you” or just “love you” a lot.  And it doesn’t diminish its value,nor do we need to define its “depth” by abbreviating it.  Somehow, we have fallen into the habit of defining love and “weighting” its importance and value.  And I think we lose something by doing so while at the same time giving certain “types” of love a false gravity that limit it.  Think about the importance we give to the first saying of it in a romantic relationship, and how that might even stop people from actually using the words.

To quote James Joyce:  “Love loves to love love.”  Try it.  Say “I love you” more often with less concern about its gravity.  You’ll be pleased with the result, I bet.  And have fewer regrets.

 

 

N.B.  And please don’t come back at me with the LMM quote about love.  I prefer Joyce’s version.

Today

It’s Thanksgiving Day.  I don’t really love this holiday, but I love my friends, so I will be sharing a meal with them.  Right now I’m home, watching the parade, counting (some of) my blessings.

  • I have family who made sure I know they are missing me and love me very much.
  • I have friends who will put up with my whining and STILL want to eat with me.  Or at the very least, text or talk with me!
  • I was lucky enough to spend this morning with myself and my cat, thinking and writing.
  • I got to spend part of my quiet morning making a side dish for today…something I used to make with my mother…something my aunts made (with gentle family sparring over whose was best).  While doing so, I got to revel in all.the.memories.

Yemisee. My mother’s version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I had yemisee* for breakfast!
  • Later, there also will be wine.
  • While it’s been a tough year, I’ve learned a lot about myself.
  • I’m still standing.

The list could go on, but the cat wants a cuddle.  For what are you most thankful this Thanksgiving?

 

*Yemisee:  A Greek dish based on rice, onions, mushrooms, raisins and pecans.  You can make it with meat or without.

Our Circus; Our Monkeys

Remember that saying that was everywhere a while back:  “Not my circus; not my monkeys”?  I was reminded of it by a t-shirt I saw today.  Well, guess what?  Since the 2016 election, that’s a privilege we don’t have.  It is OUR circus, and sadly, they are OUR monkeys. 

I’m not going to list all the reasons you should be paying attention; that list exists thanks to Amy Siskind.  I’m not going to try to appeal to your better nature; if we’re honest, we can all admit that in the end, most of what do is driven by self-interest.

And your self-interest is at risk, or may already have been damaged.  If you believed the lies that 45 spouted during the campaign, I’m sorry for you.  But if you still believe in him, open your eyes and look at what is actually happening and listen to the lies he is telling.  Perhaps you don’t care about people of color or LGBTQ people or asylum seekers, so look at how what is happening is affecting you.  If you are genuinely better off, congratulations on being part of the one percent.

I’m not talking about issues outside your day-to-day life.  Maybe you are (wrongly) pleased that he scotched the Iran deal.  Maybe you (wrongly) think the way in which he moved our Embassy in Israel was beautifully handled, and even if it wasn’t, it was “time”.  Maybe you (wrongly) believe that asylum seekers should be jailed for a misdemeanor. But I’m talking about YOUR LIFE.  Are there feuds in your family?  Have you lost friends?  How’s that tax “cut” doing for you?  Is anyone you love at risk due to the changes in the ACA?

None of us can deny that no matter what you believe on the issues, this country is divided and becoming more so everyday.  If you think it’s not deliberate on the part of this administration, you’re not paying attention.  And the impact of that will, in fact, be your circus.  Look out for your monkeys.  I am.  I will be.

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

It’s almost February.  And then, I will be unemployed.  Why doesn’t actually matter… as I said on social media when sharing my news there:

I am sad about leaving my work of the last 23.5 years, of course, but I am excited to move forward.

I made this choice, and I own it, gladly, even knowing I will soon be unemployed for the first time since 1990 or so, but “forward” and “choice” and “gladly” are the key words here.

Of course, it’s not all a bed of roses.  There is worry and, yes, fear, involved in this step.   And there are so many details!  I’ve seen all my doctors and filled my prescriptions; I’ve found and purchased an appropriate health plan going forward (NYS makes it really easy, thank goodness); I’m taking full advantage of various services of The Actors’ Fund (my favorite helping hand for entertainment professionals);  and I have made plans.  Lots and lots and lots of plans – some involving my job search, and some personal goals for which I will finally have the time.  Yay for de-cluttering!

It’s surprising to me that many of my friends are (kindly and generously) calling me “brave”, because really what I feel is reckless.  Really, really, really reckless.  But I’ve written before about my decision-making process (well, more than once, but that’s a good one), so maybe you understand.   And already there have been both ups and downs – help from the most unexpected sources, and a surprising lack of anything from some “expected” sources.   It’s been a learning experience, that’s for sure.

All that said, it’s time.  Time for me to take this step.  Time for me to be about me.

And then we’ll see.

 

 

Rabbit, Rabbit

“How did it get so late so soon?  It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June. My goodness, how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?” ~ Dr. Seuss

 

I can’t believe 2017 is almost over.  It’s been a tough year for a lot of us – in fact, for our country – but this is not about that.  This is about birthdays.  December is a big birthday month in my family… there are four, in fact.  One of those birthdays is even mine.  And birthdays mean presents, right?

Except… Facebook has added a function allowing you to “donate” your birthday.  Sounds great, but like so much in life, there’s a catch.

What, you ask?  How can there be anything wrong with asking people to support your favorite cause to celebrate you?  Fees, that’s what.

If you use the Facebook donate function, a fee of almost 7% will be deducted before your chosen charity gets the gift.  And that’s just too.damn.much.

So, I’m donating my birthday, but not through Facebook.  Here’s the deal:  if you would like to support my favorite charity, it’s The Actors’ Fund, helping those in entertainment (including me, sometimes).

But I also know that it’s been a year in which many important causes have called on our pockets, and you may be supporting one of those.  Great!  I’d love to hear about it.

Or perhaps you’re tapped out on giving.  We’ve all been there, and there’s no shame in it.  So, if you so choose, pick one day and be kind.  Practice a random act of kindness, or even more than one, and then come here and tell me about it.  I’d really love to hear about that.

Happy birthday month to me!  And my mother – I miss her every day.  And my oldest sister, who is one of my rocks.  And my baby cousin, who gives me hope for the future.

And thanks to all y’all, in advance.

 

 

*Update:  Facebook is dropping some fees.  That said, I still think it’s better for an organization to direct people to its website, so they can learn more about that organization.

September 24, 2006

I know, you’re like, “Why is she writing about some random date?  Is there some holiday I don’t know?”

Well, no.  On September 24, 2006, I lost two men who were very dear to me.  I’ve never publicly told the story of that day (and the day after – you’ll understand soon) because I wasn’t sure what relevance my simple story might have.

But in the world we are in today, remembering the hard stuff, and knowing that I made it to the other side, is something that gives me hope.

September 24, 2006 was a Sunday.  As I used to do every year,  I was working the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Flea Market.  (It’s Sunday, September 24, again this year .  Go.  Buy stuff.  It goes to a great organization.)

It wasn’t open quite yet, when those of us there saw two friends coming toward our booth, and even as we shouted greetings, we knew something was wrong.  Among the first words from ML’s mouth were “Patrick died.”  The reactions were indescribable.

See, Patrick Quinn was not only a giant of the industry (and the labor movement), but an extraordinary man, dear to more people that he probably ever knew.   The rest of that day is almost a blur, but what I remember most is sitting in our office, calling the people who needed to know, so they wouldn’t hear rumors or see it in the paper – listening to them cry and rage, or worse, fall silent and not speak before hanging up.   And then, that night, we raised a glass in Pat’s memory for the first time, but not the last.

I didn’t sleep that night – I think most people didn’t – and the next day in the office, I, at least, was wandering aimlessly… until a friend came to find me, and forcibly dragged me into ML’s office, demanding I sit down.  I just couldn’t.  I kept saying “just tell me” until she told me that there was a rumor going around that my dear friend Eric Muratalla had died Sunday in his hotel room in Chicago.   I sat then.  And I begged her to reach out to verify it, as she was sadly able to do.

I left them.  I had to get away.  And then I started calling people.  I had to hear it myself, and I did.

For the remainder of the week, I distracted myself planning.  Buses to Patrick’s funeral.  Travel and hotel to California for Eric’s funeral.  And I worked.  It was my work that brought both these men into my life, and neither one tolerated slackers.

I know, it’s not much of a story.  But as the eleventh anniversary of that day approaches, I needed to tell it.  Even more importantly, I needed to remind myself that even the darkest days will be followed by the sun if we believe.  And I do.

 

 

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