Thank you, thank you, thank you

Writer Anne LaMott says there are really only two prayers: “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

This has been one of those “thank you” years.

I got a job, a real one. My dad’s stable and doing well. I have such great friends, and things look pretty good. I’m rebuilding my life from the ground up after several hard years.

And the American public is finally waking up to the true nature of the Bush administration. Hallelujah.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Posted by Susie in My So-Called Life, Higher Ground ( at 11:57 am)

Writer Anne LaMott says there are really only two prayers: “Help me, help me, help me” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

This has been one of those “thank you” years.

I got a job, a real one. My dad’s stable and doing well. I have such great friends, and things look pretty good. I’m rebuilding my life from the ground up after several hard years.

And the American public is finally waking up to the true nature of the Bush administration. Hallelujah.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Ahhhhh

WXPN is having a musical tribute today in honor of Neil Young’s birthday Saturday – which was also the birthday of my friend Mike – and King Britt.

Okay, so here’s my Neil Young story.

When I was about 15, I went with a friend to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the old Electric Factory. (Admission was $2.50. Minimum wage was, I think, $1.25.)

Anyway, we got invited backstage. We stood around, watching the band. Some people offered us drinks; we declined. Finally, we said we were leaving.

“Leaving? What do you mean?” a shocked roadie said.

“It’s a school night. We have to go home,” I explained.

We had no idea we were invited back for, uh, a specific function. It took me decades, but I finally figured it out.

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No business like show business

By on November 10, 2005 in My So-Called Life

I was just telling my boss how happy I am that the transit strike is over and my train actually leaves on time. Hah.

Well, it did leave on time. But when we were about ten minutes from my stop, there was a flash of light overhead, the train ground to a halt and the emergency lights came on.

“Shit,” I said to my friend on the phone. “Shit, shit, shit.”

The conductor made an announcement: They weren’t sure whether it was a problem with the SEPTA power line or Amtrak’s. It would take a while to find out.

“Probably Amtrak. The government can’t do anything right,” I heard someone say behind me. So I started speaking loudly into the phone. My words were loud and clear in the now-quiet car.

“Did you know they fired the president of Amtrakyesterday?” I said, raising my voice. “See, he kept telling them they had to spend money on the infrastructure and why it made sense to subsidize it. Of course the Bush administration would rather just sell it off, so they canned him.

“So yep, I’m sitting here in the dark, thanks to everyone on this train who voted Republican.”

I never pass up an opportunity for a little street theater. After all, it’s educational.

Auld lang syne

By on November 8, 2005 in Arts & Music, My So-Called Life

Just got back from seeing my friend Colleen’s World Cafe show. Not only great music (do check out local songwriterChristine Havrilla and Nashville’s Joe Rathbone, who were also on the bill) but it was quite the reunion – lots of musicians I haven’t seen in a couple of years.

“So where have you been?” someone asked.

“Oh, I was in a dark hole. I’m out now,” I said.

Caught up with Bob Beach and Gina Kaz, too. It was so much fun, I suspect it won’t be too long before I start performing again.

Funny note: no one there was a blog reader; most of them don’t even know what blogs are. It was fun to be just another musician and not a blogger.

Oh, and it turns out a few people I know have already moved to Mt. Airy, the part of Philadelphia where I’m planning to move this spring. So I’ll have friends in the neighborhood – a nice change from life in the Hellmouth.

A visit to a big box store

By on November 5, 2005 in My So-Called Life

My friend Somegirl has a big credit she has to spend at Best Buy by the end of the month, and she insists on me coming along in case I need anything. Plus, South Philly has the best pho restaurants and she wants to go to lunch.

So we meet at the new store on Delaware Avenue (or, as you carpetbaggers call it, Columbus Boulevard). I don’t see anything, and she keeps bugging me. “Do you want a CD?” she says. I say no, but I tell her I wouldn’t mind a new telephone – either a speakerphone or something with a headset.

“Yeah, but I have one you can have when I leave,” she says. (She’s leaving right after Thanksgiving for Venezuela, which makes me sad.)

“Oh. Then never mind,” I said.

She starts looking at a portable speaker system for her iPod. “This would be good. It’s small, it’ll be easy to travel with,” she says. She squats down and starts pulling the packaging apart so she can get a better look. In less than a minute, she has the box open and all the styrofoam pieces and plastic bags all over the bottom shelf. She’s methodically taking the thing apart when one of the employees comes over.

“Excuse me, miss, do you need some help with that?”

“No,” Somegirl says, not looking up. She’s still squatting, still intent on getting this thing out of a hundred layers of packaging so she can look at it. “I just want to see what it looks like before I buy it.”

“You’ve removed the security device,” the clerk says. “And you can’t be opening the packages, you’re not allowed to do that.”

“I have to look at it first.”

“Now, you know you’re not supposed to be doing that, or you wouldn’t be down there on the floor like that,” the woman says.

Somegirl looks up at her, dark eyes flashing dangerously. (I know that look.) “Where am I supposed to look at it?” she says with a tone dripping with utter disdain. She then proceeds to ignore the clerk, who finally walks away.

She decides on a different one, and pulls that one apart, too. This time, she hijacks an employee to help her.

Finally, she pays for her purchase and we go to a Washington Avenue pho place.

She calls me tonight and says, “I suppose you think I was a terrible person for the way I was with that woman today.”

“Hell, no. It was funny as shit,” I said.

It was.

All things must pass

By on October 30, 2005 in My So-Called Life

Sunset doesn’t last all evening
A mind can blow those clouds away
After all this my love is up
And must be leaving
It has not always been this gray
All things must pass
All things must pass away.

“All Things Must Pass,” George Harrison

Daylight savings time shifted this morning, and I was up before the dawn, listening to music while I took in a pair of too-baggy jeans on my sewing machine. This song came on, and I got all introspective and shit.

Maybe it’s the time of year, or just getting older. But lately, I have such a strong sense of my life as ephemeral, a pair of jeans that don’t fit anymore. Sure, I can pretend the crotch doesn’t hang to my knees or that the ass isn’t sagging – but it is and it was time to do something. Since I know how to sew, I took them in. But I’m still losing weight, there’s only so much I can do and sooner or later, they have to go. And I accept that.

I wish the other decisions were that easy.

All things must pass.

It’s gotten slightly easier to let go. (Not “easy,” mind you, but easier.) And not of things or places so much as people – whether by death, divorce or decision, time accelerates and people you thought or hoped would be around forever are suddenly gone.

All things must pass.

One of the things I love about middle age is the perspective. I always think of it as finally being high enough on the mountain to see the lay of the land. And while I suppose it’s a New Age cliche, situations that seem pointlessly painful while I’m going through them do invariably land me in a better place. Whether it’s losing a job or going through a breakup, it seems to me I always got a better deal as a result.

Is that reality, or simply my perspective?

It has not always been this gray.

I remember my first plane ride. It was a dark, gloomy day and when the plane nosed its way up past the clouds, I literally gasped – because up there, it was sunny and the skies were still so blue. Sometimes I think of that and remind myself clouds aren’t as permanent as they seem.

I don’t have many crippling dark times anymore. Here and there, but extended periods of gloom are no longer welcome in my life.

A mind can blow those clouds away.

I’ve always been a dreamer, a person with big ideas. And I always thought it was funny, how scornful the “sensible” and “practical” types are of people like me. They point to my failures as proof I shouldn’t have tried in the first place. Which is interesting, because they seem to think being paralyzed and knotted up in fear is somehow preferable. “Don’t expect anything, and you won’t be disappointed,” one ex used to chide me.

What a silly thing to say. What a sad way to live.

Ready or not

By on October 29, 2005 in My So-Called Life

Now baby’s feeling funny in the morning
She says she’s got a lot on her mind
Nature didn’t give her any warning
Now she’s going to have to leave her wild ways behind
She says she doesn’t care if she never spends
Another night running loose on the town
She’s gonna be a mother
Take a look in my eyes and tell me brother
If I look like I’m ready

I told her I had always lived alone
And I probably always would
And all I wanted was my freedom
And she told me that she understood
But I let her do some of my laundry
And she slipped a few meals in between
And the next thing I remember, she was all moved in
And I was buying her a washing machine.

“Ready or Not,” Jackson Browne

My friend S. called me tonight. He and his significant other are in the process of unpacking in their new, larger place before the birth of their baby.

“So when are you going to get married?” I said. (I’m kind of a nudge about this. When you mutter, “You little bastard!” at your teenage kid, it shouldn’t be literal. )

“Soon. Before the event,” he said.

“Hmmph. You’re really cutting it close,” I said. “Better hope the baby’s not premature. Have you at least set a date?”

He allowed as how they haven’t, but they did get a washer and dryer.

Dream land

By on October 21, 2005 in My So-Called Life

Had the funniest dream last night. I was in the audience at an auditorium somewhere, and on the stage dressed in caps and gowns were all of my exes (even ones I’d forgotten about). Each one walked up to the podium, spoke into the mike and told me what he’d given me. I can’t remember what each of them said, but these are the ones I do.

My very first boyfriend said, “I gave you creativity.”

The alcoholic lawyer said, “I taught you the law, and the way things work.”

The bass player from a high-school friend’s band said, “I was the first person who told you you were pretty. But you didn’t believe me.”

My Dead Ex-Husband said, “I gave you music, and our children.” He was showing me a framed picture of the boys.

The funniest one was the Larry David clone, who walked away from the podium, hunkered down on his haunches (he’s very tall) in front of me, looked directly at me and said, “What I could.” (Which was never very much.)
I woke up laughing.

Wonder what the next one will be like?

Train stories

By on October 21, 2005 in My So-Called Life

I’m sitting on the train home from work and there’s this middle-aged blowhard with a bowtie and a loud baritone sitting behind me with his wife. He starts speaking very loudly about how the “mainstream media doesn’t believe Saddam Hussein has anything to do with terrorism,” and then he starts quoting wacky Laurie Milroie. I swear to God, I’m not making this up.

“Oh shit,” I think to myself, grinning. “Next thing you know, he’ll start quoting Instapundit.” (I’m wrong – it’s Captain Ed.)

“I happen to have printed this out from Captain Ed. I think you’ll find it very educational,” he tells his wife.

Jesus, would you just shut up? I’m trying to sleep.

On Wednesday night, some guy with a bike (his name is Pat, he tells me) sits down next to me and starts chatting away. This is just not good; I’ve had three glasses of iced tea and I really, really, really need to go to the bathroom. Since this is a local, the train is making every single stop and this guy just keeps on talking. I can’t think of any polite way to tell him I have to concentrate right now, I can’t talk. But there’s something about him; he’s tanned and dirty, his hair is bleached and lank. He has the open, guileless face of an eight-year-old and I realize Pat is maybe a few tacos short of a combination platter.

He starts telling about his job. “I take the train to work every day and I clean windows, car windows,” he says. I realize he’s one of those squeegee guys who works the intersections downtown.

“Would it be cheaper if I bought a pass? How does that work?” he asked me. “Should I get one for a whole month?”

I tell him he should wait to see if there’s a strike. His face clouds. “If the trains don’t run, how can I get to work? That would be horrible,” he says.

I offer him the leftover pasta I have from the restaurant. “Wow, that’s really nice of you,” he says.

“Enjoy it,” I tell him. “Glad you like it.”

And I am.

Eclipse story

By on October 19, 2005 in My So-Called Life

Here’s a dilemma: What happens when you and your best friend break up with your boyfriends at the same time? Who gets crying privileges? Is the other friend still allowed to try to cajole you out of it and make you laugh? What if you start crying, too? How long are you both allowed to trash the exes? What if you trash her ex and they get back together? I suppose she gets dibs on most of that stuff because they were together for several years – and mine was (as Jon Stewart would say), “Eh, not so long.” But still.

In all our years of friendship, we’ve never both been down for the count at the same time. It will be hard to figure out the mutual etiquette: “There, there, go ahead and cry.” “No,you cry, I insist.”

Fucking eclipses.

Anyone else have a breakup story this week?

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