humble pie in a blanket

Although in my previous post I claim to be close to comatose and unable to blog, I feel compelled to join in on another PROMPTuesday from San Diego Momma.

Write a story about when you last were humbled, felt humbled by the presence of something/someone in your life, or lay prostrate at the feet of the universe and said “I don’t know what the hell I am doing. I will now relinquish control and let you take over.”

Luckily I had this post saved in my drafts from months ago.  I just dusted it off and finessed it a little. Here goes…

My children teach me lessons in humility every day.  It’s what I love and hate the most about motherhood…the way I am forced to see myself for who I really am.  It makes me strive to be a better person and for that I am so thankful.

I can remember one instance in particular in which I felt humbled beyond recognition.  It was a quintessential A-Ha moment…My 2nd daughter, Lexi, was 6 weeks old. I was in the height of my sleep deprivation and at my wits’ end. And I mean WITS’ END.  Like, call the looney bin, end.  On this particular night, Lexi was inconsolable, as she had been for a few weeks straight, and I was rocking her to no avail, in my Dutalier rocker which I HIGHLY recommend, btw. As she wailed on like a banshee in my arms, my mind raced with all the things I had to do: fold the laundry, wash the dishes, workout, check emails, remove the chipped crusty polish from my nails, plan my toddlers b-day party, shower, brush my teeth, eat, sleep, and call the plumber. As the list raced through my mind I became more anxious, more upset, and more frustrated. Why is she crying?…Why won’t she stop?…I really have a lot to do…UGH! I just wanted it to stop.

Finally, in a rare moment of clarity, the following obvious yet profound thoughts ocurred to me:

  1. Babies cry.
  2. Babies are helpless.
  3. I am her mom.
  4. I am the only person (except her dad) that can help her.
  5. That is what moms do.

Ding Dong Mary, THIS IS MOTHERHOOD!  Moms hold, protect and love their babies. They stop everything else to do so.

They Surrender.

Obvious? Simple? Innate?

Maybe for some, but not to me. The reality of what being a mom means hit me like a flash of lightening in my weakest most raw state.  This little wonder, this miraculous gift from God, is my life, my blood, my everything. She is dependent on me for everything.  Nothing I need to do is more important.

The laundry and dishes, the plumber and nappy nails could wait.

At once, a sense of peace and clarity came over me. I could breath. I could see my baby, through and beyond the tears – hers and mine. She would not remember this moment, nor any of the moments to follow for many years to come, but this moment is what our relationship would be built on forever. In 5, 10, 15, 45 years from now, none of the things I had to get done will matter, but she will know that I am the person who loves her the most in this world. Not just because I conceived her, carried her and pushed her out my nether region. But because I raised and cared for her in sacrifice, surrender and pure love.

In that moment, I was humbled. I saw the higher plan for me and my role as mom. It was beautiful and moving, more than the words on this page can accurately describe.

Out of that moment came my 5 S’s of Parenting: Surrender, Survive, Sweat, Sacrife and Shhhhhhhut the f up. Any new or soon-to-be moms may want to check them out.

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my two girls and the five senses

It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in San Diego Momma’s PROMTuesday, so since I am once again, in bed, in the dark, lying next to my sick baby girl, I will take a few minutes (not more than 10…that is the rule) to write about today’s topic:

Write a character sketch of someone you love (child, partner, pet, mentor, etc.). Detail this person, let us see him or her through your description. Maybe you want to “show” your loved one through action and movement, or perhaps you are viewing him or her in repose. Either way, get down to brass tacks and give us the one you love through your writing.

Lily & Lexi — my dears, my dolls, my doves, my delights , my dy-no-mites —

The color of sunshine

Music to my ears

Soft to the touch, exquisite, finer than china

The smell of rain: pure, clean, fresh, beautiful, joyful

Edible

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A Love Letter

A few months ago, one of my fave fellow bloggers, Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor, posed the question…what is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to you?

Here is my answer…

My Valentine’s Day Love Letter from my husband.  Check it out…

be mine

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Though Valentine’s Day is typically a holiday reserved for lovers, over the years, many of my most precious Valentine’s Day cards did not come from, as you might think, a significant other.  Rather, they came from the other man in my life, my dad.  For as long as I can remember, he sent hand-selected greeting cards to my sisters and me, each and every Valentine’s Day.  I always looked forward to finding the frosty or hot pink Hallmark envelope in my mailbox, addressed to Ms. Mary Burt, with his chicken scratch attorney writing, and the words  “Do not open til Feb 14th.”  Despite his intimidating and sometimes overbearing demeanor, he was also a very sensitive and thoughtful man, with a soft spot for the women in his life, of which there were plenty.  He had three daughters from a previous marriage, Marci (who has since passed away), Jenny, and Diana, a step daughter Laurie, a foster daughter Karin and me.  So in addition to showering my mom with a card, flowers, candy and a little bling, bling, he would also send a card to all his daughters to let us know he was thinking about us.  I think he also wanted to make sure we received something in case we were either a) single or b) dating a loser who didn’t think to buy a card.

Valentine’s Day 2001 came only 12 days after my dad was diagnosed with terminal, inoperable cancer and given only a few months to live.  He was much too weak to go out and purchase cards, but I couldn’t bare the thought of not having at least one more card.  So, on February 10th, I headed to Rite Aid and picked out seven Valentine’s Day card; one for each of his ladies.  I thought it would be a nice surprise for all my sisters and my mom who were all certainly thinking the same thing; that we had seen the last of our special cards from Dad.

Later that night I brought the bag of cards into his den and laid them on his desk, next to the back scratcher and the mug of pencils that said “You take it, you return it.” He smiled. The moment was both magical and awkward; there was an elephant in the room…the unspoken reason behind my purchasing the cards. But nevertheless, he was touched and I think very glad to have the opportunity to wish his lovely ladies one last Valentine’s Day sentiment.

And although I had purchased the cards myself, I still felt that flutter of excitement to see mine arrive in the mailbox on February 14th.  I couldn’t wait to open it and read his message.  It was not the card itself that I looked forward to every year, it was the handwritten message inside that I couldn’t wait to read.  He always took the time to write a unique, personalized, heartfelt note inside.  I never once received a card from my father that did not have a handwritten note in addition to the pre-printed message.  He was “old-fashioned” that way.  And sentimental.

Until recently I had forgotten about that “last” card.  But the other day, as I was going through my old scrapbooks I came across the card.  My heart stopped.  I flashed back to the day I stood in the Rite Aid card aisle, trying to pick “just the right card” for each of my siblings and my mom.  I had hand selected each one with thought and care, just as he would have.  Now, I sat looking down at the card. I opened it slowly, deliberately.

TO MY VALENTINE:

“Dearest Mary – You have been so loving and thoughtful and helping and just plain wonderful during this period which I know has been hard on you.  I couldn’t have made it through so well without you – you are a wonder and a treasure.  You are such a wonderful person. I’m so proud to be your father.  I cherish you.

Love, Dad

I cherish this card.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad! I heart you.


measure your life in love

The Tony Award winning musical Rent is more than just music, dancing, and a cool set. It is an inspirational story of love, friendship and redemption, of following dreams and dreaming of a better day. Whenever I see it, which is as often as possible and over ten times now, my heart beats up in my throat.  Tears flow from the first guitar strum of “One Song Glory” and don’t stop rollin’ until I am sitting in my car after the show.  The music, the lyrics, the characters and their struggles strike a cord in me that is profound and visceral.  And when I watch the actors on stage, feeling their joy spill out into the dark theatre, watching their souls soar as they sing, it fills a void in me.  It lifts me up.  It inspires me.  It makes me smile.

When I first saw it, over 11 years ago, I had been going through a proverbial Valley of Life.  I was mending a broken heart from the year prior (I roll my eyes now in retrospect — I wish I had just read “He’s Just Not That Into You” and been done with it!), I was overweight, drinking a lot, and wallowing in a sea of 2:00am carne asada burritos and beer goggles.  I was desperate for a change, for a light, for a kick in the pants.  Rent was all of those things, and more.

One night, way back in the summer of 1997, my dear friend and fellow thespian/theatre geek, Mike, invited me to a preview of the new hit, controversial musical Rent at the La Jolla Playouse.  I had heard of it from a friend who had seen it on Broadway, and I knew I just had to go.  We had 5th row seats.  We could see their sweat, tears and black nail polish.  I was mesmerized.  They had me at “Rent.”

The show rocked my world.  I was weeping (surprised?), laughing and bursting from the inside out.  I wanted to run up on the stage, hug the actors, ask them to be my best friends, do a little dance and feel the spotlight on my face.  I had not been on a stage for at least 4 years.  I did not realize how much I missed it until that night.

After the show that night I learned of the tragic story surrounding the death of the show’s creator, Jonathan Larson.  He had been a struggling actor, writer, director, waiting tables in New York and he finally landed it big time.  His little-musical-that-could,was headed for Broadway.  After the final dress rehearsal, on the eve of his dreams coming true, he died of an aortic aneurism.  He did not live to see opening day, or any of the gazillion accolades the show went on to achieve over the past 12 years.  Poetic injustice.  Irony to the nth degree. A reminder to enjoy every moment and follow your dreams.  Proof that there is “No Day But Today.”

I went home that night and wrote in my journal for 4 hours straight, scribbling feverishly through my tears.  But the tears were joyful tears, full of hope and new beginnings. Within a week I had seen the show three more times and was enrolled in acting classes.  I had lost a few pounds and found my self-respect.  I had, without realizing it, stopped thinking about the j-e-r-k who had dumped me.   The void I had been feeling was in fact not caused by him. I had been missing myself.  Ding, dong. It was an epiphany. It was powerful.  It was awesome. 

So when I say I love Rent, I mean I LOVE Rent.  I really think it changed the course of my life.  It inspired me to act on my dreams.  To get out of my head and into my life.  To measure my life in love, not loss.  Though I have put the acting thing on hold for the time being, I know I will get back to that part of my life, that dream, when the time is right.  At the moment I am happier than I have ever been playing the role of mommy with my girls as my audience (isn’t it usually the other way around?).

I am writing this post tonight because the Rent Live Broadway Filming DVD came out last week and guess who had a date night last night with her hubby, La Crema Chardonnay, and her dvd player?  (whoa Readers, whoa…this is a family blog).  All of my emotions from 11.5 years ago came flooding back.  It inspired me yet again, this time to keep pushing ahead on my book project. And it re-ignited my idea to turn the book into a play, utilizing the amazing stories I am compiling as the basis for the characters. That way, I can get back to the stage, where my heart beats like wild and my soul sees forever. Stay tuned for that chapter.

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Tonight I am thankful for Jonathan Larson, his inspiration and his light.

RIP Paulo Emanuele

As I sat down to type this blog entry, I turned on the tv to find some background music and I landed on Palladia’s Soulstage performance of Erykah Badu live in concert.  She was performing On and On from her first album, Baduizm.  I immediately flashed back to a time in my life when Baduizm was in my cd player on repeat, all – the –  time.  And ironically…the blog entry I had planned to write is about that same exact time in my life.

In June of 1994, I graduated from UCSB and moved back home to San Diego.  I re-kindled relationships with old high school friends who still lived here (i.e. BFF Mariana, Lisa, Sean, and Lems) and struck up new relationships with the crazy wild film production peeps I met at my extras casting job at Stu Segall Productions (Steve – my hubby, Rob, Benjie, Hayley, Hunter and Danny, to name a few).  Holy black-outs, did we like to have fun.  We went out on the town, several nights a week, enjoying our booze, our cigarettes, our music (i.e. Dee-Lite, Spearhead, G-Love, and Erkyah Badu).  Throughout the course of a few gluttonous, indulgent, dehydrated years, we frequented a few key places…Shakespeare’s Pub, Cafe Sevilla, The Lamplighter, The Alibi, Nunu’s and by far, the best bar to ever grace the streets of San Diego, The Green Circle Bar.

The Green Circle was on the corner of 9th and F, which in those days, the pre-Petco Park “East Village” days, this neighborhood was sketchy, to say the least.  But we loved it and we risked life and limb for it on a few occasions.  On top of the funky cool decor and the funky fresh music, including the top local DJs and live entertainers, namely DJ GreyBoy and the GreyBoy Allstars, there was a palpable, soulful energy to the place for which I cannot find the right words.  It was just cool.  And, it didn’t hurt that one of the owners was a family friend.  So on nights when we would arrive too late to beat the line, I would walk to the front of the line, ask for him by name, and they would usher us right in.  The family friend I speak of was Paulo Emanuele.  I am writing about him tonight because he died yesterday in a plane crash.

I haven’t seen him in years as he closed The Green Circle, and a few other establishments he owned, and moved to LA.  He had split with his girlfriend, who was the real connection to my family, so I lost contact with him and haven’t spoken to him in over 10 years. But nevertheless, my heart sank this morning when my mom called me to tell me the news.  He was a motivated, energetic, charismatic go-getter.  He loved life.  He had a golden touch, as most of his business ventures were successful.  He was most recently the General Manager at Airliners.Net, (click in the hyperlink, their site has a nice tribute to him).

My thoughts went immediately back to that time in my life, with a sense of bittersweet nostalgia.  I have Paulo to thank for many a rockin night back in the 90’s.  A lot of wonderful memories were created in those days (even if some of the memories are a bit hazy).  My friends and I still tout The Green Circle as the Best Bar in San Diego History.

But, after reflecting on those days and smiling, my mind then goes to his young daughter, Eden Moon, who is only in her early teens and has no idea that she has just joined “The Club.”  My heart aches for hers.  Her broken heart that will now endlessly ache because daddy is gone.   Someday, hopefully, my book project dream will be a reality, which she can read to find some solace. Til then, I pray for her and their entire family.

Thank you Paulo, for the memories.  I hope you are sipping a cocktail, listening to some acid jazz and flashing those pearly whites, charming the pants off all those that have gone before you.

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A nearly perfect day

Today’s historic event has left me hopeful and invigorated, yet at the same time a little melancholy, as I wish my Dad was alive to have experienced it with me.  Although I am quite certain he would not have voted for President Obama, or been a big fan, I still wonder what he would have thought about this day.    I think he would have had something very profound to say about him, supportive and kind.  And he would have been proud of our country’s collective unity.  Pissed off about an inevitable tax increase, but nevertheless proud.

He was always the person I went to for information regarding politics or history.  He was incredibly knowledgeable.  Beyond, beyond.  Growing up, his diatribes on political issues and historical events bored me to tears.  Now, I shed tears because I desperately miss those diatribes I once disdained.  Oh, just to hear his booming voice make a smart ass remark about CHANGE…nothing would make me happier.

Today, watching the inauguration, with my girls and husband, I was filled with pride and joy.   I dressed the girls and myself in red, white and blue to commemorate this day (no, we do not wear matching outfits to theme parks).  My parents both taught me the importance of patriotism.  Today I felt it like never before.  My heart was a tight knot in my throat, butterflies did sommersaults in my tummy and the hairs on my arms stood on end as I prayed with the rest of the nation for our new illuminous leader.  I held Lily in my arms, with our hands over our hearts and sang the national anthem through my tears.  “Mommy’s happy tears, Lily.”  It was a day I will never forget.  It was nearly perfect.  I just missed my Dad.