THE MEMORIES are fading, like images floating through a mist, not just of Dodger but the life pre-break-up, a carousal of my favorite places; swimming, hiking, running, new restaurants, gallery openings, shopping, concerts, clubs, dancing in the street and our porch parties, but I cannot remember the state of grateful, emerging in the vortex of sensations, stimulation, surprise.
Do we ever return to that kind of forever spectrum, as if it will never end, and then it does, and we cannot go back. It’s not too late to feel grateful, fortunate, and lucky to have lived so many acts of my choice.
5Carolyn Gootgeld-Levine, Erika Marie Schwalbach and 3 others
Academy of Loulou Awards. All of you that respond to my nuanced writings are awarded. A Star award for a few that push my cart.
Marc Romano, Historian, J’amie Rubio, author, and archivist, Antonio Mendoza for the best photographs of the Rolling Stones, Alison Martino for Vintage LA, Rare Jazz Photos for the best photographs of Jazz, Eric Dezenhall real friend and author, Cynthia Duncan, my consiglieri, Santa Fe Bulletin Board to bring back the memories, Scott Varley, the best real estate broker I ever met in 25 years, Las Vegas Mafia History… I’ll think of more later. Warren and Annette Hull, filmmakers, Danielle Haynes, an angelic warrior who joined my battle, William Winant, a high schoolmate and acclaimed musician who remembers me, Larry Henry, torch-carrier of Mafia history and Greg Price, my UK 911 call, along with Gloria Devan, Tere Tereba and Armen Ozaynan who settles me down. Friends, when you are single, are food for the soul.
My direction is following Lawrence Durrell, “Spirit of the Place,” and living where I would never expect to live. I wish I could control my impractical, impulsive, and annoying spirit of adventure. I think about architecture, Jewish deli’s, Italian restaurants, at least five movie theaters built in the 1930s, and neighborhoods of unfamiliar lighting, expressions, and conversations. Gambling on yourself is how much you can adapt, change, influence, and accept the days of your life.
In my syndicate, there must be a dozen pals with the same unsolved equation. Is it age that blocks me and maybe you from relocation, or is it the trauma and stress? What liberation to just pack a suitcase and board a plane like in the movies. Separation from the familiar..
Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat, sometimes it brings confidence. I asked my British friend, ‘is it common for people to lose their curiosity, passion, and desires as they age?’ He responded, LOL, yes. That’s where we are different, he has certainty, whereas I don’t. Being single and living alone affords you freedom of thought, and so it was this weekend, while enveloped indoors to avoid the chilling grip of winter, my thoughts were in a heated argument.
Go to Saratoga and visit the Casino Museum, have a croissant or lobster roll, roam the gallery district, window shop, and get out of this house now.
It’s too cold to walk, I’ve been to the museum, I don’t feel like dining alone again, and the galleries I’ve been to are arts and crafts.
That’s not the reason, is it?
No, I’m not curious.
Just four years ago, I’d pop out of my Santa Fe home and walk up to Canyon Road Friday Night. All the galleries are open and serve appetizers, some live music, some street vendors, and some costumed characters and it was a party. I didn’t mind eating alone because I knew the restaurant owners, bartenders,and regular guests. Sedation of spirit came in the last six months. The first year coming back to my home after a six-year absence was invigorating and new, and unexpectedly in need of serious maintenance and lease management.
In front of El Farol, Canyon Road on a stranger’s beauty mobile. Twice a week for live rockin music and dancing. One of my favorite dance floors because the stage is three feet away.
The second year was getting about town and exploring and then Covid so it was an incomplete year. The third year was a wicked winter and when spring came, the ebullient appreciation of the sun and flowers renewed, and my curiosity temperature was down but not dormant. Circumstances too complicated and gruesome to write, force me to stay here. I’m one of the millions, that live where they don’t choose to live anymore. When the day comes, the freedom to relocate is my curiosity. My next nest is undetermined. My friends, ask me, ‘where are you going to move to?’ This comes up in every third or fourth conversation. And the answer is the same, ‘when I know I’ll tell you.’
Upstate on a clear day.
Poetic justice for a life-long wanderer. Curiosity I call on you to visit my spirit and paddle me out to waters and roads unknown. Give me the confidence to keep my oars afloat; confident, curious, and passionate.
On the road from New Mexico to somewhere… I can’t remember.
He’s digging my grave For the dragon he pays With our nest, now shaved Tumbling into the abyss I visit the comfort robes of the past Monogrammed in stone
The will to relive what’s past comes at night
And must be excluded by daylight.
Of HUMAN BONDAGE
The sky hasn’t decided if it will let clouds overturn the sun, and I haven’t decided if I will pack the stack of books on the floor. No, I don’t feel the drive to lift and organize, my bed is warm and the house is not as warm.
I brought my coffee and peanut butter and honey toast upstairs, on a tray, I happen to collect trays, reminiscent of times when women ate breakfast in bed. Propped upright, I explored a movie about uneven love, tragedy, and resurrection. Of Human Bondage lit my taste, featuring Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. —– FILM MADE IN 1930 IN GRISLY BLACK & WHITE. Uneven love. Days now remind me of reading 1984 in high school, and Fahrenheit 451 on film. We did evolve from a simplistic, hand-carved culture, built on rebars of freedom to a house full of furniture, relics, gadgets, screens, gates, and beeps. The beeps for me, make me jumpy, not seductively strolling around my apartment lighting candles in peace. I really do shimmy every time I hear the beep. I chose Sunday to shut down all communication with the mainland, take the longest bath I can stand, and write. I need a rest, like a chaise lounge on a spacious veranda with honeysuckle, wisteria, and lavender, and then a mile away is the ocean, let me swim again.
I feel artists, and their works are not featured in the media, or maybe it’s because my scrolling is stuck on the essentials of living. In times of war, people must have known, see it now or never. Over two million working artists in the country, so google says, and when was the last time you discussed it at dinner, with anyone. I haven’t, and I don’t know why? Pop-up thoughts on life.
Writing somberly so if you’re not in a dreary mood, skip reading. Somber writing is akin to writer’s block. It’s not a block really more like a disregard of hallelujah holidays, maybe. Disinterest in shopping, village festivals, parties, writing, dancing, and eating. If I place all the options on a puzzle board, this leads to the center. The vortex of discontent is a punctured life.
A fractured life impacts emotional posture and is not unlike physical posture. We slump or stand tall. We love instead of neutralizing, we are inspired instead of stagnant, we romance our passions and we live to love. My heart is at the starting gate to love again, but the racetrack is missing. I’m undercover. I watch Blacklist or some foreign film in the evening. Most weekdays I’m circulating between finance, selling furnishings online, and writing.
The windows of my home reflect the splendor of nature that plays all day long in the winter. I’m spending more time watching sky stage plays: clouds still, clouds moving, colliding, changing colors, sculpted into aberrations of animals and faces, than cognitive thinking. The scenery is accompanied by my collection of records and CDs. Thank you to all my musician friends for the gift of mood enhancement. When I’m sorrowful I listen to Ennio Morricone, when I need a lift, Vivaldi, Sundays it is Turandot or some other Opera, and when I’m a go-go girl, Swing, Salsa or The Stones, when I feel alone, Sarah Vaughn, Nancy Wilson, and Etta James, for writing inspiration Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Annie Lenox .
I don’t see any remedy commercials for a fractured heart. By tomorrow the despair could vanish, like the rain that puddled us for the last two weeks.Everything I’ve experienced is good in the beginning. So, to begin the beginning, I’m going to listen to Begin the Beguine.
“Begin the Beguine” is a popular song written by Cole Porter. Porter composed the song between Kalabahi, Indonesia, and Fiji during a 1935 Pacific cruise aboard Cunard’s ocean liner Franconia. In October 1935, it was introduced by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee, produced at the Imperial Theatre.
I’ve adopted a savant to facilitate making decisions. I don’t want to use the word hate, it’s useless, but this time I will, I hate making decisions. Whether to go out for dinner, or go to one of villages’ festivals, parades, or events, they rake up events during the winter to keep us off drugs. This weekend was a village-wide Friday sale for shopping, the lighted tractor parade, and appetizers at all the shops in town. Sounded pleasurable and I’m proud of the village to induct us into a community of we care about you. I didn’t go, but I did go out for Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant I’d never been to, festive crowded, and the tempting buffet twinkled like the first time I’d seen decorated food. It’s been five years since I’ve gone out for Thanksgiving so the jubilee of food was a bit musical. I ordered a glass of wine at the bar, the only customer as everyone had reserved tables for grandparents and children and the roar was melodious. My order to go would wait, the celebratory ambiance shattered my loneliness. The bartender, Jovida was like a lightbulb, she kept coming over to me maybe three times asking me polite questions, have you been here before, you must come on the weekends we have live music, while you’re having your wine can I bring you something from the buffet. I wondered if I’d be charged, she noticed my hesitation and said, No charge. So I choose smoked salmon, capers, onion, and horseradish. On m wish list if I’m allowed to eat in heaven, along with Gruyere cheese, tacos, salad, and croissants. The bliss, was a sandwich of bustlingeager activity, laughter, and the children. I remember our family Thanksgiving when my parents were divorced and we went to Nana’s home in San Fernando Valley, through that old tunnel. My mother’s mother is full-flecked Irish so the dinner was grand, and she was a dedicated cooking slave. She made mashed potatoes like I’ve never tasted since, and homemade pies, everything spiced with Nana’s kinship with making the family love her.
I left the restaurant after an hour later with a jubilant bag of turkey, fixings, and pumpkin pie. I found my seat on the bedroom sofa, and watched, ‘ The Train’ with Burt Lancaster. My thoughts were rested, abated for the whole evening, and then the next day, turkey revenge. I could not get out of bed, eat, or think. So I said to myself, it’s okay to do nothing and so I watched a romantic comedy, ‘ Cardboard Husband,’ with Norma Sherer and Robert Taylor, removed three-year-old lipstick and liners, shopped online without buying, saved for later my way of shopping. Then I threw the dice and I got seven. That is where my decisionsare now made. If I don’t get a seven with seven throws, I don’t go out or make a decision. If I get it once- I’m on!It was a perfect day for thanks. I think we should have a Thanksgiving Holiday three or four times a year.
Still flustering over how to save more money, and which expense she should solve; the dental appointment that’s six months overdue, the servicing of her car overdue since June, or elevated reasons to book a trip to San Diego. The urgency to decide sent her into a minor mid-afternoon tizzy and she decided she needed potato chips to solve her physical edginess. She does not use salt in her cooking, and from experimentation over the years realized that salt could elevate her dizzy thinking and lackluster posture. The momentary outdoor freshness stilted her, to stop moving, and breathe deeply like she was in the doctor’s office and they say, ‘ deep breath.’ The street is absent of walkers, workers, delivery trucks, and residents, it’s almost like a graveyard and this does not irritate Greta, she uses the bliss to engulf her creativity, and so she began to write.
PUZZLE OF SOLITUDEwill always be a puzzle because our lives, solo or mated, are puzzled by too much solitude, or not enough.
I contest what seems endless solitude with my Irish Russian temper; condemning irritants like street noise, absence of friends, short-tempered customer service reps, world news, and mindless tasks. After the first ice rain and snow, the fever dulled, and mindfulness triumphed. I imagined my basement of survival would sink. It did not. There is an inner exploration happening, unfolding like spreading new sheets on my bed, that solitude has befriended me all my life, in the best of times and the tedious. I have to find the frolic and follies in the world I created. I have to laugh alone so I watch screwball comedies, seek humor in my irregularities; wear a sweater inside out, pour coffee into a wine glass for a cocktail and chuckle up and down the staircase, because I keep forgetting where I left my phone. My head is elsewhere-daydreaming. I’ve learned how to repair house calamities; unscrew windows, seal up cracks, fix clogged drains, replace air vents, read the meters, and rejuvenate every wood board, handle, chair, and table with Old English Oil. As one pal commented on a visit to the house, ‘ It’s a perfect day for Old English! The winter forecast is blizzardy and full of warnings I haven’t experienced here; and how could I complain when half of Upstate New York is buried in SEVENTY INCHES of snow and no way out? At the end of the day, pleasure comes in the kitchen; my heart and spirit melt while stirring my weekly slumguillion stew while listening to Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and swing music. Winter has in the past been a funnel that leads to writing.
I read in one of my books on writing that the middle of the novel is where most writers face the demon. The beginning is a gallop, the end is a relief, but the middle wiggles in and out of your grasp. The middle of our lives reflects this same obscurity.
The middle of a life span reflects all we have accomplished and all we have left incomplete. This is what they call a mid-life crisis. I get it every year. I’ve finally accepted that my constant relocating, reinventing, and being restless is not going to be solved. At the bottom of the restlessness is the fear of finding rest more enjoyable than movement. This flotation of comedy rotated around me last night while I was standing out on the porch observing the peacefulness. The scenery of Ballston Spa is a comforting, historical beauty that comes from the harmony of architecture and nature. The flow of villagers downtown is along two main two-lane streets, all the shops, services and restaurants are a patchwork, and all the business owners know each other.
All I can think of is where I should go next. This is wholly a village of ancestral families, with defensible adaptation to the severe climate, simplicity, and uncomplicated lives. My discomfort comes from trying to assimilate.
Many years ago, in the summer of 1987, I was seated in a café in Monaco, truly, and a man that I was traveling with told me, “You have to make a choice.” He embarked on a long discussion about choices we make in life and how everything depends on these choices: how you live and with whom, and what you do. He pointed out to me over my first really authentic Salad Niçoise that I was an oblivious example of a woman refusing to choose. I was more interested in the salad, the yachts, the casino around the corner, and the fact that I didn’t have an evening gown to wear to dinner. I listened without argument or insult, but I was disturbed by what he said. I didn’t understand completely, but he was older and had much experience and conviction. That conversation now fits into the mid-life crisis, the comedy of errors in my life, and maybe in yours, and just how much travesty we can ignore. For my fault, as it WAS, I did not want to sign, commit, or make final decisions. I wanted it all to be a temporary placement that allows me the freedom to change.
Ihave lost track of my European friend, but if he met me today, he would say, “You have not changed at all.” So that is why I was standing there in the darkness on the porch and laughing like a silly girl because it is true. I have not changed at all.
The choice facing us at mid-life is making a change now, risking losing all we have accomplished, compiled, and attached, or throwing the dice.
Beyond the obvious changes in activity, relationships, and scenery are the internal travels. They are not so easily engaged. You cannot wake up one day and say, “I ‘m off to become more compassionate, or more practical, or more generous.” These journeys are taken when other factors play into our lives, such as when we get sick, demoted, or experience a trauma.
It is a very subtle inconsistency. When I unplug all the voices and listen to the one that understands, that is when I write. The middle of the story and the middle of life is the same. We and our characters have to make a choice.