February 23, 2009

Wow, this year has gone by so fast!

One year ago, I spent Oscar night at my friend Doug's place. Just me and him. Making fun of a couple of magazines where I was a stringer copyeditor (and had him sub for me), talking about life and love. He sipped a martini while I cooked us dinner. Then we sat back and watched Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood take tons of nominations.

I was making so much dough I had a personal assistant! Just started my new band, with Morgan and Jovan. Only recently had I met Bryant, the little boy of an engine that could create the greatest energy any stage I've performed on has ever, ever seen.

Just this week I signed a lease to move into a two-bedroom apartment down the hall from my current studio. My boyfriend is leaving Stamford, Connecticut (yeah -- I didn't know where it was either!!), to shack up with me. It's the next right thing to do, in spite of a teeny bit of guilt (I was taught never to live with your man before marriage). And I'm really excited!

Back to last night.

Me and my man went to Doug's place last night for another round of Oscars. This time he had his new girlfriend, Sarah, there. He has a hot job doing design work for a Bollywood company (perfect timing with the whole Slumdog Millionaire craze. They love living in Brooklyn.

Me, I'm happy, though some freelance writing has dried up. Teaching guitar has amped up. My band, now armed with Bryant, Morgan and Jovan, is going strong in its second year, having toured the East Coast a couple of times.

So, yeah, we're in a recession. But as you can see I have so many things to be grateful for. Though I can't lie and say I don't wish my boyfriend didn't love the suburbs so much. I really, really hate the suburbs and everything they stand for. I don't desire a big yard, though I grew up with one. I always imagined I'd meet a guy who'd love Brooklyn as much as I do and want to live in its paradise-like environment for years to come. I don't ever want to leave Brooklyn, actually. So when he said that he couldn't see himself living in Brooklyn forever, I took it kinda personally.

Didn't he tell me he loved the park? Doesn't he love the coffee houses? Can't he see how people here are so cool and progressive, and how happy kids and parents are? Isn't the idea of NOT having a yard worth something? I don't want to be one of those people who has to maintain a yard. Who doesn't go to clothing swaps on a Monday night because none of my suburban girlfriends has heard of one. I don't want my social life to revolve around bars. I think Beer Pong is stupid.

So what does this mean for me and Prince Charming?

Am I really willing to give up my Magic Kingdom?

And to all the single ladies out there, would you give up the city you love to be with the man you love in a suburb you loathe?

Not everything in life is easy. Though I'm sure my boyfriend will be reading this post at some point, we've decided to let the issue rest for now. He's giving Brooklyn a shot. So I need to let it go.

Thank God February is almost over. I hate this month!!

February 3, 2009

Damn.

I need to do a better job of keeping up with my own blog!

Things are good, but things are tough.

Last week my cousin Wanda (aka Aunt Wanda), a 50-something mom of four, died of breast cancer after several years of battling it. She left behind four children, all in their teens and early 20s.

The last time I remember seeing her, at another cousin's wedding in October '08, she wore a hot pink dress and danced with her family furiously to Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer." They looked so happy, so aware of how important it is to shed all pretensions and simply get out there and get your groove on. With the people you love.

It's hard for me, living up here in Brooklyn, N.Y., with a family scattered all over Maryland and Washington, D.C. I see my folks every two to three months, a total of 6 or 7 times a year. When I freelanced for the Baltimore Examiner, one of my main sources of income since April 2006, it made it easier to spend time with them. I simply grabbed my computer, packed it up, and headed south.

Last week I just received notice that the Examiner is shutting its Baltimore branch, leaving me, a ton of staff members and plenty of freelancers without good, paying work.

Fortunately, I teach guitar for the Brooklyn Guitar School, as well as independently (e-mail me!). Now, I will have to do more teaching in order to pay my bills. I'm grateful for this, because teaching gives me something beyond words. Never am I calmer than after teaching two little 10-year-olds how to play a "Smoke on The Water" guitar riff. Never do I feel more satisfied than after explaining scales to three overworked grownups with the same kind of corporate jobs I used to have.

But at what point is work more important than heading down south to see your family? They could, after all, come here, right? Not exactly.

My 90-something grandparents, Nonna Mary and Nonno Peter (nonno/nonna means "grandparents") in Italian, are unable to go three days without needing company. My grandfather, once the rock of our family, had a stroke on October 3, and hasn't been the same since. He's bed/wheelchair bound, and often says nonsensical things to my father. My nonna Mary is burdened with dementia. If that weren't bad enough, my mom's dad finally went blind after years of struggling with his eyesight. He's also become increasingly suspicious of everything --like his family's intentions for his wellbeing.

Daily, I've been counting my gratitudes. I do get to teach guitar to 25 students a week. I have a blockbuster boyfriend who loves me. Most people tell me I look younger than I am. My hands work, so I can type this blog. I am the singer/guitarist for two bands -- one of them is my own baby! I got to go on tour this year.

Have the last 5 months been humbling? You betcha. But I'm not dead yet. I will continue to fight for work and the things I believe in -- rather than pursuing things that leave me feeling braindead (copyediting for a celebrity magazine first among them). I will try to spend more time with my family, friends and boyfriend. I will work on my secret new projects, which will hopefully yield great results in the future.

God is with me, and I can still be of service to those I love and the universe as a whole.