On Bonnie

I first met Bonnie when I was a teenager.  She was dating Bob, who was a good family friend since I was a baby.  Bob and Bonnie met on the Tina Turner tour in the early 80s.  She was Tina’s PR person and he was a Roadie.  They fell in love and when he proposed, Tina sang “Let’s Stay Together” for them on tour.

Bonnie was from NYC, had curly, red hair, was a high-powered business woman and was Jewish.  I was intruiged and enamored by all of those things.  I wanted to be just like her.

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After college when I was moving to NYC to be a Performer, she gave me a huge, black leather bag as a gift.  She told me that all the Dancers and Actresses she had ever known have to carry around “tons of shit” for their classes and auditions and I would need this. She was right.  She was that kind of person and also had no problem with cussing often.

I remember getting the news that she was in the hospital with Leukemia.  She was young and it was sudden and shocking.  I called her regularly over that next year as she was in and out of treatment, most of which she never remembered. Miraculously, her sister was a match for her as a blood marrow donor and that spared Bonnie’s life for many years.  Unfortunately, with that came something called graft-versus-host disease.

Nonetheless, Bonnie beat Leukemia for 5 years and her remission was considered a miracle.  For many years she lived a normal life, worked (eventually remarried) and although she and Bob divorced, we stayed close.  I had a personal crisis in 2001 when I was pregnant with my daughter, toddler in tow.  My marriage fell apart and I couldn’t work because of a pregnancy complication.  I suddenly had no income, no place to live and was on my own.  In desperation, I considered moving into a trailer park in Eureka.  I ran this idea by her and she said, “No.  Jews don’t live in trailer parks.” Unbeknownst to me, she banded together with Bob and another family member to basically pay my rent for a year while I got on my feet.  She was an angel to me and I will never forget that generosity.

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After I spent 4 years becoming a Colorist, Bonnie became my client.  She was picky-picky-picky and made me better at what I do.  She expected the best, nothing less.  She was loving and devoted and came to see me on and off until she no longer could leave her house.

This was her last visit to the salon in April.

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We spoke a few weeks before she breathed her last breath and she told me that what might end up killing her was dehydration.  She just couldn’t get enough water in her.  I asked her point blank if she thought she was going to die and she said she might.  I knew that she had surrendered the fight at that point.  I could hear it in her voice.

I have never met a more feisty and determined person than Bonnie.  She inspired me and always will.  I was amazed, honestly, that she lived as long as she did.  The amount of hospitalizations, blood-work, surgeries, transfusions, tubes in her chest, weird skin reactions, reactions to dental work-all of which she overcame and any one of which would take down most people.  To the end, she refused to complain and wanted only to hear about my life and push me to be the best I could be.

RIP Bonnie Feingold

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?pid=171776834

 

On the 3L’s

I keep taking love quizzes on Facebook and I have had it with them.  “7 Signs You Have Found Your Soulmate”, “50 Ways To Tell You Are in a Healthy Relationship”, “How Well Do You Know Your Lover?” and so on and so forth.  I can’t resist them yet I inevitably finish embarrassed to partake in such things.  What am I, a teenage girl?  So, I came up with my own.  No long list, no quiz.  Just the 3 ingredients I need these days to be happy with a man.  “The 3L’s.”  Believe me when I say that I do NOT profess to be an expert on long-lasting love. But, I certainly am trying and here is what seems to matter most to me at this point:

1. I need to LIKE you.  A lot.  As I observe married couples who are still happy, they seem to have a genuine respect for their partner.  They enjoy and are interested in each other. It isn’t a tolerance of the other only (I am putting up with you because I am committed to you and feel bad leaving you because I said I wouldn’t but I can’t stand you really).  It isn’t a put on for appearances.  They aren’t staying together “for the kids”.

There is a brilliant study that predicts the longevity of marriage in 3 minutes.(http://www.isoulseek.com/sitebranches/relationskills/articles/6signs.pdf)  John Gottman isolated 6 main signs of trouble in paradise but he emphasized that the number one predictor is CONTEMPT. This is a form of anger which can display itself in many ways but the study focuses on body language and tone of voice.  I can vividly recall myself in relationships that were ill-fated and how that type of poison had entered the equation.  This stemmed from a loss of respect somewhere along the way and from that loss of respect I became contemptuous. And rather than leave, we tolerated each other with a seething anger, eye-rolls and a disdain between us that showed itself in condescension.

2. There must be LUST.  I know better than to think Lust is a good foundation for a long-lasting relationship but it is a requirement.  Chemistry, glances across a room, the remnants of his scent, the touch of his skin.  We really are just animals in the animal kingdom and heat between us matters.  I so wish that this factor was less important to me.  I have ended perfectly lovely relationships because I just didn’t feel “it”.  I have met many wonderful men but without that unnameable spark, there is no future.  It’s what all good love songs are about.  It’s what makes the world go round, makes us want to make babies even when it makes no sense.  We do irrational things, wear ridiculously high heels and give of ourselves.  This fire helps us endure life’s little drudgeries which are inevitable.

3. Last but not least, we must eventually and ultimately LOVE each other.  I am talking about real, respectful and gracious love.  The kind of love that may mean that I love you so much, I want you to be happy despite how your happiness impacts me.  “If you love someone, set them free” and other slogans stick around as long as they do because the true teaching of love is not about possession.  I remember hearing this concept when my kids were born-that my kids are souls that I am fortunate enough to care for.  But they are not “mine”.  Love, at it’s best, liberates us and helps make us our best self.  The people I know who are happily married the longest have this in common.   They love each other through all of life’s changes, through their ups and downs and maybe they will make it, “til death do us part”.

I have officiated two weddings.  One, 20 years ago and they are still married.

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*me on the left with the beautiful Bride.  We were 23 years old.  I was trying to look more Adult but look more Amish?

The other was just last year. Below is the moment when I had them read their vows off the iPhone because I had forgotten them inside.  A funny and perfect moment.

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I gave marriage and love a whole lot of thought for both weddings.  I believe that both couples have what it takes to go the distance and one is half-way there already!  The fact that they asked me to officiate (as an unmarried woman) challenged me, humbled me and I dug down deep to find the right things to say about marriage.  I, despite my many “failed” romances remain a believer in love.

I don’t know if I will marry again.  I don’t know if I believe in Soul Mates or forever for me.  I do know that love heals.  I believe we all deserve love.  I know that after having children, I have experienced love in it’s purest and most selfless form.

I am happy with my guy and I feel all 3L’s for him.  And for today, that’s enough for me.

 

On Princess School

Growing up, I didn’t have too many great role models of marriage.  It has taken me a whole lot longer than most to develop standards and values that I would be proud to pass on to my Daughter for how to be treated.  I have come to jokingly and lovingly call this “Princess School”.  I know when I meet a Princess School Graduate in my chair or in my social circle because life is pretty good for them.  Things are TAKEN CARE OF.  And lest you think I am talking about not carrying my own bags, that isn’t it.  Nor is this discussion about money, material items or being a Diva. It’s really about self-esteem and self-respect.

When I was becoming a Feminist in my late teens, I confused “Having it all” with “Having to do it all”.  I was going to have a career, kids and a relationship.  The man I chose would not have to provide for me.  I could do it myself.  Maybe HE could stay at home with the kids.  I could do it all because I wanted to.  I judged women critically who declared their Boyfriend “treats me like a Queen”.  I had some stuff a bit backwards.

I was 26 when I met Daniel and 28 when we got married.  We met playing in nightclubs in NYC.  We created music together. We fought a lot.  We were in love.  We had our son when I was almost 30 and daughter at 31 and divorced soon after. He was and will always be a great love of my life and you could never have talked me out of marrying him.  But put it this way, I bought my own wedding ring.

When I was in my 20s, I decided that LOVE was all that mattered.  I thought that if I loved YOU, that was the most important factor for us to have a relationship.  Princesses don’t think this way.  At all.  Princesses are rational and decide that yes, love matters but how you treat THEM matters as much, if not more.  How you are treated-not just how you feel about the other person. This is the difference.

We decided to get married on a Thursday night.  We got our marriage license on Friday.  We got married at City Hall in NYC on Monday at 2. We invited the few friends who we thought could make it.  I spent the weekend preparing.  One of my best friends made the cake. My other close childhood friend made my bouquet.

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*disco ball shoes featured are mine

I knew Daniel didn’t have the money for a ring so I went ahead and bought one for myself.  Then I took the subway to the Upper East Side to a wedding boutique to look at tiaras.  The very elegant sales ladies were horrified when they asked me what my dress looked like and I pulled it out of my BACKBACK.

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I had this dress for years.  I figured it was white and strapless and why not wear it? Their tiaras were way out of my budget so I left and got one elsewhere and laughed a little at the thought of how they were probably talking about me.  Clearly, they were used to dealing with Princesses.  On a timeline.  Not a short sale.

I loved my husband. I loved our little wedding.  Our children were born of love.  I wouldn’t change any of that.  I led with passion and my heart, always.  But looking back, it wouldn’t have hurt for me to have more needs, more self-respect and ask for a little more in life earlier on. The two don’t have to be at odds.  This I didn’t understand.

There is so much to say about how we think of ourselves and how these thoughts generate the actions that create our lives.  It could be said that our lives are manifestations of how we feel about ourselves.  Where I still have work to do is as a late-comer to Princess School.  Maybe I will never become one?  I’m probably too old so I should be enrolling in Queen School.  But this much I know-I’d like to stop creating hardship for myself.  I’d like to think there are new ways of thinking that are easier than the ones I have.  I’d like to stop suffering because I think I have to, because it’s second nature.  There surely is something to be said for buying one’s own ring.  And there is surely something to be said for not having to.

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On Vacation

This year, my family and I rented a beach house together and will spend a week on vacation.  The house we rented is only about 35 minutes from my actual house and 15 minutes from the house I grew up in.  At a beach I grew up going to every chance I could. I was a beach girl, back in the day.

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*1985 Stinson Beach.  Crutches were mine from a non-drinking related ankle sprain.  Actually, it probably did involve California Coolers

In my beach years, I had a tan, long Blonde hair and I dated Surfers.  The beachy lifestyle continued through college (location changed) where I studied on the beach, worked by the beach, ran on the beach.  You get the idea. When at last I found I could no longer tolerate ANOTHER beautiful day, I traded health and happiness for angst and suffering NYC-style.  While in NY, I became an (aspiring) Actress, got rid of my Valley Girl accent and avoided the sun as well as overly-happy people. I learned I was actually a translucent shade of white and that I had been dating dumb-dumbs. No men in NY told me, “you think too much”.

I did have this uncontrollable urge when pregnant to dig a hole in the sand to put my tummy in so a few times in that 9 months I went to the beach.

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Besides this moment of glory, I was an Urban Dweller all the way.  When my son was born, we moved back to California to the town I live in now.  As the years have gone by (13 now), the call to be by the water gets stronger and stronger.  I realized this week sadly, that I have become that person that craves a somewhat different life than I live.  And yet I don’t know if I can change my life, at least for awhile. Wise women have told me that the 70s Feminist Tenet of “having it all” is a myth.  We can have it all, just not all at the same time.

Only after I had my kids did I start to comprehend the meaning of sacrifice. The purpose of my life became completely clear.  I felt the full weight of providing and nurturing, endlessly. The necessity of stability and the exhaustion and satisfaction of being stretched thin. Parenting, especially single-parenting, is hardcore.

The good news and bad news about my kids getting older is that I now have more time on my hands to think about ME.  For years, people would ask me how I was doing and I would be…clueless.  Me?  Feelings?  There was no “me time”.  I was thoroughly out of touch.  Yet, I found great liberation in that state.  Me? I am a Mom.  I am working for them.  I get up for them.  I clean, work, think and act for their well-being.  I loved this freedom from the self-centeredness of my past.  The total lack of Existentialist questioning.  Free from the naval-gazing emptiness I felt in my 20s.

On Vacation, we have time to reflect.  I have accomplished a whole lot in my life thus far.  And when I boil it down, I now think I will have really “made it” if I have a hot tub and can see the sunset regularly.  This week I got a taste of what that feels like.  And it happens to be a lifestyle I can’t actually afford.

Or can I?

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