Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Festival of Sighs - Chrismakkuh chronicles

What a miracle, only 4 times in the past century has the first night of Chanukah fallen on the same date as Christmas eve! And every year, the same olympic feat of juggling holidays in families of divorce also begins, with less than miraculous results.  My 3 grown children gingerly make plans for breakfast with Dad, lunch with Mom, dinner with whomever has the best meal planned.  As hard as it is for me to navigate this scenario without coming off as demanding, I border on being slightly annoyed to mildly insulted. But it is equally as hard on the children, as they have told me: "Mom, this is how it is with children of divorce." Guilty, as charged!  Feelings need to be spared, and blows softened by secrets and white lies, which ultimately are uncovered.  As I tell the children, don't hide your plans from me; be honest, let me know everything, as painful as it will be! Yeah, right!

How to cope and survive without too much angst and anxiety?  I'm still not very good at it, as I try to suppress my exasperation and disappointment when I only get 4 hours out of the day. And sometimes I only get a 2 kid visit, not all 3 at at the same time. It really hasn't gotten any easier. For instance, this Thanksgiving they ate a huge meal at Dad's. I spent the day at a friend's house with her family. I made dessert - dirt cups, chocolate pudding with cookie crumbs and gummy worms, as requested.  They got home around 8 pm, obviously not hungry for dessert, as  But no matter, we all hung out, played Uno and jammed in the basement. Those few precious hours of family time were what I hung on to for the rest of the week.  Of course, the rest of the 4 day weekend was divvied up between Dad and me. Could not help feeling the tinge of sadness when they would leave.

And now this year, the Mother of all Holidays, Christmas, falls on the same day as Chanukah - go figure! And that complicates matters even further, because not only do the kids have to split the first day of Chanukah; they have to plan Christmas with significant others who celebrate! Horrors! So, as it stands, I have 2 kids for candle lighting on Dec. 24th, 3 kids for breakfast on the 25th.  The main latke/dreidel/Chanukah bash later on that day will have only 2 of my kids. And Dad gets them for Saturday night dinner and part of Sunday. Oy! It's enough to just give up and celebrate Festivus.

It probably won't get any easier, but with enough red wine and egg nog, to soothe the savagery of Holiday Jenga, it may be manageable.  And with this thought, I wish you all a stress-free holiday season.

Monday, June 6, 2016

"To Get Through this Thing Called Life..." 
                         Becoming a Prince Fan

Over a month has gone by since Prince's untimely death, and the constant radio of  Prince's songs still runs through my mind.  It was worse a few weeks after April 21...I'd go to sleep with the strains of "Purple Rain" in my head; then wake up to "When Doves Cry"  or "Pop Life" or "Let's Go Crazy" and it was like that night after night. I had listened to Minnesota's radio station, The Current, on my Sonos, play Prince's catalog, all weekend. Think I caught it at the "R"s, riveted for hours, til the end. That's when I really became a Prince fan.  What a treasure trove of music! Was introduced to "Morning Papers, "The Love we Make," Wow," "The Ride," and "The Sacrifice of Victor." It was my first time hearing all these songs, and I was blown away.

I remember seeing "Purple Rain" in the theatres when it first came out, in 1984, and immediately after, buying the album...played it to death. Here was this guy, with serious eye makeup, in lace, singing crazy, funky songs, shredding like Jimi and looking cool, raw and sexy. Weird coincidence -  my daughter had to pick a singer to write a report about in 5th grade, found my album and started listening to "Purple Rain", writing a report on Prince. 

I was in my 20's then, living in Brooklyn and working at a tv station, hanging out in the city, dancing and and easy, no commitments yet.  I think all the memories of that era, embedded in the fibers of my brain, flooded back to me, making the shock and sadness of this man's death more potent.  Funny how the mind works - sometimes the subconscious takes over without giving you any conscious notice!

After listening to all this music and viewing youtubes of Prince at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in 2004, killing it with his guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" or the vid of him singing "The Beautiful Ones" while Misty Copeland danced, I became sadder and sadder, as I appreciated Prince's talent, and knew he was no longer on this earth.

I was angry at myself for not enjoying all of his music while he was alive, and not getting the chance to see him live in concert. So, I continued to scroll through the internet, watching the Dave Chappelle skit of Prince playing basketball, then making pancakes for the losers - hysterical, and I re-watched Purple Rain; painted my nails purple, looked up the chords to "Let's Go Crazy" for the piano. Then viewed all the tributes...but nothing was better than watching the videos of his live performances.  I was awed and I cried. 

The worst part was knowing that this hugely talented musician died alone in an elevator. Can't sweep away the sadness of that. Or the thought that help for whatever addictions he was fighting might have been only a day away. If only that doctor had met with him a day earlier, if the story is true.

I'm sure in time, the Prince music in my head will settle down. Mourning him may continue a little while longer.

"Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending/ And all good things, they say, never last"  - "Sometimes in Snows in April" - Prince