Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Asking Mom For Help

Sometimes we just don't want to make it a Hallmark moment.

News flash: This time of year ain't always merriment and mistletoe for everybody. For a variety of reasons, the holidays can suck for many of us. For some, it's a battle to create a festive atmosphere or supply presents under the tree when there's precious little money and no gainful employment. For others, it's an empty nest or an empty bed that brings out one's Inner Scrooge. If you are like me, the holidays can be a painful reminder of a loved one's death.

The next few days will undoubtedly be rife with love, laughter, yummy food, and fun presents to give and receive. Yet, there will also be a part of me -- a part of a lot of us -- that will be yearning for that missing someone around the dinner table. For me, it's my mom. For others, it may be a grandmother, a husband, a son, a sister, or a friend. Even though my mother won't be here in physical form, her spirit has recently been making itself known in many ways. Just yesterday, I felt I was channeling Mom as my daughter and I undertook the task of making her famous 7-layer bars. I recalled so many Christmases past where Mom would prance around the house in her red sweater and acrylic high heels, making sure everyone had something to drink and a 7-layer bar to nibble on. She was the quintessential glammed up matriarch, white zinfandel in one hand and a glowing cig in the other. No matter how many presents I receive in my lifetime, few will give me the joy I felt upon witnessing the contagious belly laugh of that little firecracker.

Yesterday, I received a telephone call from a dear friend of mine who is currently going through the same thing I did three years ago. His father is about ready to depart this world, and the transition is understandably difficult for the entire family. On one day, it seems like his dad is ready to leave; on another day, he is up and around, basking in the love of his spouse, children and grandchildren. My friend believes that he is showing one final burst of energy before he says his final goodbyes. Who knows, maybe he's waiting until after Christmas so his loved ones won't be reminded of his death on the 25th of every December. I wish I could tell him that it doesn't really matter what day he decides to die. Even if he waits a few extra days, his family will still feel the crush of his absence every year around the holidays. There will be an air of melancholy when everyone sits down to the feast. Someone will make a reference that will remind everyone of a long-running family joke. His favorite holiday movie will play on television. In so many ways he will be there still, even when he's not.

Because of this phone call I received, I decided to ask my mother for a special gift this year. I am going to ask her to help in a way that only she can do.

"Ma, please go to Jim's bedside and help him find his way to Spirit. He needs help in dropping his body so he can move on, and you are just the gal to escort him. (He's cute too!) As you know, he's probably a little afraid and worried that his family won't be able to handle his death. Reassure him, Ma, that everyone will be all right and that he is going to an amazing place filled with beauty, joy, and Divine love. Once he feels and sees you there, he'll understand that he's not really dying - just changing locales. It will help him and his family so much. Bring all of your peeps too! Thanks, Mom, for this huge gift. I love you so much!"

And I miss you too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

F'ed Up Fairy Tales

Call me an arrogant douchebag, but I have a Google Alert set up on myself. As a self-pubbed writer who has pimped herself out for articles, interviews, quotes, reviews and anything else that will get my name out into the world, I like to keep track of where I am floating in cyberspace. This morning, I got an alert about an interview I did on fairy tales over a year ago for Online Dating Magazine. I must have been wearing my sassy-pants when I did it! Here is the interview. Enjoy...

Dating with Disabilities
by Melissa Blake
An Interview with Theresa Rose

I know I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately for this column, but I’ve been talking to so many great people with such great insight, and I can’t resist sharing their knowledge and expertise with you. Besides, you must get sick of hearing me prattle on week after week, right?

Did you grow up loving nothing more than a good fairytale? I did. I used to read about Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, and before I knew it, I started waiting for my own Prince Charming to come riding up on his white horse and sweep me away to our own, personal Happily Ever After. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a great story for a young girl to have in her mind, but that’s just what it is – a story. Somewhere along the way, I began thinking that this is how real life – and of course, real love – was: all romantic and pretty and filled with heroes who save the day. But as I got older, I realized that some of those classics can lead young women astray, especially in leading them to think that they need to rely on a man for happiness, or that they are doomed to be damsels in distress forever.

What happened to Girl Power? I wondered if I was alone in my thinking (which, as you know, happens to be the case sometimes), so I got the inside story (no pun intended) from Theresa Rose, the award-winning author of the book “Opening the Kimono: A Woman’s Intimate Journey Through Life’s Biggest Challenges” (Serious Mojo, 2009). Read on for her thoughts on the lessons we internalize from fairytales.

What do fairytales really teach us about love and life?
As a mother of a seven-year old girl who adores "All Things Princess," I can say from first-hand experience what these fairytales teach about life: they show us to value looks and superficiality above all else, that girls are totally clueless to their surroundings and how victim hood ultimately serves us. What a bunch of malarkey! Each female in these stories is a passive victim who is waiting for some man to rescue her from the terrible situation she herself got into. Of course, it goes without saying that the love found in the stories is totally based on physical attraction alone. How on earth could those perfect dudes fall in love with their princesses after only a few minutes? And they lived happily ever after? Please.

Why have these fairytales transcended time and remained relevant even in 2009?
Despite how totally unrealistic and even harmful these stories are, little girls (and big girls) everywhere are drawn to them like moths to a flame. There is something so appealing about imagining oneself as the prettiest, most sought-after girl in the room. We get to wear fancy clothes, have men fight dragons for us and essentially have no responsibility whatsoever for our own happiness. When shown through that prism, becoming Snow White sounds pretty good to me too. It's the same base desire that had women flocking to the theaters to see "Sex and the City."

How can women use these stories to benefit their own lives?
I believe the biggest benefit from these stories is to show women where they learned patterns of victim hood and unreasonable fixations on appearance. Women should look at challenges in their lives and ask, "What Wouldn't Snow White Do?" We can be our own heroes instead of waiting for a man to save us. Although, I must admit that Cinderella reminds us of the power of wearing a killer pair of heels.

Is there anything else you think I should know?
The best fairytale heroines are Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Fiona from the Shrek series. Belle taught us that reading is cool, and what is on the inside of someone is more important than what's on the outside. Fiona taught us that you can get the love of your dreams and still have terrible skin, a barrel for a belly, a bulbous nose, and freaky ears. She is responsible for her happiness, sticks up to her man when called for and chooses her own destiny over what other people think. Fiona ROCKS!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We Knew We Were Gonna See This

I am currently sitting at the Minneapolis International Airport, praying that the airplane on which I am about to board can outrun a raging blizzard. Yippy F#$king Skippy.

As a recent transplant from Florida to Minnesota, I am often asked why I would voluntarily choose to leave Paradise for life in the Frozen Tundra. (The word 'insane' is often used in the question.) When we packed up our worldly belongings in August and headed north, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Fast forward four months later, and I'm shivering my ass off. News Flash: This time of year, Minnesota gets cold. It gets BUTT-cold. It gets oh-shit-my-nipples-feel-like-they-are-going-to-friggin-fall-off cold. And it's not even Christmas. Jesus, what the hell was I thinking? I'm not swearing to the Lord; I'm literally asking Him.

Oh yeah, I remember. On the professional front, we moved for the career opportunities it afforded me. In only a short period of time, I have been able to generate significant new speaking gigs, and I believe it is directly attributable to being in a major metropolitan area like Minneapolis/St.Paul. I have also made some amazing connections, established growing friendships and had occasion to speak in front of large groups. These are all good things!

However, the more important reason for our reverse-migration has been the reconnection with my family and my roots. I was born in this Frozen Tundra forty years ago, and I have several family members that have been silly enough to remain living here (just kiddin', peeps!). What a joy is has been to have Thanksgiving with one of my brothers and his family, spend evenings playing cutthroat games of Rummikub with my niece who has suddenly grown into a woman when I wasn't looking, and chilling with my soul sis Susan while enjoying a glass of zin. Emma is on Cloud Nine-and-a-Half being so close the clan, and she proudly announces that her new BFF is her cousin Libby. To top it off, we get the pleasure of hosting Christmas Eve dinner at our home. Norman Rockwell we ain't, but it will be a great time nonetheless.

So, here I sit, fretting about the friggin' weather. I recall my husband quoting the James Cameron movie, The Abyss, whenever I start bitching about the cold or snow. He says, "We knew we were gonna see this". Yep, we knew that the weather was one of the drawbacks to our decision to move up north. But, you know what? No place is ideal. If you don't deal with blizzards every once in a while, you deal with hurricanes. If you don't deal with hurricanes, you deal with smog, fires, earthquakes, persistent traffic jams, outrageous real estate prices, or bad hairdos. Every place has a shitty part, no matter how you slice it. We made our decision to move to Minnesota based on intuition and heart, not number of inches of snow per year. We knew we were gonna see airport delays, snowplows, runny noses, and icy roads. But we also knew we were gonna see smiling faces on our children, friendly competitions of Apples to Apples around the fire, and houses full of laughter and love. My life is richer in every way for having come back home. When all is said and done, a blizzard every once in a while is a tiny price to pay.

But I won't be complaining when my plane lands in Sarasota.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Swing Dance Sexiness

Here is my latest "Sex and the Suburbs" column for Creative Loafing newspaper. While it isn't as steamy as some of my others, it still brings a smile to my face. I hope it does to yours too!

Blessings, and make it a great day.