Tag Archives: friendship

Rehearsals for Departures

Gotta admit folks.  I’m feeling the pensive these days.  I’ve been trying to figure out where these clouds of melancholy are coming from.  You know the one… the kind which lodges inside your chest cavity and won’t let go?  So, I’ve been going through my mental checklist, of things which usually would or should bother me.  And the truth is, none of the usuals are cranking my chain. Mr. Mix and I are cruising in the happy convertible.  Sweet Pea and Drama Queen are enhancing the fine street art of sibling rivalry, but otherwise hunky dory.  I love my work, I have wonderful friends…

So why am I feeling…lonely? Yep, that’s it.  I feel disconnected, even in the midst of all this good.

And to answer the question I KNOW some of you are thinking, uh NO, I did NOT stop taking my meds.  And I’m NOT depressed about turning 40.

Now that I’m all free associating and all, I think I’m still mourning the loss of a friend of mine…you see, I’m an only child, which means friends are, like, heavily layered and meaningful for me and shit.  Once I love you, I mean REALLY love you as a friend, that’s it. You’re usually in for life.

Um, I guess until you’re not.

This friend is not a bad or malicious person.  And in very different ways, this person was one of the best hangs around.  But I made a promise to myself when turning the big 4-0 that I’d only have cheerleader-type friends in my life from now on (see previous post).  And I’m sticking to it. 

I am sure that this person feels I let them down as well…and I’m sure on some level, that’s true.  But if s/he takes a moment, s/he knows full well that I loved them dearly, and even though I’m not the easiest person to deal with, all I ever wanted for them was to find out what made them happy.

But that happy can’t come at my expense. I can’t put up with someone always living glass-half-empty or with thinly veiled, passive aggressive jabs.  You got a problem with me, then spill it like a big kid or shut the fuck up. You can’t find the happy, then get your own therapist and get on some meds already. 

So I’ve been cleaning house.  And while it’s necessary, it doesn’t mean it’s easy for me either. So there.

10. “Circle,” (Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians) Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars.

09. “Don’t Panic,” (Coldplay) Parachutes.

08. “Phantom Mountain,” (Laura Veirs) Wrecking.

07. “Unraveling,” (Deb Talen) A Bird Flies Out.

06. “The Funeral,” (Band of Horses) Everything All the Time.

05. “Last Goodbye,” (Jeff Buckley) Grace.

04. “Lonely,” (Tom Waits) Closing Time.

03. “Pitseleh,” (Elliott Smith) XO.

02. “Rehearsals for Departure,” (Damien Jurado) Rehearsals for Departures.

01. “Revelation Big Sur,” (Red House) Songs for a Blues Guitar.

Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Confession #9: Mama Who Bore Me*

So my mom just flew into town. On her broom. Just kidding. I love my mama.  She’s beautiful and smart and off-the-charts creative.  She’s also someone who has fought for me and who has thrown me under the bus.  In others words, it’s a complicated relationship – like most mothers and daughters, I suppose. 

She’s in town visiting in honor of Sweet Pea’s 10th birthday.  I love how she has formed such a bond with each of my daughters, and I see in their eyes the pure, unadulterated awe they have for her.  I suppose I have some of that as well on some level.  Being raised by such a strong personality – and who often viewed my accomplishments in terms of how they related to her own strengths, or in easier phrasing ‘like mother, like daughter’ – was a heady challenge for me.  Plus, she was psychic – really, I’m not kidding – and not only knew a lot of what was going to happened before it did, but always knew when I was trying to get away with something (which was often).

I see Caren trapped in a car, with a boy on top of her. Again!

 

As I grew and became my own force of nature, I needed to learn to make my own choices – and mistakes.  And I sure did the latter.  Weak-minded boy toys, flunking out of college, my own bout with bulimia…it’s amazing to me that any of us survive our teens and twenties.  Through it all my mom has been my friend, counselor, judge and jury.  On a lighter note, we have a very similar aesthetic, we always end up ordering the same thing at restaurants, and cry and laugh at the same points in a movie.  She’s an introvert who really doesn’t like people as much as they like her, but we can sit and talk for hours without ever getting bored of one another.  I know that I’m one of the few people who really get her, to the point where I can walk into the room, take one look at her face and know if something’s wrong.  That has been a tremendous comfort and annoyance for her through the years. You can flip that same sentence around because the same is true for me. 

My mom’s an accomplished artist and gourmet chef (she trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris), but does little of the former and hardly any of the latter as she gets older.  As much as I know she’s proud of the person I am, I get the feeling she’s still waiting to see what “great” thing I’m going to do with my life.  Her latest line is, “You’ll be forty before you know it.  The forties are your time to really make something of your life.”  Yeah, no pressure, moms.  I know she means well, but what she doesn’t realize is that I’ve internalized it all and already hear that same voice  inside my head, yapping at a fairly continuous rate. All daughters – no matter what their relationship is with their mothers – will ALWAYS hear that voice in their head.  I do my best to temper that double-sworded demon by reminding myself that a person’s value is not in a resúme, but in the relationships formed and fostered throughout a life.  That said, I still want to offer her a book deal or a shiny new job title as an offering on the family altar.  I can’t help it. I’m a girl, which means I’m still cursed with the desire to please.

Anyway, she’s here and will be gone again before I know it.  And I’m learning to appreciate it all, because I’m old enough now to know that someday, she’ll be gone for good. And I already know, I will grieve for her the hardest.

 

* Referencing the song from which Broadway smash? If you guessed “Spring Awakening,” you know your showtune stuff.

 

 

Ain’t it Good to Know You Got a Friend? Or Not.

Dr. Ms. Mix and Bitch,

I moved to the City two years ago and have only developed vague friendships. Early on, I met a very gregarious guy who has introduced me to his friends and friends he’s made since we’ve been together. All of my quasi-friendships are with people he’s met and brought into our lives. They are all nice people and we seem to get along, but I have yet to establish myself beyond being Great Guy’s Girlfriend with anyone.

This has caused tension within an otherwise great relationship. Boyfriend feels the pressure of making friends for me and I don’t hang out with anyone else unless he’s around, so I’m either with Boyfriend or by myself. I know it’s a two-way street and I have made (albeit, small) gestures to those I’ve hit it off with, but they don’t seem receptive. It’s always a battle to make play dates and I’ve pretty much given up.

I’m starting to feel super-isolated and concerned for my mental health. I shouldn’t depend on Boyfriend to fulfill every relationship aspect humans crave. My best female friend lives across the country and I haven’t seen her in a year. I miss girl friendships very much, but have no idea how to start one. Never in my life have I been approached by a friendly stranger and I couldn’t imagine doing it to someone.  I am out-and-about the City all the time, but everyone remains a stranger. So, how do I begin? Part of me wants to meet people completely separate from the Boyfriend’s circle so I can really establish myself as an individual. Boyfriend hangs out with friends by himself a lot, so now I feel a competitive edge to finding a friendship. I know where to meet people, but I guess it simply boils down to: How?

Thanks for any advice,

I Got the Great Relationship, How About a Great Friendship?

lonely girl

Dear Great Girl,

It’s tough when you team up with a Golden Boy, ain’t it?  Half the time you’re trying to enjoy your relationship and the other half  just trying to keep up.  So, here’s a suggestion:

Don’t.

Because he’s King of the Social Butterflies and that’s obviously not in your nature.  Doesn’t mean you don’t try to branch out, but here’s the kicker darlin’…the more you try to “make friends” the more likely you won’t find them. Why? Because loneliness is the bug repellent of relationships  my friend…it guarantees anything worthwhile will flee from the stink.  The ultimate pickle of a situation, huh kid. So, what to do?

Take it from a gypsy that’s moved from town to town for years…the key is to get involved in a cause or class or some organized group activity that suits YOUR interests.  Get involved – get outside yourself and your own head.  And through the time you spend doing something you love, you will eventually find some kindred souls.  But remember, it takes time…and takes effort from you. Social skills are an acquired ability, sweetie.  In fact, they are a lost art form.

The bottom line for your boyfriend is probably him not wanting to feel emotionally responsible for you.  He wants to know you’re enough of your own woman that he doesn’t need to worry about your mental health.  And you know, that’s a fair point.  The tricks are remembering these:

*  Friendships are like good, plump, ripe fruit – the best grow organically and slowly over time.

*  The best way to even ensure friendships can grow is to be the most interesting hang you can be,

* Friendships are like romantic relationships…ask them all about themselves and they’ll think YOUR fascinating.

Good luck Ms. Shyness.  The world is waiting for you.

Sorry, no mix today, sweetums…

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Dear Ms. Mix & Bitch,

I know what I’m about to write sounds horrible.  I need to talk to someone though and I thought of you.

My 18-year-old daughter was home for Thanksgiving. She’s in her first year of college in Rhode Island (Brown University, actually).  We told her it was ok for her to bring a friend or two home for the weekend, especially if they had nowhere else to go. 

Well, she sure brought home a couple of winners. One of her friends is this young lady from New York (we’re in North Carolina), who smokes like a chimney, calls us by our first names, and goes off on a tirade about how “meat is murder” – even though she knows we’re not vegetarians. The other one was this boy from England, whose family is of Iranian descent, although he kept insisting he was “Persian” and not Iranian.  He was very well-mannered and thoughtful, but seemed very sketchy about his roots.  He just kept saying his family emigrated to England in 1976, and  that he has never been to Iran.

 

I just couldn’t get over that these were my daughter’s friends.  Katy has always danced to a different drummer from the rest of the family.  We’re certainly not country bumpkins, but we are a fairly conservative, Christian family; with eight generations of North Carolinians to our credit.  Katy is a very smart young woman, who has always questioned, well, everything.  I sensed during the visit that she kept waiting for me and her father to come unglued and let her have it over the company she’s keeping.  But we didn’t.  I actually felt sorry for the New York girl after a while. For all her bravado, it turns out her parents travel constantly for their work, and she never sees them. As far as the young man, he’s cordial, well-mannered, and sweet.  I like him, but my husband’s not happy about him being an Arab. He says to me in private that he’s wondering if his family funds terrorist groups. I know…it’s ridiculous, but that’s how he feels.  Plus, I think this young man and my daughter have a budding courtship. While I am fine with them being friends, I am not sure how I feel about them dating.

My daughter loves your site, so I must admit I’m hoping she reads this and can open up to me about what her intentions are about all of this.

Most Sincerely,

Concerned Mama

Dear Concerned Mama,

Well, I’ve got to hand it to you. Using me and my blog as a family mediator is a definite  first for me.  I have to admit, I was wondering how a middle-aged, conservative Christian mother from North Carolina found my little ol’ corner of the web until I got to the end of your letter.  And I thought us Jews maintained the monopoly on passive-aggressive guilt mongering. Bravo, you Carolina cutie, Bra-vo.

Okay, now onto the “dilemna”…this is very simple. Your precious little pink Christian princess brainchild has consciously or subsciously decided to re-enact some low-grade, garden variety teenage rebellion on you.  I would’ve hoped that someone of her SAT status would have come up with something more, well, original, but at least with this, you don’t have to get your knickers up into too much of a twist.

The more of a big deal you and your husband make about this, the more she’ll continue to bring home a cast of characters to rile you two up.  Listen, you sent your daughter to Brown University – not the College of the Ozarks or Jim Jones.  It’s the bastion of academic and social liberalism, and I sense that you sent her there because you honor her different way of assessing the world. Good for you.  Most parents would not have been keen to respect their child’s individuality on such a life altering decision. 

You nailed Ms. New York’s issues, so I wouldn’t waste too much R.E.M. sleep time on that one. If the friendship endures, you may find her to be a valuable addition to your extended family. As far as the young man is concerned, it’s worth saying that the reason why he stressed the Persian versus Iranian label, along with his family’s immigration year was to tell you his family’s more politically moderate in their beliefs. The Shah of Iran – who was very pro-American – was overthrown in 1976, and many of the country’s most educated left their country, never to return. They abhored the extremism – both religiously and politically – demanded by the currrent regime and long for a time when their country was more like the desert paradise known as Persia.  That all said, it’s highly unlikely that his family is funding anything except his son’s expensive college education.  Don’t judge him by his name or skin color. He sounds like a fine, young man. Give him a chance if your daughter does, indeed, start “courting” seriously. Hate to break it to you, Mom, but considering this is their freshman year, they are more likely to “hang out” or “kick it’ around for a couple of months and then be over it, versus being brought home as prospective, son-in-law – ok?

I hope this helped – and if Katy is reading this, here’s a word – you wanna really rebel against your parents? Just grow out your pit hair, rub on the patchouli, and join the Green Party.  By your senior year, you’ll realize what a waste of time all of it was. Really.

PS – No mix tonight, kittens. Mama Mix is tired. Very tired.

“Girl with Curious Hair” Meets Her Public

parissa-and-caren-at-oya-in-dc

As luck, fate and serendipity would have it, Parissa (yep, the fab blogger from “Girl with Curious Hair“) came to town with M for a conference, and we got to squeeze in a quick meet-n-greet lunch. If you’re ever in DC, and you want a truly amazing culinary treat, check out Oya Restaurant and Lounge, Pan-Asian digs just as good as anything you’d find in San Francisco.

Just as good as the food was the company I kept.  Bloggers are usually known as a narcissist, fairly snarky bunch, but Ms. P is anything but.  She’s one of the most tenderhearted people I’ve met in a long time, with not a trace of ego, guile, or sarcasm to be found (can’t say the same for me unfortunately). She’s a pure soul, and to top it off, she’s actually KNITTING me a scarf. In one of my favorite colors. How cool is that???

Anyway, we had a great time, and I wanted to share the love with you all.

Funeral for a Friend

As I’m sitting here in front of my laptop, I’m trying to come up with a pithy line to sum up my experience with death, but can’t come up one without feeling I’m exploiting it for the purpose of a catchy blog entry – which feels cheap. I will say this inevitable issue comes up for me because yesterday I attended a funeral for a friend. His name was Jim Kellogg.

David and I met Jim through his wife, Dorothy – whom David worked with at his last job.  I liked them right away – which was a rare occurrence for me when it came to David’s coworkers because generally they were a species with whom I couldn’t relate at all.  Imagine a room full engineers and statisticians and you’ve got a fabulous starting point right there. They were dull and humorless and oh-so-LL Bean.  I would pop an extra pill or start drinking even before I arrived at company events just to get me through the night. 

But when the company moved from San Francisco to Washington, DC – mostly because of the firm’s anti-terrorist, safety management leanings (they’ve always been an engineering consulting firm), a whole new set of cohorts came on board – former Navy Seals/military hit men and State Department staffers now became part of the team and the company parties were soon a heck of a lot better for it.  Man, the stories I could tell, but then, I’d have to kill you 😉

Anyway, we met Dorothy and Jim soon after we had moved here, and while they weren’t my usual kind of hang, I always brightened up when they were around. They’re one of those long-term, quirky brilliant couples that you could tell get more of a kick out of each other with each passing year. They were madly in love and best friends, whom always spoke with the utmost respect towards and about each other. I like hanging out with couples like them because their relationship mojo just can’t help but rub off on you.  And BTW, when I say brilliant, I mean off-your-rockers, mad-skills smarts.  You know the old snarky comeback of “What do you think you are, a rocket scientist or something?” Well, Jim could answer, “Well actually, yes I am.” Because he was – and if you’re going to ask me exactly what he did or what Dorothy does, I couldn’t tell you. With brain cells like theirs, I’m just glad to be able to sit in the cheap seats and watch the show.

I obviously congregate towards smart people, but the brilliant, eccentric ones are my new favorite collector’s items.  They could talk about ANYTHING in great depth, but did so with infectious humor and grace.  In their spare time, Jim played in a rock band, sang in his church’s choir (more on that in a minute), and performed in obscure lil’ musical numbers with Dorothy.

I also thought it was cool that while they were active in their church (I couldn’t tell you what denomination but they have a married woman Reverend whom offered communion if that helps) without being religious-y about it. During the service – which was offered to a packed room BTW – I saw a community truly invested in one another and not just there for the usual pony show.  And it was cool that the head of their church really knew Jim, because you could tell from her speech she did, and it made a huge difference.  By the time I was twelve, I had been to four funerals and no weddings, and I always thought the funerals with the pastor or priest or rabbi that obviously didn’t know the deceased completely sucked weinis because you could tell they were winging it from some tired old speech that they dusted off for such occasions. But this Reverend rocked because she shared a slew of funny Jim-isms that made the mourners laugh in spite of themselves, citing their affection for antiquated drinking songs and limericks for one. The rest of the service, well, I tried to get into it. The choir sang beautifully, and I’ve always dug all that church stained glass.  I guess I have always loved churches and synagogues for their pretty, sparkly digs. I feel completely at home in any of them until the services start – and then they lose me.

Lots of the prayers talked about how the deceased is “going home” and how Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins.  I saw some other church officiant hold up some wafers in each outstretched hand – like when the football referree signals a field goal – and say we are humbled by His sacrifices and we are blessed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (I get the Father and Son reference, but exactly who or what is the Holy Spirit??). I still don’t get how a benevolent God would have his son viciously murdered as a way to redeem Humanity. How does violence and death purify a soul?

And another thing…I don’t have a problem with death and I don’t mourn particularly hard when the deceased dies in their sleep in their 80s or 90s. For me, that’s a good death – an inevitable, logical passing of a life hopefully served well. For me, dying like that is a Lotto death, and you should consider yourself lucky to have one like that.

But when someone is taken younger than they should, I’m pissed off.  Jim was only 52 and died exactly 6 months to the day of his cancer diagnosis. I saw a formerly rotund, vibrant man shrink into a bag of bones in front of all of us, desperately trying to crack a joke when we visited him in the hospital. He was in a lot of pain as well.  And not only does he leave behind the love of his life, but he has two teenage boys, which to me seems a particular harsh time to lose a father. While Dorothy is so bravely holding it together, working overtime to make sure everyone else is okay, those boys are beyond shattered and my heart breaks for all of them.  It felt just as badly for me as when David lost his 37-year-old cousin Mary Esformes Robbins, whom had a heart attack out of the blue at her son’s preschool during drop off. She left behind two little boys, the youngest who called out “Mama?” to every pretty blonde woman whom came to visit them because that’s how he remembered his mother. I’m still floored by that memory.

Those kinds of death I don’t – and will probably never – grasp.  I looked at Dorothy sitting in the pew, with her sons on either side of her, and I couldn’t help but imagine what I would do in similar circumstances if David died.  I would just want to crawl under the covers and sleep through the grief in a dark, quiet room. She doesn’t even have the luxury of letting it all out because she’s got two boys barely hanging on by a thread, whom can’t afford to lose both a father and be emotionally abandoned by a mother right now. Dorothy knows that and is doing the best she can.

I stayed up the other night and made a huge batch of homemade chicken noodle soup for them (hey I’m Jewish, that’s what we do when you’re sick or grieving) and will bring it by later today. While that’s a nice start, I need to be consistent because right now, they have all the support in the world. It’s a month or two from now that gets tricky.

I guess in the end, that’s the best way to honor the people who pass – try to make sure the ones that are left behind because of death are not left behind by the living. It’s the only way we’ve ever going to get through it.

32 Flavors and Then Some

 Happy Birthday, My Lil’ Fräulein

 

So, this is Elina. And February 12th is her birthday.

I love this girl.  She came to us as an au pair from Germany, and left as the little sister I never knew I wanted or needed – but did.

She’s beautiful and brilliant, complicated and frenetic.

O.k., Elina can be a pain in the ass, but so are most women worth spending any real time with…

What kills me about her is that she’s only in her early twenties. She’s at the starting tip of her own yellow brick road adventure, and while I wouldn’t want to relive my twenties again for all the candy in Wonka-ville, I feel priviledged to be part of her experience, in any small way I can.

I know a few women in their 20s, and they all think they’re the shit, that the world owes them something, and they’re what we’ve all been waiting for. I quietly laugh to myself over that one, but in Elina’s case, she’s right. She really is that spectacular.

Anyway, Happy Birthday baby girl. In the proverbial words of Barry Manilow (I can see you scratching your head, saying “who?”), this one’s for you.