Welcome To Adulthood

OIP

This has been a tough day. Every day has had its challenges since I left my husband and my family but today especially so. Today is Paul’s 18th birthday and I wasn’t there to help celebrate thanks to COVID-19 and Paul was upset. Even though he knows I could not come for the past few weeks he has still asked, “Are you coming?”

At first I wondered if it was his autism talking. Kind of like it wasn’t computing that I would not be there. But the other day I realized it was his way of coping with the fact that this would be the first time there was a major celebration or holiday since our break-up and he was struggling with the fact that our family was no longer what it had always been…a place that provided a sense of comfort and security. Now there is none of that left. Nothing intact or nothing familiar about a milestone birthday and he just wanted it back to the way it had been. Frankly, so did I.

A tradition in our family has been that the birthday boy/girl got to choose the restaurant where they wanted to celebrate their big day. Obviously, with COVID 19 this was not an option. So I thought really hard about how I could make Paul’s day very special even though I would be unable to be there with him.

Paul is a foodie. He appreciates new tastes, flavors, and atmospheres. So, I decided that since he would not be able to go out to dinner I would bring dinner into him. Because his birthday was on a Monday his dinner would have to be celebrated on Saturday since food companies do not ship on Saturdays or Sundays. First strike to this birthday dinner…it would not be able to be celebrated on the day of his birth… yet he was excited anyway. I ordered a dozen Chesapeake Bay crabs to be delivered complete with brown paper and mallets. Next a few filet mignon steaks followed by a speciality cake which Paul saved for today.

Well, the steaks never arrived but luckily I was told the crabs were superb. And today it appears that the cake was a hit for everyone but me. Instead of tears of joy for Paul today I cried tears of sorrow for me. Why? Two days of celebration and no one bothered to Face Time me so I could share in the joy of seeing Paul enjoy his gifts from me. So I could watch him enter into his adulthood. AND IT HURT. BADLY. All I know was last April when I had B leave our house I would invite him to dinner just about every night so he could be there with our family but the same sort of courtesy was not extended to me… the person who made this dinner that they all enjoyed happen.  Sadly, it never occurred to B to offer the same to me.

Sometimes I wonder how my life got to a place where I don’t even recognize it anymore. What happened to compassion and concern we once shared? I often contemplate how I could have given so much of myself to someone who had such little regard for me and continues to show nothing but distain. But what I do know is my son is entering adulthood today and so am I. His is full of life, adventure and openness whereas mine is one of loss, fear and regret. I am trying to grant compassion and not hold hate in my heart for someone who cheated on me and did me wrong but somedays make it darn near impossible. Today was one of those.

So,  to Paul,  welcome to adulthood ….  make it a good one.

And to me…welcome to real middle aged adulthood… what the fuck are you going to do with it?

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My Faith In Humanity Restored Through Ballet (Stories Of The Camp Fire)

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Last night I had the privilege of attending the ballet and what an evening it was! Sure, the story was slightly delayed for the season but out of the ashes the most famous ballet in the world arose in all its glory, tradition, and pageantry in a borrowed theatre here in Northern California. And the story of how this production came to be is perhaps better than the beloved Nutcracker itself… because in this story my faith in humanity was restored.

Now I am not a huge fan of ballet. I don’t often attend performances.  Since I am a writer, I am a lover of words, and without those sometimes my attention strays making ballet somewhat problematic. Needless to say, attending what I thought was going to be an “amateur” performance; I suspected the night might be filled with pokes and prods to keep me awake. Was I ever wrong.

Last night I discovered the Northern California Ballet. Since 1983 it has been producing full-length classic ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and A Midsummer’s Nights Dream. Besides production, the studio has also taught hundreds of children dance skills that have led some to professional dance careers. It is a mighty place full of hope, dreams, and plain old hard work. There are no slackers, slouches or amateurs here!

As the holiday season was fast approaching Northern California Ballet was rehearsing their version of The Nutcracker when disaster hit. On November 9, 2018 the Camp Fire swooped through the town of Paradise killing 85 and wiping out the majority of this close-knit community. It goes on record as the deadliest fire in California history. But that is just the beginning of the horror. In addition to all the lives lost, almost 14,000 homes went up in smoke and so did the studio and storage shed belonging to the Northern California Ballet. With such a fast-moving fire no one had time to save anything. NOTHING. The kids no longer had clothes, school supplies, or a warm bed. They no longer had the comfort nor the routine of dance. Gone were their ballet costumes and their dreams of dancing on stage…or so they thought. Yet, when hardship and devastating circumstances arise somehow folks find the strength to fight back and find a way to turn tragedy into triumph which is exactly what Northern California Ballet did. And last night it showed. The dancers were talented, elegant and polished. They danced with real joy radiating from their faces. The world was their oyster and they were the pearls.

How did they accomplish so much in so little time? Just plain dedication and hard work. But an even more important ingredient was the global ballet community in general. As it turns out companies from all over the world donated costumes, backdrops and props. The Eugene Ballet Company, dancer Angela V Carter’s costumes from Ballet New England’s productions, and both large and small studios from Iowa to Florida found ways to give to their sister in need while volunteers sewed and stitched late into the night. And so, a vital community resource went from a studio of smoke and ashes to an on-stage performance in just a little over two months. Now that is what I call dedication. I also call it a miracle.

In addition to the dance itself music was provided by a live orchestra hiding out in the orchestra pit. These musicians were also from Paradise and many had lost their homes in the fire and their precious instruments as well. Yet, somehow they managed to come together (borrowed instruments and all) and play magnificently. Watching a ballet performed to live music instead of tape is an honor these days and I felt blessed to do so.

By coincidence I went to Paradise last week. It was my first trip up there since the fire. The devastation is immense. Unless you have survived living in a war zone you have probably never seen anything like it. It is shocking. It is horrific. It is incredibly sad.

 

Yet, after tonight’s performance by Northern California Ballet, I have hope for this world. People are amazing. Their resilience astounds me. Their fight to rise again gives me hope. Kids who dedicate themselves to their craft no matter what are inspiring. And the generosity of an arts community to their sister in need are exactly the kinds of acts of compassion and love that the world needs to see.

So fear not and have hope. There are heroes walking amongst us and tonight they were all on stage at The Nutcracker for the world to see. I wish you could see them too.

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Please visit the Northern California Ballet site to learn more. http://www.northerncaliforniaballet.com/?page_id=33

Also, they could use your financial help. Here is their GO FUND ME page. I hope you will give generously.

https://www.gofundme.com/small-ballet-studio-destroyed-in-paradise-fire?member=&utm_source=sendgrid&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=contacts-v2-invite-to-donate

 

A Little Whimsy-Your True Nature

I don’t think I have ever endorsed a product before but I really think that these make cute gifts for the holiday season. Best of all they are cheap! I found these bookmarks a couple of weeks ago when I was at the visitors center at a National Park near my home. I believe that the advice and reminders are spot on.

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There are a ton of these including Advice From A Mountain, Advice From A Bear and Advice From A Sasquatch. Such cute reminders of the important things in life without having to beat someone over the head with the sentiments.

Visit http://www.yourtruenature.com to view and shop for all their wildly unique gifts.

This ends this public service announcement. We now return you to our regular blog.