Category Archives: Life

A love letter to Gilda Radner

gilda-radner

When a child is growing up, they often look up to & hope to have a life similar to their parents, but some kids, the artistic types, find their idols within the arts community. There is one person who I have idolized since the age of 5. That person was & always will be Gilda Radner. I was able to grow up watching this silly, talented & smart girl from Detroit pave the way for those of us to follow her lead. Admittedly, I am not a comedian. I mean, I’m a very funny person, but I can’t do it on purpose, on cue. I admire that ability in those who possess it.

Gilda Susan Radner (June 28, 1946 – May 20, 1989) was an American comedian and actress, best known as one of the original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1978. (stolen from Wikipedia)

As a very young girl, the Not Ready For Prime Time Players came into my life every Saturday night beginning in 1975. I can still vividly remember that very first episode, hosted by the great George Carlin & featuring an odd, but funny Andy Kaufman. It was amazing to my young, sponge-like mind. These skits, these people, these musical artists have stuck with me ever since. Yet, Gilda always stands out to me.

It was obvious to me, even at five years old, that what I was witnessing was revolutionary. Again, Gilda was the driving force of my interest. Judy Miller….yeah I did that in my room, with my robe acting as a princess cape. That was my favorite of all her characters. She was just fearless & full of joy when she was Judy.  She had the courage to be child like, which can be really hard for people to do, but Gilda wasn’t too scared to get out there & be silly.

But, how did Gilda end up on Saturday Night Live anyway? Well, it wasn’t an easy road, she worked harder than I believe she gets credit for. There were many road blocks, including the men in the Improv/Sketch Comedy scene at the time. Some of whom she would eventually work with on SNL.

Growing up a Jewish girl in Detroit, cared for by a nanny she called Dibby, who she was VERY close to, she began her battle with weight at the age of nine, even turning to diet pills at ten years old. Gilda was very close to her father, who passed away when she was 12. He owned & managed the Seville Hotel in Detroit & often took Gilda on trips to New York, where they went to Broadway shows.  These experiences inspired something deep inside of her.

She made her acting debut in Godspell in 1972, while living in Toronto. This ultimately led her to Second City in Toronto, then to National Lampoon & eventually SNL.

I don’t want to turn this into another Wiki page, she already has one. What I would like to accomplish here is something I have never attempted. I want to honor her work & her life, from my eyes.

As a young fan, I followed every step of Gilda’s life & career. From the outside, Saturday Night Live appeared to be a dream job. This was the 70’s however, and drugs were a big part of most peoples lives on the show, but not Gilda. She was a fantastic character actress, with standouts like Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Lisa Loopner & Babwa Wawa.

By 1979, Gilda was appearing in a one woman show on Broadway called “Gilda, Live” It was & still is absolutely brilliant. I watch it often & still laugh. One of my all time characters that she brought to Broadway from SNL was Candy Slice. She would just lose herself in the character. I was so amazed by the level of her talent & the fact that she didn’t seem to be aware of it. I could relate to that.

Candy Slice

What Gilda really wanted in her life was love, marriage & children. This, of course, wasn’t something that was easy to come by for a girl in comedy. She dated co-star Bill Murray & then married G.E. Smith, the musical director for the show.

Then there was Gene.

gene n gilda

Gilda has said that meeting Gene Wilder was “Love at first sight” on the set of Hanky Panky, even though she was still married. She eventually got the man of her dreams. From reading her autobiography, she explains in great detail what she went through to catch him & get him to marry her. I realize that sounds kinda desperate, but it wasn’t, it was true love & she knew it. They were married in 1984 in France. Okay, maybe it was a little desperate, but who cares, the woman knew what she wanted & wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took to achieve her goal. Since her death Gene has written in detail his side of their marriage. It is sometimes surprising, heartbreaking & seemingly narcissistic on his part, but it does give the reader a glimpse into the flawed & insecure woman she sadly was. Despite all that though, Gilda did end up happy & in love with the man of her dreams, even if he was a bit cold emotionally.

Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after nearly a year of searching for a reason for the severe pain & fatigue she was suffering with. She had always wanted to be a mother & she very openly discusses her struggle to become pregnant in her book. I have read It’s Always Something more times than I can count & like the Wikipedia page I won’t go into a play by play of the text. I will say that her 2 year battle with cancer, the awareness she brought with her fight & her devastating loss to this horrible disease is, much like her career, legendary. After Gilda passed, Gene established the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai to screen high-risk candidates (such as women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent) and run basic diagnostic tests. Because of her battle with cancer, Gilda is affecting & saving the lives of countless women.  The first Gildas Club opened in 1995, helping provide support for survivors & their families. I have volunteered with Gildas Clubs since the late 90’s, including the first & second Gildas LaughFest in Grand Rapids, MI.I am getting ready to head back there this March.

Gilda will never be forgotten, thanks to the internet & all the wonderful television and film work she has done. She has affected my life in more ways than I can account for in this blog post. She wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t what some considered to be “classically beautiful” (though I think she was very beautiful). What I believe made Gilda so special was her ability to find the funny in every situation, the  way she would just shrug it off & say “It’s always something”. She was talented far beyond her comedy beginnings. She may not have made the best choices in roles, but she based her decisions in her personal happiness. In her private time she struggled a great deal with insecurity & defeatism. In the end though, she left a permanent mark on this world & I am forever grateful.

My greatest hope is that Gilda knew how special, how loved, how amazing she was. She was an icon & I’d like to believe that she will live on by continuing to make people laugh for generations to come.

Thank you Gilda, for making the world brighter with your presence, your humor, your love & your beauty. You changed everything!

Please check out the links to learn more or to relive the memories of Gilda.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilda_Radner

http://gildasclubqc.org/about-us/who-was-gilda/

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Always-Something-Twentieth-Anniversary/dp/1439148864

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Life, Opinions, Writing

On the subject of marriage & children

 

I feel I must preface this post due to the possible backlash from those who may read this the wrong way. This is my bog. They are my stories, my feelings. I am not talking about anyone else specifically unless I say I am!

Why don’t more people decide what would be best for their children before they get pregnant? I’ve never been able to figure that out. It’s as if they just want to spawn, regardless of their personal circumstances, the person they choose to have a child with or their financial situation.

Take a look around almost anywhere you go these days & you’ll see frustrated mothers with kids at every turn. They scream at & beat on them at the grocery store. They allow them to run around outside without shoes, let alone supervision. I’ll never understand people when it comes to their practices of having/raising children or of multiple marriages.

That being said….I haven’t even touched on my issues where these topics are concerned.

When it comes to marriage, mine wasn’t so much a conscious choice as not becoming a mother was. I, like many people in America, come from a broken family, well multiple broken families. My father alone has been married to 4 women. It’s as if he never learned how to date. I do respect his undying belief in love, but come on…4 wives? My mom is a completely different story of choosing the wrong men & I am NOT in the mood to get into that this morning.

So, what I did was purposely date boys/guys/men who either didn’t believe in marriage at all or who had serious commitment & other issues. That way, I knew I would never have to worry about going down that road. Okay, so maybe that’s a cop out. I was completely afraid of marriage, or any serious relationships for that matter. I have never been in a relationship longer than 2 1/2 years. Talk about fear of commitment.

Where having a child is concerned, that story is a little more confusing, a little sadder. I wasn’t that child who dreamed of being a mommy. As I got older though, I did start to think that it would be wonderful, to create a life inside you & then help guide them to become the adult they were meant to be. That being said….the very thought scared me beyond words. Being responsible for another humans life? Shaping & guiding them? Well…..I was sure to screw that up! How could I live with myself knowing that I was responsible for destroying someones life just because they were born of me. I went down that road, but as the child.

As I’ve gotten older, the want to be a mother grew stronger, as did wrong choices in men. Not a single guy I dated would even discuss the idea of having a child. Then again, looking back, I would have been a moron to have a kid with some of those assholes! Once the feeling started inside me, it never actually went away.

Sadly, time makes it more difficult to carry a baby & I’m not really sure I’d want to be that old mom. Besides that, obviously if you read my blog you know, I’m still not in the proper mental state to have a child.

I guess some people just aren’t meant to have children of their own. However, if they’re lucky, they still get to be surrounded by amazing children of other people & make an impact. There may also be the chance to become the step-mom to an amazing boy someday….we’ll see.

 

Nobody’s Wife or Mother & that’s just fine ❤

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Dating, Family, Life, Opinions, Real Life, Relationships, Single Life, Writing

Girl, Interrupted

 

When you fill your time reading multiple books & watching many movies on the subject of loony bins, you run the risk of believing you belong locked inside one. Sometimes you have to be careful to pay attention to the line between reality & fiction. Granted, some of the stories I have read & watched are in fact based on true stories, which makes it that much more frightening in my anxiety & depression filled mind.
Recently, I have watched Girl, Interrupted repeatedly. If you ask me why, my answer would be one of uncertainty. It just feels like something I want & need in my life. I also love the story & the acting. What I love the most about the story though, is that it is adapted from the story of Susanna Kaysen. The more I read about her, the more fascinated I become with her. It took her into the 90’s to release Girl, Interrupted, even though the story actually happened in the late 60’s. That gives me a great deal of hope in regards to having my book published once I have it finished.
That’s the problem, isn’t it? My finishing it. I have given that a great deal of thought recently. What I have come up with is the fact that many of the stories I am reliving in the retelling were so painful the 1st time, I’m beginning to feel the same pain during the writing process. This is a contributing factor to my worsening depression. That being said, I will not stop writing. I will not give up my dream, even if I am aware that the cards are stacked against me. The literary world is not an easy one to break into these days.
I’m working on getting out of my way. It’s not easy, but if I’ve survived myself this long, I should be able to do anything!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Blogging, Life, Opinions, Real Life, Writing

If you lived here, you’d be home by now

Here is a statement I have spent a lot of time pondering lately. Since April I have found myself without a home, but in all honesty that reality stretches back months before.

The last time I remember feeling really truly “at home” was at my sub-leased apartment in Los Angeles. It was also the last time I lived alone. It’s coming up on a year since I left there to return here to my supposed support system.

As soon as I moved back to Michigan I was living in someone elses house. They did, at times, their best to make me feel it was my home as well. Sometimes it did, but not often. Mostly, they treated me like a troubled teen & they were my foster parents. The disturbing fact about this is that they are my age. I love how people use your mistakes to make themselves feel better about their empty or somehow unfulfilled lives. I’ve already told the story of how my time ended there, no need to dredge it back up again.

Then onto the farm, which I have also written about. This is the place where my life nearly ended, by my own choice. As I stared at that bottle of Oxys, thinking about how many it would take to get the job done right, I also thought about Heather & what not only losing me would do to her, but the knowledge that I used her pills to end my life. That is what kept me from going through with it. That was also the only real opportunity I’ve had to end my life by going to sleep & never waking up. What can I say, I’m a pussy. I can’t end my life in violence. I can’t slit my wrists. I can’t shoot myself. I can’t hang or drown myself. This might have something to do with the fact that I actually don’t want to die. I just want a way out of this sinkhole I’ve gotten myself stuck in.

There is no one to blame but me. Sure, people have wronged me & I them. That’s not the point. I’m in charge of me, or supposed to be anyway. I did this. I am the only one who can undo it. Now I just have to figure out how.

Right, I digress, back to the farm. I spent 2 months at this place & slid further into the darkness every day that I was there. It’s easy to do that there. It’s a sad place full of broken people going around in circles. It was the perfect place for me to lose myself. I just didn’t deal with any of my problems, dug the holes deeper & swallowed pills to numb any semblance of emotion. Every day was exactly the same. Sleep 12-14 hours, thanks to the pills. Otherwise I wouldn’t have slept at all. This is also the time that my eating habits became sporadic. I existed on Dr. Pepper & onion bagels.  I have never cared less about anything in my life as I did during that period. I would go 5-7 days without showering. What was the point? Then one day I had to come down to Detroit for an event I was supposed to work.

I needed somewhere to stay over the weekend, so I didn’t have to drive the 60 miles between the farm & Detroit. So I called a guy I used to be able to rely on. He abruptly blew me off, leaving me hanging & stuck. I laid in my car for an hour or so, contemplating whether or not I should contact my friend who lives down here. We have kept in touch, but had not seen much of each other in the years since I had moved away from Detroit. I felt a great deal of guilt as I text her, but the panic I felt at the thought of sleeping in my car in Detroit outweighed the worry of asking her. It was only for the weekend, so it couldn’t be that bad, right? WRONG!

2 days has turned into 2 months & I have become a blob of self-pity, depression & burden on my friends who are also going through very difficult transitional periods in their life, yet still manage to take care of their responsibilities on a daily basis. It fills me with shame & heightens the self-pity. I don’t stack up. I am the giant wart on the thumb of this house. I feel it every moment of every day, unless I have managed to find a way to keep myself busy, doing anything.

When I came here & the initial discussions were that I could stay here while I got myself together, that when I got some money coming in I would contribute. Due to my frozen state, that has yet to happen & I feel the time for me to leave is growing nearer by the minute, rather than the hour. This week is the 1st time I’ve really made a concerted effort to change my circumstances. I am doing it for me, first & foremost yes, but at the same time, because of what these beautiful women have done for & put up with from me, I want to do it for them as well. I want to see in me what they do….SO badly!

So, for today, as I sit on the back porch of this home I’ve grown to love, the only thing I can think to say is….If I lived here, I’d be home by now.

Stay tuned for tomorrows installment. Who knows, it may even be a vlog lol

❤ to all who follow & care!

You don’t know what it means to me, this growing group of people showing an interest in my disaster of a life.

Thank you

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Life, Real Life, Writing

I’ve fallen & I can’t get up

Do you ever ask yourself how you happened to find yourself in a particular situation at some point during your life, good or bad? Of course you have, we all go through up s& downs, happy times & tragedies. It does seem, however, that some people are more prone to struggles, pain, sadness & failure, as if they are somehow cursed or followed by the proverbial dark cloud. That would be me.

As I type this, I find myself sitting on a bed with no frame, in the spare room of a wonderful & caring friend much younger than me, because I am once again homeless & hoping to start over. During the last 7 weeks I have found it difficult to do even the most basic of tasks, such as showering, brushing my teeth, changing my clothes, working my job or serious challenges such as finding the will to live another day. For the first time in my 42 years, I don’t care if I live or die. Considering the life I have led, the things I have endured, been witness to or caused myself, one would think that suicide had crossed my mind multiple times. The truth is, no matter how dark the skies, how difficult the challenge, until now, I always fought my way back up & started over again. But not this time. I don’t know if I have just finally hit the wall as far as having the strength to start over yet again or if this particular scenario & the outcome have damaged me deeper than any other period of failure in my life. I do know one thing….this time something has to change permanently, there is no alternative.

When I reach inside my memories, looking for a reason why I insist on living such a miserable, painful, mundane life; there are many signposts leading me to this exact moment.

But I keep running into the same answer….at the very back of my mind, locked behind layers of doors & brick walls, hanging on a wall….is a mirror. The reflection in the mirror is of me. I am the reason I have chosen to live this miserable, painful, mundane life.

Me!

Now what?

Leave a comment

Filed under Life, Uncategorized

“You Can’t Go Home Again”

In the Thomas Wolfe novel, he claims, in part, that “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood”. While we know that literally, one can go home again, but as I stated in an earlier post, the metaphorical idea holds true…one can never really go home again.

For the past decade I have held inside me a dream to buy back my Grandmothers home. When she passed in 2001, my father & step-mother decided to sell the house. This fact has bothered me since I found out about it. The main reasons for this being that my Grandmother had this house custom-built during a time when women were still not as likely to do such a thing, but she was never a “typical” woman. She worked very hard for everything she got in her life & I have always respected her for that. Sadly, I always held in my heart that she would allow me to live in the home & carry it on in our family once she passed. That was not the case.

I have to make it a point to admit that when my Grandma passed away, I was not there. The easy answer to why is that I wasn’t aware. The more complicated answer is that after so many decades of running into a brick wall with my family & relatives (mostly the relatives), I made the choice (at the wrong time, it turns out) to stop running at the wall, only to slam into it, hurting only myself. (or so I thought)

Madelyn was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in the fall of 2000 & passed away in April of 2001. Christmas was ALWAYS her favorite time of year. The weeks leading up to Christmas, she was recovering from surgery that removed her lung tumor & half of the lung it had invaded. She was planning a family Christmas party, including her sister (my Great-Aunt) her children & theirs as well. A few days before Christmas, as I was making my daily phone call to see if she needed me to stop by & bring her anything, she mentioned to me that she felt it would be best that I didn’t attend the Christmas party. I can admit now that I immediately saw red. Her reasoning was that she didn’t want any “trouble” this year & with the Belians attending, my presence would cause strife. I don’t think she had any idea how much that statement broke my heart. What did she mean, I shouldn’t come. I was her granddaughter, the child she had a HUGE hand in raising. Her direct bloodline. If anyone should be there, it was my dad & his wife, myself & my brother. Well, they were all there, but not the bad seed. That was my moment. The moment when I said “Enough!” I stopped that day. I stopped trying. I stopped putting myself out there, only to be ridiculed & seen as the person I was when I was young….irresponsible, disrespectful, distant, loud, etc. That is a person I would never outgrow in the eyes of many people I share a bloodline with, some of whom I don’t even really know. It’s amazing how those things can stick with you, but all the good, the growth, the change that you make is just plain invisible. (I did find out later that my Grandmother never told my father that she & I had that conversation, which only made him angrier at me, which in hindsight is understandable (“Same old Jennifer”)

I openly admit that not spending Christmas Eve with my Grandma was a terrible mistake on my part, regardless of my reasons. What I should have done was suck it up, bury my personal pain & go hang out with her. Because I chose not to, we never spoke again & 4 months later she was gone. I wasn’t able to be there to say goodbye, to help pick her burial outfit (because she took great pride in the way she appeared & dressed), to help care for her (even though I was told I couldn’t have handled it), to give back, even in the slightest bit, what she gave to me my entire life by being my ONE constant. The stable, responsible role model that I always knew she was, but could never quite live up to. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t love that woman more than anything or anyone in my life. It just means that once again I was selfish, consumed by hurt & bitter that I was always the bad seed, the black sheep…a role I never asked for, but surely earned.

Fast forward 11 years & a HUGE change in myself. I have made it an odd habit of driving by the house since I found out my gram passed. It became somewhat of an obsession to me. At times, mostly highly emotional times, I would find myself crying or screaming at the people living there to get outta my house. Not the healthiest behavior, I’m aware, but I never claimed to be entirely stable, emotionally or otherwise.

Recently, I’ve noticed there were no cars in the driveway. That was the immediate sign to me that they had moved out, obviously a case of foreclosure. Last week I typed the address into the local realtor website & sure enough, there were 9 pictures of my childhood home. I wrote them IMMEDIATELY, asking for a viewing. I was gonna get it back! I was so excited, making plans in my mind, blah, blah, blah. It was a very fun & exciting 24 hours….that is, until the real estate agent showed up to meet me.

As he unlocked the door, he turned and said to me “I have to tell you that this house is infested with black mold”. I said I knew & didn’t care & he opened the door. For a brief 5 seconds, I could smell her. Then the black mold stench took over. My mother had offered to go with me & at first I didn’t understand why. Maybe she wanted to see the house she spent much of her late teens & early twenties in. Later, at lunch, she told me the real reason, that she felt this was something I shouldn’t have to do alone. That was lovely, especially considering that we are not very close.

I walked through every room. I envisioned the furniture, the sound of the television or music on Christmas. I went into my old bedroom, that one felt weird, the bathroom I used to sit on the counter with my feet in the sink getting ready. Everything was the same. In the ten years these strangers lived there, they didn’t change a thing. They just let it rot. I hate them.

When I reached my grandmother’s bed/bath in the back of the house, the agent & my mom had already gone outside, unable to stand the smell of the mold. I just talked to her in there, seeing her putting on her makeup in her bathroom, standing in her walk-in closet choosing one of the 100’s of dress suits to wear that day. Inside her closet I began to cry. I cried because I miss her. I cried because I wasn’t there when she passed. I cried because I was still the same failure she hoped I wouldn’t be when she was alive. I cried because this was the last time I would ever be in this house.

In the end, I’m glad I went. I feel free of that dream now. I no longer drive by the house. I don’t think about it. I don’t fester over it. I don’t care.

Goodbye house

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, Life

August 20th leaves a paradox in my heart

August 20, 2005

I lost my dear friend Eric on this day after a hard-fought 20 year battle with drugs. My heart broke that day & most days since, at least a bit, due to the hole his loss left.

August 20, 2011

This is the date of my baby sisters wedding. A day full of love, happiness, joy, laughter & dancing…yet somewhere, in the back of my mind, I can feel the heartache of the previous experience I’ve had with this date.

I start to question myself the week before the wedding. “Why are you feeling such a strong sense of grief now when you should be so excited, so happy?”  The only clear-cut answer I have to this question has to do with Eric’s daughter appearing my life mere weeks before the wedding, bringing up feelings I had long since buried. Suddenly, I was filled with anguish, pain & grief not felt since his loss. It was as if I reliving that day all over again.

Odd how such beauty can come out of sadness. I’ve never been able to understand this strange brew. All I know is that having my friend’s daughter in my life, to share stories with, to stare at her face when I miss him, to watch her as she learns more about him & looks for any sign that he is in her, the daddy she never knew.

He always loved her. He carried a picture of her in his wallet until the day he died. He never got over the fact that he was not in her life. None of this helps her fill that gaping hole inside her own heart, but day by day, story by story, I watch her get to know Eric a little more. She falls more in love with him & it is beyond words.

Who knows, maybe this is my way of honoring him, by sharing this experience with her. So be it.

Luckily, I was able to find a balance between celebration & grief, at least for a day. The wedding was beautiful, it was magic, it was love. I will smile when I think of that day, my sisters dress, her vows, the photo booth, the dancing…the love

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Family, Friendship, Life