tenant must pay for bed bug treatment…???

Adult bed bug, Cimex lectularius

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You read correctly. In the continuing struggle to rid her apartment of bed bugs my daughter was advised that of the $600 charged by All America Pest Control, she had to pay $400, the apartment management would pay $200. That was the proverbial “last straw” as far as we were concerned.

A cat at the Seattle Animal Shelter

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Trying to carry on with her life as best she could, my daughter attended the final performances of her ballet company, cheering on her fellow dancers from the wings. In addition to that she partook of their annual choreographic project, WIP (Works in Progress), in which she choreographed a solo upon one of the trainees. My daughter also helped with administrative details like marketing the show, coordinating photo sessions with the dancers involved, distributing advertising fliers, and making contact with the animal shelter for whom donations were being requested as entrance fee for the show. All this while battling bedbugs and sleeping with one eye open, or not going home to sleep at all. Oh yes, she still had use of only one hand. Luckily, she’s left-handed so she could still drive, and write, and eat, and bathe and dress herself, however awkwardly. Within days of honoring her final commitments, my daughter came home for some much needed R and R.

Having seen to it that All America Pest Control treated her furnishings first, albeit minimally, my daughter approved our emailing the apartment complex‘s assistant manager detailing our disdain for how the bedbug situation had been handled. To be told by her that there was no plan in place to combat the critters once discovered, that our daughter’s case was the first, was unbelievable. The problem with bedbugs had been covered by local and national broadcasts beginning a year ago. That management didn’t take preliminary steps to deal with them since infestations were being reported to occur weekly, if not daily, in hotels and other public places seemed irresponsible. A worst case, best case scenario should’ve been worked out with Orkin, rather than subjecting my daughter to being the test case, the guinea pig. But matters went from bad to worse when my daughter was told that bed bugs weren’t covered by Orkin’s treatment plan, that they were lumped in with “general insects” for which there was no coverage. And so my daughter was being charged for treatment decided upon by management, which was less than satisfactory when compared with what Orkin’s rep said her company would’ve done. And never mind that my daughtered’d already spent almost $300 in following Orkin’s instructions.

As fate would have it, our family had already decided to move my daughter into a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. Of course we were prepared to honor her lease at the old one which didn’t expire until the end of July. But with the bedbug incident occurring the beginning of May, and my daughter not occupying the premises because of the bugs, we requested the lease be terminated the end of June. We felt the situation had been mishandled from the start: no formal treatment plan in place, allowing the Orkin rep to speak for the apartment complex, and then not following through with what she’d outlined to my daughter as the course of action, effectively telling her she shouldn’t have spent the several hundred dollars she did in compliance. We also asked that management pay for treatment because of their failure to point out that erradicating bedbugs would be my daughter’s responsibility, at the time she signed the lease.

What recourse did we have if the apartment’s management didn’t honor our requests? Social media, of course. While I explained in our email that we were just seeking recompense for the wrong done my daughter and no more, I went on to say that if she was not recused from her lease a month early and if she had to pay for treatment, we would have no choice but to broadcast the injustice to the world via the internet, and consumer advocates on TV. Thankfully the outcome was predictable, but only because the regional manager realized their mistake in not having a management rep present when the Orkin woman met with my daughter. It became a case of “she said – she said.” As it turns out, Orkin’s rep denied her entire conversation with my daughter, giving a signed affidavit that she lied about everything. Can you imagine?!? Why she would put herself through hell moving everything into storage, first having to find and rent a unit at the last minute, buy and load up huge plastic bins into her car with a broken hand in a cast, and sleep on her couch, and then on an air mattress is beyond comprehension, except for the fact that she was obviously complying with the advice of an expert in erradicating bedbugs, the Orkin rep! Did I want to nail that woman’s hide to the wall? You betcha! It’s a good thing I live 3,000 miles away.

In her email response the regional manager of the apartment complex apologized profusely for the distress my daughter experienced, but faulted her with not speaking up about it earlier. My email reply explained that my daughter handled the situation in a very grown up, rational manner. It wasn’t until the treatment went from happening 3 days after her conversation with Orkin’s rep, to 2 weeks later, that my daughter became anxious. Who wouldn’t in an apartment completely torn apart, with furnishings in and out of storage, having to board her cat at the vet’s in anticipation of the bedbug treatment (costing another $200 because of the delay), sleeping on the couch and then an air mattress and on friends’ couches, all with a broken hand?!?

Having put all our family’s frustrations into writing was very therapeutic. And it got us what we asked for as a result. The regional manager bore the complete burden of fault since management didn’t accompany Orkin’s rep in her visit with my daughter. In compensation, she bore no responsibility for payment for the bedbug treatment; her account was credited with $750; and she was allowed to exit her lease whenever she chose. In response to the regional manager’s generosity, I refrained from publicly denigrating their facility and its management.

My daughter was able to secure her new apartment on May 3rd, a month earlier than originally intended. And she was allowed out of her lease on the old apartment, without penalty, and compensated for her out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the treatment of the bedbugs. Lessons learned? Before signing on the dotted line, ask if bedbug treatment is included in lease. Make sure someone from management is present when advised how to proceed by a pest control rep. Ask questions, register complaints, and seek retribution if warranted. But always remember…you get more with honey, than you do with vinegar. But if you don’t succeed, get out your cannons…and blast away!!!

One foot shown en pointe.

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the end? no way…the fun (ha!)only begins as the “saga of the bedbugs” continues…so stay tuned for the next episode…hugmamma.  😉 

just when you think…

 

Swan Lake ballet

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My daughter’s had her share of frustrations these last 7 months or so, beginning with having to take a medical leave from her job as a dancer last Fall. That caused her to miss the first performance of the season, Swan Lake, as well as The Nutcracker. Resuming dance in January, she was able to perform in her company’s winter series, “Director‘s Choice,” where she had some nice parts, soloing in one piece, “Postcards from the Boys.” She was also able to dance small variations for the annual Ballet Ball fundraising event.

10.11.22 Carmina Burana fascinó al público en ...

Image by Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires via Flickr

After a 2-week break, she was happily back to work, rehearsing for the upcoming performance of “Carmina Burrana,” the last of the company’s season and a powerful work that includes an adult choir, and a children’s choir, singing along with a full orchestra. The music serves as an inspiring backdrop for the dancers. I’ve seen another company dance the piece, and came away emotionally spent. That’s how tremendous the effect is with the combined efforts of musicians, singers, and dancers flowing from the stage towards the audience. My daughter so looked forward to all the dancing she was prepared to do.

Multiple fractures of the metacarpals (aka bro...

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Yesterday I was shocked when my daughter called and said she had broken her right hand, below the ring finger, continuing down towards the middle of her palm. Falling from a stance on tiptoes, she, and the other dancers, were enacting a move that resembled their having been shot from a cannon. Evidently my daughter’s fall happened quicker than she expected, so her hand hit the floor to brace herself, and took the full weight of her body. She heard a “crunch,” and knew something was askew. Getting up, she immediately knew she’d broken something for she had no feeling in her hand. A visit to a walk-in clinic confirmed her suspicions when an xray was taken.

While she waits to see the orthopedist on Monday, my daughter has much to reflect upon, the physical pain being one. But for a dancer it doesn’t end there. She must now regroup mentally and emotionally. At 25, she’s better equipped to handle such occurrences without being devastated. In her younger years, especially as a student of dance, these setbacks were more difficult to rationalize. Now that my daughter is a professional, having proved herself, and being valued for her contributions to the company as a whole, she can deal with being sidelined better. Not that it’s easy; it’s never easy. Not being able to dance for 3 or more weeks is sheer torture for a dancer, especially one so passionate about it as my daughter.

Because the break is a clean one, my daughter feels the healing time will be quicker. She’s glad it was her right-hand because she’s left-handed. She’s glad it was her hand, and not her foot. She’s glad she has a girlfriend living with her temporarily, having just moved in a few days ago. How timely was that? And when she realized something was amiss, that something was broken, her fellow dancers immediately went into action, getting her an ice-pack, pain-killers, and hovering, offering assistance, and support. And the artistic director, her boss, was at her side, sympathetic and concerned. After he viewed the xray of her broken hand, he asked if she had help at home. Replying that she had a friend with her, he still told my daughter to call him if she needed anything, as did many of the dancers.

Last night a number of people from work were at my daughter’s apartment, dining on pizza and sitting around chatting. As a mom, my heart is warmed knowing she has a family with whom to share her ups and downs. I can’t be everywhere, so I’m glad there are angels always hovering nearby.

Children grow up to assume lives as adults. How they do it is not a mystery, really. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that every day presents new possibilities. There’ll always be challenges, but with them come new discoveries…about life…about themselves. We’ve all been there, done that, and continue to do so. That really is what life’s about, isn’t it?

another challenge…another possibility…hugmamma.

for sure, outrageous fun!!!

Teatro Zinzanni, a cabaret dinner theater acro...

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Found a YouTube video ofTeatro ZinZanni that I wanted to share with you. As much as I tried to explain its spectacular brand of zaniness in conjunction with great performances by amazing professionals, topped off by tasty eats, I know I didn’t do it justice. You have to see it to believe it. So enjoy an appetizer of the real thing.

Madames e mesieurs (my French?)………………….welcome to Teatro ZinZanni

…hmmm…i may be going again soon…hugmamma.

“just go with it,” and we did

My daughter convinced me, at the last minute, not to see “Black Swan.” I knew it was “dark,” and so was prepared for a Stephen King style thriller. But I wasn’t aware there was raw sex thrown into the mix. My daughter’s words were “raunchy,” “out there,” and more to the point, “sex between the 2 main actresses.” I might have stomached such scenes in my early 20s, when hormones were raging. But not so much into my “golden years,” and definitely not in a packed theatre. Yikes! I definitely didn’t want to hear the heavy breathing of strangers seated nearby. Double yikes!!

More disturbing to me, however, was the need to depict Lesbianism in its most damning, stereotypical imagery. Just when strides are being made among that community to show themselves to be upstanding citizens like their heterosexual counterparts, a much-hyped film with an Oscar for Best Actress, regurgitates the bad press that should remain ancient history. Been there. Done that. Don’t need to go there anymore. Was there a real need for explicit sex scenes between the 2 women? Did we need to remind people about their homophobia? Might the gay community have been spared the potential for a public relations setback? You who have seen the film will have to answer that one. I’m speaking “blind,” and it’s only my opinion.

Cover of

Cover of Cactus Flower

Opting to seeJust Go With It instead, turned out to be a happy surprise. Adam Sandler is not a favorite of mine, but after seeing him in “50 First Dates” with a definite favorite,  Drew Barrymore, Sandler is “growing” on me. Not until the credits were displayed did I know that the show was a remake of an oldie, but goodie,Cactus Flower.” Filmed in the 70s, I think it was a career booster for Goldie Hawn, but I only had eyes for the great Ingrid Bergman, and ears for the dead-pan humor of Walter Matthau. It’s good I didn’t know earlier that this later film was a remake. I might’ve spent the evening making comparisons. Instead I thoroughly enjoyed “Just Go With It” on its own merits.

Nicole Kidman at Cannes Film Festival 2001

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I’d forgotten that I’d read in a review that 8 weeks of the film were spent on the island of Kauai. Seeing the green, lush beauty of a Hawaiian island brought huge smiles to our faces. Since it was the backdrop for most of the film, my husband and I obviously never stopped grinning, except when we were laughing. And seeing both Nicole Kidman, in a supporting role, and Jennifer Aniston do a pretty mean hula was an added bonus.

But the scene that brought tears to my eyes, and a lump to my throat, was a closeup between Anniston and Sandler. Watching her face as she listed things which she loved about him, I felt as though I were looking into the eyes of a good person, not just an actress. Never far from my mind, whenever I hear her name or those of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, is the pain Anniston must have endured throughout her marital breakup, and even years after the dissolution. The media scrutinized her every look, her every move, her  relationships, her breakups. While the hurt may have shown in the probing paparazzi photos, Anniston said very little. And she was probably entitled to say a lot.

Having seen Jennifer Anniston only a handful of times in films, and maybe a few dozen times on television, I was noncommittal one way or the other. But tonight I came away feeling like she’d be a good BFF, not for me obviously, but for someone who travels in her celebrity circle.

a full thumb’s up for Jennifer…and half-a-thumb for Adam…hugmamma.

a trunk of “old memories”

If you had an old, long-forgotten trunk stored away in a cob-webbed corner of your attic, or a dark, shadowy corner of your basement, what would you find if you were to drag it out of its hiding place? What treasures would you uncover, hidden away these many years? What memories would escape, like moths taking flight once again?

Like me, I’m sure you’ve so many memories of bygone days, some further back, only fragments remaining. Sorting through them isn’t easy. Their essence is so ephemeral, after all. Is it one complete remembrance, or is it a collage of several? Where does one leave off, and another begin? Unwinding memories can be like pulling on a single thread, and watching a sweater unravel, until nothing remains but handfuls of yarn. But I think reminiscences are made of stronger stuff than articles of clothing that are eventually tossed out, or given away. Of your own free will, you could  never be rid of your memories.

A painting of Wailuku and the Iao Valley, Maui...

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One of my fondest memories is of a time in high school, when I was recognized by the nuns as a budding choreographer. The St. Anthony Girl’s High School  Logothat I attended in Wailuku, Maui in the 60s, was a relic from another era. There was a Boy’s School as well, but it sat across the parking lot, on the other side of the campus. There were very few occasions, very few, when the student bodies would interact. Teenage boys and girls could only strain their necks, trying to ogle each other from a long distance away. Binoculars would’ve been handy. I should have had a concession. No. Too capitalistic for Catholic nuns.

I can’t remember if anything I staged for school assemblies, held in the cafeteria, was performed for a gathering of both student bodies. It wouldn’t have mattered to me, except that the butterflies in my stomach would have multiplied sizeably in number. After all, how often did I have more than a hundred guys staring at me all at once? Never! I repeat. Never! Still don’t.

I can recollect 3 particular instances when I entertained my fellow students. I did a modern interpretation of a popular Peter, Paul and Mary folk song at the time, “Blowin in the Wind.” 

 
Peter, Paul and Mary onstage at the Westbury M...

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 I vaguely remember starting the piece lying prone on the floor, and eventually dragging myself into an upright position. Slaves were my inspiration, what they had to endure to survive, another day, another month, another year. I delivered my performance with great anguish, felt in every moral fiber of my spirit, every muscle of my body. The nuns hailed it as my entre into the professional world of choreography. I took their acclamations in stride. At the time, and considering my mom’s personal financial straits, New York and Broadway were as far  away as the moon.

But I went on to bigger and better productions. I choreographed a number from West Side  Story, which one I can’t recall. Perhaps it was “I Want To Be In America.” Setting the piece on my best friend, Lee, and myself, we had a blast dancing it. She was also my romantic lead in an Asian fairytale  that I wrote, at least I think I wrote it. The title of the play escapes me, although it contained the word “runner.” And no, it wasn’t “The Road Runner.” Besides Lee as a princess, me as the poor peasant pining for her, and her disapproving father, there was a green dragon. Of papier-mache and medium height, it was also one of my artsy concoctions. I’ve an old, black-and-white photo of the 4 of us buried somewhere in an antique blanket-chest. But don’t look for it in this post. It’d take me days, if not longer, to unearth.

Cover of "Flower Drum Song"

Cover of Flower Drum Song

A final memory, not a favorite, is of a solo I choreographed to “Happy Talk” from the  movie “Flower Drum Song.” I imagined myself as the beautiful, Eurasian actress Nancy Kwan.

Nancy Kwan Looks Back on an All-Asian ‘Groundbreaking’ Film

January 25, 2002

Nancy Kwan recalls that the 1961 film version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song” was such a big hit with audiences, “I used to go to Chinese restaurants and get Chinese for free all the time! It was very well-received. We were very proud because it was an all-Asian cast and it made money.”

Kwan, a vivacious 62, played Linda Low, a beautiful and ambitious performer in a Chinatown nightclub in San Francisco. Although her singing was dubbed, Kwan had several memorable dance numbers including “I Enjoy Being a Girl” and “Grant Avenue.”

Gosh, wasn’t she gorgeous? For this number, I sat upon my haunches, using only my hands to gesture the lyrics. I was appropriately attired in a sleeveless, Chinese top, with a cooly’s hat perched on my head. Why I performed the piece in an outdoor assembly of both the girls and boys student bodies, I’ll never know, but I did.

Standing very close to where I performed, were my boyfriend and his friends. Of course I was in my “element,” or so I thought. As I began to move my arms, the strapless bra I decided to wear so that straps wouldn’t slip down my arm as I danced, began inching its way down my chest, almost nonexistent at the time. I literally sweat through that number, constantly trying to maneuver my bra back into place. It was the longest 4 or 5 minutes of my life, and a memory that I’ve not relished telling. But at my age, there are so many others that far surpass that one in remaining buried at the very, very bottom…of my trunk of old memories.

remember some of yours?…hugmamma.

if i were to speak

I’m not a public speaker. I heard my husband speak once at a community gathering of “movers and shakers” in the small, eastern Washington town of Okanaga. He was starting a conversation about possibly bringing employment to some of their citizens in the form of a call center, where questions could be fielded, and reservations booked for his company. Initially fearful for him, I was soon mesmerized by my husband’s comfortable, conversational style of public speaking. He smiled easily, added small touches of humor, and to my way of thinking, knocked their socks off! He did mine, anyway.

My daughter has also taken to speaking publicly without anxiety. At the end of her ballet company‘s season, the end of April, she and 3 or 4 fellow dancers choreograph pieces, setting them on the trainees. These are dancers hoping to be hired into the company one day. Unfortunately most don’t make it, so they audition elsewhere, or go on to do other things.

It seems my daughter has emerged as the spokesperson for WIP, “Works In Progress.” On the day the pieces are performed for a non-paying audience, she gives a brief introduction about the history of the project, and the choreographers, and the pieces to be danced. Evidently my daughter’s been congratulated by the artistic staff for her eloquence, and ease of delivery.

I’m not sure if I’ve always felt tongue-tied, with a panic attack near-at-hand just before standing, or sitting, to speak before a group, large, medium, small, or tiny. I know I begin to hyperventillate, trying, in the last few moments, to memorize an entire speech which I’d not written beforehand. But, of course, I can only visualize a blank wall, staring back at me.

So if I were asked to give a fantasy speech, for example about blogging, in front of a group of professional writers, here’s how it might unfold.

I’m not as good a speaker as I am a writer. That’s not to say I’m a great writer. It just means I don’t speak as well as I write. But I’m sure I don’t write as well as you all. If I could speak like anyone, I’d like to speak like Colin Firth, not the stuttering Colin Firth, but the tongue-in-cheek Colin Firth. Know what I mean? No, of course not.

I was asked to talk about blogging. Well, I’m only a novice, having started a mere 7 months ago. I can only tell you what I know, which is not a whole hell of a lot. Oh, sorry. Excuse the language. Getting old you know, words just slipping out, just as other things are apt to do in old age. Oh, sorry, sorry. TMI. TMI. My daughter’s words, not mine. Now where was I?

Blogging! Right! Pretty mind-boggling stuff, you know. Couldn’t do it without wordpress.com. Those buggers set the whole thing up, I just “click” wherever they tell me to “click,” and voila! I’m good to go. As long as I’ve got pictures with the directions, I can get most things. But when they start throwing around techy-speak, well I’m as lost as the cow who flew over the moon and never came back.

You want to know the truth? I don’t know why the hell they asked me to talk to writers about blogging in the first place. We’re birds of a different feather. You’re all flamingos, and I’m just a Hawaiian mynah bird.

But you were real nice to listen to me jabbering away about nothing. Mahalo!

i’d say the same about you, dear reader…hugmamma.

“i know i can be happy,” the homeless

My daughter recently danced a contemporary solo in a piece by choreographer Sarah Slipper, entitled “Postcards from the Boys.” The entire number was a fabulous aggregation of vignettes, a solo, a pas de deux, a pas de trois, and corps work. The work was accompanied by an orchestral ensemble for some of the movements, and a trio of country singers on guitar and percussion for the solo my daughter danced as well as some of the other choreography. Performed as the show’s finale, Slipper’s brilliant creation garnered a standing ovation on each of the 3 days it was performed.

Having worked with Slipper in Portland, Oregon, for a couple of summers, in the Northwest Professional Dance Project, my daughter was already known to the choreographer before she staged her piece on the dancers in my daughter’s company. I’m sure both were delighted to be working together again. As inspiration for her interpretation of Slipper’s solo, “Homeless,” my daughter reflected upon the words of a poem in a street newspaper.

I Know I Can Be Happy
by Deisaray Lovelace (former Homeless Poet)
deisaraylovelace@yahoo.com

I used to feel so empty
Nothing seemed to matter
I used to feel like I was lost
I used to believe I was nothing at all
Now I walk the streets all day
Now I look as joy fades away
Now I long for brighter days
My cup is broken
My soul still searching
Oh why is my eyes still cryin’

No one seemed to care
No one seemed to understand my fears
I’m not a bad girl
I’m just lost behind the hurt
I fight to earn respect
When all I want is a friend
I was told I’m nothing
That I was impossible
I want to prove them wrong
But can’t because they label me
All I am is homeless
But to them I’m just a nobody

Trying to make it
I have no place
No family of my own
Everyday I walk through town
I see all who laugh
Yet inside I’m broken up
Loving like I’m last
I need someone who understands
I need someone who sees all I have inside
All I need is someone to notice
Someone to know why I cry

No one knows the pain I feel
No one sees the scars
All they notice is fragments
If they’d only see the heart
I need a chance to live
A chance to be found
But every time I look
Hopes turn to tears on the ground

So take my pride
Take my every worth
If only you’d take the time
Try to learn my pain
You could try to take that away too

I can’t stand
When my knees are weak
When I can barely breathe
My nights consist of darkness
My days are the same
I need that glimpse of brightness
So that I can say…

I’m good
I’m brave
To still be standing today
Through the tears
and through the pain
I know I can be happy again
I know I can be happy
Again

the human spirit can overcome…as long as we have hope…hugmamma.

short films, michael jackson’s

Below my blog’s photo header is a new “page” entitled “mj’s short films.” Because readers often overlook the pages, I’m including this post to alert you to the new addition, in the hopes that you’ll have a “look-see.” I’ve recopied the text below, and included a few of the youtube videos…to entice you. You can view more on the page “mj’s short films.”

Michael Jackson invented music videos as we know them today. It is a well published fact that he catapulted MTV into television’s stratosphere with his creations, best known among them, THRILLER. Not only a stroke of genius, but also of magic! Thriller went “outside the box” in its storytelling, its costuming, its haunting lyric and MJ’s unforgettable moves. He went on to create numerous other short story videos, some of which have rarely been seen by the general public, among them, Speed Demon and Captain EO. As you scroll through the youtube videos below, these 2 will appear towards the end. 

Captain EO  was a collaboration with Walt Disney Studios. It had been in place at Disneyland from 1986 through the 1990s. With Michael’s passing, Captain EO has been restored to Disney’s amusement parks. I’ve visited Disneyland in Anaheim, California, numerous times. But my family and I have never ventured to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Captain EO may just be the excuse I’ve been looking for “a ticket to ride.” I may have finally found the fountain of youth at age 61. As they say, “it’s never too late.”

As with my other page “boogying with mj,” I wanted to extract my favorite short films from the vast intergalactic space known as the internet, for my personal viewing pleasure as the spirit moves me. This is so much easier than having to click endlessly through files and files of videos, to discover the ones I most like. I hope some of you will derive enjoyment from them as well. If you do, you might check back to see if I’ve added others to my personal catalogue.  

Remember, there are more to view on the “page,” entitled “mj’s short films,” under the photo header at the top of my blog.

i’m hoping you’ll boogy on down with michael…and me…hugmamma.

boogying with Michael Jackson

If you’ve read my blog since day one, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s talent as a performer. Singing and dancing have always been in my blood, so I recognize the genius that he was. While the internet is rife with MJ’s videos, it’s not always easy finding my way through the miles and miles of inventory to uncover those that keep me riveted. This page is my own catalog which serves as a reminder of the once-in-a-lifetime entertainer that was Michael Jackson. And it lets me “get down with my bad self,” as my daughter has said of me, once or twice.

Am posting this, as well as making it a permanent page beneath the photo header at the top of my blog. “Pages” aren’t always readily noticed; posts are. There are additional youtube videos on the page, “boogying with mj,” that aren’t on this post. Coming soon will also be another page of short films created by MJ. Hopefully there are some Michael Jackson fans among my readers. If not, bear with me. I’m just “getting down with my bad self.” Even seniors have their moments.

i’ve got music, i’ve got rhythmn…who could ask for anything more…hugmamma.

“hope springs eternal”

My daughter continues to progress well in her recovery from health issues. When I first posted of it last September in “It’s a Good Morning, there’s always hope,” I wrote that “Every new day is a good morning, the opportunity to right what’s wrong.” And as 2011 gets underway, the hope that my daughter continues to flourish grows with each passing day.

Not only did my daughter return to work as a professional ballerina after a 2 month medical leave, to solo in a piece staged by an internationally recognized choreographer, but she also won a second coveted role in another piece. Two couples are the principal dancers in Twyla Tharp’s “Short Stories,” and my daughter is one of the partners. She and the others were selected by Tharp’s representative, after a brief audition of all the company dancers.

If you’ve watched any of TV’s reality dance shows, you’ll understand how intense the competition can be. It doesn’t let up even in the professional world. But once a dancer has proven herself repeatedly in talent and work ethic, she’s rewarded with good roles. Those values, along with patience and hope, are the mainstay of longevity, and self-satisfaction for a job well done, not only in dance, but in life.

it’s true what they say…hope does spring eternal…hugmamma.

inhale…exhale…2011

Not sure what the holidays have been like for you, but they seemed like a whirlwind to me. I finally feel I can breathe again, deep breaths that is, not short, gasping-for-air breaths. While I got a tremendous head start on decorating for the season, completed a couple of days prior to Thanksgiving, my life seemed to move in slow motion after that. Not that everything around me did likewise. No. It was as though I was in the audience, watching my life unfold on a theatre screen. Much of it was a blur, like going through the motions, mindlessly. Many decisions, big and small, were probably made half, not wholeheartedly. But I made it through the “speed boat ride,” enjoying the scenery that sailed by me as best I could.

Since my daughter returned home in October to recover from health issues, I’ve set my life aside. Moms do that. Nothing seems more important at the time than seeing one’s child happy and healthy again, nothing. Tears come easily when my daughter’s life has gone awry, for whatever reason. While it’s natural to advise her that things will get better, that life experiences build character, that everyone faces challenges, it seems like a never-ending repertoire of blah, blah, blah that moms access so readily. So after two-and-a-half months of it, I’m worn to the bone.

The great news is that my daughter’s feeling great, so great, that she’s returning to work on Monday, a month earlier than expected. So her support system here at home worked fabulously, from doctors and their staff, to family and friends. Even her bosses and coworkers rallied around. It was like circling the wagons in the days of the Wild West, to better fight off the attacking Indians. Well it took a “village” to successfully battle my daughter’s “Indians.”

So our family is counting its blessings as the New Year begins. My husband and I have already begun our healthful regimen, eliminating unnecessary calories and saturated fats, and exercising at least half-an-hour daily. This is not new to 2011.  It’s actually a “renewal,” since we always lose sight of our resolve throughout the old year. Life has its ups and downs, as do our eating habits. But we remain positive, and hopeful.

Recent news from a fellow dancer left our daughter elated. Upon returning to work, she will be learning the soloist’s role in a contemporary piece being staged upon her ballet company by an internationally renowned choreographer. For a dancer, that’s like taking home Olympic Gold. For our daughter, recovering from a health setback, being given the role is tremendous recognition for a decade of passion, hard work, sacrifice, and always smiling while “picking herself up and dusting herself off.”

My daughter’s journey is proof positive that a commitment to hope can have great results. But my advice to her has always been that she should enjoy the process, for even if the end result is not what she hoped for, she will have fully lived each moment along the way. And true happiness is knowing who she is every day of her life, and having no regrets about any of it, including the not-so-good moments.

And so I have no regrets about the last few months, for I did what I do best…mother. Now I must “pick myself up, dust myself off,” and return to nurturing my mind, body and soul, and that of my husband’s. As the old adage goes,“There’s no greater love than that we lay down our lives, one for another.” Doing so for my child is a no-brainer.

take a deep, luxurious breath…and dive into 2011…huge hugs…hugmamma.      

our christmas “explosion”

My daughter’s favorite description of what our home looks like right now is that “Christmas exploded!”  We literally can’t walk an inch without brushing up against a tree branch, heavily laden with ornaments, or having our eyes come to rest upon any surface not awash in Christmas.

Because we didn’t need to make our usual holiday trek to our daughter’s home for Thanksgiving this year, I found the energy to begin the gargantuan task of decorating for the holidays. I figured if I started ahead of time, unlike last year, I’d be okay removing it all some time in January. Last year’s decor didn’t get taken down until April, about 7 months ago. In fact, when we began the ritual of bringing bins in from the garage, my husband said “Didn’t we just put these away?”

I incorporate Christmas in with my everyday furnishings, antiques, and vintage collections, so it’s a monstrous task piecing together what is literally a household puzzle. Every item finds a new home, somewhere. My brain is agog with a choreography of minutiae. Somehow everything comes together for the holidays. And I try not to repeat the same scenario from year to year. In recent years I’ve used 5 or 6 artificial trees of varying widths, heights, shapes, and styles. Their adornments are changed each Christmas, because I couldn’t possibly remember their exact configuration, even if I wanted.

Holiday vignettes are everywhere, adorning the tops of an antique dresser and an immigrant’s chest, several painted cupboards and a pie safe, lining the shelves of a green bookcase, and an assortment of tables. Open shelving which frames the kitchen window showcase my santa collection, the overflow keeping my husband company in his office. Meanwhile the snowmen are gathered together in a cozy corner of my daughter’s bedroom. Vintage toys rest along the mantle, and before the fireplace. While Christmas stockings line the staircase bannister leading to the front door

I’ve always transformed our home into a magical place for the holidays, whether it’s Easter, Halloween or Christmas. And it was always for my daughter’s benefit. The delight in her eyes, the smile that lit up her face, the love she shared in thanking us, made the time and energy it took, so worth it. No matter that she’s now 24, I still work my magic, and she continues to be delighted, and gratefully loving. Its still so worth it!

sending you hugs for a holiday full of hope, and love…hugmmamma.

made my day, “footloose”

We all have one of those days now and then, maybe even more now, than then. I went to exercise class bright and early this a.m.; would’ve preferred remaining warm under the covers. As I age, Hawaii, its warmth and sunshine, beckons ever more. Like sirens of old, it calls to me, “Come lay your weary head upon my white sands, and let the warm waters of the Pacific wash away your concerns.” If I could only bottle the sun, releasing its warmth and light, as needed.

Of course exercise class always gets my endorphins moving, and my heart rate up. When I returned home, I spoke with my daughter, who agreed, that Kristina, the instructor, gives one fierce workout. Only time, and body, will tell how long I can keep pace with the younger women, those in their 40’s and 50’s. While I can always “take it down a notch,” as my daughter reminded me, I never see that as an alternative. I always challenge myself to do everything 110%, or at least 100%. I don’t usually drag myself around after working out, but I could barely register enough energy to get up out of the chair to fix a bite. But I did. Then I ran a couple of errands, returned home and plopped myself back down in the same chair, the one in front of my computer. That’s when my day took a turn, for the better.

A good friend must’ve read my mind, and knew I needed a boost. Dancing and rythmic music levitates my spirit like nothing else, well…almost. Watching my daughter dance gives me a tremendous “high,” that lasts and lasts. But I smiled nonstop during the following video which my girlfriend emailed, moving my head from side to side. The movie “Footloose” was great, but this version combining pieces of 40 movies or so, should be awarded a prize of some sort. Congrats to its creator, whoever he or she might be. Of course, I’m thrilled that an excerpt of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” was included. That was like “icing on the cake.”

So I share my friend’s gift to me, as an early holiday gift to you.

huge holiday hugs…hugmamma.

decorating tip, “change it up”

Growing up, our family never bought a stick of furniture. Everything was a hand-me-down, or a thrift shop leftover. Needless to say nothing matched. Since one of my Saturday chores was housecleaning, I taught myself to meld what most might consider junk. I didn’t know it then, but my passion for antiques and vintage collectibles probably grew out of necessity. Overstuffed armchairs, a long sofa with missing springs, a vintage, stand-alone radio whose flat top displayed religious articles, along with an assortment of odd pieces was my introduction to decorating. Each time I swept and dusted, I also rearranged the furnishings, even if it was just a nudge here and there. I continued this practice during my stint in retailing, during and after college. As a sales clerk and then a department manager, I was advised to “change things up” regularly. Customers would perceive that the store was constantly bringing in new merchandise, when in fact it wasn’t. To this day I redo my rented space in an antique mall, which always derives compliments from management and customers alike. Reworking the space freshens the look, and casts each item in a new light. It also helps with the “bottom line,” sales.

My house undergoes the same rearranging, more so in the past than now. Older age brings contentment with the status quo. Forty years of housekeeping will do that. “Been there, done that!” However friends and family will attest to the fact that the holidays consume my time and energy as I transform my home into a wonderland. For Halloween and Christmas my stored treasures are retrieved from the garage and incorporated into my furnishings. As in bygone days I have fun blending furnishings, with seasonal decor. Rather than relegate normal household items to the bins from whence the ornaments, wreaths, and garlands came, I intermingle all to enhance every room, including the bathrooms. I usually “pull out all the stops” for the holidays, because it always gets a jaw-dropping reaction. There are drawbacks, however.

It usually takes me 2 weeks of cleaning and decorating, to dress 5 or 6 medium-sized trees for display in various rooms, to hang garlands with ornaments atop cupboards, to create elaborate centerpieces for the kitchen island and dining room table, to configure a unique vintage vignette across the fireplace mantel. And that’s only a sampling of the holiday facelift. THEN there’s the dismantling, not done until April the last couple of years. Having taken so long to arrange, I’m in no hurry to destroy my masterpiece. Luckily my husband enjoys my creativity, or else he’s a saint for humoring my eccentricities. Probably a little of both. Friends don’t mind either. They enjoy a prolonged Christmas, especially when it’s in my house, not theirs.

So while visiting with my daughter, it’s fun for me to redo her apartment. Physically and mentally spent at day’s end,  learning and dancing new choreography, she is only too happy to let me “have at it.” She enjoys her mismatched furnishings, bistro table and chairs from Pier 1, ottoman from Bed, Bath and Beyond, long, antique dresser serving as a side table, antique Queen Anne side chair in need of reupholstering, vintage corner cupboard in a pretty, muted yellow. My daughter has grown up with my eclectic taste, and passion for vintage and antique furnishings. And we both love a good bargain, so Target is always one of  the stops when we’re out shopping for something new.

Well I’m off to perform some “magic” on my daughter’s apartment. Will chat again later. Enjoy all the moments of your day…

hugs of energy, as you go about your day…hugmamma.

coffee with friends, so much more than

If women were the world leaders of governments, corporations, learning institutions, medical facilities, courts of justice, sports teams, the entertainment and music industries, and any other body having great societal impact, they’d probably do their venting over coffee with girlfriends.

Coffee with the women means, friends gathering together to vent about anything, and everything. Surely centuries old, this female ritual has probably saved countless marriages, and kept our prison population from overflowing. Our ancestors, cave women, must have wanted to crack a few skulls. Being dragged around by the hair would not have been an endearing prospect. Native American women didn’t drink coffee (or did they?) but using smoke signals to communicate their marital woes was, perhaps, the start of environmental pollution. A frontier wife might have envied Annie Oakley her skills with a gun, when her cowboy came through the door smelling of whiskey and women. And a Victorian lady must’ve ripped off her corset and took a swig, when she was in a snit. Would Sonny and Cher have continued as a duo, if she’d had regularly done coffee with the women? “And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on. La, de, da, de, do, la, de, da, de, day…”

Women, coffee and conversation are like a game of Ouija. One speaks, another interrupts, the first resumes speaking, and the ebb and flow of conversation continues. The chatter is spirited, peals of laughter ring out, continuing to ripple through the group. Then voices quiet into whispers, while knowing glances and nodding heads silently agree that “it’s so frustrating…” whether it’s talk of jobs, husbands, children, mothers, even mother-in-laws. All agree that these sessions are more productive than paying for psychotherapy and a lot more fun as well.

The best coffee gatherings are among women whose personalities are in accord. Allowing one another time to speak, rather than hogging the conversation is also important. Egos are stroked, each feeling uplifted knowing others care, so that they needn’t continue shouldering their burdens alone. Coffee (for me) with a good friend (tea for her) became an important “life-line” when I moved with my, then 16-year-old, daughter to Atlanta. For two-and-a-half years I chaperoned her while she journeyed toward a career in ballet. My husband, our financial support, remained behind.

When my daughter was invited to train with the professional company where we relocated, our family consented without hesitation. Rushing forward without thought, we moved into an apartment with my husband’s help. The day he departed for home, we breakfasted at a pancake house. It was then that the finality of our decision hit me like a “ton of bricks.” I burst into tears. Ever the pragmatic one, my husband assured me he’d visit in a month or so. That seemed like an eternity to be without my best friend of so many years. But as moms have always done, I “placed one foot in front of the other,” and carried on.

It’s been about 5 years since I returned home to my husband. Having apprenticed with a ballet company in another state, my daughter was promoted to full member a year ago. She begins her second season this fall. Through hard work and maturity beyond her years, she has accomplished every young ballerina’s dream. There were peaks and valleys to be sure, but my daughter weathered them with our help, and the encouragement and prayers of many who have loved and supported her through the years.

Offering me a shoulder upon which to lean, or cry, was a woman who became, and remains, a very dear friend. It wasn’t unusual for Becky and I to linger over a cup of coffee, or tea, for hours, kibbitzing about her son and my daughter. Both aspired to being professional ballet dancers. We’d compare “war” stories about people with whom we had dealings, who seemed insensitive to the difficulties our children encountered. Very little was ever resolved, but reinvigorated, we could return to parenting, knowing a friend was nearby.

I was able to offer Becky some advice, since I was already in the midst of helping my daughter wend her way through the maze of becoming a career ballerina. It is such a singular path, not like being in college with thousands of like-minded youngsters. How one dancer succeeds is not a ready prescription for another’s success. But from my observations, certain facts seemed applicable to every wannabe professional.

Success seems dependent upon 50% talent and 50% other factors like a solid work ethic, quickness at learning choreography, resiliency to criticism, continuing good health, and a lot of luck. It certainly doesn’t hurt to be “in the right place, at the right time.” When it comes to casting, being a favorite of resident and visiting choreographers is a plus. Less tangible is having “the look” that an artistic director wants for a role or for the company in general. This alone can force a dancer to audition wherever there may be openings, in the hopes of a perfect match. With much effort and good fortune, a job is found, if not, the dream will likely end.

Deciding to go the college route, Becky’s son graduated with a Fine Arts Degree in Dance. To his credit and due diligence, he is in his second year apprenticing with a ballet company. This is no small feat in the current economy when the arts are suffering the loss of patronage.

Belonging to a rare breed of women, moms of professional ballet dancers, Becky and I continue to enjoy a mutually supportive friendship. Circumstances may prevent us from meeting as we once did, but given the ease of travel these days, it’s not too far-fetched to assume we’ll be meeting for coffee, tea and friendly conversation somewhere, some time… 

it’ll be like old times, only better…hugmamma.