Tuesday, March 10, 2016

6:32 am

Thousand Oaks, California

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

-Mark Twain

Despite the reigning insanity and chaos of The Hateful Eight, there were moments of unrestrained and unbound hilarity that, to this day, never fail to illicit a laugh, chuckle or snort from the mischief makers involved.

One of these moments comes to mind this morning.

August 12, 2012. Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, London England. Though we mightily wanted to be there, alas, La Belle (on summer break from college), The Badass Bunny (visiting), Schwink’s  youngest son (Gulliver, one of my favorite people, still in Schwink’s nest), and I were Stateside and gathered around the television in Schwink’s den. As is the tradition in Olympic Games Closing Ceremonies, following the parade of athletes, the city and country hosting the next Olympic Games performs. In this case, hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics would be Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

And what a performance it was.

It began in a very proper and sedate manner. This Closing Ceremonies was, after all, taking place in the very proper and sedate England, under the watchful eye of the very proper and sedate Queen herself. And her very proper and sedate entire country. The Brazilian flag was raised, accompanied by a very proper and sedate Brazilian National Anthem, the Olympic torch properly and sedately passed from the Brits to the Brazilians.

And THEN… “O mundo desabou”. (Which is Portuguese, the Official language of Brazil, for “All hell broke loose”).

Modeled after Brazil’s yearly Carnival celebration, the performance was nearly 10 minutes long (1/3 of the entire Closing Ceremonies) and featured a six-part music and dancing extravaganza replete with multicolored feathered head dressed Brazilian pop-stars, a Samba/Ballet Mash-Up corps of ballerinas, clowns of many shapes, sizes and varieties twirling teeny, little rainbow colored umbrellas, dancers with lighted pinwheels on their heads, other dancers with lighted drums on their heads, a lady dancing in a gigantic dress of, yep, you guessed it, lighted umbrellas, the iconic Pele, Brazil’s “futbol” (to the rest of the world) or “soccer” (to us ugly Americans) superstar introduced the giant, inflatable Rio Olympic Logo with his team of performers.

Clearly, the Brazilians weren’t quite as proper as the British and they certainly weren’t sedate. This was made evident as fireworks exploded noisily on the television at such a deafening volume Gulliver dove for the remote and The Bunny, all but buried in the corner of Schwink’s sectional, actually glanced up from her laptop.

And La Belle deadpanned, as only La Belle can deadpan, “Calm.Down.Brazil.”

To which we all lost our shit and fell to the floor from our respective and various seats around the den.

And, a family verbal meme was born.

Now a part of our lexicon, “Calm. Down. Brazil.”, is said slowly and soothingly, whenever a situation arises calling for the need to gently remind someone to get a grip.

It feels really good to reflect on the laughing side of life, especially after yesterday’s “Whitewash” post. I had written it in two hours, early in the morning. And then spent the next 11 hours at the computer, editing it and rewriting it, until it turned into something I felt was post-worthy. That is to say, until it passed my integrity bath of being honest, responsible and respectful without being harmful to anyone whose story was included in mine.

I’ve said that I don’t reflect upon the past as a general rule. And. I also realize that if I want to write about my story as a recovering wife and mother, that includes the past, as well as the present. And the future as well. So there will be posts on thislifetomake that reflect upon The Hateful Eight. But I have to say something here. Right now. Even that tag, The Hateful Eight, is transforming itself, outliving it’s usefulness in the cathartic, freeing process of writing about it, to The Fateful Eight.

Which is shriekingly good news.

What could possible be better than when a problem starts to discovers its own solution? When a negative begins to become a positive?

This is not the first time this has happened to me.

In the past, when I have talked about my liabilities (and that’s a fairly hefty side of Pearl’s Balance Sheet), they have moved to the other side of the ledger, over time,to become some of  Pearl’s Assets.

This is one example of those glowing and luminous pearls I wrote about yesterday. Pearls that I’ve harvested along the way by sitting in the wet, cold, uncomfortable sand, digging for and then cracking open the piles of oysters. (It must be said that I hate the sand. So does La Belle. We do.We hate the sand, we love the cabana boy. Mea culpa.).

I do love me a metaphor, such as this one. And I use them a lot. They help me, in the imagery they paint in my mind, to clearly see and make sense of what the hell I’ve done and what the hell I’m going to do with what the hell I’ve done.

So very much of my life has been transversed without a map. Or a compass. Truthfully, if I’d had either, I probably would’ve opened the map upside down and given the compass to The Dude, who was an eagle Scout of the highest possible order. I’ve always depended upon my intuition, listened to my heart and followed by gut.
I also read a lot. Family lore is that I was born with my face in a book.(More about this later. More about everything later.) (Promise). I’ll pretty much read anything, shamelessly and without provocation. Books, magazines, reference manuals, encyclopedias, the backs of soup cans and cereal boxes, every version of the Bible, anything on the interwebs, horoscopes, appliance manuals and especially fortune cookies ( I have to read mine and everyone else’s at the table because I find those tiny strips to be just loaded with an eerie and applicable bit of wisdom you just cannot find in other eateries).

If I can’t read about it, I’ll take a class. “Mental Health First-Aid”, a court-ordered Domestic-Abuse class required for anyone filing a protective order within the County of Los Angeles was most enlightening (though, apparently, only in an academic way as it did little to improve my choice in men until 4 years and two protective orders later), Gentle Ballet and Yoga. Which was a fail. I entered the first of eight Yoga sessions I had signed up and paid for in a cloud of cigarette smoke to the wrinkled noses of my serene and blissed out yoga’ed classmates asking “Whose been smoking? I smell cigarette smoke? Is someone smoking?” I slunk past their Lululemons, guilty as hell, feeling the stress I’d come to relieve having a litter of stressed-out kittens that needed little kitty smokes themselves and that was the end of Yoga class. Forever.

I joined gyms too ( Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, several Ladies’ Only gyms, which smelled like the Heaven that lavender goes to when it dies and the locker rooms were precious.) Curves Gym, too, where middle-aged plus ladies in pastel sweat suits kicked by 35 year-old ass on that little round-about circuit, without so much as breaking a “glisten” (the post-menopausal term, I learned, for “sweat”). (And looked tip-of-the Red-Hat damn good doing it too.)

And, when all else failed, and I needed some real clarity in my life, I went on a diet. We’ve all been there so don’t even lie about it. But I wonder how many times you’ve been to Weight Watchers? How much of your own personal wealth you’ve sunk into, may she rest in peace, Jean Nidetch’s Weight Watchers empire? (which Jean gave birth to the very same year my mom gave birth to me. Fortuitously more for Jean than I ). Ok. I’ll go first. My first membership wasn’t really a membership at all due to that fact that I was 8 years old. And it was against Weight Watcher rules and regulations to allow someone my age to become a member. But only because IT WAS  MEDICALLY UNSAFE. But that didn’t stop my Grandma Tessie (not much did) from sneaking me into the back row of meetings, weighing me at her house once a week and packing my lunches with cucumber and cottage cheese sandwiches on Wonderbread (which, now that I think about it,  got the exact same reaction from the other 8 year old girls at the lunch table at my grade school that my smoking did at Yoga class. “Whose eating cottage cheese and cucumber sandwiches? I smell cottage cheese and cucumbers? “Whose eating cottage cheese and cucumber sandwiches?”). I’m totally counting this as Weight Watchers Membership #1. Once in High School. That’s Membership #2.  Then there was one membership per marriage. That would be #3, 4, 5 and 6. (More about this another time in a little piece of writing I’ve titled “The NATO Phonetic Alphabet/”How Many Times Have You Been Married?”) Actually, there were 2 memberships when I was engaged to be married on two different occasions, so that’s #7 and #8. One when I wasn’t married at all-a magical, mythical unicorn time in my life-Membership #9. So. I’ve gone to Weight Watchers 9 times in 52 years. According to my abacus, I’ve gone to Weight Watcher’s approximately every 5.7 years. Since I was born.

If what I wrote is true, that when all else failed, and I needed some real clarity in my life and I went on a diet, I’ve been on Weight Watchers nearly every six years for my entire life.


My math must be wrong. My math is always wrong. Ever since they skipped me third grade, my math has been wrong.

Either that or something went terribly awry.


Obviously alot of things went terribly awry.

But we’re not talking about those things.

Oh God.

I have no idea how to tell you about the three times I went to Jenny Craig, the five years that Overeaters Anonymous WAS MY LIFE or the one day that Schwink and I went on The Atkins Diet. And went out for lunch and, with tears rolling down our face, stuffing napkins into our mouths to try to stop it and, between wheezing gasps of howling laughter, ordered double bacon cheddar cheese burgers, please….because WE WERE ON A ON A DIET AND TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT!!!!!! I believe I had the prime rib for dessert that day and Schwink had a rib-eye with sautéed mushrooms.

My point this morning, lovelies, is that if I’m going to do this thing, write about my recovery as a lifer wife and mother, I’m going to write about it all. The good, the bad and the hilarious.

What I am finding is that there was so much of all of this and in the clarity-this very new crisp, fresh clarity-is that things are sometimes funny. When they’re over. Over being the operative word. Respectfully.

This is very new for me, this not hating the past eight years, not being consumed every moment of every day with regret, remorse and guilt, not building altars to what I’ve lost and then praying to be released from the mourning when I’m down on my knees, once again, flooding them with tears.

There is a Calm. Down. Brazil. happening here. I am getting a grip.

The sad carnival of crying is being slowly replaced by laughing, the parade of things lost, by new things found and the celebration of the life I thought was over is becoming  a discovery of this life I have to make.


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