life lessons, music

Paying Attention


Not sure if you’re still here – if not, I totally get it, and if so – thank you for stopping by even though there is no rhyme or reason to the frequency of these posts.  First and foremost, how the heck are you?  What are you doing with your days that bring you delight without caveats?  Any epiphanies worth sharing with your Jewish pal over here (and yes, I think those in my tribe can have epiphanies too, of a kind)?  Thoughts that keep rolling around that you’d like to share (not mean-spirited stuff though, ok)?

There’s been little going on outside my head, given that I’m one of those immuno-compromised folks who are encouraged to adopt a hermetic existence until further notice.  I do try to follow the instructions – until I don’t want to follow them anymore (like when I stole all the Brownie merit badges out of my 2nd grade teacher’s desk, ’cause I wanted the swag, just not the stuff you had to do to get them).  I guess that makes me pseudo-compliant.

(And clearly a lover of the parenthetical)

So, here I sit with far more activity going on in my head than there was pre-pandemic.  To catch you up – Tom Brady retired and the bigotry in football management ranks is appalling; everything Lin-Manuel Miranda touches is gold – full stop; I despair over the amount of vitriol in the world; it feels like it is fomenting and growing more and more poisonous – a social virus.  Dave says it’s like we’re eating each other, some cannibalistic mindset that is fueled by polarizations and egocentric voices who have little good to say.  I’m trying to temper myself, for inside my temper is off the charts.  

And none of that is what I’m really thinking about right now.  My dad would have been 98 a few days ago.  I whispered happy birthday wishes to him and perhaps he was looking for a bit more.  A ginormous cardinal has been hanging out in our backyard for days; as I write this he is literally sitting on the retaining wall looking at me looking at him.  Dad loved to identify birds, and frankly I think he would wing it (ha! pun intended) and make up some non-existent species because if he said it, we’d buy it.  A message from the universe?  I don’t know – but there’s more…

I grew up singing, as you know.  One of my favorite singers to watch was Peggy Lee (pre-dating Streisand, Minnelli, Midler, etc).  My parents each had their song of choice – dad would sing ‘Fever’; mom would croon soulfully ‘Is That All There Is’  – a certain musical insight about both of them.  I gravitated to ‘Fever’ – even though I had no idea what I was singing about, the lyrics were easy and  I could snap my fingers.  There was something so sad about mom’s choice, even though the song encourages one to ‘break out the booze and have a ball’.  Party first, ponder later.

Why is this pertinent?  There was a segment about Peggy Lee on CBS Sunday Morning, and there she was, frozen in time singing as she did, without moving a muscle, yet emoting so much.  Fever.

And then a friend who seems to know me well without ever having met me, sent me a book recommendation “Lost and Found” by Kathyrn Schulz.  When I asked him why he though of me after reading it, he responded because of “her relationship to her father.  And yours.”.  I am in the middle of reading it, laughing, crying over some really dumb things, and nodding with an awareness of losses that are just rolled up into the very essence of who we become over time.

Now you tell me?  The convergence of all these messages right around his birthday – what is one to think?  Whether or not it’s all coincidence or kismet, star alignments or just the need to wish him a happy birthday, it brought me to this empty space deserving to be filled.  I’m going to try and see if I can offer up anything more – perhaps thoughts of more universal interest – in the days to come.  In the meantime, be well, hug everyone you can.


37 thoughts on “Paying Attention”

  1. Great to here from you, Mimi. Memories are so important and I also think of those gone before me as I sit here in Michigan, watching our 3- month old grandson sleep on my chest. I hope I’m around long enough that he will some day have memories of me. L’ cha-yim

    1. Thanks Ray…I love the visual of Grandpa and grandson breathing deeply and calmly. You are making memories with him every time you are together.

  2. You always know how to hit the nail on the head! I have been thinking about you a lot lately and then what a treat — the karma truck surfaced. Such beautiful thoughts about your father and mother — what a gorgeous couple — love how our parents all dressed up, sang, and went dancing — so civilized. I miss mine so. The last two years have been coined Ground Hog Day at our house — we try to find ways to connect with the outside and not feel too confined and displaced. Thus, we move to our new home in several months to be closer to our son and all of the grandchildren. This is one of the good things born out of this time — the need to be closer to family and be able to share hugs. Love you to the moon and back. Bunny

    1. Ah Bunny, if posting means I get to hear from you, then I clearly have to get my act together with greater frequency!😉. My parents were part of a group that enjoyed a good party – men in suits and women in cocktail dresses (a term from that era) – though how civilized they were by the end of the evening, I have no idea. When are you moving? Are you happy with your soon-to-be new digs? Are you well, despite the claustrophobia? Missing you and sending you love and hugs – as to Georgie too.

  3. Its always a thrill when the Karma Truck goes for a spin. I know I’m in for a treat; relishing in the pictures you paint with your words. Of course, it was your Dad. Having met him, knowing his love for you and believing that if you’re open to the universe to receive him; if there was a way to let you know he is okay, he’d find it. Sending hugs for his 98th birthday and gratitude that you write so eloquently and straight from your soul.

    1. Hi Jo, thank you for your supportive, lovely words…And if you’re right (and G-d knows I hope you are), then I incorporate your thoughts with a full heart. Sending gratitude and love back – for you being you

  4. Nice to hear from you…such poetic prose. It’s the second time in 10 minutes I’ve read someone reference a cardinal with the death of a loved one. No doubt, in both cases, it’s that cherished loved-one energetically connecting. Following the unexpected death of my dearest brother when he was only 22 and I was 24, and again later in life, following the (again unexpected) death of my 21 year old son, I received many such soul touching messages. After the death of my mother, not one. Not a single one. Strange how strong the messages from some, and none from some. Breath in your dad…he is all around you, keeping you from suffocating on the latest spray of vitriol. And keep singing. THAT heart connection is divine. Much appreciation today, and always. Jan

    Sent from Mail for Windows

    1. Your comments have moved me to tears Jan…tears at the pain you have experienced, tears at the messages that were sent to you following such inconceivable losses; messages that soothed and comforted, and tears for that which didn’t transpire after your mom passed away. It is strange how the invisible channels work – sending and receiving some and not always others. I choose to believe that love is all around you Jan – for your generous heart has reached this soul, despite our never having met. Thank you thank you…💕

  5. Ahhh, the Karma Truck, conduit for oh so much joy and thoughtful discourse. How I’ve missed this vivacious little vehicle. 🙂 And how I love the memories of your parents, lovey. I feel fortunate to have mine with me still. My mom went a different direction from yours–she’s all about Louis Prima & Keely Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong–I can remember walking up the driveway from school some days and seeing the windows in our living room literally vibrating in their frames when she was having a ‘musical moment.’ My dad has never been much for music–his head was always buried in a book. Good memories all….

    And that Cardinal, gorgeous. The Cardinal bears the message, “Accept your life’s importance. Accept yourself as a source of light and do not be afraid to conduct yourself accordingly.” Yep, I definitely think that was your beloved dad. Love you so… xoxoxox

    1. Hi honey…my father-in-law is a Louis Prima aficionado and he still dances with anyone nearby whenever he hears him. I like your mom’s taste in music! I hope the cardinal is the harbinger with such an affirming message, and hope that my dad set it up. And you are representing two great qualities from your folks – a love for the written word and a love for music. Yo’ve sculpted those traits into your own design – and it is magnificent. Xoxo

  6. When I was a young boy in (of all places) Nashville, TN, the neighborhood parents organized a rotating weekly cocktail party. I think this was held on Friday nights, but perhaps Saturday since nearly all were Jewish. The custom at the time was for the hosts’ kids (from about the age of 5, up) to participate in the party–mostly by being seen, not heard, of course. We were given a small glass with just a dash of bourbon and a whole lot of water. Looking back, I realize how brilliant this was. Children given a dash of spirits in the company of their parents would not grow up viewing liquor as a “forbidden” substance that they would have to sneak out to try. I doubt this custom continues today; parents would be afraid of being reported to Children’s Services. Indeed, the whole idea of a “rotating” cocktail party seems very quaint, if not almost impossible in the era of Covid-19.

    Happy to hear from you, as always, Mimi. We are also in near-hibernation. Stay well.

    1. Hi John! What a terrific surprise – it’s wonderful to hear from you. I had no idea you lived in Nashville – at any point in your life. All we know is what we share, and it’s amazing that after being in your orbit for over twenty years, there’s still so much yet to learn! That’s a good thing. Interestingly, we grew up with wine all around us – the result I think, of a European mom who was passing on that which was familiar to her. And you’re right – it was never a ‘thing’, a thrill of sorts…your comments remind me of the book The School For Good Mothers. Sending much love with the hope that you and your family are thriving in this weird time of pseudo-isolation.

  7. always happy to see the karma truck stop by the lot for a visit. I’m a person that embraces the concept of signs, and you have some mighty powerful ones reaching out to you. here’s to your dad, then and now.

  8. Thank you Beth – for the warm words, the enthusiastic belief in signs such as these and for hanging in with this very sporadic blogger. You inspire me to try and do better…

    1. Given the incredible friendships that were born in the ether, how can one not believe in signs and miracles and wonder? The qualities that come t mind whenever I think if you, dearest

  9. How wonderful to find you in my inbox. And with such a lovely post! I think those signs are pretty powerful!

    My dad had tastes in music that went all over the place. From Phoebe Snow to Leo Sayer to Rod Stewart to the Boston Pops (though I think that was simply to annoy my mother). Mom supplied us with a knowledge of Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, et al. To the point that whenever my sisters found ourselves singing along to country songs, our friends would look at us questioningly… we were so not cool, apparently!

    1. Hi Dale, i was nodding my head as I read about your dad’s eclectic musical tastes. <y dad was very similar and there’s no doubt I got my love of music from him. From the Kingston Trio to Miriam Makeba, Odetta to Wagner, The Beatles to Brahms – he was all over the map and delighted in every genre. Ok, so maybe country music wasn’t the coolest selection to your friends, I will toss it up to sophomoric envy that you and your sister knew all the words!

    1. BonBon!! I was thinking about you the other day – it’s good to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words, though honestly, I’m not sure I fill any space with good, but I’m really glad you think so!! Sending you much love and hugs and hope that you’re as happy as can be…xo, m

  10. So very good to hear from you and read your post. I’ve missed you and them and am happy to hear you are well. Looking forward to more.

    1. I honestly can’t think of a better surprise than hearing from you. I’m touched that you read this, and took the time to write. I hope you are well and happy and thriving…

  11. So nice to see you BACK Mimi. Been missing your posts. Hoping all is well in Davidson during these challenging times. Looking forward to more inspiring posts. Hugs all-around.

    1. Hi Kevin! So good to hear from you and thank you for writing (and reading)!! I think we’re almost neighbors now (admittedly, I have no clue if this is accurate or not, but I’d like to think so), and hope you and MIchael are happy bing closer to home and family. Sending you much love…

  12. So, so glad to see you back here, Mimi. It’s been something, our world, it really, really has. Since you asked, I’ve dodged and weaved and kept away from the virus, masked of course, while continuing to work at the public library as we all do our best to make sure the community gets what it needs and deserves. My dear wife Karen, too, does her part safely while working in the medical field, sterilizing surgical instruments.
    Anyway, I, too, caught the Peggy Lee segment on the CBS Morning Show and thrilled to her depth and elegance, thinking back to my father’s records, this kind of foundation is why I fell in love with music so early in life.
    Enjoy your sassy red cardinal. Be well.

  13. Most importantly my friend, I am incredibly relieved that you and Karen have remained healthy and as safe as possible. We do what we can, where we can, I guess. Re Peggy Lee – I had no idea her back story was so complicated. As a kid all I wanted to do was that imitate that impassive gaze while figuring out why my fingers didn’t snap with effect…My cardinal is at the feeder and waving his wing to you.

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