A Pool Hustler's Daughter grows up in subterranean America. She dreams big, hustles daily and loves her Daddy. With empathy, fascination and grace she navigates and inhabits every tier of society; sees beauty and hope and magic in all things; respects and lives by the "mitzvah."
A Pool Hustler's Daughter calculates the trifecta payout at the racetrack, hides money on three parts of her body, has an arsenal of "Uncles," and keeps a baseball bat by the front door. She values friendship, loyalty and experiences over "things." Like her father, she seeks to learn "The secrets of the universe" and believes "Life ain't on the square." She applauds the self-made and those who learn to "overcome" their circumstances. Her door is always open for a sofa to sleep on, a hot meal, or an eager listener for a life story.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

'Twas the Night Before 40, arriving Winter 2018

The song "Que Sera, Sera" had been playing inside of her head all day. That night, after feeding her two young children organic macaroni and cheese, she loaded the dishwasher (being careful not to put plastic inside of it) and began to sing the song aloud. She liked the sound of her own voice. Did anyone know that? Her grandmother, mother, and even her young daughter often secretly hummed a tune in the kitchen. It was in their DNA.

She wondered if "Que Sera, Sera" was the first hit song to come out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie? She wanted to know if Doris Day had been sexually harassed on "The Man Who Knew Too Much" set the way Tippi Hedren had been while filming "The Birds." They were both blondes, but Day was a girl next door with a matronly figure, whereas Tippi Hedron smoldered on the screen and could certainly have set fire to the film reel with just one look. Both her daughter, Melanie Griffith, and granddaughter had great sex appeal, too. Must be in their DNA, she thought.

She was curious if America's Sweetheart, Jimmy Stewart, had ever cheated on his wife? Her great-uncle had been a bombardier with Jimmy Stewart in WWII. Bombardiers made her think of Joseph Heller's "Catch 22" and also the actor Alan Arkin. She wondered how old Arkin was now and how he and British actress Judi Dench felt about winning best supporting Oscars for such short screen times. She slammed the dishwasher shut and quickly dried her hands so she could get these burning questions answered via a Google search on her Iphone.

She was getting drowsy. The two Melatonin plus the herbal anti-anxiety pill Ashwaganda that she bought from Whole Paycheck were starting to kick in. She remembered the six months of her life when she was on real anti-depressants (Zoloft) and anti-anxiety medicine (Xanax). She was just 23 years old. How could she have been so scared at such a young age?

She turned off the houselights and grabbed her cup of Celestial Seasons "Extra" Sleepytime tea with an obligatory shot of whisky in it. She started drinking it when she was on the anti-depressants which felt like speed inside of her 23 year old body and caused her to have trouble sleeping at night. She thought about how "Clerks" filmmaker Kevin Smith took a supporting role as someone who worked for Celestial Seasons in a film starring Jennifer Garner and Timothy Olyphant. The movie name escapes me, she thought, another Google search. Her father used to watch Olyphant's TV show "Justified" before he died. He loved Hillbilly culture. "Rebels" he called them. She thought her father was so brave. He loved danger, and lived a life without regrets. He rebelled against the ordinary and the comfortable. He lived his life with purpose. Life, to him, was a great adventure. She yearned for her own, adventures, and to have a purpose. She wanted to be a writer when she was younger but gave up that idea because of lack of money and had been sidetracked. She knew she wasn't the first, nor the last, to claim this defense.

The shot of whisky in the tea in order to calm the nerves or the tummy was a trick she learned from her grandmother, the same lady who sang aloud, and alone in the kitchen, and had old English heritage. She wondered if non-organic tea was really bad for you. She drank a lot of tea and felt close to her grandmother when she held the hot cup in both of her hands. She often thought about dead people as if they were still alive, in the same room with her. She had conversations with them - in her head.

She walked down the hall to her bedroom, which was dark except for the reading light beside her side of the King size bed. Her daughter, dressed in Alice in Wonderland pajamas, slept on the far right side of the bed. Her toddler son slept on long pillows and a blanket on the floor beside her side of the bed, thumb in his mouth.

Her husband was out of town for work that week and the kids often slept in her room while he was gone. She was lonely most of the time and their warm bodies and warm love made her feel less lonely.

The radio was on and the volume was set to a low, white noise. She loved talk radio. She loved falling asleep listening to the radio. Sometimes, she was surprised how it impacted her dreams at night. She could have multiple dreams in a single night and then wake up either emotionally exhausted or exhilarated. The best dreams were the ones where she let go and admitted what she liked, what she wanted, and pushed to get what she wanted. Dreams where she was sexy, sometimes having sex. Dreams where she was a female James Bond and her super ego was saving the world and saving herself. Dreams where she felt powerful and important and making her mark on the world.

Tomorrow was her fortieth birthday. Remembering this caused a sharp pain in her tummy and she went into her bedside drawer and popped another Melatonin in her mouth which she swallowed down with red wine remnants from a crystal goblet from her wedding registry that had been sitting there souring since the night before.

She felt regret.
She felt guilt.
She missed her father. There would be no call from him first thing in the morning.
She missed her youth.
She missed creating.
She missed having fun.

Why had she always been so afraid...of life? Of saying and acting without needing the approval of others or a bright green go light to turn on? How had playing it safe actually...kept her safe?

Tears streamed down her face, and, trying to muffle her sobs from her sleeping children, she turned up the sound on her alarm clock radio, a relic from college, from a time when she was on the verge of coming out of her shell but...didn't. Not entirely, at least. She played it safe. She had always been too scared. A scaredy cat. Wah, wah, wah, she said aloud, mocking herself. Debbie Downer over here, she thought.

Ira Glass began to introduce the guest on his radio show, "This American Life." She turned off her lamp light and asked God, her father, Buddha, any and all holy spirits - the universe - for a second chance. She wanted to wake up tomorrow and say yes.

There were so many things, so least ten...that she had wanted to do...before she turned forty...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Day of the Dead 2016 - The Dago Version

How do you make important life decisions when your Consigliere is dead?

This is the problem I face.

My father was a walking encyclopedia who also believed in magic and spiritualism. He defined human nature as the axis of the earth, to which all life revolves around. To understand human nature was to win at life.

He balanced the rational mind(espoused by his hero, Ayn Rand) with a surprising, irrational one(he meditated, studied past lives and learned quantum leaping just before he passed away.)

I went to my father to help me solve every one of life's problems. Whether it was a corrupt landlord(don't pay last month rent), a high fever(enemas), a broken down car(he'd send his friend with a tow) yet most of the time, the answers came down to how to handle other people. You know, like Don Corleone, in The Godfather(I would have given anything for him to have left this world picking tomatoes from his garden with his grandchild by his side.)

My father always respected what the other person wanted. He said this was the biggest mistake a person could make...not listening. This advice helped me excel at my sales career. You have to ask what someone really wants - even if it seems embarrassing - and try to give that to them. One client just wanted someone to sit and talk with for an hour every week to break the monotony of their work day. Done. One wanted a $1500 laptop for a 1.5 million dollar order. Done. Another, fame - his name in lights - in a Wall Street Journal article. Done.

My Dad was a great listener - even half asleep on the sofa with the Bears on and his Dachshunds barking - he had super sonic bat ears.

Whether you wanted to earn a million dollars, partake in a threesome, or commit a murder - he would acknowledge your desires (as crazy and as far fetched as they might sound) and give you a platform to defend those desires and then give you your due(no one could calm down a crazy person better than my father.)

Once the acknowledgment was out of the way, he would say, "let's talk reality now" and push you in a pragmatic direction. My father, like LBJ, was a great pragmatist, making keen observations from his bathroom library. He always thought that even the loser in a situation should walk away with just a little something - just a taste. Keep in mind, a lot of his life lessons were learned in the pool room, where one can easily find themselves broke, when on the losing side of things, and in the dead of winter, someone throwing you a nickel for the bus home is a lot better than having to walk.

My father also enjoyed challenges, the more complicated the better, because he took great joy in overcoming them.

A few of my father's favorite mantras:

Desire pushes action

Even early twentieth century self-help guru Wallace Wattles devotes two chapters to this premise. Stanley Kubrick's Dr.Strangelove...

If you're depressed, try and accomplish one task a day and work your way up from there.

You must be active, you must stay busy.

Most people wouldn't jump off a cliff, if they could push someone else off instead

Get rid of the toxic people in your life

If you're broken-hearted, you must "torch."

Find a jukebox bar, get drunk and listen to sad love songs and cry for a week. But only for a week - any longer and you're a masochist.

Fuck them, fuck those mother fuckers

Trademark Freddy - Never give a shit about what anybody else thinks of you. A lot of people are scared to see you accomplish what they cannot.

Be in charge of your own life

Never let anyone else make decisions for you. You must be in control. Unless you're giving in to the universe to allow for magic.

Some people are dangerous. Stay the fuck away from them.

Some people create their own bad luck. Some peoples' only pleasure in life is saying no or hurting you(aka sadists.)

Never, ever give power to considerations when trying to achieve a goal

If you need to have all of the answers before committing to a goal, you've already lost. It doesn't happen like that. The goal comes first.

Change the game

Change the variables and put yourself in control of your reality.

Accept every form of generosity that comes your way and accept every opportunity to help someone.

Be over the top with being grateful to others who do nice things for you. My Dad performed at least 3 good deeds every day.

Don't give up on people, yourself, or a situation so easily.
Just because it hasn't been done before, doesn't mean you won't be the first. Everybody deserves a second chance.

The only way you know you're getting paid back money you've loaned, is if the guy you loaned the money to still knows exactly how much he owes you.
A lot of people still owe my Dad a lot of money...

Never be one of the masses. Be an individual.

Always use your head and question what's missing. Think for yourself.

Stand out, be a rebel, wear crazy clothes(my father was famous for purple polyester bell bottoms), be loud, be unforgettable, like a tiger in the jungle

Stand tall, have good posture

There's a scientific reason applied in the service to standing tall. You hone into your own power and emit that power to others. It automatically makes you feel better about yourself, more confident.

Never deny yourself pleasure in this life

You'll regret it.

Every single day I have a question to ask my father - a problem that requires his unique services in order to be solved. Every single day I try and predict the best version of what he would say.

No one in this world had my back the way my father did. My happiness and fulfillment was one of the utmost priorities of his life. He was never too tired to answer my call, come to my rescue and talk me off a metaphorical ledge. He never let me give up on myself. That's why I feel like I owe him to hang in there and achieve everything he ever wanted for me. It's a lot of pressure, but I'm trying(I hear him yell, don't try - DO! Commit, commit, commit!)

He made you forgive yourself if you made a mistake. He gave you permission to move on.

He absorbed any humiliations

He admonished guilt

He thought life was a divine gift, and if you weren't making the most of it, if you weren't enjoying it, you were letting yourself, and the world, down.

Every single day, I try and listen to my father.
Every single day, I try and teach my children the lessons I learned from their grandfather.

He told me that life ain't on the square...

In my dreams, he often gives me advice.

In one dream, I travel back in time(something my father believed in) and cure him of his illness so that he can be with me today to help me - to spoil me with love, affection, gifts, listening, my favorite foods, to teach me new things, to watch sports with, to pick up the kids from school, have them sleepover and to take to the pool room with, and, most importantly, to regale me with stories of underdogs - Davids defeating Goliaths - that always made me stronger, smarter, more powerful and inspired me to take on the world!

I miss our mutual awe and acknowledgement of all the pleasure and joy that's available and of just how amazing life can be!

I try hard to hear this voice, his voice, guiding me.

My Consigliere.

My Pops.

Every single day, I miss my father.

Goosebump Goddess

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