in defense of monogamy!

So often, I hear the same blah blah boring old story – That men are basically polygamous and that monogamy is unnatural. In these peoples’ view, marriage is the most unnatural arrangement of all. And I nash my teeth in despair!

The standard argument takes us on a well-honed journey back to ancient times from caves to tribes to harems where polygamy was the norm. Here is their proof that this is true male behavior.

And, so it seems, that women “the proverbial ball and chain”- (lovely title! NOT!) – are blamed for coercing men into a lifestyle that is abhorrent and unnatural to them.

I have never been a big fan of polygamy, as I am way too possessive and proprietary to consider sharing my man with other women, (although I have been shared without my consent and it was one of my least favorite experiences!) but last year, I had dinner with a Muslim prince when I was in Oman and I asked him to explain polygamy from a Muslim perspective. He explained it quite rationally. In the bloodthirsty times of yore, when wars were aplenty, and the Koran was freshly inked, such a huge percentage of their men were killed, leaving countless women without any hope of a husband. Mohammed felt that it would be a kindness to have the remaining men marry the unfortunate surplus of females so that they too could delight in the joys of childbearing and motherhood, and hopefully birth a new generation of virile men.

There was a strict code that was established stipulating that each woman had to be accorded the same standard of living  – there was to be no second rate wife parked in a trailer. Or third or forth! I asked the Prince if he had more then one wife. We were at dinner and only one wife had accompanied him, but the previous evening, he had been surrounded by quite a few women. I hoped not to insult him or his lovely bride, but I was consumed by curiosity. He laughed, “Oh goodness, I could not handle or afford more than one wife! In fact most of my generation opt for one wife, it gets too complicated and too expensive! They become best friends and gang up on the husband. He doesn’t stand a chance!” Apparently, those other women from the previous night had been his wife’s sisters. I sighed with relief. I wanted to shout, “welcome to the 21st century!” But I bit my tongue.

A previously poly-amorous friend of mine said that after many years of “spreading the love” she had decided that the benefits monogamy outweighed her previous lifestyle. “The only way to have depth in a relationship is with one person.”

I see monogamy as a progression of humanity’s evolution. Just because it feels unnatural, doesn’t mean that is it! It just means that it is unfamiliar compared with thousands of years of primitive behavior. I am hopeful we are moving beyond a survival-based existence.

It is a privilege to dance on this earth with your beloved, your soul mate. Together you can reach the stars, plow the depths of your souls, experience communion, and witness eternity in each other’s eyes.

I think of the Vedas – the Sacred Hindu scriptures, “Within the microcosm, lies the macrocosm.” This means that the human body is a miniature prototype of the universal body. I have had experiences where I have connected to a sense of expansiveness – not on drugs, I swear! – When I felt like the planets and the stars were within me.

If each one of us is a prototype of infinity, then how could a man tire of one woman? It could only mean that he had reached his limitation of being able to experience his own infinite nature.

Monogamy is the journey of the beloved. It is the capacity to experience the all and-the-everything through the ONE.

What could be more beautiful? What could be more of a privilege?

Just because it is challenging on a daily basis, why does that make it unnatural? To see your true self reflected back through another, to know yourself to the depth of your soul. To reach into the mystery and find the answer in your beloved. What a gift!

May you all find your beloved – unless you already have – and may they kick your butt – as they inevitably will – until you become all that you can be!

And together, may you both help each other shuck everything less then love.

India’s adventures in Hollywood

My eldest daughter India moved out last year. The process of individuating can be challenging at the very least. Over the past year, there have been times, when i am not sure who has been individuating from whom! The hardest part of having an adult child who no longer lives under my roof, has been the feeling that i am not there to protect her anymore.  I have had my fair share of phone calls – a parent’s worst nightmare, where i found out she had been in a car accident. I honestly think that driving at 16 is really too young. Children have no idea that cars are little death traps. Anyway, I digress – this post is about a phone call i got yesterday of a very different nature.

It was very Seinfeld!

My 21-year-old daughter India called me to tell me about an unusual incident that occurred yesterday – It was very Seinfeld!

She was about to get into her car, outside her apartment in Hollywood, when all of a sudden, a frantic 13-year-old boy, dressed in Hasidic Jewish garb, raced towards her, screaming, “Help, please help! A plate is on fire!” All India heard must have heard was “HELP & FIRE” because if she had listened to him, she might have realized how odd his request sounded! But being the good Samaritan that she is, she grabbed her bottle of water and followed the boy at full speed back to his apartment. There she found the boy’s family, gathered around their dining room table, watching a paper plate go up in flames. The mother explained, “We are Orthodox and we are not allowed to put out a fire – as it is considered work.” She poured seltzer water into India’s hands and asked her to please douse out the fire. But then, a nanosecond before India flung the water on the fire, the mother asked, “Wait a minute, are you Jewish?” India answered, “Not traditional. My mother is Jewish” (Actually it is my late father who was Jewish!)

The mother shrieked, “STOP! Then you cannot put out the fire! It is not allowed!” So, they all stood there, frozen, watching the fire run its course. I asked her if the fire had spread and perhaps consumed the table or more, but India assured me that it had not! Luckily!

She said it was one of the most bizarre, surrealistic moments of her life. Afterward, the family invited her to stay and join them for their Sabbath meal!

I prefer these kind of calls any day!

My mother’s triumph – exhumation & burial of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia

“The arc of the moral universe bends slowly towards justice” – Martin Luther King Jr.

This beautiful quote epitomizes my grandfather, Prince Paul of Yugoslavia’s life. He has finally been vindicated, 35 years since his death, thanks to my mother’s 25-year struggle to clear his name.

This October, the Serbian government agreed to honor him as head of state, by giving him an official burial. His body had to be brought back from Switzerland, accompanied by his wife, Princess Olga and their son, Prince Nicholas.

The new president’s advisor, Oliver Antic, happened to be the lawyer who headed Mom’s legal team during the rehabilitation process last December. It was Oliver’s speech that that convinced the judges to overturn a 70-year verdict that falsely branded my grandfather a war criminal, traitor & Nazi sympathizer.

Now he was being brought home a hero.

On September 26th, I flew to Lausanne, Switzerland, with my mother, to witness the exhumation of our predecessors.

It was a mystery to me as to why they were all buried in Lausanne, as Nicky had died in a car accident in England in 1954, and my grandparents had both died in Paris – Paul in 1976 & Olga in 1997.

In a way, it was ironic that they had ended up in Switzerland, as Paul’s vision as leader of his country was to establish a neutral Yugoslavia during WW2  – the Switzerland of Eastern Europe.  Tragically, this plan was thwarted at the final hour and in 1941, he and his family were sent into exile at gunpoint, never to return to Yugoslavia. My mother was 4 at the time.

As we drove towards Lausanne, three magnificent, vibrant rainbows chased us down the highway – I saw it as a heavenly welcome from the three souls who we were coming to greet.

Upon our arrival, the Prefect of Police asked Mom if she thought we needed security. Apparently word had gotten out about the exhumation and there was concern that there could be some volatile anti-Serb factions who might protest, or worse, cause us bodily harm. Geez!

Mr. Poletti, the head of the funeral home, gave us brochures of his cemetery. This was no ordinary resting place, it was star-studded with the rich and famous – notables such as Coco Chanel, and the inventor of the bikini were buried there! Mom had a pang of regret. “What if they didn’t want to be moved from this beautiful place?!” I had to agree with her, it was the most pictoresque cemetery I had ever seen.

There was quite a large crowd, with a lot press in attendance – thankfully no terrorists! – who had gathered to witness this unusual, if not slightly macabre  event. I was feeling fine until I saw the open gravesite where they had dug up the coffins. Ugh! They had left them in the ground, all lined up. It was the creepiest image – so Halloween! I could have been on the set of a vampire movie!

The outer wooden coffins had disintegrated, leaving the dilapidated lead coffins with giant golden crosses on them. One coffin was intact, the 2 others showed more signs of wear and tear.

A crane lifted the caskets one at a time, out of the muddy grave. My grandfather’s coffin almost flew into a bush as the crane lurched violently. We all gasped. I wondered if this was his way of signaling that he was ready to leave!

We were asked if we wanted to view the remains in the caskets, as they had to be transferred into new coffins in order to travel across Europe. My mother did not. On the other hand, both my brother and I were curious.

After all, how often does one get the chance to see ones dead grandparents and to meet an uncle who died before I was ever born?

We went into the mortuary to watch them open the caskets. I was immediately struck by the pungent odor – it was almost unbearable. We saw my uncle Nicky first. We were all in shock. My mother – who did come to see in the end – almost fainted. She hadn’t seen her brother since she was 16. His body had been perfectly preserved. It looked like an Egyptian mummy. Hands crossed, fingers looked eerily alive. Visible were dark strands of hair across his forehead and his black wool jacket, almost intact. I put my scarf over my nose, trying not to inhale.

I had anticipated an innocuous pile of bones. Not entire bodies. My grandfather was completely decomposed down to the skeleton. I could see his spine, he was all black and his skull and spinal column were exposed. My grandmother, on the other hand, was quite well preserved. Not as well as Nicky, but I could clearly see the pattern on the fabric of the dress she was buried in – blue leaves on a white background.

I was curious as to why my uncle was so intact, considering he had died so long ago. What I learned was that burial techniques had changed over the years. They use to seal the bodies completely in lead, creating a vacuum – which prevented them from decomposing. Now, they opt for faster decay by leaving openings for air to get in. I guess overpopulation didn’t use to be an issue!

There were several dignitaries in attendance, including government officials who had flown in from Belgrade. The Serbian Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Protic,  told me that he had met Mom when she first came to Belgrade in 1998 – when it was still Communist Yugoslavia. She was trying to get a book published telling the truth about her father, and it was very difficult – actually it was illegal in those days. No one would touch it. Eventually, in 1989, she found one publisher who was brave enough to translate the manuscript. The Ambassador not only wrote the forward, but travelled with her through Yugoslavia promoting the book.

On October 4th, back in Belgrade, Mom and I were driven to the Serbian/Croatian frontier by a police escort to meet the bodies. We draped Paul’s casket with the Serbian flag, put wreaths on the coffins and kissed them, according to Orthodox tradition.

Oliver Antic told me that, coincidentally, he was related to Milan Antic – who had been my grandfather’s most loyal supporter and minister. Milan had spent 16 years in jail after he refused to denounce Paul. In his words, “Life is not worth living if you have to sacrifice your personal dignity.” His daughter Olga, was one of the guests at the burial.  She confided how hard it had been visiting her father in jail during her entire childhood. Sadly, he died shortly after he was released.

I thought of how history had come full circle, and how connected many of the players were. Oliver said that Milan Antic appointed his grandfather – another Antic – as Chief of security for King Alexander I – Unfortunately, he no longer held that position in 1934, when the King was brutally assassinated. As a result of that fateful event, Paul, my grandfather, became the Regent.

Oliver said, “I feel like my own cousin is coming home.”

We followed the convoy into Belgrade, to the church of the Archangel Michael. The police had closed all the streets for our arrival. The Patriarch was waiting for us at the entrance of the church, as well as the President, the Prime Minister, many Ambassadors from around the world and many family members.

I was wearing a little diamond and pearl cross necklace that my grandmother had given me many years ago. I imagined that she had most likely worn the cross in this exact location.

The Presidents’ guards brought the caskets and lay them on the same rug that my grandparents had stood on during their wedding ceremony, on October 22, 1923, almost 100 years ago, in this same church.

The bodies remained in the church until the following evening, with a constant stream of people coming to pay their respects.

Every time I looked over at the coffins, I was overcome by emotion. Presidential guards lined up in either side of Paul’s coffin, with guards in Serbian national costume flanking the other 2 coffins. The priests performed a final liturgy to send them off to their final resting place. It was a beautiful ceremony.

Oliver stood behind me with tears in his eyes, “At last, Paul is happy.”

In the evening, the bodies were moved, again by police escort, to a town outside of Belgrade called Oplenatz – to the Karageorgevic family crypt.

We walked outside the church, and were swarmed by the crowd. A priest grabbed my arm, “I was the one who placed Paul’s body in the sarcophagus at the time of his death in Paris.”

It seemed like everyone who had been connected to him in any way, had come to pay their respects.

The following day, on October 6th, we drove by bus to Oplenatz, for the burial.

The choir was exquisite, truly celestial. And Bishop Irene’s sermon was deeply moving. “”For only one who has experienced beauty in tragedy…only he maintains true nobility with which to enact the deeds of a true knight of faith.”

The President arrived towards the end of the ceremony and made a speech. It was miraculous to think that my grandfather, a man who had been condemned and vilified, was now being heralded as a hero and visionary. My mother translated some of the Presidents’ words, “Paul had been maligned by the Communists long enough, it was now time to change the history books in schools.” Afterwards, I complimented him. “That was wonderful.” He gave me a smirk, “But you didn’t understand anything I said!” True, his speech was in Serbian, but it wasn’t complete BS. I knew he was honoring my grandparents, and, most importantly, re-writing history for the country.

We then followed the coffins into the underground crypt where the bodies were going to be buried. They were placed opposite Paul’s father, Prince Arsen.

We barely had enough time to get back to Belgrade to freshen up before we had to turn around and drive up to the White Palace for a reception in Paul’s honor. About 100 friends and family had flown in from around the world to attend the events. My mother escorted all her friends up into her mother’s bedroom, the room where she was born. This was the palace that her father had built. Her first home. The last place she and her parents had been before they were sent into exile.

Today, the palace had been transformed into a place of celebration, instead of a symbol for the great injustice that had befallen my family. Closure at last. Our family legacy restored. I thank you, Mom, with all my heart.

My father who art in heaven, pt 2

About 20 years ago, I had a sort of vision, that at my father’s deathbed, our whole relationship would make sense and that he would reveal himself at a soul level. Even though I had dismissed this as wishful thinking at the time, I could see how that was now happening.

Dad had been on the verge of being expelled from his nursing home for his shenanigans, and then, in a strange twist of fate, his physical health took a turn for the worse. His heart almost expired and my younger sister and I, who were co-guardians, had to opt to install a pacemaker. After that, he began making frequent trips to the hospital. He became combative – again – refusing to take his meds, and lost a dramatic amount of weight. The facility decided that he was too frail to be discharged. Instead, we prepared to call in hospice care.

My eldest daughter, India, made our reservations, and without realizing it, ironically chose Father’s Day for us to fly to see him in Palm Beach. She had been the only one of my children who hadn’t seen him in his latest incarnation as ‘cute, fuzzy Grandpa’.

Although Dad was born Jewish, he had told me that he had never practiced Judaism, or any other religion, for that matter, that he considered all religions hocus pocus.  Dad used to say, “I believe in the God of Love!” – but I had a sneaky suspicion that there was more to the story of his faith then met the eye.

The Chaplain from hospice called me to discuss the denomination of Dad’s last rites. I wasn’t sure what we should do. Following a hunch, I asked him to say the ‘Shema’ to Dad – which is the most traditional Hebrew prayer – just to see Dad’s reaction. Sure enough, the Chaplain said that Dad knew the prayer and had said it with him. After 90 years, he still knew it perfectly! After hearing that, I made an executive decision to give him a Jewish send off. But when I tried to say to Shema with him over the phone, he still pretended he didn’t know what I was saying. He was maddening!

India and I showed up to the nursing home early Monday morning. Dad’s paranoia was back, full force. The nurse warned me that he had been afraid that I was coming to kill him. As soon as I walked in room, he whispered conspiratorially to me, that his aide was the one trying to kill him.

soothed him, “Dad, your aide, Lowell (actually Lowell was the aide who had been fired, after Dad had managed to slip by him and had been willingly abducted – twice – from the nursing home by greedy kidnappers – but Dad called all the subsequent aides Lowell) is actually an undercover policeman that I hired to protect you!” That seemed to calm him for a moment.

My heart sank, I had told India that she would get to see the “new Dad”, but he was gone. Managing my father’s mood swings was exhausting and took Herculean patience. I sat with him, quietly, resorting to my meditation skills, and waited, hoping for his ranting to subside.

Suddenly, he grabbed my arm, “I know what’s happening to me – I know that I’m dying and I’m afraid! Please hold me in your arms, don’t leave me a for a minute – promise me!”

I was stunned, “Of course, I promise!” Oh, my god, he knows he’s dying. In spite of the dementia, somehow he knew.

For the remainder of the day, he repeated this pattern, showering my daughter and me with love, between bouts of paranoia. It was as if he was making up for lost time, trying to heal as much as possible with us before he slipped into oblivion. He kept telling us how beautiful we were and special. “No two people have touched my heart like both of you!” He told us to treasure every day, and reminded us how blessed we were. “You don’t know how lucky you both are.” Over and over again. And we shed a lifetime of tears together.

My father was terrified of dying. I stroked his head; trying to soothe him, “Don’t be afraid, you are going to experience more love than you could ever imagine. His response – classic Dad, “It’s easy for you to say! You’re not the one who is dying!” He had a point.

On Tuesday morning, when we returned to his room, he was lying still in his bed. His face looked eerily translucent and radiated light. He looked decades younger. The room felt thick with spirit. It was almost intoxicating. Dad never spoke again, he was only able to shake or nod his head. Sporadically, he would reach with his hand and try to call out towards someone or something that I could not see. I chose to believe that he was seeing angels and dead loved ones who had come to accompany him on his journey back home.

I scrambled to call family members to let them know he was on his way out. I dialed my mother on Skype, (Mom was wife #2) holding the computer up, close to his face, so that they could say goodbye to each other. She told him that she had a dream recently, where he had come to her as a beautiful, radiant 16-year old boy. She had seen his true beauty; she had seen his radiant soul. He smiled.

The following day, I brought him a picture of his mother, and I asked him if he was ready to forgive her. He shook his head.

“Dad, honestly, not even on your deathbed?”

I wondered what that woman had done to him. He had always told us that he hated her, but had never said why. He was SO secretive!

I felt so sad for him. “Dad, whatever she did to you must have been terrible. I am so sorry.” Not wanting to make the same mistake, I asked him for his forgiveness, and I, in turn, forgave him.

I asked him to be my bridge to heaven, my connection to the other side. “We could work together as a team!”

I sang the Shema to him in Hebrew – I am a terrible singer, but somehow, it didn’t sound so bad. I had been inspired to study Judaism and Kabala for the past 2 years – now I understood why – it was probably to help my father transition.

I called in a Cantor to sing the traditional prayers and then I asked her to sing him some Jewish wedding songs. Dad seemed to come back to life and looked like he was trying to sing along. She told me that it was rather unconventional to sing wedding songs during someone’s penultimate hours, but I insisted – That would have been Dad’s sense of humor – he wouldn’t have wanted a gloomy send off! Besides, his imminent transition was a marriage of sorts – that of his soul reuniting with its Source.

Truthfully, Dad was married practically his entire life, until the last couple of years, when he had discovered that his 5th wife, 51 years his junior, had a terrible gambling habit, so he divorced her!

Finally, on Friday night, at 10:15pm, Dad left his body. The last time I saw him alive, I leant over instinctively, and whispered the Shema twice in his left ear – I don’t know what made me do that, but, later, I found out that this is exactly what you are supposed to do, right before someone of the Jewish faith dies.

My one regret is that I wasn’t in the room with him when he took his last breath. When I saw his lifeless body, I felt a surge of grief sweep through me that I thought would split me in half. It felt like a part of me was gone.

I held vigil until they came to take his body away, with my hand on his left arm, feeling the warmth slowly leave his body.

I wondered what his journey here on earth might have been about, what his deeper purpose might have been? Maybe he had come to earth to collect and contain as much darkness as humanly possible – or maybe more – which is why he went so crazy – so as to take it with him to be transmuted and redeemed back into the light of Source.

Maybe he was willing to sacrifice all his relationships in order to provide this service to humanity – like a giant dredger. (Only 1 other of his 5 children showed up to say goodbye).

Slowly, the memory of my father as a tyrant dissolved. I could barely even remember his challenging personality.

In this new light, I was able to honor his heroic struggle.

On Monday morning, I went out to sea with members of my family.

I held his ashes in my lap. They were still warm. I was surprised at how heavy they were.

Dad’s last wishes were to be cremated and for his ashes to be scattered into the ocean. Apparently, it was the ocean in South Hampton he wanted, not Palm Beach, oops! – I just hope the current took him up there.

As I lead the others in The Lord’s Prayer, the words took on a whole new meaning and felt so intimate, “Our Father, Who Art in Heaven…” I could feel him. He had kept his promise. He was my anchor to the other side. He was my bridge to heaven.

I felt, and still feel, a visceral connection to his soul. It felt as strong and tangible as an umbilical cord extending from my solar plexus up towards heaven.

As the boat turned back to shore, India noticed that Dad’s ashes formed a huge turquoise circle, literally 12 feet in diameter, in the dark water. Fish started jumping everywhere.  It looked like a giant heavenly portal.

After Dad died, I received an email from my older half-sister. She recalled Dad reuniting with the family in Brooklyn each year, to celebrate the High Holy Days. So, he had practiced Judaism after all for the 1st 40 years of his life! But why had he renounced it all? I discovered the answer when I was cleaning his house. I found a folder with old newspaper clippings and read an incendiary article about his divorce with his 1st wife. It had been a traumatic time in Dad’s life, and he had lost custody of his children. Then I understood what might have happened. I could hear his voice, “Any God that would allow my children to be taken from me, is no God of mine.” And he closed a chapter of his life. Then he married my mother, who was European royalty, and created a brand new persona.

Finally, after wrestling with a lifetime of demons, my father is finally at peace. And I feel so blessed. I feel a depth of connection to his soul that is profound and meaningful. Somehow, I have been able to nurture the brief encounter with my ‘real’ father. I have held the loving healthy aspect of him in my heart, and allowed it to permeate the entire memory of our lifetime together.

I have a loving father, and he is in heaven.

In memory of Odin, our magical cat ~


Don’t bother reading this post unless you are an avid cat lover, otherwise you will be thoroughly annoyed with this cloying eulogy!

Odin was born on March 3, 2004, somewhere in Oklahoma. He was the most magnificent specimen of a cat – inside and outside.

My daughter India called me from a pet store in Malibu. Sorry, not a shelter, but if you read on, you will see why!

“Mom, I have found a magical cat! Quick, you have to come immediately!” Throughout India’s life, I had rejected many a cat that she had wanted to adopt, so she knew how to entice me.

I jumped in my car, and called my husband, “Casper, Can I get another cat?”

We had recently moved into our home in Malibu and had brought our one cat with us from Topanga. He was an outdoor cat and although a little cross-eyed, seemed very adept at avoiding the insatiable local coyotes. We had given him the name Heyoka, hoping it would protect him– it means trickster in Cherokee – and he lived to be 14 years old, which, for an outdoor cat, was a pretty good run. India had chosen Heyoka from the pound when she was 4.

The whole pound incident had been quite scaring for both of us, and I hadn’t been keen to return. Not to digress too much, we had our eye on an Abyssinian, but so had a few other people. We got into a bidding war, and one of them, a surly biker type, took me aside in the parking lot and literally threatened my life, “If you don’t let me have that cat, you’ll have to watch your back, you f’ing b*tch!”

I was traumatized! I never knew the pound could be such a dangerous place!

But, I guess he really wanted that cat!

In the end, I was so furious at being bullied, that I bid the price up to $500 before I ‘gracefully’ bowed out of the haggling. I had to hide behind 2 employees as ‘bikerdude’ hurled insults and flailed his fist my way, and we walked away with mangy little Heyoka instead.

Luckily, he grew into what looked like a glorious mix of Mancoon and Siamese. When Heyoka had disappeared 6 years ago, I said a prayer, asking for him for a sign – something to remember him by. A few minutes later, India ran screaming into the living room, ”Mom, come, quickly, Heyoka left something!” We walked outside to the Koi pond, and right where the builders had poured cement, there were 4 distinct paw prints. The Koi pond had been finished while we were away, and the concrete had been freshly poured, so our cat had indeed answered my wish. And tears flowed freely. I don’t know what it is about losing an animal, but the grief can be so unbearable.

Casper’s response to my suggestion to acquire a new pet was, “NO! absolutely not! You cannot buy a cat!”

Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued, and I drove off to meet my daughter. Sure enough, the kitten she had picked was beyond adorable. It fit all my requirements. It had exquisite eyes, the deepest pools of blue I had ever seen, it was white, with a round grey face and a thick, bushy grey tail with 4 grey socks, and it would not stop purring.  And, it let us handle it like a pretzel without scratching or biting. It was a Birman – I had never heard of the breed, so I looked it up and found that they have a very interesting history. They are known as the Sacred Cats of Burma, and were regarded by the priests as oracles to the gods.

By now, I was in a pet buying frenzy, and I eyed another irresistible kitten – surprise, surprise – an Abyssinian, and decided that we couldn’t live without either one of them.

Casper was not pleased when he saw my purchases. “I thought I told you not to buy a cat?!

In my most charming voice, I answered, “But, darling, you told me not to buy a cat, you never said not to buy 2 cats!”

He was thoroughly irritated with me, but how could anyone argue with logic like mine!?

Of course, he fell in love with both cats immediately, and they would sleep nestled in his armpits – I guess his fur reminded them of their mother!

We named the little grey cat Odin, and the other one, Osiris. In retrospect, I don’t know if calling him Odin was a good idea. He certainly lived up to the Norse God’s reputation. He was a wanderer, just like his namesake. Which was probably his demise. We couldn’t get him to stay in the property.  He would streak through the door and gallop down the driveway into the street. And from there, we don’t know where he went, he had a secret life, our Odin. Sometimes he would come home smelling like rosemary, so I knew he had been lounging in our bushes and sometimes he would come back smelling of perfume – not mine!

He surprised us all by becoming a fierce hunter. More dead animals came through that cat door than you can imagine. He certainly didn’t look the part of a killer. All fluffy and regal.  India aptly nicknamed him “The Puffinator.”

On the 3rd evening after his disappearance, I asked Odin to send me a sign, like his predecessor. He did not disappoint. I turned on the TV,  The movie How to Train Your Dragon was on, and almost immediately, Hiccup’s father starting talking about the Great God Odin!

I will miss his paw prints skidding down my windshield, and his  clumps of white fur all over the roof of my convertible, his deep meow which sounded like an old Chinaman in an opium den, his constant scratching at the doors when he wanted to be let in or out – apparently he only liked to use the cat door for his kill – his slow and lion-like gait, the way he ripped open and shredded any bagged food item left on the kitchen counter overnight, the way he would tolerate my girls pushing him full speed around the house in their doll stroller – he never resisted, he never complained.

He may have been a saint – Although rabbits might consider him more of a serial killer!

I will miss our precious Odin.

May our Puffinator rest in peace.

The de-press!

I was recently lambasted by the press (surprise, surprise!) or more aptly – the de-press! I was disheartened by the tone of the article, and surprised by the fact that it impacted me so deeply. After all these years of being in and out of the public eye, you would think that I might have developed a tougher skin. Instead of being able to shrug it off, a sort of paralysis came over me, as if I had been trapped and cocooned in a spider web, leaving me incapable of knowing how, and if, I should respond – until now – a month later. I guess I was waiting for my sense of humor to infiltrate my perspective – but it was dragging its heals!

My normal modus operandi would be not to respond to any creepy articles about me. Instead I would walk around for days, licking my wounds, avoiding places I might be recognized – depending on how visible the article had been, and how defamatory – all the while, endlessly mulling over all the twisted facts, in an imaginary rebuttal with the journalist, trying to set the truth straight. It is a pointless exercise and doesn’t resolve anything. And then I lose interest and move on with my life. Obviously, the best recourse is to take the high road, and not to make any comment at all. But I am not in the mood for stoicism. I have a blog, and I can comment to my heart’s desire!

 

The reason I felt so hurt was because I felt blindsided. The interviewer, Cindy Adams for the NY Post, came across as one of the friendliest reporters I had ever spoken to. She had written about me over the past 30 years, and had always been fair – as far as I could remember.

She had contacted me out of the blue to write an article about me. I was flattered. She had heard that I had a film coming out. I let her know that it had been postponed, so perhaps she should wait to interview me. She decided to slant the article about the film that Casper and I wrote about my grandfather. She sounded so encouraging and warm, “Maybe I can help you get your film financed!” What a great lady! I thought. Ha ha!

When I read her article, my heart sank. It was so mean spirited and full of misinformation. I looked like a complete train wreck.

Granted, I have done my fair share of silly things – much of it magnified under the lens of public scrutiny – definitely running my train off the tracks from time to time – but she had taken every angle and spun it into ugliness. Rifling through my past, regurgitating events – mostly inaccurate – from as far back as 15 years ago, that had nothing to do with my present life.

After a fairly comprehensive interview with her on the phone, the only quote she attributed to me wasn’t even anything I said! It was a glib remark about my marriage to Bob Evans – that was made by my father, may he rest in peace, over 14 years ago!

She commented that Casper had left me, and then came back because we had children – which was news to me!

I wondered why she felt she had the right to fabricate and re-write my life to suit her sensationalistic appetites.

She made awful derogatory remarks about the film that I hadn’t shot yet, and ridiculed me for not being able to raise money for my film.

I want you to know, Ms Adams, that getting a film financed is NOT that easy!

I think I wouldn’t have minded as much if she hadn’t wound me up so successfully in the first place – But she seemed so genuinely nice.

I wondered what had happened to this woman that had turned her into such a cynical, vindictive person. Who knows? I only wish I hadn’t crossed paths with her ire.

The truth is that what this woman wrote about me really has little to do with me – it has more to do with her and how she perceives the world through the lens of her own life experience. The unfortunate part is that she has access to a platform that has the power to alter the way other people perceive me.

Although she spoke to me under the guise of helping my film, if there had been a potential investor who had read her article, they would probably have shied away from contacting me after reading what she wrote!

Being interviewed is such a vulnerable experience. You share yourself with a complete stranger, imagining that they have your best interest at heart. But, why should they care? In fact, it is naïve of me to think that they should.

I think I will not do any more interviews unless I can approve them before they go to print. Why open myself up, to be made a mockery of? What a waste of my precious time! 

I pronounce you husband & wife!

On June 22, the Summer Solstice, aka Midsummer Night, I had the honor of marrying 2 adorable friends of mine – Ben & Jaime -both young enough to be my children, intoxicatingly in love, ridiculously glamorous & earthy and authentic. That about sums them up! I had never performed a wedding before, so I was understandably anxious when they asked me – what if I messed up their special moment? That could be awkward and mortifying! Ben & Jamie seemed strangely confident that I would be wonderful – how they could be so sure, considering I had no previous experience, was a mystery to me!

At least I couldn’t be worse than the minister who officiated Ben’s father’s wedding in January! He was a dead ringer for the minister in the movie Hangover 2. Wait a minute – It was the same guy! But his delivery wasn’t very smooth, and he kept mispronouncing the groom’s name and stumbling on the dialogue – I wondered if he had gotten sloppy after the luxury of getting to do multiple takes on film! Note to self – do not make the same mistake! There are no second takes up on that podium!

What was bizarre, is that I had become a minister back in January, when another friend of mine had told me that she might want me to marry her and her boyfriend. I really wanted the 2 of them to tie the knot, so I was inspired. Within 24 hours, I became an ordained minister – it actually was far easier than I expected!

After a brief meeting with the bride and a flurry of emails back and forth, I plunged into unfamiliar territory – the writing of a sermon. I agonized over it. I wanted it to be perfect for them. Casper suggested that I do it like the priest in Princess Bride! – thanks, honey, for being sooo helpful!

I guess I am a good advocate for marriage – I am married, for starters, through the thick and the thin of it. I have no illusions about what it takes to make a marriage work – lots and lots of work! I am both a romantic and a pragmatist. I believe deeply in the sanctity of marriage, and the institution of it, and the power of a witnessed covenant.

I wove all my life experience into my writing. Thank goodness I got a stamp of enthusiastic approval from the couple –  I definitely poured my heart and soul into their ceremony.

They sent a car for me to pick me up at Denver airport and gifted me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lovely gift basket in my hotel room. I was touched by how thoughtful and appreciative they were.

At the rehearsal brunch, Ben shared about how his heart had physically hurt after he met Jaime, “I think it was because it was having to expand to take in all of her.” He pointed to his beloved, beaming. “I am the luckiest man in the world!” The love in the room was so palpable. The waterworks unleashed! Get a grip, girl! I hoped I didn’t cry during the ceremony!

Later I went back to the hotel to get dressed, and to my horror, saw that my pale green silk dress was covered in yellow blotches. Ugh! Why had I not noticed this before?!! How embarrassing! I had not brought anything else to wear! I looked in the mirror – this was decidedly a little more boho then the chic that I had planned! I prayed that the flounce of the silk would distract people from seeing the discoloration!

The bride decided that all the women in the wedding party should be barefoot as the wedding was in the garden – thank goodness I just had a pedicure! She thought it would be lovely for my feet to be covered in sparkles – which was fine by me – anything to take the focus away from the dress! Unfortunately, the maid of honor was a little too liberal with the glue spray can – which had to be applied so that the sparkles would adhere  – and she glued my toes together – making my feet look webbed!

It was almost show time! I could feel my heart pounding a bit too fast! I tried to take a deep breath, but there wasn’t sufficient give in the bodice. I don’t remember the dress feeling this tight! I am not sure how much was attributable to the altitude, but I was definitely having a hard time breathing. Crap, I was not feeling super confident! I started texting my friend Gabrielle for support – she kindly coached me into a more subdues state!

The garden had been transformed into a fairy wonderland with white rose petals everywhere. I trotted down the aisle, after Ben’s youngest sister who was dressed as a fairy flower girl, twirling my dress rather energetically to prevent the silk from sticking to my gluey-webbed feet. All the while praying that no one notice the tacky stains or the webbed feet!

I made it to the podium! Yeah! – Without tripping on my dress – which was precariously long in bare feet, or catching on fire – the groom’s sister was carrying a giant flaming torch dangerously close to me!

Ben joined me under an arbor draped in white orchids, wisteria and crystals. Miraculously, I became calm as soon as I focused on the joy in Ben’s face as he watched his stunning bride approach. Her face was overflowing with light and love and joy. Crap, I could feel the tears welling up again. And I had no Kleenex tucked away!

I rang a bell and plunged into my sermon. All 3 of us were nestled together under a cascade of white flowers. It was so intimate. I saw tears spilling down the bride’s face – it was contagious. At least she had access to her husband’s pocket handkerchief – I thought it might be tacky if I asked to share it! Then my nose started running! A couple of times, I turned away, trying to wipe the snot away, without being too obvious! I had never seen a minister cry before, I wondered how professional that was! Oh well! Couldn’t be helped!

They repeated after me, “You are my life, you are my love, my best friend…” Rings slid onto expectant fingers, I pronounced them husband and wife. And then, in a flash, it was all over!

Every single guest came up to thank me afterwards, saying that it was the loveliest ceremony they had ever witnessed. Oh boy, was I grateful! And grateful that Ben & Jaime had faith in me and had coaxed me to go beyond my comfort zone.  They both announced, “We could never have done this without you!” Which might have been a bit of an exaggeration! But generous, none the less!

Jaime’s manager came up to me afterwards to congratulate me. “Well, you probably do this all the time, it’s your profession, after all!” I died laughing. “I’m an actress, I’ve never done this before!” He looked so confused!

Truth be told – I loved the experience. It was so rewarding. Every word I uttered was such a testament of love – it just poured out of me, straight from my heart.

I would do it again, in a heartbeat!

Excerpt from the ceremony ~ a passage that Jaime picked ~

From “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louise De Bernieres

 “Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides 

you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined 

together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is 

not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal 

passion… That is just being “in love,” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over 

when being in love has burned away”

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