Posts Filed Under A Look Back

Fresh Karma

posted by Momo Fali on August 18, 2014

I woke up early this morning and thought (because it’s all-consuming right now) about this move to a new home. This time it wasn’t the sentimentality that hit me – I’ve come to terms with the fact that we’re leaving our house of 17 years and it doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we are together we will make it a home. That’s sappier than a pine tree, but true.

And, it wasn’t about the work going on in the house – we’ve finished tearing out carpet, landscaping, a good friend installed a new shower, the painters are almost finished, new floors will be down by the end of the week – I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was about karma and how, as Justin Timberlake so eloquently says, “What goes around comes back around.” I love it when he gets philosophical.

I’d like to say that when I was young I was the picture of manners and kindness, but as kids can be, I was occasionally mean. I didn’t say things to anyone’s face, but I did make fun of a few peers behind their backs. I still feel guilty about it 30+ years later. Kids, what you say to other people affects YOU, too. I was a jerk so you don’t have to be.

One of the fellow students I used to talk about was a boy who sat across from me in 7th grade art class. I made fun of him because he growled at me. Now, I have a son who growls, barks, chirps, flaps, and sometimes exhales so loudly that it sounds like there couldn’t be ONE BIT of air remaining in his lungs. That right there? Karma.

Then in high school, I gossiped about a girl who I thought was overly dramatic. I am now a blogger, so I’m pretty sure that covers the karma department, but last night my husband and I made a very overpriced offer on her current home. When I wrong someone, I pay them back in the 10s of thousands.

So, this morning as I thought of how things feel right and are falling into place because they are supposed to, I heard my husband yelling from the hall bath. I ran in to find one of the kids had clogged the toilet during the night and it was overflowing. There was an inch of water on the bathroom floor and I suddenly heard a familiar dripping sound in the kitchen downstairs.

I ran down to find water pouring through the FRESHLY PRIMED AND PAINTED kitchen ceiling. Never mind the soaking wet counter, cabinets, floor, appliances and cell phone, but the ceiling! I never did anything bad to someone’s kitchen ceiling! What kind of fresh karma is this?

Now that things are cleaned up and I’m bracing myself for the painter’s reaction, I’m wondering what will be coming back to me for the filthy cuss words that were flying from my mouth when I looked up and saw that ceiling. Because suddenly I’m thinking that a bird pooping squarely on my tongue is not going to be out of the question.

O Captain! My Captain!

posted by Momo Fali on August 11, 2014

When I was a teenager my life was, quite frankly, a mess. I won’t go into details, because that isn’t what matters now. What I will say is that I was existing, but not living or experiencing much beauty. I felt unloved, I was in an abusive relationship, and had a lot on my plate. Depression is a terrible, debilitating beast and I found myself deep in its clutches.

I managed to climb out with the help of three things; a great teacher, extended family and, you may not believe this, but it’s true, Dead Poet’s Society.

The words of my English teacher, “…you write well” were still fresh in my mind when I saw that movie and I witnessed characters on the screen who were so much like me. They were young, struggling and in pain, but great writing and a teacher sparked something in them that they didn’t know existed.

My first English essay in college began with a quote from Dead Poet’s Society. I still remember handing in the paper, fresh from the dot-matrix printer, and feeling confident about my written words. I don’t know if I would have been able to write anything were it not for that film and the inspiration it gave me.

There is a scene in that movie where a character, Neil, commits suicide and I remember the sheer pain expressed by the actors who played his parents as they run into the room and find him lying dead. I remember thinking how much someone would have to be suffering to knowingly cause their loved ones that kind of devastation.

I am feeling such twisted emotions over the loss of Robin Williams. I am heartbroken that he was tortured by depression, I am saddened that we will no longer be entertained by his genius, and I am so grateful that he made a movie that touched me in such a tremendous way. Rest peacefully, my Captain.

**

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead. -Walt Whitman

What’s Your Talent?

posted by Momo Fali on March 13, 2014

My son has a talent show at his school next month. While his performance is not my decision, I’ll probably be the one making the choice. First of all, because he can’t decide between, oh – pretty much anything - and secondly, because I’m controlling.

I am deeply torn between him yodeling, doing his Gollum imitation, or conducting the theme from Star Wars. He does them all equally well, so there’s no determining it by level of talent. No matter what, I think we can all recognize he will win at being geeky; which is to say he can not lose.

The last time he was in a talent show was in preschool where he dressed in a tuxedo and danced with his sister. That was back when she still liked him.

shut up with the cuteness!

When my daughter attended that same preschool she got up and sang “God Bless America” which was pretty much the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen. It was shortly after 9/11 and she brought the house to tears. She’s a freshman in high school now and recently juggled for her class. She could have also played the piano, or sang, sketched a picture, or solved some massive algebra problem. Lower the bar for people like your mother, kid!

I don’t know what I would have done if I had been in a talent show as a child. I would’ve been like, “Everybody needs to go outside so you can watch me climb a tree.” Oh, wait there was that time I performed for our neighbors by singing “Elvira” on the back of a sawhorse.

I thought I was a great singer, especially when I used to close myself in our half bathroom with my tape recorder and belt out Barbra Streisand’s “Evergreen” like I knew love was as soft as an easy chair. I didn’t really know anything about love, or how to sing, and I still don’t really know what an easy chair is. I had an aunt nicknamed, “Easy” but I don’t think it had anything to do with a chair.

Anyway, I’m stumped. I may just need your assistance in deciding. In the meantime, tell me, what’s YOUR talent?

Two Homes, One Life; Divorce and Childhood

posted by Momo Fali on February 11, 2014

The 1977, brown Cadillac climbs the hill, already narrow from the cars parked on either side of the street; the space made more confined by the girth of the steel box in which I ride.

We pass the green house, on the right, with the sidewalk buckled from the root of an oak tree. As we approach Gram’s house with shrubs running the length of the exterior, the engine slows from a quick hum to a low grumble. This is where my dad lives now. Sometimes he isn’t here, but Grandma always is.

The car pulls to the curb and I climb out onto the small patch of grass between the street and the sidewalk. I bound toward the concrete steps, my hand grazing the sticker-bush that is hanging over the wrought iron handrail. I reach the wooden porch and the gray, peeling paint crunches beneath my feet.

I knock on the thick wood door and peek through the glass window that frames it. I hear the grandfather clock chiming 3:00. Dong…dong…dong.

Gram’s wrinkled hand grabs the key from the its perch and she greets me. As I walk across the shaggy, orange carpet, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the full-length mirror on the closet door.

I collapse onto the green and white floral love seat and we spend the next hour watching M*A*S*H reruns on the console television that sits in the corner. My dad comes home. My cousins and I shoot rubberbands behind the TV where they pile upon others, covered in dust, which have gathered from one year to the next. At 5:00, two of us go outside, walking over the buckled sidewalk and down the hill to the pizza shop where we have a standing Thursday order.

After dinner, I sit on the porch and watch cars go by. I climb a tree, but only if she isn’t looking. I smell the rose bush in the corner of the backyard, next to the chain-link fence. I shoot baskets on the hoop that hangs on the garage next to the alley. My cousin and I walk a few blocks to a mulberry tree where we gorge on fresh fruit until our hands are purple and our bellies are full.

Upon our return, I go inside and climb the steps to the landing where I look out the window into the neighbor’s yard. I go into Gram’s bedroom and smoothly slide open her top, left dresser drawer.

I remove tiny Avon lipstick samples and look into her mirror while applying a deep red shade to my mouth. I purse my lips together, then rub the top one to its mate and wiggle them around until I am certain they’re evenly coated. I blot them on a tissue and make a popping sound.

I climb over the stair railing and slide down on my stomach to the living room; my ride hastened by the thick layer of wax atop the wood. After settling back onto the love seat, I lay my head against the flat, gold pillow. My eyelids grow heavy and I doze off as the baseball game plays in the background. Johnny Bench is at bat.

I wake to the sound of a car horn blaring. My mom doesn’t come to the door. I stumble to put my shoes on, then cross the room to where Gram is sitting in her corner of the sofa, under the bright light of the table lamp. I kiss her soft cheek.

As the grandfather clock chimes 9:00, I head outside, down the concrete steps with a quick one-two rhythm, then I open the heavy car door. I hear crickets chirping in the bushes.

I climb inside and the car turns the corner as it leaves one home for another.