Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen

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Relatively speaking…they won’t be eating cake


The engine that drives our lives and our memories, is generally fueled by food, and ironically, not always the real deal-a-meal…pictures are just as effective.  I can’t remember a time growing up with my family, that didn’t have a pie somewhere, you see, Mom rocked the pie empire! There were also both her deviled and pickled eggs and sugar cookies and my mother-in-law was there with spaghetti sauce, borscht and green salad, along with countless others. Later, when I had my own family, my special cinnamon rolls were as expected as the handmade fondant chocolates, affectionately known as colored candies! Even as the years continued, just seeing pictures of those moments instantly transported us, and laughter and love again filled the air – even if the intoxicating aroma and calories were missing.

Home was where the heart was, and getting there…all trivial sayings aside…was indeed through the stomach.  There was, however, another time when my little engine could be found, in a different state, with a large wooden table and a German Chocolate cake.

I never really knew my Grandmother, she lived out-of-state and visiting her and my Grandfather, was a yearly or alternating year visit, during which time we tried to know each other a little better as she aged, and I grew away. There was however, always macaroni and cheese made with Cheez Whiz, a product I had no clue about, but delighted in the gooey flavor, so different from the homemade cheese-crusted wonder, that my mother made. Dinner there was a Summer celebration of love, trying to hold together as much time as possible, and then like dessert, it was over.

Looking back on that chocolate cake, I now understand her excitement as she baked it, knowing her family was coming, and for a brief time everything would be right in the world. I can imagine her making the frosting, sad at how she missed all the beaters and bowls never licked, or fingers that spoiled the results before serving. I also know the taste wasn’t as sweet as it could have been, since it was only a production for the moment, and not a weekly or monthly get together, where lives were shared, loved, compared and enriched. However, it was the best she had to express her love, and she did it very well…obviously, since it still affects me at 54.

Then, as life unveiled and presented itself to me, I realized that I too was becoming a chocolate cake. Sadly,  I had always assumed there would be meals and gatherings, spiced with cinnamon and smiles rolling into the years, leaving pie in the sky dreams and memories. But alas, like a recipe, things  don’t always turn out according to plan. Even now, the cake has been reduced to mailed or on-the-run cupcakes, which don’t require long visits, attention or commitment. I guess it is a good thing I had the foresight to print my cookbook years before, insuring my food would go on…even if the traditions and me didn’t.

This is an odd conundrum, since we long for the comfort and memories of our youth, but in our haste to live life to the fullest, forget to make them for our children. I guess that is why the biggest day for pizza delivery is Christmas – because all those special dinners, buffets and gatherings have been reduced to nothing more than Mom’s house or Dad’s house, hurry home to our house, or out-of-state can’t get to the house, better Skype the whole thing and pretend you were together events. In doing this though, we confirm a generation of youth  lost  between a stale, albeit a creamy frosting center. They will also never have anything to leave their families, and even worse…nothing to look back on, nourishing their soul as they face life, and the questions and curiosities that might have once been answered over a piece of pie.

Some of the best discussions and understandings in my life came at the kitchen table or at a campsite near toasted marshmallows. Stories and history I would have never known and have honestly needed as I matured, were given freely, and shared with a love that was priceless. Remembering happy faces after a meal, kisses still warm from coffee on aging lips, and little children with eyes bigger than their stomachs, hoping to finish a plate piled high, still fill my heart.

Yes, there is a lost value to the perishables of life…food that won’t last, parents and grandparents that pass away, and children who grow up too fast. It is a shame that we can’t put a use before date on them – or maybe just stop using them in general, and share life together. Regardless, however, some of us  can still remember what we had, and like other products no longer made, offer a chuckle or wayward desire, wishing for one more taste.

Holidays may be set aside for celebration, but it is everyday we should celebrate the feast of family, that which we have been given, in memory of life…especially when so many hearts are starving, just wishing for such an offering. Maybe that is why The Last Supper stands out in the Bible…maybe the message we were to have gotten was more than what appeared as just face value? After all, what really is the value of the face no longer sitting across your table…especially if it was the last time?


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Dancing with the beaver and a wizard in the moonlight can be hard for a working girl!


Life…trying to be the best we can, and with any luck getting recognition for what we are able to accomplish. However, many are caught up more in the drama of either loosing what they once had or never being known, than who they really are (to themselves that is) forgetting to live each day to the fullest.

The all knowing Wizard of Oz was no more than a lost man from a carnival, landing in the right place at the right time, eventually becoming larger than life. However, all he really had to fall back on was luck and illusion, which he unfortunately believed (until a small dog revealed the error of his ways, and as we all know it was “curtains” after that.) Yes, he got his moment of false glory…but then what? The chapter ended and so did he, because he worked too hard to keep what wasn’t real.

Likewise, years ago the actor Michael Paré, (can we say hunk!) starred in a low budget movie, with now cult status, that had lukewarm acting, but a blockbuster soundtrack. Clicking my playlist for Eddie and the Cruisers I still get Goosebumps. I see Eddie’s muscular arms, tightly ensconced in a black t-shirt, and his hair across boyish eyes, which caused more than a few midnight fantasies. The scream of the sax, the rip of the guitar and I am there! However, that is illusion at its best, because the band was John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, and they look nothing like Eddie, the God of Rock, who will forever be seen in those lyrics. They did all the work, had the talent and made the soundtrack memorable…but who remembers or even knew them? There wasn’t a curtain to pull, or a Tinman and little dog to demand a reveal for Michael Paré, so forever, like many others, he will be known best for something he didn’t and couldn’t do.

Aside from the fact that the Coyote was Ugly, the biggest hit of Leann Rimes career, will always be associated with a young Piper Perabo, dancing on a bar being sprayed with beer in nothing short of a love story and wet t-shirt contest. Granted $$$ royalties were paid to Leanne, but when everything is all said and done, when someone says Can’t Fight the Moonlight, the first thought won’t be her blond hair and soft face. No different than Flashdance…when every young female over the age of 10 wanted a torn sweatshirt, ugly dog and welder’s torch, and a moment to dance! So of course we think of the real dancer, Marine Jahan…umm no…we think of the beautiful and innocent eyed Jennifer Beals, pounding the stage and our hearts, to a rock beat that was the soundtrack of the 80’s. Again, right place, right time and oh yeah..right now!

When you think about it, for every “Working Girl” named Tess, there is a Millie Vanilli looking at the spot where a Grammy should be. So is it true that having the experience is 90% of the accomplishment? What is that 10% of silent fame? Heck, you got the prize,  you just won’t have an audience to eventually disappoint, when you no longer have that elusive 15 minutes of favorite flavor and  become mortal.

The use of actors and actresses and body or voice doubles is nothing new, some of the most memorable moments in entertainment have been done by those never getting the credit they deserve. However, the irony of Eddie and the Cruisers is the entire premise of the film, is a man running from his ability, fame and talent, only to find in the end that he returns where he belongs, truly facing the music. That is after all, the illusion of life and our dreams, no matter how far we go, how hard we try to change, we are just a basic one soul intended for this one world, and in the end it can only be hoped we achieve what we were intended to, despite any perceived glass walls or body doubles taking our ideas, stepping in and replacing us in situations we earned a place in, and taken credit for ideas and dreams that they will never know themselves.

It makes you wonder, which is more difficult to deal with once that music ends, and we all find ourselves home without ruby slippers. Would we really rather have the acclaim for what wasn’t ours, living with the emotional disappointment of knowing we were not who people thought us to be…just wishing we could reach the stars so many thought we shined? I have been frustrated and sidelined in life and business, seeing many personal “what could have beens,” knowing I did have the right stuff, just never the chance…and I wince, remembering it taken from me for another’s pat on the back. However, at night when I close out the day, turn the page and reflect on what I have done, I am left with the satisfaction knowing what is right, who I am and what makes me that person. It is almost a prayer, letting me shut my eyes in peace and sleep.

So is it is better to have tried, and accepted what you got, than to have never tried at all? Well, Mr. Shakespeare I have to say yes, and even if no one asked for your autograph or recognized you in praise, the drive, desire and knowledge will forever be yours. After all, who else matters at the end of this life? Our character and what takes us into each day is the one thing that we ever really own, and it can never be faked by someone else….even if they might get an award for it.