Saturday, March 12, 2016

Epiphany Soup


Soooooooooo...I'm a terrible cook. I mean that in a way that actually means I never learned to cook. When I was growing up, Mom had a lot on her plate as a very young mother (with eventually four kids) and whenever I asked to help, her response was something like, "Honey, it'll just go faster if I do it myself. Go read or something." I get that. Kids in the kitchen are A LOT. Hell, I was a lot. So...never really learned. I did weasle the family Italian meatball recipe out of her back in college though and I have since perfected them in my own special way (they are seriously the best...I get marriage proposals and everything...I don't think you're ready for this jelly), but outside of that I make a mean scramble, a kickin' egg salad (referred to as "crack salad" by some) and a chicken salad that'll clog your arteries (worth it). End of list.

My meatballs. ↓ See? Don't you wanna marry me?




So last year (2015) my only New Year's resolution was: COOK MORE. And so I did. But this really broke down to grilled cheese, frozen pizzas, Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, Trader Joe's orange chicken and lots and lots of salads, for the most part. I am completely clueless when it comes to whipping up something easy and good for me from scratch. Knowledge of spices and what they're for outside of garlic salt, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper? Absolutely zero. And the irony? I'm actually the social media goddess for this awesome cooking web series: Dish It Out with Tony Spatafora. Yeah. #wahwah

So 2016 is: COOK MORE WITH REAL FOOD. A lil history: by the time he was my age, my mother's twin brother had had a quadruple bypass. Their father passed away at 52 from his second heart attack (on Christmas Day - thanks for the memories, Grampie! ♥). I am a juicy girl (unapologetically) and in the past have done every unhealthy, dangerous diet in the book, including mutilating my innards with surgery, in an effort to conquer an old, desperate, misplaced need to be thin (barf). As a result, I not only yo-yo'd my weight by 100 pounds and back again more than once, but have managed to demolish my metabolism in the process. So, when I turned 40, I did start making significant efforts toward eating more balanced over all, severely limiting fast food intake and getting more exercise, but when one of my best friends in the whole wide world, only a week older than me, nearly died of a heart attack on this past New Year's Day, it was really a wake up call for me. While I'm proud of the changes I had already made with the intention of loving myself and for no other reason, I knew I could and needed to do better, because between my family history of heart disease, my effed up metabolism and making a living sitting in a chair 98% of the time, I am potentially looking at the same thing sooner or later. Combine this with the fact that the prior six months I had been a complete sloth, didn't care what I ate, didn't get off my butt and move, was a total couch potato throwing pity parties and not giving a rip that I was (for reasons I won't go into, but if you read back in this blog you might get some clues)...

...well...I was giving up. I needed an epiphany. Badly.

One Friday night, feeling sorry for myself that I was sitting home alone with my cat AGAIN (because my attempts at online dating have been laughable at best - but that's another Dr. Phil show), I suddenly got a wild hair and thought, "I am going to try and make Mom's chicken and rice soup. Right now. I have nothing else to do." I had bought a rotisserie chicken from the Ralph's that was terribly bland (Pickle wouldn't even touch it and he LURVES him some rotisserie chicken!) and didn't want to be wasteful and throw the whole thing away cuz 'Murica, but I knew I wasn't gonna eat it. So, I just went for it. Threw the whole thing, skin and all (minus the leg I ate) in a pot, loaded it with water, a can of chicken broth and the only spices I owned (read: three different kinds of poultry seasoning - why do I own three different kinds and where did they come from??? - an Italian spice blend, garlic salt, pepper, lemon pepper and sage). The only vegetables I had in the house at the time were a bag of lettuce, a bag of spinach and some mini sweet peppers. So, I cut up the mini peppers and tossed them in. 

I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Zero. But my house smelled AMAZEBALLS.

I will start being impressed by technology when they
start making computer screens scratch-and-sniff. ↓



After the chicken started falling off the bones and I spent an hour separating said bones out (Sweet Lord, there's gotta be an easier way - suggestions welcome), I made a BIG batch of brown rice - which of course, stuck to the bottom of the pan because rice is IMPOSSIBLE, PEOPLE - but 99.97% of it went into the soup. I let it all sit together for about 20 more minutes. Lots of stirring.  Then I chopped up some spinach and threw it in mostly for color, cuz I'm creative like that (*cough*).

I was terrified. I had no idea what was going to happen. It sure looked and smelled beautiful...but how would it taste? I mean...I had NO proper ingredients in the house. I wasn't gonna get out of my pajamas and go buy what I needed, either. I was just driven to DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. So, I did it.

And it looked like this: 


And somehow, by some Christmas Miracle, it tasted like this:




Campers...I HAD MADE SOMETHING FROM NOTHING, which I haven't had the heart to even attempt in a long, long, loooooooooooong time (just ask me when the last time I wrote a song was. Go ahead. Ask). And it was delicious. And it was healthy. And I did it MYSELF. 

Turns out, I might actually be able to cook.

Since then I have taken careful steps toward becoming Chef Darci. I am slowly building my spice collection. I have made buttloads of chicken stock to use instead of the canned kind. I made quinoa for the first time and it was a success (so much easier than rice AND more health benefits!). Yes, I paired it with Trade Joe's orange chicken because a) I'm still too scared to try a main dish yet and b) ain't gonna lie, that shizzle's tasty. ↓


Getting braver, I made quinoa again with chicken broth, garlic salt, minced garlic and my new favorite spice, turmeric (good for inflammation, I hear - and I'm a walking ball of it) and a side of fresh spinach, sweet peppers and onions sautéed in coconut oil, garlic salt, lemon pepper and again, turmeric (seriously, it goes in everything I can get away with now). Chicken is courtesy of Ralph's (much better than the bland one I made soup with, which turns out was a no added salt version and I didn't notice that on the bag when I bought it - but if I had...there never would have been EPIPHANY SOUP!)...and YES I KEEP THE SKIN ON. That and my coffee the way I like it will never change so shaddap.  Anyhoo...OH EM GEE, were those side dishes DEELISH! The spinach/quinoa mix has now become a diet staple for me. Easy to make, loaded with nutrients and slap-yo-mama yummy! ↓



For the record, the first main dish I will be attempting to make is this mega delicious blackened ahi tuna sandwich I had the privilege of tasting in person on Dish It Out, as soon as I have gathered all the spices I need for their lip-smackin' blackening seasoning recipe. Although I will probably just eat it fresh out of the brand new little cast iron skillet a sweet friend gave me because it's just that yummy on its own!

Trust me, this is Tony's handiwork, NOT mine (yet)!↓



But today...today...on my first day off in two straight weeks...I will attempt a complete sacrilege. Because my aim is to make delicious dishes that are also heart-healthy, I will be trying my hand at making MY FAMOUS MEATBALLS with - *gulp* - ground freakin' turkey instead of the ground beef and *secret ingredient meat of epic deliciousness proportions* that I normally use. See? A SACRILEGE!!! This means that to make it taste good, or to remotely honor my Italian roots at all, I will have to play with spices more so than I do with my original recipe. Oh, my God...I'm feeling light-headed at the thought. I don't really think you people realize how this crushes my ego to use ground turkey in ANYTHING, let alone MY MEATBALLS. But I shall prevail! I shall make them DELICIOUS, so that every once in a while I can have a little indulgence that will carry me through to Italian Christmas with my sister, or a party with friends, when I bust the REAL ones out.

So, anyway...I think I've rambled on enough and you're probably wondering what the actual epiphany is, other than the possibility that I might not be entirely hopeless in the kitchen after all. Basically it was: got fat rump off couch, did something that scared me, created something from nothing...and DIDN'T FAIL for once. I really, REALLY needed that. I needed to create, I needed it to WORK and mostly, I really needed to do something loving for myself because I hadn't in so very long. And taking care of my body - in ALL its juiciferous splendor - and doing it deliciously is LOVING MYSELF. I can live with that.

Well, off I go to try the turkeyball experiment. If it works, no doubt I will post an update. Cross your fingers! 







Wednesday, January 06, 2016

This Moment

In this moment I curse your name. I hurl verbal fireballs of anger, weave a tapestry of obscenities, shake my fist at the sky, quake with powerful rage.

In this moment my hatred for you is palpable, my disgust virulent, my contempt seemingly boundless. Good riddance. Good fucking riddance indeed.

In this moment I feel strong, determined, positive that I can finally cut this cord and move on, cast you aside for the weak, spineless bastard you were and probably still are, knowing that what I deserve is so much more and that I will find it sooner than later.

In this moment I know that with Truth there is no wondering, no questioning, no interminable silences, no evanescing back to a world in which I am not good enough to join you. When Truth comes it is easy, simple, unmistakable and breathes life into the soul. It is fully present, steadfast, connected, wholly aware. The ground grows firm beneath my feet and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it will not crumble under me.

In this moment I am who I was before you; a strong, confident woman with much to offer, with a giving heart, huge and open, accepting and hopeful, tender and ready to blossom freely under the showers of possibility.

In this moment I am a warrior. I am indefatigable. I am powerful. I am myself again. I am ready to relight. I am ready to revive.

Until this moment when I crawl into my bed, now cold and empty, alone, without you, again, forever.

And I disintegrate.


#4DB

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Missed Connections

On this Valentine's Day, 

May you feel the love you never allowed me to give you. 

May you know somewhere in the deep, hidden recesses of your heart that it would have been real, genuine and freely shared without condition. 

May your subconcious cause you to smile for what you think at the moment is no reason, but is really the warmth of me wishing you well and desiring your complete happiness. 

And I hope that tonight you are wrapped in the arms of someone you truly want, and who truly wants you, and that you are not feeling the emptiness that comes with could've beens.

As for me, I will simply be grateful that our stars brushed against each other briefly on their paths through the Universe to our truest joy.

#Agápe





#4DB



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ushering in 2015

I honestly don't know where this particular blog post is going to end up. I have had a humdinger of a year and I just might be going through a mid-life crisis of sorts. Actually, whether it has to do with my age, I don't honestly know, I just know that I seem to be at a major crossroads in my life and something has to be done about it, because I cannot continue to feel the way I have been and survive. It's that simple.

Much about 2014 was good. I did a lot of singing and getting back on stage, as always starting with the NAMM show in January with my dear friend and fellow diva Debby Holiday. As a wonderful bonus I also got to see my friend Mary there, with whom I used to work in Nashville at BMI. I honestly don't think either of us could tell you when the last time we saw each other before that was, so it was a real blessing to have even a short time together.

↓ Debby, me and Mary at NAMM in Anaheim. ↓



Next was a long, hot summer of "Chew On This," a musical/cabaret show-type vehicle starring and written by my good friend Gilmore Rizzo which featured bubble gum pop tunes from the 50's through the 70's. We revived this show from a few years ago at the French Market. This time we did a weekend of shows in Palm Springs in July and then a six week run at the NoHo Arts Center in August and September. The music was vocally challenging, the cast and band was full of wonderful people I enjoyed working and spending time with and Gilmore wrote me a part that truly showcased my strengths as a singer and comedic actor. As with any independently produced show, we had some bumps along the road, but overall, it was a wonderful experience and I am grateful for it. AND my friend Tiffany got to come in from Canada to see it! She also brought me a bag of Canadian goodies. My kinda friend. 

↓ The cast of "Chew On This" in Palm Springs ↓
↓ l to r: Gilmore Rizzo, Barbara Shane, Jessica Buda and moi. ↓





After that I was invited to do a three song set at Oil Can Harry's for Lori Donato's Sunday Jam, which happens the second and third Sunday of every month. My long time friend and piano man extraordinaire Rob Bowers accompanied me on "Stuff Like That There," "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "I Keep It Hid."  You can see the videos from that on my YouTube page.

↓ Flyer for Lori Donato's Sunday Jam ↓




Nursing a broken heart, I needed to keep myself busy and distracted after that. So, I booked a free vocal master class in November, which went aces (I plan to do another one soon) and followed it up with a webcast concert called "Christmas at Darci's," on Concert Window.  The aforementioned Rob Bowers was my musical director and accompanist, my awesome friend Marie Pettit was my on-camera chat room moderator (and changed Christmas hats like Cher changes costumes in concert), her husband (also my awesome friend) Chris Gregson ran the camera, and we had a tiny handful of people in my living room to give it a "live" feel while everyone else across the country logged in to watch on their computers and other handy-dandy tech devices. It was so much fun and, I think, a smashing success. I'm very excited to do another one soon.

↓ Flyer for "Christmas at Darci's" ↓


↓ Me and Rob after the show. ↓




I also wrote , recorded and released a single for download on my website, "December Come Around." It was the first song I'd recorded in five years, the first Christmas song I've ever written and the first song I'd written without a co-writer since I lived in Nashville (so, we're talking at least 14 years, if not longer). I'm very proud of it and hope to pitch it this year (to Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson, if a girl can dream). You can still get it on iTunes, if you missed it.

↓ Album cover for "December Come Around" ↓ 



Also, back in May I took a trip out to Fort Lauderdale to visit my dad and his wife and had a wonderful, relaxing time.  

↓ Con mi Padre celebrating my birthday. ↓




My baby brother just got engaged (wedding coming up in May)...

↓ The Travster and my future seester-een-law, Laura. ↓




...and my cousin Jenny had her first baby in November... ↓



...oh, and I mustn't forget that I had my first trip to Disneyland ever, courtesy of Gilmore Rizzo. At Christmas, even! ↓




Sounds like a pretty good year, right? Lots of good, good stuff.  smiley Thumbsup

Well, in the midst of all that:

  • I got my heart smashed to bits. I mentioned that in my last blog post.
  • I lost several loyal students due to various reasons; one which I had to make the decision to drop because his mother made me hassle her for payment every month. Yuck. I cannot seem to keep enough students to survive, ever, even though I know I'm very good at what I do. Other friends of mine who are coaches have waiting lists...and for some reason I do not. I feel like I've tried lots of different things to get my name out there but nothing has worked. My students apparently don't tell anyone they're even taking voice lessons let alone who from, even while singing my praises to my face. So, word of mouth hasn't worked, either.
  • When I did my Christmas webcast, I did it mostly with my Nashville and New York peeps in mind, because they're always squawking about how they miss hearing me sing or they wish they could make it to my shows but for where they live. I also thought this would be a great idea because people don't actually have to leave their homes and go anywhere, which in L.A. is a big deal. This saves them exorbitant parking fees, food/beverage requirements and travel time. Though I still feel it was a success overall, it was still really disheartening that the majority of people who logged in to watch were Californians and primarily not the people who are the loudest about wishing they could see me perform. Also, people complained that it was too complicated (it wasn't - if you can manage Facebook, you can manage Concert Window - my mother managed and if she can, anyone can). None of my extended family logged in.
  • I sold exactly 13 downloads of my new single. That's One. Three. And not a single one to anyone who's said to me in the past, "Why don't you put some new music out?"  "It's time for you to record something new." "Why don't you ever record anymore?" Not a single download to anyone in my family, save for my sister Mandi. It cost 99 cents. I know, I asked people to break the bank. *note sarcasm*
  • I have completely lost the joy of singing because I cannot seem to recover my voice to its former range and strength due to years of fighting sinus infections that produced a violent cough that made me lose my voice. While I seem to have found a way to keep the cough at bay now, I don't have what I used to, I don't sound like I used to, my instrument is not nearly what it used to be, which was what made me unique, and it's now so much effort to produce sound that it's not an enjoyable thing to do anymore. I never know if I can count on my voice, so booking something like "Chew On This" was a terrifying leap of faith. I don't feel comfortable trying to book other gigs because I don't know if my voice will be there on that given day. 

All of these are facts of what happened this year, all of which have led me to a place in which I'm asking myself, "What's the point?" Nothing I mentioned above is meant to lay a guilt trip on anyone personally (and I really mean that - okay at this moment I don't mean it for the heartbreaker, I kinda want him to choke on it), but I must wonder truly, what is the point of anything I try to do, when I can look back over the course of my entire life and career (if you can even call it a career) and feel like every attempt I've ever made at anything - music, work, relationships, certain friendships and business partnerships, et al - has failed miserably? When it seems like no one could possibly give less of a shit in supporting me? I have so many regrets I've lost count. So many "almosts" and "whatifs" and "couldashouldawouldas." A longtime friend of mine once said to me, "No one works harder than you and is more unsuccessful at it." He's right. 

He's absolutely right.  smiley 1zvbb13

I also had another longtime friend - who does not live here - tell me I've done nothing to get anywhere in my career. At which point I told him to stop effing talking if he wanted his nose to stay in the same place it is currently.  smiley Fu

So, there's that, too. How many more of you think that about me, I wonder?

But more importantly, things aren't the point. I work from home, which I've wanted to do for years and I enjoy my work. It is a blessing. I live in a great apartment that I love. I have wonderful friends all over the country. I love my family and can't wait to be with them all in May. Can't beat the weather here in SoCal most of the time. I felt my heart open up for the first time in years, when I didn't think it was possible for that to ever happen again. I consider that a damned miracle, despite the beating it took afterward. My family and friends are all healthy, except my Mima who is suffering from dimentia, but she's had a good, long life and possesses the constitution of an ox so she'll probably still be around for a while. I have everything I need. I want for nothing that matters. My fridge is full. My bank account is not, but I can keep a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table and the lights on...besides I don't care about being rich.

And yet, something is missing. Something is always missing. To the point where just about a week ago I was sitting on my bed, bawling my eyes out and asking no one listening, "Did I have a twin die in the womb that Mom never told me about or something? Why do I feel like a part of me is missing? Why do I feel so empty?" Indeed, why have I always felt so empty, no matter how good my life is or how spiritual I am at any given moment or where I've lived along the way? All the work I've done on myself the last few years to think positively and choose joy seems to work for a New York minute and then burns out like the end of a match. When I was growing up in an evangelical household, I don't recall ever truly feeling God's presence in my life or heart. Never once, no matter how much scripture I read and memorized or how often I prayed. I have never in my life experienced any lasting contentment, let alone happiness. I have always felt like I'm never good enough, smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, thin enough, funny enough, spiritual enough, obedient enough, financially stable enough, sexy enough, interesting enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough, worthy enough...............


Something in me is desperately broken and I have to figure out what it is, or as I said, I will not survive. Don't worry, I'm not suicidal or anything like that, but I do worry that if I cannot make my way out of the level of despair I've been in lately, I will give up entirely. I will just beach myself on my couch and never get back up again and people in lab coats will have to break down my door and drag my comatose ass away to the funny farm where I will spend the rest of my days staring out a window and drooling on myself (should this happen, call my sister Jodianne to make arrangements for Pickle, please. Appreesh). 

↓ DangerPickleKitty ↓



I visited a psychic the other day, one whom I've seen several times, the wonderful Tysa Goodrich. You know when you've found a good one when you leave feeling like you've had a life coaching session instead of just "having your cards read" (note: if you're one of those who thinks psychics are a joke or of the devil, you can cram it - frankly, I'm not really in a place to be tolerant of your closed-minded, fear-mongering nonsense at the moment). In discussing some of these feelings I'm having currently, she had some amazing insights for me regarding the work I need to do on myself to get out of my crud. She brought up abandonment issues, confidence issues, self-love/hate issues, addiction issues, etc., etc., all of which I have been keenly aware for years and thought I had worked through. 

Apparently I haven't. smiley Ohwell

She said, "I feel like something in you has died. When I see you in your younger years, your late teens and early 20's, you had such a fire in your belly. You were fearless and gung ho. But now...it's like someone or something just snuffed you out. And you've been this way a long, long time. You have a very wounded, lonely little girl inside of you and you need to deal with her or nothing's going to change. And my God, you're expectations are so low!"

This of course, made me burst into tears because I knew she was right. I'm so used to feeling like a failure that I have absolutely lowered my expectations in every aspect, thinking I'll be ecstatic if just one teensy little thing ever goes right but if I dare dream for more it'll tear a hole in the time-space continuum and destroy the universe entirely. My dreams have been small for a very long time. They basically consist of: 1) survive, 2) survive and 3) survive.  And I have put a happy face band-aid on for so long, trying to force myself to choose happiness and feel good just because I was SAYING I was happy and I felt good. It didn't work when Jesus was my band-aid and it's not working now. 

FOLKS, THERE IS NO BAND-AID.

That is not to say that you can't change your life when you change your thoughts. Amazing things have happened as a result of my deciding that I would no longer live by Murphy's Law and actively participate in hating myself. Definite blessings have followed, more so than in any other time of my life.

However, I simply think I am at a point where I have to dig deeper, down to the junk, the mess, the sludge and bile and acidic goop, walk into the shit storm, look the dragon in the eye and slay that hideous bitch once and for all. I need to see a professional who can help me do that and possibly find a spiritual teacher to work in tandem. Likewise, I need to learn more about being an empath, which I've suspected I am for years, but Tysa confirmed for me recently (I like to joke that it's the least useful and most annoying of the sensitive gifts, just sucking up other peoples' emotions. Why can't I just see dead people? I can do something with that. smiley Eyes ). It has much bearing on my inability to let things go like others can, I think particularly when it comes to romance. 

All that said...you may be thinking, "What a Debbie Downer," or "What an ungrateful bitch," or "She ought to try having cancer." Yup to all of it and so sorry to make you feel uncomfortable.  But my journey is my journey and my pain is my pain and it affects me uniquely and I'm not apologizing for it. I'm very, very weary of pretending it doesn't exist. I hate it and I want it soothed, healed, dispersed, obliterated. Okay...that's not realistic. Life is what it is and there will always be bumps in the road. I'm just trying to keep from driving entirely off the cliff at the moment, because that's what it feels like.

In closing (yes, I hear your sighs of relief)...this year is going to be a lot of work for me. And I'm going to be documenting much of it here. It's honestly my last attempt to make something of myself and my life - meaning to feel good about it and myself and be content in it and with myself - before choosing to pack up and move back home to little old Johnstown where I will shrivel up and die alone with my cat. If you choose to follow along on my journey, thank you. Maybe it can be of help to you.








Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A Prayer of Release

It's been a long time since I blogged. Time constraints, a lot of work that requires bunches of typing and nothing to really say have kept me away. But I see myself getting back to it, as expressing myself through words seems to help me maintain my sanity. 

Recently I have found myself heartbroken, for the first time in YEARS. I will not go into detail for many reasons, one of which is to honor the privacy of my aforementioned heartbreaker, because he's not a bad guy, he just missed the mark. But that said, I am working through my healing process slowly and in my effort not to allow this experience to make me bitter, jaded or too scared to try again, I needed to write this prayer...to him. So, here it is.

***************************************

I know you did the best you could with the self-awareness you had at the time. I know you have fought battles that have nothing to do with me which have shaped you and how you related to me. I know that it's difficult in our world to be a man and let go of what you were taught were signs of weakness. Though you hurt me deeply, for these reasons I don't want to punish you for it. Honestly, I think the fortress you've built around your heart is punishment enough. 

Rather, I want to thank you for showing me what I want, need and deserve for myself. I want to thank you for showing me a tiny glimpse of what is eventually possible. I want to thank you for reawakening my heart, which was so very cold for so very long; I wasn't sure it was even capable of openness ever again. Because of you, I know that it can be.

I thank you for holding me hard and tight, for kissing me with tenderness and intent, for showing me with your touch the things you'd be damned to ever admit to me aloud. I know those moments were real, sacred, all mine, all ours, and they forever will be. I will never forget them...or even try.

Though it was all too brief, I am grateful for the gift of having known you and for the place you hold in my life - and now in my history. I thank you for being the teacher my soul needed, to teach me the lessons I needed, all which are to come, within Divine timing. 

I will - and do - miss you fiercely. And it will be a while before that's no longer the case.

I forgive you. I forgive myself for not following my gut and therefore allowing myself to get hurt in the first place. I cannot blame you for my own mistakes. I hope you will eventually forgive yourself, too, in whatever way you need to. And if you need to forgive me, I hope that you can do so. 

And now I release you to your own path. I release you from my heart, my mind, my body, my very soul, and I lift you up in Love and Light for nothing but your greatest good. I wish you peace and contentment of heart. I sincerely, honestly wish you well, to experience a blossoming of awareness and healing so that you may lead a beautiful, fulfilling life. My wish for you is to one day experience a whole, complete Love that you will fully allow yourself to accept...to do so without fear and with reckless abandon because you are assured a soft place to fall.

And I am hopeful that one day we can both think back on our time together with gratitude, warmth and a smile, knowing that once we had been good for each other.

And so it is.


"And if I built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge 
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire."
                                                           ~Sting


#4DB



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gloria Had An Abortion! Par-tay!

So a beloved friend of mine who is pro-life posted an article written by another pro-life activist who was bitching about this picture:


I stopped reading the article as soon as the writer mentioned "the emasculation of men" due to feminism (total b.s.) and dogging on birth control (seriously? how do you expect there to EVER be fewer abortions if you're also anti-birth control?).

But this I'll give the writer. Ms. Steinem's tee shirt is quite possibly the most offensive, selfish, tactless, inappropriate, hateful, hurtful, UTTERLY DISGUSTING thing I have seen in a long time. I'm so pissed off by it that I actually broke out my blog because I knew a simple Facebook status update wasn't going to cut it.

First of all, I admire Ms. Steinem for much of her life's work. Without trailblazers like this woman, many of us wouldn't enjoy the freedoms we have today. She continues to fight for women to be treated as equals to men in our country - really, the world - which is an absolute necessity. Men stand to lose NOTHING when the women they love are strong, secure, educated, productive members of society. Emasculation - ha. We teach others how to treat us. "No one can make me feel inferior without my consent," said Mrs. Roosevelt.

Second, as a die hard centerist, I am a person who struggles with the pro-life vs. pro-choice argument. I absolutely positively believe that life begins at conception and will do so until some scientist comes up with definitive proof that it doesn't. Abortion therefore, to me, is straight up murder. So to that end, I lean pro-life. However, I'm also not a meat puppet whose life the government may manipulate. Nor is any other woman. I don't need Uncle Sam's nose in my uterus. Particularly in cases where there has been extraordinary emotional or physical trauma or a life is threatened. It is not my place to make anyone else's major life choices for them.  So to that end, I lean pro-choice. It's a sticky sitch.

I have always gotten irritated when one side re-names the other just to be disrespectful. I hate it when I hear a Pro-Choice person call a Pro-Life person an "Anti-Abortionist." They want to be called Pro-Life, call them Pro-Life. I PARTICULARLY hate it though when a Pro-Lifer calls a Pro-Choicer a Pro-Abortionist. Because I don't know a single Pro-Choice person who is FOR abortion. Not a single one. Every adult Pro-Choice person I've ever talked to seems pretty aware that choosing to abort is a very serious decision, one that could possibly result in destroyed relationships, future health consequences and a lifetime of regret. 

Everyone except, it appears, for Ms. Steinem here. For her, it's apparently just another Tuesday. "Oh, I had an abortion, woopdeedoo! You should try it, too!"

Seriously? THAT is the message young girls should see? We should be teaching them, "Oh, no worries...if I get pregnant I'll just get an abortion" instead of being responsible about their sexual activity in the first place? Of course accidents can happen in the best of circumstances, but I'm not talking about that. And teenagers won't see that. They just see a famous, pioneering woman cavalierly supporting abortion as birth control like it's no big deal.

BUT IT IS A BIG EFFIN' DEAL.

For women who have had abortions and regret them later - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE.

For women who've had no choice but to have an abortion because their health was in danger and forever mourn the child they never had - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE.


For the women who've had one because they were raped, especially if they never would've considered having one under any other circumstance - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE.

For the women who disagree with abortion for religious reasons (whether you agree with it or not) - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE.

For women who are desperate to have a child but cannot get pregnant and the gay couples who are desperate to start their own families but have no other way - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE.

For the men who would have done right by their girlfriends and been great dads but were given no say in the matter - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE.

For people like me who like to maintain that no one on either side of any issue is pure evil - THE CALLOUSNESS IS OFFENSIVE. And you make it impossible for me to have your back.

I love a good debate, and I have understanding for both sides of this particular one for the reasons I've already stated above, but when you figuratively stick your middle finger up at the people with whom you disagree and MAKE THE CONSCIOUS CHOICE to taunt their values, especially your own sisterhood, then I'm gonna give you serious crap about it. It's unacceptable. Part of being a real feminist, if you ask me, is to allow women to do and think HOWEVER they like, BECAUSE WE CAN, even if you wouldn't do or think the same yourself. A woman who chooses to stay home to raise her children should be considered just as much of a feminist for making that choice as a woman like me who consciously chose not to marry or have children in favor of her career. Shouldn't you, Ms. Leader of All Things Equality, have figured that out by now? Is that not what you've been fighting for all these years?

Shame on you, Gloria. That tee shirt doesn't make you a feminist. It makes you an insensitive jerk.












Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Lucky 2013


Well...I don't think I'm the only one who can say that 2012 was the fastest year of my life. It seems just yesterday I was blogging about welcoming it because 2011 was such a stink pile of death and loss. I am very pleased to say that 2012 may not have started out on the most positive of notes, but it has ended with joyfulness and hope for what 2013 will bring. I am very excited for Lucky 2013! But please allow me to share how I got here...because you know there's a crazy messcapade of a story...

Last year started out with new neighbors, who moved into the apartment previously occupied by my friend Matt (may he R.I.P). An older gentleman, seemed nice enough, said he was gone to work from 7am till about 10pm. No kids, just him and his cat. Perfect! I take his application, everything moves along, a few weeks later he moves in. And his deadbeat of a daughter. And her two young daughters (10 and 2, respectively). And his three cats. Into a tiny 400 square foot one bedroom apartment. Naturally, utter chaos ensues. Screaming toddler. Screaming, verbally abusive mother. Sketchy looking people I don't know on the property at all hours of the day and night. Grandpa's hard of hearing and blasts his porn through the window at decibel eleven so the people across the damned street can tell what he's watching. This is all on top of the constant airplanes overhead, sirens, squealing tires, blaring horns and motorcycle engines, dozens of neighborhood dogs barking at once, helicopters overhead flying so low it rattles the windows, punk teenagers hooting and hollering up and down the street at 2am, Sanford & Son on one side of our building sorting cans and bottles through the day and night, the business on the other side constructing film sets in the parking lot and renting the space out for parties at night, and Farsi dude five houses up playing his music so loud that I couldn't hear my tv (this doesn't count the occasional transformer blowing, random gunshots or the seasonal illegal fireworks displays).



I was so depressed. The tiny little home I'd loved for so long was becoming a horrible, miserable prison.  I didn't understand why, when I had purposely been giving thanks in advance to God every day for bringing me the PERFECT person during the rental process, that He would send me these train wrecks. I was also fighting tooth and nail every day to keep Matt's yard alive and failing pretty miserably at it because I don't know what I'm doing and he didn't exactly leave instructions. My attitude was suffering and my business was suffering as well. One look at where I lived and people would think, "No. She must not be a very good voice coach if she lives like this. Next." And I didn't blame them.

But one day in late August one of my former students came by to see me for a "tune up." I was telling him about the situation next door and how crazy it was making me and how I didn't understand why God was doing this to me. He, being a Wiccan, said in his lilting Southern tenor accent, "You know of course that I don't believe in your God, but if I did it seems to me that He sent you exactly who you needed to live next door as a great big sign for you to get the f*** out. You're better than this hot mess. It's time to go."

Me: smiley Eyerub

If a two by four hit me in the sternum it couldn't have knocked more breath out of me. Because of course, he was absolutely right and I'm a MORON not to have seen it. When Darci gets comfortable in her darkness and misery she starts thinking there's no way out - at least not immediately - and she wallows. I had already been looking around for something new to see what was out there and start saving up, feeling pretty bleak about it, but after that conversation with my student, it was on like Donkey Kong. It was so obvious God wanted me out that I knew a place was out there that I was supposed to be in.

The third place I looked at I fell in love with. smiley Lovestruck

The rent was also almost twice what I was currently paying. For some reason I filled out an application anyway. Doh!

OF COURSE this was impossible! What was I thinking??? Oh well, I knew there was no way they'd approve me anyway. I had been scraping to pay bills for so long that surely my credit was destroyed for the second time in my life (the first time from just being a stupid kid) and they'd give me a "thanks but no thanks." But at least it would be good to know how bad it was and what I had to deal with as I was saving up for something else going forward. smiley Indifferent

On my way home from seeing the place the office called and told me my credit was great and I was approved. Double DOH! Now they needed my proof of income and a recommendation from my current landlord.

A-HA! Now I had 'em! They'd see how little money I made, nowhere NEAR "three times the monthly rent" required by most places for move in. I pulled my bank statements (because I'm self-employed and don't have pay stubs - and if I don't get to see Mitt Romney's tax returns, then NO ONE gets to see mine) and emailed them over, fully expecting that I had them cornered into denying me.


It was a Friday. That evening an old friend from college called (one of my many dear Christian friends, there are still some good ones in the world!)...and proceeded to smack me down with wisdom and love like only a person you've known for over twenty years can do. Why don't you think you deserve good things? No one works harder than you and is more unsuccessful at it. Aren't you tired of doing it all yourself? When are you gonna give God some of that burden? His Word says to ask and you shall receive and that He wants to give you the desires of your heart; why don't you hold Him accountable to it? He said it, it has to be true, right? When you need more you get more and you haven't needed more in a long time. It's time to take a leap of faith. I would bet money that if you walk off this cliff you won't just fly, but you'll soar. You deserve it. You deserve it. You deserve it.

Everything he said was true. I have always had such a hard time believing I deserved anything good. See, I was raised in a glass-half-empty environment. Strict, uber-religious, judgmental and fetid with guilt and fear. I never felt like anything I did was enough and much of that was from the "original sin" dogma fed to me by my churches. Guilty upon birth. Worthless sinner. You are a worm and unworthy of love from the God that created you. Oh...AND you're fat, so you'll get crap from society, also. Fat, guilty, sinful worms deserve nothing but to slide along the earth on their bellies. They certainly don't deserve nice apartments, reliable cars, loving (or even attractive) significant others, money in the bank, friends who give a crap or a career they enjoy. Fuggedaboudit. On top of that, I was constantly being told, "well...IF it's God will for you to do/have that..." It was never impressed upon me that God wanted me to be happy, that He wanted my dreams to be fulfilled. Never once. So I have lived my life believing that everything I wanted for myself was in direct contradiction to anything God might want for me and therefore I perceived every day to be a knock-down-drag-out fight between me and The Omnipotent.

 smiley Fighting0030

No friggin' wonder I'm exhausted.

So when I hung up the phone with my dear friend, I had it out with God. I shook my fist at the sky. I asked Him, "Is that the best you can do, Big Guy? Bring it on! You keep trying to destroy me, but I'm still here!" *cue maniacal laughter a la Lieutenant Dan in Forest Gump* And after I had finished with the rending of sackcloth and the weeping and gnashing of teeth, I read a few pieces of scripture that my friend had given to me, one of which really hit home:


Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things;
         do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
         Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
     I am making a way in the desert
         and streams in the wasteland."


Yeah, so this is basically God going..."Uh hello? I've been trying to get you to move forward for ages. I've got this path for you here with a big ole blinking red arrow pointing to it, if you'll just get on it."

I went to my computer after that and my friend had sent me the money for the move in deposit. And it was not a small amount of money. And he wouldn't let me be prideful and not accept it. Kinda like that joke where there's a flood and the guy's on the roof of his house and a boat comes by to save him and he says, "No thanks, God will save me." Then comes a helicopter and a rescue team, etc. and he keeps saying no thanks cuz God will save him. Dude ends up drowning and at the pearly gates he says, "Why didn't you save me, God?" And God's like, "I sent you a boat, a rescue team, a helicopter, blah blah blah..."

Yeah. Like that guy.


The next day, Saturday, the rental office called and said, "Everything looks great, we have a call in to your landlord and as soon as he gets back to us we can start the paperwork."

WHAT??? ARE YOU PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR MINDS??? YOU SEE I CAN'T AFFORD THIS!!! IT'S RIGHT THERE ON PAPER!!! WHAT KIND OF SHENANIGANS ARE YOU PULLING ON ME???

Answer: We want good people to live here and I can tell you're a good person and a spiritual person, so you know if it's meant to be it will happen. Because of the way you get paid we can let you do part of your rent at the first of the month and part on the 15th. We will work with you as long as you keep the lines of communication open with us.

Shut. the. front. door. This is Los Angeles. This is unheard of.  smiley Scared

When my landlord returned their call on Monday, he told them I'd been a great tenant and he was going to try to bribe me to stay.

That week I took a part time job as a nanny/house manager on a referral from my amazeballs friend I sing backup for, Debby Holiday (buy her music on iTunes). I now work for her best friend and her very sweet kids as supplemental income.  My mom graciously helped with the remainder of the first month's rent I needed and I officially moved in, with the help of many dear friends (including Porn-Watchin' Grampa Clampett, who is actually a very sweet man, even if he is etiquette-challenged) on October 7th. Since then I've picked up a couple new students plus a couple old ones came back. I am about to start some part time transcription work with a company my friend Marie Pettit Gregson works for, which I will be able to do at home. So at least if I have to work my tail off to keep this place, I will be able to do at least 2/3 of it in my home itself. 
smiley 167shsx

I've made ends nearly meet so far (still robbing Peter to pay Paul on the other bills at the moment) and my goal is that my March rent check (and all thereafter) will be paid IN FULL on the first and ALL other bills will be caught up. smiley Thumbsup

Lucky 2013. It's happening.

The new Chez Monet and 
Darci Monet Vocal Style Studio

Also in 2012 I was able to celebrate with my besties Marie (aforementioned) and her new husband Chris at their beautiful wedding in Houston, TX! What a beautiful trip that was - so many of our L.A. circle of peeps made the flight out, including leetle seester Mandi from Chicago, plus I got to spend some time with my awesomesauce Aunt Rosemary and cousin Daphne and family as well as my dear friend from college, the uber-talented super-mom Gianna (Gigi) Welling (buy her music on iTunes). It was a wonderful time celebrating our friends' love, catching up with family and friends and making new ones...in a city I've never been to that happens to look a lot like a great big North Hollywood. Go figure.



Earlier in the summer I was fortunate enough to mend a bit of a broken road with a long time friend as well and I thought that would never happen, because honestly, I was way too hurt for a very long time. To be honest, I still struggle with it, but it's getting easier and easier to let a little more go and a little more and a little more. Sometimes wounds just need some time, as the adage goes. And people need to be allowed to be who they are, whether they fit in your box of how you perceive a person should behave or not. And sometimes you need to redefine how you think a person should behave. Just sayin'. Our relationship will probably never again be what it once was, but that is okay too, because if there's anything I have learned in 2012 it's that moving forward and moving on isn't something to fear or avoid and stagnation does nothing but rot the soul and breed further bitterness. Blech! smiley Sick0020

As for music, the year always starts off with the NAMM Show in Anaheim with Debby Holiday et al, which is always a fun, loud, exhausting blast, and 2012 was no different. Come the spring I had a delightful time performing with the amazing Gilmore Rizzo, Pat Whiteman, Barbara Shane and Bryan Miller at (formerly) Peter Mac's at The French Market in "Chew On This," a super fun show celebrating all those guilty pleasure bubble gum tunes from the 50's to the 80's. If you missed it...well, our hope is that we will eventually resurrect it in a new theater space at some point. *fingers crossed* I did a few studio sessions - one for Disney (an episode of Phineas and Ferb Europe) and some I hope you never hear (such is the life of the demo singer - they can't ALL be hits! smiley 1zvbb13 ). I did a couple performances with Musical Theatre of Los Angeles and am now knee deep in their social networking committee and fundraising team. The year ended with a crazy busy but lovely Christmas season putting together "Not Your Mama's Christmas" (a fun review show of everyone's favorite - and probably some least favorite! - Christmas songs with a cast of around 18, directed by my good friend Paul Marich) and a three hour breakneck night of rockin' n' rollin' at the Hard Rock in Hollywood with Debby Holiday and Jeff Fedak, where I got to perform a few of my originals (which never happens...2013 resolution?).

Unfortunately I got sick as a dog while doing Hard Rock and Not Your Mama's and have now lost my voice completely, but I still had a nice, lazy Christmas in San Diego with my sissy Jodianne and I felt well enough to spend New Year's Eve with a very small group of "Valley friends" around a bonfire, sipping root beer (no booze for me when I'm on the meds!), munching on nutrionless-but-oh-so-yummy food, hugging my precious shmoopies (my twin 6 year old nieces, the loves of my life, as if you don't know), listening to everyone else's conversations and soaking up some loving energy to carry us all into the new year.


Aloysius (al-oh-ish-us) The Christmas Shrub

So here it is, January 2nd and I sit at my desk, with Aloysius The Christmas Shrub (the first real tree I've had in about 12 years) still alive and sparkling, a fire in the fireplace, a cup of apple cinnamon tea with delicious home grown Georgia honey (thanks Louisa!), my cat DangerPickleKitty making THE most disgusting noises as he bathes himself...and I am happy as a clam and excited for the new year for the first time since...well possibly since I moved here in 2001! Onward and upward!

Here's to a year full of countless miracles, blessings and adventures. BECAUSE I DESERVE IT. AND SO DO YOU.



This post is dedicated to my friends 
Anne Mitchell Starr and Brian Putnam.
You have reminded me that every day is a miracle 
and I will honor your lives by fully living mine.

"Goodnight sweet prince and princess, 
and may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."