My whole life I have been known as the “chick with the weird laugh”…other things, too, but my laugh is among them things about me that really stand out. It is odd. It is loud. It cuts through crowds…and it is often infectious. (Think hyena) This generally works in my favor. Back in the late ’80s/early ’90s stand-up comedy boom, comedy clubs I frequented used to give me prime seating because my laugh would get the people around me going. Sometimes it does not because I am also somewhat of an inappropriate laugher. I’m the one trying to suppress giggles during meetings or funerals or even when the server is telling us all about the specials at an elegant restaurant. I can be embarrassing….but my friends seem to love me anyway.
I survived an upbringing of severe dysfunction. People often ask me how I made it through with my sanity. My sanity is questionable. But one of the weapons I used to combat the horror I experienced was humor. I grew up an only child and a good deal of that was a “lonely only” existence. Imagination was my escape from that. I wrote. Still do. I would come up with strange mental images that were borne from the harsh seriousness going on around me that would ultimately make me laugh rather than cry. Still do. On those days that I entered “the dark place” my chronic depression keeps for me, I would scream until it morphed into a belly laugh. Still do.
As adults, one of my dearest friends suffered an unimaginable loss. My instinct is to be a fixer. This was something I could never fix. The only thing I could do when we had a few moments alone was make my friend laugh. At first I thought this was yet another example of my inappropriate laughter and this time it would earn me a ticket to Hell because the event was so tragically somber. It turns out it was a welcome moment to break from impossible grief.
When life presents a situation with seemingly no options. Laugh. Laugh hard. Move on.
Pressure is a constant in my life. From time to time, the pressure is so great, crushing me from all sides, I don’t think I will make it. I am right. During those times, I did not make it. Rather, I transformed into something else. Something stronger.
Diamonds are some of the most valuable gems on earth. They are among the most beautiful. Each shines uniquely as it allows light to enter each of its facets. They are also among the most durable things on earth because of the pressure they had to endure during their metamorphosis.
When the pressures in your life seem unbearable, remember…you are a diamond. Shine on.
Catalina became very good friends with several members of the Class of 2013. She even went to the prom with one of those friends.
I am fortunate to also be part of another milestone in the lives of two of the beautiful recent graduates of Islip High School Class of 2013 by helping them obtain their very first jobs in my office. I’ve come to care for them deeply and wonder how their college days will unfurl and where life will lead them.
It’s now summer on the South Shore. Catalina will be spending as much time as she can with her friends in the Class of 2013 before they go off to college. That means spending their days on Fire Island or Robert Moses or any of the incredible vistas our corner of the world offers. This brought to mind Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen). The address to the Class of ’99 is just as relevant to the Class of 2013…and the rest of us, too.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth;
you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked
….You’re not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future; or worry,
but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind;
the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts,
don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy;
sometimes you’re ahead,
sometimes you’re behind
…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive,
forget the insults;
if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters,
throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life
…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives,
some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium.
Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t,
maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either
– your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it,
it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own..
Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good.
Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard;
live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander,
you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young
prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you.
Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse;
but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair,
or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy,
but, be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia,
dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal,
wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts
and recycling it for more than it’s worth.