Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Hoopala is Ab Fab

I am sorry, but I just don’t get all the hype about the Royal Wedding.  I do remember watching Prince Charles and Princess Di’s wedding the summer I turned 12.  I watched it partly because it was a fairy tale come true but also because it was on all 5 TV channels we had back in 1981.  I found it interesting for about 5 minutes. I don’t have anything against Prince William and Kate Middleton; it’s just that their wedding doesn’t really spark any true interest in me.  Try as I might, I just don’t really care.

A friend of mine in the entertainment industry said she was going on vacation last week and everyone was freaking that she was taking time off with the “Royal Wedding” two weeks away.  Obviously, the media frenzy was in full effect and, by surfing the net, the articles out there are so outlandish: which wedding guest is the richest to whether or not the royal couple will serve expensive or cheap champagne to buying Royal Wedding tchotchkes (bobble heads).

However, I do have a thought – even though it is not original and everyone else is thinking it – I applaud this couple as it does seem like they are getting married for true love.  Unlike Charles and Di – whom some speculate was an arranged marriage – William and Kate are both older and have had the opportunity to experience life.  She is 29 years old and he is 28.  In my opinion, the perfect ages to get married.

I don’t blame the Brits for getting all hot and bothered about the pending nuptials of the second in line for their throne; especially since it is Princess Diana’s first-born son. However, I obviously was not up at 3 am this morning to watch the wedding of the decade, but I wish them the best of luck.

If I am going to watch anything British, it would be ABFAB of course.

Click here to watch something Absolutely Fabulous

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Dalai Lama's Tweet from Wednesday April 27, 2011

Dalai Lama
"Compassion and love are the source of all spiritual qualities: forgiveness, tolerance, all the virtues."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh Ricky Your So Fine, Your So Fine, You Blow My Mind! Hey Ricky!

OMG, I loved Ricky’s NYC when I lived in the Big Apple!  It is the ultimate health and beauty wet dream and then some. 

Since 1989, Ricky's NYC is THE one stop super-shop for everything beauty. Ricky's carries the latest in hair products, unique fashion items, make-up and beauty accessories.
 White Castle Ceramic Scented Candle 4Oz

Where else can you buy a White Castle scented ceramic candle and K-Pak Reconstruct Kit both for under $12.

Recently, while reading a fashion rag, I noticed that I could purchase the products via Ricky’s online store.

It is puberty all over again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Into Fun and Affordable Fashion

For those of you who know me, I am a die-hard H&M fan.  I compare it to Ikea, but for clothing. I love the fact that it is a Swedish-based company.  OK, yes I am biased because my peeps hail from Sweden. However, you can't deny that they offer some absolutely great pieces at a fraction of the cost.  Not to mention, the guest designers who create collections for the mid- to low-priced fashion line give it an honorable mention in the high-end fashion world.

Not that long ago, I had to travel to Europe or NYC to get my H&M fix.  Then they opened up in New Jersey which was fantastic because there is NO sales tax on clothing in Jersey.  I would bring an empty suitcase in order to bring back my spoils. But I wouldn't be content until I had my very own H&M at home. I was a serious stalker and kept emailing H&M --via their website --to open up some Los Angeles-based locations.  They finally did and I haven't been disappointed.

Last season, I picked up a few pieces from their new "organic" line which was created using recycled polyester.  A floral blouse and dress get me tons o' compliments and - being fashion forward- the prints are right on for this season.  Sadly, I was trying to score a Lanvin for H&M dress for my pals 40th birthday, but I foolishly arrived a week too late.  The sales person at Bev Center told me that they had sold out in less than 3 hours.  But I can buy it on eBay for more than it sold in the store.

This summer, I am completely excited for several collections.  The "Conscious Collection," the newest recycled polyester line which uses sustainable materials for its clothing, has several great summer basics that are priced right and oh so cute.  I especially love the chiffon dress (pictured) priced at $49.95.

To view the whole collection, click here:

Another great collection this spring, is the H&M By Night.  Everything you need to dress up from a short dresses to long dresses to a jumpsuits.  The prints and colors make this very moderately priced line look way expensive.  Also, if you go to the website, they actually show you each piece in the collection and how you can mix and match to make the most of your cash but look like a million bucks.

H&M is selling a collection of Swedish Hasbeen -- clog sandals.  They are just too chunk and funky but look completely comfy. Not to mention, celebs like Michelle Williams and Katie Holmes have been spotted sporting them around town. 

Lastly, the swim line is what really got me hooked.  I mean, where are you going to find a clothing store that will sell bathing suits -- with tops starting at $4.95?  To me, the floral prints and tribal patterns compare to brands like Roxy or Quicksilver but for a third of the cost.

Well, now after writing this post, I'm all hot and bothered and need to get myself out to H&M for my summer fashion fix.

If you live in the LA area, the best H&M stores are located at Bev Center, Irvine Spectrum, but South Coast and Century City are OK. 

Maybe I'll run into you there!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Untitled Poem

Think freely. Smile often.
Tell those that you love that you do.
Rediscover old friends.
Make new ones.
Hope. Grow. Reach out.
Pick some flowers. Share them.
Keep a promise. Laugh heartily.
Let someone in. Hug a child.
Slow down. See a sunrise.
Listen to rain. Trust life.
Have faith. Enjoy!
Make mistakes. Learn from them.
Explore the unknown. Celebrate life!
-          Anonymous

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One Week Until Lift Off

Well, first I want to thank all of my closest family and friends for being my guinea pigs and helping me test out my All Things Fashionating blog.  I am going to officially launch it one week from today on Sunday May 1, 2011.

I definitely had some rough patches that caused me not to be able to post every day;  But I understand now that is OK and, as long as I post when I can, then I am realizing my goal of having a creative outlet to express myself through my writing.  My dedication can’t be defined by how often I do it, but just that I am doing it. 

I am already back on FB and Twitter; I figure that I need to whore myself out in order to promote this blog.

I’m not really sure what my goal is for this blog except to just get my voice out there and be heard.  I am going to try and focus on topics that are more main stream and try to highlight more current events and pop culture. 

But ultimately, this blog is about me.  So I’m just going to continue to write about "All Things Fashionating" and I hope you continue to ride along.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Girl Crush

OK, so I am crushing hard on Bethenny Frankel.  It is surprising because I really wasn’t a big fan of hers when she was on the Real Housewives of NYC. I didn’t even get why she was on the show because she wasn’t married or engaged or…?  I think I caught the last two episodes On Demand and it just really didn’t do it for me.  But, somehow I stumbled onto Bravo’s “Bethenny Getting Married” last season and I actually digged it.

The show is about Bethenny – who gained fame from the RHW reality show and her SkinnyGirl franchise – who gets pregnant by her boyfriend of two years, Jason Hoppy.  Jason and Bethenny decide to get married and the show is about the trials and tribulations of their journey to matrimony and parenthood.

It would be one of those shows that I would watch when “my” Jason wasn’t home or in the bedroom while he watched sports.  I really wasn’t committed, but I actually thought she was pretty funny.  One hysterical episode that pops into my mind is when she waxes her linea negra, the line of hair down your belly when pregnant.  I don’t know why, but I thought it was just hilarious. I guess because I had wanted to do it, but was too afraid to since they say it grows back even darker.

When I saw that Bravo had picked it up for a second season and renamed the show “Bethenny Ever After,” I wanted to check it out again but I had been on a TV dry spell lately. 

So, with the show in mid-season, I found myself alone one weekend and spent hours getting caught up.

Now I am hooked.

If you don’t watch the show and want to, I won’t give anything away.  But I guess on some levels I can relate to her character.  Bethenny has total chutzpah and acts like a real person (who just happens to be a tad neurotic); she totally over thinks everything and I can relate; she also has a kick ass body* and I love her style which makes me admire in her; and she is married to a Jason.

I know it is Reality TV folks and, it is not only that she is real, but Bethenny seems totally genuine, just like one of the girls.

On the last episode, she turned 40 and she talked about “birthday blues.”  God, I can totally relate.  Bethenny said she dreaded her birthday every year.  She wouldn’t want anyone to make a big deal about it; but, then, when it was upon her and no one made a big deal out of it, so she felt sorry for herself.  This is sooo my pattern.  Her psychology and mine are totally different, but I could relate.

*Now to explain my asterisk. So, in the series, Bethenny has just had a baby girl.  A few weeks after, she posed in a bathing suit for a tabloid magazine and she looked fantastic.  I’d like to report that, when she was preggers, she seemed very healthy.  She wasn’t necessarily one of those Skinny Girls with a basketball belly.  She looked like a healthy pregnant woman.  But like I said, her body bounced right back.  I admire her philosophy which is nothing new – the old adage of losing weight with eating sensibly, portion control and moving your body.

Bethenny actually got her start on Bravo’s “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” in 2005.  She made it to the series finale, but came in second place.  After the show, she gained notoriety and began writing a column for Hampton’s Magazine, authored books on healthy weight loss and became a well-known advocate for weight loss through healthy and accessible life-style choices.

I just ordered her first book, “Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting.” I’ve heard rave reviews but haven’t actually read it yet.  I will have to report back.

Ok, so I’m a Bethenny fan and I am totally following her on Twitter now.  Last night she tweeted, "Do you ever leave a fancy restaurant & just want fries? just wasn't satisfied."  And there was a picture of her at McDonald's eating french fries looking a little bombed.  Love it!

So, she may not be your cup o’ tea, and she is a reality star so I'm sure her fame won't last Ever After; but, for now, her show is one of the highest rated on Bravo so check it out. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Excerpt from ‘Eat, Pray, Love’

People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate.


You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly.
-          From Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
(PENGUIN BOOKS; published by Penguin Group)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunshine in a Tube

Description: Jergens® natural glow express Body MoisturizerMy friend Rachel and I share a brain most of the time. One of the things that we completely agree upon is sunless tanning.  She and I will go to great lengths to look like sun kissed Goddesses without worrying about damaging and cancer causing UV Rays.  However, I think that Rachel has been much braver than me on the experimenting side.  She has given everything a try from airbrush tanning – both organic and non-organic – to spray tans – both at the salon and in the bottle.  So when she said she was ah-dicted to a somewhat new sunless tanning lotion – new to me – Jergens® Natural Glow Express, I had to give it a try. 

In anticipation of possibly laying by the pool in Vegas – which sadly did not happen – I went to the tanning salon and did a spray tan.  I picked up the Natural Glow Express – which should not be confused with Jergens® Natural Glow, which is da bomb too, but doesn’t work as fast— to maintain my spray tan.  When I realized there would be no pool time and I was nursing a wicked hang-over, I decided to forgo the daily applications.

But last Thursday, the weather report said sunny and 80 degrees all weekend, so I slathered that lotion on like a drowning woman.  By Saturday morning, I was shocked to see that it had either rejuvenated my spray tan from last week or the “EXPRESS” is no joke.

So ladies, get yourselves out there to the drug store and buy yourself some sunshine in a tube and sunny skies that are safe will be yours again.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Camping at the Ball Park

Cool Dude Shane, Kitty and Sid

So, this past weekend, I took one for Team Mausser.  Jason and I asked Shane if he wanted to participate in the camp out portion of Night at the Ball Park in support of his Little League.  And, of course, being 6-years-old, he said yes.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t very excited about the prospect and it seemed to be a big, dark cloud hanging over my weekend.  However, I haven’t camped with Shane and Jason for many years, so I felt that I should just suck it up and what can be easier then camping less than a half-mile from your house in the middle of the suburbs.
We loaded up the car about 4pm and it was so packed that we couldn’t see out the back windows and Shane had the sleeping bags, foam and air mattress falling on top of him.  Then, once we got there, we realized we forgot pillows and only had two sleeping bags for the three of us.  I had to go back home and make another trip back with pillows, blankets and sheets. Mind you, we would only be there for a total of 15 hours.
When I returned, Jason had already set up the tent and was just sitting down to a cold one.  Our cooler was also filled to the brim and we probably could have intoxicated a whole college baseball team (of course, who were all old enough to drink).
We set up camp next to some other parents on our team, who mentioned that we might be in the way of the Home Run Derby.  We said, no worries, but little did we know what that really meant.  Originally, we had just bought tickets for BBQ dinner and “Mega Mind” movie, so we were all set when we got our food that had been catered by Salt Creek Grill. YUM!
The first big activity was the baseball game between the Hermosa Beach Fire Department and one of the Hermosa Beach Little League teams with older kids.  In the middle of the game – since our fire department is so small – they all had to leave to respond to an emergency call.  Boy, who would have thought there could be such a small town feel in LA County.  Well, that isn’t really why, due to budget cuts, we don’t have enough firemen in our town. Basically, if there were two fires in Hermosa, happening simultaneously, the neighboring town’s fire department would have to help out.  Luckily, it wasn’t anything too serious on Saturday and, once the firemen returned, the game was finished – it was all good in the end.
But next came the Home Run Derby and I’m not sure I would say it was good.  I noticed some of the dads get up with their baseball mits and go behind our tent.  Then I heard the crack of a bat and the whiz of some mighty powerful balls.  We were seated in the direct path of the top hitters and several balls bounced right off the top of our tent –where we were sitting. Jason – who had his back to the field – eventually turned around so he could see if any balls were going to knock him out.
I have to admit, it got to be a bit scary and I meandered away to visit with a friend of mine – who was sitting further away from the field than us -- and avoid getting hit.
All this time, Shane was running around having the time of his life.  Being an only child, we tend to keep him on a short leash so it was so nice to let him be a wild boy within the confines of the baseball field.
He and his buddies went to the big screen to watch “Mega Mind” while most of the parents sat around their imaginary campfires drinking beer and wine and just being social. 
At 10pm, it was lights out and they weren’t joking.  The big stadium lights that we can even see from our house were extinguished on the dot and it was suddenly dark and like real camping.  Most of the moms didn’t stay overnight and went home with younger children or to just get a good night’s sleep in their own beds.  Right about that time, I started to get really envious but I wouldn’t let my little big guy down.  I told him I was going to stay overnight and, by God, I was going to do it.
Since it was mostly dad’s left, I ended up heading into our tent to bed around 11pm.  I played on my phone for a bit and then fell asleep right away. Honestly, I thought it would take me forever but I guess I had had enough wine to put me in a light coma.  I did hear Jason stumble in a while later and then I was surprised that I slept straight through until about 4:50am.  I woke up and really had to go to the bathroom, but didn’t feel like getting up to go so I never really went back to sleep but dozed off and on. 
I did actually have a dream though.  I dreamt that I was in a car accident and it was so realistic. In my dream, Jason comes running up and asks me what is wrong. I told him that I think I broke my ribs.  Then I woke up and realized that the air mattress had deflated enough that a rock was jabbing into my back.  At that point, I was up and, by 7am, Shane woke up.  A lot of people were already up and moving around. 
Shane and I got up to go to the Johnny on the Spot and it was a surreal moment.  There were bottles and trash littering the ground around the tents.  Kids were running around amped up on donuts and soda and parents were stumbling around – hung over – like zombies. 
Jason doing the 'Walk of Shame'
It felt like the time Jason and I had too much to drink and couldn’t drive home from our friend Mitch’s house in Venice.  He had just moved into his bachelor pad and there wasn’t too much furniture.  We slept on the floor in one of his guest rooms with our coats over us as blankets.  We were so cold and uncomfortable that, when the sun came up, we were out of there and doing the walk of shame down Abbott Kinney. 
The morning after at the ball park had that same “Leaving Las Vegas” quality – giving off the feeling like maybe you needed a drink or that you had one too many.
When we got back to the tent, Jason and I chatted with some of the parents for a bit but then we got to work breaking down the camp site.  I was ready to bounce.
Shane had fun running around playing with his buddies, while we schlepped everything to our car.  All in all, it ended up being a good time but, when we all squeezed into the car – because there was barely any room for Shane in the back seat and headed to Starbuck’s for some coffee – it was truly one of the happiest moments of the weekend with only sunny skies and 80 degree temps ahead.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Do Not Pledge Allegiance to Allegiant Air

This past weekend, my hubby Jason and I were invited to join another couple for a quick jaunt in Las Vegas.  We had been planning to drive but, after a 6 hour ride back from Mammoth in March; Jason thought flying sounded like the better way to go.

He was very excited when he phoned me at work to say that he found us flights on Allegiant Air out of Long Beach Airport.   The flight was $37 each way, for each of us plus, an additional $9 per person – per leg – for priority seating.  The whole shebang – for both of us -- cost less than $200.

So, when the weekend of our trip was upon us, we were super excited.  Our flight on Friday night was scheduled to depart at 7:55pm, so we headed to the airport a bit early to get some dinner first. Now, we have flown out of this airport a few times before, but always on Jet Blue.  So when we went down to security and realized we were in the north terminal…I mean…north wing…I mean…north hallway.  This airport is small and there was not one other person checking in with us. Jason and I thought perhaps we had gotten a great deal on flying private.

Well, once we entered that terminal, it was as though we were walking onto a movie set or quite possibly into an alternate reality.  Everyone was lined up when we arrived and they had just started boarding our flight.  We got on line and as they were announcing rows Z20 to Z30.  We tried to figure out what was going on.  I said since our seats had an “A” before the number, perhaps we had to board last?!??!

So we waited patiently for a bit and then Jason just went up to ask.  Well, the gate keeper told us they had given our seats away.  Of course, I had a cow and completely fumed as we walked from the terminal across the tarmac toward the gangway.

But, it got even better!  This airline charged per bag so we had decided to carry on our luggage.  Now, for those of you who really know me, I am extremely challenged when it comes to packing light.  (Remember my 70 pound suitcase in Paris…ok, another story for another day.)

So I was pissed when the baggage guy told me there was no more room and I had to check my bag, I really went ballistic.  Through gritted teeth, I told Jason I was in a bad mood but he – as usual – looked to the bright side and said, “At least they didn’t make us pay.”

Once we got on board, the flight attendant said hello and – without really thinking about it – I blurted out that our seats had been given away.  She was so nice and actually gave us two seats next to each other in the front of the plane that had been reserved.

It was obvious that she was the senior flight attendant because another woman said those seats were reserved for someone else.  But one look from the Alpha attendant and she zipped it up. 

So we got seated and waited while the rest of the travelers made their way on board.  After several minutes, the flight crew began to prepare for take-off.  The plane even started to move.

Then it stopped.  The Alpha did not look pleased and when she picked up the phone she couldn’t hide the disgust on her face.  Then she clicked off the first call and phoned the flight attendant in the back of the plane.  She used her hand to cover her mouth to relay whatever was going on. 

Jason’s first thought that something mechanical was wrong with the plane and we wouldn’t get to Vegas.  I think everyone else was thinking the same thing as we all looked at each other and the plane returned to the jet way.

They opened the doors back up and then we waited - and waited - and then we waited some more.

After quite a few minutes, the Alpha made an announcement that some passengers had had difficulties checking in and had been stuck behind a big party.  Well, since you could only hear crickets when we checked in, it sounded like a bunch of bull, but what could we do except sit and wait.

So, the first group of 3 or 4 passengers got on board.  Everyone yelled – some peopled said hooray and some people hissed boo.  But we were all excited because now we were on our way to Vegas.

But not so fast!  So we waited another 10 more minutes and one guy got on the plane.  They sat him in the first row, which was first class Ghetto-style.  Once again, a few people said hooray and most people said boo again.  But we were all excited to FINALLY be on our way to Vegas.

Well, that wasn’t the case either.  Next thing, the guy that I had given my bag to on the tarmac came on board the plane.  He was completely flirting with the crew members.  Then the pilot came out of the cock-pit and went to use the rest room.  He started flirting with the crew too. It was truly like a bad episode of Singled Out.

Passengers were really starting to get hostile and curse and say things under their breath.  The baggage guy started to walk around and ask people, “You upset?”  And people were pissed, so they would reply, “Yes.”  Then he started to explain that the owner of the company’s son was the guy who just got on the plane.  He gave permission to hold up the plane so that some passengers that were behind him online could make it on the plane. 

Then he would move on to counsel some other disgruntled passenger with his headphones on top of his head, saying, “Was wrong wit you, don worry about a thing.”

Then a woman sitting a row behind us went off.

“This is f&#$% ghetto airlines,” she said.  “Don’t worry if your late, just come on down, we’ll wait for you.”

“The fools are going to be in the unemployment line next week and I hope they are happy. The ghetto airline is going out of business if they keep conducting it like this.”

Jason and I started laughing because she was going off.  And she didn’t stop. My replay of her diatribe doesn’t even do her justice.
Then another group of two women got on the plane and we still had to wait another 10 minutes or so, but it seemed like forever.

Finally, the last person whom we were waiting for got on the plane.  He was another pilot – obviously he had some pull.  They didn’t even ask him to check his bag; they just put it up in the cockpit.  That got me and the lady sitting next to me cracking up.  I know he worked for the airline but weren’t there TSA regulations.  You can’t just put a suitcase up – on the floor of the cockpit – between the two pilots. 

So then we thought we might be finally going somewhere, but then we noticed the baggage guy was still in the back of the plane completely trying to get some girl’s phone number.

Almost an hour after we were supposed to depart – the time we were supposed to be arriving in Vegas – our plane finally pulled away from the gate. 

The flight attendants started to prepare for take-off again.  The Alpha said that she would go through the emergency procedures again, for those who weren’t listening the first time around.

Then, I looked out the window, and I saw the baggage guy.  He was the one who had been onboard socializing with everyone and trying to get the girls’ phone numbers.  He was outside -- with those little red wands – marshaling the plane.  I don’t know why, but I found that to be hysterical.

The good news is that once we got off the ground, the flight was smooth sailing. 

They even had time to roll out the drink carts – where even water wasn’t free – and charge us for some snacks that they got at (what looked like) Smart N Final.  There was nothing free on this flight.

Our return flight from Vegas went without a hitch.  So, I can’t really say anything negative about the airline in general except that I suppose we experienced a Friday night flight to Vegas on the Soul Plane!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Better People Lyrics by India Arie

One of my favorite artists is India.Arie.  She is one of the most spiritual, political and heart-felt R&B singers of my time.  I thought the lyrics to her song "Better People" was poingnant and related to my last blog about keeping stories alive through the generations. 

Better People Lyrics by India Arie

I wish there was a video game
To teach you your ancestors name
I wish there was a phone number
Like 1 800 Save Your Brother

I’m thankful for the radio station
Not afraid to put truth in rotation
There are skirts of information
That you can only get in conversation with

Young people who talk to
Old People, it would make us all
Better people all around, yes, it would

And if old people would talk to
Young people, it would us all
Better people all around, yes, it would

We went from radio to TV
Now we’re going from LP to CD
Don’t be afraid to try something new

I can help you with the brand new technology
You can help me with the age old philosophy
Together there’s so much we can do with

Young people who talk to
Old People, it would make us all
Better people all around, yes, it would

And if old people would talk to
Young people, it would us all
Better people all around, yes, it would

They say that every
Generation gets worse
They call it generational curse
But these problems tend to strive off the sky

But listen to Mahatma Gandhi’s words
And ‘Be the Change You Want to See in the World’
Start with yourself and healing will multiply

That’s what happens when
Young people who talk to
Old People, it would make us all
Better people all around, yes, it would

And if old people would talk to
Young people, it would us all
Better people all around, yes, it would

If black people
Would talk to white people
It would make us better people all around

If Republican people
Would talk to Democratic people
It would make us diplomatic people all around

Written by: Jimmy English; Frank Macek; Drew Ramsey; and India Arie

Friday, April 8, 2011

Reprint of PV News Article about Nana

This is a reprint of a commentary that I wrote on Jan. 29, 1998 and was originally published in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News.  It is one of my favorites and I wanted to share...

Passing Stories Through the Generations Keeps Nostalgia Alive

This past weekend, recovering from strep throat and suffering from cabin fever, I bundled up and ventured out into the real world to see the movie “Titanic.”  It was an exceptional film that left me feeling a bit sad – for all those poor souls who perished in 1912 – but it also caused me to miss my grandmother.

The movie’s plot line has the main character, Rose, revisit the site of the wreck of the Titanic with her granddaughter.  As the only living survivor, she weaves a tale of love and tragedy to researchers, who are searching for the wreckage for a priceless diamond necklace.  Her story brings the memory of the Titanic to life.

Her telling of this story reminded me of the rich tales that our older generations have to offer us generation X-ers.  In their minds, they keep memories of yesteryear, and it’s our responsibility to make them pass these tales of nostalgia from generation to generation.

I have had the distinct pleasure of listening to my 74-year-old Nana, who presently lives on the East Coast, tell me many exciting stories about her life.

She was born in 1924 to a Swedish immigrant in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to the New Jersey shore, where she spent her early years.

It was only months after my Nana graduated high school that World War II broke out.  At the time, she was working as a telephone operator at Fort Monmouth, N.J., and learned that the Army was looking for women to carry out jobs usually performed by men.

My Nana, only 18 years old, obtained a job with the U.S. Army driving tractor trailers filled with Army supplies.  As a woman, she was proud to contribute to the war effort.  Ironically, once the war was over, the role these women played in society was deemed unacceptable and it wouldn’t be until years later that women would start to receive the equality they deserve.  (But that’s another commentary for another day.)

For 18 months, Nana drove the trucks to military installations from New Jersey to anywhere east of the Mississippi River.  These trips lasted anywhere from two days to two weeks.  The women drove in convoys of five to 20 trucks, with at least two women to each truck.
After the war, Nana had some extra money in her pocket and was ready for an adventure.  Nana, along with her friend Meredith, decided to make a change and moved out West.  They settled in a small apartment in North Hollywood, and my Nana would live here in California for the next three years until she met my grandfather.

During my Nana’s yearly visit, one of our favorite things to do is visit such places as Alvaro Street, Chinatown or the Hollywood Bowl.  She loves to reminisce about these places, which existed when she lived here, and tell stories about when she lived in Southern California.

One story that I never get tired of hearing is about her roommate.  Meredith, who was an aspiring actress, had the opportunity of meeting Errol Flynn while she was an extra in a movie. Meredith and Errol dated several times.  On one occasion, Flynn picked her up for a date.  He had a miniature Doberman Pinscher with him.  My Nana said that the moment he set the dog down, he did his little doggy business right there on the carpet.

The looks of embarrassment on both Meredith and Flynn’s faces were so funny she had to leave the room because she was laughing so hard.

Not all Nana’s stories take place before I was born.  When I was 10 years old, she took me to Sweden.  Her favorite story about me revolves around the liberated ideas of Europeans.

One afternoon, Nana took me to a pool in Stockholm to get some relief from the scorching heat.  Once we found our lounge chairs and I began to disrobe, I realized that most people, young and old alike, were … naked.

I was mortified. Growing up in a conservative, small town did not prepare me for such behavior.  After a few moments (and a few coaxing remarks from Nana), I sheepishly looked up and tried really hard not to be embarrassed by what I was seeing.  Just as I was coming to terms with the freedom of nudity, I had the most awful thought – would Nana disrobe and enter the pool as naked as she was the day she was born?

In tears, I tried to conjure up the courage to ask her and, somehow, as if reading my mind, she told me the answer.  She would wear her trusty one-piece suit.  The one she wears every summer to the beach.  I was so relieved.  She always laughs when she remembers the look on my face that day.

I never get tired of listening to stories told by my grandmother or telling stories about her.  She is a very special person to me, and the relationship between the grandmother and granddaughter in the Titanic made me miss her even more.  Not just because she wasn’t there, but because she would have loved that move and I’m sure that she would have remembered some long, forgotten story to share with me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ode to Nana and Pop Pop

Well, as most of you already know, I lost my beloved Nana – Marjorie Ruth Murch Hansen – on March 22.  She had turned 87-years-old on Tuesday March 1 and three weeks later, she succumbed to her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

On Monday March 14, she went into the hospital because she wasn’t feeling well.  After getting some medication, my Aunt Trish reported that she was doing much better but on Tuesday when she got out of her hospital bed to use the restroom, she had a heart attack and coded.  The doctor on call neglected to look at her chart – which would have revealed that she had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order – and revived her.  Let me tell you, Nana was PISSED!

But I can honestly say that, even though Nana was upset by being revived, it was truly a blessing.  My Mother, Cousin Jimmy and I were able to fly in and actually say good-bye to her.  She was on morphine, medication and oxygen when I arrived on Wednesday but, on Thursday afternoon, she was moved up to the Hospice unit and taken off any life-saving measures.  By dinner time on Friday, she had slipped into a coma and passed away almost exactly four days later.

Overall, it has been a sad time for our whole family.  But we all truly felt so lucky that we were able to be with her during her last days.  We all had a chance to speak with her in private and say good-bye.  It seems like a morbid situation -- because she was so accepting and open to dying – but it was really one of the most positive and open experiences of my life.   There were no regrets.

But I can tell you that my heart is heavy with sadness, but there is a comfort knowing that no words were left unsaid. 

Unfortunately, while in New Jersey with Nana, I found out that my grandfather Addison Loyal Williams – aka 85-year-old Pop Pop – had passed away too.  My Dad phoned me almost moments after finding out – before 911 had even been called.  At that moment, it was too much loss for me to handle.

But I consider myself so lucky to be in New Jersey so I could be a part of his funeral.  Unlike my Nana, I didn’t have a chance to say good-bye to Pop Pop.  I hadn’t spoken to him since Christmas and felt so guilty that I hadn’t called him to say hi since then.  But deep down, I know that it is wrong to beat myself up over it.  I don’t think my Pop Pop would have done it, so why should I?

I was so happy that my Uncle Phil asked me to read a scripture at the funeral.  I actually pride myself on my public speaking capabilities but, this time, I couldn’t look up from the words for fear that I would break down.  It was a very draining emotional two-day event, but I felt closure with my Pop Pop’s death that I didn’t have with my Nana.  The funeral allowed me to grieve and mourn, but also celebrate his life.

Nana wasn’t very religious, so she asked that we have a celebration of life for her on the beach in Ocean Grove.  She wants us to scatter her ashes at South End beach – just the intimate family.  We will be going back at the end of September to do this and say our final farewells.

Since both of their deaths, there hasn’t been a day that I don’t think of each of them.  With my Nana, even though we lived so far away, we were so close and she was so intertwined into my daily life here in California.  From a beautiful butterfly wind chime she made in ceramics class to all the books she bought for Shane to even my IM in which Nana’s avatar will be forever dark.

I miss my Pop Pop deeply as well.  I found a birthday card that I had bought for him last year, which I never got around to sending.  It was such a beautiful and meaningful card letting him know how important he was to me as a fatherly role model as well as a diligent Christian man.  The guilt that I didn’t send it just breaks my heart. 

Each day, a new memory lays a black veil over my heart which mutes my happiness.  But, I know that as time passes, it won’t hurt as much and instead of the feelings of grief, I will be able to remember them with only happy thoughts and feelings.

Until then, I am just trying to make sure that I am dealing with it in a well-adjusted manner.

I echo what my Nana said of her own life in the last few days she was alive, “Just like March, I came in like lion and I will go out like a lamb.”

Good bye Nana and Pop Pop, you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.