Direction

The falling star casts light on the pond

as beside it lays a pondering woman.

It’s an awkward in-between time for sunglasses -

a headache for a sense of anonymity.

She rests on the cement border of twin fountains,

spitting images of Spit and Spat play beside her.

Tourists gather for poorly backlit family photos

and a westward glance confirms her unconventional immortality.

The lady with the tight floral pants scowls-

the girl wonders if it’s her background positioning

or the thorns of the rose pants chaffing.

The husband (boyfriend? lover?) looks right, grins.

Silly girl on the side of the fountain.

A glance back upward. There’s a low-flying helicopter -

breaking news breaking somewhere perhaps.

Here, only a goodbye glance – They came, they saw,

they wander though do not ponder.

She rolls on her stomach, it hurts her ribs.

A place built for beauty but not built to stay.

A downward gaze finds someone looking skyward.

A reflection of someone reflecting on the now,

if you can imagine that.

Tolerable Me

You know you’re making it big when spam sites start referring people to your blog. 1000 hits by August 1st. Can we do it? Can we???

Carole King’s “So Far Away,” track #6 on “Janae’s Study Mix,” started skipping in my CD player today. Devastated. Commence depressing karaoke commute blues.

This week I determined my #1 goal.

When people see me at my worst, please let me still be tolerable.

Let me not be miserable, cranky, rude, quick to judge, quick to criticize or quick to complain. Let me not be easily agitated, needy or shallow. Let me leave no impression when the alternative is a bad impression.

And most of all let me not look, sound or act like a crazy person.

Carpe diem

For fifteen minutes, I have struggled with a single question.

What is a less cliché way to say time flies when you’re having fun?

Today was the day I started thinking about projects that need to be wrapped up by the time my internship ends. Eleven more workdays. Fifteen days left in New York. Twenty-five days left in the United States. And then four months backpacking Europe – more, many more, posts on that later.

For now, today.

Noted.

A coworker and I talk regularly about happiness. About what drives it, where it comes from. We reflected on our own lives and the lives of people around us. We recognized how lucky we are, that we wake up every day with things to look forward to – things that aren’t necessarily noteworthy or unique or extravagant, but reasons to know something good will happen in the coming hours. A “good morning,” small talk, sunshine, a cup of coffee, a nice note, a good joke, a bad joke.

Nice words, thoughtful questions and full attention don’t come from everyone. That was the great thing about Grandpa Ed, as my father and sister pointed out this week. Not everyone makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room every conversation you have with them. Compliments don’t always roll off the tongue. Unfortunately, so often we are distracted by phones, e-mail, internet, the people around us, the people in our past, the concepts of people we haven’t even met yet.

We don’t enjoy the moment.

When I’m not listening to Elvis Duran in the morning, I have the oldies station on for the commute. There’s nothing better for waking up. Yesterday, Lloyd Price’s “Personality” came on and it got me. It was on loop in my cubicle for quite a bit of the day.

Then I went home and watched it.

Find me one thing in those two and a half minutes that isn’t happy.

Everyone is dancing. Everyone has some sort of rhythm. We’re all clapping. You’re even tapping your foot watching, right?

Gems you find when you stop looking at your phone and start capturing instead.

No one in the background texting. No one sulking. No one checking scores on their iPads or stock market numbers on their BlackBerrys.

Disconnecting to really connect… Sharing something tangible with those around you.

Now we just have do it every day.

Living Right.

Graduation Weekend - May 2011

My grandfather died today. A somber way to start a post, it’s what July 14, 2011 has been about.

81. Married. Well-traveled. Kids. Grandkids. Veteran. Semi-professional baseball player. Great sense of humor. A good, good man. Loved a lot, loved by a lot.

A conversation among a few family members the other night struck a nerve with me. Are you afraid of death? Our answers were all over the map. Dying too young? Dying suddenly? Dying through a long and painful process? Depending on who in the room was talking, the anxiety equally ranged. Did the calmer person already know the name and face of the husband or wife who would appear in his or her obituary? Yes. Did those of us with vital milestones afar, questions unanswered, boxes left unchecked feel a little more anxiety stricken? Yes. Did priorities start temporarily and irrationally switching places? Maybe.

I talked to my Grandpa two days before he passed away. A good, good conversation, the exact details of which don’t need to be in any blog to be remembered. And they won’t be.

But the way he held my eye contact. Squeezed my hand when we talked about the kids. Made the greatest “You’re kidding!” sounding exclamation, loud and urgent, when I told him I’d spent time with a nice, “handsome as you” boy (Quack, you asked how you get in the blog, I said do something crazy- Grandpa Ed qualified that as going on a date two).

It was as perfect as a goodbye could be.

It’s days like today where I think a lot of people question exactly what they’re doing at the moment. If the story of my life was put in the paper today, what would it say? Would I be proud of it? Would it require lines of detail or a short, generic blurb? Is there anything I can do tonight, by tomorrow, that will make it better?

There’s the idealistic “fantasies that could become real” bucket list. Publish a book and go on a book tour. Stand on every continent. Get pulled on stage at a major concert. Get married, have kids. Let’s hope that’s less fantasy/more reality. Be on the Today Show for a good reason.

Okay that’s not really one, but I’ve discovered a bucket list item is now to write a better bucket list.

But its the everyday things and dreams that are the foundation of my life. Laughing so hard I cry, even if it’s at a wildly inappropriate time or because I unintentionally just made a painfully awkward comment. Helping someone out, whether it’s giving them a hand or an ear. Singing loudly in my car because I can. Every, every day. Multiple times.

The things that can’t be a constant but can happen at any moment. Being surprised. Surprising someone. Busting a move in a crowded space. Slow-dancing in a quiet setting. Trying something new. Mastering something old. Being fiercely, hopelessly, independent. Falling madly, hopelessly, in love.

Enjoying life.

That I know I’m doing right.

It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right

When I was 13, my AIM profile had the first lines of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.”

Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
But just because a record has a groove
Don’t make it in the groove
But you can tell right away at letter A
When the people start to move

They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people
They can feel it all over
They can feel it all over people

From a young age, I’ve tried getting in touch with the musical side of me that does not in reality exist. My subconscious seems to cover the absence well by finding friends who can “talk music” to me. “Hi, you speak a really pretty language that I can’t speak but I like listening to anyway. Like Italian. Keep going.”

So imagine my laughter as I’m listening to oldies on my way home from work today, and I hear Sir Duke for the first time in a couple years.

For there’s Basie, Miller, Sachimo
And the king of all Sir Duke
And with a voice like Ella’s ringing out
There’s no way the band can lose

Anyone want to guess how long my brain has heard that first line as “Though this may seem metrosexual…” I never really stopped to think about it, but I certainly didn’t correct myself either. Lord.

And yeah dummy, of all people, what business does Stevie Wonder have being metrosexual.

***

In other related news, I was just talking to a friend the other night about favorite songs. I listed Michael Jackson’s PYT, my pal Stevie’s Uptight (Everything’s Alright) and I think (?) I said Jamie Lidell’s Another Day.

There’s also Vonda Shepard’s Read Your Mind, James Taylor’s Your Smiling Face, and Whiskeytown’s Crazy About You (Also Don’t Wanna Know Why but can only find this cover).

But really, it depends. Favorite song based on lyrics? Message? Happy, sad, fast, slow? What moves the needle for you?

Well. If favorite song was based on what song you got caught singing at the intersection with an intensity not accessed since the second time you took the SATs, Annie Lennox’s Walking On Broken Glass earned a trophy today.

Off for the night. Off to read Hemingway. Because, unlike music, I will improve my command of the English language. Hopefully.

Until next time, friends.

Just go with it.

I’ve rewritten this post four times. The first version was best. My poor blog… abandoned for five days again only to be returned to for nonsense. My Twitter account (@JCDeRusso) has been neglected for the first time in three years. Checking back in, @Lord_Voldemort7 just wrote “Being ‘normal’ is overrated.”

I agree.

There was something about running through a flash flood in high heels that just cracked me up last night.

I’d forgotten to return my Rick Steve’s book to the library. It’s 10p.m. and the rain isn’t stopping. I have no umbrella. So, grocery bag the books… and I’m off.

Two minutes later, back in my car, soaked. Giggling. A business-clothed mess. Oblivious to the two cars waiting for me to move my illegally parked one. Just cracking up, like a crazy person, in my car.

Because a more serious person probably would have waited out the rain. Or remembered to use her break to walk to the library. Or sucked up the late fees.

But this was fun. The teenagers giving me dirty looks didn’t know what they were missing. The misery on their faces due to water falling from the sky made me feel sad for them.

The answer to the last question posed: Yes, smiles are in fact rare, and they catch people off guard. Or at least their attention, even if people can’t define what it is. Risk looking like a dweeb.

Just wake up to this song everyday. Carole King gets it.

Classy In Love

Beyonce rejected my version of the song. The music video was too dry.

Breaking from the scavenger hunt for the day, I’ve taken to celebrating independence with a load of hopelessly romantic classics. Those being Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable’s Gone with the Wind, Lucille Ball and Bob Hope’s Facts of Life, and Adam Levine and Maroon 5’s “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” music video on repeat.

Any guesses as to which one moves me the most? Let’s just say the fifteen-year-old in me appreciates Mr. Levine’s tattoo art.

And the sixty-year-old that also resides in me quite enjoyed the old movies.

First, Gone with the Wind is long. And, if it wasn’t obvious, every time the wind blows, someone dies (speaking of which, who’s seen that awful Mark Walberg movie The Haunting? I did- in theaters!).

Scarlett O’Hara is an idiot. You can tell from the start that Rhett Butler is far hotter, smarter and makes better conversation and eye contact than Ashley Wilkes. The Scarlett-Janae venn diagram only has “Not afraid to eat in front of men” in the middle so far. I did love every minute of the movie. From the comfort of my couch in pajamas, with the dog, eating chocolate fudge brownie frozen yogurt watching Scarlett get knotted into too-small dresses made me feel all kinds of 21st century-feministy.

Lucille Ball and Bob Hope. Even while having an affair, they make it look classy. It made me wonder how many people in 2011, outside of the 9th grade and away from the trap that is seven minutes of “Stairway to Heaven”, fall in love dancing and chatting. Is it still an issue I have no sense of rhythm? I also wonder if everything would look prettier in black and white. I’d like to film a date, then replay it colorless. Does my hair look better? Does he look like he’s being more romantic? How are my pores?

But fine, this is real life.

And real life is great to watch on the 4th of July.

Like the cute little kids playing in the pond. And the dirty looks I got by people walking by who thought I was the mother of multiple 5-year-olds.

Like the not so cute little boy who chucked a boulder at a group of ducks. That kid was strong.

Like the old women strolling in giant dresses and umbrellas, all 1700s-decked-out, a cell phone ringing and one of them going “Is that you Shirley?”

Like the old man who paused in front of my bench and, well, it was gross sounding.

Like the grandmothers who got so flustered as a duck went racing by them screeching, another one chasing it and pinning it down to the ground. “IT’S ATTACKING IT! SCHOOO! GET AWAY FROM IT YOU BULLY.” I’m no expert on the subject, but… Ma’am, you are literally cock blocking.

Finally, 4 days ago a man carrying a rug stopped me on the street as I made my way down to the library. “Keep looking happy. I saw you yesterday, you looked happy.” Sweet! I think. Kinda weird. Makes me feel kind of like a big dork.

Today, another man actually grabs my elbow this time. “You’re so happy! I like that smile.”

Which makes me wonder… Smiles can’t be that rare, can they?